Top 9 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels – 2022 Reviews

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When it comes to saltwater fishing, the reel is everything.

Solid saltwater spinning reels are heavy-duty, feature smooth action, and most importantly, can withstand the harsh effects of the sun, sand, salt, and the sea itself.

Saltwater fishing is the harshest environment an angler can put their equipment through.

Finding a spinning reel that performs the way you want it to while being able to thrive in this harsh environment can be a challenge.

We’ll take a look at the best saltwater spinning reels on the market to help you find one that fits your needs perfectly.

From chasing those monsters far offshore to wading in the shallows and all places in between, saltwater angling produces some interesting challenges.

Finding the reel to match those challenges is just part of the fun.

Best Saltwater Spinning Reels in 2022

Here are the top saltwater spinning reels on the market today

Penn Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel

Penn is the acknowledged leader in saltwater fishing.

Every one of their spinning reels is designed for the rigors of sand, surf, and salt, conditions that would quickly destroy a freshwater reel or a competitor’s reel constructed of lesser materials.

The Penn Battle is available in three designs with sizes ranging from 1,000 to 10,000. Since we’re concentrating on saltwater angling, we’ll limit reviews to reels from 5,000 to 10,000.

Penn Battle II

This is the smallest of the three Battle series reels, weighing 19.6 ounces. The largest available Penn II is a 5,000 reel.

With aluminum construction and stainless steel ball bearings, this reel is ready for saltwater fishing.

PENN Fishing Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes), black gold, 8000, BTLIII8000HS

Five ball bearings and an instant anti-reverse system guarantee smooth retrieves on the open water or while surf fishing.

The BTLII5000 is designed for both monofilament and braided line. The capacities on the aluminum spool are rated at 225-yards for 12-pound test mono, 200-yards for 15, and 135-yards for 20.

The braided line is much larger with 20-pound test braid at 420-yards, 30-pound at 300-yards and 40-pound test capacity is 240-yards.

A 5:6:1 gear ratio in combination with the large spool creates a line retrieval rate of 36 inches per crank

Pros:

  • Solid construction
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Large line capacity

Cons

  • 36 inch per crank line retrieve
  • Five ball bearings

Penn Battle III

The Battle III in the same 5,000 size is a lighter weight reel than the Battle II by just an ounce. The 18.8-ounce weight is attuned to moderate saltwater applications.

PENN Fishing Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes), Black Gold, 4000 (BTLIII4000HS)

The 5:6:1 gear ratio creates an identical line retrieval rate of 36 inches per crank. The drag is perfect for light saltwater angling at 25 pounds and the line capacity is the same as the Battle II.

All metal construction makes this a workhorse on the ocean or from shore.

Five ball bearings along with one roller bearing ensure smooth action.

Pros

  • Corrosion resistant
  • 25-pound drag
  • All metal construction

Cons

  • Smaller line capacity
  • Five ball bearings

Penn Battle III High Speed

The Battle III High Speed brings the solid construction of the Battle II and III to the saltwater with a faster retrieval rate due to the 6.2:1 gear ratio.

PENN Fishing Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel (All Models & Sizes), Black Gold, 4000 (BTLIII4000HS)

The full metal reel features a line capacity of 250-yards with 20-pound test monofilament and a whopping 425-yards with 40-pound braided line.

The five ball bearings, one roller bearing design continues the Penn tradition of smooth action reels.

Pros

  • Large line capacity
  • Fast retrieve
  • 6.2:1 gear ratio

Cons

  • Fast retrieve
  • Five ball bearings

Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel

Daiwa enters the saltwater market with a 5,000 and a 6,500 reel that can compete well.

The BG5000 is a 22.6-ounce workhorse rated for 470-yards of 14-pound test line or 480-yards of the popular 40-pound braided line.

Daiwa BG Saltwater Medium/Xtra Heavy Spinning Reel, Black/Gold - BG3000

Smooth action is assured with seven stainless steel ball bearings. A 5.7:1 gear ratio provides a midrange, controllable retrieve, perfect for surface fishing on shallow sandbars.

The 22-pound drag is adequate for most saltwater fish.

Combine a hard body side and cover, waterproof drag system, a manual bail return, and all aluminum construction and you’re ready for the challenges of surf, bay, and ocean.

This is a popular reel among shark fishermen.

