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In the last decade or so ultra-light has really become a ‘thing’ in fishing. Catching the biggest fish with the lightest of kit is a global fishing phenomenon.
I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest the biggest driver of this has been the explosion of lure fishing popularity over the last 20 years.
If we refine this notion, it comes back to technology. Developments in plastics allowed manufacturers to expand lure potential.
The industry took to it, and now every tackle shop is stocked with an astonishing array of lures, completely unimagined back in the last millennium.
New materials, manufacturing processes, and the propensity for things to get smaller, yet maintain or even gain strength, has allowed for the perfect marriage lightweight rod, reel, and lure.
Anglers are now casting light outfits, rapid-fire over long sessions. The lightweight kit has reduced fatigue, and increased casting distance and accuracy, facilitating the growth of this ‘athletic’ approach to fishing.
We’re all treating it as a sport now. So the fishing industry is supplying highly refined, lightweight gear to satisfy our lust for fishing challenges, from tiny fish to monsters.
This article is going to cover the best ultralight spinning reels on the market.
Let’s take a look at 5 of the best ultra-lightweight spin reel options. There’s something available for every demand and budget.
Best Ultralight Spinning Reels
Here are our top recommendations:
Last update on 2022-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
How Light are Ultra-Light Spinning Reels?
We’re looking at the smallest, lightest reels available. To make things a little easier, I’m going to go with the 1000 / 2000 spin reel size only, just to make sure I’m comparing apples with apples.
Before I get into it…a disclaimer. Much of the ultra-light hype is simply marketing speak.
It certainly excites the fishing tech nerds, who will frequently fawn over a 10th of an ounce reduction in a new reel model.
For me, however, these minuscule differences in weight mean nothing. If it’s 5 and a half ounces or 6 ounces, it’s ridiculously light either way.
Over a session of frantic casting, I’m afraid these man-hands can’t tell a half-ounce difference.
In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of ultra-light reels is ergonomics.
They’re pretty small for larger hands. You’ll notice poor ergonomics well before you can feel the difference of a fraction of an ounce.
The five reels below are as light as you could ever want. I have also restricted ultra-light to under 7 ounces. You can also read about the best spinning reel size for bass here.
Yes, that’s a little bit of an arbitrary figure, there’s certainly no industry standard. But the article is about ultra-light, and I had to stick a ceiling somewhere.
The only problem with this figure is that the budget-conscious may end up with a pain in the pocket.
Once you get under 7 ounces, the price tends to escalate considerably.
Top 5 Best Lightweight Spinning Reels
Here are the top lightweight micro spinning reels on the market today
1.Shimano Stella FJ 1000 – Best of the best Light Reel
I’m a victim of my own rules here. If I had a choice, I’d go for the 2500. The 2500 delivers more spool capacity and 6-kilo extra drag.
However, I’m sticking to the 2000 size and below and under 7 ounces. The 2500 comes in a touch over 7 ounces.
Nonetheless, the 1000 is as classy as the ridiculous price tag suggests. It’s replete with all of Shimano’s flagship technology, as you would expect from their flagship spin reel.
The highlight is the incredibly smooth feel and the rigid support drag. At only 5.8 ounces, it’s truly ultra-light and a sports anglers dream.
The ratio might be a little slow for some, again, the 2500 is faster, offering more flexibility. However, the likelihood of requiring a flat-out crank with this reel is unlikely.
There is only 6 and a half pounds of drag, but it’s silky smooth, predictable, and reliable.
It’s a Stella, so if you do bite off more than you can chew, you are backed up by superb engineering through-out.
Spooled up with 65 yards of 20-pound braid, you’ve enough time to work a sizable fish should it strike your lure.
