There is always a lot to consider when you’re buying a reel. Especially when you are after an ultralight spinning reel. The market is full of new and old names that talk about every reel like it’s better than the next, so you never really know what you have until you try it.
At A Glance: Top 3 Spinning Reels
The last thing you want is an unhappy purchase that might affect your fishing. A reel is a piece of kit you should love when you get to know it, it should have your back in every fishy situation. Luckily for you, I have put together this review of some of the best ultralight spinning reels on the market to help make you choose your next reel with confidence.
Best Budget Rod
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The Okuma Cecymar is a lovely light reel. It has a solid build and each component is made with great materials from the machine-cut brass pinion gear to the graphite body. The reel features some of Okuma’s new technologies that make it a step up from the old models.
The precision elliptical gear system reduces friction all round to give you longer accurate casts, a smooth drag and retrieve. The airflow has been increased thanks to the cyclonic flow rotor that stops water from getting in and thus corrosion.
There is an instant anti-reverse feature that means you can engage and hook up instantly. The switch for it does tend to snap off though. Another issue is that after a while noise can appear in the gears, this doesn’t seem to affect the functionality but it is annoying. These issues are rare though and may come down to user error.
The Daiwa BG Spinning Reel comes in a range of sizes from giant to small and fits any occasion. The reels are durable and can be used in both fresh and saltwater. It’s made from an aluminum body with a dynamic cut ABS spool and Daiwa’s Digigear System that makes the reel super smooth.
The spool has a large diameter and is braid ready for easy filling and an even line lay. You’ll get no bunching while having a great line capacity. The reel has been made to reduce line twists and loops thanks to the large roller and pick up on the bail. This will keep you fishing instead of having to undo tangles during your time on the water. The drag is powerful and smooth and the sizes offer a huge range of max drag settings.
Overall the reel is a bit heavier than others in the same class and this is due to the quality of the materials. They could have made it light but it might have compromised the quality or increased the price.
The roller on the bail can corrode quite quickly if it’s not looked after so watch out for that, otherwise is a solid, well-priced reel.
This is one of Shimano’s top reels that comes with every feature that you could hope for, and it is expensive. It comes with Shimano’s G Free Body system and the HAGANE gear system which make both the cast and retrieve super-efficient and smooth.
It’s made from carbon fiber rather than graphite or aluminum. This makes the reel super-light while still being strong, durable, and corrosion-resistant. It’s a pleasure to cast with all day long and you won’t get tired throwing lures all day.
The reel also comes with an X-ship which increases the gear efficiency and makes a big difference when you’re winding under pressure. Every wind you make will be of maximum efficiency to ensure you can pull up fish from the depths and stop them from going into cover.
It has a quick, smooth retrieve thanks to the high gear ratio and shielded ball bearings. The bearings are shielding to ensure no dirt, salt, or water can get in there and affect their rotation.
The spool reduces twists, wind knots and manages the line really well thanks to the grooved power roller. You won’t have to worry about managing any tangles when you’re fishing. The drag is smooth and powerful. It’s also made from carbon fiber and will also be able to handle fishing in saltwater.
This reel sounds like it has everything but it is missing anti-reverse which is a shame. You’d think something so sophisticated would have it but unfortunately not. The only other drawbacks are that the bail arm is a bit stiff and the line roller bearing can fail in some instances, Shimano will replace this for you though.
The Pflueger President is a great reel and is a perfect choice if you’re just getting into fishing in particular. They work great, last a long time and give you a lot for your money. The body is made from graphite, the shaft is stainless steel and the handle is made from aluminum.
The graphite body keeps the reel light for easy casting and corrosion-resistant. It’ll work fine in both salt and freshwater, just be sure to maintain them.
The reel comes with 10 bearings which is quite a lot more than most reels and this gives the President a very smooth retrieve. Combine this with the gear ratio and you have a super fast smooth retrieve that you can rely on. The drag is made from a stainless steel/oil/felt system. This isn’t as robust as a carbon fiber drag but is still smooth and strong enough.
The reel features an anti-reverse which is easily switched on or off that the flick of a switch and also comes with a braid-ready aluminum spool. This will make fill your reel with braid a lot easier and save you some of those annoying moments when the braid can slip.
Unfortunately, the line can be uneven on the retrieve with this reel and bunch up which is a headache to deal with when fishing. The bail arm can also click closed mid-cast and you might lose a few lures to it, especially if you’re fishing light line. The gears can also start to grind after a while be these cases are rare.
The Sedona F1 is a more affordable version of the Stradic. Shimano has kindly taken some of their high-end technology and put it in a reel that we can all afford which is nice of them.
It comes with the cold-forged HAGANE gear system to keep the gearing aligned and alive for a long time. It’ll have a smooth retrieve, even under pressure. The gears will also be solid enough to handle heavy uses in a saltwater environment.
