* Fishing Pioneer is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel

Last Updated: September 2020
Nancy Perry
Product Review by Nancy Perry

In the article, we’re going to review and rate the best ultralight spinning reels.

Many anglers prefer ultralight spinning reels for a variety of reasons, but generally, ultralight spinning reels help with performance and stability when casting and retrieving.

Reel weight is generally a matter of preference, but a lighter reel will allow you to cast more efficiently, fatigue less quickly, and have a more pleasurable retrieval experience.

When looking for an ultralight spinning reel, you want to find a reel that’s affordable and appropriate for your experience level.

This article; comprising of numerous detailed product reviews and a comprehensive buyer’s guide, will provide you with all of the information you need, to enable you to pick your ideal ultralight spinning reel.

Our Reviews
1

Piscifun Flame Spinning Reel

This reel by Piscifun certainly lives up to it’s brand’s name. Piscifun has long been a leader in fishing equipment and is known for delivering serviceable, affordable equipment to fishermen worldwide. This particular model is the most affordable reel that we have on our list and is suitable for someone looking for the bare minimum ultralight reel.

For how affordable it is, this reel actually looks quite nice. The matte black body goes well with the red aluminum spool. It feels excellent in hand with its lightweight design and graphic body. The abundance of ball bearings gives it a luxury retrieve experience while the drag gives you a surprising amount of power.

If you are looking for the bare minimum ultralight reel that won’t go bad in a day, this is a great option for you. It’s basic and sleek with enough power to be versatile and accommodating. This is an adequate reel for a child or beginner, but wouldn’t probably be found in the arsenal of a professional. Nevertheless, its good value for the money, and there’s no reason why this reel wouldn’t be a decent ultralight budget reel.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Stylish colors
  • Comes in multiple models
  • Compatible with braided line

Cons

  • Probably not ideal for saltwater, heavy use, and very large fish
2

KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel

The Sharky III model ultralight reel by KastKing is specifically built to be both light and be able to land some larger fish. The body and rotor are made of graphite, but the unique design allows for the Sharky III to be used in a variety of fishing conditions and on some larger breeds that other, less superior reels might not be able to handle.

What makes the Sharky III stand out from other ultralight reels when it comes to catching large fish is the triple disc carbon fiber drag that allows for high torque stress, oversized stainless-steel main shaft for durability, and the precision mesh brass pinion gears for long-lasting reliability. All of these features, in conjunction, make it a great candidate for fishers who want something ultralight that is also able to stand up to large fish.

This reel is suitable for saltwater since it is sealed by KastKing’s K.I.S.S. system. It stands for KastKing Intrusion Shield System, and it helps to prevent debris and saltwater from getting into the mechanisms of the reel and corroding the parts within.

In addition to the great functionality and durability of the reel, using it is somewhat of a luxury experience. The retrieve of this reel is quiet and smooth. The smoothness replicates the experience that you’d get when using a premium, more expensive reel while only being a fraction of the price.

We recommend this reel to anyone who wants a versatile reel that can handle both small and large fish in fresh or saltwater. This reel would also be an excellent option for someone who needs a quality ultralight reel on a budget.

Pros

  • Comes in multiple sizes
  • Can handle larger fish
  • Perfect for both saltwater and freshwater fishing
  • Graphite body keeps the reel corrosion free
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Some reviewers complain about the line retrieval not being as smooth as it could be
3

Shimano Stradic Ci4 Spinning Reel with Front Drag

The S.H.I.M.A.N.O. Stradic Ci4 is a spinning reel that is designed with ultra-flexible drag settings in mind. If you are a fisherman that loves to use drag while in fight or before casting, this reel might be the right candidate for you. It comes in multiple sizes and should be considered a highly specialized premium option for fishermen who are very experienced and know what they’re doing with drag settings.

In addition to the extensive drag settings, this reel also has an incredibly smooth reeling experience, and it is made of high-quality Ci4 carbon, making it extremely light and durable.

In contrast with the other Shimano that we reviewed, this reel can be used in saltwater due to the materials that are used to construct the reel. It is resistant to corrosion, has high-quality bearings, and is sealed in all the right places to be an effective and long-lasting saltwater ultralight reel.

One area that this reel falls short in is mass appeal. This reel represents a significant investment and would undoubtedly be best suited for a professional who has years of experience. It wouldn’t be a good purchase for a child who is just learning the basics of spinning reels.

Pros

  • Suitable for saltwater
  • Great drag adjustment options
  • Made from high-quality carbon

Cons

  • Very expensive for a reel
  • Highly specialized, not suitable for children or beginners
4

SHIMANO Sahara FI Spinning Reel

There’s a lot to love about this spinning reel from Shimano.

