Fishing is expensive. Luckily you don’t need to break the bank on a spinning reel if you’re just starting out or want a reel you don’t have to be worried about.
In this guide, we test and review 10 of the best spinning reels under $100 to help you make the most educated buying decision possible. In addition, we include both freshwater AND saltwater models, so there should be something on the list for every type of angler.
Best Spinning Reels Under $100 for Saltwater Fishing
Here is a list of our picks for the best saltwater spinning reels under $100. Scroll down to the next heading if you’re more interested in freshwater models!
1. Penn Battle II
- Durable, high range spinning reel ideal for conquering big saltwater game fish
- Full metal body, side plate, and rotor and heavy duty aluminum bail wire offer exceptional durability
- 4+1 stainless steel bearing system
The Penn Battle II Spinning Reel is a durable, high-range spinning reel ideal for conquering big saltwater gamefish. Some features contributing to that durability include a full metal body, sideplate and rotor, and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire. In fact, many customers say you can feel how well built this reel is the moment you pick it up.
- Full metal construction offers not only exceptional durability, but exceptional leverage as well. This reel packs a big punch, and can catch some big fish as well.
- The HT-100 carbon fiber drag system found in Penn reels provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness, as do the 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing.
- Superline spool requires no backing, is braid ready, and has line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity.
It’s not the fanciest reel on the market, but who needs fancy? If you want heavy-duty durability for large saltwater gamefish, the Penn Battle II should work for you. Overall, the Penn Battle II is a rugged, high-range fishing reel designed to withstand tough saltwater conditions.
2. Penn Spinfisher V
- Watertight spinning reel performs reliably in saltwater and sand environments
- Durable construction with full metal body, sideplate, and rotor and heavy duty aluminum bail wire
- Sealed HT 100 Slammer drag system provides robust, silky smooth drag, while friction trip ramp prevents premature bail...
The Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel is a watertight spinning reel which performs reliably in saltwater and sand environments.
Much like the Penn Battle II, it has extremely durable construction with a full metal body, sideplate, and rotor, and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire, all of which help it endure pretty harsh conditions. The fact that it’s watertight is a game changer if you ever accidentally drop it in the surf, keeping all those fancy components inside safe and functional at all times. That said, even with the most watertight of reels, regularly care and maintenance will extend its lifetime considerably.
- Its sealed HT-100 Slammer drag system offers a “robust, silky-smooth” drag across the entire drag curve. The drag range here is key for handling a huge variety of fish species.
- Friction trip ramp technology is designed with perfect casting precision in mind, plus prevents premature bail trip when casting (a common annoyance of so many anglers).
- Equipped with fluid cranking with 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing. These features work in beautiful unison when reeling in.
All of this sounds too good to be true, but it’s genuinely not. It’s a powerful, durable spinning reel ideal for adventurous anglers who encounter harsh saltwater conditions every once in a while.
The biggest selling point of the Penn Spinfisher V spinning reel has got to be its excellent drag, hands down. If that’s your deal breaker when it comes to spinning reels, this one will surely fit the bill for you.
3. Penn Pursuit III
The Penn Pursuit III Spinning Reel prides itself on a perfect balance of lightweight and sensitive yet sturdy and durable. Indeed, if you take good care of any of the Pursuit series—or any Penn reel, frankly—they last impressively long for such an affordable price point.
This great value reel is described as an excellent option for “serious anglers on a budget”. Though it is classified as a saltwater reel, some use it for both freshwater and saltwater and unless you catch a monster fish a day it’s more than enough for beach fishing. When those big fish do come around, you’ll be extremely thankful of the Pursuit II’s ergonomic handle and the comfortable reeling it allows.
- Its sensitivity comes from a classic oiled felt drag system, offering drag pressure while maintaining smooth handling.
- Extremely durable corrosion resistant graphite body, aluminum sideplate, and graphite rotor.
The fans of this reel are pretty diehard; there’s more than one enthusiastic, glowing review written in all-caps and several anglers liked the reel so much they own more than one. One of the biggest reported catches was a 200+ pound nurse shark, which this reel handled without a problem.