The reel features the G Free Body System that moves the center of gravity closer to the rod and you. This helps with casting by giving you more momentum and you’ll notice how useful it is after a long day on the water.
The propulsion line management system lets the line of the spool in smaller loops to stop any backlashes or wind knots and helps reduce friction on the spool to help you cast further. Pretty perfect if you ask me.
There’s not anti-reverse again which you can live without but if it’s something you’re used to, then it might be worth looking at a different option. The only negatives are that the bail arm can malfunction and the reel can tighten up after some time.
The Revo X is a simple reel that is affordable, has everything you need, and just gets the job done. The body is made from carbon fiber making it really light and durable which is amazing for the price point.
It features a six-ball-bearing system giving it a smooth, quick retrieve. The drag is also smooth and has enough power for most fish you’ll target with an ultralight setup.
It comes with Abu’s rocket line management system that stops backlashes, wind knots and keeps your line even on the reel. The spool is made from aluminum and comes braid ready for easy filling.
This reel is fine for use in saltwater thanks to the quality of the materials it’s made from. The PVC handle is not my favorite but that’s just me. It’s grippy and gets the job done. The reel arm can stick though and you can hear some grinding in the bearings after a while but this happens rarely. Overall it’s a great reel.
The KastKing Sharky III although being a light reel comes with a large line capacity and huge max drag. It comes in a range of sizes and is made to be tough in both salt and freshwater environment.
The drag has a max of 18kg which is a tad high for a light setup but useful nonetheless. It’s made up of a multi-disc carbon fiber system, is smooth, and will be handy when you hook up to a big fish,
The body is made from high percentage fiber-reinforced graphite which makes it rigid, light, and affordable. You’ll be able to knock it around without worry and the lightness makes it great for casting with. The reel also includes an anti-reverse, an aluminum handle, and a braid-ready aluminum spool.
Sharky has out a shield system on this reel to try and keep water or dirt out of the inner workings. How effective it is, is unclear as the reels do seem to fail after use in saltwater which makes me think it’s not quite doing its job.
The line can also bunch up on the retrieve and wind knots seem to be a common theme as well as parts falling off. You do pay for what you get and the low price on this reel means it might not last as long as others.
The reel you buy should be based on what you want to catch and where you’re going to catch it. You might need a reel that is just for freshwater or one that can be used in saltwater too, taking a freshwater reel into the sea can cause it to have a short life so be sure to get a reel that can handle it if you need to.
Also, do you plan on just catching trout or bass, or are you going to want to catch some bigger fish too? A trout/bass reel is quite different from one that can catch a 40lb fish, so be sure to pick a reel for the species you want to target.
All reels have a specific line capacity and you’ll need to make sure yours holds enough line to cast far enough with and catch the fish you want. If you’re targeting small fish like crappie then line capacity isn’t something you’ll need to worry about very much. If you want to catch some hard running fish, like a bonefish for example, then you’ll need a reel with a bigger line capacity.
Most fishermen use braid these days as it casts further and more accurately. To be able to put braid on your reel, it’ll need to have a braid-ready spool. This will stop the braid sipping and bunching up when you wind it on, saving you a lot of time and hassle. Most reels come with braid-ready spools but just check before you buy.
Similar reels can vary a lot in weight, mainly due to the materials they are made from. The weight of a reel will affect how it feels to use, especially in regards to casting. A heavy reel will get tiring to use and may become uncomfortable. You could also get used to the weight, but if you’re used to a light reel then this probably won’t be the case. If you think the weight will affect your fishing then make sure you check it in the specs.
Each reel has its own little quirks to get to know when you first start using them. The more you use them, the more you may end up loving them.
If your reel is not built with corrosion and durability in mind, it’ll need a lot of maintenance. You could suffer from a lot of issues meaning you won’t get to use it very often. Your reel has got to last the test of time. It should be made of quality corrosion-resistant materials and should be protected. Make sure to read the reviews and ensure it has a sealed system to protect its inner workings.
The drag provides resistance against a hooked fish and lets the line out during the fight. You want your drag to be smooth and unhindered. If it’s not, you can end up with broken lines, losing your prize catch and tackle in the process. The line should pull off the reel smoothly at every drag setting. Make sure you test this when you’re buying the reel. You should also get a waterproof sealed drag to ensure the drag system lasts for years to come.
The all-rounder goes to the Daiwa BG. It comes with everything you need while being very affordable. You can use it in both fresh or saltwater, it’s well made and will last a long time. It’s a tad heavy due to the materials bit has a great drag, line capacity and retrieve. You’ll be able to fish for multiple species across all environments with it.
The best on a budget goes to the Okuma Ceymar. It does pretty much everything well for a great price. The drag smooth casts beautifully and is made from quality materials that should last…
The best of the bunch is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+. It is the most expensive but you do pay for what you get with reels. It’s super light, made from great materials, and has every feature you could want, except anti-reverse. It is a reel you can fall in love with which is what I look for, something I love to use, every time.