Best Spinning Reel Under 100 Dollars: Are the Top Budget Reels Worth It?

Last Updated on May 20, 2021 by Coty Perry

Best Overall

Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel

4.7/5

Best Runner-Up

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

4.7/5

Best Budget-Friendly

Pflueger Supreme Spinning Fishing Reel

4.7/5
If you’re in the market for a new spinning reel, there are plenty of great options available for less than $100. The best spinning reels under $100 will combine characteristics like smooth action, durability, and a strong drag system. 
 
As an angler with more than two decades of experience using various spinning reels from the top brands in the industry, I have some suggestions that will help you navigate through the search process. I’ve combed through most of the top models to compile this list of the best spinning reels under 100 dollars that are currently available in today’s market. 

Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel

BEST OVERALL

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

Best Runner-Up

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Best Freshwater Spinning Reel

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Abu Garcia Elite Max Spinning Fishing Reel

Best Budget-Friendly 

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel 

Best Saltwater Spinning Reel

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Pflueger Supreme Spinning Fishing Reel

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Okuma Inspira Carbon Frame Lightweight Spinning Reel

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

KastKing Sharky III

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

How to Purchase a Cheap Spinning Reel

what to look for in the best reel under 100 dollars
When it comes to shopping for a solid spinning reel that you can use and rely on without having to spend a significant amount of money, there are a few main factors that you should pay attention to in order to ensure that you’re getting a decent product and the right fishing gear for the job. 
 

Ball Bearing Systems

As we’ve already noted, the ball bearing system is one of the most important—and misunderstood elements of a spinning reel than anything else. In most cases, novice and beginner anglers will see a higher number of ball bearings and likely assume that the more bearings a reel has, the better it will perform. 
 
This is not always true as the quality and precision with which the ball bearings are made play a much larger role in the overall performance of a spinning reel as it relates to casting and retrieving. 
 

Spool Size and Line Capacity 

Anglers must understand what each type of spinning reel is capable of delivering in terms of performance. In order to have a more firm grasp on this, it’s key to have a working knowledge of the spool size and line capacity that a particular spinning reel offers. Most spinning reels come in three or four main sizes that vary in their overall line capacity. 
 
Most brands will offer an estimate as to how much line a reel is capable of holding depending on the specific type of fishing line being used, as well as the pound test rating of the line. As you might already be aware, a spool will be able to hold much more line if you happen to spool it with a lighter pound test line than if you opt for using a heavier rated line. 
 
Some reel models will also be able to allow anglers to tie braided line directly to the spool, or will typically note whether a ‘backing’ line is needed to first be spooled on. 
 
It’s usually a good idea to select a reel that can hold at least 150 to 200 yards of line for bass fishing. 
 

Drag System 

The drag system is easily one of the most important parts of any fishing reel as it will likely be the make-or-break factor that determines whether it can stack up against the kind of fish you’re after. Make sure the reel offers a quality front drag, as well as rear drag. 
 
Too often, anglers select a fishing reel that might be more in line with their budget, but is also one that might have a less powerful drag system that simply won’t hold up against a hard-pulling fish when the time comes. 
 
The drag system is really something that anglers need to pay close attention to if they intend to purchase a larger spinning reel that will be used to catch the bigger saltwater species of game fish that are notorious for burning up a drag and even stripping one out on occasion. 
 
Be sure to look for a drag that is able to give a bit and allow your hook to be pulled when a fish strikes your bait. 
 

Adjustability of the Drag

Another very important characteristic you need to have in your spinning reel is the ability to adjust the drag to a setting that will be more suitable depending on the size and power level that you’re expecting to get from the fish you’re after. 
 
If your drag is too tight, you’re likely to have a fish break the line or strip the drag system out and damage the reel’s internal components beyond repair. A drag that’s too light will cause you to lose any fight you have with a fish as your line will simply continue being pulled out without leaving you the chance to wind it back and gain some ground on your catch. 
 
It’s very important to make sure the spinning reel you’re looking at purchasing will allow you to adjust the drag either before you cast, or even on the fly while you’re in the middle of a fight with a fish. Being able to adjust your drag as you’re fighting the fish is crucial as you’ll be able to have a better gauge of the power level of the fish and can adjust your drag accordingly. 

FAQs

If you’re not quite sure which reel size you should look at purchasing, you might want to consider what type of fish you plan to target first. Once you get a better understanding of the general size reel used by other anglers, as well as the specific pound test line and what type of line, you’ll be able to make a better determination as to which size you need. 

Deciding on what reel to get based on the gear ratio is an often misunderstood aspect of buying a spinning reel. Consider what type of lures you will be using and whether you will need a faster retrieve, or if you’ll be fine using a moderately slower ratio. 

There is really no right or wrong answer to this question. The main thing you want to consider when looking at a spinning reel’s ball bearings are what they are made out of, as well as the methods used to cut and shape them, much like what you’d look for in a baitcaster. 
 
Most professional anglers recommend getting a reel that has at least 6 ball bearings as these will generally be smoother casting and reeling. 

Conclusion

When it comes to searching for and finding the right spinning reel that’s right for your needs, there are plenty of solid options on today’s market that anglers can purchase for less than $100. In fact, many of these reels stack up quite well with some of the premium options on the market that are available for hundreds of dollars. 
 
The reels we noted in our list of the best spinning reels under $100 are all excellent quality and will last throughout many seasons when used and cared for properly. If you’re looking to purchase a great spinning reel that’s more in line for your price range, any one of the seven reels we’ve listed are an ideal starting point.  

Exclusive Insider Content!

Latest Fishing News, Gear Reviews, and Expert Advice to take your fishing to the next level.