Comparison table of the best ultralight spinning reels:
*information is based on the 2500 size (Shimano and Pflueger) and the 20 size (2500 equivalent for Abu Garcia)*
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Best ultralight spinning reel:
SHIMANO STRADIC Ci4+
The best ultralight spinning reel award goes to the Shimano Stradic Ci4+. It is completely redesigned and they have changed the body style from the old reel to the new Hagane system which makes it stronger and more rigid, reducing the amount of energy lost. They’ve changed the rotor to a new magnum light rotor which is 25% lighter than its predecessor. The new rotor offers better balance and reduces the amount of energy required to get the reel turning.
It has Shimano’s X-ship technology a double supported pinion gearing system. This ensures that all the components in the reel are rigid and don’t move around. What this translates to, is less friction between the spool shaft and gears which in turn translates to longer and smoother casts with lighter lures.
The 2500 series has 20lbs of waterproof drag and weighs only 6.7oz. It holds about 150 yards of 10lb braid which is perfect for freshwater fishing. It has a nice aluminum handle with a rubberized grip which makes the paddle really comfortable and reduces slippage . Also comes with Shimano’s core protect making it more water resistant reducing corrosion as the cherry on top.
Best value ultralight spinning reel
PFLUEGER SUPREME XT
The Pflueger Supreme XT gets our award for best value ultralight spinning reel. Weighing in at only 6oz in the 2500 series, it is one of the lightest reels in its class. The body and rotor are both made from magnesium making the reel super lightweight in the hand (reducing hand fatigue) but also making it more durable.
The XT comes which a carbon fiber handle, which is not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye but, carbon is lighter than regular materials used on handles and is a more durable material saving you future replacement costs. The carbon handle has an EVA knob which is very comfortable to use for extended periods while reducing slippage when wet. It features 10 high-quality corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings which greatly reduce noise and vibrations allowing for smoother casting and retrieve.
If you're like me, you’ve probably had a few issues with line twist while using spinning reels. To tackle line twist Pflueger has added a slow oscillating gearing system which helps improve even line lay which reduces line twist. The spool is braid ready which means it won't require mono backing. Last but not least the XT has a spool based carbon drag system which can be adjusted infinitely and allowing for quick adjustments on the fly.
Runner-up best ultralight spinning reel:
ABU GARCIA MGX SPINNING REEL
The Revo MGX wins runner up for best ultralight spinning reel. The MGX is the top of the line reel in Abu Garcia’s new Revo spinning reel range. The reel only weighs 6.20 oz (X20). The body and rotor are both made from C6 carbon which is a very strong and durable material. The C6 carbon reduces the reel’s weight making it compact and lightweight. It also makes the reel feel lightweight in the hand, which makes it very comfortable to use for extended periods.
The Revo MGX comes in 2 sizes, 20 (2000) and 30 (3000). The 20 size is suitable for species such as bluegill, crappie, bass and trout and the larger 30 flatheads and light snapper uses. Both reels are currently offered in a 6.2:1 ratio and 11 pounds of drag. It comes standard with 12 bearings (11 stainless steel ball bearings and 1 anti-reverse bearing).
It has a compact bent carbon handle which further reduces weight while being very aesthetically pleasing. The handle has a flat EVA knob which will provide great comfort and durability. The reel comes with two spools, a shallow finesse spool and a regular deep spool for maximum line capacity. The spool is braid ready which means braid can be tied directly with no slip, so you won’t have to line it with mono.
Best ultralight spinning reel on a tight budget:
The Okuma RTX is my opinion, the best ultralight spinning reel on a tight budget. It weighs only 6.6oz, due to the frame, side plate and rotor being made from C40x carbon making it 25% lighter and more durable than a regular graphite frame reel. The Multi-disc, Japanese oiled felt drag system provides smooth fish-stopping performance.
It comes with 7 Stainless steel ball bearings + 1 Roller bearing which support all moving parts. It has got a quick set anti-reverse roller bearing that eliminates all annoying play on the reel handle. Precision AlumiLite alloy main gear and oscillating gears Machined aluminum, 2-tone anodized spool increases casting distance and prolongs the line life. Last but not least the Hydro Block watertight drag seal keeps water and grim out and keeps the performance up. It comes with an impressive maximum drag force of 13lbs. Lightweight durable powerhouse.
Why choose an ultralight reel?
Back in the day when I first started going fishing with my dad, we could only go fishing with just two reels because of the weight and size of the reels. Just after a couple of hours of fishing, you would experience arm fatigue, your wrists would be sore and your biceps would feel like you’d been doing bicep curls for the upcoming Mr. Olympia.
Luckily, those days are behind us. With advancements in technology reels are lighter than ever. Imagine being able to use a reel so light that you can use it all day, without ever feeling the need to put it down because your wrists were sore. Not only does it make your fishing experience more enjoyable but it allows you to fish for longer.
Can an ultralight spinning reel give me the same performance?
Absolutely! Advancements in technology have made it possible for reels to be made from special materials such as magnesium, carbon fiber which make reels super lightweight but give you the same durability and performance. (sometimes better as is the case of carbon fiber.)
When should I use a spinning reel?
When you want to throw lighter lures, live baits or want to get more finesse and feel by using a smaller rod and reel combo.
How to choose the best ultralight spinning reel
What to look for:
Saltwater vs freshwater
The first thing you need to consider is whether you will be using your reel in freshwater or saltwater. Saltwater tends to corrode if you’re fishing saltwater you will need a reel that is completely sealed and is corrosion resistant. Look for a reel that has with the following words shielded stainless steel, anodized aluminum, forged aluminum. Reals fished in freshwater do not need as much protection against corrosion brought by exposure to saltwater.
One of the most important things to look at are 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 more durable and has less flex. This allows aluminum reels to better 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 that way if you’re fighting a fish it’s easier to see and adjust.
Reel size will determine how much line you can put on your spool. For most finesse fishing applications, a 2500 or equivalent is more than adequate.
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 6.0:1speed 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 ratio you need will depend on the techniques and applications you’re using.
Currently, there are hundreds of spinning reels available on the market to choose from, making it a very challenging task to find the right one. This review focusses on ultralight spinning reels, which are specifically designed to be as light as possible helping reduce arm fatigue. I hope that this article has helped you find the best ultralight spinning reel for your needs. Which one is your favorite? Comment below.