Over the years, I’ve not been a big fan of cheapo rod and reel combos. As a dedicated angler, I’ve always looked to get the best quality fishing kit I could afford.
I also preferred to make my own balanced rigs.
For the bulk of my fishing life, the better part of 40 years, combos under the 100 dollar mark weren’t on my fishing gear radar.
Back in the day, the quality of such combos left a lot to be desired. However, this price range has raised its game over the last decade or so.
Whilst a $100 combo is still the bottom end of entry-level, budget-driven anglers can pick up good rod and reel combos offering decent performance, reasonable longevity, and plenty of application variety.
Moreover, a hundred bucks can get you a decent rod & reel, some mono to spool up, and a handful of terminal tackle so you can hit the water running.
Let’s have a look at the best saltwater spinning combos under 100 that will get you fishing confidently.
Best Saltwater Spinning Combo Under $100 Reviewed
“Best” is a strong word and frequently bandied about in fishing reviews without qualification.
I can’t claim these combos are the best per se. But I can say that they are worthy contenders for your consideration.
There’s a lot of personal preference in fishing gear, so claims to “best” are often a little arbitrary.
If I were in the market for a budget combo, these saltwater spinning combos would certainly be on my shortlist.
Here are the best saltwater spinning combos under $100 in 2021
- Okuma Avenger Spinning Combos
- Shimano Symetre Spinning Combos
- Penn Pursuit III Spinning Combos
- Mitchell 300Pro Spinning Combos
1. Okuma Avenger Spinning Combos – Editor’s Choice
The Taiwanese manufacturer keeps its good form in the budget categories. The Avenger spinning reel has been a great success and remains popular.
Anglers will find this combination suitable for boats, jetties, rock walls with good access to water, kayaks, and banks.
Sizes range from 3000 to 4000 in the reels. Rods top out a 7 foot, from medium-light to medium-heavy.
The 3000 dominates the reel list. However, there is a 4000 available connected to a medium/heavy rod for a larger target.
I like that this combo provides access to a reasonably large inshore target. However, the 3000 models are by no means overkill for panfish.
The 3000 connected to the 7-foot medium-light rod makes a fantastic first rod for the budding angler, cutting their teeth on anything that swims inshore, fresh, or saltwater.
Each combo offers a robust setup making it a great choice for the budding angler learning the craft and honing skills.
There are 6 bearings, including a dedicated anti-reverse bearing delivering the sort of feel usually reserved for more expensive spinning reels.
It has an oil-felt drag system that is a step down from the modern carbon washer.
However, much of the Taiwanese fishing giant makes their reels in Japan. The drag system has all the hallmarks of Japanese precision and durability.
The reel has a particularly light crank yet feels very strong. Casting manners are good, particularly on the light-medium model, so long as your rig is balanced.
The rods are sensitive and responsive. The blanks are constructed with a highly durable 24-ton carbon rod blank, a broadly used industry standard.
I like the reinforced rod tip. If there’s any part of the rod that suffers from problems, it’s the tip.
The reinforcement offers another level of protection from…let’s say, operational oversights.
My only disappointment with this range is the lack of a longer rod. The 4000 would sit perfectly on the lighter weighted 10 footer making for a pretty good light beach outfit.
Aside from that, this is the sort of combo I would have bought for myself in my teen years. This is a great combo that will suit inshore anglers of all skill levels.
- Smooth crank
- Durable yet responsive rod
- Access to a large range of fish targets
- Great feel
- Falls short of allrounder status
- Could do with a longer rod option
- Responsive and durable 24-ton carbon rod blank
- UFR: Ultimate Flex Reinforced rod tip technology
- Precision placed stainless steel hook keeper
- Multi-disc, Japanese oiled felt drag system
- 6BB + 1RB for ultimate smoothness and performance
- Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing
- Precision machine-cut brass pinion gear
- Corrosion-resistant graphite body and rotor
- CFR: Cyclonic Flow Rotor technology
- Precision Elliptical Gearing system
2. Shimano Symetre – Best Inshore Spinning Combo Option
I’ve always been a fan of several of the budget Shimano spinning reels. At one point they really set the pace. These days, competitors have done their best to knock Shimano off its perch.
While the Symetre reel could do with a few more frills, such as a few more bearings, this combo will still please the more demanding budget anglers.
The first thing you will notice about the Symetre is the classy look. Aesthetics are a feature of this series, and they look like they’ve come from a much higher price point.
The most compelling feature of the Symetre combo series is the range.
