Ultralight spinning reels are a great addition to any angler’s tackle collection. They are made to be highly durable, easily transportable, lightweight, and are used mainly for the fishing of smaller panfish and occasional bass.
Just like the name suggests, ultralight spinning reels are compact in construction and light in weight. I like to describe them as the ballerina of fishing reels because they are graceful yet strong, small in stature but highly impressive.
Ultralight spinning reels are excellent for anglers who like travel and are searching for an easily transportable fishing rig that they can easily use on the spot or in smaller crafts such as kayaks and canoes. They are also a great choice for beginner anglers as their lightweight qualities make them easy to cast and retrieve.
Before making your purchase of a new ultralight spinning reel, there are several factors to consider. In this article, we have summarized all of the most important features to look for when buying a new ultralight spinning reel so that you can make the most informed decision when it is time for you to purchase.
We have also included a list of our top picks for 2021 that can serve as a guide in your purchase journey.
Carry on reading or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
What Should I Look For When Buying an Ultralight Spinning Wheel?
When planning for the purchase of a new ultralight spinning reel, everyone seeks the best value and features for their hard-earned money. They want to ensure that their choice will produce the exact results they are looking for and that their new reel will be a dependable and reliable addition to their tackle collection.
There are several important factors to consider when choosing a new ultralight spinning reel. Here, we have compiled a list of those most important factors and have explained each one so that you can feel confident in the decision you make when that time comes.
Size and Line Capacity
The first important factor to consider when choosing an ultralight fishing reel is the reel’s size and the spool’s line capacity. Because the rod you place your new reel on will be smaller in height and diameter it is important to purchase a reel that will work well with this type of rod.
Reels that are too bulky or heavy will weigh you down and put too much strain on your rod. In the case of ultralight spinning reels, smaller is definitely better.
Generally, due to their size, ultralight spinning reels also come with smaller spools. These small spools accommodate and work well with the overall design of the reel.
It is important to note that ultralight spinning reels will have less line capacity than larger reels and require a smaller pound test line as well. Usually, ultralight spinning reels can accommodate line weights that test between 2 and 8 lbs. Anything heavier will be too thick in diameter to spool smoothly which, in turn, will create tangles and snags within the reel itself.
Easy and effortless casting is one of the top features of an ultralight spinning reel, so it is important to find one that can live up to these desired standards.
Look for a reel that has a trial period or that you can try out in-store to feel for smoothness and ease in casting. The reel should feel effortless to cast, and it should produce a rather large cast when enough weight is added to the end of the line.
If a reel exhibits any stickiness or line tangles, it is not living up to its full potential, and there is likely a much better model on the market for you.
Drag is a feature that is factored into all types of fishing reels, but it is especially important for pan fishing because line snap is much more common. A reel’s drag helps prevent line breakage when an angler is fighting an especially aggressive fish by allowing for angler-controlled line pressure and output.
When reeling in an aggressive fish, the line can quickly become extremely taught to the point of snapping. The drag, when controlled by the angler, overpowers the friction placed on the line by allowing the reel to revolve backwards which lets more line out and reduces pressure on the fish and the line.
When looking for an ultralight fishing reel, you want to find a reel that features an easily accessible drag so that you can adjust on the spot while reeling in your catch. On top of the spool or behind the reel are great location options for anglers. It just depends on your preference.
A reel’s gear ratio refers to how many times the spool will revolve with one complete rotation of the handle. While this may seem like a standard feature, it is an important feature that can be different on all types of reels.
It is recommended for the use of an ultralight spinning reel to look for a gear ratio of 6:1 and above. This means that the spool will revolve within the reel 6 times for 1 crank. Generally, this is a good ratio to stick to when fishing for smaller fish with an ultralight spinning reel because any lower ratio will just be too slow in its retrieval.
Typically when you have a bulkier rod and reel combination and are fishing for larger game fish you look for a lower gear ratio. However, because of the type of prey that panfish and bass are attracted to, they need a bait that will have quick, high-action movements to capture their attention.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Ultralight Spinning Reels
To determine the best ultralight spinning reels of 2021 we have taken a look at several different models and brands as well as reviews posted by professionals and fishing enthusiasts to give you a well-constructed list of the best choices on the market today.
We have taken each of the criteria listed above and have applied and compared them amongst the several different reels we have found to help you easily find and determine the ultralight spinning reel that is right for you.
#1: Daiwa Regal LT (Best Value – All-Purpose)
The Daiwa Regal LT is an excellently crafted, smooth working reel that is perfect for an angler looking to spend endless days out on the water fishing for panfish and other smaller species.
