Best Saltwater Spinning Reels in 2023 – Buyer’s Guide

Saltwater fishing can be challenging. Without the right gear, you won’t catch anything. You’d also be wasting your time and money.

A reliable saltwater spinning reel is a must-have in your saltwater fishing arsenal. Not every spinning reel is designed for saltwater fishing, and not all of them will give you the performance you desire at the price you want.

To save you the hassle of having to go through hundreds of products to find the right one for you, we’ve narrowed down your research with a list of some of the best saltwater spinning reels out there.

Comparison Table:


Drag Power Bearings Gear Ratio Weight
Shimano Stradic FK 24 lbs. max 6+1 6.0:1

8.3 oz

Penn Battle II

30 lbs. max 5+1  6.2:1 12.8 oz

Shimano Baitrunner D

20 lbs. max 3+1 4.8:1 21.7 oz

Penn Slammer III

30 lbs. max 7+1  6.2:1

13.9 oz

Daiwa BG

22 lbs. max 6+1 6.0:1 8.5 oz

KastKing Valiant Eagle

22 lbs. max 10+1 6.2:1 10.1 oz

Shimano Sienna FD

25 lbs. max 3+1 4.7:1 9 oz

The 7 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels in 2023

1. Shimano Stradic FK – Best All-rounder

Shimano Stradic FK

The Stradic FK features Shimano’s iconic Hagane full metal body that enhances the reel’s resilience and strength.

Furthermore, the Shimano Stradic has a maximum drag of 24 lbs, with a drag range of 7-24 lbs for better versatility. This reel will be able to handle big saltwater fish like a champ.

Moreover, Shimano’s exclusive X-Ship technology ensures that the friction in the reel’s internal drive system is kept at a minimum, in addition to more resistance to warpage under load. 

The result is a smooth and efficient retrieval regardless of the size or resistance of your catch. This means that you get a more durable reel that can easily last you for years without having to get a new one.

The Stradic FK is available in a wide variety of sizes and specs so you can pick the one that best suits your needs.

What We Like:

  • Sturdy full metal body
  • Decent amount of drag
  • Low friction
  • Available in various models

What We Don’t Like:

  • Line capacity could be bigger

Final Verdict

The Shimano Stradic FK is a good choice if you’re looking for a versatile saltwater spinning reel that’s also durable and affordable.

2. Penn Battle II – High Drag Power

Penn Battle II

The Penn Battle II offers excellent performance without breaking the bank. The metal body, side plates, and rotor provide high rigidity and a comfortable feel. Moreover, with 5 stainless steel ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, smooth operation is guaranteed.

Furthermore, the drag system isn’t only smooth, but also powerful thanks to the HT-100 carbon-fiber build. The drag goes all the way from 9 lbs on the smaller models to 30 lbs on the larger models, allowing you to pick the one that’d fit your fishing goals.

Moreover, the instant anti-reverse function allows you to start dragging your catch as soon as it bites the bait. Additionally, the aluminum bail wire is quite durable and lightweight.

The Penn Battle II isn’t only a solid performer, but also a durable piece of equipment that’ll easily last you for many years ahead, something that’s rare to find at this price tag.

What We Like:

  • Powerful and smooth drag
  • Instant anti-reverse
  • Rigid metal body
  • Aluminum bail wire

What We Don’t Like:

  • A bit expensive

Final Verdict

If you want a reel that’s suitable for big gamefish, the Penn Battle II saltwater spinning reel won’t disappoint you.

3. Shimano Baitrunner D – Dual Drag System

Shimano Baitrunner D

The Baitrunner D is Shimano’s best offering in its mid-range saltwater spinning reels. One notable feature of the Shimano Baitrunner D is the oval-shaped oscillation gear, which enforces consistent spool speed. This speed consistency allows the line to lay evenly on the spool for better line management and castability. 

Another useful feature is the Dyna-Balance technology that acts as a counter-balance, which drastically improves sensitivity. This eliminates wobble during retrieval, so you don’t lose your fish.

The Shimano Baitrunner D utilizes a 3+1 bearing system, which isn’t exactly a breakthrough since other reels can have up to 11 bearings. Still, it’s fair considering that the price point is quite attractive. The maximum drag is 15 lbs, making this reel suitable for small to medium-sized saltwater fish.

The gear ratio is 4.8:1, which is considered in the middle ground between higher and lower gear ratios. This adds versatility to your fishing needs.

The performance is quite smooth and very comparable to higher models. Additionally, the bearings are shielded for extra protection against rust. The roller bearing uses Shimano’s Instant Anti-Reverse system, which ensures a solid hook set.

Moreover, the reel has a secondary drag system, allowing for free spooling even when the bail is closed to let your bait move naturally.

