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After a long day of fishing, there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting back with a beer, cleaning your fish, and going through the pictures of your day’s successes.
However, it’s tough to revel in the glory of your catch if you’re nursing sore shoulders muscles from a heavy rod and reel.
Heavy rods and reels have their place, of course, in every angler’s lineup. They’re great for going after tough-fighting fish and they’re quite durable, too.
That’s why most people – myself included – have always tended to gravitate toward these bulkier options.
But you should know that you don’t necessarily need to sacrifice comfort in pursuit of big fish – you can go after big fish with an ultralight reel (and be successful, too!).
You just need to invest in the right reel.
If you’re thinking about upgrading to a new reel, you might want to consider buying one of the best ultralight spinning reels. It’s the perfect solution to all of your fishing needs.
10 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels 2021
Here are the best ultralight spinning reels on the market today:
Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The Best Lightweight Spinning Reels You Can Buy
Here are the top 10 light spinning reels on the market today
Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel – Best Overall Lightweight Reel
Pflueger sells a wide array of top-notch spinning reels (as well as other fishing equipment and tackle) but this ultralight spinning reel is without a doubt, one of the best.
It’s not only versatile, allowing you to use it in both saltwater and freshwater, but it’s also made out of some of the strongest materials.
In fact, it includes a magnesium body and rotor. Magnesium is usually only used on very expensive, high-end reels that are used by professionals.
However, this reel remains affordable while still incorporating those durable magnesium components.
There are several variations of this reel that you can choose from, including the SP25X and the SP35X.
The best choice of these for you will depend on what kind of fish you plan to go after. In general, these reels all do a great job if you plan on going after small to medium-sized fish like bass, redfish, and crappie.
The reel is remarkably comfortable to use. It has 10 ball bearings along with a soft knob and grip.
Give it a try – you won’t regret it.
- Has a sealed drag system to keep things lubricated
- Works well in freshwater and saltwater alike
- Magnesium body offers strength without adding weight
- A little more expensive than many of the other ultralight reels
Okuma Helios Lightweight Spinning Reel
This ultralight reel has a carbon compound frame and double-anodized aluminum handle, spool, and bail. That adds to its durability without adding to its heft.
The reel’s body is made out of carbon fiber, as are the side plate and rotor. It is precise and rigid, the perfect choice for freshwater fishing.
But if a day on the ocean is what you have in mind, don’t worry. This reel can handle that environment, too. It is corrosion-resistant.
At just 6.2 oz, this lightweight reel can be used all day without fatiguing your arms and hands. It is easy to coast and incredibly comfortable to use.
- Corrosion-resistant, durable materials
- EVA knob for comfortable fishing
- Offers an exceptionally smooth retrieve
- Though corrosion-resistant, it’s not totally corrosion-proof as it’s not fully sealed
KastKing Sharky Fishing Reel
Constructed with premium materials, the KastKing Sharky is an ultralight spinning reel worth your consideration.
It has a spool, rotor, and body that are all water-resistant. You won’t have to worry about dirt, water, or corrosive salt damaging the components of your reel.
At just ten and a half ounces, it’s a bit heavier than some other ultralight models you might find, yet still lightweight enough to be called an ultralight reel.
Both the rotor and body are made out of strengthened graphite. It has a max drag of 33 lbs – perfect for going after those tough-fighting fish.
It operates quietly, too, with its 10+1 ball bearings made out of stainless steel. It also comes with a Fin braid-ready spool made out of aluminum.
There are very few complaints to be had when it comes to the KastKing Sharky – it’s one of the most versatile and high-performing fishing reels you will find.
- Backed by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Has great drag capability
- Can be used by left and right-handed anglers alike
- Not the lightest reel you’ll find
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB Spinning Fishing Reel
The Shimano Stradic is another one of the best ultralight spinning reels on the market.
It’s made out of proprietary Ci4+ graphite, a revolutionary material that makes the reel feel drastically lighter than other Stradic reels.
Its lightweight frame is perfect when paired with a medium rod. It can be used for all kidneys of inshore fish, including trout and bass.
It has excellent cranking power and a great anti-reverse system. It is fully sealed and protected against water-related damage.
The stradic is a very responsive reel, and one of the best you will find for the money.
- Lightweight and responsive
- Has a silky smooth drag
- Comfortable to use for all-day fishing
- A tad heavier than some of the other leading ultralight reels
Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel
If the other option by Pflueger doesn’t do it for you, maybe this spinning reel could be an option.
It’s equipped with a graphite rotor and body – it’s not only durable and lightweight, but it’s incredibly portable as well.
It has a braid-ready aluminum spool that requires no mono line backing. It has 10 stainless steel bearings – most of which are ball bearings. They’re all made out of corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
With a fast gear ratio of 5.2:1 and a retrieval rate of 25.2 inches per crank, this ultralight reel is one that’s sure to stand the test of time.
