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When it comes to ultralight fishing, selecting a lightweight spinning reel is crucial along with a lighter rod, line, and lure.
Light-weight fishing reels are an excellent choice for most casual anglers & kids who are just learning and looking for a fun weekend out with family.
There are several reasons to opt for ultralight fishing gears from reducing fatigue, keeping the gear weight to a minimum, and adding to the challenge of catching and holding a big fish.
Whatever may be your reason, we have got you covered.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best ultralight spinning reels for all your light freshwater and saltwater needs without straining your pocket.
Why Spinning Reels For Ultralight Fishing?
When it comes to lightweight fishing, spinning reels are recommended by most experts over casting reels.
There are many reasons for this:
As a beginner angler, you need a reel that is easy to handle and brings in less to no issues compared to other types of reels.
Additionally, spinning reels are excellent for casting and retrieving light lures and lines.
When you cast your lure out, the weight of the lure helps propel it out in the water.
Moreover, with spinning reels:
The lure doesn’t need much energy as the spool is fixed and the line comes off freely.
On the other hand…
With a baitcasting reel, the lure has to rotate the spool to cast out. So with light lures, you lose much energy due to the spool weight and drag.
This reduces accuracy and casting distance.
Therefore, if you’re thinking ultralight; think a spinning reel.
Overview of the 10 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels
#1 Best Overall: Shimano Sedona FI 1000 Spinning Reel
#2 Best Under $150: Okuma Helios HSX-20 Lightweight Reel
#3 Best Under $100: Okuma RTX-35S
#4 Best Under $50: Kastking Sharky 3 1000
#5 Best Combo: Ugly Stik GX2 Ultralight Combo
#6 Best Stylish: Shimano Stradic CI4+ 4000
#7 Best Ultralight: Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight Spinning Reel
#8 Best for Big Fish: Shimano Stradic FK 1000
#9 Best for Crappie: Abu Garcia Revo Premier 10 Reel
#10 Best Splurge: Shimano Stella FI 2000
10 Best Lightweight Spinning Reel Reviews
We have invested 100+ hours in researching and reviewing the best ultralight spinning reels in the market.
These reviews will help you make educative decisions in selecting the perfect reel for all your needs.
01. Shimano Sedona FI 1000 Spinning Reel
- An incredibly smooth drag system
- Easy to cast and reel in
- Reliable as well as durable
- No anti-reverser switch
- The handle is a bit weak
The Shimano Sedona FI open-faced reel has earned the #1 spot on our list due to its outstanding quality, flawless performance, and reasonable price tag.
The reel features high-end performance upgrades making it stronger, lighter, durable, and faster.
The Sedano FI incorporates a cold-forged Hagane gears design which ensures durability and longevity.
The G-Free body construction provides excellent comfort and balance by moving the center of gravity closer to the rod.
The angle-lip design along with a G-Free body allows for a longer and accurate casting distance by reducing friction.
The Model 1000 weighs around 8.6 ounces making it an excellent fit for lightweight fishing. Moreover, the Magnumlite rotor further cuts down on weight without compromising strength.
The Shimano FI comes with a 6.2:1 gear ratio (except model 1000) allowing for quicker line retrievals (26 inches per crank).
The reel’s 7lbs drag force (higher on higher models) and anti-reverse bearing ensure long fights and confirm hook placement. It comes with a 3+1 ball bearing for smooth line retrievals.
It is without any doubt that the Shimano Sedona FI 1000 is one of the best spinning reels for both light freshwater and saltwater fishing loved by both novice and experienced anglers.
Additional SpecificationHandle: Single Paddle | Retrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 6.2:1 | Bearings: 3BB + 1RB | Reel Weight: 8.6 Ounces | Line Retrieve: 26” | Max Drag: 7 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 2/270, 4/140, 6/110 | PowerPro Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 15/85, 20/65
02. Okuma Helios HSX-20 Lightweight Reel
- Super lightweight
- Smooth and fast
- Durable and reliable
- Beautiful design
- Not fully sealed
The Okuma Helios Lightweight Spinning Reel received excellent reviews for its outstanding performance in ultralight fishing applications.
Its budget-friendly price tag along with its lightweight design makes it the perfect reel for all your weekend adventures.
The reels C-40X carbon construction cuts down on weight while increasing rigidity and corrosion resistance.
Torsion Armor Control technology reduces reel twisting and prevents the internal parts from misaligning in the most demanding situations.
