Is picking a spinning reel for saltwater that much more difficult than a baitcasting reel? Or is setting up a specific saltwater spinning reel more crucial than bringing freshwater equipment into a saltwater environment and permanently ruining it? Choosing a spinning reel for saltwater can be difficult if you have trouble deciding on any of these questions.
Regardless of the case, if you want to pick up a saltwater spinning reel, there are some criteria that need to be met. Make sure that the reels are corrosion-resistant, enable the advanced drag systems to apply their maximum pressure, and balance comfort, power, and reliability.
Also, the spinning reels ought to be light and effective enough to withstand the jolts of a 120-pound tuna when you’re fishing offshore or using them to catch striped bass inshore or rock muzzle. Here is how we chose the appropriate equipment for your arsenal.
1.Shimano Saragosa SW A
2.Shimano Spheros SW
3.Penn Spinfishers VI
15 - 50 lbs
5. Penn Slammer III
6. Penn Battle III
7. Shimano Stella Sw
How We Picked the Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
In our 15 years of offshore and inshore fishing, we have made use of a lot of spinning reels and gained some expertise in picking the best ones.
The most crucial factor is how resistant they are to corrosion when exposed to seawater, even when we simply leave them on the beach or attempt to maintain them by giving these reels a freshwater rinse at the end of a trip.
Overall, tin, carbon, brass, and anti-rust alloys are examples of corrosion-resistant materials that keep saltwater from damaging the reels.
Moreover, reel weight is a factor to take into account in order to maintain the spinning reel’s weight balance, since you will not want to spend an hour battling large fish. Based on the performance of the following factors, we can identify a professional saltwater spinning reel:
- Weight: A spinning reel for saltwater fishing comes in a wide range of weights. However, with a lightweight spinning reel, you won’t have to worry about getting sore even after a long day of casting and reeling in.
- Max Drag: A drag system allows anglers to manage the amount of line released from the spool. Therefore, to efficiently fight fish and keep your line from breaking, saltwater fishing requires a solid drag system.
If you’re after smaller saltwater species like snook, redfish, or trout, max drag of 10 to 15 pounds should suffice. And for medium-sized saltwater species like snapper, grouper, or dorado, it should be 20 to 30 pounds. Keep in mind that you won’t get any benefit from purchasing a reel with a 50-pound drag capacity since it’s only suitable for skilled anglers.
- Strong and stiff body: Increase the sensitivity and durability of the reel since the strong body can withstand the rigors of heavy use and abuse while allowing fishermen to sense the smallest movements of a fish on the line. Moreover, a tough body will improve impact resistance and reduce body flex.
- High-power Handle: Increases the torque and power a fisherman can produce when reeling in a fish. Also, a high-power handle can enhance control and grip, which can aid fishermen in keeping a consistent retrieve and avoiding the reel from slipping or spinning in their hands.
- Size: This is one of the most crucial considerations when selecting suitable saltwater reels. It’s important to make sure the reel can handle the species of fish you intend to catch.
These reels come in sizes 4,500 and up. Usually, 4,500 for inshore or surf fishing like striped bass, 8,000 – 10,000, or 10K+ for ocean fishing like bluefish, shark, tuna, etc.
- Type of Fish: If you want to capture smaller fish, a very large reel is not needed. However, a large reel is required if you want to capture larger fish because it can handle their weight and size.
- Anti-corrosion Material: Since saltwater is a tough environment where your reel will be exposed to salt, sand, and sun regularly, it’s essential to pick a reel composed of corrosion-resistant materials.
Both stainless steel and aluminum are popular choices for saltwater spinning reels, as they’re resistant to corrosion. And in addition to traditional materials, composites are also employed to make these tackles.
If you don’t have time or are too busy to choose, consider our quick recommendation:
Shimano Saragosa SW A
(Best Overall – Inshore and Offshore)
A high-quality saltwater spinning reel with outstanding performance, durability, and versatility. With its advanced features and dependable performance, this reel is a fantastic choice for any fisherman who wants to take their saltwater fishing to the next level.
Shimano Spheros SW
(Best For Inshore, Offshore, or Surf Fishing use)
A spinning reel that shares the same components with the Shimano Saragosa SW but at a lower price. If you are after big-game fish or simply looking for a reliable saltwater fishing reel, the Shimano Spheros SW is an excellent choice.
Penn Spinfisher VI
(High Performance, Durable and Affordable)
Offering high performance with advanced features as well as being durable and affordable, the Penn Spinfisher is a great addition to your arsenal that can stand out in the game. All in all, whether it’s rough land fishing with offshore wind or casting off a kayak, Penn’s new range of reels has got you covered.