It has a lightweight feel, weighing just 8.3 oz. It even comes with a SureClick aluminum bail to help prevent damage and make sure you can land those tough to catch fish.
Finally, it has a soft-touch knob that makes a long day of fishing comfortable and relaxing.
- Possible to switch hand retrieve
- Has a 10 ball bearing system for smooth, quiet operation
- Lightweight and portable
- Not sealed to protect against saltwater
Shimano Sedona Fl, Freshwater Reel
Another option by Shimano is the Sedona Fl. You’ll find this spinning reel on the “best buy” lists of anglers all over the world. It is a versatile, affordable reel that can be used for both offshore and inshore fishing.
Lightweight at just 7.6 oz, the body has a G-Free technology that’s unique to Shimano reels. You won’t have to worry about stressing your shoulders, back, or wrist, even after a long day of fishing.
Although its drag is not the best at just 7 lbs, it has a superb line management offering and a fast gear ratio to make up for that deficit.
Its design on the spool lip helps you make the most of your casting distance – while at the same time eliminating the formation of knots and backlashes.
- Lightweight feel that doesn’t strain your wrists
- Can be used offshore and inshore
- Quick retrieval rate
- Not the greatest drag
Okuma RTX Lightweight Spinning Reel
The Okuma RTX Lightweight Reel is one that is frequently chosen by professionals. It is budget-friendly, equipped with some of the best technologies in the industry.
You’ll not only get a C40X carbon body, but you also benefit from an ALG Gearing System. These technologies are acutely engineered to provide the exceptional performance you might expect out of an Okuma reel.
The C40x carbon body in particular is worth writing home about. It is 25% lighter than comparable reels without compromising its strength – it’s 50% stronger than the average ultralight reel.
It has 7+1 stainless steel bearings for minimal play and smooth cranking. The drag system is a multi-disk Japanese oil felt system. It’s watertight and equipped with a Hydro Block watertight drag seal.
With a gear ratio of 6.01:1, you’ll love how quick this reel works for you. It also has quite an ample line capacity, making it perfect for a wide array of fish species.
- Impressive casting distance
- Reduces backplay
- Resistant to saltwater damage
- Some users report a wobbly retrieve
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
Not sure which ultralight reel is right for you? You may be best off with choosing a reel from a brand that you know and love.
For many people, that brand is Shakespeare. When you buy this product, you’ll actually be buying a combo. You get the reel along with the rod.
I definitely recommend purchasing this combo – you’ll get a high-quality, ultralight reel along with a high-performing rod.
The two go together like peas and carrots.
This rod itself is available in several different lengths – ranging from just under 5’ to 7’- and offers an exceptional casting distance at a longer length.
Made out of fiberglass and graphite composite, this rod and reel combo handles itself well in light fishing applications.
The reel itself is a bit heavier than some other reels but overall, still incredibly lightweight. It’s great for a 6-8lb braided line and can cast more than 100’.
The reel is equipped with three ball bearings and an excellent anti-reverse system.
- Lightweight and durable product
- Stainless steel guides on the rod are corrosion-resistant
- Has an instant anti-reverse that ensures an excellent hook set
- Can be a bit jerky at times
Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight Spinning Fishing Reel
The Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight Spinning Reel is another one of the lightest reels on the market.
Despite its low price tag, this ultralight spinning reel offers continuous performance along with uncompromised durability.
It has an impressive line capacity of 190 yards (when fitted with 2 lb line) and a max drag of 4.4 lbs. It has a great gear ratio of 4.9:1, helping to increase your power on the retrieve. Made out of composite materials, it’s sturdy and smooth.
In my experience, this is one of the best ultralight spinning reels if you’re fishing with children, beginners, and so-called “weekend warriors” who want a reel that offers efficiency and performance without requiring the use of a costly, highly technical reel.
- Smooth and durable performance
- Great line capacity
- Comfortable to use
- Handle knob is somewhat weak
Abu Garcia Revo Premier Spinning Reel
Finding the perfect ultralight spinning reel can be a serious challenge when you realize all of the factors you have to take into consideration.
This reel does away with some of those concerns as it offers top-notch performance in all the required categories.
You can finally check off all of the boxes when you’re searching for the right micro reel!
It is great at catching fish with an exceptional line capacity of 150 yards (when using 6lb braid). It also has a Carbon Matrix drag system of 10 lbs stopping power.
With 11+1 stainless steel bearings, you’ll enjoy a smoother line retrieval without compromising speed.
You’ll notice that the number of ball bearings in this reel is much higher than what you’d normally find – and that’s a great feature to have for sure.
The technology in this reel adds to its overall performance without adding to its price tag. It has computer-optimized machined gears to ensure better gear performance without compromising durability.
