10 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels – 2017 Top Models Reviewed!

Short on time? Here is the list of our recommended top saltwater spinning reels:

Want to read in-depth reviews on the models? Well, let's dive into the details.

If you are like me, then there is no experience better than heading out on the water and tying to haul in the biggest fish. Whether your favoured fishing point is a boat, jetty, pier or surf, saltwater fishing can be compared to no other.

Over the last few years there has been a quiet revolution in the quality of best saltwater spinning reel units designed and manufactured, with brands like Okuma, Penn, Shimano, and Abu Garcia leading the pack.

That is why we have scored high and low to find the best spinning reels under all range of budgetss available, in order to make your job easier when you go out shopping for your next fishing trip.

So go ahead and get ready for an in-depth saltwater spinning reel review below:

Best Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reels - Comparison

As I mentioned in the intro paragraph, I have chosen the best saltwater spinning reels on the market based on the quality of their components, the value of their craftsmanship, the versatility of their fishing function, and the overall standard of their performance.

Best Saltwater Spinning Reels - Our Top Picks

1. Penn Spinfisher V Reel

Penn Spinfisher V Reel

When you hear the name Penn in the fishing industry, you know you cannot go wrong.

The highly popular Penn Spinfisher Spinning Reel is a saltwater marvel, with a waterproof design that ensures that you can fish in any water of your choosing.

This Penn Spinfisher V reel is made up of 6 seals that efficiently prevent spray and water from entering your drag system and your gear box, ensuring that the components that make up the aforementioned reel parts do not get corroded by the salt in the water.

Furthermore, the 5 stainless steel bearings found on this model are shielded, ensuring that they can perform effectively in all conditions. These bearings are supported by three HT-100 drag washers, which have been greased to ensure that your fishing is smooth and that your reel will last for a long time.

Other than the sealed drag system of the Penn Spinfisher V, this spinning reel is also known for its line capacity rings that give you endless adjustment possibilities when you are letting your line out.

Additionally, the full metal sideplate and body construction ensure that you can reel in heavy fish without compromising the reel.

Highlighted Features

  • Machined and anodized aluminum Superline spool with Line Capacity Rings
  • Full Metal Body and sideplate
  • Sealed HT-100 Slammer Drag System
  • Techno Balanced rotor
  • Instant anti-reverse

2. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3


The Abu Garcia Classic is a right-hand retrieve reel that sports a free spool baitcast construction, which works to make your saltwater fishing experience much easier and more enjoyable.

This round reel comes in two main sizes, the first being the 9.9 ounce 5500C3 and the second being the 11.3 ounce 6500C3. While the features of these two reels are similar, they differ in weight and spool capacity.

This confidence boosting reel is composed of a stable 5:3:1 gear ratio, which guarantees that you can fish with unparalleled accuracy and cast to long distances without hesitation.

When you also consider the fact that the Ambassadeur C3 comes with anti-reverse via its stainless steel roller bearing and an adjustable centrifugal brake for switching ranges, there is no way you can go wrong with the reel.

On the other hand the reel boasts of 3 ball bearings which are part of a carbon matrix drag system, which provides an extremely smooth fishing performance. What you have when you buy the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 is an easy to operate, smooth to cast, and powerful to hook baitcasting reel.

Highlighted Features

  • Carbon Matrix Drag system
  • Unrelenting power and premium performance
  • Six-pin centrifugal brake

3. Abu Garcia Orra Power Finesse Spinning Reel

Abu Garcia Orra Power Finesse Spinning Reel

The Abu Garcia spinning reel has been given an upgrade creating a fine finish. It has a fast retrieve rate of 36 per turn of the handle courtesy of the 5.8.1 gearbox.

The gearbox has an aluminium reinforced C6 carbon body design which is seamlessly combined to provide it with a long lasting performance. This makes the gears which are in perfect alignment to be housed in a lightweight body.

The smooth and consistent operations of the power finesse spinning reel is maintained by eight stainless steel bearings plus one roller bearing which also provides increased corrosion protection. In line with this, a stainless steel main shaft improves corrosion resistance while the Everlast bail system enhances durability.

The wide spool design ensures low line memory making the reel a perfect choice for fluorocarbon lines. Drag performance has scaled to the top of its game courtesy of the Carbon Matrix hybrid drag system which ensures good performance throughout the drag range.