The only complaint about this reel—which were rare—was that it broke soon after purchase. This is obviously an issue, but it seems to be a super rare fluke. At any rate, if that’s the case for you, you can easily return it for a fully functional reel.
If you’re looking for a budget, crowd pleasing saltwater reel that doesn’t compromise sturdiness for smoothness when handling, the Penn Pursuit II is an ideal choice.
4. Okuma AZORES
The Okuma AZORES Spinning Reel is a cutting edge reel designed with saltwater fishing in mind. Some of its impressive specs include the precision dual force drag (DFD) system, rigid, die-cast-aluminum body/sideplate/rotor, and corrosion resistant coating process to top it all off.
- Dual force draw system in particular is really top of the line reel technology, maximizing high end drag pressure, efficiency, and smoothness.
- The frame uses Alumilite frame construction technology, also quite top of the line, providing tolerance for precision gear alignment, maximum castability, and ultimate durability.
- Patented carbon mechanical stabilizing system stabilizes the spool shaft at 3 key stress points to eliminate flex under pressure and the high performance bearings have tested at 10 times more resistant to saltwater than standard stainless steel bearings.
All of this fancy tech talk is to say: this reel goes above and beyond to be durable, strong, and smooth. There’s a long list of cool specs to read about, which if you can remember them all make for fun oceanside bragging.
Even though it’s not the absolute cheapest reel on our list, it’s affordable enough to be considered a budget pick, too.
You could go on and on about the unique technological tweaks and features of this reel, but ultimately what matters is that it works. And according to dozens of happy fishermen, the Okuma AZORES spinning wheel definitely works. If cool specs and unique patented features appeal to you, you’ll be happy with this reel, too.
5. Daiwa BG
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The “next generation” of the Daiwa BG series, the Daiwa BG Spinning reel is a well-built, sizable reel for some serious saltwater fishing. While the smallest models in this series are suited to ultralight freshwater action, the other heavier duty end of the spectrum can take on a variety of hardcore saltwater fish.
The Daiwa BG series models in general are often described as pretty big reels, much bigger than other brands. That is, the 3000 is closer to 4000s or even 4500s of other brands. With that size it can easily handle bonito, striper, salmon, and more.
- It handles smoothly despite its imposing size, which is not surprising when you consider the technology Daiwa has put into this model. Specifically, these models have the largest Digigear system drive gear of any Daiwa reels, period. Besides heightening smoothness, this system increases gear-tooth contact points, power, and torque.
- Don’t be afraid to bang this reel up a little bit out on the water—the Daiwa BG series can take it. They come with black anodized machined aluminum housing (Daiwa’s “Hard Bodyz” body and side cover technology) for increased strength and durability while decreasing scratches and corrosion. So not only will the reel resist chipping, but it’ll last you forever.
Customers have been extremely pleased with the performance and durability of this reel, stating that if the drag is set properly they can handle the biggest gamefish the ocean throws at them. If you want a hardcore, adventurous, and virtually indestructible reel for your next saltwater fishing trip, check this one out.
Best Spinning Reels Under $100 for Freshwater Fishing
Here are our choices for the best freshwater spinning reels under $100:
1. Pflueger President
- 10 bearing system: Corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings
- Graphite body and rotor: Lightweight graphite reel construction. Braid ready spool - Allows Braid to be tied directly to...
- HT 100 carbon fiber drag system provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness
The Pflueger President on one of the most popular spinning reels ever made. It is designed to be durable and sturdy, standing up to anything a new angler will throw at it. If you take care of this reel, it will last a long time.
The Pflueger President doesn’t shy away from confidently promising great functionality for new and seasoned anglers alike. It offers a great combination of simplicity and functionality that makes it perfect for anglers of any skill level. Many anglers purchase this reel for Pflueger’s great reputation, and stay for the superb quality.
