Comparison table of the best saltwater spinning reels:
*Drag information is based on all the available of reel sizes for that specific reel. Specific drag will be determined by the reel size.
Best saltwater spinning reel:
PENN SLAMMER III
The best saltwater spinning reel award goes to the Penn Slammer III. In 2016 Penn continued its legacy as the go-to Saltwater reel manufacturer with the 2016 Icast winner the Slammer 3. Back by popular demand and revamped the Slammer 3 is the ultimate workhorse reel and is built for heavy-duty fishing from either boat or shore.
The frame and rotor are constructed from metal and the side-plate is all aluminum which makes the reel super durable. The machined gearing is made out of brass, which translates to extreme durability, extreme smoothness, and extreme cranking power.
The reel comes fully sealed making it perfect for surf fishing and boat fishing. The Slammer 3 has 7 sealed corrosion resistant ball bearings. It is available in 8 sizes from the 3500 up to the 10500. It uses Penn's dura drag system with max drag ranging from 30lb to a very impressive 60lb for the larger reels.
The spool has line capacity rings to keep track of how much line you've used.
Best bang for the buck:
The Daiwa BG gets our best value award. It is constructed just as well and has the same quality and smoothness of reels that cost twice as much. Daiwa has kept its legacy as a go-to reel manufacturer for anglers of all levels. In 2016 Daiwa decide to remake the 1981 classic, packing a ton of technology into a very affordable reel.
The BG is all aluminum construction making it highly corrosion resistant. The aluminum makes it very rigid, strong and durable. The rigidity reduces flex under load which in turn reduces dissipation of energy when cranking. It has a machined aluminum screw in handle that has zero play, makes packing easier, and is stronger than the previous design. It comes with the highly coveted manual bail that everyone loves on the 4500 size and up.
Lays line on the spool evenly and casts like a dream. It comes with 7 top quality NMB bearings which are the same bearings that are used in the high-end Daiwas and Shimanos.
The reel is built to fish braided line and the spool has a rubber reel to keep the braid from slipping. It ranges through every possible line class from 1500 which is perfect for bluegill and trout all the way up to 8000 which can handle 80 lb braid and can be used for marlin sharks and big tuna.
For the price, I don't see how this reel can disappoint anyone.
Best ultra-smooth saltwater spinning reel:
SHIMANO TWIN POWER SW
After waiting for what felt like decades, the Shimano Twin Power is finally available to the rest of the world. This former Japan exclusive reel is a real game changer. Positioned between the Stella and the Saragossa this is the ultimate saltwater reel.
The name twin power was derived from the Hagane body and Hagane gear systems. In a nutshell, Hagane body and gear is basically Shimano's term for making things more rigid, more stiff in terms of the body and smoother for the gearing so that when you are cranking the handle the energy that you're using to crank the handle does not get lost because of flex and goes to actually cranking the fish which is a great feature.
Featuring x-ship technology, which reduces friction between the spool and gear shaft which improves casting distance, even with lighter lures. A total of 12 (11+1) ball bearings 11 ball bearings for ultra-smooth retrieve and 1 super stopper II ball bearing that prevents any back play providing you with instant hook sets.
The twin power comes with a tough drag system very impressive drag range of 24-62lbs which is more than adequate for most species. The drag is ultra smooth even and remains that way even when fighting aggressive fish like bluefin tuna.
Runner up for best saltwater spinning reel
Penn, as a company has had a very long history of making tough reels for use in the saltwater environment against hard fighting sport-fish and the Clash, is the pinnacle of Penn's spinning reels. It is available in 7 sizes from 2000 up to 8000. It comes in Penn's iconic black and gold and features 8 stainless ball bearings and 1 roller bearing in the anti-reverse.
All reel sizes feature a full metal body for maximum durability. The large sizes complete this with an aluminum rotor while the smaller sizes utilize Penn's RR30 carbon for the rotor. The bail wire is a heavy duty aluminum. The large handle is made for cranking and features an oversized soft knob. 2000 to 4000 have a 6.2:1 gear ratio the 5000-6000 5.6:1 and the 8000 a 4.7:1 gear ratio for maximum cranking power. The drag capacity are very adequate starting from
Line capacity as you would expect for reels designed for saltwater use is quite large. Spools on all reels feature a textured base which makes them braid ready and have line capacity rings for use to tell how much line is remaining on the spool when locked in combat with a powerful long-running fish. The level line oscillation system is slow to provide better line lay and reduce wind knots and better casting. The sealed drag system is protected from water intrusion.
How to select the best saltwater spinning reel for you:
In recent years there has been a burgeoning supply of fishing reels of different design and diversity from the top manufacturers. Advances in technology have made it possible for reels to be constructed with lighter materials and novel features. As an ardent angler these are great times for us, but with reels coming out every week it's hard to keep up with the latest features and discern which features are actually worth paying for. I've compiled a list of the basics below. Where you go from there is basically personal preference. It is important, however, to keep in mind that when shopping for a reel, you usually get what you pay for. So set a budget and find a reel that fits your needs at the high end of that price range.
One of the most important things to look for in a saltwater reel is water resistance. Saltwater tends to be harsh on reels and corrodes most materials it comes in contact with. Your reel getting wet is likely to happen when saltwater fishing. You want a reel that is completely sealed and has corrosion resistance parts to prevent your reel from rusting?.
It is also important to consider the materials used in the construction of the reel. The materials used will greatly impact the durability and weight of the reel. The two most commonly used materials you'll find on modern day reels are graphite and aluminum. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Aluminum is stronger, has less flex which means it can withstand torque produced by bigger fish. Graphite, however, is much lighter which means less arm fatigue during those long fishing trips. Which one to get is entirely personal preference and depends on the type of species you'll be targeting and how long you would be fishing for.
Spool drag system vs frame based drag system? I personally prefer a spool based drag system because it allows me to make easier adjustments and see what adjustments I'm making, even when fighting a fish.
Gear ratio simply means, the number of revolutions the bail rotates around the spool per turn of the handle. This determines how much line comes in per turn of the handle. For example on a speed of 6.0:1 the bail will rotate 6 times around the spool for every turn of the handle.
What ratio should you buy?
Each brand will have different ratios covering the whole spectrum. The gear ratio you need will depend on the techniques and applications you’re using.
When it comes to bearings more is not always better (except maybe for the top of line reels). It is better to have fewer higher quality bearings than a bunch of low-quality bearings. You could have two $150 reels, one with 10 ball bearings and another with 6 ball bearings. The ball bearings placed in the 10 ball bearing reel may only cost 10cents each and while the ball bearing reels might cost $1 each. The reel with 6 ball bearings of higher quality will be smoother, less noisy and is going to last you longer resulting in a better investment. So when looking at bearings look for words like shielded, double shielded and sealed bearings rather than just the number of bearings only.
Saltwater reel care tips
If you’re using your fishing equipment in saltwater you’re going to need to take care of it a lot more often than guys using it in freshwater.
With so many options available I hope this article has helped you narrow it down. The Penn Slammer 3 edges out the competition as the best saltwater spinning reel. But you couldn't go wrong with any of the others.
Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below.