Best Ultralight Spinning Reel: Present it Light and Fast with UL Gear
Ultralight fishing is something that a lot of people don’t understand or they don’t quite get why anyone would use it. It involves fishing lightweight tackle with fast action fishing rods and the best ultralight spinning reels.
This is my favorite way to fish and something I’ve dedicated so many years of my life to. Whether you’re fishing for bass, trout, crappie, bluegill, or sunnies, using ultralight reels is the way to go. They’re light, easy to work with, and quick enough to set the hook fast and get the fish back to the boat.
In this guide, we’re looking at all the best choices for ultralight spinning reels. Open your mind, expand your horizons, and check these out!
6 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels: Expert Picks
There are few things not to like about this reel. It’s a high-end piece of equipment from a top-of-the-line brand that we all have a lot of respect for. They come with three different models each weighing less than seven or eight ounces. They also boast unique features like an aero wrap aluminum spool lip that helps the line fly off the spool for longer and more precise casting.
It also comes with Shimano’s X-ship technology and Hagane gearing which are signature to their brand. The features increase the overall durability of the reel and shaft by creating less friction so the reel not only casts and retrieves smoother, but lasts longer because you’re putting less stress on the equipment as a whole.
As you likely know, the whole point of an ultralight reel is light tackle and fast presentations which result in smaller fish overall. That’s not the case here because with a max drag of 20 pounds, it offers you a lot more flexibility over what type of fish you want to target. Plus, the added durability and strength allow you to have a lightweight reel with enough power to bring in a few pound bass without tearing up the gear system.
Last but not least, the Shimano brand tends to stay on the cutting edge of all fishing technology and that’s why you’ll see a few of their reels in this review. I’ve been fishing these reels and rods for years and they never disappoint.
Shimano Sedona Fi
Back here with another Shimano and this one offers some different pros and cons as compared to the Stradic. First, you still get the Hagane gear that is designed to lengthen the life of the reel and ensure consistent casting and retrievals over time. This one comes with a G-Free body which moves the reel closer to the rod which is said to improve comfort and limit fatigue when you’re working your lure.
It also comes with a machine cut spool which increases the overall line capacity of the reel so you can stack more line on it. This is of course a pro but it’s not that important in ultralight fishing applications.
You’ll get a lower gear ratio of 5:1 with this and a 3+1 bearing setup which is sufficient but could be a lot better. Compared to the Stradic, you also get the anti-reverse bearing to limit the amount of backplay which is almost silly being that this reel is a fraction of the cost of the Stradic.
Finally, the propulsion line management system is one of my favorite features because it helps you when you’re casting into the wind or trying to really drop your lure in a precise location. It assists the line in coming off the spool without backlashing.
KastKing Centron 500
We all know KastKing as the Amazon brand of fishing gear and for a long time, I tried to exclude their products from my reviews but they’ve really stepped up their game over time. This is a great UL spinning reel with a lot to offer.
It comes at an extremely affordable price, being one of the cheapest reels I’ve ever seen. KastKing uses a narrow graphite frame which is computer balanced to maximize performance and limit the number of issues you’ll encounter. It also has a 17.5 pound max drag which isn’t bad for something of this size. Plus, you get the anti-reverse bearing and nine additional roller bearings. The bearing system is nice and smooth and the line flies right off the spool.
There’s an ambidextrous application here so you can swap the handle from side-to-side. The reel looks great too.
This reel is beautiful. If you’re the kind of person that likes to purchase a new piece of equipment and show it off to everyone then you’re going to like this one. The incredible graphite body with the gold finish on the spool offers a great contrast and really makes the reel pop as a whole.
The reel is pretty light and it doesn’t have too bulky of a body which makes it the best ultralight spinning reel for trout fishing. You’re able to work it all day without feeling too fatigued. The reel is also set close to the blank which helps improve your control over the line and lures.
The President uses an aircraft-grade aluminum handle and the slow oscillation gearing promises to provide a nice even line lay. We later find out that that’s not always the case but these are isolated scenarios so don’t worry too much about it.
