The Best Saltwater Spinning Reels of 2023

best saltwater spinning reels

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As of 2023, there has been an introduction of some fantastic spinning reel for saltwater, with most of them equipped with cutting-edge technology to combat hostile and corrosive saltwater fishing. With so many available options, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for anglers to choose the best saltwater spinning reels. Thankfully, I took time to test a few of the top saltwater spinning reels to help overwhelmed anglers make the right decision when pairing it with saltwater rods

I have compiled a list of some of the best saltwater spinning reels I’ve tested in this guide. I’ve also touched on the buyer’s guide and FAQs that many anglers ask. If you’re not sure about buying saltwater spinning reel, we have separate guide for saltwater baitcasting reels.

Roland Brooks

Daddy by day, fisherman at night.

Top 3 Saltwater Spinning Reels

Best Overall

Shimano Vanford

Shimano Vanford

Best Rated

Penn Pursuit II & III

Penn Pursuit II & III

Best Budget

KastKing Sharky III

KastKing Sharky III

6 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels

  1. Shimano Vanford Best Overall Saltwater Spinning Reels
  2. Penn Pursuit II & III Best Rated Saltwater Spinning Reels
  3. KastKing Sharky III Best Budget Saltwater Spinning Reels
  4. Penn Slammer III Best Offshore Saltwater Spinning Reels
  5. Daiwa BG Best Inshore Saltwater Spinning Reels
  6. Penn Battle III Best Smoothness Saltwater Spinning Reels


Best Overall

Shimano Vanford Saltwater Spinning Reel

Shimano Vanford

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Shimano Vanford saltwater reel is renowned for its durability, power, and precision, allowing anglers to target different fish species. The cold-forged HAGANE body design is corrosion-resistant and exceptionally strong, allowing anglers to reel in large and powerful fish species. It’s also impressively quiet and smooth, thanks to the SilentDrive technology and MicroModule gear system. On top of that, you can follow our saltwater lures guide to find the perfect match for your new reel!

  • Model: VFC5000XGF
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1:1 – 6.4:1
  • Max Drag: 24 lbs. 
  • Weight: 0.475 lbs. 
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 10/240, 12/195, 14/165
  • Braid Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/220, 30/200, 40/160
  • Ball Bearings: 7+1
  • Retrieve per Crank: 37 inches



OVERVIEW: With our experience, we can confidently say that the Shimano Vanford is one of the best saltwater spinning reels due to its high-quality construction. The corrosion-resistant capability makes it ideal for saltwater fishing. When purchasing this saltwater reel, it’s best to consider factors like the smoothness of operation, drag system, and line capacity. It’s also safe to say that Shimano is one of the best fishing reel brands today! Shimano Vanford has a smooth operation thanks to the MicroModule gear system. The Power Roller III line roller prevents line twists and has a powerful drag system making it great for large saltwater fish species.

FEATURES: Shimano Vanford compares relatively well with the competition in its price range. However, it has impressive features like the T-Shape handle for added comfort, with the Propulsion Line Management System improving the casting distance. Overall, it’s the best saltwater spinning reel for anglers looking for high performance and doesn’t mind spending a little extra. 


Best Rated

Penn Pursuit II & III Saltwater Spinning Reel

Penn Pursuit II & III

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Penn Pursuit II & III spinning reels are renowned for their saltwater use, thanks to their corrosion-resistant graphite body and rotor, capable of withstanding harsh saltwater conditions. The construction material makes them lightweight for extended use. The reels have comfortable handles for added comfort, a line capacity ring system, and a smooth and reliable drag system. It is even comparable to ultralight fishing reels. We have a separate article for it here: Best Ultralight Spinning Reels Fishing [Buying Guide]

  • Model: Pursuit II 4000 / III 4000
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 8/270, 10/220, 12/165
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 15/360, 20/260, 30/185
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Max Drag: 15 lbs.
  • Weight: 0.8 lbs. (Pursuit II) 0.75 lbs. (Pursuit III)
  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Line Retrieve per Crank: 37 inches



OVERVIEW: The smooth and reliable performance of the Penn Pursuit II & III saltwater spinning reels should convince serious anglers to purchase them. Their excellent drag system allows anglers to fight and tire even bigger fish species. When buying these reels, you should consider your budget, fishing environment, and target species. They’re affordable and suited for harsh saltwater environment. I loved the reels’ versatility, allowing anglers to target different fish species. 

