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You don’t have to have a huge boat to enjoy a bit of saltwater fishing.
In fact, plenty of anglers get their kicks from inshore fishing, which is fishing in water that doesn’t run too far away from the shore (usually no further than nine miles from shore, and not very deep).
I love inshore fishing because I don’t need to haul around a ton of gear, but I can still go after some of my favorite fish species (like redfish).
Inshore fishing allows me to get out on the water at a moment’s notice, rather than having to plan and haul a boat just for an hour or two of fishing.
That’s not to say that you don’t need the right gear, though.
Although your tackle and equipment needs are substantially reduced, if you plan on a spot of inshore fishing, you need to have a good rod and of course, a good inshore spinning reel.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the best inshore spinning reel for your money.
Best Inshore Spinning Reels 2021: Quick Guide
If you’re in a rush, then here are the best inshore spinning reels below.
Last update on 2021-02-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Top Inshore Spinning Reels Reviewed
Here are the top inshore spinning reels on the market today
Shimano Stradic – The Best Inshore Reel Overall
The Shimano Stradic Ci4 is, perhaps, the lightest inshore spinning reel you’ll ever buy.
Made out of super-light carbon and paired with a cold-forged aluminum spool, it also incorporates patented “magnum lite” technology in its rotor design.
As a result, this reel is rated as being up to 25% lighter than Shimano’s other reels.
There are four separate models available, most of which are equipped with six ball bearings and one roller bearing. You’ll get a drag rated for 20 lb and a lightweight feel.
You’ll enjoy a super light reeling and casting experience, which not only reduces the wear on your reel but makes it more comfortable to use for all-day fishing, too.
Because it has so many ball bearings, you can use it for other fishing settings, like freshwater fishing.
This reel has advanced hagane gearing that will improve your precision and power as you are out there on the water.
This fishing reel also comes with patented Coreprotect technology. If you aren’t familiar with it, in a nutshell, it improves protection against corrosion and also increases your water resistance.
You’ll be able to use this reel for years to come.
- Offers a smooth reeling experience
- Comfortable to use all day
- Can be used for freshwater fishing
- Drag isn’t the best when it comes to performance
Abu Garcia Revo Inshore Spinning Reel
The Abu Garcia Revo is another choice when you’re looking for a good inshore spinning reel. It comes in numerous sizes, including 30, 40, and 60 – so you’re sure to find one that meets your needs.
It has six stainless steel bearings plus one roller bearing with added corrosion protection. Not only that, but the reel’s precision-machined gears offer some of the best durability and smoothness.
It has a computer-optimized gear design to improve your reeling along with a super smooth carbon matrix drag system. Its carbon rotor helps reduce the weight of the reel without compromising on durability or strength.
Another nice feature of this reel is that you can change the handle to fit both right and left-handed anglers.
- Smooth drag
- Rocket line management system helps improve casting distance
- Can be used by both right and left-handed anglers
- Can be a bit uncomfortable to use
Piscifun Carbon X Spinning Reel – Best Lightweight Reel
The Piscifun Carbon X Spinning Reel is one of the best inshore spinning reels on the market. It offers “feather-light” performance with its carbon fiber side plates, rotors, and body.
It is one of the most lightweight reels you’ll find, tipping the scales at just 5.7 ounces. With a fast 6.2:1 gear ratio, you’ll be able to snatch up fish in a jiffy.
It has a silky smooth drag with 10+1 stainless steel ball bearings (these are sealed and shielded to prevent any damage related to corrosion).
You’ll love the consistency and performance of this reel, which has one of the best in class drag systems and innovative design.
It’s jam-packed with all kinds of features, including a direct aluminum handle that screws right in, a nest-shaped spool, and a comfortable high-density knob made out of EVA foam.
- The main shaft is corrosion-resistant stainless steel
- Has a high-density EVA foam knob
- Comes with sealed rubber ring to prevent damage from dust or water
- Some customers have mentioned that it’s lightweight
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Round Reel
Another Abu Garcia reel to consider for inshore fishing is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur. This reel is perfect for saltwater fishing and is made by one of the top names in angling gear.