There’s a combo in this series that’s sure to cover your inshore application, from ultra-light finesse work to chasing heavier inshore species.
The reels range from 1000 through to 4000. There’s a modest selection of rod lengths from 6’6” to 7’6”.
Again, like the Okuma, I’d like to see a longer rod to round out the series creating even more application access.
I like that Shimano has offered one and two-piece rods in this range.
They’ve focused on giving anglers different options in the 2500 size – there are six from which to choose.
This will be brilliant for chasing anything in the salty estuaries to chasing bass in the fresh.
It’s a lightweight combo well suited to casting lures. Casting manners are impressive, again suiting the relentless casting required for lure fishing.
Drag performance is typically Shimano, smooth and dependable.
This gives an effortless feel under load. Even the smaller reels, the 1000 and 2500, will punch above their weight.
I’d purchase the 2500 model and use it as a go-to combo for inshore sports work. Build quality is serviceable enough, so I’m confident I’d be using it for quite a few seasons.
- Smooth powerful drag
- Durable lightweight rod
- Excellent range
- Reels would benefit from a few more bearings
- Could do with a longer rod option
- High-quality graphite rod blank
- Stainless steel frame guides with Aluminum Oxide inserts
- Conducive to both freshwater and inshore techniques
- Single-piece and two-piece options
- Lightweight graphite G-Free Body
- Propulsion Line Management Spool
- Enhanced casting performance
3. Penn Pursuit III Spinning Combos – Best Budget Option for Big Fish
This Penn Combo has the inshore covered and provides access to the surf and some light to moderate nearshore and offshore applications.
This is a pretty comprehensive range, with the 6000-8 foot and the 8000-10 foot delivering genuine access to a larger class of fish from the surf, rock, and outside the heads.
With 20 and 25 pounds respectively, there’s enough fighting power to wrestle surprisingly large fish.
The Pursuit III has 4 (+1) shielded stainless bearings delivering gear protection as well as a pretty light crank by Penn standards.
While not sealed, the shielded bearings and the graphite construction provide pretty reasonable corrosion credentials, ensuring an extended working life.
The Penn Pursuit III received a drag upgrade to HT100 ceramic drag washers. The result was a much smoother, more reliable drag under load.
The thick bail wire is a plus adding another level of robust durability. Ideal for ocean rock and sea wall anglers.
The anti-reverse is very solid, promoting secure hook-ups and reducing losses on strike. The elimination of back-play encourages a confident strike.
I’m a fan of composite rod blanks, particularly for beginners and those learning the craft.
Composite rods are more durable, and they’re also more forgiving as anglers learn the finer skills of timing.
Dura guides are a boon for those heavy on their rods. The propensity for rough anglers to pop inserts is common.
The Dura guide system takes care of this frequent occurrence.
The rod range starts at 7 feet. There’s an 8 foot for the 6000 and a 10-foot option with the big 8000.
For me, it’s the 8-foot and 10-foot options that stand out above the rest. It can be difficult to find an affordable quality kit capable of handling a larger class of fish. These two combos deliver genuine access to big fish, be it land-based or afloat.
- HT100 drag
- Excellent range
- Big fish options
- Surf, rock, and offshore capabilities
- Lackluster aesthetics
- No sealing, which is handy for surf and rock work
- Graphite Composite Blanks
- EVA Grips
- HT-100 carbon fiber drag system
- Lightweight and corrosion-resistant graphite body
- 4+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
- Superline Spool
- CNC folding aluminum handle
- Infinite Anti-Reverse
4. Mitchell 300Pro – Best Inshore Spinning Combos
This is a very cool inshore combo from Mitchell. It will suit the inshore boat and jetty angler and provide reasonable bank fishing access.
The rod range is 5’6” to 7’, with the reels including a 500, 2000, and a 4000. Rods are light through to medium, covering the lion’s share of inshore applications.
The stand-out feature is the bearing-packed reels. Each reel has 10 bearings that deliver excellent support to the gears for a long working life and lightweight cranking.
At 14 and 6.4 pounds of drag, they’re not loaded with power, but nor do they need to be.
Spool capacities are a little light on, but again, larger spool sizes are unnecessary for the applications they’re designed to fish.
While a little heavier than competitors for their size, this is part of the price compromise.
High-tech lightweight materials come at a premium. I don’t expect anglers to notice any undue weight burden, however.
The drag system is a hybrid of carbon and oil felt washers. It’s smooth, predictable, and reliable under heavier loads.
Gear ratios are on the slower side, perfect for cranking, and fine for casting a range of lures, soft and hard.
