Best Saltwater Spinning Reels To Land That Big Catch

The thrill and excitement of landing a large fish from the ocean is unlike anything else. Today’s best saltwater spinning reels are ideal for pulling up flounder off the coast of New Jersey or fighting that prized tuna in the waters Mexico and just about every species in between.

Today’s anglers are fortunate to have some of the best reels available to them for inshore, offshore, and surf fishing. Companies like Penn, Shimano, and Daiwa continue to improve their products year after year. The best models are tough, waterproof, have a high max drag, and a large line capacity to go after those big pelagic species from the deep sea.

We’ve taken a look at the best saltwater spinning reels on the market today and after much research come up with our top picks.

In this article we’ll be reviewing the following reels:

What To Look For In An Offshore Spinning Reel

‘In this section we’ll describe the elements we’re looking for in selecting our best saltwater fishing reels. If this is you first reel or you’re interested in our methodology, read on. If you are an old pro and already know this stuff, feel free to skip to the individual reviews below.

Most of these spinning reels have different models that will have varying specs on things like drag, gear ratio, and line capacity. They can accommodate a wide range of uses and requirements depending on the fishing you want to do and the species you are going after.

Max Drag

For most saltwater anglers a saltwater reel with a max drag of 25 – 30 pounds should be sufficient and most will never need to set it that high. However, if you are going to be fishing for mako off Southern California or giant grouper in Florida, you may want a much stronger max drag. We’ve included reels on this list with up to 60lbs of max drag for those going after the big game fish.

Gear Ratio

Most of the spinning reels in this list are going to have a medium gear ratio between 4.2:1 and 6.2:1. If you aren’t familiar with what this means, it is simply the number of times the spool rotates with each full turn of the handle. All things being equal, the higher the number, the more line is retrieved with every crank of the handle.

We should note that in addition to the gear ratio, that the size of the spool also impacts the amount of line retrieved with every turn of the handle. For our reviews we’ll be looking at the gear ratio and line retrieval rate.

Line Capacity

This one speaks for itself. How much line can the reel hold. We look at capacity for both monofilament and braided. Your needs for higher capacity spools will depend on the type of fishing you’ll be doing.

We’re specifically looking at reels that can handle 10 – 30+ lb test line and the ability to hold 300+ yards for the larger models. We want reels that can go deep and still have plenty of line when that fish starts its run.

Material And Water Sealing

You need a high quality reel made to stand up to the rigors of a saltwater environment. Your freshwater reel isn’t designed to endure the hardships saltwater can place your fishing gear under. The reels on this list are all designed for use in the unforgiving ocean environment.

A strong metal case and side plates for the body as well as corrosion resistance is something we are looking for in our reels. As well as the durable drag system. Any additional materials that increases the reels life and reliability are a plus.

The best reels for saltwater fishing will have at least some type of water sealing. At a minimum we would like to see that the drag system is waterproof and even better if the gear box is too.

Ball Bearings

While the other specifications may get all the attention, bearings are a very important part of the reel. They reduce friction and allow your components to operate smoothly. If you really want to dig deep on this subject you will want to look at the type and composition of the bearings inside the ocean fishing reel you are looking at purchasing.

Unless there are any known issues with the bearings on a particular reel, we’re taking a more simplified approach where more bearings is better. Though we like to see stainless steal and sealed bearings if possible.

Saltwater Spinning Reel Reviews

Penn Slammer III

Penn has been synonymous with saltwater fishing for over a decade. Penn’s Slammer III is known to be their most durable model yet with its Dura-Drag system, all brass CNC gears, and IPX6 sealed body, which keeps water out of the gearbox and drag system.

The Slammer III line features a variety of reals from smallest 3500 which would make a perfect light inshore fishing reel to the 10500 model which is ready to take on anything the deep sea can throw its way. It’s a heavy duty fishing reel that can hold 435 yards of 30 lb test or a whopping 540 yards of 80 lb braided line and a max drag of 60 lbs.

Our choice is the 8500 which offers a good balance between the two ends of the Slammer line and makes a good general purpose offshore spinning reel that can handle some bigger fish.

