Saltwater Fishing Tips, Tricks & Techniques

saltwater fishing tips and tricks

If you’re going to set out to sea, you need to learn a couple of things to do your fishing optimally.

In this guide, we’ll tell you all you need to know about hooks, lures, techniques, lines, and saltwater spinning reels.

Tips on How to Fish in Saltwater

Know Your Environment

The first thing you should be aware of is the difference between freshwater and saltwater fishing.

If you’re fishing in saltwater, your reel, line guides, and any metallic hardware attached to the rod are all prone to corrosion and rust that greatly reduces the efficiency of your equipment.

Don’t stress too much about this though. You can easily extend the longevity of your fishing equipment by washing it down with fresh water every time you’re back from a saltwater fishing trip.

Finishing up by spraying the reel with silicon-based lubricants like WD-40 also helps extend its durability.

Although saltwater spinning reels usually have a sturdier build than ones designated for freshwater fishing, you still should do your part in keeping it functional.

Keep Your Hook and Bait in Proportion

Always make sure your hook size is close to the size of the bait you plan to use.

If it’s too big, it’ll look out of place and deter the fish away.

If it’s too small, a fish could miss the hook during a strike and run away with the bait.

Generally, the best hooks you can use in saltwater are the J hook, the live bait hook, and the circle hook.

J hooks are best for fishing with strip bait or chunk bait and enable you to apply multiple hooks to the bait to secure it.

On the other hand, live bait hooks allow your bait to swim freely to give off a natural air that induces a lot of strikes from hungry fish.

And finally, circle hooks are best for hooking in the corner of your catch instead of going to deep into its gullet. This is very beneficial when it comes to releasing the fish without inflicting any damage on it.

A Weak Knot is Not a Reliable Knot

Learning to tie strong knots is crucial when it comes to keeping your main line connected to your hook or lure, and consequently crucial to catching big saltwater fish.

You can use the double Palomar for its ease of tying and reliability. The uni knot is another good choice as it’s firm, easy to tie, and versatile. The Bimini twist is great because it maintains all of its strength when ties.

Use The Tides To Your Favor

It’s always a wise choice to arrive at your fishing spot around an hour before the scheduled peak of the high tide and continue fishing for around half an hour from then on.

Test The Drag

After threading your line through the guides, pull it off gradually while holding the rod at about 45 degrees.

If the tip of the rod moves up and done as you pull the line against the drag, you should have it checked at the tackle shop.

Test The Guides for Cracks

Detecting cracked guides is a bit of a tough job as you can only tell if the rod is under load.

Pull a piece of cotton wool or stocking through the guides to check for any cracks and send your rod to the tackle shop if you do find any so that you avoid any damage to your lines.

Make Use of The locals’ Knowledge

The local tackle fish would probably have info regarding the area you plan to fish in. They’ll provide you with the best strategies and the best baits to use at the time of the year.

Explore Sunken Objects

You should get yourself informed on the places and structures your fish like to hang out around.

You can find a lot of information on the internet that guides you to both natural and artificial structures in the area you’re fishing in.

Find The Right Boat

A boat is a pretty important factor when it comes to saltwater fishing. Depending on the number of people that are going to be on the trip, you can be in a simple rowboat or in a yacht.

Make sure you’re on a sturdy boat that won’t be too affected by strong waves, some rocks, or bumps on the beach sand.

Best Spinning Reels 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

Best Spinning Reels

Spinning reels are the most common kind of reel you can find. They range from high-quality to budget-friendly.

If you’re looking for freshwater reels or saltwater reels, the cheapest, most efficient, or ultralight reels, in this article, we’ll review the best spinning reels on the market and provide you with a helpful buying guide.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to purchase your first spinning reel or a pro that’s looking to upgrade, you’re going to find this guide useful.