This reel comes with an anti reverse system and seven total stainless steel ball bearings so it does provide a nice smooth cast and retrieval as we would expect from this brand. It’s also priced really affordable for a household name like Pflueger.
Daiwa BG 2500
If you’re looking for a reel that can offer the best of both worlds, this is a great option. The Daiwa BG is a saltwater spinning reel that’s light enough for finesse applications but powerful enough to handle large stripers and other brackish water fish.
It comes with a black anodized machined housing and oversized Digigear system. What does that mean? So glad you asked. The Digigear is Daiwa’s patented technology that uses gears with bigger teeth to create more touch points which results in improved gear strength compared to other reels in the same class.
Not to mention the fact that you get the monocoque body as well which is a smaller body but it offers the same internal design with larger gears and bigger teeth for a smoother and overall better performance.
The corrosion-resistant drag system and durable body are the perfect choice for the best ultralight saltwater reel as well. They prevent the salt from getting inside the internal components so they don’t rust out and damage over time.
This is one of the lightest spinning reels on the market and it’s a great ultralight reel because of that. If you’re looking for something that is easy to work and great for smaller bass, trout, and panfish, this will be right up your alley. For being as small as it is, it also has a solid line capacity and can handle 25 pound braid if you want to use it.
Even though it’s light, it’s durable enough for freshwater fishing and even some light saltwater fishing tool. The brass pinion gear and machined aluminum spool are durable for a spinning fishing reel. It can handle some big fish at it’s little size.
I’m also a big fan of the appearance of this reel. This color combination together works great for me and I’d give this one a big gold star when it comes to fishing for small fish in little ponds and rivers.
What is an Ultralight Spinning Reel?
If you’ve never heard of the term “ultralight” before, that’s okay because I’ll explain it. An Ultralight spinning reel is commonly used with finesse fishing techniques. These involve lightweight lures like jigs and spinnerbaits. You’ll typically pair your small fishing reel with an equally as small rod and use a lightweight monofilament line as well.
Ultralight spinning reels come in a variety of different sizes but most of them will be under seven or eight ounces in total weight.
They’re typically crowding the blank and meant to be easy to work. This means that the reel is light because finesse fishing requires you to create a lot of the presentation of the lures you’re using. As a result, having a heavy and bulky reel would cause you to feel fatigued sooner resulting in a poor presentation and ultimately, no fish.
Why Use an Ultralight Reel?
So, why would someone choose a reel like this over something heavier and stronger? Isn’t the goal to catch the biggest fish possible? Yes and no. Not everyone hits the water with the intention of chasing large fish and sometimes people specifically want to catch smaller fish like trout, panfish, and small bass.
Ultralight tackle is also popular with people who are learning how to fish for the first time like children. These reels are light and generally easier to use than some others so they’re perfect for beginners.
I personally use ultralight reels with fast action rods because I like to fish with kayaks in areas that merit this style of fishing. I’m not always out there chasing big lunkers. These work perfectly for trout and many smallmouth bass as well.
Keep in mind that just because you purchase an ultralight reel, doesn’t mean you need to use it all the time as well. It’s just another tool to have in your back pocket. You can break out the baitcasting reel whenever you want but it’s nice to have this in certain scenarios.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Ultralight Spinning Reel
If you’re in the market for this type of fishing reel you’ll want to consider a few important factors. The things you’ll look for in an ultra light reel will be different from the things you look for in a standard spinning reel so go through these to make sure you get the right reel for your needs.
First and foremost, you want a lightweight reel because you’re pairing it with lightweight tackle and it would be silly to hook up a three inch plastic worm to a two-pound reel. It just doesn’t make sense.
The goal is to find something as light as possible without hindering the overall performance of your fishing. If a reel is too light it might be flimsy or poorly built with cheap materials. If it’s too heavy it will cause you to feel fatigued or it might get in the way and become too cumbersome to manage with your presentation.
