Every angler knows that fishing trips are hardly ever short quests, and usually, they involve long hours of waiting for a fish to get hooked as well as a lot of persistence to reel it in and land it.
A lightweight reel would be beneficial in many ways, be it decreasing the weight you have to handle while reeling in a fish, reducing the weight of the equipment you’re taking on board, or even allowing for more mobility thanks to the reduced weight.
For this reason, an ultralight spinning reel is a crucial addition in your fishing arsenal, and on this list, I’ve gathered the very best ultralight spinning reels on the market.
At a Glance:
- KastKing Sharky III – Best Overall
- Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB – Most Durable
- Okuma Ceymar C-10 – Most Lightweight
- KastKing Summer/Centron 500 – Budget Choice
- Penn Battle II 1000 – Easiest to Handle
- Daiwa BG 1500 – Best for Freshwater
|Weight||Bearings||Drag Power||Gear Ratio|
KastKing Sharky III
|6.9 ounces||10+1||33 lbs.||5.2:1|
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB
Okuma Ceymar C-10
|5.9 ounces||6+1||6.6 lbs.||5.0:1|
KastKing Summer/Centron 500
|5.9 ounces||9+1||11 lbs.||
Penn Battle II 1000
|8.1 ounces||5+1||9 lbs.||5.2:1|
Daiwa BG 1500
|8.5 ounces||6+1||4.4 lbs.||5.6:1|
The 6 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels in 2021
1. KastKing Sharky III – Best Overall
The KastKing Sharky III spinning reel comes with stainless steel housing, which helps prevent rust and corrosion from damaging the reel and increases its durability. There are many detailed features like the precision manganese brass alloy inner tools, fiber strengthened frame, and aluminum spool that works on making the reel more efficient, strong, and powerful.
It is an ultralight reel as it only weighs 6.9 ounces. The durable and robust build, coupled with the lightweight design means that you can use it for an extended period without your arms getting tired or worrying about any possible damage.
Moreover, this lightweight reel is extremely powerful as it comes with a drag system made from a firm triple disc carbon fiber, which can easily aid you in catching fish up to 33 pounds. The precision mesh manganese brass pinions gear and the large stainless steel main shaft provide you with a very efficient experience and give the reel incredible stability.
The reel comes with the impressive KastKing Intrusion Shield System (K.I.S.S) feature, a water-resistant design that protects the rotor. The K.I.S.S function assists the spool in draining the water out and protects it from dirt and dust particles, which gives the already durable reel more long-lasting features.
Aiding the smoothness of the reel’s operation are the ten double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings and an anti-twist line roller that eliminates the problem of your line getting twisted and coiled upon itself.
- Affordable price
- Corrosion-resistant and very durable
- Suitable for fresh and saltwater
- Great drag power
- Very lightweight
- Quiet and smooth operation
- Feels a little bulky
- Line retrieval could be smoother
The KastKing Sharky III is a very impressive ultralight spinning reel. It has a durable and robust structure with a powerful drag system that can catch fish up to 33 pounds, all without compromising its lightness at only 6.9 ounces.
2. Shimano Stradic CI4+ 4000 XG FB – Most Durable
The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB comes with a new innovative design and a Magnumlite rotor that makes the Ci4+ 25% lighter in weight. The body is made from carbon fiber and weighs 8.1 ounces, and while it isn’t the lightest, it’s still a lightweight reel despite being sturdily built.
It’s quite powerful, with a maximum drag of 24 pounds, which means you can go after the big fish without worrying that your arms might get tired or that the reel won’t handle it. Combine this with its gear ratio of 6.2:1 and the ability to retrieve 39 inches of line per crank, and you get quick action besides a robust and durable reel.
Moreover, the spool is made from aluminum, and the drive gears are hard hagane, which increases the spool’s strength and stability. Also, contributing to its increased accuracy and smoothness are the X-ship components.
The G-Free body design brings the center of gravity of the reel closer to your hands, minimizing fatigue as much as possible, and providing you with maximum comfort. What’s more, the coating of the 360-degree CoreProtect makes it water-resistant to give it more durability.
Finally, it’s equipped with six S A-RB shielded stainless steel ball bearings so that salt and dirt can’t get through into your reel. Also, there are two Shimano A-RB roller bearings to support the pinion gear and a Super Stopper II anti-reverse switch to guarantee that the reel is smooth and stable.
- Great line management
- Lightweight and easily portable
- Saltwater resistant
- Suitable for big fish
- Smooth and powerful drag
- Very durable
- The anti-reverse switch is a bit small
- High price tag
The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB is an impressive spinning reel that combines power, speed, and durability. Despite being lightweight, it can land big fish, which makes it the perfect ultralight spinning reel for sea fishing trips.
3. Okuma Ceymar C-10 – Most Lightweight
The Okuma Ceymar C-10 spinning reel has a housing mostly made from graphite, which minimizes the reel’s weight to reach only 5.9 ounces, consequently making it the most lightweight reel on this list.