It comes with both right and left reel positions and a centrifugal braking system. At less than 11 ounces (some models are even less than 10 oz), this reel is lightweight without compromising on its durability.
The Ambassadeur offers precision, strength, and smooth casting. It reduces the likelihood of backlashes with its six-pin centrifugal system.
It also has a patented carbon matrix drag system. You’ll enjoy silky-smooth performance at all times.
It has three stainless bearings and one roller bearing – this isn’t the biggest number you’ll find, but it’s certainly enough to get the job done.
With unrelenting power and performance, this reel is durable when it comes to resisting the elements, too. It has bearings that are made of shielded stainless steel to resist saltwater damage.
Plus, its handle is bent to improve your cranking, which, accompanied by the power knob, offers exceptional torque.
There are several versions of this reel available to meet your needs.
Whichever one you choose, you’ll love the indestructible and durable nature of this dynamic model.
- Sealed to prevent corrosion and damage
- Smooth carbon matrix drag system
- Reduces the likelihood of backlashes
- Minimal drag force
Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel
With its high-quality, watertight design, the Penn Spinfisher VI Inshore Spinning Reel is one you’ve got to put at the top of your shopping list.
If you’re looking for durability, this reel is the way to go. It has a full metal body, rotor, and sideplate, and is equipped with heavy-duty aluminum bail wire.
Some people don’t mind some plastic parts when it comes to their reels, but I absolutely hate it.
This reel gets rid of the plastic and instead uses all-metal components for better longevity and performance.
It comes in a variety of sizes, from 3500 to 10500, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from regardless of what kind of fish species you plan on targeting.
The Penn Spinfisher is known for its ability to shed water, too. It has a watertight design with stainless steel shield and a sealed drag.
Plus, its full-metal body is resistant to corrosion and reliable in sandy, saltwater environments that can be hell on a reel.
It has a silky smooth drag with its HT-100 slammer drag system. This unique technology prevents your bail from tripping when you’re casting, which can be a huge nuisance to deal with.
Its full metal body offers all the backbone you need in an inshore spinning reel. Plus, it has an infinite anti-reverse system and a heavy-duty bail, so you won’t have to worry about casting or reeling performance, either.
As a bonus, this reel is shipped with superline spool free of charge. What more could you possibly want?
- Reliable in a saltwater environment with its corrosion resistance
- Comes with superline spool
- Has a full-metal body
- Can be a bit on the heavy side
Cadence Lux Spinning Reel
A super-smooth reel, the Cadence Lux Spinning Reel comes in various sizes, each of which has nine high-quality Japanese ball bearings plus an instant anti-reverse bearing.
The result? You’ll get the smoothest, most luxurious experience while you’re fishing. The sealed carbon fiber system has a max drag of 30 lbs.
It’s totally sealed, too, so you don’t have to worry about sand, dirt, and water getting into your reel. It’s equipped with an aluminum braid-ready spool.
You can tie braid directly onto your spool without the need for backing. Plus, its optimized lip design eliminates wind knots and twisting to help you make the most of your casting distance.
Engineered for professional anglers, this reel can be used for both freshwater and saltwater species alike.
- Comes with a one-year manufacturers’ warranty
- Equipped with an aluminum braid ready spool
- Max drag of 30 lbs
- Needs to be rinsed after each use
Buying Guide: What To Look For in an Inshore Spinning Reel
Before you make any other decision, you need to decide what kind of species you want to go after with your rod and inshore spinning reel.
Otherwise, you’ll be fighting a losing battle right from the very beginning.
If you only plan on going after smaller species, like dogfish, you can get by with a lower-powered reel. You don’t need anything with a lot of backbone.
However, if large, predatory species are on your mind, you will need something with a bit more gusto.
Most inshore spinning reels aren’t quite as strong as those designed for offshore use because the larger species tend to hang out in deeper waters.
That’s not always the case, though – plus, it never hurts to have a reel that will work in a myriad of settings, too.
Once you’ve decided what kind of fish you’d like to go after, you need to choose your reel material.
In general, most reels are made out of aluminum or graphite. Either works well, but graphite will be exceptionally lightweight and is usually more resistant to corrosion.