The 11 Best Spinning Reels for 2019

Spinning Reel

Gear Ratio

Weight 

Bearings

Shimano Stradic Ci4+

6.0:1

6.7 oz

6+1

Abu Garcia Revo SX

6.2:1

6.6 oz

9

Pflueger President XT

6.2:1

8 oz

10

Shimano Stradic HG

6.0:1

8.3 oz

6+1

Penn Spinfisher V & VI

6.2:1

10.7 oz

5+1

Shimano Stella FI

6.4:1

8 oz

13+1

Penn Pursuit II & III

5.2:1

9.8 oz

4+1

KastKing Sharky III

5.1:1

11 oz

10+1

Okuma Ceymar 

5.0:1

10 oz

7+1

Penn Battle II

5.2:1

8.1 oz

5+1

Daiwa BG 3000

5.6:1

10.8 oz

6+1

Top Rated Spinning Reels Reviews

1. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB

Shimano Stradic CI4 Spinning Reel

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB’s innovative design and utilization of a Magnumlite (MGL) rotor make it 25% lighter than previous models.

Starting and stopping your retrieve is extremely easy, so you’ll need less inertia to operate the reel, which makes it very smooth.

The center of gravity of the reel has been moved nearer to your hand’s position as it’s closer to the rod.

This improvement maximizes your comfort and minimizes the fatigue and strain on your wrist thanks to the G-Free body design.

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB’s design emphasizes your feeling of the strike as well as the fight against your catch.

Moreover, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB is capable of enduring all different situations and different kinds of weather.

This is thanks to its advanced CoreProtect 360-degree water resistance that extends the durability and longevity of the reel.

The fact that its body is made of carbon fiber makes it super light at just 6.7 ounces –a lightness that is typically found on higher-end and more expensive reels.

Its gear ratio is 6:1 and it retrieves 35 inches of line per crank. This makes it great for quick action.

It gives you plenty of room to fish for bigger-sized fish as it can handle drags up to 20 pounds.

The cold forged aluminum spool and super-hard Hagane drive gears make it more powerful and beat the die-cast aluminum or graphite ones without compromising the smoothness or fluidity of the reel, even under bigger loads.

Furthermore, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB comes with X-ship components that provide it with more accuracy and a smoother gear system with a bearing on the pinion.

This addition is very helpful when you’re fighting against more stubborn fish.

The pinion gear is supported by 2 Shimano A-RB roller bearings that increase the stability of the reel and decrease the gear twist as well as the deflection of the rotor.

In addition, the 6 S A-RB shielded stainless steel ball bearings prevent any salt, dirt, or water from getting into your reel.

So you can take your Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB fishing in saltwater with no worries.

The Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB also has a Super Stopper II anti-reverse switch that ensures the most solid hook sets and eliminates any back play.

Pros:

  • Amazing line management
  • Almost completely water-resistant
  • Smooth operation
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons:

  • Can be a little expensive for some
  • The anti-reverse switch could be a bit bigger

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB is generally a superb reel. Combining lightness, strength, durability, affordability, and smoothness, it provides you with great value for your money.

2. Abu Garcia Revo SX

Abu Garcia Revo SX Reel

The Abu Garcia Revo SX comes with 8 stainless steel ball bearings and a roller bearing that work together to maximize its smoothness of operation.

Thanks to its IM-C6 body design and its graphite rotor, the Abu Garcia Revo SX weighs only 6.66 ounces but still has the capacity to drag 11 pounds.

This enables you to easily catch medium-sized fish with it like Trouts.

Moreover, the Abu Garcia Revo SX comes with a Rocket Line management system and a Rocket spool lip design as well as a machined aluminum braid ready spool.

It also comes with a Flat EVA knob that ensures a solid and comfortable grip on your reel that helps you last through longer fishing sessions.

Furthermore, the K-Clutch anti-reverse helps you secure your hook sets.

The Abu Garcia Revo SX has a gear ratio of 6.2:1 which makes it great for quick retrievals –especially with the 33-35 inches of line per crank.

The brake system on the Revo SX uses magnets which absolutely eliminates backlash during battles. It also guarantees a quiet performance with no noise.

The alloy frame provides it with resistance against corrosion and its carbon handle side plates, housing, and body materials extend both its power, durability, and lightness.

In addition, the Abu Garcia Revo SX integrates a Carbon-Matrix technology into the hybrid drag system that consists of a group of carbon washers that work on maintaining the consistency of the drag pressure.