Pros

  • Durable drag and gear system
  • Sealed body to keep out water
  • Smooth drag
  • Oversized handle
  • Lots of models to choose from

Cons

  • Some people complain the drag is too tight at minimum setting

Specifications:

  • Mono Line Capacity (30 lb): 310 yards
  • Braid Line Capacity (50 lb): 600 yards
  • Line Retrieve Per Crank: 42 inches
  • Max Drag: 50 pounds
  • Gear Ratio: 4.7:1
  • Ball Bearings: 8
  • Weight: 30.8 ounces

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

SHIMANO SARAGOSA SW, Offshore Saltwater Spinning Fishing Reel

Shimano is one of the top names in the fishing industry, well known for making top quality reels that have smooth casting, cranking, and drag. The Saragosa is one of their newest offshore spinning reels, equipped with their Propulsion Line Management system that helps get longer casting distances and prevent backlashes and wind knots.

This reel has sealed stainless steel bearings and a waterproof drag system to help keep your reel sealed and prevent corrosion and sand from getting inside.

The Saragosa line have several models starting at the 5000SW and going all the way up to the large 25000SW – ready to do battle with the big pelagic game fish. There aren’t any small inshore reels in this line up..

Pros

  • All aluminum body with graphite rotor
  • Sealed/Waterproof Drag
  • Oversized handle
  • Attractive styling
  • High max drag

Cons

  • Some people might not like the manual bail
  • No rubber backing on spool for braid

Specifications 6000SW:

  • Mono Line Capacity (12 lb): 265 yards
  • Braid Line Capacity (30 lb): 290 yards
  • Line Retrieve Per Crank: 40 inches
  • Max Drag: 40 pounds
  • Gear Ratio: 5.7:1
  • Ball Bearings: 6
  • Weight: 16.4 ounces

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Penn Battle II

The Penn Battle II is a solid reel at a competitive price point. It has a full metal body that is good for durability.

It’s HT-100 drag system uses carbon fiber washers that makes it a smooth yet tough drag system. The Battle II family offers small inshore spinning reels all the way to the 8000 which is good for going after the larger deep sea fish. We had our eye on the 4000 model (specs below).

Some other nice features of this real are the 5 sealed stainless steel bearings and the braid ready spool which allows you to attached braided line directly without needing a mono backer.

It’s a good step up from the entry level reels at a price that won’t break the bank.

Pros

  • Good drag system
  • Reasonable price for what you get
  • Tough metal body

Cons

  • Not sealed – Which can lead to corrosion if not serviced and maintained properly
  • Probably not a great choice for surf fishing (due to lack of sealing)
  • Lower max drag then the higher end reels

Specifications:

  • Mono Line Capacity (10 lb): 220 yards
  • Braid Line Capacity (30 lb): 185 yards
  • Line Retrieve Per Crank: 37 inches
  • Max Drag: 15 pounds
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Ball Bearings: 6
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Daiwa is another of the big names in fishing and is known for making quality equipment. There Black and Gold (BG) spinning reel is aimed at the novice to intermediate angler. It is a feature rich and reliable product.

The body of the reel is made from anodized aluminum for increased strength and corrosion resistance – and it looks good too. It’s 6+1 bearings, waterproof drag system, and braid ready spool help make this Daiwa saltwater spinning reel our choice over its competitors like the Penn Battle II.

Pros

  • Strong anodized aluminum body
  • Waterproof drag system
  • Braid ready spool
  • Great value for the money

Cons

  • Not fully sealed (only drag box)
  • A little heavier than comparable reels

Specifications:

  • Mono Line Capacity (10 lb): 300 yards
  • Braid Line Capacity (30 lb): 280 yards
  • Line Retrieve Per Crank: 39.9 inches
  • Max Drag: 17.6 pounds
  • Gear Ratio: 5.7:1
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Weight: 14.3 ounces

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Penn Spinfisher VI

The Spinfisher VI is one of Penn’s top saltwater reels, positioning it right below the Slammer III. It is outfitted with some of the top technology making this a feature rich and heavy duty reel.