The C-10 has a gear ratio of 5.0:1, so it is not the fastest one around. Compared to its very little size, the maximum drag of the reel is 6.6 pounds, which is an acceptable drag.
What gives it a relatively strong drag is the multi-disk drag system, as the reel uses multiple washers and drag wheels in addition to oil-filled components. This drag system gives the reel more stability and more consistent drag power, even over a smaller surface area.
In addition to graphite, this reel also features corrosion-resistant materials such as metal, aluminum, and alloys in its design to be able to extend its longevity. However, despite being designed to minimize corrosion, this reel isn’t salt water-resistant. Using it in sea or saltwater lakes will require more frequent maintenance to ensure that it keeps its quality.
Moreover, the spool is made from machined aluminum so it won’t wear out easily with constant use. Inside the reel, there’s a 6-ball bearing drive system that provides the reel with its smooth operation by reducing friction.
It also allows you to cast your line further with more accuracy and employs an anti-reverse roller bearing that prevents any back play.
- Affordable price
- Very lightweight
- Easy to use
- Smooth operation
- Not as smooth as higher-end reels
- Slower gear ratio
- Saltwater can cause damage
The Okuma Ceymar C-10 is the most lightweight spinning reel on this list, weighing only 5.9 ounces. While it might not be the strongest or the fastest reel, it’s the ideal choice to catch smaller fish, especially if you prefer freshwater trips.
4. KastKing Summer/Centron 500 – Budget Choice
If you’re on the look for a budget choice that will still do the job perfectly and beyond, then you would want to consider the KastKing Summer/Centron 500. With both uniquely constructed with sleek designs, the Centron reels come in black while the Summer reels come in white, both with a polished and attractive finish, all on budget.
The reel’s frame is made out of solid graphite that is corrosion-resistant, and thanks to that, the reel is very lightweight. The Centron reel is only 6.9 ounces while the Summer reel is 7.3 ounces. This means that you can go on longer fishing trips without tiring your arm. And since the shaft is made from hardened metal, both reels are durable and strong.
Both reels have a 5.2:1 gear ratio and a maximum drag of 11 pounds, so they’re ideal for catching smaller fish, which is perfect if you are fishing on a canoe or a kayak as you would have tighter space to storage space.
Nine-ball bearings and one instant stop one-way anti-reverse bearing aid the reel’s performance, making it very smooth and easy to use. Moreover, the two-color anodized aluminum spool comes with an integrated Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology that allows the reel to give you a precise line-lay.
Finally, the reels also come with an interchangeable handle that can be switched by pushing a button, so besides being lightweight, they allow you to switch arms during fishing in order not to strain your muscles.
- Affordable price
- Left and right interchangeable handle
- CNC machined aluminum spool
- Sleek design and unique construction
- Smooth performance
- Lightweight graphite body
- Require rinsing after every use
- Not ideal for saltwater use
The KastKing Summer/Centron 500 spinning reels are lightweight and are easily portable. They come with an affordable price, sleek design with a strong graphite build, and a CNC machined aluminum spool. They’re ideal for fishing trips on a small boat or a kayak.
5. Penn Battle II 1000 – Easiest to Handle
The Penn Battle II 1000 comes in a full metal body, side plate, and rotor that allow it to function smoothly under heavy pressure. This metal build combined with the heavy-duty aluminum bail wire can make the reel feel slightly heavier, but the reel is actually a lightweight one, weighing only 8.1 ounces.
Admittedly, however, it’s one of the relatively heavier reels on the list as it’s about 2 ounces heavier than the lightest choice on this list, the Okuma Ceymar C-10.
The Penn Battle II 1000 has a 5.1:1 gear ratio. Its lightweight design works together with the strong and durable metal build to give you a tireless experience, with the high tech (HT) 100 carbon fiber drag system that offers you a powerful 9-pound drag capability.
It also comes with smooth operation, increasing the pressure of the drag up to 20%. The new carbon fiber washer also helps extend the reel’s longevity, and provides the smooth drag.
The reel comes with five stainless steel ball bearings that are sealed to give the reel more protection from erosion, dust, and grime, making it very suitable for saltwater fishing trips. There is also an instant anti-reverse bearing that eliminates the back play when you set the hook and makes casting much easier.
Finally, it comes with a superline spool, which is braid-ready and requires no backing. Also, the spool has line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity, so you will always know how much of the line you have remaining on the spool.
- Suitable for fresh and saltwater
- Great for flipping
- High durability
- Superline spool
- HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers
- Line capacity rings
- Smooth drag
- Anti-reverse and no backlash
- Over greased
- Not fully sealed
The Penn Battle II 1000 comes in a robust metal body, with a lightweight design that makes it very portable. The combination of the structure and weight is also great for providing you with an ultralight reel, which you can use for an extended period without getting tired.