Pros:

  • 9-ball bearing system ensures smoothness
  • Magnetic brake system
  • Portability
  • Both left and right-handed retrieve

Cons:

  • A bit pricey compared to rivals

The Abu Garcia Revo SX is an ideal reel for freshwater fishing. Its strength qualifies it to be used to catch tough fish.

You can even use it in saltwater if you thoroughly wash it before storing it for the next fishing trip.

3. Pflueger President XT 

Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel

The Pflueger President XT SP35X is made with high-quality components and integrates some effective fishing features.

The Pflueger President XT SP35X’s gear ratio is 6.2:1 while its mono line capacity is 185 yards per 8 pounds, its retrieve rate is 35 inches per crank, and its maximum drag capacity is 9.10 pounds.

It comes with a sealed drag system that features sealed drag washers which are well-lubricated to provide you with smooth performance.

This smooth performance is further extended by the bearing system that has corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings

Moreover, its main shaft is made of aluminum so it’s 30% lighter than stainless steel ones and is quite durable and stable. The aluminum pinion gear is also 60% lighter than traditional brass gear.

The Pflueger President XT SP35X comes with a braid ready spool that allows the braid to be tied directly to the spool.

Finally, its anti-reverse switch works on securing your hook sets and the rubber cork knob ensures a comfortable, no-slip grip.

Pros:

  • Satisfactory maximum drag
  • Fast and smooth performance
  • Good value for the money
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • ​Not suitable for saltwater fishing

The Pflueger President XT SP35X’s is a great spinning reel for freshwater fishing, whether you’re doing it inshore or offshore.

It can handle a good range of weights and provides you with the smoothness and stability you need.

4. Shimano Stradic HG

Shimano Stradic HG Spinning Reel

The Shimano Stradic HG comes with a premium quality Hagane body that makes it durable and rigid to withstand any situations.

Its housing isn’t 100% metal which makes the precision engineering process easier to produce a smoother reel.

The Shimano Stradic HG integrates X-ship that increases the accuracy of the gear system by placing a bearing on the pinion.

Bringing the pinion gear closer to the center line of the large diameter drive gear channels the power to the rotor instead of the handle, thereby maximizing the efficiency of the reel.

The Shimano Stradic 2500 HG’s gear ratio is 6:1, its line retrieval rate is 35 inches per crank, and it only weighs 8.3 ounces.

Its twists and deflections are minimized thanks to the two Shimano A-RB roller bearings that provide the reel with stability.

The fact that it's treated with Coreprotect ensures a 360-degree resistance against corrosion and protection from all weather conditions.

Furthermore, the line management on the Shimano Stradic HG is perfectly functional thanks to the clever AR-C cold forged spool design that has a smooth lip which reduces line twists and wind knots.

Pros:

  • ​​​​Smooth casting
  • Amazing line management and line capacity
  • Fluid drag and rotor
  • Great gear system

Cons:

  • Heavy compared to reels of the same size
  • The highest drag range sometimes reduces the smoothness of operation

The Shimano Stradic HG is an affordable reel for the features and performance it has to offer. Its line management and gear systems are great and easy to use, so it’s great for beginners as well as pros.

5. Penn Spinfisher V & VI

Penn Spinfisher V & VI Spinning Reels

Both the Penn Spinfisher V and VI have protection against water. The former has a water design using 5 sealed or shielded stainless steel ball bearings and a sealed drag system while the latter has an IPX5 sealed body and spool design with 5 + 1 sealed stainless steel ball bearings.

Both models also have the reliable sealed HT-100 slammer drag systems where the Spinfisher V uses keyed carbon washer instead of felt ones to give you the most stable performance while the VI utilizes carbon fiber drag washers that give you a stopping power that is more than enough to stop big fish like bass from escaping with your line.

Their full metal bodies, side plate, and techno balanced rotors provide you with durability and smoothness.

While the superline spool incorporates rubber inlayed into the spool so you can directly connect it to a braid of your choice without having to back it with mono and has capacity rings to keep you aware of how much line you still have left.