FEATURES: The Penn Pursuit II & III spinning reels are known for their reliability and durability, making them suitable for anglers looking for high performance at an affordable price point. They’re also versatile for different fishing needs, allowing you to target small or larger fish species. 


Best Budget

KastKing Sharky III Saltwater Spinning Reel

KastKing Sharky III

WHY WE LIKE IT: For anglers who don’t want to overpay or compromise on quality, the budget-friendly KastKing Sharky III is the ideal choice. It has a triple-disc carbon fiber drag system and a stainless-steel main shaft for consistent and smooth performance. Thanks to the unique shark-fin braid-ready spool, the spinning reel is ideally suited for braided fishing lines without worrying about line twisting or slipping. 

  • Model: Sharky III 3000
  • Max Drag: 33 lbs.
  • Weight: 0.54 lbs.
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Bearings: 10+1
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 8/220, 10/175
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 30/220, 40/175



OVERVIEW: During our experience with the KastKing Sharky III saltwater spinning reel, we were impressed by its outstanding performance. It has features like anti-twist technology, a braid-ready spool, and a smooth and consistent drag system, which you can find on high-end reels. When buying this saltwater spinning reel, consider the type of fishing you want to do, the target species, and your budget. KastKing Sharky III is ideally suited for inshore saltwater fishing reel and catching small or medium fish sizes. I loved its reliability and how it’s easy to operate. 

FEATURES:  KastKing Sharky III compares well with other reels in its price point. However, features like a triple-disc carbon fiber drag system and the stainless steel main shaft gives it advantages and puts it on par with high-end reels. It’s an affordable and reliable saltwater spinning reel for novice and experienced anglers. 


Suited for offshore fishing

Penn Slammer III Saltwater Reel

Penn Slammer III

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Penn Slammer III saltwater reel is an outstanding fishing gear suited for offshore fishing, thanks to its unique drag system and durability. The spinning reel has a full-body metal construction, including the rotor and side plates, allowing it to withstand harsh offshore fishing conditions. It has a great drag system, perfect for tackling large fish species. Penn Slammer III operates smoothly, thanks to the CNC Gear Technology system. 

  • Model: SLAIII7500
  • Gear Ratio: 4.2:1 – 6.2:1
  • Max Drag: 40 lbs. 
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs.
  • Retrieve Rate per Turn: 42 inches
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 15/430, 20/320, 25/260
  • Braid Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 40/710, 50/570, 65/415



OVERVIEW: The high level of durability is a serious reason you need to buy Penn Slammer III saltwater reel. The sturdy construction is built to withstand offshore fishing conditions, which are rough for normal fishing reels. When purchasing this reel, you should consider the conditions you’ll be fishing in, target fish species, and your fishing experience. It’s perfect for rough waters, targeting large fish species, and experienced anglers. I loved the smooth operation and powerful drag system. 

FEATURES: Penn Slammer III stands out from the competition due to its smooth and consistent performance. It has an impressive line capacity and a drag system capable of battling bigger fish species. Overall, Penn Slammer III outperforms many spinning reels in its price range by combining high-level performance and reliability. 


Impressive Blend

Daiwa BG Saltwater Reel

Daiwa BG

WHY WE LIKE IT: Daiwa BG is an impressive reel and has built a strong reputation among anglers as one of the best inshore saltwater reels. It has an impressive blend of affordability, smooth operation, and durability, which many saltwater anglers require. The reel’s durability is made possible by the “Hard Bodyz” machined aluminum construction capable of withstanding high pressure without breaking the fishing lines. It also has excellent line management, thanks to the Dynamic Cut Aluminum ABS Spool and Air Rotor. 

