Best Saltwater Spinning Reel 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

Best Saltwater Spinning Reels

Your next fishing trip is coming up, so you start preparing your equipment.

Don’t have a good saltwater spinning reel prepared? Not sure how to pick one? I’ve got you covered.

In this article, I’ll list some of the best saltwater spinning reels you can find on the market.

I’ll also give you a brief guide on how to choose the one that best serves your needs.

Without further ado, here are your options.

Saltwater Reels – Comparison Table

Spinning Reel

Gear Ratio


Maximum Drag


KastKing Sharky III





Piscifun Flame





Penn Battle II ​





Penn Slammer III





Shimano Socorro





Penn Spinfisher V





The 6 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels for 2021

1. KastKing Sharky III 5000

KastKing Sharky III 5000

Built with premium parts, the KastKing Sharky III is designed to be both durable and sturdy.

With a graphite body and rotor, it only weighs 10.5 ounces. Yet, it can drag fish up to 39.5 pounds –which is much superior to other options.

It can accomplish this impressive combination thanks to its reliable triple disc carbon fiber drag, stronger precision meshes manganese brass pinions gears, and oversized stainless steel main shaft.

The graphite construction also makes it a great lightweight saltwater spinning reel as it’s able to resist corrosion.

Not only that, but it also has unique protection against water with a spool, body, and rotor that are water-resistant.

The KastKing Sharky III is very quiet and has smooth retrieves thanks to the 10 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing.

Furthermore, the Fin Braid Ready aluminum spool enables you to use braid fishing line without backing line.

With a 5.2:1 gear ratio and a 33.4-inch line retrieve per crank, it’s a pretty fast-paced reel.

Finally, it has an instant lock anti-reverse, stainless steel hardware, an aluminum handle, and bigger line capacity.


  • Great value for the affordable price
  • Lightweight design
  • 1-year warranty
  • Smooth operation
  • Interchangeable hand retrieve
  • Incredible drag capability


  • Prone to wear and tear

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a reel that would give you the ultimate combination of affordability and functionality, there wouldn’t be any better than the KastKing Sharky III.

2. Piscifun Flame 5000

Piscifun Flame 5000

Suitable for both beginners and more seasoned anglers alike, the Piscifun Flame 5000 is one of the most affordable fishing reels for saltwater.

Its design is truly unique, and its features back it up.

Although it’s a low-budget reel, it’s very smooth with nine ball bearings and one roller bearing.

And while it’s lightweight at 13.2 ounces, its drag capacity isn’t the best at a 19.8-pound maximum.

It’s still quite impressive with its brass pinion gear and triple washers that make it durable.

Moreover, it has a 5.2:1 gear ratio and retrieves 30.7 inches of line per crank, so it’s excellent for a fight against a moderately-sized fish.

Even though braid-ready spools are usually reserved for the more expensive spinning reel models, the Piscifun Flame 5000 comes with one.


  • Smooth retrieval and cast
  • Lightweight and unique design
  • Highly affordable
  • Ample drag capacity for the weight and price


  • Not the most durable
  • Substandard drag ability

Bottom Line

The Piscifun Flame 5000 is the ideal choice for someone who’s looking to pay as little as possible on their saltwater fishing equipment.

However, if you’re looking for something that’ll last long with you, you should check out other options.

3. Penn Battle II 2500

Penn Battle II 2500

At its price level, the Penn Battle II 2500 is one of the best saltwater reels under 100 bucks.

Its improved paint quality provides it with solid protection against saltwater. If you put effort into its maintenance, it’ll definitely last long with you.

The high 6.2:1 gear ratio and 33-inch retrieve per crank enable you to finish your battles quickly.

Moreover, the Penn Battle II 2500 weighs 10.3 ounces and can drag up to 12 pounds.

This is thanks to the smooth operation provided by its 5 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing.

Also, these bearings are made from stainless steel and are sealed to protect the reel from corrosion.

