The Best Saltwater Spinning Reels For The Money

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Choosing the best saltwater spinning reels is an experience on par with choosing a new car. Well, without that new car smell that is!

Most anglers will agree that choosing and buying fishing tackle is almost as much fun as the fishing itself. That said, lousy tackle choices can very quickly sour any fishing trip, and at worst, cost you the fish of a lifetime. And, that maxim is particularly true when it comes to your choice of fishing reels.

With that in mind, how does one choose the best saltwater spinning reels?

Comparison Table

THE BEST SALTWATER SPINNING REELS: WHERE TO START

Fishing freshwater is every bit as challenging and rewarding as fishing saltwater. There are, however, a couple of very significant differences which will impact your choice of the best saltwater spinning reels.

For one thing, saltwater is far harder on reels than freshwater. Saltwater reels need to incorporate superior sealing mechanisms to keep corrosive saltwater out of their innards.

Next, marine fish species also have to contend with that harsh environment making them generally more robust and harder fighting than their freshwater siblings. Not to mention far larger to boot. That means your reel will have to be just as tough.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the specific points you need to consider when choosing the best saltwater spinning reels.

a fishing reel attached on a fishing rod

image via pexels

CHOOSING YOUR SPINNING REEL: BRAID READY SPOOLS

Rapid advancements in braided super-line technology allowed the spinning reel to all but completely close the gap between it and conventional reels. Consequently, it’s now possible to fill the smaller spools of spinning reels with large amounts of high breaking strain line.

Because braid doesn’t stretch, it doesn’t “grip” the spool arbor as well as the more elastic mono line does. As a result, this can cause the entire body of the line to slip around the spool under extreme pressure.

Braid ready spools feature rubber or knurled inserts which allow the braid to lock onto the spool to prevent slippage.

CHOOSING YOUR SPINNING REEL: DRAG RATINGS

Drag ratings are another essential characteristic to consider when choosing the best saltwater spinning reels. Within reason, the more drag you have, the more pressure you can put on the fish during the fight. This leads to shorter fights and less chance of break-offs.

Whether or not the drag remains smooth throughout its range is actually more important than the amount of drag the reel possesses. A rough or erratic drag can quickly lead to the loss of hard fighting, fast running fish.

CHOOSING YOUR SPINNING REEL: CONSTRUCTION AND SEALING

One of the most important considerations when choosing the best saltwater spinning reels is their construction and sealing systems. As mentioned earlier, saltwater is extremely corrosive and can play havoc with metal reel parts.

Dedicated seals on the side plates, drag housing, and spool are real plus points on a spinning reel. They will protect the bearings, gears, and drag system from corrosion and significantly increase the lifespan of the reel.

man holding a fishing rod

image via pexels

HOW WE’VE STRUCTURED OUR REVIEW

We have structured our review lineup to include products which cover a wide range of saltwater spin fishing conditions.

We will consider a standard set of criteria for each reel in review and list their core specifications and features where available. In addition, we listed customer reviews and ratings for each reel.

OUR BEST SALTWATER SPINNING REEL LINEUP

In no particular order here are the contenders for our best saltwater spinning reels showdown.

DAIWA BG 5000

Daiwa BG5000 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel, 5000, 5.7: 1 Gear...
  • Black Anodized Machined...
  • Solid Screw-In Handle, Air...
  • Braided Line Ready Spool,...
  • Manual Return Bail (4500 and...
  • Line Capacity (Lb. Test /...

Daiwa is one of the best-known manufacturers of spinning reels, and the Black Gold series of reels has garnered a loyal following among saltwater fisherman the world over.

And with good reason as the BG series reels are incredibly reliable and have one of the smoothest drags on the market.

With that in mind, we have chosen the BG 5000 model as an excellent example of a larger reel ideal for off-shore, pier, and beach fishing.

CORE SPECIFICATIONS

  • Maximum mono line capacity: 200 yards of 20-pound mono
  • Maximum braid line capacity: 330 yards of 80-pound J Braid
  • Spool: aluminum, braid ready
  • Gear ratio: 5.7:1
  • Maximum drag: 22 pounds, carbon drag
  • Line retrieve per handle turn: 47.4 inches
  • Gears: Diawa proprietary over-sized DIGIGEAR system
  • Sealing: body, spool and drag system
  • Anti-reverse: dual infinite
  • Bail trip: manual and automatic

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

The Diawa BG 5000, as expected returns positive reviews both from Amazon customers and independent reviewers. Amazon reviews rate the Diawa Black Gold series reels at a very respectable 4.7 out of 5.0 stars.

PROS

  • Very well built, reliable, and robust
  • Excellent drag system
  • Outstanding waterproofing
  • Solid, precise gear system
  • Braid ready spool
  • Good line capacity

CONS

  • Smaller drag capacity than some comparably sized reels

PENN SPINFISHER VI 2500

Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI Spinning Saltwater Reel, 2500...
  • IPX5 sealed body and spool...
  • Cnc gear technology
  • Ht-100 carbon fiber drag...

