10 Best Saltwater Reels: A Complete Buyer’s Guide

December 7, 2017

Big game fishers are always hunting for the best saltwater reel. Seizing catches like the burly striped marlin and tuna is not an easy task. A flimsy setup would quickly break in the presence of these sea monsters. Of course, other detriments like corrosion would deteriorate a cheap reel.

Ideally, a saltwater reel should have the capability to hold an 80 to 90-pound braid. Moreover, it should possess a drag force that doesn't go lower than 60 pounds. If your current reel has this performance, then bringing it to the waters would give you a peace of mind. You can guarantee that it can tame even those charging and aggressive underwater creatures.

Searching for a decent saltwater reel is not an easy task, especially if you don't have knowledge about this tool. Even seasoned anglers would take the time to assess the quality of the reel when they are shopping. For amateurs, it is pretty essential that you have a good understanding of the basics of a fishing reel. In this way, you'll get the right tool for you.

In this article, we will feature the most excellent options you have for a saltwater reel. Check out which one of them will give you the definite advantage, depending on your intended applications and needs. Read on!


Best Saltwater Reels: Top Picks

Of course, there are certain qualifications that you should look out for a saltwater fishing reel. Just like their freshwater counterparts, saltwater reels must be durable and versatile enough to deal different conditions. Otherwise, your time in the water would be disappointing.

Choosing a Saltwater Reel: What to Look For


Here are some of the deciding factors that determine the overall quality of a saltwater reel. Let's not stall any longer here. Let's get started!


It is a guaranteed fact that when it comes to handling cumbersome lures, baitcasters are way better than spinning reels. But still, spinning reels are still the ideal choice when it comes to saltwater applications. They provide extreme versatility and mobility, which is necessary to keep pace with the volatile conditions of the sea. Although they don't provide as much accuracy as baitcasters, spinning reels are still effective.

Despite this, the spinning reel that you should choose should be durable enough to survive the rough waters. You have to anticipate that most of the saltwater species are bigger than those you can find on lakes or river. Therefore, the build should be robust enough to deal with these creatures.

Ideally, you should choose a reel that has a frame crafted from aluminum, graphite, and specialized carbon. All of these are non-metallic materials. As a result, they are immune to corrosion and rust. Of course, they can resist breakage even struggling against strong fish.

Moreover, you also need to consider the frame's tightness. Specifically, the reel should not allow water breach. For this, you need a model that has a good drag washer.

Line Capacity

It is essential that the reel that you are going to choose can accommodate thick lines. Otherwise, you can't seize those big trophies. Apparently, the spool that you are going to use should correspond to the line capacity of the reel. For example, if the current reel that you have indicates that it has a 225/14 rating, then it means that it can cater 255 yards of line (with a 14-pound strength).

Notably, those spinning reels that can hold thick lines have steep price tags. Furthermore, they tend to be heavy. Therefore, it would benefit you if you could do proper research before you head out to the market. Assess the line volume that you are going to use, depending on the type of fish you are going to catch.


The smoothness of a reel depends on the amount and quality of ball bearings that it has. It cannot spin smoothly if your tool doesn't possess the sufficient number of bearings that it needs. In saltwater applications, this factor is extremely crucial. You have to realize that dealing with large and burly fish will require you to have a fast-paced reel. It would be difficult for you to tackle these creatures if your reel is flimsy and lacking.

As a result, you need to ascertain that the reel that you are going to choose should have a high bearing count. There's no way you can anticipate the next fish that will bite your lure. You have to be always prepared.

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio determines the power and speed of any fishing reel. The higher the ratio, the faster you can retrieve. Choosing a reel with a 5.5:1 will give you a guaranteed quick retrieval. However, if you want to settle with cranking force, then you need a reel with a low gear ratio (e.g. 4.1:1).

The ratio refers to the number of spooling rotation that happens every single handle turn. Therefore, a reel that has a 5.5:1 gear ratio will spin 5.5 times per handle turn.