I particularly liked the line capacity rings on the Superline spool that indicate the amount of line you have left.


  • Doesn’t break the bank
  • Premium-quality build and feel
  • Smooth drag system
  • Robust anti-reverse
  • Braid-ready marked spool capacity


  • Prone to wind knots
  • Not fully sealed
  • Can loosen up with time

Bottom Line

The Penn Battle II 2500 does not disappoint with its performance or quality. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone that’s just starting and wants a good reel for the money.

4. Penn Slammer III 5500 

Penn Slammer III 5500

Although I had my doubts about the all-metal body, side plate, and rotor design of the Penn Slammer III 5500, it turned out to be important for keeping the pinion and gears aligned for a smoother retrieve.

Moreover, the body and spool of the reel are sealed with an IPX6 water-resistance rating, so it’s well-protected. This Penn spinning reel was made for saltwater fishing.

The various seals located around the shaft, main pinion, and drag system work on keeping saltwater out.

Furthermore, the Penn Slammer III 5500 has a full brass gearing system that includes the drive, pinion, and isolation gears and which extend the longevity of the cranking power.

What I found to be the most impressive feature is the Dura-Drag sealed Slammer drag system.

The washers are coated with a unique material called Phenolic to maximize durability and smoothness of drag.

Add that to 7 total bearings and even at a fast 39-inches retrieval per crank rate and a 5.6:1 gear ratio, it still provides you with a smooth performance.

The Penn Slammer III 5500 is evidently not the lightest reel at 22.4 ounces, but it does have the highest maximum drag capacity -40 pounds.

Finally, the braid-ready spool has line capacity rings to let you know how much line you have left on the spool.


  • Designed for heavy-duty jobs
  • Fast and reliable action
  • Solid protection against water
  • Incredible drag capacity


  • Quite pricey
  • A little heavy

Bottom Line:

Indeed the Penn Slammer III 5500 doesn’t rank the highest in spinning real features, but when it comes to high-quality construction and the ability to reel in big fish, it excels.

5. Shimano Socorro SOC8000SW 

Shimano Socorro SOC8000SW

Whether you’re looking for an inshore or an offshore spinning reel, the Shimano Socorro SOC8000SW is going to gain your approval.

It has a robust construction that makes it durable. And if you take good care of it, it’s guaranteed to last long.

With Hagane cold-forged gearing, you’ll get consistent precision, strength, and smoothness.

Furthermore, the X-Ship technology results in perfect gear alignment even when under heavy loads.

Compared to the rest of the reels on the list, the bearings on the Shimano Socorro SOC8000SW are too few. You could go for cheaper options that have more than 5 bearings.

On top of that, the bearings are not shielded, so it’s not as corrosion-resistant as other options.

It does come with a cross carbon drag washer to keep your experience as smooth as possible.

I also didn’t like the fact that it weighs a whole 22.6 ounces and has a 27-pounds drag capacity.

The Shimano Socorro SOC8000SW’s gear ratio is 4.9:1 and it retrieves 37 inches of line per a single crank.


  • Good value for the price
  • Strong and robust design


  • Saltwater protection may need improvement
  • Ball bearings are not sealed

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a good Shimano saltwater spinning reel, this one is an excellent place to start. You can use it for anything, including jigging or going after big catches. However, I wouldn’t use it for heavy-duty saltwater fishing as it’s not entirely sealed.

6. Penn Spinfisher V 3500 

Penn Spinfisher V 3500


If you’re looking for a versatile reel, you’ll be satisfied with what the Penn Spinfisher V 3500 has to offer.

It comes sealed with rubber gaskets in every opening, so it’s water-proof.

So even if you don’t thoroughly clean your reel after every use, it’ll still last a long time with you.

It’s not too heavy at 14.4 ounces, and it can still reel in 20-pound fish.

Moreover, it does so at a fast pace with its 6.2:1 gear ratio and 30-inch retrieval rate.