The BG6500 features the same solid construction in a heavier 29.5-ounce reel. The 5.3:1 gear ratio allows slower, controlled retrieves.

A 30-pound drag works well with the 5.3:1 gear set for powerful control of large fish.

The reel handles both monofilament and braided line with a huge spool able to hold 550-yards of 50-pound braided line, 440-yards of 65-pound, or 330-yards of the powerful 80-pound braid.

A dual-handle system rounds out this exciting Daiwa reel.

Pros

  • 30-pound drag in 6500
  • Solid, functional design
  • Inexpensive price
  • Line capacity
  • Seven ball bearings

Cons

  • Light 22-pound drag on 5000

Penn Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel

The attractive polished red and black color scheme catches your eye as easily as the Slammer III catches fish.

Ten different sizes from 3500 to the monster 10500 reels are proof that this reel is among the best ever produced by the legendary Penn fishing company.

PENN 1403983 Slammer III Spinning

We’ll review the 5500 and 6500 reels to keep in approximate size comparison to many of the other reels we’ve reviewed and will review.

The PEN-1522 is a 5500 size reel with a very quick retrieve rate of 39 inches per crank.

Able to hold 380-yards of 30-pound braided line or 330-yards of 12-pound monofilament with a respectable 40-pound drag, this reel is a favorite for professional charter fishermen.

It’s easy for inexperienced clients to handle and it’s durable in harsh saltwater conditions.

The PEN-1523 is the 6500 version of this reel. 410-yards of braided 40-pound test allow long battles from shore, or on boats working the coastline. The large spool can hold 345-yards of 15-pound monofilament.

A whopping retrieval rate of 42 inches per crank can make fast-moving lures fly across the water mimicking skittering baitfish.

At 22.4 ounces for the 5500 and 24.3 ounces for the 6500 they are heavy enough to be durable, but not so heavy that they will tire a smaller adult or child with a day on the water.

An aluminum body and rotor, with brass gears, are corrosion resistant. The drag system and gearbox are fully sealed, adding another layer of protection from sun, sand, salt, and surf.

Pros:

  • Line capacity
  • Brass gears
  • Variety of sizes
  • Heavy drag

Cons

  • Fast retrieve
  • Relatively light weight for 5500/6500 size reels

Penn Clash & Clash II Spinning Fishing Reel

The Penn Clash II is the modern improvement on the venerable Penn Clash reel.

With this spinning reel, Penn brings the legacy, heritage, craftsmanship, and quality of saltwater fishing to a whole new level.

PENN Clash II Spinning Fishing Reel Grey/Black, 1000

A full metal body and side plate, all brass gears and pinions, nine ball bearings, and a proprietary Leveline oscillation system are just a few of the features.

Penn realized that the offshore wind was responsible for many line knots and came up with the Leveline system to drastically reduced those irritating knots.

An aluminum reel spool, front drag, sealed clutch, and drag add additional protection against corrosive, wear and tear from sand and salt, and weather.

On the smaller size of the saltwater spinning reels, we’re reviewing. The Clash II is available from 1000 to 5000 sizes.

We’ll review the 5000.

The PEN-1828 is a lightweight reel for the 5000 series at just 16 ounces. The 5.6:1 gear ratio and the oversized spool create a 38 inch per crank retrieval rate.

The 5000 can handle 225-yards of 12-pound monofilament, 200-yards of 15-pound, and 135-yards of the 20-pound test.

Braided capacities are large as usual with 420-yards of 20-pound test line, 300-yards of 30-pound, and 240-yards of 40-pound test.

A 20-pound drag rounds out the features of this versatile reel.

Pros:

  • 5.6:1 gear ratio
  • Good line capacity
  • Nine ball bearings

Cons

  • Fast retrieve
  • 20-pound drag
  • Light reel weight

SHIMANO Stradic FL Spinning Fishing Reel

This reel has a futuristic appeal not found in other competing spinning reels. The Stradic FL with its shiny chrome appearance is the lightest of any 5000 series reel we’ve found.

Weighing just 9.3 ounces, a weight more attuned to a 1000 or 2000 series reel this little workhorse packs a lot into a small package.

SHIMANO Stradic 1000FL HG Spinning Fishing Reel, Left/Right Hand Retrieve

Six ball bearings and a single roller bearing ensure a smooth retrieve. The 6.2:1 gear ratio is a bit fast for many anglers, but the smaller spool reduces line retrieve a bit to 40 inches per crank.

