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Best Ultralight Spinning Reels: Make Tiny Fish Fight Like Monsters

Have you ever been fishing a body of water and none of the larger fish in the water are biting?

Well if you have an ultralight fishing rod setup, breaking it out might turn your luck around.

Top Ultralight Spinning Reels:

Best Ultralight Spinning Reels Trout
When your regular gear isn’t working for you, switch to your ultralights Source

With an ultralight rod paired with an ultralight spinning reel, you can target the smaller fish in the body of water you’re at.

I remember a few years ago I just completely stopped having any luck at all at my local lake…

Then after busting out my ultralight setup, I started catching fish within minutes! My usual med-heavy bass rod skunked me, whereas my UL spinning reel and rod pulled in some bass and crappie.

A simple ultralight rod and reel can be a complete game changer.

What Makes a Spinning Reel Ideal for Ultralight Fishing?

When you think of ultralight fishing do you picture a short skinny rod with a small spinning reel?

When picking an ultralight reel you will want to choose between 500 to 2500 for the model size. These sizes are ideal due to their design in using smaller line and therefore they have a smaller body and spool size.

There is one main reason the most popular type of ultralight fishing reel is a spinning reel. When you fish with an ultralight setup you use small light lures for more of a finesse approach.

Also, baitcasting reels and spincast reels lack the ability to throw tiny finesse lures.

Man using the Best Ultralight Spinning Reels
Who says you can’t have fun catching smaller fish? Source

The small lures definitely work for small fish but most of the time the small realistic approach triggers the biggest fish to strike.

My personal best bass was caught on a four-foot UglyStik gx2 ultralight rod paired with a KastKing Centron 500.

That reel was spooled with four-pound test monofilament. I was throwing a small 1/64 oz jig and 1-inch gulp minnow. I was catching the usual one pounders and smaller when my rod felt like it was going get pulled out of my hands!

I lowered the drag all the way and only put tension on the line with my fingers. Fifteen minutes later I pulled an 8 lb largemouth bass out of the lake!

What Are the Best Ultralight Fishing Reels Made Of?

The best ultralight reels are made of lightweight aluminum, graphite, and fiberglass for its body. As well as the body needs to be watertight to keep saltwater and freshwater from soaking in and corroding your inner workings and gears.

The ball bearings need to be stainless steel. With the housing of the bearings sealed to keep the ball bearings from becoming gunked up with dirt and sand.

Bluegill caught using an ultralight reel and rod
Make a bluegill feel like a steelhead using ultralight gear. Source

The spool needs to have a gripping surface to be able to accept a braided fishing line without a monofilament backing.

The drag system has got to have a higher level of adjustment as well as a high carbon content steel shaft. As well as gears for strength and durability to aid in wearing out the fish faster without snapping your line and losing your fish.

What Are Ultra Light Reels Used For?

Ultralight reels are used mainly for Panfish, Crappie, Trout, and smaller Game Fish of the like.

When people use ultralight rods and reels they are targeting fish that do not generally get much mass. The reasoning behind going after the smaller fish is for the thrill of the catch. Not necessarily the thrill of size although you will catch some larger fish when using ultralight gear.

When you fish with ultralight reels you spool them with anything from 2-lb test mono all the way up to 6 lb mono. If you have ever tried casting a lighter lure with a thick or heavy line you know that you will not get much more than a 10-ft cast. But if you have a 2-lb test on your reel it is like casting a 1/2 ounce spoon with a baitcaster.

It goes as far as you want it to before you stop it. If you like casting smaller baits but do not want the hassle or risk of snapping your favorite lure off you can use up to 15-lb test braid. This has the same diameter as 4-lb test monofilament.

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel Reviews

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel

Diawa BG SW

Daiwa BG1500 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel, 1500, 5.6: 1 Gear Ratio, 6+1 Bearings, 28.30" Retrieve Rate, 4.40 lb Max Drag
  • Black Anodized Machined Aluminum Housing ("Hard...
  • Fishing reels spinning, Line Per Handle Turn:...
  • Line Capacity (Lb. Test / Yards): 4/155, 6/100,...

This is a no-brainer. This reel is one of the best ones for the price and when you look at the smaller size packaging, it’s a hard one to beat. It has most of the same components as the highest-end reels and most people say it feels like butter when used.

It has a high-grade anti-reverse and sports an anodized aluminum housing. To me, nothing feels better than metal. Must be something about the rugged nature of it.

It has an ATD drag system that is top-notch and the gear design gives it extra strength for such a reasonably priced reel.