Highlighted Features

  • Braids can now be tied directly to the spool without any sleep because of the machined aluminium braid which now makes things efficient and easy.
  • The aluminium reinforced C6 carbon body makes the reel very durable and tough. This has impacted a lot on its price tag which is affordable enough thus making quite a very worthy and wise purchase.
  • This reel is such a lightweight such that a user can use either his left or right hand when operating it. The components have been housed well and in a compact way. The lesser the weight, the better since it was not meant to be a burden to the user.
  • The 5.8.1 gearbox is a wonder and very much useful to the user. It allows the user to retrieve the cast in a matter of seconds. Speed has been made incredibly efficient.
  • The rocket line management system is used to keep the fishing lines from tangling as well as just controlling them under the water. This further makes it easier and more enjoyable for the angler.

4. Okuma Trio Spinning Reel

Okuma Trio Spinning Reel

Okuma Trio High Speed Spinning Reel has always been a popular choice when it comes to spinning reels, and with the Trio High Speed you can now see why.

To begin with, the Okuma Trio spinning reel comes in three different designs, that is the 30-S, the 40-S and the 55-SS.

These different sized spinning reels are all affordable, and manage to provide superior performance to every saltwater angler.

Additionally, the Okuma Trio spinning reels feature a unique hybrid construction, with a combination of aluminum and graphite components.

While the one-piece stamped reel stern and rotor arm are made out of sturdy aluminum, the side plates are made out of lightweight graphite. This means that you have an excellent crossover of weight saving and strength.

Additionally, the spool of the spinning reel houses an accurate Dual Force Drag system (DFD) in its aluminum drag chamber, ensuring that you have optimal stability when you are fishing and maximum smoothness when reeling in your line.

This smooth feature is complemented by ten stainless steel ball bearings and an anti-reverse roller bearing, which guarantee that your spinning reel does not catch when you are hauling in your fish.

Highlighted Features

  • Hybrid spool design with graphite arbor and aluminum lip
  • Crossover aluminum and graphite hybrid body and rotor design
  • Precision Dual Force Drag System (DFD)
  • 9 BB + 1 RB stainless steel bearings
  • Quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing

5. Shimano Stella Reel

Shimano Stella Reel

Shimano Stella SW-B Spinning Reel from Shimano is a top grade 8 ounce reel, and is the previous winner at the 2010 ICAST awards.

This Shimano Stella SW-B Spinning Reel is popular for its top of the line features, which provide excellent fishing experiences time and time again.

These high-performing features include an X-Ship drivetrain, which allows you to turn the handle of the reel with ease with and without load.

This means that when you are out fishing you will not be spending your energy trying to operate the reel, and you can therefore focus on bringing in your catch. In fact, the X-Ship feature is so efficient that you can feel the lightest bites from your fish.

Furthermore, the Shimano Stella FE reel has an advanced computer balanced rotor for increased efficiency, and a pinion gear supported by bearings for longevity on the water.

When you also take into consideration the fact that the spinning reel is constructed with a magnesium frame and sideplate, you have yourself a lightweight reel that will provide premium performance over and over.

Highlighted Features

  • Gear Ratio: 5.7:1
  • Line Retrieve: 96.52 cm / 38 inch
  • Weight: 435 g - 15.34oz
  • Bearings: 14 S-ARB

6. Shimano Saltwater Spinning Reel

Shimano Saltwater Spinning Reel

Shimano Thunnus Reel is an extraordinary surf reel that should be top on your bucket list.

This 18 ounce reel is heavier than most, but provides supreme performance that will make you forget its weight.

If you are wondering about the name of this reel, Thunnus means tuna in Latin. This saltwater fishing reel is exceptionally smooth, amazingly strong, and incredibly durable, and all of these properties are as a direct result of its aluminum body and rotor construction as well as its waterproof drags system.

This construction and design ensures that your gears are always aligned when you fish, so that you can have an easy time reeling in the fish.

Additionally, the Thunnus has a one of a kind baitrunner feature, which functions as an additional drag system. With this feature you have the ability to feed out your line with superior control from your free spool, so that you can fish live bait like never before.

Highlighted Features

  • S-SUS Bearings: 6
  • Lightweight and powerful
  • Roller Bearings: 1
  • Baitrunner system with unmatched adjustability
  • Hagane GearI
  • Dyna-Balance Propulsion Line Management System

7. KastKing Kodiak Saltwater Spinning Reel

KastKing Kodiak Saltwater Spinning Reel

If you’re a fisherman looking to land a monster fish, then you need a spinning reel that can handle the pressure.

While many standard reels will bend or break against a large catch, this model from KastKing will take a beating. In fact, it’s even named after the largest bear in the world, the Kodiak, due to its immense strength.

What’s so great about this reel is that it is both lightweight yet extremely durable. Not only that, but it’s smoother than the competition with ten ball bearings (plus one anti-reverse). To maintain your pull strength, it has a carbon fiber drag system that won’t snap under pressure.

All of that coupled with the fact that the spool is designed to keep water and sand out to prevent rust, and you have a high-class spinning reel that can take on all environments, both in salt and freshwater.