The only way the Spinfisher VI is superior to the V is that it starts at a smaller size (2500 while the V starts at 3500) and that it has CNC gear technology that makes the gear system more precise.

Pros:

  • Superb HT-100 slammer drag
  • High-quality finish
  • Great braking system

Cons:

  • May not be the most durable in terms of paint jobs and the tightness of the components

Whether you’re opting for the Penn Spinfisher V or VI, you’re guaranteed a bang for your buck.

6. Shimano Stella FI

Shimano Stella FI Reel

The improved corrosion resistant bearings on the Shimano Stella FI High-Speed Spinning Reel provide it with smoothness while the MicroModule gear system provides it with an enhanced gear alignment, more power, and torque.

It has a solid alloy frame and carbon side plates, a new D2 gear design, solid braking design, titanium line guide, a compact bent carbon handle, and a solid grip EVA knob.

Moreover, the G-Free body moves the oscillation system down below the drive gear and closer to the center of the reel to improve its balance and eliminate any wobbling.

The Shimano Stella FI is provided with protection against water and corrosion with the Coreprotect coating. This greatly extends its longevity.

Finally, the S-Direct drive system enhances the power transfer and minimizes wear and tear on critical parts.

The anti-reverse system also reduces friction and facilitates the rotation of the handle.

Pros:

  • High-quality, durable materials
  • Capable of providing strong torque for bigger fish
  • Very smooth and balanced

Cons:

  • Substandard drag power
  • Not the most affordable

The Shimano Stella FI’s durable components, strength, and stability qualify it to be one of the best spinning reels on the market –as long as you’re not on a very tight budget.

7. Penn Pursuit II & III

Penn Pursuit II & III Spinning Reels

Both the Penn Pursuit II and III have graphite bodies and rotors that provide them with lightness besides their durability.

However, they’re still a bit heavy compared to other rivals as the lightest model of the II is 11.9 ounces and the III is 9.8 ounces.

Their metal side plate provides them with extended durability while the machined and anodized aluminum spool provides them with precision and a perfectly smooth line release.

This smoothness is extended thanks to the 4 +1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings.

The line capacity rings also mark the amount of line you have left at 1/3, 2/3, and full line capacity.

Penn integrates oiled felt drag systems on their reels to maximize the smoothness of their operation and extends their maximum drags up to 20-25 pounds.

Moreover, the instant anti-reverse ensures your hook sets are solid and with no back play in the handle.

Pros:

  • Great price point
  • Trustworthy brand
  • Reliable drag system
  • Smooth bearings

Cons:

  • A bit heavy
  • Not sealed
  • Lacks the HT-100 drag system

The Penn Pursuit II and III come at great price points and provide the user with smooth bearings and reliable drag systems.

Although they’re a bit heavier than rivals and may succumb to corrosion as they’re not completely sealed. However, if you take good care of them, they’ll last long with you.

8. KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III

KastKing Sharky III Spin Reel

The KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III is a very affordable reel that delivers more than what you’d expect out of a reel at such a low price point.

It comes with both the front and rear drag functions. The triple disc carbon fiber drag washers can drag up to 17.6 pounds without compromising the smoothness.

The 10 + 1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings provide the reel with seamless performance. Its gear ratio is 5.1:1 gear ratio, weighs 11 ounces and has a stainless steel main shaft.

Moreover, its CNC aluminum Shark Fin braid ready spool has a graphite body that makes it corrosion-resistant.

The spare high strength graphite spool and computer balanced rotor make its weight lighter and its line alignment uniform.

Pros:

  • Smooth Drag
  • Sleek design
  • Very budget-friendly
  • Comfortable sure grip T-handle

Cons:

  • Only suitable for smaller fish

The KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III is a great reel that doesn’t break your budget and offers you everything you would look for in a reel.

Its only drawback is that it can’t handle bigger-sized fish, but if you’re going to fish for small to medium sized fish, it’ll serve you well.

9. Okuma Ceymar Lightweight

Okuma Ceyma Lightweight Spinning Reel

The Okuma Ceymar comes with a cyclonic flow rotor design that allows more air flow to get into the ported rotor and prevents water from invading your reel, leading to its rust and corrosion.

