Best Ultralight Spinning Reel Reviews and Buying Guide

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The spinning reel is no doubt the most widely used and most popular reel among anglers. There isn’t an angler out there who hasn’t used one of these reels. If you are a frequent angler or want to fish for long hours, an ultralight spinning reel is one of the best choices to have. It is in the smaller sized category and only weighs around 8 oz or less which also helps reduce the strain on your hands. These types of reels are best used to catch smaller fishes like trout and crappie. 

While there are a lot of spinning reels available in the market today, choosing the best one can be overwhelming especially for first-time buyers. This article lays out some of the best options along with a buying guide to help you decide what’s best for you.

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel Overview

Penn Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel

1. Penn Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel

  • Material: Synthetic
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
  • Reel Sizes:  1000 – 6500
  • Fishing Line: Multifilament
KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels

2. KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels

  • Material: Aluminum, Graphite
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Reel Sizes:  2000 – 5000
  • Fishing Line: Multifilament
Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel

3. Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Reel Sizes:  2000 – 4000
  • Fishing Line: Multifilament
Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

4. Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

  • Material: Synthetic
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
  • Reel Sizes:  1000 – 6500
  • Fishing Line: Multifilament
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Spinning Fishing Reel

5. Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Spinning Fishing Reel

  • Material: Magnumlite Rotor
  • Gear Ratio: 6.0:1
  • Reel Sizes:  1000 – 4000
  • Fishing Line: Multifilament

How to Choose a Good Ultralight Reel

If you’re going to fish with ultralight equipment, it’s important to know the features to consider to get both durable and lightweight ones. As you would know, these types of reels are smaller and lighter than their standard counterparts, and it’s easy to sacrifice some of the quality standards in exchange for a lightweight feature.

So, what features should you look for in an ultralight spinning reel?

Material

Getting a reel made with high-quality materials is the best way to guarantee it will last longer. Most ultralight reels have either a graphite or aluminum body, both are durable and very lightweight.

And if you are planning to fish in saltwater, you should look for materials that can withstand corrosion and damage from saltwater. Look for stainless steel and aluminum components, these materials will help prevent your spinning reels from corroding due to saltwater exposure.

Drag System

Drag is one of the factors that determines how effective your reel is. It is composed of friction plates and is set depending on how hard the fish can pull your line, preventing the line from breaking, before you can start reeling in.

There are 2 basic types of drag system, frame-based and spool-based drag system. Depending on your preferences, if you like a drag system that’s more versatile and can be adjusted while you’re reeling in your fish, the spool-based is right for you. Otherwise, if you prefer strength and a stable level of drag, you can get the frame-based.

Reel Size

How much fishing line your reel can hold is determined by its size. This factor can be easily overlooked. Ultralight fishing usually uses sizes 1000-2000, but if your ultralight rod can perfectly fit a 2500 size reel, you’ll have more flexibility to cast longer and more options on what type of fish to catch.

Gear Ratio & Line Retrieval

The gear ratio refers to the number of times (revolutions) the bail rotates around the spool with each turn of the handle, thus controlling how much line is retrieved with each turn of the handle, commonly known as cranking power. 

What gear ratio to get depends on your technique and the type and size of fish you wanna catch. A gear ratio of 4:1 is considered low speed with high cranking power, perfect for catching large fish. While a gear ratio of 6:1 has fast line retrieval and is good for catching smaller types of fish.

Ball Bearings

The number of bearings determines how smooth your drag is. The more bearings the lesser vibrations and noise as you reel in your catch, however, the reel will get a little heavier as additional bearings add extra ounces to the weight.

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel Reviews

The table above compares the most important specs of the top 5 models side by side. Now let’s take a look at each model in more detail.

Key Features:

Specs:

The Penn Battle Spinning Reel is an ultralight fishing reel made from durable materials. From the full metal body, side plate, and rotor, to the 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings, each component is solidly built to last. 

It features an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system for smoother and fast retrieval. The drag washers are treated with proprietary grease for long-lasting performance but can get greasy sometimes.

This reel comes in a variety of sizes ranging from 1000 – 10000. A 1000 size reel is a very small reel with minimal line capacity, it’s good enough if you’re fishing for smaller species of fish, but with a larger reel capacity, you can fish as deep as 100 to 200 ft. Another good thing about this reel is the braid-ready spool. You can add a braided line directly to it without the backings needed. It also has line capacity markings, so you’ll easily know how much line you have left. 

