The Best Saltwater Spinning Reels for Inshore and Offshore Fishing

Last Updated on May 4, 2021 by Coty Perry

Best Overall

Penn Battle II

4.8/5

Best Offshore Spinning Reel

Daiwa Saltiga 5000

4.5/5

Best Inshore Spinning Reel

Shimano Stradic FL

4.8/5

So you think you’re ready to take on the salt? Saltwater can do quite a bit of damage to the average reel. The best saltwater spinning reels on the other hand will offer corrosion-resistant materials, closed bodies, great line capacity, and a gear ratio optimal for both offshore and inshore fishing. 

I’ve poured my heart and soul into this sport, learning as much as I can, testing everything, and breaking through barriers to see what works best and how I can get it into my hands ASAP. If you know absolutely nothing about saltwater spinning reels, stick around because you’re about to learn. 

In this comprehensive saltwater spinning reel review, I’ve found the five best choices for inshore and offshore fishing. 

Our Reviews of the Best Saltwater Spinning Reels

Penn Battle II

BEST OVERALL

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Daiwa Saltiga 5000

Best Offshore Spinning Reel

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Shimano Stradic FL

Best Inshore Spinning Reel

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Daiwa BG

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Abu Garcia Revo

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Factors to Consider in the Best Saltwater Spinning Reels

best saltwater spinning reels

Now let’s talk about some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind when shopping around for saltwater spinning reels. Remember that many anglers prefer to use the best baitcasting reels for this type of fishing because the design and functionality better suits this fishing style. That said, it doesn’t mean you have to follow that. There are plenty of spinning reels that work just as good for saltwater, you just have to know what you’re buying and what you plan to do with it. 

Where Do You Fish? 

Where you fish is a huge factor to consider. If you’re fishing inshore canals throughout Florida and South Carolina for example, you wouldn’t want to go with a 6000 model size Penn Battle II because it’s simply too big for that purpose. We want to understand what types of reels work best for each situation. 

If you went for a smaller model size like a 3000, you would have the versatility to use it for inshore and light offshore fishing but you couldn’t handle anything too big. 

That said, there are plenty of options above like the Shimano Stradic that will offer you the maximum flexibility you want to fish both inshore and offshore while still having a reel that is super lightweight and easy to use. 

Now, if I’m speaking to inshore bass anglers here, we have a whole different topic to cover. You might not want any of these reels. You may want to go specifically for an inshore spinning reel because they’ll be lighter with faster gear ratios intended for lighter monofilament lines. You don’t need to take a 25 ounce reel onto the water if you’re fishing for bass. 

What Are You Fishing For? 

The other obvious thing to consider is what you’re fishing for. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point but it’s still important to think about the two of them separately. What type of fish are you after and why? Are you looking to catch red snapper? If so, something like the Shimano Stradic or even the Penn Battle II will take care of business for you. 

But, if you’re out there trying to target marlin and tuna, you’ll need something with a lot more backbone like the Saltiga or a higher model Penn Battle II.

Technical Considerations

parts of the best saltwater spinning reels

Next, let’s break down some specifications you might look for in your ideal saltwater spinning reel. Keep in mind that these are my opinions and shouldn’t be taken as fact. They’re based on years of experience and hours of research and networking with others. 

Line Capacity 

Your line capacity is always going to be a factor when we’re talking about saltwater fishing. It’s like talking about the difference between an ice fishing reel and a deep sea trolling reel. One requires a high line capacity while the other requires almost none. 

The line capacity of the reel refers to how many yards of line you can get on the reel to provide the fish with enough space to tire itself out. The larger the fish, the more line you’ll need. That’s why I consider line capacity to be one of the most important factors when shopping for a saltwater spinning reel. 

If you can find a spinning reel with a line capacity of at least 200 yards of braided, you’re in pretty good shape. Obviously, if you’re fishing offshore for mahi mahi and other really aggressive species, you might want to double that to 400 but there’s no set in stone rule about how much line you should have. It simply comes from experience and knowing the waters you’re fishing. 

Braid-Ready? 

When you hear me talk about a reel being “braid-ready” what I’m referring to are the reels that are already set up to spool braided line directly to the arbor of the reel. Reels that are dedicated to offshore saltwater fishing will allow you to do that because it takes a very big step out of the equation. If your reel isn’t meant for braided line, you’ll need to use a monofilament backing to get the line started. 