- Refined engineering
- Phenomenal feel, casting, and cranking
- Well-sealed; for the rigors of saltwater fishing
- Requires a second mortgage. The badge price point is prohibitive for many
- Slow gearing
- Ratio: 5.1:1
- Drag: 6.6lb
- Braid Capacity: 10lb/95 yds, 15lb/85 yds, 20lb/65 yds
- Weight: 5.8 oz
- 12+1 S ARB Bearing system
- Hagane Gear
- Micro Module Gear II
- Hagane Body
- Silent Drive
- G Free Body
- AR-C Spool
- E.I. Surface Treatment
- Rigid Support Drag
- One-Piece Bail
- Extra-High Crank Power Rating
- Front Drag
- Extra-High Cast Rating
2. Shimano Stradic CI4 – Mid-Priced Master & the Lightest
The Stradic gets a look-in in just about every spin reel comparison I do. It’s tried and tested, superb quality and engineering, and the 1000 size has taken ‘lightweight’ to an extreme.
The Stradic offers the class of the Stella at less than half the price. There’s half the bearing count of its stablemate, yet it’s still incredibly smooth to cast crank and battle.
If you’re reasonably new to finesse reels, but looking for serious performance at an accessible price point, start here
Not only will you not go wrong, but the feel of the Stradic is guaranteed to enhance the finesse experience and develop skills.
You’ll also get a great working life from your Stradic if you’re reasonably kind to it.
I’d be taking the 3000. It has an amazing capacity with 9kg of drag. This would offer a tremendous level of inshore versatility.
What’s more, the 3000 falls into the under 7-ounce category. Astonishing.
However, I must be true to my parameters and stay within my size restrictions. The Stradic will appeal to pros and the average angler.
The Stradic is an investment, without the serious outlay required to go Stella.
I like the Stradic as an everyday, go-to finesse reel. The accessible price point for such refined quality makes it so.
- As light as they come
- Accessible pricing considering its pedigree
- 6 bearings feel like 10
- Still an expensive reel by most measures
- Spool capacity a little light on…but by no means a deal-breaker
- Ratio: 6.0
- Braid Capacity: 10lb/95, 15lb/85
- Drag: 6.6lb
- Weight: 5.6 oz
- Bearings: 6+1
- Hagane Gearing
- Magnumlite rotor
- G Free Body
- AR-C Spool
- One-Piece Bail
- Aero Wrap 2
3. Abu Garcia Revo MGXtreme 1000 – Author’s Choice
I can rave for days about the virtues of the Stella and the Stradic. However, given the choice, I’ll take the REVO without a doubt.
Again, I’d choose the 3000 over the 2000, and it’s still within my stringent weight parameters. However, the 1000 it must be, and I’d happily take it.
There’s slightly less drag than the Stradic and Stella, but as this choice is sports-driven, it’s not an issue. What it lacks in drag is recovered a little in spool capacity.
For me, it’s the aesthetics and ergonomics that sell it for me. I love the cork grip and carbon handle.
There’s a feel and look to the REVO that says attack on the front foot. It adds some toughness to finesse which is a quirky contrast I enjoy in this reel.
It’s manufactured for constant deployment in the salt. Again, a feature that appeals to me more than weight reductions.
But at a diminutive 5.6 ounces, it will no doubt appeal to the weight-conscious anglers.
The REVO manages to keep the weight down yet deliver 12 bearings for an incredibly smooth crank.
As you are no doubt aware, the more bearings the bigger the price tag. But the REVO delivers all the bearings of the Stella for half the price.
Yes, the REVO is expensive. Many will even suggest it sits in an aspirational price category. I’d agree.
However, this is refined engineering and precision you can feel, and from which your finesse exploits will benefit.
It has the durability to last you countless sessions so long as you don’t go chasing tiger sharks in heavy structure, and you look after it. Corrosion protection is excellent.
If I were short of cash to foot the price, this is a reel I would save for. What’s more, if saving is your only option, you’ll be fishing with the REVO long before you get the Stella.
My choice in a very high-class selection of lightweight finesse spin reels.