Highlighted Features

  • Saltwater spinning reel
  • All aluminum housing
  • 10 + 1 stainless steel bearings
  • Zero-flex for better stability
  • Carbon fiber drag system for strength
  • Spool and rotor structure keep sand and water out
  • Longer handle for better leverage
  • Soft grip for comfort

8. Abu Garcia Revo MGX Baitcast Reel

Abu Garcia Revo MGX Baitcast Reel

Abu Garcia Hi Speed Revo is a spectacular and revolutionary baitcast reel, which combines a compact and lightweight design with an innovative, durable and high-performing fishing system.

Firstly, this popular reel weighs a mere 5.4 ounces, which is achieved through an X-Mag alloy frame, an aluminum gear and a carbon C6 sideplate. 

All of this weight reduction does not sacrifice the strength of the baitcast reel, as the one-piece frame of the reel is exceedingly strong.

The Revo MGX reel also has an innovative Infinitely Variable Centrifugal Brake (IVCB-IV) system, which can be adjusted and fine-tuned to your preference so that you are comfortable when out on the water.

Additionally, the baitcast reel has 9 stainless steel HPCR bearings and an additional roller bearing, which allows for improved protection against corrosion while ensuring that your reel is smooth when fishing.

Comfort, smoothness, castability, durability and precision are also guaranteed via an Infini II spool design, a Carbon Matrix Drag system, a bent carbon handle, and a recessed reel foot.

Highlighted Features

  • Lightweight 5.4-ounce Revo MGX has innovative X-Mag alloy frame
  • C6 carbon sideplates for lightweight, durable performance
  • Infinitely Variable Centrifugal Brake (IVCB-IV) system
  • 28 external adjustment positions, allowing detailed fine-tuning on the water without having to remove the sideplate
  • 9 stainless steel HPCR bearings
  • 1 roller bearing provide increased corrosion protection
  • One-piece X-Mag alloy frame provides lightweight yet strong frame
  • 7.9:1 gear ratio, 28 inches per turn
  • Standard retrieve speed
  • 12-pound/115-yard spool capacity
  • Right-handed retrieve
  • 12-pound drag

9. Shimano Stradic CI4+ Reel

Shimano Stradic CI4+ Reel

When it comes to otherworldly spinning reels, the ever popular Shimano Stradic CI4+ takes the cake.

This reinforced carbon fiber reel is definitely the future of Shimano, with top grade construction that is 250% stronger than the Shimano CI4 material, and 20% lighter than XT-7 graphite.

The construction of the Stradic CI4+ contains zero metal, meaning that the frame, sideplate and rotor of the reel will not rust even when in constant contact with saltwater.

Apart from the amazing strength and lightweight properties of this 9 ounce reel, the Stradic CI4+ is also efficient due to its X-Ship drivetrain which has a gear ratio of 5:8:1 and a maximum drag of 20 lbs.

This efficiency is supported by the 7 ball bearings which make handling the reel much smoother, and a propulsion line management system which guarantees that you can cast your line without any hassle. Additionally, the rounded and ergonomic EVA handle grip ensures that you will not lose hold of the reel while you are fishing.

Highlighted Features

  • Ultralight and impervious to rust
  • X-ship paladin gear durability enhancement propulsion line management system
  • Machined thread-in aluminum handle

10. Shimano Baitcasting Reel

Shimano Baitcasting Reel

The Shimano Curado is perhaps one of Shimano’s most successful reels, offering all anglers a smooth, durable and lightweight fishing experience.

This reel only weighs 11.5 ounces, due to its solid aluminum frame construction and lightweight graphite sideplates.

When it comes to the smooth features of the reel, you have one S A-RB ball bearing, five shielded stainless steel bearings and a single roller clutch bearing. 

These seven drag bearings work seamlessly to ensure that you can reel in your catch without exerting needless effort on your line.

Additionally, the Shimano Curado boasts of a high-efficiency 6:9:1 gear ratio and a right retrieve, which guarantees that your retrieval speed is lightning quick.

No more waiting for ages to get your catch from the water to your fishing kayak or your Pontoon boat, with this powerful drag system you will be hauling faster than you ever have before.

Highlighted Features

  • Aluminum frame
  • High Efficiency Gearing
  • Super Free Bearing Supported Pinion Gear System
  • A7075 Aluminum Magnumlite Spool
  • 5 Bearings
  • 12/240, 14/190, 20/120, 6.2:1, 6 BB reel options
  • Right retrieveBall Bearings: 1 S A-RB Ball Bearing/5 S SUS Ball Bearings/ 1 Roller Bearing
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Weight: 10.5 Ounces

11. Penn Gold Conquer Spinning Reel (Currently unavailable)

Penn Gold Label Series Conquer Spinning Reel

The Conquer spinning reel is a fantastic model in the Gold Label series, and it comes in multiple sizes including the CQR2000, CQR4000, CQR5000, and the CQR7000. 

