7 Best Ultralight Spinning Reel for Bass, Crappie, and Trout

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Ultralight spinning reels are popular with finesse anglers who use light line to work the lightest lures. Especially when fishing heavily pressured water you want a setup that’s nimble to present just the right action to elicit the strike. The best ultralight spinning reel will be between size 500 and 2500. Since you’re using light pound test a smaller spool will hold plenty of line and save you some weight.

7 Best Ultralight Spinning Reel for 2023 Reviewed

1. Shimano NASCI

Best Overall

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

The issue will come down to price. It’s smoother than other reels. However, it’s twice as much.

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

[amazon box=”B011A4I8CG”]

You can’t go wrong with this ultralight spinning reel.

The drag is smooth as if nothing was there, and the spool holds plenty of lines. The Stradic 2500 HG is a favorite in the community for its effectiveness and quality.

If we had to pick two sizes to look at, they’d be:

  • Stradic 1000 HG
  • Stradic 2500 HG

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 lightest spinning 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

[amazon box=”B096G8JR6F”]

This lightest spinning reel means serious business. Coming in with a 10-bearing system with corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings, this reel is smooth.

The big noticeable difference that sets it apart from the others is its carbon handle which 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

[amazon box=”B01JH8FHSU”]

This is a no-brainer. The Daiwa BG ultralight spinning 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 ultralight 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 its rugged nature of it.

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

5. Shimano Sahara FI

Best Budget Ultralight Reel

[amazon box=”B01MUABWKK”]

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 to help 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

[amazon box=”B079PSW9Y6″]

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 III

[amazon box=”B08BQSBYLH”]

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.

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 pricey to justify the purchase. If money isn’t an issue for you, then it’s definitely a reel you shouldn’t pass up.

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 ultra-light fishing rod setup, breaking it out might turn your luck around.

With an ultralight rod paired with the top 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 ultralight reel and rod pulled in some bass and crappie.

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

Best Ultralight Spinning Reels Trout
When your regular gear isn’t working for you, switch to your ultralight. [Source]

What Makes a Spinning Reel Ideal for Ultralight Fishing?

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

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

There is one main reason the most popular type of ultra-light 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 ones 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 Top Ultralight 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. The housing of the bearings is 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, crappies, trout, and bass.

When people use ultralight rods and reels, they target 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 ultra light fishing?

The best spinning reel for ultra light fishing is the Shimano NASCI. It’s incredibly smooth, but it’s a bit on the expensive side.

What is the best freshwater spinning reel?

The best freshwater spinning reel would be the Shimano Stradic line. Shimano is the leader when it comes to fishing reels.

What is the best trout reel?

The best trout reel is the Shimano NASCI or the Shimano Stradic HG. However, you will catch trout on even cheap spinning reels, so I wouldn’t overthink it.

What is the best cheap spinning reels?

The best cheap spinning reels are made by Penn. It’s impressive the quality you can get for $30-50 dollars. If that’s out of your price range, look into KastKing.

Good crappie reels?

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

What is the best trout spinning rod?

The best trout spinning rod is Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2.

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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