- Excellent ergonomics
- Handle and grip encourage both finesse and aggression
- Brilliant styling
- Super light construction
- Still very pricey. Aspirational for many anglers
- Would prefer a little more beef in the drag department
- Ratio: 6.2
- Braid Capacity: 8lb /190yds
- Retrieve: 80cm
- Drag: 2.8kg
- Weight: 5.6 oz
- Extremely Lightweight
- Newest model (Replaces the old Revo MGX Spinning reel)
- Gearing: AAM Gearing
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Carbon Matrix Drag
- Ball bearings: 11+1 Salt Shield
- Single piece X-mag Alloy gearbox
- C6 Carbon Body
- Rocket line management system
- Cork reel grip
- Bent carbon Handle
- Hook/sinker holder
- Instant Anti-Reverse
4. Kastking Sharky 1000 – Most Affordable Lightweight Reel
KASTKING is certainly out to prove that you needn’t burn a hole in your wallet to fish finesse. This Sharky is indeed very rare at under 7 ounces and way within budget.
But it’s a heck of a lot more than an entry-level price point ultra-light reel. The specs are mind-blowing for its class.
There are 11 stainless bearings and a whopping 33 pounds of drag. It’s pretty slow at 5.2:1, but it has a spool capacity of 180 yards of 20 pound.
It also looks fantastic in black and red with classy, stylized porting on the spool.
There’s water resistance provided by K.I.S.S (KastKing Intrusion Shield System), that uses an O-ring to seal the drag while sporting a water-resistant frame.
Now. Here’s the rub with this reel. I’ve not used it. Usually, I’d not include a reel I’ve never cast in anger.
However, the specs on this, plus its price point require that I bring it to your attention and include it in this list.
To be honest, at this affordable budget price, it’s 100% on my list of must-haves.
I need to see for myself how on earth a reel can contain so many inclusions, and such a low weight, without breaking the bank.
Of course, this is part of KastKing’s mission. Affordable pricing is in their DNA. But in my experience with other KastKing products, value for money is assured, even if the reel has a limited lifespan.
Again, I have stated that I have not used a KastKing reel for any length of time, nor have I opened one up for inspection. One has to assume there has been a compromise somewhere to be able to deliver such an affordable reel.
In reality, it out specs reels of the same class in the $600 and above price ranges.
Admittedly, it’s a complete graphite body and rotor, which certainly helps keep the price way down. It also differentiates it from the flagship models of the leading brands.
I’m feeling a little bit fraudulent in adding a reel that I have not used. However, in my defense, one could hardly leave this little number of the list.
With these inclusions, at this rock-bottom price, as well as meeting my ultra-light criteria…I had to add it.
The reviews across the board are all positive. I will also have to get one for myself. If it doesn’t live up to my expectations, no harm done,
I haven’t invested serious cash. My suspicion is, however, that I think I’m going to be impressed, particularly at this highly affordable price point.
- Astonishing levels of inclusions for such a tiny price
- Great for salt and fresh stuff
- Ideal for the finesse noob
- Impressive aesthetics and specs
- Drag capacity and spool capacities are phenomenal in this class
- Longevity? Limited 1-year warranty suggests issues with staying power
- Yet to use one in anger
- A little suspicious of the quality owing to inclusions and astonishingly low price
- Weight: 6.9
- Max Drag: 33lb
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Ball Bearing: 10 + 1
- Retrieve: 67
- Braid: 15/200,20/170,25/140
- Oversized stainless-steel main shaft
- KastKing Intrusion Shield System
- Precision mesh manganese brass pinion gears
- Shark Fin Braid Ready aluminum spool
- Saltwater rated double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings
- Instant lock anti-reverse
- Graphite body and rotor
- Aluminum handle
- Triple disc carbon fiber drag
5. Lew’s Mach 2. 1000 – Best Entry Level Ultralight Reel
I put the Lew’s in a similar category to the KastKing. The full alloy body and spool make it a little more robust than the KastKing, yet the weight is identical. There are 9 + 1 bearings that deliver a pretty smooth crank.
8 pounds of max drag is pretty standard for its class, as is a spool capacity of 120 yards of 6-pound.
The gear ratio is pretty slow, but that shouldn’t be an issue in this class, as 30 inches per crank is going to be fine.