The Spinfisher line of reels is undoubtedly one of Penn’s most enduring product lines offering an excellent balance of features and pricing.

Spinfisher reels boast a host of really great features including the excellent Penn HT-100 drag system and outstanding sealing system.

The 2500 model is the baby of the range and represents an ideal in-shore, light tackle saltwater reel. Pier, boat, rock, and surf or kayak anglers will have little problem subduing fish of 25 pounds or more with this little powerhouse.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Maximum mono line capacity: 140 yards of 10-pound mono
  • Maximum braid line capacity: 160 yards of 20-pound braid
  • Spool: aluminum, braid ready, line capacity rings
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1
  • Maximum drag: 15 pounds, Penn HT-100 drag system
  • Line retrieve per handle turn: 33 inches
  • Gears: Penn CNC Gear system
  • Sealing: Penn IPX5 multi-point full seal system
  • Anti-reverse: instant anti-reverse
  • Bail trip: automatic

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Penn’s official website customer reviews for the Spinfisher line are a good indicator of these reels quality and endurance. As a matter of fact, at least one of these anglers states that he uses his 2500 regularly to land stripers of 25 pounds. Now, that’s an excellent indicator of the reel’s true colors.

Amazon customer ratings don’t differ much and return average ratings of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars. In addition, independent reviewers are equally impressed with the little Spinfisher VI, lauding its robust reliability and smooth, powerful drag.

PROS

  • Small and lightweight considering its capabilities
  • Excellent drag system
  • Excellent, watertight sealing system
  • Robust and reliable construction
  • Robust bail and line roller bearing

CONS

  • Automatic bail trip only

DAIWA SALTIST 6500

Daiwa 5.6:1 Gear Ratio 9 Bearings Saltist Spinning Reel,...
  • Daiwa saltist
  • Spinning reel
  • Braided line ready spool

The Saltist is Diawa’s top drawer saltwater spinning offering with a budget-busting twist. Sharing many of the flagship Saltiga reels features, the Saltist range of spinning reels offers excellent value for money.

With a cavernous spool, Magsealed line roller and main shaft, and Diawa’s waterproof carbon ATD drag system, the 6500is a serious big-fish reel. These are its core features.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Maximum mono line capacity: 260 yards of 30-pound mono
  • Maximum braid line capacity: 330 yards of 80-pound J-Braid
  • Spool: Dynamic Cut aluminum ABS spool, braid ready
  • Gear ratio: 5.3:1
  • Maximum drag: 33 pounds, Diawa carbon ATD drag system
  • Line retrieve per handle turn: 48.7 inches
  • Gears: Diawa proprietary over-sized DIGIGEAR system
  • Sealing: Diawa Magseal system

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

As one would expect of a reel in this class, customer reviews are strongly positive. Amazon customers award the Saltist a unanimous thumbs-up with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars. Independent reviews mirrored these positive sentiments and understandably so.

PROS

  • Excellent build quality
  • Exceptionally smooth and powerful drag
  • Large line capacity
  • Extremely water-resistant

CONS

  • Heavier than some similarly sized reels

ABU GARCIA REVO 2INS60 INSHORE SPINNING REEL

Abu Garcia Revo Inshore Spinning
  • 6 stainless steel hpcr...
  • Amgearing System provides...
  • Computer optimized gear design...
  • Carbon matrix drag System...
  • C6 carbon rotor provides...

Reel manufacturer Abu Garcia is undoubtedly no stranger to most serious fresh or saltwater anglers. That considered, theRevo Inshore spinning reel’s inclusion in our best saltwater spinning reels lineup shouldn’t be too hard to appreciate.

Although the 2INS60 is the biggest of Abu Garcia’s Inshore spinning reel range, it places in the lower end of our lineup.

However, that by no means lessens its value as an outstanding light to medium inshore saltwater spinner. With a host of noteworthy features, the Revo Inshore is a really great pier, kayak and boat reel for fish up to 20 pounds.

Here is what makes the 2INS60 tick.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Maximum mono line capacity: 205 yards of 14-pound mono
  • Maximum braid line capacity: 200 yards of 20-pound braid
  • Spool: aluminum, braid ready
  • Gear ratio: 5.6:1
  • Maximum drag: 24 pounds Abu Garcia proprietary Carbon Matrix drag
  • Line retrieve per handle turn: 35 inches
  • Gears: CNC machined aluminum alloy combination gear set
  • Sealing: fully sealed
  • Anti-reverse: instant anti-reverse

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Abu Garcia’s website reviews score the little Inshore at an average of 4.4 out of 5.0 stars. Amazon customers are equally enthusiastic scoring the 2INS60 at an average of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars.

PROS

  • Good line capacity
  • Great drag rating
  • High line retrieve rate
  • Robust and well sealed

CONS

  • Heavy for its size
  • Low gear ratio

SHIMANO SOCORRO 6000

Shimano Socorro 6000 SW, heavy duty saltwater spinning...
  • Saltwater spinning fishing...
  • Mono line capacity (lbs/yd):...
  • PowerPro line capacity...
  • Line retrieve per crank: 33...
  • Max drag force: 22 lbs,...