Best Saltwater Reels: Full Round-up

Product Name

Gear Ratio



Penn Spinfisher V


Five Ball Bearings + 1 Anti-Reverse Bearing


Penn Slammer III


Six Ball Bearings + 1 Anti-Reverse Bearing


Abu Garcia Orra Power Finesse


Eight Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing


KastKing Kodiak


Ten Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing


Penn Pursuit II


Four Ball Bearings + 1 Anti-Reverse Bearing


Penn Battle II


Five Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing


Okuma Trio


Nine Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing


Shimano Stradic CI4

5.0:1, 6.0:1

Six Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing


Sougayilang Transformers DK Series Reel

5.2:1, 5.1:1

Twelve Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing


KastKing Summer and Centron

5.2:1, 4.5:1

Nine Ball Bearings + 1 Roller Bearing


1. Penn Spinfisher V - Best Overall Saltwater Reel

The Penn Spinfisher V is an excellent spinning reel that can deal the test of the sea. It has a durable construction, which features a watertight frame that can resist water and sand elements. It comes with the HT-100 Slammer. The latter is a specialized drag system that provides improved pull range and smoothness. It will serve you well in the battle against various game fish.

There is an integrated friction trip ramp on this reel. Because of this component, you can guarantee that each every cast that you have will be long and accurate. It also features five stainless steel ball bearings and one anti-reverse ball bearing for enhanced water retrieval.

Mainly, we couldn't see any downsides with the Penn Spinfisher V. Maybe the bearing count of this tool is not as high as other models. But still, the operation of this reel is very smooth and impressive.


  • Foolproof watertight design
  • Durable and sturdy frame
  • Robust drag system
  • ​Casting range is long and accurate
  • ​Harmonious and flawless operation


  • Gear ratio is just on the middle line

2. Penn Slammer III Spinning Reels - Extremely Watertight Reel

Another impressive saltwater spinning reel coming from Penn is the Slammer III. Many bluewater anglers are currently in pursuit of this tool. It features the critically-acclaimed IPX6 Sealed System that prevents the entry of water and sand in the drag system and gearbox. With this single feature alone, the Slammer III became one of the most durable and reliable saltwater reels today.

This fishing reel also features an updated version of the Slammer Drag System. The latter improves the casting accuracy and range of this reel. Of course, it also enhances the force and smoothness of your retrieves. The body, side plate, and rotor have full metal construction. But it comes with an anti-corrosion coating to ensure that it doesn't weaken against the elements.

Again, we can't find any weakness on this reel. We can just say that other fishing reels give better user comfort than this one.


  • Impressive watertight construction
  • Can resist every demeaning water elements
  • Powerful and smooth drag
  • ​Cast range is pretty decent
  • ​Construction is durable and rugged


  • It is not as comfortable as other models

3. Abu Garcia Orra Power Finesse - Highly Controllable Saltwater Fishing Reel

The fishing community is never a stranger to the reels of Abu Garcia. It is among the most reputable manufacturers of various fishing amenities today. In fact, in this list, we have listed various Abu Garcia reels. That's how good their tools are. The first one that we are going to feature is their Orra Power Finesse.

Just as its name suggests, this saltwater reel provides its user the power and control in fishing. It is an excellent option if you are a fan of using lines made out of fluorocarbon. It is due to its small line structure.

Moreover, it comes with a 5.8:1 gear ratio, which translates to around 36 inches of rotation per one handle turn. Meanwhile, its composition is pretty sturdy, thanks to its C6 carbon body. This material balances the durability and weight of this tool.

So far, we haven't encountered any issues with this fishing reel, except for some reported cases of shipping damages. Other than that, the Orra Power Finesse is just remarkable.


