The Top 8 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels

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Looking for the best ultralight spinning reels is an exercise many anglers will engage in at some point. Now, most anglers are big-fish hunters at heart and would love to land a massive record-breaker at some point.

That said, ultralight fishing is considered by many to be the ultimate angling discipline. It's definitely one worthy of passionate pursuit.

This is all well and good, but what is ultralight angling? Also, what sort of gear does one need to get started? Learn some of the basics before selecting one of the best ultralight spinning reels.

Definition of Ultralight Tackle?

fishing reel

Image via Pixabay

Primarily, you may broadly classify ultralight angling as "fishing with the lightest possible tackle for any given type of fishing." Of course, that's pretty vague, but there are really no hard and fast rules when it comes to making an accurate definition.

The majority of the reels we'll look at here are suitable for rods with 2- to 6-pound test curves. Some are a little heavier, but we'll focus on the 2- to 6-pound range. This is generally accepted as being the lightest of all tackle classes and is suitable for both freshwater and inshore saltwater angling.

What Makes Ultralight Fishing so Great?

Perhaps the most significant thing about ultralight angling is how accessible it is. In other words, folks of all ages, physical abilities, and levels of fitness can get involved with ease. Since the gear is light, and the physical demands are negligible, it's a game for just about everyone.

Additionally, ultralight fishing is also affordable. For instance, the best ultralight spinning reels cost far less than mid-range heavy reels. And the same goes for the rods, line, and terminal tackle. Consequently, it's possible to put together and maintain a comprehensive arsenal of ultralight tackle on an equally light budget.

Above all, ultralight fishing expands your angling horizons. So, when the lunkers go off the bite, you can break out the ultralight gear and go after the small stuff. Also, so many waterways that were previously of little interest now house hordes of worthy opponents.

Honestly, once you start fishing light or ultralight, you'll wonder why it took you so long to get started. It's definitely the most fishing fun you can have without getting arrested!

What Defines the Best Ultralight Spinning Reels?​

Essentially, ultralight angling is all about finesse, skill, and technique. And this reflects in the requirements of the gear, particularly the reels you'll use. First, let's take a look at what defines the best ultralight spinning reels.

green fishing reel

Image via Pixabay

LINE CAPACITY

Foremost, ultralight fishing tends to be sight angling. This means you're working your bait or lure within or just out of direct sight. Additionally, the fish you'll be targeting are unlikely to strip masses of line by making long, drag-busting runs. Consequently, you won't need hundreds of yards of line to keep all the bases covered.

Notably, spinning reels that balance well with ultralight rods are physically small. And the 1,000 sized models are the most common. The average 1,000 size reel will hold between 110 and 150 yards of 2-pound line and between 80 and 100 yards of 6-pound line. In general, 100 to 125 yards of line is more than enough for the best ultralight spinning reels.

DRAG CAPACITY

Again, you won't need massive amounts of drag when choosing the best ultralight spinning reels. On average, most ultralight reels have between 4 and 10 pounds of maximum drag.

In reality, you'll probably never get anywhere near locked-down drag numbers using ultralight line. So, 6 to 10 pounds is all you'll ever need. As always, the smoothness of the reel's drag system is more important than the maximum figures.

CONSTRUCTION AND FEATURES

Markedly, you'll seldom subject your ultralight reels to the same kind of punishment that their bigger siblings have to endure. Nevertheless, they'll get dunked and dropped. And if lure fishing is the order of the day, you'll cast it hundreds of times on any given day. As a result, the best ultralight spinning reels have to be as robust and well-constructed as bigger reels.

Fortunately, most reputable reel manufacturers post comprehensive product descriptions on their websites. With this in mind, use these resources and do a little legwork before you decide on the best ultralight spinning reels. Notably, points to consider would be sealing systems and the materials used for frames. Also, note the spools and internal components and the type and number of bearings used in the reel.

The 8 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels

So, in no particular order, here is our lineup.

CADENCE CS5 1000


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...

Cadence is a fairly new tackle manufacturer that is quickly building a reputation for supplying quality, affordable products. One such product is the CS5 1000 sized ultralight spinning reel.

The CS5 reel range includes corrosion-busting features such as carbon composite frames, aluminum alloy pinion gears, and stainless steel main shafts. Corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings and machined aluminum spools complement these features. 

A smooth and powerful carbon fiber drag system and comfortable oversized EVA handle round off the reel's feature set.

SPECIFICATIONS

Here are some important numbers for the CS5 1000.

