Best Ultralight Spinning Reel For Different Fish Species

Spinning rod and reel with wobbler lure
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If you are looking for the best ultralight spinning reels for saltwater and different fish species, then you have come to the right place! Our ultralight spinning reel reviews are meant for anglers on a budget or those seeking to catch crappie, bass, and/or trout. Besides giving our recommendations for the best ultralight spinning reels, we also discuss the different features so that you know which ultralight spinning reel suits you best.

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What is the best ultralight spinning reel?

Best ultralight spinning rod and reel combo

This is a 2 piece spinning rod that allows for easy storage and transport such as during kayak fishing. It also has a double-footed hook keeper for holding the fishing line during transportation. Also, it features an EVA cork handle resulting in a non-slip handle that offers a firm and comfortable grip regardless of weather condition.

It comes in a variety of rod and reel combinations custom paired for the most popular fishing techniques and species including freshwater fish like bass, walleye, trout, and panfish as well as some popular inshore species like redfish, speckled trout, and flounder. 

Since the spinning rod blank is made of graphite, there’s a risk of breaking it under stress. Though it will most likely not break with proper use, you should be careful not to exceed the line and/or lure weight capacity.

Pros
  • Comfortable grip
  • Portable
  • Various options
Cons
  • Fragile

For more information reviews on the best spinning rods, be sure to check out this article.

Best allround ultralight spinning reel

The spinning reel allows for seamless engagement and power transmission. It also gives you exceptional smoothness and provides you with far better sensitivity and casting performance. The frame and some inner parts of this spinning reel are made of Shimano CI4+ material. As such, the spinning reel is almost as strong as metal and light as carbon and ensures less fatigue when fishing.

The materials being used along with the way the different parts are forged result in a spinning reel that can last for a long time without breaking down. Thus, this is the best Shimano spinning reel for all types of water and fish species. Next to that, the reel metal parts have been forged using the Hagane concept. This means that the gear parts are forged at room temperature to achieve better precision and strength.

All these high-end technology features and the well-know brand makes up for a spinning reel that is quite expensive. However, in return you are certain that you have a reel that will last long enough to recover the purchase costs.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
Cons
  • Expensive

Best ultralight spinning reel under $50

This budget-friendly spinning reel features a precision elliptical gearing system that ensures less friction during casting for increased distance, greater accuracy and longer line life. In addition, it features a cyclonic flow rotor which focuses on removing water from the system and drying the reel out instead of guarding against water intrusion.

The reel’s multi-disc drag system allows for a more consistent and reliable drag, maximizing drag strength over a smaller surface area. Also, the handle is interchangeable making it a left-handed or right-handed spinning reel depending on your liking. All-in-all, this spinning reel packs a lot of useful features for its price making it the best budget ultralight spinning reel.

 One drawback is that the handle features a plastic cog that can break after extensive usage. Also, the reel seat is made of graphite and is therefore also susceptible for breakage when reeling in your fishing line. 

Pros
  • Good performance
  • User friendly
  • Value for the money
Cons
  • Poor quality

Best ultralight spinning reel for saltwater 

The spinning reel guarantees a silky smooth retrieve and is also backed by customer reviews. Also, the design of the spool no longer requires you to use a backing line when spooling on braided fishing line. As with most spinning reels, the handle is interchangeable making it a left-handed or right-handed spinning reel depending on your liking.

The spinning reel is loaded with features, including 10 + 1 high quality, saltwater rated double shielded stainless steel ball bearings, instant lock anti-reverse, stainless steel hardware, aluminum handle, and more line capacity than other brands. Given its price, it qualifies as the best ultralight spinning reel under $100 for saltwater.

That said, this reel is on the smaller side when compared to other spinning reels of the same reel size. Thus, it is ideal when dealing with limited space such as when kayak fishing, but less ideal for bank fishing.