- Aircraft grade aluminum handle
- Graphite body and rotor that is lightweight, yet undeniably strong and sturdy
- Multi-disc, stainless steel drag system
- 9 stainless steel ball bearings, on/off instant anti-reverse bearing, and double anodized braid ready aluminum spool
- Soft-touch grip thatmake using this reel a truly comfortable experience, no matter what’s on the other end of your line
The Pflueger President does a great job at bringing us back to the basics. There’s nothing extremely flashy or high-tech at play, but what matters is the reliability and stability. The Pflueger President does both very well, which is one of the main reasons it ranks as the best freshwater spinning reel under $100
Overall, this is a reel that has thoroughly earned its awesome reputation. If you want a dependable freshwater reel that will gets the job done without breaking the bank, you can’t go wrong with the Pflueger President.
2. Shimano Sedona FI
It is no surprise that a Shimano reel makes the “best spinning reel under $100” list. They have a great reputation of producing amazing reels at low prices.
- HAGANE Drive Gear technology: This cold forging aluminum technology delivers a “long lasting smoothness, strength, lightness, and power at the very heart of the reel”. Basically, these gears are going to be more durable under heavy loads than traditional, die cast machined gears. The Sedona FI spinning reel model is the most affordable of Shimano’s reels that still offers this technology.
- G Free Body technology: This shifts the reel’s center of gravity closer to the rod, which delivers better stability during use.
- Patented ARC spool design with an angled lip: The ARC spool design allows the line to leave the spool with less friction and in smaller coils, reducing backlash and wind knots when using braid.
Some users did have a small complaint with the Shimano Sedona FI bail flipping over sporadically. Complaints were far and few between, though, so I wouldn’t worry too much about this.
If you want an affordable reel with all the exciting features Shimano offers, the Sedona FI could be a great choice. It offers great bang for your buck and is equally suited for new and experienced anglers alike.
3. Okuma Ceymar
- Used by professionals worldwide
- Tested for reliability and quality
- Made using the highest quality materials
True to its name, the Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel is the smallest Ceymar on the market. It will serve you best with trout, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, small perch, and other fish that don’t require gigantic, overpowering gear. It could be a perfect reel to combine with a lightweight rod and take out ice fishing.
The Okuma Ceymar Lightweight comes in different sizes for different requirements, of course, like the C-30 size best suited for drop-shotting bass or jigging walleye or the C-40 size for bigger lures and fish like steelhead and catfish. You can even go up to the C-55 and C-65, both of which are actually suitable for inshore and pier saltwater fishing, respectively, if you so choose. Or you can just use them for impressive freshwater fish in the largest of rivers and lakes. The C-65 is equipped with an oversized Ergo Grip to assist in cranking power, giving you the confidence to reel in whatever comes your way.
- All of the sizes are equipped with an excellent multi-disc, oiled felt drag system, quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing, and precision machine cut brass pinion gear.
- Rotor system that uses Okuma RESII computer balancing technology. In other words it spins at very high speed without developing any of that pesky wobble.
You can really choose what will work best for you based on what and where you’re fishing, and no matter the choice you’ll have an extremely lightweight spinning wheel. At the end of the day if high quality in a super lightweight body is important to you, this reel will work out nicely.
4. Daiwa Revros
- Carbon Light Material Housing - LT Concept
- Light Composite Housing
- Machined Aluminum Handle
The Daiwa Revros Spinning Reel is described by the manufacturer as a “value priced reel” and it’s true that the quality you get for this price point is hard to beat. As one reviewer put it, thanks to the silent reeling, no line twist, and no wobble, the Daiwa Revros “feels like a million bucks”.
Don’t let the value price fool you, though; the Daiwa Revros has respectable technology and specs at work and the satisfied customer reviews to prove it.
- Notable technology includes the DigiGear drive train and Air Rotor, both designed to handle feisty hard-fighting fish.
- The Air Rotor in particular also ensures a lightweight product and greater overall sensitivity, which can be hard to find in budget reels. This reel is also equipped with 7 ball bearings, infinite anti-reverse, and a lightweight ABS aluminum spool.
