7 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels of 2020
Seasoned fishing experts and enthusiasts know that a fishing rod is incomplete without a spinning reel. You use this handy tool, also called a fixed-spool reel, your mono or braided fishing lines and their loads.
An ultralight spinning reel is unique in that it is a highly lightweight tool, which is capable of reeling in very heavy fish using its advanced drag and gear systems.
The weight of most ultralight spinning reels ranges between 5 ounces to 10 ounces, which is extremely lightweight.
Such reels have maximum drags of as high as 29 pounds, which makes them capable of supporting very heavy fish without breaking the lines. Spinning reels have gear ratios that will control the determine the speed at which they pick up the line.
Dive into our detailed top 7 ultralight spinning reel reviews and buying guide to discover the leading models, their features, and the one that meets your fishing requirements best.
7 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels – Review
1. KastKing KRLSPNSU-S30WH (Best for Professionals)
2. Shimano Stradic HG (Best High-Performance)
3. Okuma C-30 (Versatile)
4. Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight (Best Budget)
5. Cadence CS8-1000 (Best for Heavy Fish)
6. Quantum Genx2 Ul (Lightest)
7. Piscifun RL003-A (Good for Freshwater Fishing)
1. KastKing KRLSPNSU-S30WH
(Best for Professionals)
2. Shimano Stradic HG
3. Okuma C-30
4. Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight
5. Cadence CS8-1000
(Best for Heavy Fish)
6. Quantum Genx2 Ul
7. Piscifun RL003-A
(Good for Freshwater Fishing)
1. KastKing KRLSPNSU-S30WH – Best Ultralight Spinning Reel for Professionals
- Weight: 9.5 ounces
- Max Drag: 17.5 pounds
- Gear ratio: 5.2:1
KastKing KRLSPNSU-S30WH is the best ultralight spinning reel for professional anglers. It has lightweight, has a superior maximum drag, and well-balanced gear ratio.
One outstanding feature of this spinning reel is its superior maximum drag rating of 17.5 pounds for reeling in heavy fish. This drag is great when you want to shorten the fish fight time and prevent the buildup of lactic acid for the maintenance of meat quality.
The superior drag is complemented with an optimized drag ratio of 5.2:1, which allows the fish to fight longer as it is reeled, thus reducing structural strain on the rod and reel setup.
At 9.5 ounces, this reel is lightweight and will contribute to the overall reduction of your fishing rod’s weight. That way, your gear becomes easy to handle.
All the superior features of this reel come at a reasonable price, making it accessible even to professional of a budget.
The main issue we noted with the KastKing KRLSPNSU-S30WH spinning reel is its gears are not rust-proof and for this reason, they are not suitable for saltwater environments.
2. Shimano Stradic HG – Best High-Performance Ultralight Spinning Reel
- Weight: 6.89 - 9.35 ounces
- Max Drag: 7 pounds
- Gear ratio: 6.0:1
If you’re looking for a high-performance spinning reel that adapts to even the most demanding angling conditions, then the Shimano Stradic HG with its advanced gear system is the model for you.
It boasts of a Shimano’s proprietary X-Ship gear system, the Hagane gearing, and body, and a built-in Dyna-balance rotor, all of which offer improved gear durability by eliminating the notorious friction that occurs between the gear and spool shaft.
The same friction elimination technology enhances the reel’s casting performance and makes it possible to achieve longer casts. The mid-range gear ration of 6.0:1 is great for long casts both onshore and offshore.
At less than 10 ounces, this spinning reel is one of the lightest in the market. Its weight is remarkable considering the advanced gear system the reel packs.
The Shimano Stradic HG is without a doubt, a high-performance spinning reel, but its advanced gear system and enhancements come at a steep cost, which budget buyer may find limited.
3. Okuma C-30 – Versatile Ultralight Spinning Reel
- Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Max Drag: 8 pounds
- Gear ratio: 5.0:1
Okuma C-30 is a mid-range, but highly versatile ultralight spinning reel from Okuma’s Ceymar family.
It is ideal for finesse fishing like drop-shotting bass or jigging walleye, and will comfortably accommodate a 6-8-pound line.
The reel is constructed on a superior 8-bearing drive system, which also features Okuma’s precision elliptical gearing for the ultimate smooth experience.
For ease of handling and control, the reel comes with aluminum handle arm, whose comfort and ease of use if further enhanced buy EVA handle knobs.
Another feature to love is the reel’s blade body design, which reduced the weight and overall size of the reel allowing the angler to concentrate on the fishing task at hand.
One issue we noted with the Okuma C-30, however, is that it has no user manual to get you started and this may be a major setback for beginners.
4. Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight – Best Budget Ultralight Spinning Reel
- Weight: 6.0 ounces
- Max Drag: 4.4 pounds
- Gear ratio: 4.9:1
This model boasts of Daiwa’s Digigear digital gear design, which enhances the speed, accuracy, and durability of your reel.
You also get a smooth, ball bearing drive with this model. It also comes with an optimized spool for maximum casting performance.
At 6 ounces, this is one of the lightest spinning reel models in the market.
An issue we noted with this model is its low max drag rating of 4.4 pounds, which anglers of heavy fish species may find limited.
5. Cadence CS8-1000 – Best Ultralight Spinning Reel for Heavy Fish
- Weight: 6.3 ounces
- Max Drag: 29 pounds
- Gear ratio: 5.2:1
Cadence CS8-1000 is the best ultralight spinning reel for heavy fish because it has the highest max drag rating.