In-Depth Reviews Of The 7 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
Below is a list of the 7 best saltwater spinning reels that we have hand picked for you.
1. Shimano Saragosa SW A (Best Overall – Inshore and Offshore)
To start off, at the top of the list is the versatile Shimano Saragosa SW A, a true glutton for punishment that begins a new chapter in its legacy in 2020 with improved capabilities and features to rule the salty world. Particularly, it is a spinning reel that is designed for inshore and offshore saltwater fishing, such as yellowtail and tuna.
At first, you might be impressed by the reel’s body, which is made of hybrid aluminum and XT7 graphite. These materials make the reel exceptionally stiff, which ensures that it won’t bend under pressure.
Titanium is used for the spool lip, which allows the line to escape without resistance for longer and better casting. Also, the sealing materials, coatings, and design of the Shimano Saragosa A provide outstanding water resistance. However, unlike the majority of saltwater spinning reels, it lacks an anti-reverse switch.
Even better, what anglers appreciate most about this product is that it features the IPX8-rated waterproof Cross Carbon Drag and X-Protect for high-level water resistance to create long-lasting durability without sacrificing performance.
In detail, the IPX8 immersion test requires immersion in more than one meter of water. Usually, most manufacturers will set the IPX8 waterproof test requirements, which generally means: “The device is suitable for continuous immersion in water under specific conditions. These specific conditions must be specified by the manufacturer.”
Typically, the equipment is hermetically sealed. However, water can penetrate through several types of equipment. If liquid infiltration occurs, it should only occur in a non-harmful manner. The risk is still present since saltwater continues to seep into the bearings and corrode them.
In the end, we ought to avoid immersing the reels in water or splashing them in order to maximize their effectiveness and keep them as effective as possible.
Choose the size for inshore or offshore fishing
The 6,000 is designed for light jigging applications in shallow water. For some light casting operations for smaller GTs and tuna, use size 8,000. The 10,000 is ideal for jigging that is moderate to heavy. The 20,000 and 25,000 sizes work well for billfish and other large pelagic species when jigging for big game.
Due to its accessibility, dependability, and longevity, the Shimano Saragosa is widely known as a favorite saltwater spinning reel with good performance but low cost.
- A high degree of durability
- Higher and smoother rotational power
- X-Shield and X-Protect prevent important parts from seawater.
- Relatively heavy, most miniature models weigh more than 20 oz.
- Costly, as its price varies from 270$ to 400$
- Does not have anti-reverse
2. Shimano Spheros SW
If you are on a tight budget and can not afford the pricey Shimano Saragosa SW, here comes the Shimano Spheros SW, which is a lower-cost version that shares almost all the same components.
As is so common these days, when you have a look at the fishing market, particularly with major manufacturers such as Shimano, there are multiple reels that are so similar in terms of specs and components. That makes you wonder why they have that reel.
Simply put, marketing is the answer. If I had to choose between the Shimano Spheros SW and the Shimano Saragosa SW, I would personally choose the Spheros SW to save roughly 20%.
However, with new Shimano ‘SW Concept’ features, the new Spheros SW spinning reels offer even more fisherman confidence while maintaining their well-known durable design to handle salt. They also come in various sizes for use off the beach, inshore fishing, and blue water.
- Waterproof design
- Reasonable price
- Smooth gearing and drag
- Not a full metal body
3. Penn Spinfisher VI (Best resistance to salt and corrosion)
Move on to the next masterpiece, the Penn Spinfisher VI, which will blow your mind with its remarkable features. Generally, it is built with a full metal body that offers great strength, and durability while also being corrosion-resistant.
With the IPX5 sealing on the Penn Spinfisher VI, there is no worry about saltwater seeping into the gearbox or drag system, whether it gets hit by a wave or you let it ride in the spray all the way home.
Plus, the CNC Gear technology, the machined main gear that’s featured in the Penn Spinfisher VI, is a big upgrade for this reel series. The gear system is not only built with more accuracy, but it is also better lubricated.
Furthermore, the Penn Spinfisher VI also features the HT-100 drag system. Which many fishermen claim gives smooth and consistent drag performance even when fighting large fish.