  • Monofilament line capacity: 110 yards of 6-pound
  • Braid line capacity: 115 yards of 10-pound braid
  • Bearing count: 8 CRBB plus one roller bearing
  • Max drag: 10 pounds maximum
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Retrieve rate: 25 inches
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces
  • Handle: Reversible
  • Anti-reverse: Instant anti-reverse

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Amazon customer reviews of the CS5 1000 were predominantly positive, with 137 positive and 12 critical reviews with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5.0 stars.

Pros

  • Corrosion-resistant materials throughout
  • Lightweight
  • Good drag system
  • Low price point
  • Good line capacity
  • Smooth and robust

Cons 

  • Some might find the anti-reverse switch difficult to access

CADENCE CS8 1000


Cadence CS8 Spinning Reel, Ultralight Fast Speed Premium...
  • 【What You Get from...
  • 【Light Weight】...
  • 【Ultra-Smooth & Fast】...
  • 【Powerful】CS8 Spinning...
  • 【Great Value】Cadence...

Staying with Cadence fishing tackle, our second reel is their CS8 1000 ultralight spinner. This reel shares some of its CS5 siblings features with the addition of several refinements. These include an aluminum handle arm and one-piece aluminum bail and one extra ball bearing making for a total of 10 bearings.

The CS8 1000 frame is constructed from corrosion-resistant lightweight magnesium material, and the rotor and side plates are carbon composite. Internal gearing and components are aluminum alloy and stainless steel.

SPECIFICATIONS

The CS8 1000 specifications at a glance.

  • Monofilament line capacity: 110 yards of 6-pound
  • Braid line capacity: 115 yards of 10-pound braid
  • Bearing count: 9 CRBB plus one roller bearing
  • Max drag: 11 pounds maximum
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Retrieve rate: 25 inches
  • Weight: 6.3 ounces
  • Handle: Reversible
  • Anti-reverse: Instant anti-reverse

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

The CS8 1000 has received 112 Amazon customer ratings in total. Of these, eight were critical and 104 positive. The average rating for the reel was a solid 4.7 out of 5.0 stars.

Pro

  • Good corrosion resistive construction throughout
  • Smooth, powerful drag system
  • Good line capacity
  • High bearing count
  • Excellent reliability

Cons 

  • Priced relatively high

OKUMA HELIOS HSX 20


Okuma Helios SX HSX-20 Lightweight Spinning Reel
  • Made of highest quality...
  • Manufacturer: Okuma
  • Helios SX spinning reel 5.0:1...

The Helios HSX 20 sports a wealth of features such as lightweight C-40X carbon fiber frame, side plates, and rotor. The machined aluminum handle, nine stainless steel bearings, and aluminum bail further enhance the reel's corrosion-resistant features. As do the precision-cut brass pinion gear and aluminum alloy main gear train.

Other great features of the HSX 20 include Okuma's LCS line control system, computer balanced Cyclonic Flow rotor, and Quick-Set anti-reverse. The TCA reel frame is designed to resist twisting under load. This feature makes this reel extremely rigid, keeping internal moving parts perfectly aligned at all times.

SPECIFICATIONS

The Helios HSX 20's pedigree looks like this.

  • Monofilament line capacity: 220 yards of 2-pound and 110 yards of 6-pound
  • Bearing count: 8 stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 stainless roller bearing
  • Max drag: 6.6 pounds maximum
  • Gear ratio: 5.0:1
  • Retrieve rate: 23.9 inches
  • Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Handle: Reversible
  • Anti-reverse: Instant anti-reverse
  • Spool: Braid ready

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Independent customer reviews of the Helios HSX line of reels laud them for their outstanding feature sets and reasonable pricing. Amazon customer reviews are similarly positive, returning an impressive 4.9 out of 5.0-star rating.

Pro

  • Excellent build quality and engineering
  • Very smooth drag
  • Very rigid and stable frame
  • Excellent overall balance of feature set and price

Cons 

  • The foot piece is a little long and may not fit some smaller reel seats

PFLUEGER PRESIDENT 20X


Pflueger PRESSP20X President Spinning Fishing Reel, 100/4
  • 7 bearing System - corrosion...
  • Graphite body and rotor -...
  • Sealed Drag System - Sealed...
  • The "B" at the end of the...

Pflueger is a trusted name among anglers the world over. It's a perennial favorite with many guides and charter operators, which says a lot. The 20X is the smallest of the President line of spinning reels and boasts some great features at a very attractive price point.

