The Best Saltwater Spinning Reels: Top 5 2024 Picks Reviewed

If you’re an avid angler or love spending time on the open waters, having a reliable and high-performing saltwater spinning reel is important.  Saltwater fishing poses unique challenges that require …

If you’re an avid angler or love spending time on the open waters, having a reliable and high-performing saltwater spinning reel is important. 

Saltwater fishing poses unique challenges that require reels designed to withstand the corrosive nature of salt while still providing smooth casting, strong drag systems, and durability. 

In this article, we will take a look at the top five picks for saltwater spinning reels that excel in these areas, allowing you to make an informed decision to enhance your fishing experience. 

Best Spinning Reels for Saltwater: Quick Picks

Best Overall
Shimano Stradic FL

The Shimano Stradic FL is a versatile and reliable saltwater spinning reel that excels in both performance and durability. With its HAGANE body and smooth drag system, it offers exceptional strength and reliable operation, making it perfect for a wide range of saltwater fishing uses. I'd recommend it as the best option for anyone with the cash to spare.

Best Value
Penn Battle III

Offering excellent value for money, the Penn Battle III combines affordability with impressive performance. Its full-metal body and sideplate construction provide exceptional durability, while its HT-100 carbon fiber drag system delivers a powerful drag system making it an ideal choice for anglers on a budget. I wouldn't hesitate to use the reel for 90% of my fishing.

Best Heavy Duty
Daiwa Saltiga

This is a heavy-duty saltwater spinning reel designed for tackling the most challenging saltwater fishing conditions. With its Magsealed construction and corrosion-resistant materials, the Daiwa Saltiga is perfect for the harsh saltwater environment. Because of the powerful drag system and robust build, it's my top choice for targeting large and hard-fighting fish species.

Best Saltwater Spinning Reels: Full Reviews

Daiwa Saltiga
Daiwa Saltiga
Daiwa Saltiga
Our Score

The Daiwa Saltiga is a very durable saltwater spinning reel designed to handle the toughest saltwater conditions. It features a rugged Magsealed exterior that offers exceptional protection against water and debris, ensuring long-lasting performance. With its powerful drag system and robust build, the Saltiga is well-suited for targeting large saltwater species.

Shimano Stella SW
Shimano Stella SW
Shimano Stella SW
Our Score

The Shimano Stella SW is an excellent saltwater spinning reel that stands out for its precision engineering and exceptional smoothness. It makes use of Shimano's innovative X-Protect and X-Shield technologies that provide excellent water resistance and corrosion resistance. The Stella SW's advanced gearing system and strong drag make it a top choice for serious saltwater anglers.

Penn Battle III
Penn Battle III
Penn Battle III
Our Score

The Penn Battle III is a highly popular saltwater reel that offers exceptional value for its performance. It boasts a durable full-metal body and sideplate construction, providing excellent protection against saltwater corrosion. Equipped with Penn's HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, it has a smooth and powerful drag performance making it an ideal choice for both inshore and offshore fishing.

Shimano Stradic FL
Shimano Stradic FL
Shimano Stradic FL
Our Score

The Shimano Stradic FL is a top-of-the-line saltwater spinning reel known for its exceptional performance and durability. It features a robust HAGANE body that provides plenty of stability and smooth operation even when fighting large fish. With its reliable drag system and X-Protect technology, this reel is a favorite among anglers who need a versatile and reliable saltwater fishing reel.

Penn Slammer III
Penn Slammer III
Penn Slammer III
Our Score

The Penn Slammer III is a rugged and durable saltwater spinning reel designed for saltwater battles. It offers a full-metal body, sideplate, and rotor construction that can withstand harsh saltwater environments. You'll find a powerful drag system and CNC Gear technology; this reel delivers reliable and smooth performance, making it an excellent choice for anglers targeting larger saltwater species.

Saltwater Spinning Reel Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For

Saltwater spinning reels (1)
Consider the spinning reel’s line capacity, drag system, gear ratio, and durability to effectively handle fish in saltwater environments.

Line Capacity

Line capacity refers to the amount of fishing line a saltwater reel can hold. In saltwater fishing, where larger and more powerful fish are common, having a large line capacity is necessary.

Look for a reel that offers enough line capacity to handle the specific fishing situations you’ll encounter, whether you are targeting deep-sea species or dealing with long runs from fast-swimming fish.

Drag System

The drag system is responsible for applying pressure to the fishing line, allowing you to tire out and land big fish. In saltwater fishing, where fish can be larger and more powerful, a strong and smooth drag system on your saltwater fishing reel is very helpful.

Look for a saltwater fishing reel with a reliable drag system that offers both high maximum drag power and allows precise adjustments ensuring you can handle the toughest saltwater battles while preventing line breakage.

Gear Ratio 

The gear ratio indicates the number of times the bail rotates around the spool with each turn of the reel’s handle and determines how quickly the line is retrieved. In saltwater fishing, a higher gear ratio is often preferred when dealing with fast-swimming fish.

It’s important to strike a balance based on your fishing style and target species since higher gear ratios like 6:1 or 7:1 are suitable for quick retrieves, while lower gear ratios like 4:1 or 5:1 offer more torque for battling larger fish.