Many happy customers have reviewed the Dawia Regal and praised its high-quality craftsmanship, ability to handle large fish than anticipated, and its close comparison to much more expensive models.
Made of a complete carbon frame, the Daiwa Regal is extremely lightweight at just 7.2 ounces. The normal lightweight reel at this price point usually reaches upwards of 8.0 ounces.
The drag system on this reel is outstanding. It can be expertly tuned on the spot by anglers, as they are reeling in their catch, by adding the slightest adjustments to ease the retrieval without spooking the fish or letting out too much line.
This reel is also very versatile in that it can easily accommodate several different line types such as fluorocarbon, monofilament, and even braided lines.
A unique feature that is exclusive to the Daiwa Regal is its state-of-the-art Air Rotor System which improves rod and reel balance, keeps water from reaching the inner workings of the reel, and reduces overall reel weight by up to 15%.
The Daiwa Regal LT is an excellent option for fishermen seeking a reliable, yet affordable reel that can provide them with great longevity and many successful fishing adventures.
#2: Okuma Ceymar C-40 (Most Durable)
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One of the most important factors to look for when purchasing an ultralight spinning reel is the reel’s durability. Its level of performance against particularly strong fish, basic wear and tear, and differing water conditions are significant as well.
The Okuma Ceymar C-40 is our top pick for durability. Overall, this reel is an excellent option for any angler looking for an ultralight reel that can give them dependability and longevity at an affordable price.
Below, we have summarized three main reasons why we have chosen this product as being the most durable. Review our reasons below to determine if this spinning reel is the right choice for you.
Reason #1 – Airflow Rotor System
Much like the Daiwa Regal LT mentioned above, the Okuma Ceymar C-40 is equipped with an open airflow rotor system that works to keep the gears and ball bearings dry and resistant to corrosion.
Corrosion from water and other harsh conditions can severally damage the inner workings of your reel, making it virtually unusable. So, when looking for a new ultralight reel, this is a very important feature to factor in.
Reason #2 – Excellent Gear System
The Okuma Ceymar C-40 comes equipped with an exclusive gear system that creates and sustains much further and smoother casts than other models and allows for extremely smooth retrieval as well.
This spinning reel is crafted with precision elliptical gearing. This system works to give you the perfect cast every time. This technology promotes a more accurate cast with much further reach than traditional reels.
The Okuma Ceymar C-40 also comes equipped with a 7 ball bearing and 1 roller bearing system for optimal casting performance and smooth transfer.
Reason #3 – Drag and Gear Ratio
The Okuma Ceymar C-40 comes with a standard 5:1 gear ratio which allows for 29 inches of line to be spooled per crank. While this may seem like a large number, for ultralight reels this number is surprisingly lower than most. However, this should not deter you from purchasing this model. It is very effective in its castability and has an excellent drag system. The Okuma Ceymar’s drag system highly makes up for its lack in gear ratio as it is able to handle up to 13 lbs. of drag with ease. This means that, while it is meant mainly for smaller species of fish, larger ones can be caught with this model in accordance with your rod’s strength.
#3: Abu Garcia Revo SX (Best Splurge)
If you are an angler looking for a high-end spinning reel equipped with the latest technological advancements that have been proven to greatly enhance your fishing experience, the Abu Garcia Revo SX is for you!
Made completely of high quality aluminum and carbon, the Revo SX is extremely lightweight – at just 7.2 ounces – and versatile, making it strong (yet compact) enough to be able to withstand the harshest of conditions. As a fully corrosion-resistant reel, the stress of reel and line drying can be a distant memory for anglers of all kinds even saltwater. (Note that a small rinse of the reel is still recommended after use in saltwater.)
The Abu Garcia Revo SX comes with several exclusive features that are owned and patented by Abu Garcia itself. One of these impressive features is the reel’s AM gearing system. This system takes the best features of a precisely designed aluminum gear and combines it with Abu Garcia’s premium computer-optimized gear creating a reel with incredible smoothness and reliability.
The Revo SX also features a highly adapted drag system that is also exclusive to the Abu Garcia brand. Its carbon matrix hybrid drag system allows for impeccably smooth and consistent drag quality across its wide weight range.
This spinning reel is designed with instant anti-reverse technology which allows the reel to identify increased spool spin speed and slow it down before the line reverses and tangles in the spool. Its Rocket Line management system also helps to smoothly guide your line out of the spool to prevent snags and tangles midcast.