The 8+1 corrosion-resistant stainless bearings ensure butter smooth line retrieval making it an ideal tackle for light inshore saltwater fishing.
The Quick-Set Anti-Reverse eliminates rotor back play thus ensuring rock-solid hook sets.
The reels Precision Elliptical Gearing System reduces friction while casting thus improving accuracy, distance, and line life.
The Helios HSX-20 comes with a high gear ratio of 5.0:1 (higher on later models) which facilitates a quicker line retrieval rate (24 inches per crank.
The reels machined anodized handle is lightweight, durable and is equipped with EVA foam for added comfort and reduced handle slips.
At this price range, this is the perfect reel for casting out all day long without taxing your arms.
Additional SpecificationRetrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 5.0:1| Bearings: 8HPB+1RB | Reel Weight: 6.2 Ounces | Line Retrieve: 24.7” | Max Drag: 5 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 4/200 6/120 8/95 | Braid Capacity (lbs./yds.): 10/130 15/110
03. Okuma RTX-35S
- Smooth drag system
- Extended casting distance
- No back play
- Fast retrievals
- Saltwater ready
- Bang for your buck
- Not worth mentioning
The Okuma RTX Lightweight Spinning Reel is an excellent reel that comes packed with features that are reserved for elite-level reels.
This budget-friendly reel features top industry technologies like Precision Elliptical Gearing System, C40X carbon body, and ALG gearing system.
The reel is made ultralight, thanks to the C40X carbon body making it 25% lighter and increasing the strength by 50%.
The reels 7+1 stainless steel bearings ensure smooth cranking and zero handle play.
It has multi-disk Japanese oil felt drag system which is made watertight by the Hydro Block watertight drag seal.
The RTX-35S high-speed reel comes with a gear ratio of 6.0:1 and a generous line capacity (230 yards of 0.25 mm line) making it an ideal reel for a wide range of fish species.
The reel receives excellent ratings from users for its outstanding performance, durability, and affordable price.
Additional SpecificationRetrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 6.0:1 | Bearings: 7BB + 1RB | Reel Weight: 8.6 Ounces | Line Retrieve: 33.5” | Max Drag: 13 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 4/310, 6/200, 8/150
04. Kastking Sharky 3 1000
- High-quality reel
- Low price tag
- Saltwater and freshwater ready
- Waterproof design
- Powerful drag system
- Difficult to use under heavy load
- Some users report reel binding and cranking noise
The KastKing Sharky III is an excellent fishing reel for beginners who are looking to enjoy fishing and is looking for a budget-friendly reel.
The Sharky 3 spinning reel may look small regarding size and price but makes it significant regarding features.
The reel body is made of graphite which makes it lightweight but ensures its ability to flex.
This fishing tool is very tough on the fish but gentle on the angler. The 10+1 stainless steel ball bearings ensure performance and durability.
The CNC aluminum spool comes with a power launch lip which enables better line management and casting distance.
The reels triple disk carbon fiber drag provides a lot of fighting power (up to 39.5 lbs) for the most demanding species.
The Sharky III spinning reel is an excellent fishing gear that provides excellent value for your money.
The Sharky 3 with an ultralight spinning rod makes a reliable and cheap combo to get some weekend fishing done.
Additional SpecificationRetrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 5.2:1 | Bearings: 10BB + 1RB | Reel Weight: 11.2 Ounces | Line Retrieve: 30.2” | Max Drag: 28.5 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 14/185,16/165,20/125
05. Ugly Stik GX2 Ultralight Combo
- High-value product
- Lightweight and sturdy
- Comes with a hard handle knob
If you’re a beginner and are confused about which ultralight reel and rod to pair then, we have a favorite suggestion for you.
The Ugly Stick GX2 is one of the best ultralight reel and rod combo not just for its affordable price tag but also for the value it brings for the money.
To begin with, it is a single-piece rod that is available in several lengths (from 5’ – 7’), and the higher the length of the rod the better casting distance.
The GX2 is constructed out of a combination of Graphite and Fiberglass to produce a rod that is strong enough to handle most light fishing applications.
The guides on the Ugly Stick are made of stainless steel preventing corrosion and increasing longevity.
The weight is on the higher side of the spectrum, but it makes up for the price and performance.
On the other hand, the reel comes with a 3-ball bearing which may feel a bit jerky at times. However, the reels instant anti-reverse does a great job and ensures a secure hoot set every time.
The reel may have a low price tag, but it makes up for speed, power, and durability.