Another exceptional feature is the higher spinning ratio of 6.2:1 which is incredibly fast for an ultralight spinning reel. It has 5 sealed stainless steel bearings and an instant reverse bearing that you can turn on and off with a lever. 

There’s been a report that the reel gets stiff and noisy over time, but it can be solved with just a drop of reel oil/grease on the spool and handle bearings.

Key Features:

Specs:

KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels are some of the most affordable spinning reels in the market. Their unique construction and quality are popular for both new and seasoned anglers. Both are made of solid graphite frames, making them very lightweight. It also has an anti-corrosion layer, but would not recommend using it for saltwater fishing. It is designed to perform well in freshwater fishing. 

These reels come in a variety of sizes ranging from 2000 – 5000 which vary based on weight and maximum drag. The gear ratio of 5.2:1 remains constant. Its drag system can hold weight up to 17.5 lbs. Each reel has 9 durable ball bearings and anti-reverse bearings that provide an ultra-smooth performance.  The forward and reverse switch is accessible on the front base of the reel.

It also features an interchangeable handle, making it extremely easy to use whether you’re right or left-handed. 

Though some anglers find the crank handle as a little small for someone with large hands. And if you want an extra spool, it’s not included, so you’ll have to buy it separately. 

Overall, both Summer and Centron have a great solid design that provides extremely smooth performance.

Key Features:

Specs:

The Pflueger President ultralight reel is a great-looking and high-quality reel at a reasonable price. It comes with a graphite body and rotor, which is very durable while keeping it so lightweight.

It features a fantastic reel casting with a smooth drag system, made possible by  7-10 stainless steel corrosion-resistant ball bearings. It also comes with an anti-reverse system and a 5.2:1 gear ratio that enables you to retrieve 20.7 inches of line with every crank.

This reel also has a braid-ready spool. You can tie a  braided line directly to it without the backings needed. The slow oscillation gearing features allow the line to lay evenly on the spool. Fewer tangles and reduced line twists. 

Overall, it’s a lightweight and durable reel. Long casting is a piece of cake, and easy to put the lures and spinners you want.

Key Features:

Specs:

The sleek design and smooth performance of the Okuma Ceymar spinning reel work well to catch average size fish in freshwater. 

This reel is made of quality materials. Its graphite body construction, EVA handle knobs, multi-disc drag system, 6 + 1 ball bearings with quick-set anti-reverse function gives it a solid and lightweight design that provides extremely smooth control and performance.

The 5.0:1 gear ratio gives a smooth slow retrieve that enables you to retrieve 21 inches of line with every crank. The braided line-ready aluminum spool with an option to more line capacity gives you a broad range of different species to catch. 

Overall, this is a quality and affordable ultralight spinning reel that works well for the job.

Key Features:

Specs:

The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ comes with several features that make it durable, lightweight, and functional. Built from a CI4 carbon body, cold-forged aluminum spool, cold-forged Hagane gears, aluminum handle, and a one-piece stainless steel bail. The spool comes with a propulsion line management system which helps prevent knots and twists. 

The 6.0:1 gear ratio with line retrieve per crank of 31 inches is quite fast for a spinning reel at this size. It’s good for catching smaller types of fish, the casting and retrieve rate is awesome.  It comes with 6 + 1 ball bearings for an ultra-smooth reeling experience.

The reel only weighs 5.6 oz. making it one of the lightest on the market. Some ask if it’s good enough for trout fishing. Yes, it works, we just recommend getting a 1000 or 2500 size reel, both still very lightweight but only differ with line capacity. The spare spool is not included though. If you’re interested to get the SHIMANO Sparespool Stradic CI4+. 

There you have it, the best ultralight spinning reel reviews. For any beginners out there that know you’re going to be fishing consistently, you must ensure your reel is made of the right materials for the type of fishing you want to do. You don’t need the most expensive, top-of-the-line reels to go fishing. But don’t cheap yourself out of quality equipment for the right price.

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Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson

Andrew is an avid fishing enthusiast who is passionate about bringing you the most up-to-date, accurate & understandable information and reviews of fishing gears & accessories, and other related fishing resources.

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