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7 Best Saltwater Fishing Reels

7 Best Saltwater Fishing Reels

One of the most crucial components of your fishing equipment is the reel—the part of the rod that houses the fishing line. Reels come in different types, with each type designed to suit a specific type of fishing technique or a certain species of gamefish. Getting the right reel allows you to cast with precision and successfully reel in your catch, so it’s important to take the time to do your research and select the most appropriate one for your needs and preferences.

Aside from the type, another important factor to consider when reel shopping is whether the reel is suitable for the waters where you plan to fish. Saltwater environments tend to corrode certain types of metals due to the high salt content, so if you’re planning a fishing trip in the ocean, you’ll need to pick out a reel that’s made of corrosion-resistant metals.

To help you find a reliable and durable reel that will last you a long time and can handle some of the bigger and stronger gamefish that are typically found in the ocean, we’ve compiled a list of the best saltwater fishing reels on the market (and on LeisurePro).

short depth of field shot of saltwater spinning reel

Shimano Stradic FK Front Spin Reel

LeisurePro Price: Starts at $169.96

Shimano Stradic FK best saltwater fishing reels

The Shimano Stradic FK features some of the brand’s latest design philosophies and much-awaited upgrades, proudly setting itself apart from the rest of the products from the popular Shimano spinning reel lineup. It’s a favorite among loyalists and new anglers who tend to prefer higher-end reels to complement both rigorous and light fishing styles.

Among the best features of this classy spinning wheel are its seven anti-rust bearings (6 Ball and 1 Roller); lightweight construction (with the lightest model weighing just 8.3 ounces); and all-metal body made of “Hagane” steel—the same metal used to make samurai swords—to ensure maximum toughness and strength.

Key Specifications:

  • Reel Type: Spinning Reel
  • Line Capacity (Mono): 170-195 yd (155.4-178.3 m)
  • Line Strength: 8-12 lbs (3.63-5.4 kg)
  • Retrieve Per Crank: 35-41 in (88.9-104 cm)
  • Maximum Drag: 20-24 lbs (9.7-10.9 kg)
  • Gear Ratio: 6.0:1 / 6:2:1
  • Bearing Count: 6 Ball & 1 Roller Bearings
  • Retrieve: Reversible
  • Reel Weight: 8.3-11.3 oz (235.3-320.35 g)

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

LeisurePro Price: Starts at $109.95

Penn Battle II best saltwater fishing reels

The Penn Battle II is a great all-arounder that is worth your hard-earned money—then again, so are most Penn saltwater reels! But even with a pretty affordable price range of a little over $100, the Battle II has impressed a lot of anglers with its performance, longevity, and ability to serve as an everyday reel for both the casual fisher and charter captain.

This smooth reel features a full-metal body, excellent carbon fiber drag system, high-quality parts that are easy to find and maintain, and the same five ball bearings from the previous version but now with corrosion-resistant stainless steel protection, making it one of the most popular choices for inshore saltwater fishing.

Key Specifications:

  • Reel Type: Spinning Reel
  • Line Capacity (Mono): 220-310 yd (201-283.5 m)
  • Line Strength: 10-30 lbs (4.5-13.6 kg)
  • Retrieve Per Crank: 36-44 in (91-112 cm)
  • Maximum Drag: 15-30 lbs (6.8-13.6 kg)
  • Gear Ratio: 6:2:1 / 5:6:1 / 5:3:1
  • Bearing Count: 6
  • Retrieve: Reversible
  • Reel Weight: 12.8-30.2 oz (362.87-856.16 g)

Penn Pursuit II Spinning Reel

LeisurePro Price: Starts at $39.95

Penn Pursuit II best saltwater fishing reels

The Penn Pursuit II is among the best affordable fishing reels—that are designed to withstand corrosive saltwater—on the market today. But don’t be fooled by its shockingly low price, as many experienced and expert anglers from around the world would not hesitate to recommend this top-selling reel to beginners and fishers on a budget. It even makes a great backup reel, thanks to its smooth gear system and durable construction.

The body of the Pursuit is made of ultra-lightweight graphite that’s resistant to corrosion, so you can use it for saltwater fishing without having to worry. It also features an instant anti-reverse bearing and a reliable oiled-felt front drag system that collectively help eliminate friction, puts the pressure on the fish, and extends the life of your reel. It’s also available in five sizes, giving you the option of choosing whatever suits your needs best.

Key Specifications:

  • Reel Type: Spinning Reel
  • Line Capacity (Mono): 160-360 yd (146.3-329.2 m)
  • Line Strength: 8-25 lb (3.63-11.3 kg)
  • Retrieve Per Crank: 25-31 in (64-78.75 cm)
  • Maximum Drag: 10-25 lb (4.5-11.3 kg)
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1 / 5.6:1 / 5.3:1
  • Bearing Count: 4
  • Retrieve: Reversible
  • Reel Weight: 11.9-27.4 oz (337-776.8.4 g)

ABU Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Bait Casting Reel

LeisurePro Price: Starts at $129.95

ABU Garcia Ambassadeur C3 best saltwater fishing reels

If you prefer a baitcaster over a spinning reel, this one’s for you. The lower mid-range ABU Garcia Ambassadeur C3 comes from a popular line of saltwater baitcasting reels that promises greater control and accuracy (and no tangles!) for more skilled anglers with ample experience in fishing with baitcasters.