As with most reels, you’re most likely to run into trouble when trying to use it for heavier work than it’s built for. Don’t overdo it, and you shouldn’t be disappointed with this reel’s performance. Also, keep in mind that while some freshwater reels on this list are also recommended or approved for saltwater fishing, the Daiwa Revros is not.
The Daiwa Revros is a very well-made reel at a very reasonable price. All reels aim for smoothness, but again and again the Daiwa Revros actually delivers. If you just want your basic reliable freshwater reel, for an undeniably fair price, this one could be the way to go.
5. Shimano Nasci
- 4 ball bearings for smoother retrieve
- Front drag for more control
- Approved for Use in saltwater
The Shimano Nasci C 3000 HG FB Compact Spinning Reel combines a hugely popular series with some new and some existing technology to create an exciting, crowd-pleasing product. That is to say, Shimano really pulled out all the stops with this one.
This is the first of the beloved P4 series reels to boast HAGANE gear and CoreProtect, which have historically only been built into Shimano’s most expensive reel models. While this reel isn’t exactly the most budget-friendly option on our list, it’s certainly accessible to a wider audience than the high-end reels it shares multiple features with.
- The G Free body technology on the Shimano Nasci moves the center of gravity closer to the rod, which means closer to the angler’s hands for more comfortable, functional usage.
- Equipped with 4 shielded stainless steel bearings and a roller bearing for smooth performance when under pressure. Because of its impressive assortment of features, this reel performs well in a variety of freshwater fishing situations.
The addition of high-end luxury reel features to this more affordable model have clearly paid off, because this reel is almost universally beloved by those who own it. Many enjoy the fact that it performs like an uber-expensive product, but because it’s a lower price point they don’t feel as bad getting down and dirty and a little rough. And isn’t that what fishing is all about?
If you want high-end specs in an affordable reel (who doesn’t?), the Shimano will make you one happy angler.
Spinning vs. Baitcasting…How Do I Pick?
If you’re still reading, chances are that you’re pretty set on a spinning reel. That being said, baitcasters can sometimes be more effective depending on the type of fishing.
If you’re still up in the air/aren’t sure what type of reel you need, this should help you decide:
When to Use a Spinning Reel
Here are a few examples of when spinning reels are more effecting that baitcasters:
- If you’re fishing with light line: If I plan to use anything under 8 pound test, I generally try to stay away from baitcasters. Spinning reels just handle light line a lot better.
- When you need extra finesse: Theres no doubt about it…spinning setups just give you an extra layer of finesse that baitcasters usually can’t touch. I prefer to use spinning setups when using senkos or finesse worms – the extra sensitivity help give your bait much more action in the water. In regards to saltwater, spinning reels should be used any time when regular casting is necessary. Saltwater baitcasters, usually referred to as conventional reels, are using pretty difficult to cast and can lead to a lot of birdsnests.
- When you’re using light baits: Baitcasters have a ton of pros, but casting light baits is NOT one of them. Spinning reels, on the other hand, cast light baits like a breeze. In addition, spinners tend to be much more gentle on live baits.
When to Use a Baitcasting Reel
Baitcasters can sometimes be a better choice than spinning reels. Here are a few examples of when baitcasters are recommended:
- When accuracy is important: If I’m freshwater fishing, there’s probably a 99% chance I’m using my baitcaster. The amount of accuracy that baitcasters provide is truly unmatched. Sure, there is a slight learning curve…but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to hit a dime from 50 yards away. That fact alone makes baitcasting reels my weapon of choice if accuracy is even remotely important.
- When you’re targeting bigger fish: Baitcasters are generally more powerful than spinning reels and can handle larger lures. They also allow you to crank the drag down further, helping you get stubborn fish out of rocks or weeds.
- If you like to fish topwater baits: Baitcasting reels usually have much higher gear ratios that spinners, allowing you to retrieve your bait very fast. This not only help get your bait on the top of the water, but also help you get more casts in throughout the day.
- If you’re fishing for extended periods of time: Baitcasters have a much smaller frame than their spinning counterparts. When you’re making 500 casts a day, every ounce counts.
Last update on 2021-06-19 at 21:04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API