Each combo is nicely balanced, promoting easy, long, and accurate casting. They’re good for both mono and braided lines.
The all-graphite rods are sensitive, responsive, and strong. Stainless guides keep the weight down while offering a higher level of corrosion resistance.
The EVA grips feel nice, but I’d like to see a couple of cork options in the light rods.
The green theme is very Mitchell. It may appeal to some, but I prefer other designs. Aesthetics remain pretty slick, however.
My choice from this combo would be the 500 reel for serious inshore fishing on lighter targets.
The 2000 size at any rod length would make a quality first rod and reel for new beginner anglers. There is all the feel of a more expensive setup without the high price.
- 10 bearing reels for lightweight cranking
- Good corrosion resistance
- Lightweight options
- Reasonable coverage of lightweight onshore application
- No longer rod options
- With 10 bearings at this price point, bearing longevity might be questionable
- 10 Bearings with an instant anti-reverse for smooth operation
- Innovative Bail Halo for superior strength
- Extremely strong advanced polymeric body and rotor
- Aluminum spool and handle with an EVA knob
- Smooth hybrid carbon fiber drag
- 24 Ton graphite rod for sensitivity and strength
- Stainless steel guides and inserts for reduced weight and increased durability
- EVA split grip handle for comfort and balance
Are Spinning Reels Better Than Baitcasters For Saltwater Fishing?
The short answer is no, spinning reels are not any better than baitcasters for saltwater fishing.
Spinning reels are easier to use, especially for beginner anglers. However, once mastered, baicasters are great saltwater reels.
Choosing spin or baitcaster will often come down to personal preference for application.
For example, when casting is premium, I prefer a spinning reel. For jigging and trolling, I prefer bigger baicasters.
Many anglers prefer baicasters for rapid casting. Yep, they’re great for this, but I’m more than happy to cast rapid-fire with a spin reel.
Spinning reel versus baitcaster will (nearly always) come down to personal preference.
How Do I Choose The Right Size Combo?
Choosing the right size combo comes down to the target and the location. Bigger heavier combos are suitable for surf, rock, and offshore work.
Longer rods for surf and rock, shorter rods for fishing afloat.
6000 reels and bigger connected to 10-foot rods, and above, make for great surf and rock combos.
8000 reels and above connected to heavier shorter rods of 6 to 9 foot are better offshore.
3000 to 5000 size reels are good all-rounders when connected to medium-light to medium-heavy rods 7 to 12 feet.
3000 and below takes care of the inshore. Rods can vary from 6 feet to 9 feet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best saltwater spinning reel for the money?
This question is almost impossible to answer. There’s no way you can address this question in absolute terms.
The answer will always be subjective and must include a huge list of qualifications to address a large list of variables.
At the moment, and in my opinion, the best value for money saltwater spinning reel for the money is the Daiwa BG.
It’s a heck of a lot of reel for not much over a hundred bucks.
What Are The Main Differences Between Saltwater And Freshwater Spinning Reels?
In my books, it’s a pretty silly distinction. You can use any reel in any water.
However, you will usually see that more expensive saltwater spinning reels have sealing in multiple places as well as corrosion resistance features and technologies.
What Is A Good Choice For A Saltwater Inshore Spinning Reel?
The short answer is whatever spinning reel up to size 5000 that fits your budget. I like the Vanford, the Stradic FL in any size. I also like the Daiwa BG in the 3000 size.
For the budget-driven, any of the reels above size 3000 would be ideal.
How Many Ball Bearings Should A Good Spinning Reel Have?
The high-end models have anywhere from 6 to 12. Exceptions to this are reels like the Mitchel above.
It’s a cheap spinning reel with a lot of bearings.
Be aware that if there are lots of bearings for a cheap price, there will be compromises in bearing quality.
A minimum of 3 quality bearings is a good starting point for any angler. These days, however, one expects to see 4 or more at accessible price points.
What Is The Best Rod For Saltwater Fishing?
Again, the short answer is any rod you can afford or get your hands on.
Rod selection will be determined by application and target; saltwater is barely a consideration when choosing a rod.
Having said that, look for components, guides, and reel seats that offer some level of corrosion resistance.
Under 100 Dollar Combo – Conclusion
From the list above, I like the Okuma 4000 for targeting a larger class of inshore fish.
I’d get the 500 Mitchell for inshore finesse work and the Symetre 2500 for inshore sports lure casting.
The Penn 8000 on the 10-foot rod would be my choice for surf, rock, and light to medium offshore fishing.