Durability and corrosion-resistance are a given, with graphite frame and rotors, sealed drag systems and machined aluminum handles and bails. Seven sealed bearings and a proprietary slow oscillation gearing system ensure butter-smooth operation under all conditions.

SPECIFICATIONS

Let's see what makes this reel go round.

  • Monofilament line capacity: 200 yards of 2-pound and 80 yards of 6-pound
  • Braid line capacity: 180 yards of 4-pound and 100 yards of 8-pound braid
  • Bearing count: 7 bearings
  • Max drag: 6.0 pounds
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Retrieve rate: 20.2 inches
  • Weight: 6.2 ounces
  • Handle: Reversible
  • Anti-reverse: Instant anti-reverse
  • Spool: Braid ready

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

The Pflueger website customer ratings score the 20X at an overall 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. And this sentiment is echoed by independent reviewers. Customer reviews on Amazon were equally encouraging, with 187 positive and 19 critical reviews. Amazon review averages returned a very decent 4.7 out of 5.0-star rating.

Pro

  • Extremely smooth operation
  • Smooth drag system
  • Very good build quality
  • Outstanding reliability
  • Very good value for money

Cons 

  • Bail mechanism clearances make using very thin braid lines difficult

OKUMA CEYMAR C-10


Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel Size 10 - 5Lb Max Drag Pressure
  • Multi-disc, oiled felt drag...
  • Quick-set anti-reverse roller...
  • Precision machine cut brass...
  • Machined aluminum, 2-tone...
  • Monofilament line capacity...

The second of our Okuma reels in our best ultralight spinning reels review is the Ceymar C-10. Much like the Helios reel, the C-10 is a feature-rich reel at a very reasonable price.

The reel's build features include a graphite composite frame, forged zinc handle with an EVA grip, and solid aluminum bail. A machined aluminum spool, precision brass pinion gear, and elliptical main gears make this a really smooth operator during casting and retrieving.

Other features include a balanced rotor, multi-disc oiled felt drag system, and Okuma's Quick-Set anti-reverse.

SPECIFICATIONS

Here are the C-10 reels specifications.

  • Monofilament line capacity: 210 yards of 2-pound and 70 yards of 6-pound
  • Bearing count: 6 CRBB plus one stainless steel roller bearing
  • Max drag: 6.6 pounds
  • Gear ratio: 5.0:1
  • Retrieve rate: 22 inches
  • Weight: 6.0 ounces
  • Handle: Reversible
  • Anti-reverse: Instant anti-reverse
  • Spool: Braid ready

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Independent reviews of the Ceymar C-10 spinning reel are very positive, with very few negative points surfacing. Amazon customer reviews consisted of 31 critical reviews as opposed to 254 positive opinions. The average rating for the little Okuma was a respectable 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.

Pro

  • Okuma's expected high build quality
  • Very smooth operation
  • A smooth and reliable drag system
  • Good corrosion-resistance throughout
  • A very reasonable price point

Cons 

  • Several reviewers experienced frame flex

PFLUEGER SUPREME XT 25X


Our second Pflueger offering is a slightly bigger reel than the customary 1000 series we have reviewed thus far. Nevertheless, the Supreme XT 25X is still on of the best ultralight spinning reels. And as one would expect from Pflueger, it's loaded with a bunch of great features.

The moving parts of the XT 25X ride on 10 bearings, making this a seriously smooth operator. The magnesium body and rotor, carbon composite handle, and braid-ready aluminum spool make the reel extremely durable. In addition, the sealed carbon fiber drag system is smooth and powerful, and the EVA handle and ergonomic design makes for effortless operation.

SPECIFICATIONS

Here are some manufacturers specifications for the XT 25X.

  • Monofilament line capacity: 200 yards of 3-pound and 85 yards of 8-pound
  • Bearing count: 10 bearings
  • Max drag: 8.0 pounds
  • Gear ratio: 5.0:1
  • Retrieve rate: 22.8 inches
  • Weight: 6.0 ounces
  • Handle: Reversible
  • Anti-reverse: Instant anti-reverse

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

The independent reviews we considered were largely positive as were Amazon customer reviews. Amazon customers gave the Supreme XT 25X a good 4.3 out of 5.0-star average rating.