For starters, the G-Free Body technology that this reel features helps to move the reel’s center of gravity closer to the rod. Having a center of gravity that is closer to the rod helps with keeping fatigue low and making your casting far more comfortable.

Additionally, the quality of the ball bearings within the pinion gear is impressive. These help to reduce friction between the gear and the spool shaft and thus increase durability and longevity.

The line capacity, gear ratio, and drag settings look great for this reel, making it the perfect middle-tier ultralight reel option. This will be a good option for anyone looking for something that is higher-quality, but that doesn’t break the bank.

We would recommend this reel for both beginners and pros, as it’s not to complicated to use while also being high-quality enough for the more experienced fishermen.

Pros

  • High-quality ball bearings for longevity and reduction of friction
  • Helps to prevent fatigue
  • Good line capacity
  • Available in multiple sizes

Cons

  • Not sealed, may not be the best for saltwater
5

Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

This spinning reel from Okuma is a great budget pick and delivers great value for the low cost. It has a powerful, multi-disc drag system which is more intricate than almost any other reel at this price point. If you want to learn the basics of drag adjustability but don’t want to invest heavily in the top-of-the-line reel just yet, this is a good option to get started on.

The corrosion-resistant body design means that this reel can be used in saltwater and you shouldn’t see its effectiveness or efficiency wane much from heavy use. Although, we should acknowledge that the reel doesn’t seem to be sealed, so saltwater or debris could theoretically enter the reel and cause problems over time.

For the money, this reel is great. It probably won’t win any awards for being elegant, powerful, or durable, but it should get the job done. And for the price, you really can’t go wrong. It even has a 1-Year warranty from the manufacturer. If you’re looking for a decent ultralight reel to start out on or practice with, this is a great choice.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Multi-disc drag system
  • Corrosion-resistant body design
  • Can be used in saltwater

Cons

  • Not sealed to protect internal mechanisms of the reel

How to Choose the Best Ultralight Spinning Reel

When you’re looking for ultralight spinning reels, there are some factors that need to be considered.

Some of these factors may be purely based upon personal preference, but others will directly affect the functionality of your reel and may even determine how much success you have with it.

Freshwater vs. Saltwater

Experienced anglers know that the durability of equipment will change based on what type of water you’re fishing in.

One consideration to bear in mind when selecting your ideal ultralight spinning reel, is where you’re going to be doing the majority of your fishing.

Saltwater is known to have corrosive properties, which isn’t ideal for some fishing equipment.

If you’re going to be fishing in saltwater frequently or exclusively, it’s important to make sure that the gear you buy, including your spinning reel, is suitable for that purpose.

Typically, fishing reels will advertise the fact if they are suitable for use in saltwater. However, if that’s not the case and you are wondering if a reel will be fine in saltwater, you should look to see if it is sealed. 

A sealed spinning reel will keep saltwater out of important mechanisms within the reel and keep it safe from corrosion and damage from saltwater.

You should also look for stainless steel, anodized aluminum, and forged aluminum components in your spinning reel. These materials are going to help prevent your spinning reel from corroding due to the exposure to saltwater.

A lighter weight is often the focus of those looking for ultralight reels, but it’s imperative that you ensure your reel is made of the appropriate materials for the type of fishing that you do.

Construction

Aside from desirable materials for durability in saltwater, you also need to pay attention to the materials used throughout the rest of your reel.

The impact of your decision regarding the materials used to construct your spinning reel will take form in the weight and durability.

These are two fundamental properties to consider when selecting a spinning reel.

Many of the reels that you’ll see will either be made of aluminum or graphite.

One of these does not have a distinct overall advantage over the other, but they do each have pros and cons.

Aluminum Spinning Reels

When you have a spinning reel that is made of aluminum, you can expect it to be stronger than other materials.

But, with added strength comes a reduction in flexibility.

Durability is definitely an advantage of aluminum, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a material that is better suited for spinning reels.

The reduction in flex also means that it can handle more stress put upon it by larger fish and the yanking motion that occurs upon the setting of the hook.

Graphite Spinning Reels

Graphite, on the other hand, prioritizes being light weight over durability.

Graphite is a great material to use if you are trying to reduce weight, but it does have a weakness, in that it isn’t as robust as aluminum and won’t be as durable under the pressure of frequent stress.

It can sometimes struggle to handle the amount of torque that an aluminum spinning reel can handle and is therefore more suited to the catching of smaller fish.

Both graphite and aluminum will serve well from a weight standpoint, but you should base your decision of which one to get on how often you’ll be reeling in big fish and how much stress you plan to put on your reel.