Few spinning reel manufacturer carries as stellar a reputation for high-quality products as Shimano does. The Socorro 6000 is one of these outstanding products and occupies a midrange position in our best saltwater spinning reel lineup.

The cold-forged HAGANE main gear, X-Ship pinion gear support, and cross carbon drag system makes for one of the strongest and smoothest Shimano spinning reels yet.

That, along with a generous line capacity and rugged construction makes the Socorro 6000 an outstanding in and off-shore saltwater reel.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Maximum mono line capacity: 120 yards of 20-pound mono
  • Maximum braid line capacity: 140 yards of 65-pound braid
  • Spool: aluminum, braid ready
  • Gear ratio: 4.6:1
  • Maximum drag: 22 pounds Shimano cross carbon drag
  • Line retrieve per handle turn: 33 inches
  • Gears: Shimano proprietary cold forged HAGANE gears
  • Sealing: fully sealed
  • Anti-reverse: instant anti-reverse

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Amazon customers rate the Socorro 6000 at a solid 4.3 out of 5.0 stars with an impressive 78 percent of reviewers allocating a full 5.0 out of 5.0-star rating.

PROS

  • High strength cold-forged gearing
  • Dual-support pinion gear
  • Good drag rating

CONS

  • Low gear ratio
  • High price

CADENCE CS5 4000

Cadence Spinning Reel,CS5 Ultralight Carbon Fiber Fishing...
  • 【What You Get from...
  • 【Super Light Weight】Reel...
  • 【Ultra-Smooth】Unique...
  • 【Powerful】CS5 Spinning...
  • 【Great Value】The CS5...

The CS5 4000 is a light to medium saltwater spinning reel from Cadence fishing tackle. Although not the oldest or best known of reel manufacturers, Cadence is known for producing reliable, good quality products at reasonable prices.

Boasting a host of attractive features, the CS5 4000 is an ideal in-shore reel. In addition, it would be a great choice for light tackle pier or beach anglers.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Maximum mono line capacity: 220 yards of 10-pound mono
  • Maximum braid line capacity: 260 yards of 20-pound braid
  • Spool: aluminum
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1
  • Maximum drag: 20 pounds, carbon fiber
  • Line retrieve per handle turn: 38 inches
  • Gears: forged aluminum
  • Sealing: fully sealed

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

The Cadence customer feedback is unanimously positive with full 5.0 out of 5.0-star ratings. The same can also be said of independent reviews and a very respectable 4.6 out of 5.0 star Amazon customer review rating.

PROS

  • Very lightweight
  • Large stainless steel bearing count
  • Excellent drag rating
  • Low price point
  • Good line capacity

CONS

  • No braid ready spool insert

PENN SLAMMER III 9500

PENN Slammer III Spinning
  • Full Metal Body, side plate,...
  • CNC Gear technology
  • IP6 Sealed body and spool...
  • Sealed Slammer drag system...
  • 6+1 stainless steel bearing...

The last reel in our best saltwater spinning reels lineup is another of Penn’s flagship products. Penn Slammer reels have left an indelible mark on the spinning reel market and come to be viewed as benchmark products.

Further, with all-metal construction, IPX6 sealing systems and massive drag ratings these are true work-horses. The 9500model is the second largest in the slammer lineup and with its large line capacity, a perfect heavy, big-fish saltwater reel.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Maximum mono line capacity: 240 yards of 50-pound mono
  • Maximum braid line capacity: 435 yards of 80-pound braid
  • Spool: aluminum, braid ready, line capacity rings
  • Gear ratio: 4.2:1
  • Maximum drag: 60 pounds, Penn Dura-Drag
  • Line retrieve per handle turn: 40 inches
  • Gears: Penn CNC Gear system
  • Sealing: Penn IPX6 multi-point full seal system
  • Anti-reverse: instant anti-reverse
  • Bail trip: manual

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

The Penn customer reviews reflect this reel’s outstanding quality and feature set with a 4.7 out of 5.0-star average rating.

Similarly, those sentiments are shared by the majority of independent reviewers who generally give the big Penn rave reviews.

In addition, Amazon customer ratings are equally impressive with the 9500 scoring 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.

PROS

  • Large line capacity
  • Huge drag rating
  • An extremely good sealing system
  • Full metal construction
  • Strong, precision gear set

CONS

  • Heavy at almost 41 ounces
  • Fairly slow gear ratio

THE BEST SALTWATER SPINNING REELS: THE WRAP-UP

person holding a fishing reel

image via pexels

The reels chosen for our best saltwater spinning reel showdown are all outstanding examples of the genre and making a choice is a tough call.

That said though, the Diawa Saltist 6500 figures as the best all-round combination of features and value for money. In closing, we hope our review has helped you make a sound choice regarding the best saltwater spinning reels.

Good luck and tight lines!

Should you have any comments, insights, or related experiences you’d like to share, please use the comments section below.

Featured Image Source: Unsplash.com

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