Each one of these reels has been constructed with amazing detail and impressive quality, keeping with the tradition of top notch Penn craftsmanship that has been in effect for over 7 decades. 

Whether you are using this reel in-shore or near-shore, the excellent design of the Conquer spinning reel ensures reliability, durability and smooth operation in saltwater.

The gear box has been constructed with one-piece machined aluminum, and the aluminum spool is forged, machined and anodized to give you spectacular casting distance possibilities.

Other remarkable features of the spinning reel include an eternal alloy spool lip, which is exceedingly strong and resistant to scratches, dents and nicks. The Conquer spinning reel also has an Easy Access System (EAS) which allows anglers to lubricate their gears and bearings for a consistently smooth operation.

Highlighted Features

  • Superline Spool - no backing needed because of the rubber gasket keeps superline from slipping
  • Patented one-piece machined aluminum gear box
  • Forged, machined, and anodized aluminum spool
  • Easy Access System allows maintenance
  • Eternal Alloy- The spool lip is made from a proprietary metal that resists dents and scratches

Things To Consider Before Buying 

There are several factors that will determine the type of saltwater fishing reel to select:

  • Type of fish
  • Fishing location
  • The taste and preference of the angler
  • Your fishing method and fishing experience

Type of Material

Not all the best fishing reels are designed for use in saltwater fishing. It is important to go for a good fishing reel that will not corrode with salt water in order to provide you with a long-lasting use.

These are the materials used to build saltwater reels:

  • Magnesium - best fishing reels that are made of magnesium will easily corrode. Despite magnesium being lightweight and common in many fishing reels, you shouldn’t choose it for saltwater fishing because it easily gets damaged.
  • Aluminum - On the other hand, is a great material for making saltwater fishing reels. It is lightweight, sturdy and lasts for an extended period of time.
  • Graphite - There are some other brands that are made of graphite because it is durable, lightweight and very strong.
  • Hybrid - Some fishing reels like the Okuma Trio High Speed Spinning Reel are designed with a hybrid construction, which is a combination of graphite and aluminum components making it very strong and corrosion resistant.

Size of the reel

If you are fishing in-shore, a medium to large-sized fishing will work perfectly well because you do not require a large line capacity.

The size of your best fishing reel will determine the size of the line to be used when you are fishing. If you are fishing anglerfish and viperfish, which are found in deep-water, you definitely require a large-sized fishing reel that will hold a large line capacity.

So how will you determine if a reel is large sized or medium? There is no fixed rule of thumb for best fishing reel size. Some manufacturer rates their reel as just 20, or some do it as 200, or even 2000. But both are of the same size. So here is the final size:

  • Small- 10/100/1000 – 35/350/35000
  • Medium - 40/400/4000 - 55/550/5500
  • Large – 60/600/6000 and upper


keeps the line in place. Some of the common materials that are used to make the spool are aluminum and graphite. These are materials that will not corrode, in fact these makes the spool durable. Graphite made spools are lighter compared to aluminum spools.

Gear Ratio

You do not want to spend the whole day without catching your species. If you are a serious angler looking for an ideal saltwater fishing reel, you need to look for a reel that has more gears. This will determine how fast you catch the fish.

A fishing reel with more gears will be faster at drawing the line back. Here is a great video explaining about spinning reels you can check now:

Drag Adjustment

The drag adjustment system in saltwater spinning reels will work well just like other drag devices. This ensures that the speed at which the line can be pulled off the spool is controlled after the fish takes the bait.

For instance, if you are catching larger fish like the Blue Marlin and Tuna, the drag will help to prevent them from snapping the fishing line.

Sturdy Frame

Fishing in saltwater is challenging, you are not sure what you are going to end up catching. You might be reeling a2-pound snapper and end up with a 6-foot barracuda (Frank Ross, Saltwater Reels Author).Frames can be made from graphite or aluminum.

The type of frame construction reduces the torque on the spool and reel when you are struggling with big fish.

Final Verdict

As you can see from the detailed reviews above, Shimano, Okuma, Abu Garcia, and Penn reign supreme when it comes to the world of saltwater fishing. All of best saltwater spinning reel units described above are leaders in the angling market, and will offer you superior facilities that best fishing reels should offer. And of course consistent performance each and every time you are out on the water.

So if you are looking for a value for money investment, then select one of the ten reels given above. You will not regret it!

Relevant Resources:

David Valle

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!

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