What We Like:

  • Little to no wobbling
  • Dual drag system
  • Even spool speed
  • Sealed bearing system
  • Instant anti-reverse 

What We Don’t Like:

  • Limited maximum drag
  • Small number of bearings
  • A bit heavy relative to other models

Final Verdict

The Shimano Baitrunner D is a high-quality saltwater spinning reel that will provide you with consistently smooth performance at an affordable price tag.

4. Penn Slammer III – Best Build Quality

Penn Slammer III

The Penn Slammer III sports Penn’s cutting-edge technology that provides durability and smooth performance.

It features a full metal body, side plate, and rotor, allowing it to withstand harsh environments and high loads. Moreover, the CNC machined gears are manufactured with high precision and tight tolerances to ensure a consistent and smooth action. 

Furthermore, the IPX6 sealed body and spool design ensure that water never gets inside the gearbox and drag system. Not to mention that Penn Slammer III has a 7+1 bearing system to maximize the reel’s load capacity.

The drag is quite smooth and handles as much as 30 lbs on the largest model so that you can catch quite some large fish with this one. Additionally, the drag system features Penn’s innovative Dura-Drag material that contains a phenolic bonding agent that inhibits premature fatigue failure and ensures the longest possible lifespan.

The Penn Slammer III is available in several models of different sizes. Large models have manual bail handling, which is something many anglers love to have in their reels. 

What We Like:

  • High drag power
  • Manual bail handling on larger models
  • Durable and smooth drag system
  • Precise CNC machined gears
  • High number of bearings

What We Don’t Like:

  • Requires some maintenance

Final Verdict

From the high drag force to the smooth drag and the excellent bearing system, there’s a lot to love about the Penn Slammer III.

5. Daiwa BG – Large Line Capacity

Daiwa BG

The Daiwa BG is a highly functional saltwater spinning reel that ticks many of our boxes. It features a beautiful black and gold, machined, anodized-aluminum housing (“HardBodyz” Body & Side Cover) that’s perfect for providing strength without increasing the overall weight of the reel. The spool is also made of aluminum to complement the lightweight design of the body

With 6 ball bearings and a single roller bearing, you get a consistently smooth fishing action all the time. Not to mention that it has an anti-reverse handle for instantly engaging the reel’s drag force once the fish bites the bait. Larger models (4500 and bigger) have a double anti-reverse system.

The solid screw-in handle won’t ever let you down even if you go hard on it in the heat of the moment when you’re about to get that big catch. Moreover, it has Daiwa’s oversized Digi Gears that provide extra toughness over regular gears.

The Daiwa BG is available in various configurations of sizes and capacities so you can pick the model that suits your needs. We recommend going for the larger models for saltwater fishing. Large models have more drag power and manual bail. 

Fortunately, all of the Daiwa BG models take braided fishing lines, something that we miss on many of the reels from other manufacturers.

What We Like:

  • Aluminum body and spool
  • Anti-reverse system
  • Strong handle
  • Large line capacity
  • Accommodates braided fishing lines
  • Tough gears

What We Don’t Like:

  • Limited drag

Final Verdict

With a sturdy build, great sheer line capacity, and smooth drag, the Daiwa BG saltwater spinning reel is a solid performer that’s compatible with braided fishing lines.

6. KastKing Valiant Eagle – Budget Pick

KastKing Valiant Eagle

The KastKing Valiant Eagle is a budget-friendly offering from Kastking that’s designed with speed in mind.

It features an anodized aircraft-grade aluminum body that provides you with the strength you need when fishing in saltwater. Moreover, the body is fully anodized to protect the reel from corrosion. The gears are made of brass and the drag system is sealed for additional resistance against erosion.

Furthermore, with a 6.2:1 gear ratio, the KastKing Valiant Eagle ensures a fast and smooth retrieval. This makes it easier for you to catch more fish by being able to make second casts as quickly as possible when necessary.

Additionally, you get a variety of spool length options, ranging from 1000 to 4000, with a minimum drag of 17.3 lbs going up to 22 lbs. 

As for the bearing system, the KastKing Valiant Eagle has 10 shielded stainless ball bearings and a single roller bearing, enabling you to nail a silky smooth retrieval. 

What We Like:

  • Affordable price
  • Excellent castability
  • Fast line retrieval
  • Accommodates braided lines

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not suitable for big fish species

Final Verdict

The KastKing Valiant Eagle is an excellent saltwater fishing reel for those who are on a budget.

7. Shimano Sienna FD – Best Value for Money

Shimano Sienna FD

The Shimano Sienna FD packs a lot of features that improve its functionality and performance.