Best Freshwater Spinning Reel for the Money

Shimano Stradic HG

Shimano Stradic 1000FK HG Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel
  • The Stradic spinning reel utilizes Shimano's...
  • X-Ship technology provides improved gear...
  • Incorporates Shimano's flagship HAGANE gearing and...

You can’t go wrong with this reel. The drag is smooth as if nothing was there and the spool holds plenty of line.

This is handy since the small size demands you pack in as much as possible in a tight space.

It has plenty of power for almost any fish you throw at it. Not to mention it’s one of the sexier reels on the market.

I’ve seen guys pull in big ones and this reel holds up time after time. With its 6 ball bearings and one roller bearing, it’s built with longevity in mind.

This is a near zero fatigue reel at a good price point.

Best UL Spinning Reel (Shimano)

Shimano Nasci FB

Shimano Nasci 500 FB, Spinning Fishing Reel, NAS500FB
  • Reelsize: 500, Gear Ratio: 5.6:1, Retrieve:...
  • Line Capacity lb/yards: 2/190, 4/100, 6/60
  • Max. drag force: 7 lbs

This reel is similar to the Shimano Sahara FI except it comes with a few more seals that add to its robustness and longevity.

Practically all the components are the same, but you’ll see the extra parts reflected in the price. This was Shimano’s response to consumers who were demanding higher reliability and performance but at a lower price point.

With the change in mass to be closer to the rod, you’re looking for a pleasurable time on the water without needing to be a gym rat to cast all day.

Best Budget Spinning Reel (Shimano)

Shimano Sahara FI

Shimano Sahara 2500 FI Spinning Fishing Reel Model 2017 SH2500FI
  • Line retrieve per crank: 29 inch, Gear ratio:...
  • Mono line capacity (lbs/yd): 6/200, 8/140, 10/120
  • PowerPro line capacity (lbs/yd): 10/150, 15/145,...

This wouldn’t be considered the sexiest reel in your arsenal, however, it is a Shimano and that means it’ll give you joy on the water.

It’s durable enough for saltwater and it won’t corrode because they removed the anti-reverse option. The balance is nice and closer to the reel holder so you won’t get tired during your long stints on the water.

It has a felt drag washer which works great for smaller fish. No, you won’t have to worry about it heating up…granted you don’t snag a monster.

The drag makes a quality sound that is easy to hear. You’ll be able to grab your fish in no time as you’re tending to the campfire or helping untangle your kid’s line.

This reel is extremely good at casting and the line flies off the spool effortlessly.

For the price, this reel will last you a long time.

Best Shimano Spinning Reel (Ultra Light Reel)

Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 FB HG Spinning Fishing Reel With Front Drag, STCI42500HGFB
  • Gear ratio: 6.0:1, Weight: 6.70 ounce
  • Line Retrieve Per Crank: 35 inch
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yd): 6/200, 8/140, 10/120

Ok sometimes you just need the best. Well, here you have it!

This reel will pull in monsters while being small and lightweight. It’s hands down the best reel that you can buy for larger fish, but be prepared to pay for what you’re getting.

I know a guy who pulled in a 10-pound trout on a size 1000…

It’s lightweight and quiet. You’ll also have a drag that rivals a reel much larger.

If you’re the kind of angler who likes the finer things in life, then save up and splurge for the best money can buy.

Best Ultralight Reels Final Thoughts

When it comes to fishing for trout, crappie, panfish, or finicky bass ultralight fishing is the way to go for a fun filled day!

The final winner is the Diawa BG SW. It is well constructed and can stand up to almost any fish for its size, while remaining at a reasonable price. If you want the top of the line, then splurge and get the Shimano Stradic Ci4+. It might be overkill, but you won’t complain after a day of fishing with it.

You will love the way an ultralight spinning reel feels, responds, and finesses lures. But don’t take our word for it, Try one out for yourself!


Q: What is the best spinning reel for ultralight fishing?

A: The best spinning reel for ultralight fishing is the Diawa BG. It is more rugged and durable than most on the market.

Q: Best freshwater spinning reel?

A: I’d go with the Diawa BG.

Q: Best trout reel?

A: The best trout reel would have to be the Diawa BG. It reigns above all the rest when it comes to the different sizes of trout.

Q. Cheap spinning reels?

A: KastKing spinning reels would have to be the best choice when going cheap.

Q. Good crappie reels?

A: The best crappie reel is going to be the Shimano Sedona 1000 model.

The Anglers Behind This Article:

Johnny Harvill

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