The Abu Garcia Revo SX is truly top of the line when it comes to ultralight reels and is used and promoted by several professional fishermen. Given its strength, it has also been proven to handle larger fish with ease and success.
If you are an angler with a budget that can accommodate the Revo SX, this model would be an excellent choice for you. It combines all of the best features of the precious reels we mentioned and then adds its own “Abu Garcia” spin to it, creating a reel that is masterfully designed and proven to pass the test of time with flying colors.
#4: KastKing Sharky III (Best Low Cost)
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The KastKing Sharky III is a highly versatile and amazing strong ultralight spinning reel that is built solely of premium-level parts which make for an exceptionally smooth cast and the reliability anglers are seeking for fishing success.
The KastKing Sharky is an incredible bang for your buck when it comes to quality and versatility. With a completely water-resistant body, spool, and rotor, the KastKing is perfect for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Its anti-corrosive properties work to repel water and dirt, guaranteeing excellent protection for both freshwater and saltwater fishermen.
The KastKing Sharkey is the typical size of a standard ultralight spinning reel, but the strength of this reel is beyond compare. Where our #1 and #2 could handle up to about 13 pounds of drag pressure, the Sharky III can accommodate up to 33 pounds of drag pressure! This is virtually unheard of in the ultralight spinning reel market.
With 10 ball bearings, plus 1 bearing that has been top-rated for saltwater protection, the strength and stamina of this reel is amazing for its price. It also holds a 5.2:1 gear ratio allowing for 33.4 inches of line per crank which will ensure anglers that they can boat their catch as quickly as possible.
Overall, the KastKing Sharky III is an extremely excellent choice for any angler, and it offers an incredible price as well. The only downside noted among reviewers about this reel is its proneness to rather quick wear and tear. Unlike our first three choices listed above, the KastKing just does not come with the same level of durability and longevity as our other options.
#5: Shimano Sedona Fi Spinning Reel (Ultra Lightweight)
The Shimano Sedona Fi spinning reel is one of the lightest weight reels of its kind and has the best handling and casting precision of the spinning reels on the market today.
Designed from cold-forged hagane, the Shimano Sedona guarantees immense strength and durability against frequent and heavy use, making it ideal for both onshore and offshore fishing.
At 7.6 ounces, the Shimano is definitely on the lightest end of ultralight spinning reel types, however, it is heavier than some we have found. This does not make any difference to the feel or ease of use of this reel. It simply means that it is built with a sturdy and stronger material leading to better longevity than that of our #1 pick for example.
Specially designed with propulsion line management, the Shimano Sedona Fi threads and flows line easily in and out of the spool and eliminates backlash and wind knots with its highly developed spool lip design.
The only downside to this reel in particular is that it has the lowest drag rating amongst all of our top picks. The Shimano Sedona Fi has a maximum drag capacity of only 7 pounds, likely caused by just how lightweight it is. So, this reel will not have the same max drag capacity as any of the choices we have included above.
While it would be a great pick for someone fishing for primarily small panfish and other small species, those hoping for the occasional big bite in the mix would most likely receive a snapped line from this reel.
Price ranges for the best ultralight spinning reel can be all over the map, making it difficult for the budget-conscious buyer to find a reliable spinning reel that will not break the bank.
Here we have researched and provided a few more budget-friendly options for you to consider, each one currently priced below $50.
#1 Best Budget – Penn Pursuit 3 Spinning Reel
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The Penn Pursuit 3 is a high-performance ultralight spinning reel constructed mainly of stainless steel and aluminum. The stainless steel used to make this particular reel model is shielded which means it hold strong corrosion resistance against salt and dirt making it great for saltwater fishing.
Its built-in high-precision gear system allows for steady and even casts that feel effortless to the angler. The Penn Pursuit 3 also includes an oil-felt drag system that creates consistent and easy to adjust drag capabilities.
The Penn Pursuit would be a great option for beginner or amateur fishermen, or for seasonal fishermen that don’t necessarily need the increased durability of a more expensive reel to meet their needs.
While this reel holds excellent quality for its surprisingly low price, it is important to consider that, due to its price, this reel will likely not hold the same drag power as our other previously mentioned, more expensive options.
When looking for a lower-priced spinning reel option, often the first feature that tends to lack in the reel itself are its drag capabilities. However, if you are fairly certain of the species of fish you are looking to catch with this reel and these fish are not aggressive fighters, this reel will do just fine.