In fact, I fish from my kayak with four Spinfisher VI 4500s, and they’ve performed excellently. All day long, they are sprayed with salt. I even dunked one a couple of times with no issues. Since I knew they would get wetter in a kayak than in a skiff, the only reason I bought them was for their sealing
- Capacity to withstand heavy use in salty settings and durable construction
- Versatile, as it can be used for a wide range of saltwater fishing activities, including offshore and inshore fishing
- Full metal body
- Reasonable price
- Heavier than other reels
4. Daiwa BG( Best For Inshore)
The Daiwa BG spinning reel is a medium-priced saltwater spinner that works well for both inshore and offshore fishing. It was a superb combination of many particular features, such as the massive cutting gear, which enables the provision of a greatly expanded gear-to-tooth contact area for smooth drives.
Additionally, Daiwa also incorporated their new Digigear system in this model, which significantly increases power and torque, allowing the gearbox to last longer.
Moreover, the Air Rotor technology from the Saltiga and Saltist by BG’s boutique is also carried over to the BG4500. Thanks to this advancement, the rotor is around 15% lighter than conventional ones, making shaft movement smoother.
In terms of design, the BG reels’ body and side covers are both constructed of machined aluminum. Together with Daiwa’s Hardbodyz design, which is solid and sturdy, providing stability for the internal components.
To be honest, at first sight, the Daiwa BG4500 creates the first impression with its signature black anodized finish. Making it look more attractive while preventing peeling and cracking, preserving its originality for a longer period.
- Smooth operation
- The strong and delicate traction system
- Simple maintenance
- Reasonable price
- Lower maximum drag, compared to other reels
- Quite heavy
5. Penn Slammer III
If you are looking for a strong reel to battle big fish, the Penn Slammer III is a great addition to your arsenal.
So why would you want to add one of these reels to your collection of fishing gear? And what makes the Penn Slammer such a superb reel after all these years? The short answer is Durability, of course.
The reel was originally made to withstand the damage that saltwater fishing, especially surf casting, places on a reel, including persistent saltwater spray, sometimes getting submerged while wading, getting dropped in the sand, and repetitive casting of heavy lures and cut baits.
The design has a full metal body, side plate, and rotor, which is essential for larger models. You can rest assured that the alignment for the pinion and gears is maintained properly, resulting in a smoother retrieve and increased reel longevity.
For precision and strength, the whole brass gearing system used by the Slammer III was cut using a CNC machine. This gear technology gives you long-lasting cranking power since it includes the full gearbox system, which is made up of the drive, pinion, and isolator gears. In addition, another benefit is that it generates a smoothness that other materials can’t match.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? But the best part of Slammer III is not over yet. It also has an IPX6-sealed body and spool design. To keep seawater out, several seals are placed around the shaft, main pinion, and drag system. With this feature, you will have no worry about getting water into the gearbox.
Moreover, the Penn Slammer III is the first spinning reel to have Dura-Drag material. It is a proprietary material that is even stronger than the HT-100 keyed carbon washers on Penn Spinfisher V reels.
The washers have a coating made of a unique substance called phenolic, which increases longevity and makes the drag incredibly smooth. This enables Penn to achieve a maximum drag on the model 10500 Slammer III of 60 lbs.
- Strong, durable, and smooth
- Very saltwater resistant
- The Dura-Drag technology generates a lot of drag
- An ample line capacity
- Aluminum body, making it heavier than some other inshore reels.
6. Penn Battle III (Best For Money)
Next on this list is the Penn Battle III, a solid reel with a rugged metal case and a bail wire made of aluminum for toughness and longevity.
For fishermen who enjoy saltwater fishing, particularly in coastal areas, this might be regarded as a brilliantly crafted reel. To accommodate the demands and purposes of each user, it may alter the spool size from 1000 to 8000.
Since the reel only has two pieces, it can be put together quickly. All that is required to complete it is to place the lever in the roll holder, hold on to the tube, and rotate it. The fisherman can use the twine without a monocle or sling since the engine is equipped with a rubber cushion that prevents the line from slipping.
With the carbon fiber drag system, you can prevent a catch dipping from covering or avoid rolling out since it keeps the shaft smooth and friction-free under strain. Together with the five stainless steel ball bearings, the reel’s hand crank works smoothly and effectively as a result.
Overall, the Penn Battle 3 reel is a fantastic option and a reliable reel for the money. It is reasonably priced and has all the functionality you need. And in fact, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a more costly reel, which keeps the price lower.
- A wide range of spool sizes is available
- Solid structure
- Rubber pads aid in preventing line slippage
- Bearings being sealed in the unit start to wear out
7. Shimano Stella SW C Saltwater Spinning Reels
Being a renowned brand name in the marketplace, Shimano offers a wide range of great spinning reels for the fishing community. Predictably, the last model on our list today is another model from Shimano, the Stella SW Spinning Reel.