The Spinfisher is constructed with an all metal body and includes Penn’s CNC Gear System that adds to its durability under heavy loads. The IPX5 weather sealing helps keep you reel free from water and contaminants inside both the gearbox and drag system. The reel also uses the HT-100 carbon fiber drag system that has now made its way into other Penn reels.

Some other nice features are the braid ready spool with line capacity rings and the oversized handle.

Pros

  • Full metal body
  • Braid ready spool
  • IPX5 weather sealing
  • HT-100 carbon fiber drag system

Cons

  • Some may not like having a manual bail on the 6500 -10000 models

Specifications 6500:

  • Mono Line Capacity (12 lb): 390 yards
  • Braid Line Capacity (40 lb): 410 yards
  • Line Retrieve Per Crank: 42 inches
  • Max Drag: 30 pounds
  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Ball Bearings: 6
  • Weight: 22.3 ounces

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Penn Pursuit III

If you are looking for the best budget saltwater spinning reel, then you should check out the Penn Pursuit III. It is a solid reel for the price, but as you would expect, it is lacking the features of the higher priced models.

It has a light graphite body with metal side plate to help the gears stay in alignment. The Pursuit III also comes equipped with Penn’s HT-100 drag system which is a big improvement over their old one. It’s the same drag system used on some of their more expensive models.

Pros

  • Good drag system for an entry level reel (HT-100)
  • Braid ready spool
  • Good value for the budget conscious angler

Cons

  • Not sealed/waterproof
  • A little heavier than comparable reels

Specifications:

  • Mono Line Capacity (10 lb): 220 yards
  • Braid Line Capacity (30 lb): 185 yards
  • Line Retrieve Per Crank: 37 inches
  • Max Drag: 15 pounds
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Ball Bearings: 5
  • Weight: 12.4 ounces

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Okuma Azores

The Okuma Azores series reels are designed for saltwater fishing. They are constructed out of a rigid die-cast aluminum body with a dual force drag system that can produce 44 pounds of max drag which should cover the needs of most anglers pulling fish from the deep blue.

The Azores line is somewhat limited compared to similar reels from other manufactures. They have 5 models, from the Z-55s to the Z-90s. They don’t specify line capacity anywhere on their website which makes it tough to do a side by side comparison and impossible to know exactly what you are getting.

While one can probably assume that the model numbers correspond to similar reels among its competitors, I’m not willing to spend money on a reel that doesn’t disclose important specs.

Pros

  • Cast aluminum body
  • Braid ready spool
  • Dual Force Drag system
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Water resistant sealed drag system

Cons

  • Lower gear ratios
  • Can be
  • Heavy

Specifications Z-65s:

  • Line Retrieve Per Crank: 37 inches
  • Max Drag: 44 pounds
  • Gear Ratio: 5.4:1
  • Ball Bearings: 7
  • Weight: 24 ounces

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Penn Fierce II

The black and red styling of the Fierce II really sets the look apart from the other Penn reels. It’s a budget friendly reel with good performance for the price.

It seems to be a direct competitor to the Pursuit III reel, but with some noticeable differences. On the plus side, it has a full metal body and side plates which should make it more durable. On the minus side, it is still using the older oil felt drag system, while the other reels in the Penn line up use the HT-100 carbon fiber drag system or better.

It does have a slightly larger range of reel sizes than the Pursuit III, ranging from the ultralight 1000 up to the 8000 for the bigger fish.

Pros

  • Full metal body
  • Braid ready spool
  • Good value for fishermen on a budget
  • Sharp styling

Cons

  • Not sealed/waterproof
  • Older oil felt drag system

Specifications:

  • Mono Line Capacity (10 lb): 220 yards
  • Braid Line Capacity (30 lb): 185 yards
  • Line Retrieve Per Crank: 37 inches
  • Max Drag: 13 pounds
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Ball Bearings: 5
  • Weight: 12.3 ounces

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Conclusion

If you want a durable and feature packed saltwater spinning reel, the Penn Spinfisher VI is our top pick. It offers a good combination of durability, weather sealing, and performance for the money.

If you like fishing for flounder, striped bass, tuna, redfish, marlin, or anything in between, there is a reel in the Spinfisher VI line that should meet your needs.

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