TOP 5 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels
Many anglers may already know what kind of an ultralight reel meets their fishing needs best. Those who don’t, however, run the risk of buying just a nice trinket to store in their tackle bag for years to come. It gets even worse if you’re a salted veteran of fishing – buying a reel that you aren’t actually going to use will be outright frustrating.
It stands to reason that ultralight reels find use in targeting smaller catch. Anglers mostly use these to pull some panfish out of a lake in the afternoon rather than to equip for a daylong deep-sea outing. In fresh water, there are loads of purposes your light reel may serve you better than its beefier counterpart; however, saltwater fishermen can benefit from the lighter option, too. More details wait for us later – just as we’ll have made it through our selection of top 5 greatest ultralight reels.
You can have a quick overview of the reels’ characteristics, using the table below. Products are shown in the order as they appear in the article.
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB HG Spinning Fishing Reel with Front Drag – Top-Notch Branded Durability
Shimano is well known for its reels capable of living through some seriously stressful pull and drag. This Stradic Ci4 employs a hagane design as opposed to Shimano’s traditional graphite body. The reel is rife with advanced premium features, including hagane gear and body, protected core, and X-Ship technology to reduce friction between the gear and spool shaft, thus further improving reel durability. It does smoothly whatever heavy lifting you might impose on your light tackle setup – you get a never-wavering drag to fight strong currents and stubborn fish.
This reel is multipurpose to a degree where it allows you to combine it with ultralight, light and even medium rods. You can apply it with multiple lines, making maximum use of fluorocarbon and high tension power-pro lines. The Stradic Ci4 is meant for a wide array of fishing skills, with a slight skew to proficient anglers.
- Max Drag (lb): 7, 20, 24
- Gear Ratio: 4.8:1, 5.0:1, 6.0:1, 6.2:1
- Price ($): 199-240
- Sizes available: 1000, 2500, 3000, 4000
With all its overall sturdiness, the reel enjoyed special attention from the designers in what concerns its corrosion-proof materials. The metal-free construction completely eliminates the risk of rusting even in aggressive salty environments. As a result, this piece of spinning tackle becomes nearly indestructible even with zero maintenance (it’s not that we encourage you to never oil it, though). This Shimano product is intended to withstand continuous saltwater use with nothing more than a rinse off under the tap afterwards.
Even though the Shimano Ci4 really feels like it can stand up to everything you throw at it, this reel’s price remains one of the priciest in the segment of inshore fishing reels. Say, you enjoy chasing heavy game and landing 50+ lb fish with your lightweight tackle – and that’s perfectly fine and accessible with the Shimano Ci4. The price, though, won’t be the most pleasant part, especially if you do not take professional interest in fishing.
- Rugged body and durable gears
- Freshwater- and saltwater compatible
- Low maintenance requirements
- Seat arm is made of plastic
- May be a bit outside of your budget
Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel – Versatile Option for Inshore Fishing
Pflueger presents its customers with iconic high-end tackle, and the President XT here is no exception. This product belongs to the series of five spinning reels, all featuring drag pressures and capable of managing different line diameters. The only thing these reels have in common is their being relatively lightweight; feel free to combine them with lighter rods to chase bass, trout, catfish, walleye, or other pan-sized finny prey.
The President XT boasts a high tech mix of graphite, stainless steel, and aluminum, which makes the reel construction a fine contender to those of the classiest products on the spinning tackle market. With the President XT, you obtain a comfortable and fail-free performance thanks to its Sure-Click Bail System. Furthermore, you won’t need to trouble yourself with the backing line since the reel employs a braid-ready aluminum spool. Overall, this reel makes for an advantageous investment, for practiced anglers in particular.
- Max Drag (lb): 6
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Price ($): 79-83
- Sizes available: 2000, 2500, 3000, 3500
One of the best things about this reel is the all-aluminum Sure-Click Bail system. This mechanism produces an audible click to let you know it’s been closed reliably. Just like the reel’s anti-reverse bearing, it may be not all that crucial – some fishermen even like it better without the anti-reverse switch – but it’s definitely a nice pro touch.
Might feel sophisticated to inexperienced hands. You’ll need to keep constant tension on the line when winding it in to avoid unraveling or knotting up. While this won’t be the slightest issue for an amateur angler, a complete beginner might feel at loss. Think of this ahead and avert disappointment by preparing an extra spool to swap for.
- Featherweight, yet rugged graphite body
- Corrosion resistant handle and stainless-steel shaft
- Aluminum spool that is double-anodized and braid-ready
- Not the best option for beginners
Piscifun Carbon X Spinning Reel – Excellent Value for the Money
‘Reliability’ is the word that agrees very well with Piscifun. Similarly to other tackle by this manufacturer, the Carbon X is sold at a more than reasonable price whilst approaching the pricier high-end models in quality. This piece of ultralight gear provides you with an increased spool size to manage your line better. Anglers now can optimize their performance thanks to the braid-ready spool and eased-up setup that doesn’t require fluorocarbon or mono backing. You only need to tie the braid to your reel’s spool, load it up and proceed to fishing.
