Have you been looking for an affordable spinning reel that is built to last? And is it so challenging to determine which one is the best fit for your fishing needs? As the wide range of spinning reels on the market makes you confused. Then this post is for you.
Over the years, we have owned many spinning reels, from cheap to expensive. More costly versions obviously include features that will provide a lifetime of smooth operation despite rigorous use. But there are many options under $100 that can still guarantee the same performance and are smooth as silk.
So take a look at our top 7 spinning reels under $100 and see if any of these are the right choice for your arsenal.
Best Spinning Reel Under $100
If you don’t have time or are too busy to choose, consider our quick recommendation:
The Pflueger President is among the top-selling products on the market since it is a complete package. Despite being a bit heavier than competing reels, the President is built to last with its metal body, premium handle, and metal-cased rotor. Having said that, the President is well-balanced and performs wonderfully, whether casting or dragging.
Shimano Sahara FI
(Best For Weight)
Another spinning reel from Shimano, the Sahara FI, has all the typical features you would expect from one of their reels. With this device, you get a dependable, lightweight spinning reel with exceptional power and smoothness. That sounds appealing, right?
Daiwa Fuego LT
(Best for Smoothness)
The Daiwa Fuego LT is a tiny, lightweight reel thanks to its light and strong carbon shell. With the main shaft protected by Daiwa's Magseal system, you will have a reel that feels brand-new for a longer period of time.
1. Pflueger President
Looking for a reasonable price as well as a high-quality spinning reel? The Pflueger President will be a good fit for you.
Similar to previous Pflueger spinning reels, this one is made of an aluminum spool and a graphite body, making it both strong and light. The aluminum is lightweight and has the ability to transmit movement from the line to your hand, ensuring that you will always be able to feel even the smallest bumps on your bait.
The series is available in various sizes for every type of fishing, ranging from 20 to 40. From the PRESSP25X model through the PRESSP40X model, all have 9 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, which provide a smooth running effect. That’s pretty fantastic for a reel that costs less than $70.
Combined with the stainless steel/oil felt drag, the reel ensures consistent drag pressure and is corrosion-resistant. Also, both the bail and handle are made of aluminum, which helps reduce weight while maintaining strength and durability.
Another impressive feature of the Pflueger President is the gear ratio of 5.2:1, which means for every complete turn of the handle, the rotor will turn 5.2 times. Therefore, your line can be retrieved fast enough that you will not be struggling to reel in any catch, regardless of size.
What we like
The President is the default recommendation here, so you will receive a lot of votes for it. However, it’s no longer significantly better than the other options in terms of price than it formerly was.
I have a Pflueger Pres that is three years old and is still in excellent condition. I adore Pflueger products since they are dependable, smooth, and reasonably priced. They keep costs down by not being a particularly “innovative” company, but they do produce reliable, sturdy products.
- Extremely smooth and durable
- Affordable price, around 70 dollars from 2021 to 2023
- Low drag power
- Not suitable for saltwater fishing
2. Shimano Sahara FI
An excellent entry-level spinning reel is the Shimano Sahara FI. When budgets are tight but you still want fishing gear that feels good, lasts, and gives you options and adaptability, the Shimano Sahara FI has you covered.
So have a look and check if the features and performances of the reel are worth the small $80 to $90 price tag.
First, let’s go over the main body of this reel. The Shimano Sahara FI comes with the G Free body. The aim of this design is to maintain the center of gravity of the reel near the rod. By moving the center of gravity closer to the angler’s hand, the G-Free Body aids in lowering fatigue and improving casting comfort.
And don’t forget the stainless steel 5-ball bearing system, which guarantees a strong cast that glides with accuracy at all times. Also, with model sizes 3000 to 5000, the gear ratio sits satisfyingly at 6.0:1 so you can expect to retrieve 36 inches of line per handle crank.
Next, moving inside the core of the reel, you’ll find the Hagane gearing system, which you’ve probably heard of before. This cutting-edge technology provides a desirable smoothness even while using the reel in saltwater.
Another outstanding feature of the Shimano Sahara FI is the durable X-Ship gear. This part keeps everything perfectly aligned with the drive gear by supporting the pinion gear on both sides of the bearings.
Last but not least, with a maximum drag of 20 lbs, the Sahara FI offers an excellent choice for fishermen wanting to land a big catch.