Pros
  • Smooth
  • User friendly
  • Value for the money
Cons
  • Small

Best ultralight spinning reel for bass & trout

This ultralight spinning reel features an AMGearing system and a carbon matrix hybrid drag system resulting in a gear system that has been optimized for smoothness and durability when casting. It also has a rocket line management system which is a combination of bail angle, spool lip design, and slow oscillation that gives anglers the ability to cast further and manage fishing lines more effectively.

The small reel sizes are also ideal for trout fishing which is why it is considered one of the best spinning reel for trout. Moving forward, the carbon body and one-piece aluminum gear box results in a solid and robust frame. Finally, the handle is interchangeable making it a left handed or right handed spinning reel depending on your liking. 

Despite its remarkable features, this spinning reel is still not as smooth and refined as the Shimano ci4 spinning reel though its much more expensive.

Pros
  • Durable
  • Good design
  • User friendly
Cons
  • Subpar performance

Best ultralight spinning reel for crappie

The aluminum spool features internal grooves that allow braided lines to be tied directly to the spool without risk of slippage or the need for a bumper section of the monofilament fishing line. Furthermore, the magnesium frame contributes to the lightweight and silent design without giving in on sturdiness. The materials being used are corrosion resistant making it an ideal spinning reel for saltwater fishing. 

A drawback is that the drag can take some time to adjust resulting in a spinning reel that isn’t as smooth as the higher priced branded spinning reels such as the shimano ci4.

Pros
  • Good design
  • User friendly
Cons
  • Not as smooth

How to choose the best ultralight spinning reel

Different Parts of Best Ultralight Spinning Reel

Ultralight spinning reels are ideal for lightweight rods in the 6-7 ft. range. They are best for targeting small species up to about 15 oz and work best with 2-10 lbs monofilament or 4-14 lbs braided fishing lines.

In what follows we’ll highlight the important features of an ultralight spinning reel so that you are capable of choosing the best ultralight spinning reel when the time comes.

Reel Size


The spinning reel size you should get is determined by the type of fishing you plan to do. Among the most important things to consider are:

  1. What line strength are you planning to use?
  2. Will you be fishing in freshwater or saltwater?
  3. What size fish are you planning to catch?

Small sized spinning reels

Reel Size

Recommended Mono Line Strength

Recommended Braided Line Strength

Recommended Usage

Recommended Species (North America)

1000/10

2 - 4 lbs

4 - 8 lbs

Ultralight fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harbors

Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch

2000/20

4 - 6 lbs

4 - 8 lbs

Bass, Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch

2500/25

5 - 8 lbs

5 - 12 lbs

Light fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harbors

Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Catfish

3000/30

6 - 10 lbs

6 - 14 lbs

3500/35

6 - 10 lbs

6 - 14 lbs

Medium sized spinning reels

Reel Size

Recommended Mono Line Strength

Recommended Braided Line Strength

Recommended Usage

Recommended Species (North America)

4000/40 & 4500/45

8 - 12 lbs

8 - 20 lbs

Medium fishing in freshwater and inshore saltwater

Catfish, Muskie, Snook, Redfish, Snapper

5000/50 & 5500/55

10 - 14 lbs

10 - 25 lbs

Large sized spinning reels

Reel Size

Recommended Mono Line Strength

Recommended Braided Line Strength

Recommended Usage

Recommended Species (North America)

6000/60 & 6500/65

12 - 16 lbs

12 - 30 lbs

Medium fishing in onshore & offshore saltwater

Striped Bass, Salmon, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum)

