If you like fishing in seas or oceans rather than rivers and lakes, you’ll need durable equipment that can withstand salt as well as resist the corrosive or rusting effects it may have.
That’s why you’ll probably opt for a high-end spinning reel that’ll be relatively costlier than the others. However, it’s not only the budget that you should be worrying about, so keep reading to learn more about the best saltwater spinning reels and how to pick one for your next adventure.
|Reel||Gear Ratio||Weight||Bearings||Maximum Drag||Retrieve Rate|
|Penn Battle II & III 5000||5.6:1||1.2 pounds||5+1||25 pounds||36 inches|
|Penn Slammer III 5500||5.6:1||1.4 pounds||6+1||40 pounds||39 inches|
|Daiwa BG2500 BG||5.6:1||0.73 pounds||6+1||13.2 pounds||33.20 inches|
|Shimano Baitrunner D BTR4000D||4.8:1||0.8 pounds||3+1||22 pounds||28 inches|
|Daiwa BG3500 BG||5.7:1||1 pound||6+1||17.6 pounds||38.5 inches|
The 5 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
Now that you have an overall picture regarding the common features that help you choose the right reel for you, let’s delve into the details of each reel and explain how these aspects work together.
1. Penn Battle II & III 5000 – Best Overall
The Penn Battle II or III are both excellent choices for a saltwater spinning reel. With a full metal body, rotor, and side plate, the reel is quite durable, which is why it’s on the heavier end of the choices at 1.2 pounds. Still, it’s a reel that stands strong in the face of pressure, even if you’re reeling in big fish.
This could make you wonder how well it withstands saltwater environments, but don’t worry; this reel comes with HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers. These are an ideal replacement of the conventional felt washers as they extend the durability of the reel and give it a heightened ability to resist corrosion and rust.
With heavy-duty aluminum bail wire and enhanced paint quality that stands well in the face of saltwater and chemicals, you can rest assured about its durability. Not to mention, its 5 stainless steel ball bearings are sealed for extra protection against grime, sand, and saltwater from entering the inner workings of the reel.
The 5000 size is the best for saltwater fishing purposes, as it comes with a 5.6:1 gear ratio, the ability to drag 25 pounds, and a relatively quick retrieve of 36 inches per crank. Combine that with the 5+1 bearings, and you get smooth and dependable performance in the face of medium-sized fish that you can find in saltwater bodies.
Moreover, it’s equipped with Anti-reverse, which leaves no place for back play on the rotor when the angler sets their hook.
- Reasonable price
- Well-built with sturdy construction
- Fantastic performance
- Prone to wind knots
- Sealing isn’t as comprehensive as other choices
- Heavier than other models
If you’re looking for a saltwater spinning reel that will get you through light battles against medium-sized fish, the Penn Battle II or III would be an excellent choice. With a reasonable price and reliable performance, you can’t go wrong with this one.
2. Penn Slammer III 5500 – Best for Heavyweight Fishing
Yet another model by Penn, the Slammer III is one of the most reliable options you can get for a saltwater spinning reel.
It also comes with a full metal body, rotor, and side plate, but it uses CNC Gear technology, illustrated in the full brass gearing system, which is cut with a CNC machine to be as precise and strong as it can be. This gearbox consists of the isolation gears, pinion, and drive, giving you a cranking power that you can rely on for a long.
Moreover, its whole body and spool design are IPX6 sealed, meaning that there’s no room for any water to get into the gearbox. And to give you even further protection, there are several seals around the main pinion, drag system, and shaft to ensure that no saltwater penetrates the reel.
Not to mention, the drag system uses Dura-drag material to strengthen the HT-100 carbon washers, which are coated with Phenolic, a specialty material that increases the durability and smoothness of the drag that uses 6+1 bearings.
This is why the reel can handle 40 pounds -the largest number on the list- while maintaining a 5.6:1 gear ratio with a 39-inch retrieve. However, at 1.4 pounds, this might not be the most lightweight option you can make.
- Very high maximum weight drag
- Smooth drag system
- Reliable sealing and insulation
- Robust design
- Quite hefty
If you’re looking for some heavy-duty action reel, the Penn Slammer III is definitely the reel you should opt for. It can handle hefty maximum drags without deterioration in performance and comes with reliable protection against water.