The Sienna FD features Shimano’s exclusive M-Compact body design. The design minimizes the space between the oscillation gear and the fishing pole, which means that the reel’s center of gravity will be closer to your hands. This allows you to use the reel comfortably for hours without experiencing fatigue.

Furthermore, the Propulsion Line Management System allows you to make long casts at high precision without having to worry about backlashes and wind knots. 

The drag is quite smooth and responsive. You also get a Dyna-Balance rotor that ensures wobble-free rotation. Additionally, the Super Stopper II technology enables the reel’s anti-reverse function to engage instantly to utilize the reel’s drag power.

The Sienna FD’s maximum drag is 25 lbs, which is quite high and will help you catch some large fish species. The Shimano Sienna FD is available in various sizes for crappies, panfish, perch, and ice fishing.

What We Like:

  • Lightweight
  • Good for saltwater and freshwater fishing
  • Allows you to make long casts
  • Wobble-free rotation
  • Instant anti-reverse

What We Don’t Like:

  • Limited line capacity

Final Verdict

With instant anti-reverse, wobble-free design, and effortless long casts, there’s nothing the Shimano Sienna FD doesn’t excel at.

How to Pick a Saltwater Spinning Reel

There are a few things to keep in mind before buying a saltwater spinning reel.

1. Corrosion Resistance

One of the most crucial things you need in a saltwater spinning reel is good corrosion resistance. Unlike freshwater reels, saltwater reels get exposed to extreme conditions that may cause premature corrosion. Not to mention that the salt itself can wear out your reel. Anodized spinning reels are an excellent choice for saltwater due to their high resistance to corrosion. 

2. Drag

There’s no denying that saltwater fish are bigger and fiercer than freshwater fish, which is why you need to get a spinning reel with a powerful drag. You can get a spinning reel with a maximum drag that’s as high as 55 lbs, but it still depends on the type of fish you want to catch. 

However, it’s worth noting that the drag force you need isn’t only determined by the fish species. Other factors like the tide, weather conditions, current speed, and ocean waves also play a role. Just because a fish is 40 lbs doesn’t mean that a spinning reel with a drag of 40 lbs can pull it. 

3. Gear Ratio

Your spinning reel’s gear ratio can be both an advantage and a deal-breaker at the same time. A low gear ratio of 4:1 means that you’ll be able to retrieve your fishing line more quickly, but you’ll need more turns to do so. It also gives you a higher torque output for catching large fish species.

On the other hand, a higher gear ratio of 6:1 ensures a quicker retrieval since you’ll have to make fewer turns than on a reel with a lower gear ratio. It’d be a good idea to get something in between like a 5:1. 

4. Bearings

Some cheap spinning reels use bushings to protect their internal moving parts. However, bushings are impractical and they tend to wear out quickly, resulting in compromised performance and premature failure.

A quality saltwater spinning reel utilizes rolling-element bearings to protect its internal moving parts when the reel is under load. The more bearings, the better. The material of the bearings is crucial, too. Stainless steel is a popular material choice for reel bearings as it tends to provide the best strength and wear resistance.

5. Line Capacity

Line capacity depends on the reel size you’ll get. Almost all saltwater spinning reels come in several sizes. The larger the spinning reel, the bigger its line capacity.

Obviously, the bigger the line capacity is, the better. There are times you’d wish you had some more line yards to catch that huge tuna fish. Even if you don’t fully use the full line capacity, it won’t hurt to have it; but of course, pricing here will make a difference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a Freshwater Spinning Reel in Saltwater?

Yes. However, expect your reel to get damaged after some usage. Spinning reels that are designed for freshwater fishing aren’t corrosion-resistant and their bearings aren’t sealed, leaving them vulnerable in saltwater.

That’s why freshwater spinning reels are generally cheaper than their saltwater counterparts.

Can I use a Baitcaster in Saltwater?

Yes, you can use a baitcaster in saltwater. In fact, some baitcasters are specifically designed for saltwater fishing. They usually have a higher level of drag and corrosion resistance properties. 

Which Reel Size Should I Pick?

The reel size depends on the fish species you want to catch. Obviously, if you’re going to catch bigger fish species, then it’d be a good idea to go for large models since they have more drag and higher tolerance to heavy loads.

Final Thoughts 

Now that we’ve gone through this comprehensive list of some of the best saltwater fishing reels out there, it’s time to pick a winner. 

We really like the Penn Slammer III. With its superior gearing system, high build quality, and smooth performance, the Penn Slammer III leaves little to be desired.

This is our pick, but that doesn’t mean it has to be suitable for you. Other reels on our list like the KastKing Valiant Eagle may seem like a good choice if you’re on a budget. 

If you’re looking for a saltwater spinning reel with large line capacity, then the Daiwa BG would be an excellent pick.

Categories Fishing Reels