With all of these features, you might assume that this reel is a bit on the heavier side. Think again! It only weighs about 6.4 oz, making it a top contender on your hunt for the right lightweight reel.
- Excellent drag system
- Large number of bearings adds to its smooth, quick line retrieve
- Corrosion-resistant reel
- Can be somewhat loud
How to Find the Right Ultralight Spinning Reel
Weight is a crucial feature when it comes to just about any kind of reel (and rod, of course) but it’s essential when you are shopping for an ultralight micro spinning reel in particular.
When you’re using an ultralight set-up, you need everything to be compact and easy to manage. That applies to your line, tackle, and rod. If you use heavy reel, it can throw off your entire balance.
This means you might have more trouble casting properly and doing so with accuracy and precision.
In the past, you wouldn’t have a ton of choices when it came to shopping for a new ultralight reel.
However, advances in technology have made it possible for retailers to offer light micro reels that are still durable and high-performing.
Look for a reel made out of a lightweight, yet sturdy, material such as carbon or graphite (or a composite of the two). This will help you up your game.
You’re going to want to consider how the reel is constructed, too. It has to be built with the best possible elements, particularly when it comes to the gears, handle, shaft, and bail (although the construction of the body is important as well).
Most of the best ultralight reels have aluminum spools so that they are compatible with braided lines.
Aluminum in general is a good material to consider when you’re shopping for a reel of any kind. Although it’s not as lightweight as graphite, it offers more strength and less flex to help you reel in large fish.
When considering the construction of your reel, check the bail, too. It should move smoothly and snap close with minimal resistance.
A high-quality reel will have a silky smooth feel, regardless of how expensive it is or how advanced its technology may be.
Line Retrieval and Gear Ratio
Most fishing reel manufacturers include statistics about their line retrieval and gear ratios when marketing their products.
These factors are important ones to consider.
Gear ratio will tell you how many times the bail rotates around the spool. These numbers will influence your fishing technique as well as how big of a fish you can go after.
This is a lesser concern when you’re shopping for an ultralight reel, as most tend to be equipped with the right features to offer versatility in all settings.
However, some aren’t meant for larger fish.
You’ll want to carefully consider how your reel will be used before you buy it. Check the ratings and customer reviews to find out which species the reel works best with.
If you plan on going after larger fish (particularly ocean species or those that are tough-fighting) you may need to evaluate whether an ultralight spinning reel is a good choice for you.
Sometimes, a heavier fish requires the use of a heavy-duty reel, which can increase the overall weight of your reel (but is often necessary).
You also need to get a reel that will match your rod. In this review of the best ultralight spinning reels, I did include one product – the Shakespeare Ugly Stik – that comes with its own rod.
You don’t necessarily have to have everything all matchy-matchy, but it can help when it comes to making sure your components are equally paired and capable of working together.
In general, when putting together a lightweight rig, you need balance. Check the rod you intend to use and see what line weights are recommended.
Then make sure the reel you select can hold up to the challenge.
How many bearings a reel has impacts how smooth your drag operates – as well as how smooth your casts are.
The more bearings you have, the better.
It’s not just the number of bearings that matter, though. Although more bearings are better – anything more than 5 should suffice – you also need to invest in a reel that has protections against corrosion.
Ideally, these should be made out of materials like stainless steel and sealed to protect against water-related damages (especially if you plan on fishing in saltwater or brackish environments).
When you invest in a reel with high-quality bearings, you won’t have to worry about them flaking, pitting, or becoming deformed over time.
That translates to a reel that is easier to maintain (and less costly to repair) over its lifespan.
Again, drag is an important factor to consider for all spinning reels – but especially for ultralight spinning reels.
With the right drag, you’ll be able to land big fish even on lightweight lines. The wrong drag (ie, one that is not smooth or quick engaging enough) can result in lost or missed fish.
Look for a drag that is easy to adjust and to engage. You’ll also want a system made out of high-quality materials to prevent damage. The highest drag for an ultralight reel should be a minimum of 7 lbs.
Why You Need to Buy an Ultralight Spinning Reel
There are plenty of benefits to buying an ultralight spinning reel.
For starters, you’ll be better able to handle light lines and to cast lightweight lures. The fixed, open spool on this kind of reel helps the line flow off in coils without creating backlash or unwanted tangles.
Plus, light spinning reels are more versatile. You won’t be limited to just one kind of fish – instead, you can set your sights on just about any species.
These reels also tend to be more fun to use. You can’t yank a fish into shore with brute force like you might be able to with a heavier-duty reel.
Instead, you need to finesse it. You can use smaller lines and smaller lures that may not be as effective with a heavier reel.
These lighter reels are perfect for people of all experience levels. You don’t have to be a pro to use a basic ultralight micro spinning reel – and as you get better, you can upgrade to a more refined model with additional features.
So what are you waiting for? Hone your fishing technique by investing in one of our top ultralight spinning reels.