8 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels For Smooth Fishing In 2020

When it comes to fishing, one of the most important pieces of equipment is your reel. Spinning reels are a favorite among fishermen due to their ease of use, superior casting distances, and low drag resistance. The best ultralight spinning reels are a great choice for beginner anglers who fish for fun and want to learn the ropes of the discipline. Ultralight reels are the easiest to work, reduce fatigue, and keep gear weight to a minimum so it’s easier to pull in catches.

Ultralight reels are mostly designed for lighter species of fish such as trout, panfish, crappie, and smallmouth bass. They tend to work best when paired with a lightweight pole and lightweight lures. Ultralight reels give you an advantage as it gives a stealthier cast which results in fewer spooked fish.

That’s why we put together this comprehensive list of the best ultralight spinning reels of 2020. These reels have been chosen and ranked based on their overall value, casting distance, gear ratios, and price point. These ultralight reels will put a new edge on your fishing techniques and make a nice addition to your gear loadout.

Best Ultralight Spinning Reels – Comparison

PictureProduct NameGear RatioWeightPrice
Shimano Sahara Spinning 5.0:17.6 ozCheck Latest Price
KastKing Sharky IIKastKing Sharky II5.2:17 ouncesCheck Latest Price
Penn Fierce II  6.2:1Check Latest Price
Pflueger Supreme XT 6.5:1 9.6 ouncesCheck Latest Price
Okuma Helios Lightweight5.0:17 ouncesCheck Latest Price
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 5.2:11.16 ozCheck Latest Price
Abu Garcia Revo X6.2:18.8 ouncesCheck Latest Price
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 6.0:15.60 ounceCheck Latest Price

 

8 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels Reviews

Fish like a pro with our picks for the 8 best ultralight spinning reels.

1. Shimano Sahara Spinning Fishing Reel

    Up first is this superior ultralight spinning reel from Shimano. The Shimano Sahara is one of the best ultralight spinning reels out there and has a great mixture of performance, durability, and quality. The Sahara is perfectly designed to be easy to reel for superior light fishing and has great durability that gives it a long lifespan.

    The Sahar has some technically advanced features that give it exceptional performance, It features a specially designed Hagnane gear system that is made out of Shimano’s signature cold-forging technique that gives it impressive durability and smooth movement.

    The gear is not made with any cutting action; instead, it uses a 3-D design to make it form one single piece so there are smoother edges. This results in reduced friction and a smoother reeling action.

    Another great feature of the Shimano is it’s ergonomically designed GFree body that reduces the amount of fatigue and drag when reeling in. It will keep you comfortable during those long hours angling. The X-ship technology keeps the pinion gear aligned with the drive gear which lowers friction for improved casting distance.

    The Shimano is very lightweight and makes an excellent fishing reel with its impressive casting distance and superior reeling action. The rolling mechanism features 4 ball bearings and 2 roller bearing so it stays smooth and is easy to reel.

    The Shara is designed with anti-corrosive parts so it works well on freshwater and saltwater. It is primarily designed for shore and deck fishing but can be used for boat fishing on open water. It is mostly the best for light species of fish but can handle some larger species.

    Overall, the Shimano Sahara is a great ultralight reel that has something everyone from beginners to experts can like. It makes a good starter reel for a new fisher or a finesse reel when you want to try something new.

    What We Like:

    • Great construction and components
    • A specially designed gear system
    • Fantastic casting distance
    • Water-resistant and water-corrosive
    • Low friction bearings

    What We Didn’t Like:

    • No back reeling
    • No anti-reverse switch
    • Does not work for heavier species

    2. KastKing Sharky II Fishing Reel

    KastKing Sharky II Fishing Reel

    The KastKing Sharky II is an affordable and one of the best ultralight spinning reels that has the performance of some $100+ reels. The reel is pretty small in size and comes with some nice features that make it one of the best ultralight reels at its price point.

    The KastKing features a graphite body that is different from the standard carbon composite or aluminum reels. Graphite has a lower weight than both of those materials, but it does not have as much raw strength. The graphite does make the reel more responsive and it transduces vibrations better.

