Anglers who love fishing out on the ocean are always on the lookout for equipment to maximize their catches. Some of the tastiest fish can be caught out on the open waters including bluefish, shark, tuna, grouper, sea trout and mackerel. Saltwater fishing can be done from a vessel or from the shore. Choosing a good saltwater spinning reel is essential as these reels are designed to optimize your fishing experience and are built to catch the big fish.
These reels are made to resist the wear and tear and corrosion caused by the abrasive nature of saltwater. They are the most used fishing rod for this type of angling and have a line around spool that sits under the rod. These are open-faced reels and thus have the ability to add a great deal of line. Additionally, some of them can come with an extra spool so you can change your line periodically.
How We Picked The Best Saltwater Spinning Reels For You
We’ve done extensive research online to find the best reels for your sea fishing. In our research, we’ve examined several criteria for this type of reel for you to use as a comparison among brands when you shop for a spinning reel.
Criteria We’ve Considered
We’ve compared each product here against most of the following items.
The construction: This element covers the outside of the reel, its body and other factors such as weight.
The handle: How easy is the grip on the reel? Is it easy to turn?
The gear box: The gear box is one of the most important considerations when selecting a reel. A consideration of the gear box includes the internal mechanism of the reel, its bearings and spool construction as well as information regarding gear ratio.
Gear ration refers to how many times the spool rotates with one turn of the handle. A guideline is that a higher ratio equals a higher speed and its dispersal of line. A lower ratio will include more torque.
The drag: The drag is a measurement of the resistance a fish will feel on the line. It is measured in terms of pounds and can be controlled with mechanisms on the shaft that control the spool. The tighter the drag, the more resistance on the line. Many reels have a knob that sets the drag. Others may have a drag control at the back of the reel.
The bail: This wire holds the spool in place to keep it from running loose.
The anti-reverse mechanism: This feature allows the gear box to control the direction of how the spool turns, either dispensing the line forward or reeling it backwards.
Top 10 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels in 2017
Below are some of the spinning reels we believe can qualify as sound choices for purchase.
Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
Just like the name implies, the Penn Battle II Spinning Reel is ready to go to the mat for you during your next fishing trip. This reel is a solid choice from a renowned and trusted reel manufacturer.
The construction: The Penn Battle II has a sturdy, full-metal body, side plate and rotor designed to stand up to wear and tear when tackling the big fish. Its weight varies from 10 ounces to 30 ounces depending on the model chosen.
The handle: The handle is ergonomically designed for a comfortable, easy grip and accommodates both right-handed and left-handed fishermen.
The gear box: This reel has 5+1 ball bearings for optimal smoothness when retrieving a catch. Gear ratios are high and therefore fast. They vary among models of this reel from 6.2:1 to 5.3:1.
The drag: This reel includes the brand’s patented HT-100 drag washers. What exactly does this mean? This refers to the carbon fiber construction of the drag washer.
The HT stands for “high tech” and the number (100) refers to the original tests on the washers where 100 miles of fishing line were run against the drag of a wheel without any apparent change.
Penn’s switch to carbon fiber was an improvement over the old drag washers, which were composed of asbestos. Carbon fiber tends to resist friction so when a big catch takes out a lot of line, the carbon fiber becomes less hot, adding strength to the line. The Penn Battle II comes in six models with drag ranging from 10 pounds to 30 pounds.
The bail: This is composed of heavy-duty aluminum wire for adjustable strength.
The anti-reverse: The anti-reverse is instantaneous thereby reducing loss of control over the line.
Shimano Baitrunner OC Reel
This beauty is designed for comfort and maximum durability, all the while offering some high-tech improvements on other reels. These improvements include a propulsion spool that fires off the line with minimal resistance.
The baitrunner feature provides a quick auto return. It’s notable for casting a line with less friction and tangling, as well as having a decent casting capability.
Available in three models, it’s a little heavier despite its graphite construction with weights ranging from 13 ounces to 20 ounces. The reel can be used with fluorocarbon, monofilament and braided lines.
The construction: The reel’s frame, side plate and rotor are made of lightweight graphite. (The brand calls it XT-7 graphite.) Graphite, in particular, holds up well against saltwater corrosion. The spool itself is made from heavy-duty aluminum.