Styling is targeted at a younger crowd looking for ‘statement’ sports styling. Having said that, rarely do I see seniors turned off by ‘look at me’ reel aesthetics.
Porting is stylized and aggressive. With the spool and rotor getting the treatment, this has been an avenue for weight reduction.
The skeletal C40 carbon rotor certainly looks the part while delivering a pretty balanced crank.
It’s supported nicely by the S-curve oscillation system. It’s not silent, but it’s certainly not loud or intrusive.
I like the handle and general ergonomics. My clumsy big hands seemed to manage trouble-free. That’s interesting, as this is one heck of a small spin reel.
A stainless main, and brass pinion gear highlight the internals. It’s a solid feeling crank yet I haven’t tested it under serious load. I assume that the alloy body will play a role in keeping internals locked in place. The rigidity metal body will always trump a graphite body in this class of reel.
The drag system is smooth enough, and with a little time and experimentation, I think you could learn to refine settings to get a better feel.
The anti-reverse is as stated on the box. It’s rock solid and really impressive for this class of reel.
I know many anglers who test the anti-reverse the moment they pick up a reel from the display cabinet.
It doesn’t seem like much, but there’s something about a solid anti-reverse that broadcasts the general high quality of a reel.
I can’t attest to durability. I have had many reels where the first malfunction has been the anti-reverse.
I would still get the KastKing over the Lew’s. It’s simply for curiosity, however. I feel the Lew’s will almost certainly be more robust (a very critical feature for me) than the KastKing.
However, the thought of 30 pounds of drag on a 1000 size, 6.5-ounce reel, is nigh on impossible to pass up without rigorous testing in the field.
The Lew’s is a worthy option in this class of reel. As you can see by the first 3 contenders and have no doubt seen elsewhere, ultra-light spinning reels of quality and high performance are pretty darn pricey.
At this fair price point, the Lew’s will offer the average angler plenty of sport, with a reel that is smooth, predictable, and reliable.
- Aluminum body and spool
- Solid internals
- Drag capacity and speed are a little on the low side
- Bearings: 9+1
- Weight: 6.9
- Spool Capacity: 120/6
- Ratio: 5.2:1
- Drag: 8 lbs.
- Retrieve: 30″
- Aluminum body and sideplate
- C40 carbon skeletal speed rotor
- S-curve oscillation system
- Solid brass pinion gear
- Stainless steel main shaft
- Braid ready double anodized knurled aluminum spool
- DuraMax drag system
- Aluminum handle
- Winn advanced polymer Dri-Tac handle knob
- Speed Lube
While I don’t do a lot of it, fishing with ultra-light kit reignites an addiction every time I hit the water with tiny fishing reels. There’s a fantastic challenge that always surprises me every time I hook-up.
I always love the spirit of traveling light, with a rod I can break down and carry on my back and a reel that fits in my pocket.
Of course, the Stella is a superb piece of equipment all anglers would own, given the budget. It’s the best reel in this group.
Having said that, there’s not a great deal of difference between it and the legend Stradic. Given that it’s bucket-loads cheaper than the Stella, one can understand its long history of popularity.
It’s the ABU that floats my boat in this case.
Where an unlimited budget sees me walk off with the Stella, the ABU suits my financial limitations and offers everything I need in terms of feel, ergonomics, smoothness, and durability.
Nonetheless, my next purchase is going to be the KastKing. I just can’t get over the inclusions, ultra-lightweight construction, and drag capacity in a reel of this class.
At this amazing budget price, it excites me. This is definitely one of the best ultralight spinning reels for the money.
If I were being serious about an entry-level option, the alloy body and spool on the Lew’s would be hard to pass up. I’m tough on gear, and I also prefer the rigidity of a full metal body.
There are half a dozen reels that have been left off this list that are more than worthy of representations. That’s why the article was titled 5 of the best ultra-light spinning reels.
Remember. Reels are a personal choice. Your experience and demands will differ from mine. Having said that, I’m near certain there’s a reel on the list above that is bound to impress.