Pro

  • Very good build quality
  • Sealed drag is reliable and smooth
  • Exceptionally smooth operation
  • Highly corrosion-resistant
  • Very lightweight

Cons 

  • A little expensive
  • Ported spool can collect dirt
  • Very thin braided line can get caught in the bail roller

DAIWA EXCELER LT 1000D


Daiwa Exceler LT 5.2:1 Left/Right Hand Spinning Fishing Reel...
  • Carbon light material housing
  • Machined aluminum screw-in...
  • Air rotor and airbail

As one of the industry's most well known and respected manufacturers, Diawa will need no introduction for most anglers. Their Exceler LT 1000D is a reflection of that heritage and one of the best ultralight spinning reel options on the market.

Essentially, this is one of Diawa's budget reels. The Exceler LT 1000D boasts a range of features that belies its minuscule price point. These include Diawa's Carbon Light frame, a machined aluminum handle, and Air Rotor and Air Bail designs. Five ball bearings and one roller bearing ensure butter-smooth operation.

In spite of its really svelte dimensions, the LT 1000D houses Diawa's oversize precision DigiGear main gear for unparalleled smoothness and strength. Also, the drag is typical of Diawa's generally excellent drag systems delivering smooth, predictable pressure across its range.

SPECIFICATIONS

Here are the LT 1000D's specifications.

  • Monofilament line capacity: 250 yards of 4-pound and 110 yards of 8-pound
  • Braid line capacity: 320 yards of 6-pound and 200 yards of 8-pound J Braid
  • Bearing count: 7 bearings
  • Max drag: five CRBB ball bearings and one roller bearing
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Retrieve rate: 25.5 inches
  • Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Handle: Reversible
  • Anti-reverse: Instant anti-reverse
  • Spool: Braid ready

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

Amazon customers gave the Exceler LT 1000D a thumbs up with an average of 4.0 out of 5.0-star rating. Now, we tried to find a good independent review of the LT 1000D specifically but couldn't. What we did find was a useful review of the 3000D. Although this is a different model, it shares all the features of the entire Exceler LT lineup and should be pretty definitive.

Pro

  • Outstanding build quality
  • An excellent full range drag system
  • Very smooth operation
  • Extremely robust and reliable
  • Very well priced

Cons 

  • Some customers had problems with the handle knob binding

SHIMANO STRADIC HG1000


Shimano Stradic 1000FK HG Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
  • The Stradic spinning reel...
  • X-Ship technology provides...
  • Incorporates Shimano's...
  • The built-in Dyna-Balance...
  • Max Drag: 7 lbs. / Gear Ratio:...

Shimano is another top drawer tackle manufacturer and known for exemplary quality in their products. The Stradic HG 1000 is no exception, and this little ultralight spinner is a sure bet with a host of award-winning features.

The most significant of these is the Shimano X-Ship dual support pinion gear. This feature allows excellent casting distance and outstanding smoothness in operation. Also, the reels feature the ultra-rigid HAGANE metal bodies, Aero Wrap II oscillation spool, and HAGANE main gear technology -- not to mention seven bearings, Propulsion Line Management spool design, and smooth, consistent drag.

SPECIFICATIONS

This is what the HG 1000's specifications look like.

  • Monofilament line capacity: 270 yards of 2 pound and 110 yards of 6-pound
  • Braid line capacity: 95 yards of 10 pound and 65 yards of 20-pound braid
  • Bearing count: 6 CRBB ball bearings and 1 roller bearing
  • Max drag: 7.0 pounds
  • Gear ratio: 6.0:1
  • Retrieve rate: 31 inches
  • Weight: 6.9 ounces
  • Handle: Reversible
  • Anti-reverse: Instant anti-reverse
  • Spool: Braid ready

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

The Stradic HG 1000 got some solid feedback from Amazon customers who returned average ratings of 4.5 out 5.0 stars. This includes 31 critical and 203 positive reviews. Not surprisingly independent reviews were equally positive.

Pro

  • Very smooth and stable
  • Smooth, predictable drag
  • Excellent build quality
  • Outstanding engineering features
  • Durable and reliable

Cons 

  • High price point

Summary: Finding the Best Ultralight Spinning Reels

So, that's a wrap for our best ultralight spinning reel review. Truth be told, choosing a champion here is a tough call, indeed. Well, it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

In our opinion, the front runners are the Diawa Exceler LT 1000D, the Pflueger President 20X, and the Okuma Helios HSX20 in that order. We base this on an aggregate summary of features and value for money. That said, please let us stress that all of these made our list of the best ultralight spinning reels. So, they all represent money well spent.

Good luck and tight lines!

If any of you fine folks have any input or questions regarding this list of the best ultralight spinning reels, please feel free to use the comments box below.

Featured Image via Pixabay

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