Another important thing to note is that, overall, this reel received extremely great reviews from all kinds of fishermen. However, a common complaint that was the stickiness of the bail arm, so keep this in mind when you are making your decision.
#2 Best Budget – Pflueger President Spinning Reel
Another top pick under $50 is the Pflueger President spinning reel made from one of the best and most popular reel manufacturers in the industry today. Pflueger is well known for its innovative reel design and durable features.
Pflueger has recently launched a new product line of reels that allow for a lower price point, making them very popular among beginners and enthusiasts alike.
The Pflueger President is Pflueger’s take on the ultralight spinning reel, and it does not disappoint. Made with a 7-bearing system and anti-reverse technology, this reel is perfect for anyone new to fishing and learning the technique as well as for seasoned professionals. The anti-reverse technology allows for effortless casting without the worry of backlash and in-reel tangles.
This spinning reel is also very versatile with its lightweight and corrosion-resistant properties, making it the perfect fit for freshwater and saltwater fishing.
The President also comes with a multi-disc drag system that is both powerful and quiet, meaning that it will not spook or disturb fish which can increase the likelihood of fish breaking away from the line.
Overall, the Pflueger President is a great option for any fisherman looking for a lightweight and easily transportable option for those long days on the water. It is able to take hours upon hours of fishing at high performance, however, one important factor to consider is that its general construction will not be as reliable as that of our other higher-priced options. Many customers reported loosening of the reel’s handle after a time of extended use.
#3 Best Budget – Mitchell 300-C Spinning Reel
The Mitchell 300-C spinning reel is a small yet very effective spinning reel that’s power and strength may catch many anglers by surprise.
This reel’s graphite composite is strong and made to last. It holds the proven ability to catch larger fish with surprising ease and success.
Anglers praise this reel’s smooth casting and retrieval action as well as its ease of use in being an ultralight reel type. The Mitchell 300-C is also equipped with extremely effective anti-reverse technology that instantly engages when it is promoted by line pressure change. This allows anglers to achieve an easy and deep hook set.
One important thing to note though about this anti-reverse technology is that it can, at times, be unreliable. Unlike our other, more expensive models, the Mitchell 300 is not as reliable in standing up against normal wear and tear.
Because of the overall construction of ul spinning reel models, they tend to be both noisy and more noticeable to both anglers and the fish they are trying to lure. The action of the reel’s gears moving and the spool spinning can create vibrations within the tension of the line. Usually, this isn’t a problem for most fish, but it can be relatively annoying to anglers and may scare certain species of fish.
The Mitchell 300 is known most for its virtually silent action. Casting, line retrieval, and bail arm action on this reel are amazingly silent which is a great feature that makes this specific model stand out amongst others.
What Is the Best Bait to Use on an Ultralight Spinning Reel?
Because of the size and relative weight of an ultralight reel, it is important to make sure that, as an angler, you are setting yourself and your fishing rig up for success with the right kind of bait.
Generally, when fishing with an ultralight rod and reel combination a smaller lure or bait is most effective. Lures or bait that are too large and heavy will automatically work against your drag system and can even result in line snaps.
Lures that are streamlined and smaller in both size and weight will work best for an ultralight rod. Lures with excessive spinners and heavy action may create too much tension on the line itself, causing more wear and tear on your line and reel.
Jig heads with worms, minnows, leeches, or other small baits will work great with a spinning reel. The reel will easily cast this type of bait far into the water or deep below the surface. Then, when a fish strikes, it will be able to compensate for that fish’s weight with ease.
Small panfish lures, such as X Fishmen Crappie Baits, would work great with the fast retrieval and quick action that light spinning reels offer.
Verdict: Your Best Ultralight Spinning Reel
With a market so expansive with choices and different options for anglers, searching for the best ultralight spinning reel in 2021 is definitely no easy feat. However, we hope that this article has been able to provide you with some helpful hints and tips on picking the reel that is just right for you.
Below, you will find a summary of our finds to help you in your search.
If you want the best value for your money, pick the Daiwa Regal LT.
If you need more durability, pick the Okuma Ceymar C-40.
If you want to keep the spend under $50, pick any one of our budget-friendly choices listed above.
Overall, the best way to choose the best ultralight spinning reel for you is to know your style of fishing and what your goals are for your new reels. Once you can take that information and compare it across several different models and brands, the one that is made for you will stand out.
Trust your decision and your knowledge as an angler. All anglers are constantly learning and growing as they continue in the sport. Take knowledge from trusted professionals as well as your own understanding and research to make the most informed decision.