6. Daiwa BG 1500 – Best for Freshwater
The housing of the Daiwa BG1500 is made from black anodized machined aluminum, which works on protecting the reel more from scrapes and bumps as well as increases its resistance to corrosion.
The BG1500 has a weight of 8.5 ounces, so it is one of the heavier reels on the list, but it is still ultralight compared to the general average.
For its weight, the Daiwa BG 15000 has a maximum drag of 4.4 pounds, which might limit you to smaller fish, and seems a little disproportionate with the reel’s own weight.
Its gear ratio is 5.6:1, and it comes with an infinite-reverse system to reduce the probability of backlashing when setting the hook.
However, the slightly heavier weight serves to maximize the stability of operation, the smoothness of drag and gives you near-silent operation, which makes it perfect for freshwater trips. There are also six rust-resistant six stainless steel ball bearings to make the casts and drags even smoother.
The design allows more teeth to come in contact with each other thanks to the over-sized Digigear, which reduces stress. Since the pressure on the teeth is not that much at any given time, this significantly extends the reel’s life and provides you with a smoother line retrieve.
The ABS spool is made from dynamically cut aluminum that offers you a tangle-free experience and great line cast-ability, with the line flowing on and off the spool evenly. The carbon ATD drag system gives you a drag that is smooth and helps the reel stay stable.
The solid screw-in handle eliminates the play between the handle arm and the main gear, so the handle’s cranking has a substantial feel. And with the air rotor design, the stress is distributed across the entire reel, which gives it more balance.
- Comes with soft handles
- Comfortable to use and very smooth
- Rarely backlashes
- High precision
- The body is anodized, but the spool is painted
- Limited to catching smaller fish
- No reel auto-return
You’ll have a smooth and tireless experience with the Daiwa BG 1500. Although it might not seem like the best option at first glance due to its limited maximum drag and slightly heavier weight, the design and the features of the reel and the spool give it so much balance and power.
What to Look for When Buying an Ultralight Spinning Reel
Whether you’re a beginner looking for a simple reel or a pro looking for a lightweight spinning reel for mobility purposes, there are certain things that you have to consider when shopping for a spinning reel. And I’ve gathered the important aspects in this little help section to clarify them for you.
1. Body and Weight
The reel housing is usually made from two materials: aluminum or graphite. Some reels utilize a combination of both materials.
Graphite housing is usually lighter than the aluminum housing, but the aluminum housing is more durable and stronger than the graphite.
It really depends on the kind of water where you’ll be fishing. In saltwater, graphite would be a better option as aluminum would suffer from rust quickly.
You could opt for a composite or a carbon body if you want to get the best of both worlds.
2. Reel Size
Choosing the fishing line size you intend to use most often will help you choose the size of the reel. In most cases, the bigger the reel size, the bigger the fish it can catch.
This is why you should opt for a bigger and heavier reel if you are going after bigger fish. Of course, that comes with the tax of increased weight.
And this is the main reason you shouldn’t be expecting to land game fish of big species using one of the ultralight spinning reels we’ve recommended.
3. Gear Ratio
The gear ratio is the number of rotations by the bail around the spool when you turn the reel’s handle.
It relates to how fast you can cast and retrieve the line, and you’ll need a higher number with fish that tend to run and hide from attacks or ones that put up ferocious fights.
You should also look for line recovery, the number of inches that are retrieved with every single turn of the reel handle.
4. Drag System
Applying pressure to a hooked fish and letting out the line is the drag system’s responsibility for the spinning reel. The higher the drag system’s quality, the smoother and faster you can retrieve the line, plus you get reduced chances of a broken line.
There is a front drag system and a rear drag system. Generally, this refers to the location of the system’s controls. The difference is that the front drag features multiple large drag washers to increase durability and performance. On the other hand, rear drag systems usually have easier access to their controls.
5. Ball Bearings
You will find the ball bearings inside the body of the reel. Their main purpose is to increase the reel’s smoothness and provide you with more stability and support. Usually, there’s also a roller bearing within the line roller.
And that’s why you should opt for the highest number of bearings that your budget can afford.
Although the six recommendations I’ve listed can all be considered the best ultralight spinning reels, there are a few ones that truly stand out with the combination of features and top-notch operation they have to offer.
The KastKing Sharky III is an ideal choice if you’re looking for a combination of durability, smoothness, and the highest maximum drag capacity you can get on an ultralight spinning reel.
If what you care about the most is buying the lightest spinning reel available, then the Okuma Ceymar C-10 is the one. It only weighs only 5.9 ounces, so it comes second to none when it comes to being lightweight.
However, I would recommend the Shimano Stradic CI4+ 4000 XG FB as it combines many of the good aspects of the other reels into one. These include lightness, smoothness, and high maximum drag capacity. Despite being a little pricey, it’s one of the most durable reels you can get.