The reel has been referred to by several names, including “The King of Saltwater Spinning Reels” and “The Premier Big Game Spinning Reel on the Market Today”. However, names like those come with a high price tag and a reputation to match.
So let’s try and uncover whether or not it’s worth the upwards of $1,000 asking price!
Firstly, the striking features of the Shimano Stella are the X-Protect and X-Shield, which ensure your investment is protected from the damaging effects of a saltwater environment. When these two technologies are combined, they provide the finest waterproofing protection available on the market today.
In detail, X-Protect incorporates a triple lip structure in the roller clutch to reduce friction in addition to repelling water. Meanwhile, the X-Shield provides IPX8-rated waterproofing in all parts, including the body, drag knob, spool, and lid joint.
Additionally, Stella SW has a Hagane body, a very stiff metal design that improves impact resistance and reduces body flex. Also, at the center of the reel, the modern Hagane gears are cold-forged for long-lasting durability and smoothness.
By increasing winding torque by up to 30%, Infinity Drive Technology provides a better winding experience. Meanwhile, SilentDrive further improves smoothness by removing worm shafts and driving gear movement.
Overall, it can be said that Shimano is an outstanding brand that can be considered the best for the offshore market. However, an item costing more than $1,000 is considered an investment.
The drawback is that if something breaks or needs repair, Shimano won’t have new parts. As one of the top spinning reels for saltwater fishing, we still recommend this reel.
- Simple to control
- Powerful drag
- Great protection for use in saltwater
- Incredibly smooth interior components
- A little heavy
Different Inshore Spinning Reels Vs. Offshore Spinning Reels (How to Choose)
Most people think inshore and offshore spinning reels are the same, but that is entirely wrong.
There are many differences between inshore and offshore spinning reels, depending on where you are on the shore. Below we will outline the differences between them and guide you in choosing the right spinning reel for your purposes.
When choosing a reel size for inshore fishing, you don’t need a vast spool, just about 200 yards of a 15-pound test line.
While if you are fishing offshore, you need to choose a large tube that can hold about 440 yards of 80-pound-test braid.
Most inshore fish are medium to small in size, so even heavy currents should only need traction from under 20 pounds of the test. Accordingly, you only need a reel with a pulling force of about 6 pounds to be able to leisurely fish in the coastal area. Meanwhile, you need to equip yourself with a spinning reel for 15-20 pounds of traction to fish offshore. Only the most significant fish rolls over 25 pounds.
Bearings are the most prone to failure of the rotating shaft; they are often soaked in saltwater and dirt and are constantly exposed to water. Therefore, whether you are fishing inshore or offshore, you also need to choose the type of spinning reel that can best protect the bearings. However, it may not be necessary to choose too carefully, like offshore fishing for inshore fishing.
Most saltwater reels are generally classified as either high-speed or low-speed gears. For inshore fishing, you need to choose a reel with a gear ratio around 6.0:1, while inshore fishing requires much faster speed so that a higher gear ratio will be more appropriate.
Usually, reels used for offshore fishing need more durability because they are subject to current pressure and the vigorous struggles of large fish.
In that case, inshore fishing will often encounter smaller fish, and the pressure that the spinning reel is subjected to is not too great. Therefore, you can consider an affordable reel to use. However, high-end spinning reels will have relatively higher durability if you choose the right type.
- Pelagic fish: This is a fish commonly found in the pelagic zone of the ocean. They usually spend a long time of their life swimming across the water column to migrate. Tuna and wahoos are typical floating fish.
- Demersal fish: Fish that live on or near the ocean floor, such as Flounder and Halibut.
- Reef fish: This type of fish is commonly found in coral reefs, such as Red snapper and gag grouper.
What IPX rating is completely waterproof?
IPX Rating Chart:
The Bottom Line
As such, we’ve just provided you with a list of the best saltwater spinning reels and things you need to consider when looking for saltwater spinning reels.
But, most importantly, you need to do your due diligence and read the instructions to find the spinning reel that works best for you. We hope that the above sharing will be helpful to you. Good luck!
Born in Lakeland, Florida, Daniel has started fishing since he was just a tiny little kid. His father was a real good fisherman, as he taught Daniel tricks and tips to catch the fish better. From those childhood memories, Daniel has built up his love for fishing. Until now, he has been participating in several bass tournaments and currently serves as the Chief Editor of fishingonsunday.com to share his precious knowledge and experiences with many more people.