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Best Saltwater Spinning Reels Reviewed & Compared

last updated May 04, 2019

As an aid for users, this is a buyers comparison tool. The following information uses a standardized product review structure consisting of an introduction and quick summary, a discussion of pros and cons, a summary of key specifications, a review, and a brief conclusion. The introduction describes the product in broad terms and points to highlights. The pros and cons bring out the strengths and limits of the product based on manufacturer’s information. The manufacturers and sellers information inform the summary of details and specifications, and the overall product research guides the review and conclusion sections.

This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:

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Okuma CJ-55S Cedros
96.3/100 our score
Style
97
Durability
96
Capacity
95
Support
97
Okuma CJ-55S Cedros
Why is it better?

Great design

Solid

The knob feels great

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Okuma CJ-55S Cedros
Test Winner: Okuma CJ-55S Cedros
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
10
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
2.2k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
15
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
18
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Melissa Coleiro
By Melissa Coleiro:

This buying guide for saltwater spinning reels has been put together to show you the best researched and reviewed products for you to fish in saltwater. A great saltwater spinning reel to keep your eye on is the Fin-Nor Offshore. We love this saltwater spinning reel because it is known for having a solid construction and being a great price value.

Sorting Options
Style Durability Capacity Support By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.8
Style
99 %
Durability
98 %
Capacity
99 %
Support
99 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$686.16
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.3
Style
97 %
Durability
96 %
Capacity
95 %
Support
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$137.63
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Style
95 %
Durability
94 %
Capacity
95 %
Support
96 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$123.42
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.3
Style
92 %
Durability
93 %
Capacity
92 %
Support
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$1,159.00
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Style
92 %
Durability
90 %
Capacity
91 %
Support
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$108.59
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.3
Style
89 %
Durability
88 %
Capacity
87 %
Support
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$84.39
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.5
Style
87 %
Durability
86 %
Capacity
86 %
Support
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$34.95
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.5
Style
83 %
Durability
82 %
Capacity
83 %
Support
82 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$59.95
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.8
Style
80 %
Durability
81 %
Capacity
80 %
Support
82 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$59.95
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.5
Style
78 %
Durability
79 %
Capacity
79 %
Support
78 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.06.19)
Amazon Link
$197.00
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Daiwa ISLA Saltwater Series 5000H Daiwa ISLA Saltwater Series 5000H
  • Okuma CJ-55S Cedros Okuma CJ-55S Cedros
  • Fin-Nor Offshore Fin-Nor Offshore
  • Shimano Stella STL 20000 SWB PG Reel Shimano Stella STL 20000 SWB PG Reel
  • The Penn Spinfisher V The Penn Spinfisher V
  • Penn Battle II Penn Battle II
  • Penn Pursuit II & III Penn Pursuit II & III
  • Penn Fierce II Penn Fierce II
  • Pflueger President Pflueger President
  • Penn Clash Penn Clash
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Top 10 Picks

1. Daiwa ISLA Saltwater Series 5000H

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.8
Daiwa ISLA Saltwater Series 5000H
Amazon Link
Style
99
Durability
98
Capacity
99
Support
99
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$686.16
Pros:

Keeps saltwater out

Zaion carbon composite Air rotor

Ultimate Tournament carbon drag (UTD)

Cons:

Expensive

Daiwa ISLA Saltwater Series 5000H Spinning Reels rank among the Best saltwater spinning reel combinations of design, innovation, materials, and toughness. It has advanced features that make it sturdy and dependable.

Read more

It has a tough metal arbor for stability, an air rotor design for lightweight strength, and a ten bearing system. The tough tournament grade front drag system. The Magna Seal body uses advanced mag oil that changes contours with magnetic changes.
Daiwa ISLA Saltwater Series 5000H

Product details

The Daiwa ISLA Saltwater Series 5000H Spinning Reels are at the cutting edge of innovation, design, and advanced materials. It is an ideal saltwater spinning reel for a wide range of medium to large species in the range of 20 to 50 pounds.