The Carbon X’s lite construction minimizes your fatigue thus allowing you to fish longer and return home with a good catch. It makes for a top-notch choice for both novice and experienced fish heads.
- Max Drag (lb): 22, 33
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Price ($): 73-80
- Sizes available: 2000, 3000, 4000
The reel features quite a powerful drag that, nevertheless, seems to be perfectly smooth. As comfortably as it sits in the hand, this reel surely beats expectations for a product in the price range below $100. Exceptionally good capabilities for a thing this delicate and lightweight.
It appears that the reel may not hold the amount of braid advertised. Where it says 15lb/250yds, 20lb/260yds, and 25lb/320yds for the 2000, 3000, and 4000 models, respectively, the actual amount seems to be slightly lower in each case. It’s hardly a deal-breaker but still, something a buyer should be aware of.
- great quality of the materials
- high-power and smooth drag
- affordable price
- not very precise with the parameters advertised
SHIMANO Sedona FI Spinning Fishing Reel – Branded Model on a Lower Price End
Another product by Shimano that’s had plenty of time to give a good account of itself. With the Sedona FI, Shimano fans receive cold forged hagane part along a pleasant cut in price. The entire series boasts a diversity of models with upgraded drag power and increased gear ratios to satisfy an array of fishermen’s needs. Your casting and jiggling techniques will see improvement as the featherweight frame bears more easily on your hand during a daylong fishing session.
An angler will get the machined double-anodized aluminum spool complemented with the Propulsion Line Management System (PLMS) meant to increase the casting distance. This reel will introduce you to the pleasure of both freshwater and offshore action, your fishing skill level regardless.
- Max Drag (lb): 24
- Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
- Price ($): 64-95
- Sizes available: 2500, 3000
There is one absolutely great thing about Sedona FI, known as S-Concept. Smoothness in casting and line retrieve, silent operation, and strong drag performance. You can actually get the premium feel with this spinning tackle and that’s, probably, why so many anglers stay loyal to Shimano. The S-concept is fully dedicated to enabling your reel action with an effective torque, simultaneously keeping excessive noises to the minimum.
Setting up this reel could seem a bit sophisticated at first. What may look as equipment malfunctions and annoy you right down to tiredness is, in fact, a drawback of the professional construction. You’ll need to spend some time with the reel to get from it what you exactly want.
- Frame, side plate, and rotor made of graphite
- Cold-forged aluminum spool
- Controllable speed of action
- No anti-reverse lever
Bassdash Alien Ultra Lightweight Carbon Spinning Fishing Reel – Excellent Choice for a Beginner
You may have not heard a lot about Bassdash but wait till you try out this reel of theirs. Its carbon fiber construction seems simply excellent and effortlessly falls within the SLW range. The product offers reliably smooth retrieving/casting performance. The drag system successfully provides the pull promised on the label and, to all appearances, is likely to stay mechanically sound in the long run.
With its EVA handles, this piece of tackle manages to feel premium despite the price range. Novice anglers will find it being right on the money for a big inshore session with some trout, reds, and flounder!
- Max Drag (lb): 12, 14, 15
- Gear Ratio: 5.4:1, 6.0:1
- Price ($): 47-56
- Sizes available: 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000
Under the inexpensive hood, it’s just everything you could ask for. Reduced fatigue with the lite frame and gears, capacious (10lb/150 yds) aluminum spool for some really long casts, 10+1 ball bearings (in the 3000 model) giving you a retrieve rate of 30 IPT at a gold gear ratio of 6:0:1. Hands down, this is a very nice package for hauling in some big-nosed game.
With all the praises sung, it’s still difficult to be sure about the durability of this reel. The drag functions well as it is, but beware of sand and salt. The Bassdash Alien features no visible corrosion protection, so you’d better be in for a regular cleaning and grease inspection.
- Lightweight and extra-rigid
- Less fatigue with smooth performance
- Precise gear alignment out of the box
- Drag tightens if not greased regularly
The quality of your fishing experience greatly depends on how many things you manage to think through. Being scrupulous is key, and everything should stem from knowing where exactly you’ll be fishing. Difficulties with reel selection may dissolve on their own once you understand that you don’t fish out of the freshwater domain, so emptying pockets for a corrosion resistant piece of tackle is not at all that necessary.