Its gear alignment is quite accurate and provides you with the maximum casting ability and the highest durability. This durability is extended by the graphite body that’s corrosion-resistant.

The gearing system works on reducing the friction and increasing the casting distance while giving you more accuracy.

It also makes the performance smooth and while maintaining a uniform drag pressure.

The Okuma Ceymar lightweight has 7BB and 1RB bearings. Its gear ratio is 5:1, its maximum drag is about 13 pounds, and it weighs 10 ounces.

It’s not the lightest reel around, but it combines several great features.

The handle is made of zinc diecast to provide you with strength and torque.

Pros:

  • Resists corrosion
  • Durability
  • Great value for the money

Cons:

  • Not suitable for saltwater unless you go the extra mile taking care of it

The Okuma Ceymar Lightweight is one of the best spinning reels you can get for under 50 dollars.

10. Penn Battle II

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

The enhanced paint quality gives the reel protection against saltwater spray that may lead to corrosion.

The sealed stainless steel ball bearings provide further protection against water intrusion and corrosive factors.

Furthermore, the Penn Battle II employs the HT-100 drag that uses carbon fiber drag washers like the ones found on the higher-end Penn Conflict. Using both sides of the drag washer increases the possible drag up to 20%.

The line capacity rings on the spool always let you know how much line you have left on the spool. The rubber inlay also enables you to spool directly with a braided line without having to back it with mono.

Pros:

  • Affordability of price
  • Solid build quality
  • Effective drag system

Cons:

  • Relatively heavy
  • Prone to wind knots

The Penn Battle II comes with a lot of size options to suit all your fishing needs. Although its prone to wind knots, its build quality is solid and it has an effective drag system.

11. Daiwa BG 3000

Daiwa BG 3000 Spinning Reel

The Daiwa BG 3000 has an anodized aluminum body that beats the painted one and extends the durability of the reel.

The oversized Digigear system makes space for more teeth to come in contact at any point in time which means your retrieve will be a lot smoother.

It also increases the torque and gives you more power to reel in larger fish.

Furthermore, the Daiwa BG 3000 has an air rotor design that’s 15% lighter than conventional ones and that maintains the reel’s balance while distributing the stress across it.

The ABS spool has a dynamic cut that extends the reel’s castability and the seamless flow of the line.

Moreover, the Daiwa BG 3000 comes with a carbon ATD drag system that consists of a group of cross-cut carbon fiber washers that make the drag of the reel as smooth as can be.

The 7 stainless steel ball bearings contribute to this smoothness. Unlike the ones on higher-end Daiwa models, however, they’re not shielded.

Pros:

  • Extremely smooth performance
  • Hard anodized body
  • Powerful drag

Cons:

  • Not the lightest
  • The spool is painted but not anodized

The Daiwa BG 3000 is the best spinning reel you can find if you’re not going to need a fully sealed reel.

How to Choose a Spinning Reel:

When it comes to buying a spinning reel, there are some main things you should consider.

​The Body and Weight

Typically, you’ll find a spinning reel made of aluminum or graphite.

If you’re looking for the durability and strength, go with the aluminum. If you’re looking for the lightweight and portability, go for the graphite.

In other words, if you’re going to be fishing in saltwater and off-shore, you should get an aluminum one as it would endure longer in those circumstances.

If you’re going to fish for long periods of time and move around a lot, go for the lighter graphite ones.

The Size of The Reel

Depending on the fishing line you’ll be using more often, you should pick a matching reel size. A rule of thumb is that the lighter the line is, the smaller the reel should be.

To phrase it in a more tangible way, if the average line you’re going to use is 8 pounds, go for a reel that’s rated for 6, 8, and 10.

Usually, you can find these numbers on the spool or in a chart if you’re shopping online.

The Reel’s Gear Ratio

Depending on the type of fish you’ll be catching, the speed of the battle will be determined. Based on the latter, you should pick the reel’s gear ratio.

The gear ratio is the number of times the bail rotates around the spool with every crank of your handle.

Smaller gear ratios (4:1 or 5:1) should be for the heavier and more stubborn fish. Whereas larger gear ratios (6:1) should be for smaller fish or the ones you can easily catch.