What we like
We had the opportunity to test out the Shimano 2500 FI. Since we have been fishing for more than 20 years, we can use this spinning reel without the reverse switch.
Sahara is extremely lightweight at just 8.8 oz, feels extremely smooth, and has an even better maximum drag. I tested it out on a smaller, clear quarry lake with my wife on Friday afternoon after spooling it with an 8-lb Trilene XL mono line. I usually get these on sale. About $60-$65, several times over the summer.
- Versatile series
- Excellent casting
- High stiffness considering its price.
- No anti-reverse switch
3. Daiwa Fuego LT
Sitting in the third position on our list today is the Daiwa Fuego LT. Since its debut in 2017, the reel has grown to be a popular option among many fishermen.
So, what makes this reel shine?
Only costing around $100, you’ll be impressed with how smooth the reel feels and how compact it is, which is unusual for a price point that implies compromise.
This reel also has a great set of features that make it a favorite among avid anglers. Firstly, it is genuinely lightweight compared to the vast majority of other reels available in a similar price range. The smaller weight of the reel makes a significant impact when you cast a lot with artificial lures while searching for fish.
In addition, because it is made of carbon-based material, it is very solidly constructed. With the innovative Daiwa Magseal main shaft, the reel delivers smooth performance while preventing water or dirt intrusion, even after heavy use.
And what’s more?
Same as the famous Daiwa BG, the Fuego LT uses the Digigear drive system and a machined aluminum handle for strength, which may be used with either the right or left hand.
Regarding smoothness, Fuego has a system with 6 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing that combine to create the ultimate silky-smooth operation.
Then, if you are seeking a stunning reel with cutting-edge design and technological features, the Daiwa Fuego LT may be the reel for you.
What we like
The Daiwa Fuego was at the top of many reviews for spinning reels under $100. Mostly to Magseal, which gives the reel excellent protection from the environment and salt. Generally, Fuego has a good drag system with a decent balance of durability and smoothness.
The only drawback was fishing inshore, where fish weighing 20 pounds or more are typical. In this case, the frame of the composite reel has quite a bit of flex. I’ve now been running 2 of them for a few years without any problems.
However, do not misunderstand. The Fuego is a great option for under $100, but it’s not a $250 reel flying under any radar, which fishes side by side with a Stradic or other mid-range reel.
- Powerful and smooth drag
- Suitable for freshwater and saltwater
- Bail might be off balance
- Drag sticking
4. Daiwa Ninja LT
If the first three fishing gears do not meet your needs, we have further options for you to consider. The Daiwa Ninja LT is a top-notch sequel to the legendary Ninja A. Both the design and technology will undoubtedly impress even the most experienced anglers.
With the integration of the brand-new concept under the name LT (Light & Tough), the designers at Daiwa were able to considerably reduce the reel’s weight.
Additionally, the reel is stronger and smoother than its previous generation of Ninja thanks to the new Tough Digigear transmission, which was previously only found on high-end versions. Also, the lifespan of the Ninja LT can be extended by 150% compared to its predecessor.
Furthermore, the ATD drag system is also an outstanding feature. It offers an instantly activated drag without starting resistance as well as a greatly increased drag power of up to 12 kilos (26.4 pounds).
All in all, this is the best tool to use with thin lines during crucial fishing battles. With the Ninja LT, Daiwa offers an upgraded version of the globally popular Ninja line.
What we like
They are excellent reels for the price, and I’ve used them for a while. The Daiwa Ninja LT has a fantastic drag and first-rate line lay.
They also come with a backup spool, which is helpful if you wish to use various breaking strains of line. It’s quite likely one of the best reels you can ever buy for a reasonable price.
- Very light
- Smooth and durable drag
- Sufficient power
- Practically no drawbacks, except for the lack of a spare spool, since it would increase the cost.
5. Penn Fierce III
Move on to the next masterpiece under $100, the Pen Fierce III, which will astound you with all of its fantastic features.
This model was first released in the fall of 2005 and comes in several variations with comparable features and specs, ranging in size from 1000 to 8000. Hence, anglers can fish everything from trout in the mountains to larger pelagic species offshore.
Being the next edition of the Fierce line, this reel lives up to its name with a full metal body and side plates. These parts improve the gear control under extreme pressure, making the reel more durable and enhancing its lifespan.
And do not forget the 4+1 ball bearing system, which also provides the gear with smoothness and durability.