Another crucial aspect is how well your techniques and existing tackle combine with the light reel type you’re going to purchase. Ultralight reels require more finesse and involve more fishing as it is and less reeling. The ultimate benefit is very satisfying, though – with lures in the 1/16 to 1/32 range, lighter rods, and a finer line, anglers attain a higher margin of sensitivity to faint bites.
A greater stability and lighter weight are what you get with a well-manufactured spinning reel. Its lightness, nevertheless, should not deteriorate the overall toughness and rigidity, otherwise it simply won’t live up to the strain imposed by large game. While ultralight tackle is aimed at panfish mostly, you sure wouldn’t mind landing something bigger when the chance arises.
Hence the effort of tackle manufacturers to furnish lighter reels with complex aviation-grade alloys to make toughness and elegance coexist. In what concerns high-end spinning tackle, perforated all-metal frames and hagane bodies, such as Shimano’s, seem to carry out the task just fine – but you should be ready for a jump in price, of course.
Another option is a full graphite reel construction featuring protected internal parts. This is to shield your reel from salt, sand and chemical corrosion while allowing it to remain inflexibly strong. The biggest trick for manufacturers is to space the components to enable adequate heat removal from the bearings and at the same time, to not let moisture and debris contact the grease. Again, sea-goers and surf fishermen ought to consider paying more for an advanced piece of spinning tackle designed to withstand the harsh conditions.
Magnesium fishing reels without extra protection won’t make it in saltwater for very long. If you care about not ending up with rusty and crunchy equipment, look for hybrid carbon/steel options or specially protected spinning reels.
Making the right combo
Smaller reels are more precise and fussier at the same time. To balance them out, you’ll need an appropriate rod; these usually are ultralight and light rods, or, if you feel confident enough, even medium ones. A nicely balanced rod earns your fast action and good versatility with an ability to cast in a range of, say, 1/16-1/4 oz. Such multipurpose combos are great for anglers on foot – when you can’t take a load of tackle with you or fill up your boat with all kinds of rods and stuff. Don’t forget the balance check: your combo should balance (or nearly balance) when you rest the beginning of the foregrip on your index finger.
For optimal performance, you might also want to prepare spools beforehand. The versatile 2500 size goes with a mono line from 6 up to 8 lbs and ultralight braid; you change spools and switch out rods, while your reel remains the same. A larger spool grants you a bigger line capacity, longer casts, and the line twists less, decreasing the risk of a birdnest.
Brands, like Shimano, strive to make even their smallest reels (e.g. 750 or 500) to preserve smoothness in the salt. However, your stakes with these should largely be on their ruggedness. Some hard fighting saltwater species, such as bonito, snook or the mighty barracuda will put a great load of strain on your gear, even if we’re talking here nothing more than a 2 lb test.
That is where robust models with sealed carbon drag and marine-grade bearings come into play. Shimano and Daiwa also supply their spinning reels with an extra spool for a braided line to increase versatility in the marine environment. All this provides evidence to the fact that the term ‘ultralight tackle’ has a slightly specific meaning to saltwater anglers. Even though you keep lighter lures and a 2-4 lb test works all the same, you have now the reel capacity as a serious aspect to consider.
Your reel must have a sufficient drag to handle the speedy game like barracuda and bonefish. And it needn’t be anything too expensive or fancy – just a quality reel able to last. Having a 6 lb drag doesn’t actually mean your reel won’t endure 10 lbs or more of drag counter pressure.
Powerful drag gives you a chance to use thicker lines, so you can easily load your 2500 with a 6 lb mono or even a 10 lb braid. In this way, you can secure yourself a win in a prolonged struggle with some really stubborn finny prey, like bat ray. You also will be able to go on with finesse techniques, such as surfcasting or dropshotting for perch and bass.
Getting the line correctly
As it has been mentioned above, an 8-10 lb braid is out of the ultralight league but still allows you to use the full functionality of your ultralight outfit. With braided lines of these thicknesses, your techniques and drag settings will still apply – within, of course, the limits dictated by the rod & reel combo. And you also will want to stay careful because the line is not too strong.
Braids have the benefit of being snappier, adding extra oomph to get your game hooked deeper. In its turn, this allows you to exert more power on fish and enjoy shorter battles while using the same light gear. Delivering super light lures with braids comes easier, too.
It doesn’t matter much whether you prefer braided or mono lines as long as they remain strong enough to fall within the ultralight line tests. As a rule, the rod manufacturers recommend not to exceed what test is correct for your rod and drag settings to avoid annoying accidents when a bigger catch comes your way. A 6 lb braid is widely accepted as the upper limit to “ultralightness” but again, you may only need this in the salt. In freshwater, a 2-4 lb test will work for you like a charm.
We hope you are ready to get to your favorite hobby with a newly bought ultralight gear. Now you only need to get a spoolful of a new line, set up your shiny spinning reel and set out for exciting adventures. Good luck!