Each model features a classic round spool with a larger drag surface area that’s traditionally more common to baitcasting reels. For many experienced anglers, it makes casting over targets and thumbing the spool better and easier compared to spinning reels. Its small size makes it ideal for light lures and baits, plus it offers models for both left- and right-hand retrieval.

Key Specifications:

  • Reel Type: Round Baitcasting Reel
  • Mono Line Capacity/Test: 160 yd (146 m) / 12 lb (5.5 kg)
  • Braid Line Capacity/Test: 155 yd (141.7 m) / 30 lb (13.kg)
  • Retrieve Per Crank: 26 in (66 cm)
  • Maximum Drag: 15 lb (6.8 kg)
  • Gear Ratio: 5:3:1
  • Bearing Count: 3 Ball and 1 Roller Bearings
  • Retrieve: Left or Right
  • Reel Weight: 9.2 oz (261 g)

Penn Fierce II Spinning Reel

LeisurePro Price: Starts at $74.95

Penn Fierce II best saltwater fishing reels

If you may have already noticed, Penn clearly manufactures some of the best-selling fishing reels, and many of their products are pretty close to each other in terms of features. The Fierce II falls right between the more affordable Pursuit II and the rock-solid Battle II, which makes it a great choice if you’re looking for a sleek, mid-range reel that still offers Penn’s tried-and-tested spinning reel technologies.

A notable difference between the Fierce II and the Pursuit II is the upgraded all-metal body, which should more than justify the $20 price difference. Other desirable features of this saltwater fishing reel include the Techno-Balanced rotor, an additional shielded stainless steel ball bearing, the Superline spool with enhanced grip, and a heavier aluminum bail wire.

Key Specifications:

  • Reel Type: Spinning Reel
  • Line Capacity (Mono): 165-310 yd (151-291.7 m)
  • Line Strength: 10-25 lb (4.5-11.3 kg)
  • Retrieve Per Crank: 28-31 in (71-78.75 cm)
  • Maximum Drag: 10-25 lb (4.5-11.3 kg)
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1 / 4.6:1 / 4.3:1
  • Bearing Count: 5
  • Retrieve: Reversible
  • Reel Weight: 17.7-28.4 oz (501.8-805 g)

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

LeisurePro Price: Starts at $129.95

Daiwa BG best saltwater fishing reels

The Daiwa brand has proven to be quite popular with anglers around the world alongside Penn, Shimano, and other well-known names in the fishing gear industry. The BG spinning reel is actually the upgraded version of their ‘80s classic, the Black Gold, and features the same alloy spool—but that’s where their similarities end.

Both freshwater and saltwater anglers will love its dynamic cut ABS spool, Digi-Gear design, waterproof drag system, and machined aluminum body and screw-in handle, which all contribute to its stellar performance in tough fishing situations. It’s also the only other reel that offers up to 7 bearings (6 Ball + 1 Roller) and a maximum drag of up to 33 pounds (15 kilograms) on this list.

Key Specifications:

  • Reel Type: Spinning Reel
  • Line Capacity: 280-440 yd (256-402.43 m)
  • Line Strength: 17-25 lb (7.7-11.34 kg)
  • Retrieve Per Crank: 43.1-48.7 in (109.5-123.7 cm)
  • Maximum Drag: 22-33 lb (10-15 kg)
  • Gear Ratio: 5.7:1 / 5.3:1
  • Bearing Count: 6 Ball & 1 Roller Bearings
  • Retrieve: Reversible
  • Reel Weight: 22-30 oz (623.7-850.5 g)

Shimano TLD Lever Drag Reel

LeisurePro Price: Starts at $139.95

Shimano TLD Lever best saltwater fishing reels

The Shimano TLD is a conventional reel (or trolling/casting reel) that is widely used for catching big fish offshore or in deep water environments. Regarded as the industry standard in affordable, high-performance lever drag reels, TLD models meet the demanding requirements of experienced anglers. It allows them to fish for a wide variety of species with either live bait or artificial lures, and with monofilament or braided lines.

What makes the Shimano TLD line stand out are its small, lightweight graphite and aluminum body that’s designed to handle saltwater fishing, as well as its single-speed lever drag design that makes it very easy to use and get used to.

If you expect to catch heavy loads of game fish, consider this tried-and-tested Shimano saltwater reel.

Key Specifications:

  • Reel Type: Conventional / Offshore Lever Drag Reel
  • Mono Line Capacity/Test: 330 yd, 40 lb / 450 yd, 30 lb / 700 yd, 20 lb
  • Retrieve Per Crank: 30-32 in (76.2-81.3 cm)
  • Maximum Drag: 22-23 lb (10-10.4 kg)
  • Gear Ratio: 4.0:1 / 3.6:1
  • Bearing Count: 4 Anti-Rust Bearings
  • Retrieve: Right Hand
  • Reel Weight: 18.6-24.5 oz (527.3-694.6 g)

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