The handle: This is ergonomically designed for maximum comfort.
The gear box: This has a rotor that is counterbalanced so there’s less shaking when reeling in a large catch. It has 3+1 ball bearings, not as much as some other brands.
The drag: The maximum drag is also somewhat lower than other brands at 20 pounds.
The bail: Shimano’s patented baitrunner feature allows for freespooling when the bail is closed. There’s also an option to switch it off when you’re ready to reel in your catch.
Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel
This is the brand’s reel that is touted as being completely waterproof, making it suitable for offshore fishing as well as fishing on board a vessel. To start, it looks great with gold and black components. It’s more than beautiful though, it’s also designed to be extra tough.
The Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel has a full-metal body and side plate for strength to handle heavy catches. Its drag system and gear box are sealed and water tight and it provides 3 HT-100 drag washers on top of the spool and one below so you can be assured that no water will get in.
It has something that’s a bit of a first for the brand: three line capacity rings on the spool flange to let you know how much line you’ve got left. Because its composition is metal, it is a little heavier than other models. It includes a rubber gasket to keep line from slipping.
The construction: The Spinfisher V has a stainless steel main shaft and alloy main gear.
The handle: It’s designed in a paddle-style for easy gripping and large hands.
The gear box: This includes 5+1 bearings. Ratios range from 6.2:1 to 4.2:1 among seven models of the reel.
The drag: Drag capacities on the available models range from 20 pounds at the low end to 40 pounds on the high end.
The bail: This is composed of heavy-duty aluminum wire.
Penn Clash Spinning Reel
Available in seven models with weights ranging from 8 ounces to 27 ounces, this reel packs a lot of punch. Its lighter weights won’t leave you tired out even after battles with your prey. For those who fish on the water, not land, this reel offers plenty of flexibility and durability.
This reel features the brand’s patented Dura-Gear technology, which is designed for long wear and toughness. Though not completely waterproof, its bearings are sealed against saltwater damage. Its slow oscillation provides optimal control over the line, and line capacity rings let you know how much line is left at any time.
The construction: A strong, stiff, full-metal body stands up well against high drag pressure.
The handle: Bigger than handles on other brand models, it accommodates both right-handed and left-handed fishers.
The gear box: The gear box has an 8+1 stainless steel bearing system sealed against any infiltration from saltwater. The gear box also includes an instant anti-reverse bearing. The high number of bearings assures a very smooth operation. Gear ratios range from 6.2:1 to 4.7:11 among the models.
The drag: HT-100 drag washers particular to the brand give you a drag range that runs from 10 pounds to 30 pounds among the models.
The bail: This is composed of heavy-duty aluminum for added strength.
The anti-reverse: The reel has an instant anti-reverse thanks to a dedicated ball bearing.
Okuma Cedros High Speed Spinning Reel
Okuma boasts that this reel is specifically designed for saltwater fishing. With that claim in mind, it does hold up well under the special environment posed by ocean waters. Its dual-force drag system promises intense stopping power.
Six models are available, ranging in weight from 12 ounces to 23 ounces. The light weight makes it easy to handle for beginning fishers who are using saltwater jigging as a technique. A smart, good-looking design makes this a good gift for those who are new to the sport.
The construction: The narrow frame is made of die-cast aluminum and the spool is composed of anodized aluminum, making it resistant to salt corrosion.
The handle: The handle is in the form of a knobbed, customized jigging handle.
The gear box: The box has 4+1 bearings and ratios from 6.2:1 to 5.1:1 giving the reel a fast retrieve. There are also oscillation gears in an elliptical shape that provide an easy spool stroke.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Saltwater Spinning Reel
Drag capability and line capacity
You might be wrestling with a big catch so select a reel that can handle heavy weight (drag capability), and a larger spool that provides more line capacity.
Saltwater fishing is by its nature a tough environment subject to elements that can eat away at your equipment. Choose a reel that, at a minimum, has a sealed gear box. Also, look for an anodized finish, which stays fresher longer.
Select a weight that feels comfortable. Remember, metal reels weigh more and are stronger, but you may tire easily.