It’s not the smoothest, but the 6 bearings on it provide it with the needed flow.

Plus, the techno-balanced rotor provides the reel with a smooth retrieve.

The HT-100 slammer drag system uses keyed carbon washers to make the reel smooth and durable.

Another impressive feature about the Penn Spinfisher V 3500 is that it has an aluminum bail wire that doesn’t bend or warp with impact.


  • Water-proof design
  • Superb drag
  • Great line lay
  • Quality finish
  • Top-notch braking system


  • Not 100% water-proof
  • Not suitable for heavy use

Bottom Line

For its price, the Penn Spinfisher V 3500 is an exceptional reel. Although it’s a saltwater spinning reel under 200 bucks, it feels like a high-end reel.

That’s because it’s smooth, reliable, and sturdy. It’s a great bang for your buck.

What is a Saltwater Reel

A simple way to describe a saltwater reel is that it’s a completely sealed reel.

Its components should be durable and corrosion-resistant.

Moreover, its bearings should be sealed against any salt, dirt, or grime.

Can Any Reel Be Used in Saltwater?

Fishing in saltwater with a reel that isn’t rated for it isn’t impossible. However, I don’t recommend it.

But if you do, make sure you rinse the reel very thoroughly afterward. Otherwise, you’ll compromise its durability.

How to Pick a Spinning Reel for Saltwater?

Choose a Sealed Model

As I’ve mentioned above, for a reel to qualify as a saltwater one, it should be sealed with durable components.

This is to ensure that its construction will be able to withstand the rough circumstances of saltwater such as dirt, sand, and above all, salt.

Reel Construction

Speaking of the components, your reel’s housing or body can be made of either aluminum or graphite or a combination of both.

Since you’ll be fishing in saltwater, you should get one with a graphite body.

This is because an aluminum one would be more prone to corrosion and rust.

And while aluminum bodies are stronger and don’t flex as much, graphite ones are much lighter and more suitable for longer fishing sessions.

Finally, make sure your reel has sealed stainless steel bearings to get more durability and the best performance in saltwater.

Reel Size

Since you’ll be fishing in saltwater, you’ll probably be aiming for bigger fish.

Accordingly, you should pick a bigger-size reel that can handle the weight of those fish.

Make sure that the maximum drag of your chosen reel would be sufficient for the types of fish you’ll be fighting against.

The size of the line you use also affects how big your reel should be. The heavier the line, the bigger the reel should be.

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio refers to the number of times the bail rotates around the spool with each crank.

For example, if your reel’s gear ratio is 4:1, the bail would rotate 4 times around the spool when you turn the handle once.

A smaller gear ratio provides you with extra torque to reel in bigger fish. Contrarily, a bigger ratio suits high-speed fishing when you’re trying to catch small to medium-size fish.

Drag System

Drag systems are responsible for applying pressure on a fish when it’s hooked to your line.

They also help release the line during battles.

Furthermore, drag systems impact the frequency of your line breaking.

That’s why you should invest in a high-quality drag system that gives you smooth and uninterrupted performance.

Ball Bearings

Ball bearings or bushings are found within the body of the reel to provide it with support, stability, and smoothness.

When it comes to ball bearings, the more is always the merrier.

4 bearings is the least you can settle for on a reel, but as the number increases, the smoother the performance will be.

Investing in more ball bearings is always the better choice as this will have a massive impact on your fishing experience.

Final Thoughts

You should definitely refer to the different features to decide which one is the best saltwater spinning reel for you.

Generally, I’d recommend the KastKing Sharky III 5000 for the ultimate combination of everything. It’s affordable, lightweight, can drag big fish, performs very smoothly, and can keep up with any fishing you choose to do.

If budget isn’t an issue for you and you’re looking to catch bigger fish, go for the Penn Slammer III 5500 as it has the most impressive drag capacity.

The Penn Battle II 2500 Model is another good all-round option, especially for someone who’s looking for a lightweight reel for their longer fishing sessions.

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