    The KastKing II has a butter-smooth 10+1 ball bearing system that all but eliminates friction and is capable of generating a lot of torque. It has a triple-disc carbon-fiber drag that is tough and lets the reel stand up to harsh conditions. All components are of high quality and treated to resist both salt and freshwater. In that sense, it’s a versatile reel that can be used in a wide range of conditions.

    The Kastking also has a shielded one-way clutch and sealed rubber o-ring spool that prevents water and dirt from damaging the internal components. Bearings are made from stainless steel so they have a long life and won’t rust from water.

    The gear system is made from brass which is a bit malleable and can bend from a lot of stress. However, this is balanced out by the aluminum and stainless steel components that are very durable. As long as you don’t to much weight on the reel (~45+ then the brass gears should be fine.

    The manufacturers claim the KastKing II can be submerged underwater for up to 3 minutes and this claim seems to be genuine. Even if it does not take a surprise swim it will last for a long time exposed to the elements. It might not be something you will be able to hand down to your children, but it makes a competent ultralight spinning reel that has a reasonable price point.

    What We Like:

    • Graphite body is light and high sensitivity
    • Good materials
    • Waterproof seals maintain the integrity
    • High ball bearing count makes casting and reeling smooth
    • 41.5 drag system is strong
    • Great price

    What We Didn’t Like:

    • Not compatible with 30+ lbs monofilament
    • Graphite is not as durable as carbon composite or aluminum

    3. Penn Fierce II Spinning Reel

      The main features of the Penn Fierce II are its rugged construction, versatile gear construction, and high max drag. Penn is well known for making powerful reels and the Fierce II is another in their line of Fierce heavy-duty reels. The Fierce II promises users long-lasting performance with a reel you won’t have to worry about replacing.

      One of the better features of the Penn is its lightweight yet robust construction. The all-metal body gives support to the gear system. The spool system can easily spool over 100 yards of 6 lbs monofilament and larger models can hold up to 230 yards. That’s more spool length than you’ll ever need, even for the biggest fish.

      The Pierce is a bit heavier while still falling under the classification of ultralight reels, which is to be expected with the all-metal body. It is not bulky though and has a low profile. The key is to pair it with the right rod. With a nice light to the medium rod, the Penn Fierce has great balance and better casting distance.

      The Penn Fierce also has an oversized handle for easy gripping and the drag adjustment can be changed on the fly without having to realign the line. It has a 6.2:1 gear ratio which is just above the ideal ratio you want to have for an ultralight spinning reel. 4 shielded stainless steel ball bearings and ultraprecise gears make retrieval smooth as butter.

      The only place where the Penn Fierce falls short is the casting distance. It does have a good distance, just maybe not as far as some other ultralight spinning reels. Other than that small gripe, the Penn Fierce makes a perfectly competent and affordable heavy-duty spinning reel that is a good choice for fishers of all stripes.

      What We Like:

      • All metal construction is tough
      • Narrow profile
      • Oversized handle is easy to grip
      • 6.2:1 gear ratio
      • Very powerful

      What We Didn’t Like:

      • A bit heavier than other ultralight reels
      • Casting distance falls behind other ultralight reels

      Also Read: Best Saltwater Spinning Reels for Your Next Fishing Expedition

      4. Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel

        Coming in at 4th is the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel. The Pflueger Supreme has a magnesium rotor and body, which is a material used in high-quality fishing reels. It is actually one of the only magnesium-based spinning reels we could find at this price point.

        Also, we should probably say we have no idea how to pronounce “Pflueger.”Pf-lLOO-ger? Is the “P” silent? Even though we can’t say the name of this reel we know it is an exceedingly competent ultralight reel.

        There are 5 different models of the Pflueger; the SP25X, SP30X, SP35X, and SP40X. Each one of these reels is designed for small to medium species like crappie, bass, and redfish. The magnesium reel is light, balanced, and has an aluminum spool with a sealed carbon fiber drag. All of these features make the Pflueger very easy to use and reduces overall fatigue when reeling in.

        The materials are all corrosion-resistant so it’s suitable for salt and freshwater. It’s one of the more flexible spinning reels and can be adjusted to meet your needs. The handle is made from light carbon fiber and has an EVA handle knob for comfort, stability, and precision. It’s easy to crank the reel continuously without much fatigue.