Look for a reel with more bearings, not less. There will be fewer hitches.
Believe it or not, your preferred fishing spot plays a part in choosing a reel. If you’ll be fishing on the water, you can get away with a reel with more give and take that allows for movements (oscillations). If fishing from shore, you want a reel with more line capacity and drag since the fish will have all the advantages of movement.
Match reel with rod
Your choice of rod is dependent on several factors including length, action and weight. While the subject of rod selection is not addressed here, it is an important factor in ultimately determining your choice of a spinning reel.
How to Choose the Best Fishing Reel Size
Now that you know how to choose the best fishing reel, it is time to know what should determine the size of fishing reel you buy. Size is important because it will determine the kind of fish you catch.
A very small reel cannot catch a big fish. You will lose either your spinning reel or the fish. So, how do you go about choosing the best fishing reel size?
The Fishing Line You Intend To Use
The fishing-line you plan on using is the most important factor to consider when choosing the best fishing reel size. This is because the measurement of the line is directly proportional to the dimensions of the reel itself.
The lighter the line you plan on using, the smaller the dimensions of the fishing reel you should purchase. The highest diameter and strength of the fishing line is usually 10-pound test.
The Fish Species of Interest
A good example is if you will predominantly go for lightweight species like walleye or small mouth brass then you should choose fishing line with 8-pound test.
Conversely, if your hunting area always has more weighty species that weight 10 pounds, you will have to go for a fishing line of 10-pound test. A good practice would be to choose a fishing reel that is medium in size and rated for 8-pound, 9-pound and 10-pound tests.
Freshwater Vs Saltwater Fishing
Things are much different if you are talking about saltwater fishing. Their reels have heavy lines because the saltwater fish species are quite heavy. The saltwater reels are big and suited for saltwater fishing and or trolling scenarios.
Depending on the type of fishing you intend to do; you will have to choose the right size for you. It is also important to point out that you are free to choose the size that you are comfortable with depending on your preferences.
How to Clean a Fishing Reel after Saltwater Use
Just as the name sounds, saltwater contains a variety of chemicals that can interfere with your fishing reel after saltwater use and cause damage through corrosion and other chemical reactions. It’s therefore, vital to clean your fishing reel after every use in saltwater.
Some people use pressurized water to clean their fishing reels but this can be seriously damaging to your expensive gadget. Here is how you can clean your fishing reel after saltwater use:
Give It a Gentle Bath
The first thing after a fishing trip is to give your gadget a gentle bath with misty water. This will dissolve any salt accumulations allowing it to run off the fishing reel with ease.
If you use harsh water or pressurized water, the salt accumulations will be pushed further inside the reel leading to malfunctions.
Wipe the Reel Down
Using a cotton cloth or dry paper towel, wipe down the reel gently. Some people usually bow to the temptation to blow the reel with compressed air. This can be counterproductive. It will drive water into the internal parts of the device accelerating its wear and tear.
Loosen the Reel’s Drag System
Once you give the spinning reel a gentle bath and wipe it down, you should loosen the reel’s drag system before you keep it. Doing this will relieve the tension on the discs, springs and drag washers.
While doing this is important, some people might forget to re-tighten their drags before making their next cast on their next fishing trip. Be safe by re-tightening the reel’s drag system before your next trip.
Apply a Lubricant
The final thing before you store your best spinning reel is to coat it with an appropriate lubricant. Lubrication is especially important for reels with metallic parts. It prevents rusting and ensures parts of the reel function smoothly.
Desist from spraying lubricant inside the reel. Also, avoid using oil-based lubricants because they can break down greases in the reel’s body and accelerate wear and tear.
While we have outlined what we consider some of the best saltwater spinning reels available, the choice of the right one for your needs will eventually come down to personal choice, comfort level and level of experience you have with the sport. Be sure to consult your local sporting goods store because there is no substitute for trying fishing gear out before making any kind of an investment in a reel.
We hope our guide has been helpful in getting you started on your search, and you find that your fishing expeditions yield large catches so that you may say, in the words of science- fiction author Douglas Adams, “Thanks for all the fish.”