Saltwater fishing exposes reels to corrosive saltwater, which can deteriorate their performance and lifespan if not adequately protected. Look for reels specifically designed for saltwater use featuring corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel, sealed bearings, and protective coatings.

Freshwater vs Saltwater Spinning Reels

Freshwater and saltwater spinning reels are designed to meet the unique demands of their respective fishing environments. While they share similarities in basic construction and function, there are key differences that make each type suitable for their intended use.

Freshwater spinning reels are typically lighter and more compact compared to their saltwater counterparts since they are designed for use in freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds where the primary targets are smaller fish species. Freshwater reels often have a lower gear ratio for more precise presentations and slower retrieves. They also tend to have smaller line capacities and will prioritize finesse and sensitivity to make them well-suited for drop shotting and light line techniques.

Saltwater spinning reels are built to withstand the harsh and corrosive nature of saltwater environments. They feature sturdier construction and corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, or carbon composites. Saltwater reels have higher gear ratios to handle faster and more powerful fish, allowing for quicker line retrieval when necessary. They also offer larger line capacities to accommodate heavier lines and longer casts to help you land larger and stronger species.

Keep in mind that while freshwater reels should not be used in saltwater environments due to the risk of severe corrosion, some saltwater reels can be used in freshwater but they may be overkill for smaller freshwater species and may not provide the finesse and sensitivity needed for certain freshwater fishing techniques.

Saltwater Spinning Reel FAQs

Saltwater spinning reels (2)

Are Spinning Reels Better for Saltwater Fishing?

Spinning reels are highly suitable for saltwater fishing thanks to their versatility and ease of use. They offer accurate and long-distance casting capabilities that make them effective for targeting saltwater species in open waters. With a smooth drag system and higher gear ratios, spinning reels allow anglers to battle hard-fighting fish and retrieve the fishing line quickly when needed. 

While other reel types may have their advantages in specific scenarios, spinning reels are widely favored for saltwater fishing due to their accessibility and ability to handle a wide range of saltwater species and fishing techniques.

What if I Want to Use Baitcasting Reels Instead?

Using baitcasting reels for saltwater fishing can certainly have advantages as well as considerations to keep in mind. Baitcasting reels offer increased power, a larger line capacity, and more precision control, making them suitable for targeting larger and heavier saltwater species. They are a great option for techniques such as bottom fishing, trolling, and casting heavy lures or baits into structures or covers.

Where Can I Get the Best Saltwater Fishing Reel?

Local tackle shops and sporting goods stores specializing in fishing equipment are great places to visit. Their knowledgeable staff can provide guidance and recommendations based on your fishing needs. 

Online retailers such as Amazon, Bass Pro Shops, and Cabela’s offer a wide selection of saltwater fishing reels as well, allowing you to compare prices, read customer reviews, and check specifications. 

You can also explore the official websites of reputable fishing reel manufacturers like Shimano, Penn, Daiwa, Abu Garcia, and more. Or you may prefer to attend fishing expos and shows where you can interact with experts and have hands-on experience with different reel models to see which one feels best in your hands.

How to Clean Saltwater Spinning Reels

Cleaning your saltwater spinning reel is extremely important for maintaining its performance and longevity. Start by thoroughly rinsing the reel with fresh water to remove salt, sand, and muck. If possible, disassemble the reel following the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Clean the exterior using a soft cloth or sponge and consider using a mild soap or reel cleaner for stubborn stains. Carefully clean the internal components, such as gears, bearings, and the drag system, using a toothbrush or soft-bristled makeup brush. Apply reel lubricant or grease to the appropriate working parts to ensure they stay well-oiled and ready for use. 

Once clean, reassemble the reel, ensuring all parts fit properly and snugly. Give the reel a final rinse in fresh water, dry it thoroughly with a soft cloth or towel, and ensure no water remains trapped inside. 

Regular cleaning after each saltwater fishing trip will help prevent corrosion and keep your spinning reel performing at its best for many years to come.

Are Saltwater Reels More Expensive Than Freshwater Reels?

Saltwater reels typically have a higher price point compared to freshwater reels, and several factors contribute to this price difference. Saltwater reels are constructed using corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, or carbon composites, which are generally more expensive than the materials used in freshwater reels. 

Saltwater reels are designed with durability in mind to handle larger and more powerful fish, featuring stronger drag systems and more robust internal components. This can include things like sealed bearings or waterproofing for saltwater protection also add to the manufacturing complexity and cost. 

What Size Saltwater Spinning Reel Is Best?

Determining the best size for a saltwater spinning reel depends on several factors, including the target species, fishing technique, and line capacity required. In general, larger saltwater spinning reels are recommended for tackling bigger and more powerful fish found in saltwater environments. These reels typically have a higher line capacity and can handle heavier lines, making them suitable for offshore or deep-sea fishing. 

Smaller saltwater spinning reels are ideal for inshore or nearshore fishing, where lighter lines and smaller species are typically targeted. It’s essential to match the reel size to the fishing conditions and the species you intend to pursue, ensuring that it has the necessary line capacity and strength to handle the fish you expect to encounter. 

If you’re not sure which spinning reel is the right one for you, take some time to consult with local experts or experienced anglers to get their opinions. Researching the specific requirements of your target species and considering your fishing preferences will help you determine the most appropriate size of the saltwater spinning reel for your needs.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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