        One thing we really appreciate is the slow oscillation gear system. The aluminum spool moves very slowly when reeling in which prevents the line from getting tangled. This means you don’t have to worry about re-spooling mid-use.

        The major strength of the Pflueger is also its flaw. The mechanically complex design is exceedingly functional, but more moving parts means more potential for failure. Specifically, we noticed that the braid tends to get caught in the ball roller because of the small gap and those who are less mechanically-inclined might have trouble taking it apart for cleaning and putting it back together,

        We also saw a few complaints about manufacturer defects but these were a substantial minority of reviews. Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not seem to offer a warranty.

        What We Like:

        • Great construction
        • Mechanically precise design
        • Graphite frame is lightweight
        • Slow oscillation spool system prevents line tangling
        • Carbon fiber drag reduces material by 30%

        What We Didn’t Like:

        • Some line twisting
        • Difficult to take apart and clean
        • More moving parts = more potential failures

        5. Okuma Helios Lightweight Spinning Reel

          The word “Helios” is Greek for “sun” and the Okuma Helios is the bright sun among a starry sky of best ultralight spinning reels. Developed by Taiwanese company Okuma, the Helios is a fantastic saltwater/freshwater reel that has a lightweight construction, smooth reeling action, and impressive durability.

          The Helios is made from C-40X carbon fiber, a new technology that boasts more tensile strength than previous models. The result is a hearty yet lightweight reel that is a good choice for beginner spinning fishers. The Helios claims to be 25% lighter and 50% stronger than standard reels. There are 4 models to choose from, the main differences being the gear ratios and line capacity.

          The Helios also has strong aluminum frames that can handle high torque and pressures. Aluminum is a better material here that graphite as graphite is too sensitive and prone to fracturing under high pressures.

          Another great feature is Okuma’s trademark carbonite drag system. This special material reduces drag material and gives better performance for an overall smooth fishing experience. The drag system is balanced by the precision elliptical gear system, which has won several awards for innovation. The base Hsx-20 model has a 5.0:1 gear ratio, perfect for a light spinning reel.

          Lastly, the Helios is sealed at the joints with rubber gaskets which makes the reel highly water-resistant. Overall, it’s a fantastic spinning reel that has a lot of features that beginners and more experienced fishers will love. The carbon fiber frame is durable to a fault, lightweight and easy to use, and has some neat mechanical properties that make it unique, such as the elliptical gear system.

          The only real downside of the Helios is that it has a lower maximum drag that some other spinning reels. Other than that, we really could not find any noteworthy cons.

          What We Like:

          • Trademark elliptical gear system is less prone to coming unaligned
          • Strong C-40X carbon fiber body
          • Carbonite drag system decreases friction
          • Highly water-resistant
          • Very durable

          What We Didn’t Like:

          • Mower max drag than some other ultralight reels

          6. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Rod & Reel Combo

            The Ugly Stik is a pretty popular fishing rod that was first released in 1976. The newest model of the classic Ugly Stick dropped in 2013 with its signature rod and spinning reel combo. True to form, the Ugly Stik GX2 has a lot of great features that even more experienced anglers can love. This product is a rod and reel combo, so we are going to cover mostly the reel with a couple of comments on how well the rod and reel work together.

            The main benefit of the Ugly Stik is the amazing price point on both a competent rod and a good reel. The reel is made from a graphite body and features a 3-ball-bearing construction that allows for smooth reeling and spool action. This best ultralight spinning reel also has an anti-reverse locking system that lets you reel in at your own pace without fear of the line becoming unset. It has a double-anodized spool and oversized wire that keeps the line on the reel and prevents tangling.

            The Ugly Stik reel also has compression ball springs meant to absorb much of the shock so there is little fatigue on the user. With proper care, the reel can last for years.

            As far as performance, the Ugly Stik reel works great with the included light rod. The rod is made from a fiberglass/graphite material and its flexibility is a nice counterpart to the reel’s smooth action and low drag weight. Stainless steel guides along the rod keep the line untangled and straight and a durable EVA foam handle gives extra comfort and stability, something you need in a light rod and ultralight reel.