The Drag System

Drag systems are important because they apply pressure to a hooked fish and release the line during battle.

The two types you’ll find are front drag and rear drag. Simply, they refer to the location of the drag controls.

Front drags usually have many large washers the make the reel durable and help it perform better.

On the other hand, rear drags are easier to access –especially during the fights.

The Ball Bearings

Ball bearings provide the reel with smoothness, support, and stability.

The more of these bearings you can find, the smoother the operation of your reel will be. So you should go all out on them.

The Spool

Spools hold your line, control the casting distance, and provide smoothness.

There are two types of spools: internal and skirted.

Internal ones are a little out-dated, however, some models still keep them for the hardcore anglers. The major issue with them is that they can get entangled with the body of the reel.

On the other hand, skirted spools spare you this struggle.

The Anti-Reverse Switch

If your reel has any backward motion, look for a different model.

Anti-reverse switches are important because they prevent the handle from spinning backward in order for your hook sets to be accurate and solid.

Spinning Reels: FAQs

What Type of Line is Best for a Spinning Reel?

What Type of Line is Best for a Spinning Reel?

Well, it depends on the kind of fishing you’ll be doing.

The four types of line are monofilament, copolymer, fluorocarbon, and braid.

Monofilament has a good amount of stretch and delivers strongly-tied knots but doesn’t respond to lighter bites like fluorocarbon.

The copolymer has more or less all the characteristics of monofilament but can endure abrasion a bit better as it’s thicker.

Keeping fluorocarbon clean is quite a challenge because it often springs when you wound it or work it tightly. It doesn’t stretch as much as mono so it’s less visible.

Finally, braid line has the best braking strength. It’s prone to backlash and knotting when you cast, however. It’s pretty visible and resists abrasion well.

What is The Best Ratio for Spinning Reels?

Faster-moving fish or smaller fish should be caught using bigger gear ratios as they’re quicker in action.

On the other hand, bigger or tougher fish should be caught using smaller gear ratios to be able to lure them in gradually.

How To Clean A Spinning Reel?

How to clean a spinning reel?

The outside cleaning is pretty easy. You simply set the spool aside and turn the reel handle to lower the axle.

Then, holding the reel in a way that the interior rotor is away from you, spray with a cleaning spray (like WD-40).

Make sure none of it gets into the rotor housing or on the axle of the spool.

Finally, clean the spray off with a soft towel or a rag.

Interior cleaning can be a tad bit harder. You’ll need to remember what parts you removed and how to get them back into place.

You’ll probably need some Q-tips and toothpicks to reach into the tighter areas.

Remove the handle and the screws that hold the body cover onto the body of the reel.

Usually, all you’ll need to do is apply some grease to the gears by soaking one end of the toothpick in grease and then placing it on the teeth of the gears.

However, if you’ve dropped your reel and you need to remove the gears for further cleaning, make sure you remember the place of everything you remove.

Why Do Spinning Reels Have An Anti-Reverse Switch?

Because anti-reverse switches stop the reel from turning backward and engage the drag. This ensures that your hook sets are secure and solid.

How Does A Spinning Reel Work?

A spinning reel works by employing a fixed line spool with a safeguard and roller framework (or wheel) that goes around the spool to handle and discharge of the fishing line.

This allows you to cast the rod and the line at varying distances to catch differently-sized fish.

Why Are Spinning Reels Left-Handed?

Why Are Spinning Reels Left-Handed?

Many manufacturers are starting to produce ambidextrous spinning reels. They were initially left-handed to make the cranking easier for the prevailing crowd –the right-handed anglers.

Who Makes The Best All Around Spin Reels?

The most well-known and reliable brands on the market are Shimano, Daiwa, Okuma, and Abu Garcia. Penn, KastKing, and Pflueger also hold a good place on the list.

Final Thoughts

With the many options on the market, it’s quite hard to answer the question of which one is the best.

To get the most accurate answer, you have to ask yourself what it’s best relative to.

If you’re looking for the best in terms of speed and efficiency, you should opt for the Pflueger President XT SP35X.