  • Accurate and powerful drag
  • Smooth retrieval and cast
  • Gives optimal user control over the tool
  • ​Decent and rigid construction
  • It is lightweight


  • Minor instances of shipping damages (especially if you'll purchase it online)

​4. KastKing Kodiak Saltwater - Powerful Entry-Price Spinning Reel

The KastKing Kodia is an entry-grade spinning reel. However, it comes with a force that can match even the burly tuna. It has a no-flex body made from aluminum.

The rotor and spool also have aluminum construction, too. It is a durable reel that is capable of neutralizing resisting creatures. Specifically, this tool can offer 39.5 pounds of dragging force, which is enough to tackle large trophies.

Of course, the power of the Kastking Kodiak is complemented by its smooth operation. After all, it comes with a 10 + 1 set of stainless steel ball bearings. Therefore, it can retrieve flawlessly and splendidly. The structure of this tool is perfectly-designed for saltwater applications, as all of the parts are water tight.

On the other hand, there are some issues that we encountered while using this one. Notably, the screw that secures the knob to its handle came out. We just don't know if we got a defective unit. But regardless of the case, it should be addressed.


  • Smooth retrieve and casting
  • Powerful dragging force
  • ​Watertight construction
  • ​No-flex frame
  • Can deal with burly and vigorous fish


  • It is somehow cumbersome (it can stress your wrist after some casts)

​5. Penn Pursuit II - A Saltwater Reel with No Backplay

Another spinning reel that you should consider from Penn is their Pursuit II. It is a reel that you can put your faith and money upon, because of its splendid design and performance. It features and durable yet lightweight construction, thanks to its graphite construction. Meanwhile, its drag system is oiled-felt. Therefore, you can guarantee that it has the power and smoothness that you can trust.

The Pursuit II is available in various sizes. It is a great perk, considering that most of us have different intended applications. Moreover, it comes with an anti-reverse system to prevent any rotor back play. The rotor and side plate of this tool are made of anodized aluminum, making them sturdy and resistant to corrosion.

We could say that the Pursuit II can give a satisfying performance. However, we have to indicate that it only has four ball bearings. It somehow affects the smoothness of the retrieval (but not that much).


  • No rotor back play
  • Corrosion-resistant construction
  • Comes in different sizes to cater various spool options
  • ​Durable and sturdy
  • It is easy to control


  • Only have four bearings
  • The handle occasionally unscrews

6. Penn Battle II - A Durable and Sturdy Saltwater Reel

Penn Battle II is an excellent choice if you to dominate large game fish that are dwelling on the blue waters. It has a metal frame with anti-corrosion coating, the same with the rotor and side plate. It also comes with a bail wire made from aluminum, making it a durable choice.

This tool features an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system. This particular innovation allows the tool to pull big game fish without compromising smoothness. You can guarantee that this is a fluid-cranking model, which offers five stainless steel ball bearings and one separate anti-reverse bearing. Therefore, no back plays can happen as long as you have this reel.

On the flipside, we noticed that the reel handle is quite heavier than we expected it. It is not a significant drawback, but if you want superior comfort, such factor might become an issue.


  • Comes in different sizes
  • Strong but smooth drag system
  • ​Can retrieve and cast with accuracy
  • ​Durable and extremely rugged
  • Watertight design


  • Reel handle is thick
  • It is not as smooth as other Penn reels

​7. Okuma Trio - Hybrid Saltwater Reel

Innovation is the name of the game for Okuma Trio. This particular saltwater reel features a unique spool design. Specifically, the latter came from the combination of an aluminum tip and graphite arbor. Meanwhile, the manufacturer made both the rotor and body through the integration of graphite and aluminum. With this construction, it is a guarantee that this device can survive various detriments.

Okuma Trio also sports nine stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing. These components allow the tool to perform smooth and efficient retrievals. Meanwhile, the Precision Dual Force Technology integrates the spool in the drag system. As a result, this reel can cast and retrieve with maximum smoothness.

However, there is one notable issue that we spotted on this reel. We observed the screws of the gear housing could loosen quickly. Therefore, prior tuning is necessary when you will use the Okuma Trio.