Some reels also come with other features like pins and indicators to tell you how much line you should have based on what you’re targeting. This is by no means a deal breaker in any way but something to keep an eye out for. 

Gear Ratio 

No matter what reel we talk about, gear ratio is always something that comes into question. The gear ratio refers to the number of revolutions the spool takes each time you crank the handle once. So, a gear ratio of 5.4:1 means that each time you turn the handle, the spool moves around 5.4 times. The general consensus is that a higher gear ratio is better because it requires less cranking and ultimately reduces fatigue. 

When it comes to freshwater fishing, that’s a fair assumption. You can throw that notion out the window when we talk about saltwater fishing. There are a lot more factors to keep in mind. 

First, you can’t just crank on the handle all day and expect to catch anything because you’re going to snap your line or grind up your internals and tear up the bearings. That’s where our drag comes into help.

Working along with the drag is your gear ratio. Having a lower gear ratio to target large game fish is the right way to go. You need to take it slower to prevent snapped lines and damaged gears. 

Bearings 

Bearings are another factor that a lot of people think they understand but they don’t. The assumption is that more is better but that’s not always true. Now, in the case of the Daiwa Saltiga, more is better because they’ve put a lot of technology and advancement into it. They didn’t just include more bearings for the sake of doing so. 

Generally, more bearings results in a smoother cast and retrieval but it’s the quality of the bearings and the rigidness of the body that makes a big difference as well. If you have a lot of flex in your reel, you’re not going to have a smooth retrieval because you’re going to grind on the teeth of your internals which will make it more difficult to bring the fish in. 

Overall, you don’t want to worry so much about the bearings but focus on the quality of the reel as a whole and always shop brands you know and trust. 

Corrosion-Resistance 

If you look at most of the product reviews above, I talk a lot about sealed bodies, magnetic oil, all metal frames, and so on. All of these features go into the reels with the intention of limiting the amount of crap that can get inside your reel and cause it to break down. These aren’t features you’ll find on any ultralight spinning reel, they’re dedicated to saltwater reels to prevent corrosion. 

Without many of these components, the reel would start to break down after only a few trips to the water. 

Also keep in mind that the more money you spend, the more of these features you’ll get. That’s what justifies the price of some of these premium reels like the Saltiga. While it might cost more than $1,000, you’re getting as much as they could possibly pack into a reel to make maintenance and care that much easier. 

While I would never knock the Shimano Stradic, this is one area that this reel falls behind. But, it’s because it’s a lightweight versatile reel that’s not only for saltwater. As a result, they had to take some of their resources away from saltwater protection and put them elsewhere. 

Just be sure you’re aware of what features your reel comes with and how they protect everything from getting gummed up with salt and sand. 

Weight 

Last but never least, let’s talk about weight. The weight of your reel is in direct relation to how many power-packed features the manufacturer threw in. If you have a lightweight reel, it’s most likely not going to handle big fish without tearing apart the internals. 

If you have a huge 30 ounce reel, you’ll have a much easier time fishing offshore but you’ll tire yourself out if you think finesse casting for bass is going to work with it. 

While there’s no direct answer to what weight is the “right weight” I say keep all these factors in mind and use weight as one piece of the puzzle.

You could go for a reel like the Shimano Stradic which is super lightweight for this guide but remember what you’re sacrificing and the risk you’re taking. You’ll want to fish lighter tackle so you don’t even give yourself the chance to hook anything too large. 

If you plan on doing some offshore fishing paired with inshore as well, most of the reels in this guide will do the trick. They also each have plenty of different reel sizes to choose from based on your fishing style and intentions.

Final Thoughts

Did you get all of that? Choosing a saltwater reel requires you to understand what saltwater can do to anything if you let it happen. It will corrode a normal reel in a matter of days if you don’t maintain it properly. No matter what technology and fancy jargon you throw into it, all reels require maintenance so be sure to take good care of your new reel no matter what the manufacturer says. 

The best saltwater spinning reel is only as good as the angler who wields it. I would feel more than happy about having any of these five reels in my hand whether I’m putting through a South Florida canal or taking my chances offshore in the Gulf. Good luck and stay safe out there!

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