If you’re looking for the best in terms of affordability, the KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III is the way to go.

The Penn Spinfisher V & VI and the Shimano Stella FI are the best overall spinning reels as they combine a lot of great features at an affordable price.

While if you’re looking for the best value spin reels, either of the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB or the Abu Garcia Revo SX would be great for you.

How To Pick The Right Spinning Reel For Your Needs

How to Pick the Right Spinning Reel

No matter how much talent and experience you have, good performance requires good equipment. That’s why a clever angler would look for the best spinning reel before setting out to fish.

An important question to ask before you pick your fishing reel is what kind of fishing will you be doing with it?

The main types of fishing reels are the spin cast, the baitcasting, and the spinning one.

In this article, we’ll be focusing on the latter, and will give you all the tips and tricks you need to pick the best one for you.

What Is a Spinning Reel?

Spinning reels are generally the most popular type of fishing reels. They come with an open-faced design, so they’re easier to use than a baitcasting reel and are more accurate than a spin cast reel.

They’re quite versatile. They also have a great line capacity so you can add a good amount of line on them.

You can also buy one with an extra spool in order to facilitate changing lines while you’re fishing.

The only drawback is that spinning reels can’t handle very heavy weights, so when you require heavier line (20 pounds or more), it may underperform compared to a baitcasting reel.

Spinning reels are also known as open-face reels. They’re mounted to the underside of the fishing rod which makes them excellent for beginners as their line is less likely to get tangled up.

A spinning reel consists of mainly 8 parts: the foot, the handle, the body, the anti-reverse switch, the bail, the line spool, the spool release, the drag adjustment, and line roller.

What to Look For in a Spinning Reel

The Size of The Reel

If you want to pick the optimum reel size, choose it based upon the size of the fishing line you’re going to use most often. The lighter the line, the smaller the reel should be.

A simple way to put it is that if your average line strength is 8-pound test fishing line, a medium-size reel that’s rated for 6, 8, and a 10-pound line would be the optimum choice.

Check the spool of the reel for the numbers to make sure you’re getting the right one (or the product chart if you’re looking online).

The number you’ll find would typically be the middle line capacity. So if it has a “6 LB/ 90 YDS” rating, it would be best suited for 4-pound and 8-pound lines.

Reels are usually classified into 3 categories: small, medium, and large-sized reels.

  1. Small-sized reels range from 1000 (or 10) to 3500 (or 35). They can handle 2 to 10 pounds of mono and 4 to 14 pounds of braid. They’re best suited to fish for smaller fish such as bream, bass, and flathead as well as light fishing in harbors, rivers, and lakes.

  2. Medium-sized reels range from 4000 (or 40) to 5500 (or 55). They can handle 8 to 14 pounds of mono and 8 to 25 pounds of braid. They’re best-suited for lakes, bays, and light off-shore boat fishing and for catching fish like Dummer, Snapper, Morwong, Cod, Bone Fish, Barramundi, and Mulloway.

  3. Large-sized reels range from 6000 (or 60) to 10,500. They can handle mono line from 12 pounds to over 44 pounds and braid from 12 pounds to over 50 pounds. They’re best-suited for beach or rock fishing and boat fishing. They’re great for catching Mulloway, Samson, Kingfish, tuna, Aust Salmon, and Trout.

Body and Weight

The body of the reel (also referred to as the housing) can be made of aluminum or graphite –sometimes a combination of both.

As you’d expect, aluminum housings are stronger than graphite ones and don’t flex as often as graphite ones do.

On the other hand, graphite bodies are lighter.

This makes it a matter of your choice or preference between a stronger reel or a lighter reel.

Freshwater reels of the highest quality typically have aluminum bodies. However, if you’re planning to fish in saltwater, a graphite reel would be better-suited for a saltwater reel and would serve you better because it would be corrosion-resistant.

Whether you’re getting an aluminum or a graphite housing, make sure the body is constructed well.

This means no loose parts and that all mechanical parts should move smoothly and have no back play.

The importance of weight when it comes to picking your spinning reel is because of the fatigue.