  • Impressive construction
  • All of the parts are watertight and corrosion-resistant
  • ​High number of ball bearings
  • ​Robust drag system
  • ​Smooth and flawless retrievals


  • Requires constant tuning and maintenance

8. Shimano Stradic CI4 - Expensive Yet A Worthy Saltwater Reel

This list won't be complete without the Shimano Stradic CI4. It is a spinning reel that features Shimano's latest Magnumlite rotor. The latter drastically lessens the weight that you are going to feel whenever you are retrieving your lure. As a result, you can fish all day with maximum convenience. But of course, the power of this tool is still there. It has a lightweight but rigid carbon construction, which makes it a formidable reel.

The Shimano Stradic CI4 also possesses the G Free Body. This innovation rearranges the conventional design of coils to lessen its weight. Specifically, all of the internal parts are in the center. As a result, it created balance to the structure. Meanwhile, it uses the Coreprotect technology to stop the ingress of water on its cavities.

The Shimano is a great saltwater reel. There is no doubt about it. The only downside that it has is its price. It is relatively more expensive than most of the spinning reel units here. But if you got the bucks, then this one is a bang!


  • Extremely lightweight
  • Durable and comfortable to handle
  • ​Internal gears are strong and durable
  • ​Available in different models
  • Smooth and powerful operation


  • It is expensive

9. Sougayilang Transformers DK Series Reel

The Sougayilang Transformers DK Series is an impressive line of spinning reels. It contains various models that come in different gear ratios to cater various angler preferences. Moreover, it features a powerful performance that doesn't dwindle whenever you are facing large game fish.

You will certainly love this device, particularly the smoothness of its retrievals. It is due to the presence of 12 ball bearings plus one roller bearing. Moreover, this tool provides an optimal amount of control over your casts, thanks to its impressive oscillation system.

However, there are certain drawbacks to this reel. First, it can only accommodate limited line length. Second, it is noticeable that a couple of its parts are from plastic.


  • Lightweight and compact
  • It has a lot of bearings
  • ​Comes in various sizes and gear ratios
  • ​Smooth operation
  • ​Can handle medium to large game fish


  • Some parts come with plastic
  • It cannot cater long and thick lines

​10. KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels - A Saltwater Reel for Beginners

The last one on this list is a product from KastKing. The Summer and Centron Spinning Reel is a value-friendly spinning reel that has decent performance and construction. Now, don't get fooled by other people saying that this tool is for professionals. Well, we can say that it is a good spinning reel, but its quality is not yet there to the top.

What we can attest is that this reel is lightweight, compact and durable. It has a graphite frame with anti-corrosion property. It is also watertight, too. Meanwhile, we also noticed that it has a convincing dragging power, enough to deal with burly creatures.

The main shaft and drive gears have a full metal construction to take on the task.


  • It is an affordable choice
  • Powerful stopping force
  • ​Watertight construction
  • ​Casts accurately
  • None of the parts feel cheap


  • The ball tends to hang up
  • Requires maintenance and tuning before and after you use it

Wrapping Up

There is a world of difference when it comes to saltwater and freshwater fishing. Therefore, it is pretty necessary to choose an appropriate fishing reel to tackle these applications. Specifically, we consider that saltwater fishing is a lot more challenging than its counterpart,

considering that the conditions in the sea are volatile. Moreover, the external detriments are just ever looming.

We are hoping that these best saltwater reels we presented can help you get the right tool for your next fishing trip. At this point, we recommend that you should invest on a high-quality reel. In this way, you can have a pleasurable fishing experience. If you have any questions, just feel free to ask us!

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About the Author


Hello, fishing world! My name is Bella. Yes, you got me right, I am a woman! But, I am a woman not only fond of cooking and shopping. I am a woman who shows interest in everything that covers topics regarding fishing. Don’t get me wrong! I believe that the world of fishing is not exclusively for men! In fact, I, myself enjoy fishing. That’s why I created this website.

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