Keep in mind that the size of your reel also impacts the amount of line you can use. If you’re planning on fishing saltwater whether it be inshore or offshore, you might encounter larger fish that you would in a small freshwater pond. As a result, you may need a larger spool to accommodate a larger line and more of it.
If you have to worry about the price of the reel it means you’re spending too much. Ultralight reels are designed to be affordable and they generally range in price from as little as $20 to as much as $400. As a whole, they’re still much more affordable compared to many other types of reels. They’re smaller, lighter, and contain less premium features so that results in a lower price.
I recommend putting together a budget for your reel and determining whether or not you think you’ll be able to stay within that. Like I said, this is one area you shouldn’t have to worry when it comes to fishing gear, ultralight reels are cheap.
Your gear ratio refers to how many revolutions the spool turns for each crank on the handle. If you see that a reel has a 6:1 gear ratio it means that each time you turn that handle, it will spin the spool around six times.
Generally you want to stay somewhere around the 6:1 range but with ultralight spinning reels it’s better to have a high gear ratio of 7:1 or higher. This is because you don’t need that slow cranking design because you’re not likely to catch anything overly large.
When you’re chasing larger fish, you need to be patient on the retrieval otherwise you might lose the fish. A one pound crappie isn’t going to take you very far so you don’t need a slow gear ratio and you can simply crank him in, flip him in the boat, and be on your way.
With a slow gear ratio of 5:1 it means you’ll have to work a lot harder to get the fish in the boat and you’ll also need to turn the handle a lot more to get the same presentation out of the lure. Your best bet is to get an ultralight reel with at least a 6:1 gear ratio unless you’re planning on using it for catching large fish as well. Never go lower than a 5:1.
Your drag is one of the most important features on the reel especially with ultralight fishing techniques. This is because you’re typically using lighter line which means it’ll be easier for a fish to snap it. Using 4lb mono is a lot different than 12lb braid so you need that drag to support your efforts by allowing the fish to have enough flexibility to tire itself out as you’re bringing it in.
Being able to have control over the drag is also important. You should be able to adjust the pressure on your drag system so you can create the right amount of pressure to ensure you’re not there reeling all day and so the line doesn’t snap.
Keep in mind that these factors depend entirely on the type of fish you’re trying to catch and where you’re fishing.
The materials used to make the reel paired with the overall design are important as well. As anglers, we like to take care of our equipment and ensure it looks good at all times. I take a lot of pride in my gear and typically gravitate towards rods and reels that have an appearance that I like.
That said, the materials that go into making the reel do a lot more than make it look good or bad. Most reels are made using graphite, carbon fiber, or aluminum and each of these have their pros and cons.
Graphite is very light which will reduce fatigue and make it easier to handle the reel overall. Aluminum may be a bit heavier but it offers more flexibility resulting in improved torque which will help you if you do land a larger fish.
I also suggest looking towards new technology and seeing what’s the latest and greatest piece of equipment from certain brands. Companies like Daiwa and Shimano are always coming out with new technology and figuring out ways to advance their reels to improve their handling and overall performance.
Last but certainly not least, we need to talk about the brand. Brand is important because you not only want to have a good warranty and customer service if something goes wrong but a high-quality brand will offer state-of-the-art technology and a reputation that makes the investment worth it.
Even if you’re not spending hundreds of dollars on a reel, you still want features and components that will last over time and help support your efforts.
I always prefer to stick with brands like Daiwa, Okuma, Penn, Shimano, Pflueger, St. Croix, Lews, and Abu Garcia. Whenever possible, I shop around my favorite brands because I know that I’m going to get a reel that I love and even if it doesn’t meet my expectations, these companies will do everything they can to make it right.
As I round out this review, it’s important that we end with this. No matter what fishing style or technique you use, there’s always room for something else. If you’ve never thought about this type of reel or style, it doesn’t mean that it’s “wrong,” as anglers we owe it to ourselves to try new things and experiment with different methods.
The best ultralight spinning reels will be light, portable, quick, and durable enough to last over time. All the options in this guide will do the trick and they’re pretty affordable to boot. Good luck and enjoy!