3. Daiwa BG2500 BG – Most Lightweight
Are you going to be spending a long time on your fishing trips? Opt for the super lightweight Daiwa BG2500 BG. At only 0.73 pounds, this reel offers quite impressive performance that you can depend on in the toughest of environments.
Although its housing is made of aluminum (Hard Bodyz body and side cover), it’s anodized to withstand all sorts of elements, offering even better performance than painted aluminum. The “Hard Bodyz” layer does an incredibly great job at withstanding bumps, scrapes, and corrosion.
Moreover, this reel comes with a massive Digigear system that uses precisely-cut and strong gears. With more teeth in contact, you’ll be getting enhanced smoothness during retrieves.
Also, the Daiwa BG2500 BG comes with an air rotor that does well when it comes to distributing the stress across the reel, despite being a lot lighter than other rotors on the market. The dynamic cut aluminum ABS spool works on enhancing the reel’s castability, making it one of the most integrated options you can make.
Not to mention, the Daiwa BG2500 BG comes with 6 ball bearings and a roller bearing, all of which are made of stainless steel with anti-rust characteristics. These bearings work on making the drag incredibly smooth and combined with the fact that it’s a carbon ATD system, you’ll get solid motion at a very reasonable price.
On smaller sizes like the 2500, the Daiwa BG uses an infinite anti-reverse system that works on extinguishing any back play from the reel.
- Very smooth performance
- Solid anodized body
- Impressive drag strength
- Spool is only painted
The Daiwa BG2500 BG is the best option you can get if you’re looking for the lightest reel out there to help you spend the longest time possible holding your fishing rod without straining or exhausting your wrists and arms.
4. Shimano Baitrunner D BTR4000D – Best for Stubborn Fish
If you know you’re going to need patience with stubborn fish, your best bet is the Shimano Baitrunner D BTR4000D. It comes with shielded A-RB ball bearings that are well-known for their anti-rust performance, which minimizes the effects of corrosion as well as provides a smooth drag.
With a Fluidrive gearing, larger spool, and drag system, the Shimano Baitrunner D BTR4000D lives up to the Full S concept design of the Shimano reels, which stands for smooth, silent, and strong. The Fluidrive gearing relies on a huge, polished master gear that contributes to making the drag and retrieves an effortless task.
Also, with the varispeed oscillation technology, you’ll be getting consistent spool speeds with the line laying evenly on the spool, no matter how much pressure there is during the battle.
The BTR400D comes with a 4.8:1 gear ratio and a 28-inch retrieve rate, which make it suitable for slow battles against stubborn fish. What’s more, the fact that it weighs 0.8 pounds makes it suitable for such fights against fish of up to 22 pounds in weight as you’d need a reel that doesn’t strain your arms or wrists with extended use.
- Original dual drag system
- Fluidrive and bearings make its action smooth
- Well-suited for saltwater use
- Could’ve used more bearings
- Drag washers tend to wear out
The Shimano Baitrunner D BTR4000D is a pretty great choice for someone who isn’t looking for top-notch specs and can do with only 4 bearings in the dual drag system.
5. Daiwa BG3500 BG – Best for Fast Action
In terms of features and technology, the Daiwa BG3500 BG is no different than the BG2500. It comes with an anodized machined aluminum housing, an over-sized digigear system, air rotor, dynamic cut ABS spool, screw-in machined aluminum handle, 6 ball bearings and a roller one, and an infinite anti-reverse system.
The whole difference lies in the specs as this one comes with a 5.7:1 gear ratio, 17.6-pound maximum drag, 38.5-inch retrieve rate, and weighs 1 pound, making it 0.2 pounds heavier.
- Reliable cranking and retrieval ability
- Decent castability
- Smooth performance
- Painted spool
If you like the BG2500 but want something that does a better job when it comes to fast-paced battles, the Daiwa BG3500 BG is the ideal reel for you.
Choosing a Saltwater Spinning Reels
When you’re choosing a saltwater spinning reel, the top priority should always be for durability and the ability to resist corrosion and rust. However, there are also other important aspects that you should balance with that. In this section, we’ll go over the most crucial ones.