Drag

Drag is a huge factor in how effective your spinning reel is. Drag settings are used to determine how hard a fish can pull on your line before the reel starts to spin backward. Many fishermen use this to personalize their battling experience to their preferences. Drag is one of the more important settings that anglers pay attention to when selecting a reel.

There are two basic types of drag systems. One is a frame-based drag system while the other is a spool-based drag system. They are named for the way that they are controlled. One drag system is contained within the frame while the other is contained within the spool.

If you prefer a drag system that can be adjusted while fighting a fish, then you should opt for the spool-based drag system. If you prioritize strength instead of versatility, then you should select a frame-based drag system. There’s no right answer here. You should choose the one that fits your needs better.

Reel Size

This is one of the less essential factors in ultralight reel selection, but still should be paid attention to. Reel size determines how much line your reel is going to be able to hold. How much line you need as a fisherman is going to depend on what type of fishing you will be doing and how deep you’ll be doing it.

Generally speaking, anglers try to aim for about a 2500 sized reel. This affords them plenty of flexibility when selecting which type of fish they are going to seek out and what kind of fishing they can enjoy.

Gear Ratio

This is one of the lesser-known and oft-neglected features of a spinning reel. Gear ratio refers to the number of times the bail on the reel rotates around the spool with each turn of the handle. This is purely a matter of preference.

Why Use an Ultralight Reel

If you’ve never fished using an ultralight reel before, you may be wondering what all the rage is about. Ultralight reels sound fancy, but why does everyone love them so much? As it turns out, there’s actually a couple of different reasons that ultralight reels are exploding in popularity over the past few years.

The first reason that an ultralight is an excellent choice for you is that the setup is way more sensitive. You can feel bites and nibbles more easily with an ultralight setup than you can with a standard reel. This enables you to be more precise with your retrieves and increase your success rate.

An ultralight reel helps when fishing for fish like crappie, catfish, and bass.

Furthermore, many anglers can attest to battles being much more fun when they happen on an ultralight reel. A lighter reel makes small fish feel bigger, which increases the enjoyment level for many anglers and makes the fish more fun to reel in.

Cons of Ultralight Reels

If you are going to fish with ultralight equipment, you need to understand the drawbacks as well as the benefits. If you know the weaknesses of this type of reel, it will enable you to more effectively sidestep those weaknesses and help you overcome any problems you may encounter.

The main difference in ultralight equipment, including reels, is that these products are smaller and lighter than standard fishing equipment. The equates to a difference in strength and means that you should always keep your ultralight equipment pointed upward, as to more effectively tire out the fish you are battling.

Additionally, you should know that when you select an ultralight reel, you might be sacrificing some quality standards in exchange for a lightweight experience.

Often times, manufacturers make their reels with less durable materials to appeal to the lightweight fishing crowd. You can avoid this by getting an ultralight reel that uses aluminum, which is both durable and lightweight.

How to Use Ultralight Equipment

Though the goal in fishing is always the same, ultralight equipment takes a different approach to that end. With traditional fishing equipment, the goal is to reel in the fish as quickly as you can without breaking line or your rod.

When you are using ultralight rods and reels, catching fish is a little bit different.

The primary method of reeling in fish when using ultralight equipment is to battle them until they tire out and become easy to reel in.

Ultralight fishing equipment is not designed to catch fish using brute strength, but endurance and flexibility.

When fishing for reels, you should seek out a reel with a large line capacity to accommodate these lengthy battles. You might also choose a reel that supports braided line since many fishermen who use lightweight equipment prefer the durability of a braided line.

Best Ultralight Spinning Reels

Now that you know what to look for in an ultralight spinning reel and also how to use ultralight equipment, you can move on to start looking over the options that are currently available.

We’ve organized all the best ultralight spinning reels on the market into a helpful buying guide for you.

Remember to refer back to the features that we outlined when choosing an ultralight reel, but you should also be sure to factor in your personal preference when you are determining which ultralight spinning reel is best for you.

Recap

Ultralight fishing reels are incredibly versatile and valuable pieces of fishing equipment, but there’s plenty that you need to know before you start using one or buy one. Several factors determine the suitability of an ultralight reel for any one person, and you should refer to our guide for that information.

However, we have identified one ultralight reel that we think is above all the rest. The Sharky III model by KingKast has all the features you might want in an ultralight reel with no discernable drawbacks. It’s affordable and easy to use while also being advanced and strong enough to handle larger fish. It’s the complete package at an affordable price. If you are a beginner, intermediate, or professional, you should try out the Sharky III.

The Sharky III might not be for everyone, but that’s okay. Finding a good reel is about finding the right fit for you, not forcing compatibility where there is none. You should consider each of the options on our list and if they can help you become a better fisherman before making any decisions.

Share the Love

If you found this post useful, please let others know about it by sharing it.