            We will be honest, the Ugly Stik is definitely not professional quality, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better entry-level rod/reel combo for a better price.

            What We Like:

            • Rod/reel combo good for beginners
            • Graphite reel body
            • 3-ball bearing system
            • Anti-reverse lock
            • Oversized guiding wire and anodized aluminum reel
            • Amazing price point

            What We Didn’t Like:

            • Not amazing quality
            • Foam on rod handle can wear away quickly

            Also Read: The 8 Best Catfish Reels – Catch Big Fish

            7. Abu Garcia Revo X Spinning Fishing Reel

              The Abu Garcia Revo X is a reboot of Abu Garcia’s third-generation Revo-line and they have upped the stakes significantly. The new Revo X sports a matte black finish and a powerful magnetic braking system, a feature that sets it apart from previous models. The gearbox is made from a sturdy carbon-fiber that keeps weight down and keeps the gears in perfect alignment.

              The Revo X is a bit on the heavier end of the spectrum when it comes to ultralight spinning reels so it’s a good choice for fish that can get hefty such as bass or trout. It has a max drag of 10lbs and a signature carbon matrix system that acts under much less pressure than normal drag mechanisms.

              The magnet braking system is really something to behold. The system can be adjusted using a dial on the non-handle side plate. The higher the dial, the more resistance the line feels. It has an extra-long handle to make reeling easier and comfortable rubberized knobs so you can reel continuously without fatigue.

              The oversized main gear also means the Revo X has a substantial amount of power which is made apparent by its relatively low gear ratio. Lower gear ratios are usually good for larger fish as you have to turn the handle fewer times to spin the reel.

              Speaking of handles, the Revo X lets you switch the handle to the other side so both lefties and righties can use it. The gearbox is rather large for an ultralight rod, but you can’t have oversized stable gears without a larger gearbox. You win some, you lose some.

              Overall the Revo X is an amazing budget spinning reel that has the technical specs and performance of a much more expensive reel. It’s a good choice for those who are going after larger trout and bass specimens.

              What We Like:

              • Powerful oversized gears
              • Good for catching heavier species of fish
              • Adjustable handle
              • The magnetic braking system works extremely well
              • Narrow profile

              What We Didn’t Like:

              • Oversized gearbox
              • Magnetic brakes are effective but relatively simple

              8. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB Spinning Fishing Reel

                Last but certainly not least in our list of best ultralight spinning reel is the Shimano Stradic Ci4. This reel is probably one of the best ultralight spinning reels on the market today, but it does come with a relatively hefty price tag. That extra dollar is worth the Shimano brand name, reliability, and precision engineering the company is known for.

                The Shimano has a 6.0:1 gear ratio and there is a smaller model with a 5.0:1 gear ratio. The body and rotor are made from a tough Ci4 Carbon and weighs just under 6 oz. in total, extremely light, even for an ultralight reel. A 6+1 ball bearing system ensures that rotations are smooth and prevents line breakages.

                All used components are corrosion resistant and water-sealed, which makes the Stradic good for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. The reel has a maximum line capacity for 270 yards for a 2-pound line which is more than long enough for any kind of lighter species of fish.

                Shimano also included some of their signature design choices such as the cold-folded Hagane gear drive, G-free body, and special angled spool which prevents line tangling. Overall, it is a top-class spinning reel though that quality is matched by a higher price point. If you have the cash to spare however, it’s one of the best spinning reels you can get your hands on.

                What We Like:

                • Peerless construction and materials
                • Signature cold-forged Hagane gearbox
                • Ci4 carbon body
                • 6+1 ball bearing system is extremely smooth
                • Two models with different gear ratios

                What We Didn’t Like:

                • High price tag

                Conclusions:

                Best ultralight spinning reels are the go-to choice for many anglers and for good reason. They are easy to use, versatile, have superior casting distances, and have great drag systems. Any of our chosen spinning reels would be perfect for a beginner to learn on or for an expert who needs a spare spinning reel on hand.

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                Derek S. Webb
                 

                Derek Webb is a family man, outdoor enthusiast, and Editor-In-Chief at Outdoor On! He is a regular columnist in big media publication - writing from fishing to camping to various outdoor stuff.