  • Model: BG5000
  • Gear Ratio: 6+1
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs. 
  • Max Drag: 22 lbs. 
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 16/340, 20/280, 25/220
  • Braid Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 40/480, 50/360, 65/310



OVERVIEW: The Daiwa BG saltwater fishing reel strikes a perfect balance of affordability, durability, and versatility, and it’s a serious reason why you should buy it. The screw-in handle and aluminum housing makes it comfortable and durable, making BG5000 stand out from other reels in its price point. When buying this spinning reel, you should consider fish target, fishing technique, and experience levels. BG5000 is the best inshore spinning reel in its class, making it unsuitable for hard-fighting fish like Marlin. I loved its versatility, allowing me to use braided and mono-fishing lines. 

FEATURES: The Daiwa BG saltwater spinning reel offers a competitive line capacity and maximum drag compared to the competition. The waterproof drag system makes it ideal for saltwater fishing, with the air bail and air rotor providing improved durability and balance. Overall, the BG5000 is a worthy competitor in the mid-range spinning reel market. 


Best Versatility

Penn Battle III Saltwater Reel

Penn Battle III

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Penn Battle III spinning reel is famous for its versatility, durability, and exceptional performance, thanks to its full-metal body, an innovative HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, and CNC gear technology. It’s the best saltwater spinning reel for anglers looking for high performance, versatility, and durability without overspending. 

  • Model: 2500
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Weight: 0.575 lbs. 
  • Max Drag: 15 lbs. 
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 6/240, 8/180, 10125
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 10/240, 15/220, 20/160
  • Retrieve Rate: 33”
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1



OVERVIEW: In our experience, one main reason to purchase the Penn Battle III saltwater spinning reel is its durability and versatility. The reel has the HT-100 carbon fiber drag system providing enough power to fight larger fish species. It’s also suited for salt and freshwater fishing, allowing you to fish in different environments. It’s best to consider the fishing conditions, how you intend to use the reel, and target species when buying this reel. It’s suited for large and hard-fighting fish species, and the drag system provides precise control. 

FEATURES: The Penn Battle III spinning reel has decent specs compared to reels in its price tag. The strong max drag, gear ratio, and versatile mono and braided line capacity make it decent for anglers looking for high-performing saltwater fishing reels. 

Things To Consider When Buying A Spinning Reel For Bass

Quality Craftsmanship – Construction Materials

The construction materials of any spinning reel for bass determine its performance and durability. It also determines its application, whether it’s suited for saltwater or freshwater fishing. When buying a spinning reel for bass fishing, it’s best to consider construction materials like aluminum, graphite, and carbon fiber. 

Aluminum construction bodies work best for saltwater fishing as they’re corrosion-resistant and light. They’re also durable and withstand high pressures, and a reel made of this material is a good saltwater spinning reel. Graphite is lighter than aluminum but prone to corrosion after extended use. Carbon fiber construction materials are lightweight and durable, but expensive. 

Weight Of The Reel

The weight affects the reel’s balance and performance, making it one of the most important aspects to consider when buying a spinning reel for bass. While a lightweight spinning reel might be perfect for extended fishing sessions and casting accuracy, the heavier ones are suited for large fish species. 

For bass fishing, a reel weight of 0.4 and 0.5 lbs is considered ideal. However, it’s best to consider your fishing environment and target species before you settle on a specific reel weight. 

Spinning Reel Size

Spinning reels come in different sizes, and the one you choose depends on your fishing needs. A spinning reel of sizes 2500-4000 is ideal for bass fishing. Additionally, choose a reel with a comfortable size, as this affects the casting distance and accuracy. 