Review

One can pair it with an advanced fishing line that offers toughness for impact and resistance to abrasions.

2. Okuma CJ-55S Cedros

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.3
Okuma CJ-55S Cedros
Amazon Link
Style
97
Durability
96
Capacity
95
Support
97
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$137.63
Pros:

Great design

Solid

The knob feels great

Cons:

Gets stuck for 20% of its cycle

Okuma CJ-55S Cedros Spinning Reel is among the most impressive jigging reels and has received high grades for technical innovation among saltwater spinning reels reviews. The manufacturer made the reel from sturdy, anodized aluminum; the body and rotor provide a strong, stable base for the customized jigging handle.

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The high-speed gear ratio allows for flexible retrieve speeds and maximum jig movement. It has a dual force drag system for just the right stopping power and a durable high-density gearing system with salt-resistant coatings. The designers have molded and shaped this unit for saltwater use, and it offers many years of hard wear and high-impact action.

Product Details

The drag system is Precision Dual Force Drag, with an aluminum die-cast frame, a quick-set roller bearing anti-reverse, and an aluminum anodized aluminum spool.

Review

The Okuma CJ-55S Cedros Spinning Reel is a marvel of solid construction and long lasting aluminum alloys. It is well-conceived for the demands of saltwater fishing. It fills a niche in the angler’s arsenal for a jigging reel combo. The retrieval speed and handle design are ideal for swimming baits with attractive motion.

3. Fin-Nor Offshore

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Fin-Nor Offshore
Amazon Link
Style
95
Durability
94
Capacity
95
Support
96
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$123.42
Pros:

Strong

Solid construction

Great price value

Cons:

Not as durable

The manufacturer designed this series of saltwater spinning reels with the idea of fighting large fish and game fish clearly in focus. An impressive large dual drag system provides up to 60 pounds of drag pressure, and the system dissipates heat during the long open water contests to land large fish.

Read more

Built for high-level of performance and for durable, reliable operation, this is an excellent tool for large fish and versatile addition to the angler’s offshore fishing tool chest.

Product Details

The reel has a strong aluminum throughout including the body, rotor and side plate. The drive gear is stainless steel as are the pinion gear and the center drive shaft. The friction reduction system uses four stainless steel ball bearings, and the bearings have double shielding. The powerful line control system has an oversized multi-stack offshore drag system and a 4.4:1 gear ratio.

Review

Fin-Nor has been a leader since 1933 in making the best reels for handling large fish species like tuna. The keys are the dedication to strong metal parts in the gearing and shafts. The heavy-duty shaft will handle pressure and maintain a solid feel during the stress of landing large fish. It is the only system with an oversized bearing on the shaft and a second bearing on the pinion gear. The 4.4:1 retrieval ratio also has a power base in the strong shaft and gearing that provides a smooth and controlled feel during the fight. The advanced drag system manages heat and dissipates it during the fight so that the performance is smooth, consistent and powerful.

4. Shimano Stella STL 20000 SWB PG Reel

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.3
Shimano Stella STL 20000 SWB PG Reel
Amazon Link
Style
92
Durability
93
Capacity
92
Support
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$1,159.00
Pros:

Sturdy

Can pull heavyweight

Great quality

Cons:

Pricey

The X-Tough Drag, offers dramatic smoothness, enhanced control, and large saltwater species toughness. This model predicts the movement and speed of fish such as bluefin and tuna.

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The X-SHIP gearing system promotes powerful transmission, and it provides increased cranking leverage and a smooth, powerful feel. The X-Shield and X-Protect features assure resistance in the water in the toughest saltwater.

Strong rigidity is provided by the x-rigid motor, handle, and aluminum body. It eliminates power loss caused by too much reel flex under load.

Smooth line layers are assured by the bail-trip and s-arm cam. The reel features a Direct Drive Mechanism. Shimano has approved the Stella STL20000 SWB PG Reel for saltwater use and rated it for PowerPro use, Mono and Fluorocarbon line.