Corrosion-resistance is an essential benefit to look for when you are evaluating reels that will be used in saltwater.
You could look for a reel that is made more corrosion-resistant with an anodized finish or a bronze coating if the material itself is not resistant to saltwater damage.
You’re going to want to consider other factors related to the material and build quality of the reel, though. How lightweight is the material? How well does it resist damage?
Cleaning and Maintenance
Look for a reel that has a good seal. If you can invest in a reel that has components that are sealed to protect against the elements, you won’t have to worry as much about saltwater getting into the internal components of your reel and causing them to malfunction.
A sealed reel can also be easier to clean.
Even if you aren’t able to buy a reel that has sealed components, look for one that will be easy for you to disassemble and maintain.
When you’re fishing in saltwater, cleaning your reel is something you will be doing quite often – so make it easier on yourself by investing in this kind of reel.
Again, this feature will match up with the potential size of the fish you’d like to go after. If you’re targeting large fish, you’ll need a bigger reel.
Simple as that!
Ideally, though, most inshore spinning reels will be a 3000 or 4000 size. These reels pair nicely with medium to medium/heavy rated rods.
High vs. Low Gear Ratio
Gear ratio is something else to consider. A higher gear ratio will make it easier for you to bring your fish to shore faster, but won’t offer the same fighting power you would get with a low gear ratio reel.
Ball bearings are smooth, spherical balls that reduce the friction of the moving parts in your reel.
In general, the higher the number of ball bearings your reel has, the better. This will keep your reel operating smoothly and reduce your chance of a break or malfunction.
How much line can your reel handle – and at what length? You’ll find inshore spinning reels with all kinds of line lengths, and the choice is really up to you.
You should weigh your decision in this regard based on how big your fish species of choice is.
The bigger the fish, the more lines you need. Ideally, you’ll want a reel that can hold at least 200 yards of 10 to 15 lbs rated line.
Look for a reel with a strong, smooth drag. You’ll want one that’s sealed, too, to prevent sand, salt, and grime from getting inside the reel.
If you can, look for an inshore spinning reel with a front drag. Often, it will have larger drag washers so it will be easier for you to adjust and will also offer more consistent performance.
Look for a drag that can handle light lines in the 10 to 15 lb range at the very least.
There are two major features you’ll want to consider when it comes to the handle design of your reel – comfort and convenience.
For comfort, look for a reel that has an ergonomically designed handle (ideally with a soft grip that makes it easier to hang on to your reel while you’re working a big fish in wet conditions).
You may also want to consider convenience. What do I mean by this?
If you’re right-handed, you may have not given much of a thought to the handedness of your reel.
However, if you’re left-handed (or ambidextrous), you may have had trouble finding a reel that wasn’t awkward to use in the past.
Many inshore spinning reels are designed to be used by people who are ambidextrous or left-handed. This may be a feature you want to consider.
As a bonus feature, some reels are also equipped with anti-reverse handles. These make rotating your handle much easier (and lighter).
It only rotates in one direction and won’t spin backward, even under the weight of a fish.
What is the best saltwater inshore spinning reel?
All the reels in this list are great choices. However, there are several features that make inshore spinning reels well worth your money.
For starters, you’ve got to consider the damaging effects that saltwater has on reels. Just think of how unpleasant a film of saltwater feels on your skin after a day on the ocean.
Now consider what it’s doing to your reel.
You can reduce the likelihood of most major damages by being diligent about maintaining and cleaning your reel, but you’re going to want to choose a reel that is resistant to corrosion (as most inshore spinning reels are) to increase your odds of success.
You also need a reel that’s designed to handle the tough-fighting nature of ocean species. Ocean-dwelling fish, by and large, are much bigger than most freshwater fish.
However, they vary in size and behavior, so it’s important to get an inshore spinning reel. Only an inshore reel will have the versatility necessary to handle all kinds of situations.
Reduce your likelihood of reel damage (and expensive repairs!) and increase your odds of landing a huge, photo-worthy fish by investing in the best inshore spinning reels.
While there’s no single best inshore spinning reel for everyone, any of these reels will dramatically improve your chances of having a phenomenal day out there on the coast.