Moreover, in terms of protection, just like other Penn reels, Fierce III also has high-quality paint. It works effectively to prevent corrosion and shields against chemicals and saltwater spray.
And do you know what the best part is? One of the impressive features of the Penn Fierce III is the HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, which gives fishermen smooth and consistent drag. In addition, compared to other comparable reels, the Superline Spool has a little bit more line capacity.
What we like
We’re shocked that this reel seems to have been overlooked, as it has all the features for freshwater and saltwater fishing.
There are a few differences between the Penn Battle III (Series top saltwater spinning reel) and the Penn Fierce III that make the Battle III more expensive. However, it’s not the end of the world if you can only afford the Fierce III. I truly believe that the current Battle is as flawless as a reel can be expected for $100.
I had a Fierce that I used for light tackle, fresh, and salt. With it, I caught smallmouth bass and stripers. It was OK when I dunked it in fresh water a few times.
- Smooth, durable, and reliable drag system
- Great spool capacity
- Excellent size range
- Quite heavy
- Does not have corrosion-resistant ball bearings.
6. Piscifun Carbon X
Piscifun produces a wide variety of reels, all of which are largely comparable in terms of their durability, quality, and performance. However, the Piscifun Carbon X can be much better than you expected.
In general, this spinning reel is a great model if you are currently searching for an inexpensive reel that still functions effectively.
First of all, as its name implies, Piscifun Carbon X is made from carbon and aluminum. Therein, the body, side plate, and rotor are made from carbon, which is incredibly light. For instance, a 2000 model only weighs 220g. So you won’t have to worry much about getting sore after a long day of casting and reeling in.
Of course, there are many other great, lightweight spinning reels available, but not all of them have this low price while having many useful features.
A plus for this reel is the high gear ratio of 6.2:1 for all models except the 1000, which has a slower ratio of 5.2:1. With this medium rate, the reel is capable of presenting not only baits listed in the “medium” category but also in the slow and fast categories.
And guess what? The Piscifun Carbon has up to 10+1 anti-corrosion stainless steel ball bearings, giving anglers an extremely smooth feel when fishing. To be honest, the ease of using this reel pleased and even astounded me.
Finally, the carbon washers provide excellent drag performance and are sealed off from impurities by a rubber seal.
What we like
I really like my Piscifun Carbon X. I was using all President Supreme XTs but have gradually replaced them. They offer an amazing deal at roughly $50 and are easily comparable to some of the mid- to high-range reels available today.
- High gear ratio for fast retrieves
- Smooth, fast, and responsive
- Suitable for freshwater and saltwater
- Not as smooth under high loads
7. KastKing Sharky III
The last spinning reel that deserves a spot on my list is the KastKing Sharky III.
Overall, the new Sharky III reel is designed to be significantly lighter than the older models, which were regarded as decent reels but tended to be on the heavier side. It appears to be stronger, smoother, and lighter in comparison.
In fact, the Sharky III is built with a number of characteristics that make it stand out from other reels in or around its price range.
In terms of protection, Sharky III is not totally waterproof and sealed. So, unlike some other more expensive reels, it does not boast an IPX6 rating.
Yet, it has a unique protection system named K.I.S.S. (KastKing Intrusion Shield System). This system is made to effectively seal off specific regions of the reel in order to safeguard its internal components, including the spool and rotor.
The powerful drag system is also another fantastic feature. The drag system is made with a triple-disc carbon-fiber design that is significantly more durable than other manufacturers in its class. It can live up to the angler’s expectations with the ability to provide up to 39.5 pounds of drag. Impressive, right?
The strength of Sharky III does not end here. As with the Piscifun Carbon, it also has 10+1 stainless steel ball bearings to make sure that every cast is as smooth as possible. With all these typical features, KastKing Sharky III is truly a bargain for every angler who has a tight budget.
What we like
I purchased a number of Kast King Sharky 3 reels. I’ve used them for both catfishing and surf fishing. It can easily catch a 40 lbs cat. In March, I was whipped when I reeled in a large ray near the gulf, but the reel handled it well.
Additionally, the reel can put up a 15-minute fight with a 40-pound drum in a strong current with no issues. The 3000, 4000, and 5000 are what I’ve used. I prefer the ones that have the BaitRunner clicker built in.
- High maximum drag
- Smooth casting and reeling
- Low gear ratio of 5.5:1 for all sizes (no diversity in this term)
- Only better than most budget-friendly reels.
