The Best Saltwater Spinning Reels for Preventing Corrosion

When it comes to saltwater fishing, whether you are fishing inshore flats, jetties, or on a charter, a saltwater spinning reel outperforms most if not all conventional saltwater reels…

5 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels for 2023

Penn Slammer III

PENN 1403984 Slammer III Spinning Multicolor, 5500
  • Full Metal Body, side plate, and rotor
  • CNC Gear technology
  • IP67 Sealed body and spool design

The nice thing about the Slammer III family is that Penn did a good job of designing a reel to keep the saltwater out. It has an IPX6 water resistance rating which means even if you spray the reel with forceful water. It’ll be fine.

This rating doesn’t mean you should go and submerge your reel in saltwater.

Penn states that it’s completely sealed and should be able to handle whatever the surf throws at you. Just don’t go swimming with it.

The smaller 3500-5500 sizes have automatic bails, but the bigger ones are manual.

A solid workhorse for you saltwater enthusiasts.

Daiwa SS Tournament

This is what Sean Woodburn calls

My first choice and best bang for the buck in regards to long range casting reels.

It was designed with long casting in mind and even though it’s older it still holds up just fine for your fishing needs. It’s practically indestructible, and you can catch nearly any fish on it.

This reel has lots of records on it and is still being used in the long-cast community. It’s been around for 30 years so if you believe that longevity matters, then you need to add this to your arsenal ASAP.

Diawa Saltist 4500

Daiwa SALTIST4500 Saltist Spinning Reel, 5.7: 1 Gear Ratio, 9 Bearings, 43.10" Retrieve Rate, 22 lb Max Drag
  • Magsealed line roller and main shaft
  • "HardBodyz" body and side cover
  • Light weight Air Rotor design

It’s hard for us to choose between the Saltist and the BG, but if you want to try something a little more unorthodox, this is a great workhorse reel. It can stand up to abuse.

I know a guy who has been a Shimano fan his whole life and decided to give this reel a shot. He loves the Stradic but hates the cost. After using this reel for a year, he still thinks it’s a solid value. It might be the best reel under $300.

Van Staal VS

These reels are one of the most popular for striper fishing on the East Coast. They are lightweight reels and offer plenty of saltwater protection. Plus, their 6061-T6 aluminum housing looks sexy!

They are manual bails, and you can purchase a kit to convert them to bail-less.

VS vs VR

The VS is meant to be able to handle submersion. Some say it also feels like a coffee grinder when you reel it in. If you don’t need a reel that bulletproof, then opt for the VR model because it has a smoother reel and can still handle splashes.

To make it easier to pick, if you’re doing serious surf fishing, go with the VS; otherwise, the VR will make a good reel, especially for your days on the boat.

Shimano Ultegra CI4+

This reel is meant more for offshore and surf fishing. It is able to be cast out far and is strong against saltwater corrosion.

It has a manual bail and will need to be opened and closed by hand. It pairs nicely with a 9-foot rod.

This is great for ocean fishing but isn’t meant to be submerged, so make sure you keep it out of the water except for minor splashes.

Shimano makes some of the best reels around. If you needed to trust one brand, I’d recommend them.

Best Saltwater Spinning Reels
Back in the day, I surf fished Fraiser Island, and it was amazing!

Paired with the right saltwater rod, a pure saltwater setup should last you years and provide endless fishing bliss.

In this article, I am going to cover several different spinning reels. I am also going to cover many of the ways the two differ. So let’s get started and see which one you prefer.

Saltwater Spinning Reels Overview

Saltwater Corrodes

Saltwater will corrode cheaper metals in a short amount of time. Therefore, the best saltwater reels are made from special alloys which will not corrode as quickly.

It’s important to take care of your saltwater reels with more diligence than freshwater reels. That means rinsing them off with fresh water and drying them after each use, and making sure they are lubricated correctly.

Sealed Components

Bearings, gearboxes, and drag systems, among others that are sealed, are not as vulnerable to saltwater-induced corrosion.

The seals used a function like gaskets and keep saltwater from reaching the inner components. This will cause the inner parts to corrode and wash away the grease.

pier fishing with the best saltwater spinning reels

Size Differences

Saltwater reels are typically made for heavier lines, saltwater tackle, and fish than freshwater reels are.

There is obviously some crossover between the types of reels, seeing as though you could use the same line and lure to catch a barracuda or a pike.

It’s important to size your reel based on the type of fishing and fish you’re targeting. I’ve seen people pull in tuna using medium-size reels because they used braided lines and were careful not to let the fish run out of their spool.

Let’s be honest. You’ll probably have a whole arsenal of different sizes if you’re serious about fishing.

Criteria for Picking

We’re looking to make our judgments based on the following:

  • A reel that can hold at least 350 yards of 30lb braid.
  • Has a degree of waterproofness for surf fishing and other saltwater conditions.
  • Open to both bail and bail-less options.

How to Clean Your Reel

When it comes to caring for gear used in saltwater, there are a few simple steps that will ensure you get years out of your reels. It is always a good idea to perform preventive maintenance every time you go out.

men surf fishing the jetty
Clean your reel after each use to keep it working for ages.

First, make sure you rinse off your reel after each day out on the water to remove as much salt and sand from the moving parts. Sometimes you’ll need to remove the spool to get into the hard-to-reach places.

For a Deeper Cleaning

  1. Tighten up your drag.
  2. Rinse your reel with water from the sink or hose without much force.
  3. Spray it down with a reel cleaner. I like using the Penn Rod & Reel Cleaner.
  4. Let the reel dry and loosen your drag.

Once that is done, you can put your reel back up for storage, and it will be ready the next time you go out fishing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best spinning reel under $100?

The best spinning reel for under $100 would be the Penn Battle III or the Daiwa BG. They’re both workhorses and aren’t expensive.

What is the most accurate saltwater spinning reel?

The most accurate saltwater spinning reel is the one you’ve practiced with often. If you’re concerned about your line coming off the spool smoothly, make sure you’ve spooled it near the edge of the lip to reduce the friction as it comes off during your cast.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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