A 24-pound drag is sizeable for such a lightweight reel.

The line capacity is lower than most 5000 series reels with just 240-yards of 10-pound test, 195-yards of 12-pound, and only 165-yards of 14-pound monofilament.

Braided line is slightly larger with 260-yards of 20-pound, 235-yards of 30-pound, and 185-yards of 40-pound test braid.

The reel is one of the newest on the market, released in 2019.

The features match the futuristic visual appeal. The Hagane Gear is cold-forged rather than milled. The Hagane Body is stiff, powerful, and translates cranking power directly to the spool.

A heavy-duty Cross Carbon Drag system allows the light reel to resist the hardest pull of saltwater fish.

Moderately priced, it’s a reel worth trying out for the adventurous angler who likes to push the envelope.

Pros

  • Modern design
  • Cold forged
  • Gear ratio

Cons

  • Line capacity
  • Light weight
  • Retrieval rate

Daiwa BG2500 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel

We’re stepping outside our constraints of only considering 5000 or larger series reels with this “mighty mite” from Daiwa.

The BG2500 is just a 2500 series reel, much smaller than the 5000 and 6000 series reels we’ve already reviewed, but in spite of its small footprint, this reel is highly rated by saltwater anglers.

Daiwa BG2500 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel, 2500, 5.6: 1 Gear Ratio, 6+1 Bearings, 33.20" Retrieve Rate, 13.20 lb Max Drag,Black/gold

A misnomer in saltwater fishing is that you are always tying into a 300-pound shark, 100+ pound grouper, or battling a dancing sailfish in heavy seas.

The truth is that many anglers prefer smaller species in shallow water directly offshore.

If you’re bonefishing, stalking stripers in wading depth water, or other smaller species, this 2500 series reel might be exactly what you’re looking for.

The BG2500 features a 13-pound drag, seven ball bearings, and a dual-retrieve handle. All this is packed into a reel that weighs just 9.3 ounces.

Reasonably priced, this reel can hold 210-yards of six-pound monofilament, 170-yards of eight-pound, or 140-yards of 10-pound test line.

Braided capacities are 190-yards for 15-pound test, 170-yards for 20-pound test, and a respectable 120-yards of 30-pound test.

With the 13 pound drag, a 5.6:1 gear ration, and 30-pound test, a skilled angler can catch almost any species.

An air rotor, “Hard Bodyz” body and side cover, a cut aluminum spool, and a waterproof drag give this reel all the bells and whistles you could ask for in saltwater applications.

Pros:

  • Seven ball bearings
  • Light weight
  • Flexibility
  • Durability
  • Drag

Cons

  • Light weight
  • Line capacity
  • Retrieval rate

Abu Garcia Revo X Spinning Fishing Reel

A cross-over between the freshwater and saltwater angling worlds, the Revo X by Abu Garcia is the reel to choose if you only have room or a budget for a single reel. It works well in both salt and freshwater applications.

The 4000 series Revo X reel is on the big side for fresh but just slides in under the requirements for a saltwater reel.

Abu Garcia REVO2X30 Revo x Spinning Fishing Reel

This is not a deep sea reel designed to battle the denizens of the deep, but it is a reliable, versatile reel you can use in a myriad of angling situations.

A lightweight graphite rotor meshes with a machined aluminum reel that is ready for any type of braided line, as well as the standard monofilament spinning reels of this size usually use.

A stainless steel main shaft, a proprietary Everlast bail system, and an instant anti-reverse make this reel a versatile workhorse for small to medium-sized fish.

Primarily a boating reel, it has the range for shorter surfcasting applications as well.

The REVO2x40 can take 210-yards of braided line, in the recommended 14-pound test size.

It also has enough spool capacity for 226-yards of six-pound monofilament, 175-yards of eight-pound test, or 140-yard of 10-pound test.

Seven ball bearing system provides a smoother retrieve. The drag is a little light at 11 pounds, as is the 7.7-ounce weight.

The 6.2:1 gear ratio, combined with a standard-sized spool delivers a controllable retrieve rate of 40 inches per crank.

It features an ambidextrous handle design that allows both right and left-hand retrieve.