The Ugly Stick GX2 combo got excellent reviews from users and is the best reel and rod combo at an affordable price range.
Additional SpecificationRetrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 5.2:1 | Bearings: 4BB + 1RB | Combo Weight: 13.62 Ounces | Max Drag: 13 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 2/180, 4/110, 6/85Rod Piece: 1 | Rod Power: Ultralight
06. Shimano Stradic CI4+ 4000
- Very stylish
- A smooth lightweight reel
- Highly responsive reel
- An anti-reverse switch is a bit small
- Comes at a high price point
If appearance is what you’re aiming for when opting for your ultralight fishing reel, then Shimano Stradic CI4+ is for you.
The reel’s shiny silver color gives it an elegant look, while the maroon and black spool color gives it the perfect contrast.
The CI4+ comes with a few exciting performance upgrades when compared to its predecessors the Shimano CI4 spinning reel.
The reel features Shimano’s X-Ship technology which comes with double bearing gears that ensure smooth retrievals even under heavy loads.
The CI4+ is an incredibly lightweight but sturdy reel thanks to its CI4 carbon fiber body and a Magnumlite rotor which reduces the weight by 25% from its predecessors.
The reel incorporates the G-Free Body design which moves the center of gravity of the reel closer to the rod improving balance and handling reducing forearm fatigue.
The 6+1 shielded bearings along with the CoreProtect technology prevent water from entering the reel making it suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fishing.
The Stradic CI4+ comes with AR-C braid-ready spool design which enables better line management and line capacity. Additionally, you’ll experience about 50% fewer line twists and wind knots thanks to the smooth Power Roller.
The Shimano CI4+ is one of the best ultralight spinning reels not just for its aesthetics but also for its versatile performance.
It is an excellent reel for its price and will last for years to come.
Additional SpecificationRetrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 5.0:1 | Bearings: 6 S A RB + 1RB | Reel Weight: 5.6 Ounces | Line Retrieve: 26” | Max Drag: 7 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 2/270, 4/140, 6/110 | Braid Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 10/95, 15/85, 20/65
07. Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight Spinning Reel
- Ultralight reel
- Affordable price tag
- Very smooth and durable
- Drag may be weak for certain situations
- Weak handle knob
If you’re in search of the lightest spinning reel available on the market, you should take a look at the specs of the Daiwa D-Spin fishing reel.
The D-Spin comes in at a very low price but doesn’t compromise on performance, speed, and durability one might expect from Daiwa.
With weight being the main priority, the reel is mainly designed to tackle small species.
The reel comes with a max-drag of 4.4 pounds and a line capacity of 190 yards of a two-pound line.
It features Digigear with a gear ratio of 4.9:1 making the line retrievals slower compared to other ultralight reels but increasing power.
Moreover, the reel is constructed out of composite material making it sturdy, and the single ball bearing makes line retrieval smooth.
The Daiwa D-Spin is an excellent reel for beginners, kids, and for weekend warriors looking to fish for recreational purposes and is looking for an inexpensive micro spinning reel.
Additional SpecificationRetrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 4.9:1 | Bearings: 1BB | Reel Weight: 5.9 OuncesLine Retrieve: 21.4” | Max Drag: 4.4 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 2/190 4/100 6/60
08. Shimano Stradic FK 1000
- Affordable price tag
- High-speed reel
- Strong and easy to handle
- Super smooth drag
- A bit on the heavier side
When it comes to catching and holding large species, the Shimano Stradic FK fishing reel is undoubtedly the best reel in the market.
Fighting big species will test your fishing reel to its limit and to stand against such forces, you need a reel that is lightweight, strong, and doesn’t break easily.
The reel is constructed with a Hagane body that ensures the strength and rigidity required to withstand high pressure and unexpected shocks.
The Hagane precision cut gears are perfectly aligned which provides smoother line retrievals even under heavy load. The gear ration hovers around 6.0:1 – 6.2:1 enabling quicker extractions.
The Stradic FK comes with an impressive front drag system that combines both oils felt and steel washers to generate between 7-24 lbs drag pressure.
You may not notice the drag smoothness with small fish but will be surely impressed with its ability to fight large species.
The spool of the FK is made out of Cold Forged Aluminum making it sturdy and prevent spool bend or wobble under heavy loads.
Additionally, the reel features a large spool complemented by an updated lip design which enables larger line storage capacity and casting distance.