Product Details

The reel weighs 31.2oz.and has a gear ratio of 4.4:1. It retrieves 41 inches of line per turn. The monofilament line capacities are 460 yards of 20-pound test, 380 yards of 25-pound test, and 320 yards of 30-pound test. The braided line capacities are 525 yards of 65-pound test,445 yards of 80-pound test, and 305 yards of 100-pound test. The maximum drag is 55.1 pounds, and it has a 14+1 ball bearing set.

Review

The technological advances in the Shimano are impressive and they enhance all of the essential functions. The advances cover casting, the power shaft, retrieves, line management, and drag control. The advanced materials complete the remarkable values in this state of the art spinning reel.

5. The Penn Spinfisher V

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
The Penn Spinfisher V
Amazon Link
Style
92
Durability
90
Capacity
91
Support
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$108.59
Pros:

Smooth quality reel

It's holding up well to heavy use

Great price value

Cons:

Made in China, not the USA

The Penn SpinfisherV, named because it is the fifth generation of this distinguished line of equipment, has some added features that will make this reel a favorite for all-around saltwater fishing action.

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The first feature to consider is the way it maintains its peak operating condition in saltwater fishing environments.

The Spinfisher V has a watertight design. It resists direct and indirect contact with saltwater. Using six seals, the case blocks liquids when immersed in water. The seals resist spray and mist and make a barrier protecting the gears and drag systems.

The full metal body and metal side plate provide a tight container to keep gears in the precise alignment needed for its smooth operation. Whether spinning the handle or handling heavy loads and sudden forces, the body keeps the gears meshed and in the right positions.

Product Details

The reel has a five shielded ball bearing system plus one. It has an infinite anti-reverse, and a new thick bail design with an anti-trip system to prevent accidental closing. The gearing has a stainless steel shaft; the main gear is an advanced metal alloy. Monofilament line capacity is 440yds of 15-pound test, 300 yards of 20-pound test, and 210 yards of 30-pound test. The braided line capacities are 430 yards of 40-pound test, 360 yards of 50-pound test, and 320 yards of 65-pound test. The maximum drag is 35 pounds. The gear ratio is 4.7:1 with a line retrieve of 36" per turn. The reel weighs 6 pounds,9oz.

Review

The reel is built to last and to perform consistently over a long period of heavy usage. The design does not excel at any particular phase of fishing, and it does not have an outstanding gear ratio and retrieval speed. It does offer features that make it useful for a wide variety of environments, species, and conditions. That is the strength of this saltwater spinning reel; it is a great all-around tool.

6. Penn Battle II

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.3
Penn Battle II
Amazon Link
Style
89
Durability
88
Capacity
87
Support
89
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$84.39
Pros:

Superline spool requires no backing

Ideal for conquering big saltwater gamefish

Instant anti-reverse bearing

Cons:

Not as durable as the other spinning reels

This Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel is known for being very durable and is great for conquering big saltwater gamefish.

Read more

This Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel comes in several reel sizes including 2000, 2500, 3000 4000, 6000, and 8000

Product Details:

This spinning reel has a full metal body and includes side plates and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire which offers high-quality durability. This Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel features an instant anti-reverse bearing with 6 sealed stainless steel ball bearings.

Full metal body, side plate, and rotor and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire offer exceptional durability. Fluid cranking with 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing

Review:

Some wonderful reviews on this spinning reel and is known for its line capacity rings that are marked at 1/3, 2/3 and have full capacity.

7. Penn Pursuit II & III

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.5
Penn Pursuit II & III
Amazon Link
Style
87
Durability
86
Capacity
86
Support
87
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$34.95
Pros:

Great pricing

Great fit

Good on your hands

Cons:

Not compatible with many rods

This saltwater spinning rod the Penn Pursuit II & III is known for having great value for the money for saltwater anglers.