Pros:

  • 6.2:1 gear ratio
  • Ambidextrous handle
  • Variable applications
  • Seven ball bearings

Cons

  • Light drag
  • Smaller line capacity
  • Light weight

What To Consider When Selecting a Spinning Reel for Saltwater 

Budget

Getting more “bang” for the buck is always a good idea. If you’re working on a limited budget, the versatility of a reel may be your biggest determining factor in the one you select.

A versatile reel that is on the large size for freshwater and the smaller end for saltwater is a good idea.

The extra saltwater corrosion resistance won’t hinder your freshwater experience, but a series of specialty limited reels will corrode your bank account quickly.

Buy what you need to have an enjoyable day on the water. Extra bells and whistles never equate to extra fish.

Also Read: Fishing Reel Options Under 100

Know What Fish You’re Getting

Knowing the type of fish you’re going to pursue is a huge consideration when selecting a reel. You don’t need a 14000 series reel to catch stripers from a boat.

On the other hand, you don’t want to try surfcasting with a 2000 series reel that has a limited line capacity.

If you don’t know your target species, select a 6000 series reel.

It’s big enough to catch almost any saltwater species, while remaining small enough to be cost-effective, and most importantly, controllable whether you are throwing line into the surf or casting into deeper water from a boat.

Beginner or old salt?

Are you just getting into fishing or are you a good choice to play a role in “Old Man and the Sea?” Your level of expertise determines the style of reel you can control effectively.

In general, larger reels require more skill to master than smaller, light weight reels.

If you’re just getting into saltwater fishing you don’t need the latest and greatest equipment.

What you need is a durable, reliable easy to use reel that you can experience success in casting and retrieving various species of fish.

Don’t spend the family fortune on a reel before you discover where your talents on the water lie.

How are you fishing?

The style of angling you choose to try requires you to match a reel with it. Surfcasting requires a large spool with a reel that can seat nicely into a 12-foot or longer rod. Line capacity is a key with surfcasting.

If you want to work a deep shelf a few miles offshore from a boat, you need a reel that can handle heavy braided line since you might just tag a trophy salmon, swordfish, or tuna out in the depths.

Are you wading and casting? Or, maybe standing in a flat bottomed boat working the shallows for bonefish or bass?

If so, you need a reel with a high gear ratio that creates a fast line retrieval rate. A reel that handles monofilament is important in these applications.

Reel weight

It might not seem that important, but the weight of a reel translates into the durability of that reel. Heavier reels just last longer on the open water.

A lighter reel is great if you’re wading the shallows and holding your rod all day, but they’ll wear out quicker, and a chance encounter with a big fish can destroy a light reel.

Heavy means power, and a chance to battle bigger fish. Heavier reels generally have greater line capacities, heavier drag, and rod seats that fit longer rods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a special reel for saltwater fishing?

That is the million-dollar question when it comes to saltwater fishing. The answer is no, you don’t need a special reel for saltwater fishing.

You can use a heavier reel designated for freshwater, but you need to realize the components can quickly be compromised by salt, sand, ocean spray, and even UV radiation from heavy sun exposure.

You can mitigate some of the damaging effects of saltwater fishing by cleaning and washing your reels with fresh water after each trip to saltwater.

However, most anglers skip that step occasionally, giving the corrosive effects of sand and salt to destroy your reel.

Specialty reels is an ambiguous term. A saltwater reel isn’t that much different than its freshwater cousin, it’s just made of more corrosive resistant materials and is usually a larger reel.

Freshwater reels can range from 1000 to 4000 in size, while most saltwater reels begin at 5000 and can go as high as the monstrous 14000 series.

How long will a freshwater reel last in saltwater

In terms of saltwater, the durability of a freshwater reel can be affected by the angler’s reel hygiene.
 
If you take the reel to the ocean, fish all day, pack it up, and forget about it until your next fishing venture a few weeks later your reel will be toast in a few months.
 
If you practice good reel hygiene, washing and oiling your reel after each saltwater venture, your freshwater reel can last many years.
 
Saltwater reels are made of brass, stainless steel, aluminum, and in some cases graphite, all materials that are corrosion resistant to the deleterious effects of salt and sand.
 
Freshwater reels don’t always have that extra level of corrosion protection.

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Sean Ward

Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’m based in the UK yet I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.

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