As we’ve mentioned, how well-sealed the reel is would be a very important factor when it comes to saltwater reels. Make sure that all the mechanical parts and bearings are insulated, check the protection mechanisms, coatings, and check whether the reel resists elements like sand, dirt, and most importantly, salt.
The body of the reel is referred to as the “housing,” and it can be made of graphite, aluminum, or both elements together. And while aluminum ones are stronger and more rigid, you’re better off with lighter graphite bodies as those are the ones that come with corrosion-resistant qualities.
Moreover, saltwater fishing trips tend to last longer than freshwater ones, and that’s why a light graphite reel would be better to protect your wrists from fatigue. However, it’s worth mentioning that to compare weights accurately, you should be comparing reels of the same size, which brings us to:
The reel size you get should be proportionate with the fishing line size you use most often. Small reels suit light lines, so the heavier your line, the bigger the reel should be. To illustrate, if you have a reel rated for 6, 8, and 10-pound lines, then it would be best for use with an 8-pound line.
Typically, you’ll find the reels labeled with something like “6lb/90YDS,” which means that it suits a 6-pound line for 90 yards and that it also supports 4-pound and 8-pound lines. This one would be a medium-sized reel, and their sizings are divided as follows:
- Small: Small reels can be sized between 1000 (10) and up to 3500 (35). They’re capable of housing 2-pound and up to 10-pound monolines or 4-pound and up to 14-pound braided ones. They suit anglers that are after smaller fish like bass, flathead, and bream. And because of the types of fish associated with them, they’re not the best option for saltwater as they’re ideal for lakes, rivers, and harbors.
- Medium: These ones range from 4000 (40) and up to 5500 (55) and can handle mono lines between 8 to 14 pounds and braided lines between 8 to 25 pounds. They’re your best bet if you’re looking for some light, off-shore fishing and you want to catch Cod, Barramundi, Snapper, Morwong, or Dummer.
- Large: Ranging between 6000 (60) to 10,500, these ones are the beasts that can handle mono lines between 12 and 44 pounds as well as braided lines between 12 and 50 pounds. If you want to catch Kingfish, Tuna, Trout, Salmon, and Samson and will be fishing from a boat in a rocky area, large reels are the ones for you.
The bail on a spinning reel wraps onto the spool, and with every turn of the handle, the bail rotates around this spool. The number of rotations is referred to as the gear ratio of the spinning reel.
For illustration, a 6.0:1 gear ratio means that the bail will rotate 6 whole times around the spool each time you turn the handle, and that’s a pretty fast-paced reel that suits fishing small fish or medium-sized ones at best.
A 4.0:1 gear ratio is a slow-speed one, and it suits fishing for large catches as its action is typically steady. Finally, if you’re looking to catch medium-sized fish with occasional outliers, you should opt for a moderate 5.0:1 gear ratio.
The drag system is the component that applies pressure or releases the line when a fish is hooked to it. Without a reliable drag system, you risk increased chances of broken lines and missing catches.
To test the drag system, set the drag to different levels, and observe how it performs. A good one would release the line in a uniform manner without any hiccups, no matter the tension of the drag. The system is one of the two: Front drag and rear drag.
This refers to the physical location of the drag controls, which can be found at the front or the rear. The former typically come with plenty of large drag washers to enhance the performance of the reel in terms of durability and smoothness.
And while front drag systems offer better performance, rear ones are more accessible, which makes controlling the drag during battles a lot easier.
The bearings on a spinning reel are components you’ll find within the body to provide it with smoothness, stability, and support. The more bearings there are on a reel, the smoother its performance will be.
It would be better to opt for sealed stainless steel ones over bushings as the latter are less durable and don’t provide you with as much control.
The minimum number of ball bearings shouldn’t be less than 4, but if your budget allows, opt for the largest number of bearings your money can get you.
Now that we’re done with our reviews on the best saltwater spinning reels, hopefully, you’ve made up your mind regarding the one that suits you the best. If you’re still confused, here’s a quick recap:
Either the Penn Battle II or III 5000 is a top-notch choice if you’re looking for something with a reasonable price, weight, and reliable performance with a decent retrieve rate and maximum drag capacity.
The Penn Slammer III 5500 would be an excellent choice if you’re looking for a reel that can handle heavyweight fish while the Daiwa BG2500 BG would suit anglers who are seeking a lightweight reel.