Read more

The Penn Pursuit is known for its durability as well as its dependability. It is one of the lighter options on the list and will resist corrosion. The drag system on this one will leave you speechless.

Product Details:

This Penn Pursuit is available in different sizes which is great to know it comes in many different size options. It also has technology which aids in landing that fish every time.

Reviews:

The Penn Pursuit II & III holds up wonderful for a good durable saltwater spinning reel.

8. Penn Fierce II

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.5
Penn Fierce II
Amazon Link
Style
83
Durability
82
Capacity
83
Support
82
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$59.95
Pros:

Great value

Durable

Comes in many different sizes

Cons:

Not the lightest or smoothest reels

The Penn Fierce II Spinning Fishing Reel is known for being a durable and good valued spinning reel.

Read more

The Penn Fierce II is known for being made from aluminum and comes with instant anti-reverse features.

Production Details:

The sizes: 4BB + 1RB, 5.2: 1 ratio and Braid 6/160, 8/130, 10/110.

9. Pflueger President

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.8
Pflueger President
Amazon Link
Style
80
Durability
81
Capacity
80
Support
82
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$59.95
Pros:

Great price

Easy to clean

Durable

Cons:

Not that appealing

The Pflueger President is a good spinning reel that has great performance reviews and will impress you over and over again. It is also at a great value!

Read more

The Pflueger President has a 10 bearing System and is known for its corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings. It is a well constructed lightweight graphite reel.

Product Details:

This spinning reel allows Braid to be tied directly to the spool and has a Sealed Drag System. The Pflueger President improves line lay and it minimizes line twists.

The size options for the Pflueger President include: 20 25 30 35 40

10. Penn Clash

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.5
Penn Clash
Amazon Link
Style
78
Durability
79
Capacity
79
Support
78
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$197.00
Pros:

Affordable

Great breaking strength

Durable

Comes in many different sizes

Cons:

Not good grip

The Penn Clash is known for its great price value and full metal body.

Read more

The Penn Clash saltwater spinning reel features a Leveline oscillation system and CNC gear technology.

Product Details:
The weight options for the Penn Clash include: 8.2 oz 10.2 oz 10.7 oz 16.9 oz 20.7 oz 27.2 oz
The Max Drag options include: 10lb 15lb 15lb 20lb 25lb 30lb
The size options for the Penn Clash include: 2000-8000 2000-8000 2000-8000 2000-8000 2000-8000 2000-8000

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Style

Spinning reels come in two basic types: freshwater and saltwater spinning reels.

One can honestly ask why there are freshwater reels when saltwater reels are so much more resilient and able to handle the demands of fishing. Price and value come into play. Manufacturers make freshwater reels with smaller line capacities and from materials that are not hardened against the corrosive effects of salt, wind, and salty air.

Saltwater reels hold more line, have superior drag controls, handle shocks better, and are far stronger in construction and in materials. If one had to buy one spinning reel, it should be a saltwater spinning reel.

Saltwater fishing involves many conditions and large aggressive species. The manufacturers must anticipate and design their products mindful of the extreme stresses that saltwater rated reels must handle. Wind, sun, and brackish air form part of the difficulty. The salt air seeps into the gearing and machinery of the saltwater spinning reel.

Over the course of seasons, the reel must perform reliably despite the wearing effects of salty air. Maintenance and cleaning are important routines, and anglers need them to keep saltwater reels in top condition. Oiling keeps friction under control in the moving parts of the reel.

Saltwater spinning reels include a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Manufacturers design them for deep water fishing, trolling, and shallow areas or flats. All must do the same basic functions: they must let the heavy line flow easily off the spool for long and effective casting.

Durability

Saltwater is corrosive and it attacks the delicate metal parts of fishing reels. Every part of the saltwater spinning reel must resist saltwater corrosion. Designers must seal the housing against leakage and shield the delicate parts of the interior such as the drag disks Corrosion sets in after long periods of usage when the fishing equipment may not get a thorough cleaning.