How We Picked The Best Spinning Reels Under 100 Dollars
We’ve determined whether it’s worth it to spend more money on costly reels or less money on less expensive reels, and the difference between them. Even so, you can’t compare apples and oranges to see which is better because they don’t have the same denominator, but look at them objectively.
A pricey fishing reel will be considerably smoother, cast better, have a more dependable drag system, balance better with your rod, and make fishing more pleasurable overall.
However, we continue to like spinning reels that perform exceptionally well and are long-lasting at just under $100. We rely on the expertise and technical characteristics used to assess the following standards:
Smooth performance based on what we believe to be the handle on the spinning reel when first unboxing and many years of use; good free spin; no stiffness; smooth running bearings.
If it appears like the handle screw is overtightened, just remove it and then reinstall it. Also, try removing the spool to see whether it spins freely. As the spool body is attached to the reel via a nut, make sure it is tight.
Setting the maximum drag is also crucial. Drag settings should range from a quarter to a third of the line’s rated breaking strength. Manufacturers typically mark it “15-pound test“, but chances are you may acquire more than a 20-pound test, and you’ll be amazed at how much higher the product promises.
Honestly, unless we go into the ocean and catch big tuna, for fishing panfish or tiny trout with gears under $100, 20% of max drag shouldn’t be a big problem.
Can Balance Better With Your Rod:
Spinning reels made from graphite are typically lightweight. Therefore, you can place these reels on a light rod for balance.
In contrast, the more advanced ones, which are mainly composed of aluminum, are generally heavier. As a result, you’ll need it to combine with the heavier, stiffer rod. Additionally, if a light rod and a heavy reel are used together, casting will be more challenging.
The weight of the reel is also a factor that you should take into consideration when selecting the appropriate rod to go with.
When comparing the weight of two similar-sized product lines, only after a long casting day can issues arise. A few ounces can make a huge difference when it comes to a day of fishing.
A reel that weighs less than 8 ounces will not only keep the rod balanced but will also make it easier for you to feel the bite when the fish are playing with their food rather than taking the bait.
When the bite is tough, less weight also makes it easier to maintain the rod’s correct position over a long day of precision presentations.
Choosing the right size for a spinning reel depends on several factors, such as the style of fishing you’ll perform, the size of the fish you’re after, and the kind of line you’ll use.
For light freshwater fishing, small-sized spinning reels (1000 – 3500) are the most suitable. The medium-sized ones (4000 – 5500) are ideal for rods in the 7-8 foot range and are usually used for heavier freshwater applications.
Lastly, the large-sized reels (6000 and more) are perfect for use with large rods for offshore boat fishing, surf casting, or rock fishing. They are designed to catch pelagic big game species like sailfish and are appropriate for heavy saltwater applications.
A spinning reel’s reliability is greatly influenced by how well it was constructed, what materials were used in its development, and its maintenance. The long-term dependability of a reel can be increased by selecting a well-made model from a reputed manufacturer and giving it the necessary care.
With the right maintenance, a well-built spinning reel composed of premium materials can be quite reliable and survive for many years. In contrast, spinning reels of poorer quality manufactured from less expensive materials could malfunction and fail more frequently.
Ratio and IPT:
A quicker reel is also helpful if your goal is freshwater bass fishing with Texas rigs, neko, or shaky heads. These techniques require a higher IPT.
On the other hand, I like slower reels when I use techniques like ned rigging, tight line, small crankbaits, and small swimbaits.
Quickset anti-reverse mechanism
The majority of modern reels are equipped with a good, smooth drag. Therefore, back reeling is not necessary. Instead, trust your drag and focus on maintaining pressure on the fish.
Old-timers may still back-reel instead of using the drag, but many new fishermen today (a big market group) are unable to back-reel efficiently. For me, I’m clueless.
The switch will have more components, be more expensive, and have more holes for water to enter. Honestly, I believe Shimano made the proper decision.
It can be challenging to find the Best Spinning Reels under $100. However, we carefully picked a list of high-performance spinning reels for you. We highly recommend the Pflueger President for its incredible features and versatility.
If you want to try another alternative, simply follow the instructions above when choosing the best spinning reel under $100, and you’ll soon have a dependable, high-quality spinning reel that’s excellent for all of your spin fishing needs!
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.