7000/70

14 - 18 lbs

15 - 40 lbs

7500/75

16 - 20 lbs

20 - 50 lbs

8000/80

16 - 20 lbs

20 - 50 lbs

Medium fishing in onshore & offshore saltwater

Wahoo, Roosterfish, Dorado, Barracuda, Amberjack

8500/85 & 9000/90

18 - 22 lbs

30 - 50 lbs

9500/95

20 - 25 lbs

30 - 50 lbs

10000/100

20 - 25 lbs

30 - 60 lbs

Medium/ Heavy fishing in onshore & offshore saltwater

Tuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark

10500/105

22 - 27 lbs

30 - 60 lbs

12000/120 & 14000/140

28 lbs+

30 - 60 lbs

Medium/ Heavy offshore saltwater fishing

16000/160

32 lbs+

40 - 70 lbs

18000/180

36 lbs+

40 - 70 lbs

20000/200

40 lbs+

50 - 80 lbs

Heavy offshore saltwater fishing

Sailfish, Tuna (large species), Tarpon, Giant Trevally

25000/250

50 lbs+

50 - 80 lbs

30000/300

60 lbs+

80 - 100 lbs

Reel body


Reel bodies can be made of aluminum, graphite, or a combination of both. The type of material being used in the housing has an impact on the weight and durability of the spinning reel. For instance, aluminum housings are stronger and don’t flex as often as graphite ones do. On the other hand, graphite housings are lighter which reduces the strain put on the wrist and forearm. This is especially important if you plan on spending a great deal of time on the water.

Deciding whether strength or weight is more important is ultimately a personal choice. In the end, the highest quality freshwater reels tend to have aluminum bodies while graphite housings are better suited for saltwater fishing since they are corrosion resistant.

Line Spool


The design of the spool has an influence on the line capacity, casting performance, line retrieval, and line twist. In the past, there used to be only two basic types of spinning reel spools, known as skirted or internal spools. Internal spools are barely sold and used nowadays since they easily create line tangles with the body of the reel. Skirted spools don’t have this annoying issue and is also why most people have switched to using them instead.

With recent technology development, there are now several types of spool designs that help improve casting performance as well as casting distance of spinning reels.

Long cast spool

The long cast spool is one of these recent spool designs. The shape of the spool is shallow and long which means less friction on the line spools during a cast, resulting in greater casting distance.

Mag spool

A different type of spool design is based on what the manufactures refer to as Mag Spool Technology. This spool design consists of a bigger spool that is flatter and wider compared to other reels, which enables a fast retrieve, greater casting distance, and fewer ‘birds nests’ due to line twisting.

Drag System


The drag system puts pressure on fish and allows you to give out a fishing line when needed. A smooth, high-quality drag system is essential for a good spinning reel. Spinning reels have front or rear drag systems or a combination of both.

Rear drags can be easier to adjust when playing a fish but often have less max drag than front drag styles. On combo reels like the Baitrunner or Thunnus from Shimano, the rear drag works as a secondary drag system that allows bait to swim free with the bail closed. When a fish grabs the bait the secondary drag still provides some resistance. The angler can then reengage the main drag to set the hook and play the fish.

Most anglers recommend a front-drag system on a spinning lure, as it is closer to the spool and easier to access and adjust during the excitement of a catch.

Gear Ratio


Since spinning reels have fixed spools, the gear ratio refers to how many times the line roller turns around the spool. Thus, a 5:1 ratio means that for every one revolution of the reel handle, the line roller turns 5 times.

Slow reels in the 5:1 range are often the top choice for anglers fishing deep-diving crankbaits, slow-rolled spinnerbaits, and big swimbaits and are an ideal choice for beginner anglers.

Medium reels are often referred to as the “workhorses” of bass anglers. Ratios of around 6:1 or 6:4 present a wide variety of baits and are often used with shallow spinnerbait presentations, square-billed crankbaits, medium-depth cranks in general, and castable umbrella rigs.

Fast gear ratio reels are the most efficient choice for anglers who are presenting baits at relatively defined target areas or are fishing a bait primarily worked by moving the rod tip, or fishing baits that are being “ripped” quickly, or using baits that are fished in heavy cover where getting the fish into open water immediately upon hookset is helpful.

Ally Mash
Ally Mash
Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.

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