7 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels for 2022 to Catch Stubborn Fish

We’ve all gotten our line wet only to have the small fry of the water steal away our bait nibble by nibble. It can be quite frustrating, particularly given the fact that we can’t seem to hook one of the little thieves. The hook is too big, the cork too strong, the line too thick and the list goes on. 

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

Top Ultralight Spinning Reels

Image Product Details
sample-table__imageBest Ultralight ReelShimano Stradic Ci4+
  • Premium Quality
  • Smooth
  • Durable
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sample-table__imageShimano Stradic HG
  • Freshwater Only
  • Smooth
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sample-table__imagePflueger Supreme XT Spinning
  • Best Handle
  • Light-Weight
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sample-table__imageDaiwa BG Spinning Reel
  • Reliable
  • Bulletproof
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sample-table__imageBest Budget ReelShimano Sahara Spinning Reel
  • Good Reel
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sample-table__imageBest ValueKastKing Centron Spinning Reel
  • Affordable
  • Powerful
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sample-table__imagePenn Battle II Spinning Reel
  • All-Metal Body
  • Rugged
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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.

7 Best Ultralight Spinning Reel for 2022 Reviewed

1. Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel

This reel is the top-of-the-line when it comes to ultralight reels. No matter the application this reel is smooth as silk and can tackle anything you throw at it.

If you decide to spool your reel with two-pound test you’ll get 270 yards. It has a gear ratio of 5.0:1 and is reversible. The line retrieve per crank is 26 inches and it weighs 5.6 ounces.

Although it’s a bit pricey compared to the rest, you can rest assured that it’ll deliver joy for years to come.

2. Shimano Stradic HG

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

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.

3. Pflueger Supreme XT

Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel(SUPXTSP35X)
  • 10 Bearing System - Corrosion resistant stainless steel...
  • Magnesium Body and Rotor - Feather light design
  • Braid Ready Spool - Allows braid to be tied directly to...

This reel means serious business. Coming in with a 10 bearing system with corrosion-resistant steel ball bearings, this reel is smooth. The big noticeable difference that sets it apart from the others is its carbon handle that further reduces the overall weight. We also really like the EVA knob that comes with it.

This is a beautiful reel that’s also tough. If you don’t have the ability to get the higher-end model, rest assured this one will work just fine.

4. Daiwa BG

Daiwa BG1500 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel
  • Black Anodized Machined Aluminum Housing ("Hard Bodyz" Body...
  • Fishing reels spinning, Line Per Handle Turn: 28.3", Solid...
  • Line Capacity (Lb. Test / Yards): 4/155, 6/100, 8/80...

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.

5. Shimano Sahara FI

Best Budget Ultralight Reel

Shimano Sahara 2500 FI Spinning Fishing Reel Model 2017 SH2500FI , Black
  • Line retrieve per crank: 29 inch, Gear ratio: 5.0:1
  • Mono line capacity (lbs/yd): 6/200, 8/140, 10/120
  • PowerPro line capacity (lbs/yd): 10/150, 15/145, 30/100

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.

6. KastKing Centron

KastKing Centron Spinning Reel,Size 500 Fishing Reel
  • GREAT VALUE - Loaded with features yet low on price....
  • LIGHTWEIGHT - narrow graphite frame design and computer...
  • HIGH POWERED - KastKing Summer/Centron spinning reel's...

If you’re just getting started then we highly recommend that you start yourself off with gear that is functional but doesn’t break the bank.

KastKing has been setting the bar on what you can get away with for next to nothing. If you on occasion need small gear for finicky fish then pick up one of these size 500 reels and keep it in your arsenal.

7. Penn Battle II

PENN 1338215 Battle II 1000 Spinning Fishing Reel
  • Durable, high range spinning reel ideal for conquering big...
  • Full metal body, sideplate, and rotor and heavy duty...
  • HT 100 carbon fiber drag system provides a powerful drag...

This is one of our favorite reels but the reason it’s so low on the list is that we feel that it’s better suited for bigger fish than an ultralight setup.

Don’t get us wrong, this reel will deliver the stopping power necessary for any fish you’re going after, however, it’s a bit pricy to justify the purchase. If money isn’t an issue for you then it’s definitely a reel you shouldn’t pass up.

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 spin cast 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 a 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 to 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 bluegill feel like a steelhead using the ultralight gear.

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 the 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 the 4-lb test monofilament.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best spinning reel for ultralight fishing?

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

What is the best freshwater spinning reel?

I’d go with the Diawa BG.

What is the best trout reel?

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.

What is the best cheap spinning reels?

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

Good crappie reels?

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

Insider Advice

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!

The Anglers Behind This Article:

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler

Aubrey Cayanan

Johanes Godoy
Fishing Editor

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Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing and spearfishing enthusiast. He's been fishing since he was 5 years old in the backcountry of Yosemite for trout and in the surf near his home in SoCal. Over the past 4 years, he's been spearfishing up and down the coast of California. He started Cast and Spear to help inspire others to get outside and chase their dream fish. Notable catches include spearing a 65-pound white sea bass, large grouper, and yellowtail down in Baja. When he's not in the water, he's usually fishing from his Gregor Baja aluminum boat or inflatable Takacat catamaran.
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