When choosing a spinning reel for bass based on the spool, it’s crucial to consider factors like spool size, material, and shape. A larger spool size holds more lines, allowing for longer casting and targeting large bass fish. Spool materials of aluminum and graphite are suited for bass fishing. Aluminum is light and durable, with graphite providing a smoother operation. 

Line Capacity

A spinning reel’s line capacity determines the amount of fishing lines it can hold. The actual line capacity will also depend on the size of the bass you’re targeting. Large bass species require a higher line capacity, with medium-sized bass requiring a lower line capacity. 

Also, the type of fishing line you’ll be using will determine the reel’s line capacity. Heavier lines, like braided lines, require a higher line capacity to handle the weight. A general rule of thumb requires you to choose a line capacity with the same weight as the fishing line. 

Gear Ratio

A gear ratio determines how fast a spool turns when you turn the reel’s handle. For bass fishing, a gear ratio of 6:1 or higher is optimal. Although a higher gear ratio has a high retrieve speed, it doesn’t have enough power to fight larger fish species. 

A lower gear ratio is ideal for targeting larger bass or fishing in heavy cover. Such a gear ratio has more power and torque to fight and reel in huge fish species. 

Sensitivity of the Reel

Bass are known to be very subtle when they bite, and that’s why you need a spinning reel with a high sensitivity. The reel’s bearings increase the reel’s sensitivity by reducing friction and providing a smoother retrieve. Doing so helps anglers detect the bottom structure and any changes in depth, allowing them to locate fish quickly. 

Also, consider the spool’s material as it affects the reel’s sensitivity. Lightweight materials like aluminum and graphite have a higher sensitivity compared to stainless steel and full metal bodies. 

Bearing System

Bearing systems help to reduce line twists and provide smooth operations, resulting in improved casting distance and accuracy. Although bearings are crucial, it’s best to focus on quality than quantity. Additionally, consider the construction material, as stainless steel ball bearings are ideal for bass fishing. 

Drag System

A drag system controls the amount of resistance needed to tire the fish and reel it in. A smooth and consistent drag system helps you reel in the catch effortlessly. It also protects the line from breaking when the fish starts fighting. 

Anti-Reverse System

There are two types of anti-reverse systems in spinning reels – mechanical and instant. They’re all efficient in preventing the fish from pulling the line. An effective ant-reverse system should engage instantly and shouldn’t fail under pressure. 

How To Clean Saltwater Spinning Reels

Saltwater spinning reels may be corrosion-resistant but require regular cleaning to prevent salt buildup. Here are the steps to follow to achieve this:

Start by disassembling the reel by removing all removable parts. Refer to the manual if you’ve never done this. 

  1. Soak the reel in warm water with detergent or mild soap for 15 minutes.
  2. Clean the parts with bristled brushes, targeting areas prone to salt buildup.
  3. Rinse the parts with clean, fresh water to remove salt debris and soap.
  4. Dry each part thoroughly with a dry cloth and let them air-dry for a few hours. 
  5. Lubricate the moving parts, like the spool and handle, with the reel lubricant. 
  6. Put the parts back together to reassemble the reel and keep it in a dry place. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Spinning reels are a good fit for saltwater fishing since they’re easy to use. They also cast light lures and baits, making them ideal for novice anglers. They’re more affordable than saltwater baitcasting reels but are ineffective for targeting larger fish species. 

There are many places you can find the best saltwater reels, with common ones being – specialized fishing stores, online retailers, manufacturer’s websites, and sporting goods stores.

Baitcasting reels are perfect for saltwater fishing due to their construction and advanced features like the drag, line capacity, comfort and ergonomics, and corrosion resistance. However, the type of bass fishing baitcasting reel you choose will depend on your preference and fishing conditions. However, baitcaster reels are more expensive than spinning reels. 

Good saltwater spinning reels are more expensive than freshwater spinning reels since they’re built to be durable and corrosion-resistant. They’re also larger and stronger than freshwater spinning reels, with many including high-end features. Although there are expensive freshwater reels, they don’t compare to saltwater fishing reels in terms of price and performance.