Moreover, with this reel, you’ll never have to worry about line twists and wind knots thanks to its smooth Power Roller and updated Propulsion Line Management System.
The Shimano Stradic FK is the best spinning reel in the ultralight category for catching and fighting big fish. It comes in at a budget-friendly price range and is loved by most serious weekend anglers.
Additional SpecificationRetrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 6.0:1 | Bearings: 6+1 | Reel Weight: 6.9 OuncesLine Retrieve: 35” | Max Drag: 20 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 6/230, 8/170, 10/140 | PowerPro Capacity (lbs./yds.): 10/200,20/140,40/105
09. Abu Garcia Revo Premier 10 Reel
- Very smooth reel
- Excellent drag
- Very strong
- A user reported some noise under heavy load
Before deciding on the best lightweight spinning reel for crappie, you must spend some time learning about the specs of the Abu Garcia Revo Premier reel.
You don’t have to consider all the reel variables before selecting an ultralight spinning reel for crappie or panfish.
The most important factors to consider are line capacity and drag.
With that being said, the Abu Garcia Revo Premier is an excellent reel that is perfect for finding and catching crappies from the deepest spot.
It comes with a line capacity of 150 yards of 6 lbs (higher on later models) braid which gives enough space for the fish to run and tire itself.
The reels Carbon Matrix drag system provides up to 10 lbs (higher on later models) stopping power which is enough to stop most crappie and panfishes.
The reel features an 11+1 corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearing along with a 6.2:1 gear ratio ensures quicker and smoother line retrievals.
The reels Computer Optimized Machined Gears ensure incredible gear mash providing unparallel smoothness and durability.
The Revo Premier comes with many performance boosters but weighs about 6.4 ounces which is unbelievable.
With the Abu Garcia Revo Premier in your hand and our crappie fishing tips in your mind, you’re sure to catch some trophy fish in your upcoming fishing trip.
Additional SpecificationRetrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 6.2:1 | Bearings: 11 HPRC +1 RB | Reel Weight: 6.4 Ounces | Line Retrieve: 30” | Max Drag: 10 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 6/110 | PowerPro Capacity (lbs./yds.): 6/150
10. Shimano Stella FI 2000
- High performing reel
- Excellent drag
- Very strong
- Built to last
- Very smooth
- Not budget-friendly
If performance is a top priority and money is no object when selecting an ultralight fishing reel, then the Shimano Stella FI spinning reel is for you.
It is one of the most expensive lightweight spinning reels on the market, and thus it comes packed with a wide range of performance enhancements.
The Stella FI is an elite class reel that is sleek looking, balanced, and smooth.
The reel comes with a Cold Forged Hagane body and gear which eliminates flexing and ensures smoothness, strength, and durability.
The reels AR-C Spool design makes the rotor incredibly strong, and the X-Ship technology virtually eliminates rotor wobble under heavy loads.
Moreover, the smooth spool lip design reduces friction thus increases casting distance and prevents backlash and wind knots from casting against the wind.
The reels Micro Module Gear II system enables excellent gear alignment for unrivaled torque and smoothness.
The reel is well-balanced thanks to the G Free Body technology which shifts the weight close to the hand for added comfort and eliminates fatigue during more extended sessions.
The reels handle directly connects with the drive gear enabling pure power transfer.
The reel comes with 12+1 corrosion-resistant ball bearings which are further protected by the CoreProtect technology preventing water or sand from seizing the reel.
The Shimano Stella FI may not be budget-friendly but is undoubtedly one of the best spinning reels for both lightweight fresh & saltwater fishing applications.
It is the “Bentley of freshwater spinning reels,” and I highly recommend it to all the serious anglers who can afford it.
Additional SpecificationRetrieval Hand: Both | Gear Ratio: 5.1:1 | Bearings: 13 + 1| Reel Weight: 6.3 OuncesLine Retrieve: 27 | Max Drag: 6.6 lbs | Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 3/136, 4/109, 5/82 | PowerPro Capacity (lbs./yds.): 3/125, 4/105, 5/90
By now you should have a good knowledge of the top 10 best ultralight spinning reels available on the market. This isn’t the final list, and there are many other good lightweight reels available on the market.
However, a lightweight reel should weigh the minimum, should be balanced and should have a smooth drag to prevent the thin line from breaking.
If you had to select just one lightweight spinning reel from the list above, the Shimano Stradic CI4+ is the one.
Now it’s on to you..
Which do you think is the best ultralight spinning reel? We would love to hear about it in the comments..