The better approach to handling saltwater effects uses advanced corrosion resistant materials and designs that protect the vulnerable parts of the reel such as the gears, housing, and rotor.

Capacity

Line capacity is critical in saltwater environments. Because of the need for tough line to handle large fish and many sharp edges in the saltwater environments, the line for saltwater fishing is heavier and thicker than freshwater lines. Large fish exert powerful and sudden forces on the tackle, rod, and reel. Line must remain flexible but not stretch and weaken from the sudden impacts and powerful stresses. Setting a hook involves tight timing. Force must be transmitted along a significant length of the line. A split second timing spells the difference between a successful hook and a near miss. The anti-reverse function stops the motion of the line when pulled and then the line releases under force and only as allowed by the drag settings.

Support

The leading manufacturers of Saltwater spinning reels use advanced metal alloys and composite materials to ensure strength, durability, and the minimum amount of weight. They must treat metals with corrosion resistant layers that will stand up to the effects of the saltwater year after year.

Ball Bearings are a key element of strength and durability.

When selecting or comparing saltwater spinning reels one should look for those with large numbers of ball bearings. The top models may range from six to 11 ball bearings. Well- made saltwater spinning reels have six or more sets of ball bearings. The number of bearings alone is not the test, but as part of the overall design ball bearings make the reel operate noticeably smoother. When simply picking up a reel and spinning the handle, one can see how long those with high numbers of ball bearings go on spinning.

The ball bearings play the enormously important role of reducing friction between the large moving parts of the reel. In fishing situations, the reel must perform for long periods of time and over the course of several seasons, the saltwater spinning reel can log many months of heavy usage.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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Performance

Whether looking for a competitive tournament level saltwater reel like the Daiwa ISLA Saltwater Series 5000H Spinning Reels or a budget-friendly, versatile jigging workhorse like the Okuma Cedros you can find them on Amazon.com. The style of fishing and the target species matter a great deal in saltwater fishing. These high-quality reels offer the best of strength, durability, and versatility. They can adapt to saltwater conditions and handle large amounts of tough fishing line to minimize the damage from underwater structure and objects.

Other Factors to Consider

Terrain

The saltwater environment has structures and habitats that challenge the limits of reel and line. Reefs and natural underwater structures can tear soft lines and saltwater reels must have the capacity to hold large volumes of thick, toughened line. Underwater structures are another hazard for saltwater fishing and these include rock formations, sunken objects, and natural formations of sharp rocks and sands.

Saltwater environments are varied they include reefs, flats, inshore, offshore, and surf casting. Saltwater spinning reels go well with trolling lines for large fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: What is the main difference between saltwater and fresh water spinning reels?

a:

When it comes to angling in salt water compared to fresh water there is a large difference in the job itself. A very big main difference is the components that are used in it to make it corrosion resistant. As well as the materials that are used are much more durable for the reel and ensures long longevity for the fishing reel itself.

q: Can I use a spinning reel for big fish?

a:

When it comes to using spinning reels with big fish you need to know that it is not possible to cast with big fish. It is not very popular to use a spinning reel for big fish. Although some anglers do use a spinning reel for larger fish that is only because of its drag system. It is still not a good idea to use a spinning reel for larger fish.

q: How do I cast with a saltwater spinning reel?

a:

There happen to be so many different types and ways of casting techniques that are used when fishing. Casting is when you throw the bait into the water to catch fish. Some popular techniques for casting including underhand, two-handed overhand, roll cast, sidearm and even overhand. These are all important basic things to know when casting and choose which one is best suited for you and your fishing needs.

q: How do I make sure I can keep my saltwater spinning reel healthy?

a:

It is important after you finish your first fishing trip that you do a few things in order to keep your reel healthy. Once you use your spinning reel make sure you use a sponge and clean it with warm soapy water which will help keep the durability of the spinning reel and make sure it has long longevity.