When choosing a new saltwater spinning reel, you need to make sure you get one that is durable enough to handle the harsh saltwater environment. Saltwater reels have come a long way and are now powerful enough to handle large fish in the surf as well as offshore. Here are a few tips on what to look for in the best saltwater spinning reel and a few reviews to help you start shopping.
Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
Important Factors When Choosing The Best Saltwater Spinning Reel
When fishing in saltwater, you can expect long runs and deep water. You want to make sure that you have a reel that can hold enough line that you won’t end up losing a fish because you get spooled.
A minimum line capacity of 300 yards should be enough in most cases, however, the larger the fish you are after, the more line capacity you may need. Remember that a larger reel generally has a higher line capacity, but that’s not always the case so make sure to keep an eye on the capacity ratings as you shop.
Braided Line Compatibility
You get many advantages when you use braided line, so it's important to make sure the reel you are considering is able to use both braided line and mono-filament.
Most modern reels these days can be spooled with a braided line, and the best reels include special features that are designed to take full advantage of the benefits including:
- Bails that come without gaps so the line doesn’t get snagged or tangled
- Less slippage
- Durable components that can withstand the cutting power of the line when under pressure
Remember that when you buy a spinning reel, it is going to spend a lot of time in your hand retrieving and casting for hours.
Every ounce will count after several hours, so a lighter reel will make your day easier, just make sure not to give up strength to lose those few ounces.
Good seals are essential in the best saltwater spinning reels as they’ll make sure to keep saltwater out from inside the reel where it can cause damage. You should also be able to open your real to easily flush and rinse it out after use.
The ability to withstand the harsh environments they encounter is the biggest difference between saltwater and freshwater reels. While you fish, your reel is constantly exposed to salt, which is abrasive and corrosive.
The best saltwater spinning reel will have a specific design that can withstand being dunked in seawater and coated with salt spray without any problems.
Drag is the adjustable, mechanical friction that decides the amount of resistance you need to pull line from the reel.
Make sure to choose a reel with a maximum drag that is enough to land, turn, and tire out the biggest fish you are targeting. Drag ratings over 30 to 40 pounds do enough to accomplish the reels intended task, while a higher drag rating will show greater protection from bursts of strength or speed, the strength in your arm will become the weak point after that point.
Note: in a spinning reel, that the power and strength in fighting a fish is not the same as when you are using a baitcasting reel.
The best saltwater spinning reel should have a smooth but strong drag system that will help you fight a large fish. Search for reels that have washer stacks made of carbon fiber that create drag easily which will be handy when you have a large fish that goes on a run at the boat.
The inside parts of your reel need protection against damage that is caused by the rotation of metal on metal. Lightweight and inexpensive models use bushings that result in a stop and go action as well as lower tolerances. A good quality reel will use ball bearings that give you a smoother action when under load, so having more bearings means having a better action.
Similar to gears on a multi-speed bicycle, the gears in your reel increase its power by turning the handle. With a low gear ratio, the handle is easier to turn but needs a lot more turns to be able to retrieve the same amount of line as a reel that has a higher ratio.
So, a ratio of 4:1 means that the spool will need to turn four times for each handle rotation and a ratio of 6:1 means a faster retrieval since the spool will turn six times for each handle rotation.
A lower gear ratio is best for live lining bait or jigging while a higher gear ratio is good for retrieving lures at a fast speed or when you are searching for fish in large areas.
It’s important to take care of your reels and rods, especially since saltwater is so hard on your gear. Make sure to get a reel with corrosion resistant components that are high-quality when fishing in harsh saltwater environments.
Materials like stainless steel, titanium, and carbon are good choices for a saltwater spinning reels while magnesium can be a poor choice unless you plan to be very dedicated to clean your rod after every trip.
Braided line is a great choice for saltwater fishing so make sure to look for a spinning reel that has a spool specifically created to handle braid. Featuring machined grooves designed for braid to grip onto, these spools won’t have any slippage.
Best Saltwater Spinning Reel Reviews
Penn Clash 6000 Spinning Reel Review
One of the best values for the money when it comes to a saltwater spinning reel is the Penn Clash 6000 Spinning Reel.
Using quality components all through the reel construction, this reel gives you a very smooth fishing experience and features large screws on the fame for easy maintenance that you can do yourself.