Obviously, the less weight you put on your arm when fishing with a lighter reel, the less strain you’ll face. This is a favorable option for people who spend a lot of time fishing.

Make sure that when you’re comparing reel weights, you’re comparing reels of the same size.

The Gear Ratio

The spool on the spinning reel is fixed –unlike the one on casting reels-, and the bail wraps the line onto the spool as you turn the handle.

The gear ratio means the number of times the bail rotates around the spool with each turn of the reel handle.

In essence, a reel with a 4:1 gear ratio will have the bail rotate 4 times around the spool for every single turn of the handle.

A 4:1 is typically a slow-speed reel as the line that is picked up during the crank is not that much. This provides the reel with more torque to handle larger fish.

On the other hand, a 6:1 ratio is a high-speed retrieve reel which is better suited for medium or small-sized fish.

If you’ve got the budget to buy multiple reels with different gear ratios, that would be a better way to cover all situations optimally.

However, if you’re on a tighter budget and can only buy one reel, go for a medium speed model (5:1 gear ratio).

Well-known brands like Shimano will usually offer you reels of different gear ratios to be as convenient as possible.

The Drag System

Drag System for Spinning Reels

The drag system of the spinning reel is a very important factor to pay attention to. The drag is responsible for applying pressure to a hooked fish and the releasing of line during the battle.

If your drag system isn’t of high-quality and smooth performance, the chance of getting broken lines increases.

When you’re buying a reel, make sure that it has a smooth drag. In essence, the line should be pulled out uniformly without hesitation regardless of the tension you set the drag at.

Generally, you get two types of drag system on a spinning reel: a front and a rear drag.

Simply put, these refer to the location of the drag controls. Although there are some differences between the two styles.

Front-drag systems usually have multiple, large drag washers that provide the reel with extended durability and performance that’s superior to rear-drag systems.

On the other hand, rear-drag controls are easier to access –especially during fights. However, they’re inferior when it comes to fighting larger and more stubborn fish.

​The Anti-Reverse Handles of The Reel

Anti-reverse handles are a very important feature on a spinning reel.

These handles work on preventing the handle from spinning backward so that your hook sets are accurate and solid.

Skip any reel with backward motion and look for a different model.

You should also look for reels with larger arms and knobs. This allows you to find the handle quicker and gives you a firmer grip on it.

​The Ball Bearings of The Reel

Ball Bearings of Spinning Reels

Spinning reels come with ball bearings (also called bushings) that are placed within the body to provide the reel with support, stability, and smoothness.

Generally the more the bearings found on a reel, the smoother its performance will be. Sealed stainless steel bearings are also favored over bushings for their extended durability and control.

You should get the reel with the most ball bearings you can afford. The bare minimum should be 4 ball bearings.

The budget shouldn’t be your main concern when it comes to this particular aspect as the smoothness the bearings provide is of utmost importance, so you should invest well in them.

The Spools on The Reel

Spinning Reel Spools

The spool of the reel has three important functions: holding the line, controlling the casting distance, and providing smoothness.

Usually, they’re made of aluminum or graphite, and as aforementioned, if you’re looking for an ultralight spinning reel, you should go for the graphite spool.

Whereas if you’re looking for strength and rigidity, opt for an aluminum spool.

The two spool styles you’ll find are internal or skitted.

Internal ones are a little out-dated but you’ll still find them on some models for the committed anglers. Their drawback is how often they can get entangled within the body of the reel.

Skirted spools, on the other hand, spare you this issue, and that’s why they’ve become more popular.

There’s also a variation of the skirted spool called the “long cast” spool which features a design with helpful benefits. It’s shallower and longer than the regular style, so it reduces the friction of the line.

Thereby, it enables you to cast for great distances which is a great advantage in clear-water or sight-fishing applications.

The newest innovation is the Mag Spool Technology which gives you the benefits of the long cast spool but with a different approach.

These Mag Spools are wider and flatter than regular ones. This design enables the angler to cast longer and retrieve faster. It also reduces line twists and increases the line pickup with each crank of the handle.

The Final Word

Even though choosing a spinning reel may seem a bit difficult at first learning the components and their functions will make the job a lot easier for you.

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