With sealed bearings and machined parts, the Penn Clash features a reliable spinning reel design with a sealed body and bearings to keep the grit and sand from your environment from creating havoc with the mechanical components.
With eight ball bearing and a roller bearing, the Penn Clash should provide smooth reeling with the strength you need.
There is also a great HT-100 drag system due to the sealed and keyed carbon washer stack. Featuring an aluminum bail, the 100% metal body won’t give you any torsion or flex when you are fighting a large fish. The Penn Clash will definitely prove its worth as one of the best saltwater, surf fishing, and inshore spinning reels on the market.
Penn Conflict Spinning Reel Review
Another popular option is the Penn Conflict which is a great mid-range reel that is also found in the Penn spinning reel lineup.
With 7+1 sealed bearings, the Conflict compares well to 8+1 the Clash and the bearings are sealed to keep silt and salt out for smooth reeling and casting. Plus, all rotor designs have a balanced and smooth retrieve thanks to being Techno-Balanced. The Clash also used a carbon fiber washer design like the Conflict.
With a strong but smooth drag performance, this system is important when you are fighting a strong saltwater fish. It also comes with full metal construction, graphite rotor, line capacity rings, and spools made to carry braided line. The proprietary rotor balancing system guarantees the Penn Conflict is even on the spool.
Abu Garcia Revo Spinning Reel Review
The Revo Series from Abu Garcia is another popular option that works well for inshore saltwater fishing.
Available in sizes 60, 40, 35, and 30, it has a great build for in shoe and surf casting. With the 40 and 60, you get a heavier X-Craftic alloy frame for improved strength while the 30 and 35 are more lightweight featuring a C6 carbon body, while.
Made with a spool design featuring machined aluminum, the Revo is ideal for handling braided line making it perfect for use in saltwater. This is a great reel for catching salmon, stripers, and redfish, plus it has a Carbon Matrix drag system similar to other spinning reels in the Revo line that make it a great choice for saltwater anglers.
Penn Battle II 4000 Spinning Reel Review
Another well known Penn product is the Penn Battle II 4000. This is a newer reel in their line that is more affordable than the Conflict or Clash reels, but it still retains a lot of the same features as the Clash including the braided superline spools, sealed bearings, Techno Balanced rotor, and the HT-100 Drag System. The major difference is that it doesn’t have the same body seals that you find on the Clash, so it is necessary to give it a good cleaning if it gets dunked into the surf.
The Penn Battle is a strong and dependable reel that is one of the best in its class featuring a full metal body, rotor, and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire for includible durability.
With a high-range spinning reel, you can easily conquer large saltwater gamefish, and fluid cranking ball bearings and instant anti-reverse give you smooth action. Plus, the Superline spool doesn’t need backing and is braid ready with line capacity rings marked at full capacity, 2/3, and 1/3.
Shimano Baitrunner Review
If you are using cut bait or live bait, the Shimano Baitrunner is considered one of the best saltwater spinning reels.
The smooth and adjustable rear clicker system is loud enough to hear and will let you run your bait so that you can allow them to get it in the mouths better. Then, you only need to engage the reel so that the regular drag system can take over allowing you to fight the fish.
The Shimano Baitrunner also gives you more confidence with better casting, an auto-return feature, and better line lay for fewer tangles and backlash. You also get less friction and a more comfortable grip with higher max drag and a wide range of settings. Made from graphite, it also features a machined aluminum handle, stainless steel ball bearing for smooth action.
Conclusion - Which Is The Best Saltwater Spinning Reel?
The winner of the saltwater spinning reel roundup is the Penn Clash 6000 Spinning Reel. Considered one of the best reels on the market, the Penn Clash 6000 Spinning Reel uses quality components all through its construction giving you a very smooth fishing experience.
The machined parts and bearings are sealed to provide you with reliability by keeping grit and sand from creating problems with you mechanical components.
You also get smooth reeling with eight ball bearings and a roller bearing so that you have all the strength you need.
Plus, you also get an aluminum bail and 100% metal body construction that doesn’t give you any torsion or flex when you are fighting a large fish. The definite winner of the saltwater spinning reel roundup is the Penn Clash 6000 Spinning Reel hands down.
P.S. don't forget to check out our ice fishing reels, fly fishing reels and rod brand reviews & guides for a deeper dive into those topics.