This high-performance model boasts of a max drag of 29 pounds, meaning it is capable of reeling fish that weighs over 60 pounds without damaging the line or rod.
To enable reeling in of heavy fish, the reel has a moderate gear ratio of 5.2:1, which is not too fast. The speed allows the angler to have more control of the reeling process by extending the fish fight time and minimizing rod tension.
At only 6.3 ounces, this spinning reel is one of the lightest in the market. Its low weight is made possible by a carbon-magnesium-carbon (CMC) body, which significantly lighter than aluminum.
It also comes with 9 corrosion-resistant stainless-steel bearings for smooth and fast performance.
A key setback of the top-rated ultralight spinning reel is its price, which is on the higher range, and may prevent budget buyers from enjoying the reel’s benefits.
6. Quantum Genx2 Ul – Lightest Ultralight Spinning Reel
- Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Max Drag: 4 pounds
- Gear ratio: 4.3:1
Although all the ultralight spinning reels we have reviewed are notably lightweight, the Quantum Genx2 Ul outperforms them all in this department.
This model weighs only 5.6 ounces, making it the lightest of the pack. You can barely feel the weight of the entire rod when this reel is attached.
The reel’s weight is kept low by a composite body. It also comes with 4 bearings, which perform decently considering it is not a high-speed reel.
It also boasts of front-adjustable multi-stack drag and a stainless-steel bail wire for optimal line control.
To control accidental reversing, this model also comes with an anti-reverse clutch.
One of the issues we noted with this model is its low max drag capacity of 4 pounds, which many professional anglers may find limiting. Another issue is the low gear ratio, which means the reel is not as fast as some won’t desire.
7. Piscifun RL003-A – Good Ultralight Spinning Reel for Freshwater Fishing
- Weight: 8.5 ounces
- Max Drag: 13.2 pounds
- Gear ratio: 5.2:1
Piscifun RL003-A is a great ultralight spinning reel for freshwater fishing because its superior bearing system supports and exceptionally smooth performance.
This model boasts of a 10-bearing system. It has 9 quality ball bearings plus one roller bearing, which is paired with precision gear engagement for a silky-smooth performance during freshwater fishing.
It also has an above-average max drag of 13.2, which combines well with a reinforced main metal shaft, and precision-machined brass pinion gear and triple drag washers to fight with giant fish.
The reel features a hollow body, X-shaped spool, and a personalized handle to for superior elegance and maximum aesthetic appeal.
This high-performance reel also comes with a braid-ready spool, a feature you won’t find in many competing spinning reels.
An issue we noted with the Piscifun RL003-A is that it has a large bail wire, which may brush against some people’s hands when operating the handle.
How to Buy the Best Ultralight Spinning Reel
Ultralight spinning reels derive their name from the fact that they are highly lightweight and are still capable of handling fishing loads that normal reels do.
When shopping for an ultralight spinning reel, you will be looking for one whose weight is less than 10 ounces, which is where most reels of this type fall. Many of the models we reviewed had a weight range of 5-10 ounces.
Weight is an important consideration because it helps maintain the overall weight of the entire fishing rod at the minimal to provide you with optimal control.
You will appreciate the low weight of you spinning reel when going out for long-distance fishing expeditions that require you to be casting and reeling constantly.
The build quality and materials used to construct your ultralight spinning reel must be strong enough to support the entire system, and the fish loads that the reel will be handling.
Many ultralight spinning reels are made using materials such as graphite, aluminum, and brass, sometimes all in the same system. Not only are such materials strong and durable, but they also contribute to minimizing the overall weight of your spinning reel.
You may benefit more from your spinning reel if its construction has been made rust-resistant to prevent the rusting that is common with saltwater, especially.
All ultralight spinning reels will come with a maximum drag rating, also known as max drag. This rating, which is often in pounds, refers to how much resistance or tension is applied on the rod when the fish pulls on the line.
Max drag allows the fishing line to withstand pressure from the struggling fish while also preventing the rod from snapping.
Many ultralight spinning reels have enough drag to withstand high tension from very heavy fish because it is recommended that the max drag should be set at one-quarter or one-third of the line’s breaking strength.
Thus, with just 6 pounds of drag, it is possible to reel in fish as heavy as 20 to 24 pounds. In practical applications, most angling tasks will never demand exceptionally high drag, which is why ultralight spinning reels can still deliver on heavy fish reeling.
The bearing system is another key component of your spinning reel. Bearings are central to the smooth operation of your spinning reel.
Often, the bearing system of your ultralight spinning reel will be indicated using the notation, XBB + YRB, where “BB” stands for ball bearing and “RB” stands for the roller bearing. X and Y are the whole numbers, where the former tends to be greater than the latter.
So, for example, a 7BB + 1RB bearing system has a total of 8 bearings; that is, 7 ball bearings, and 1 roller bearing.
The higher the number of bearings, the smoother your reel runs. It’s always wise to lubricate your bearing regularly to prevent rusting and getting stuck.
We’ve done extensive coverage of ultralight fishing lines, their features, and benefits, to equip you with all the insight you need to make your purchase.
Some of the key factors to consider as you shop include the reel’s weight, overall construction, max drag rating, and bearing system.
Most of the ultralight spinning reels you encounter will weigh less than 10 ounces. A max drag of beyond 10 pounds is enough even for very heavy fish. Models with lower max drag are ideal for lighter fish.
Our detailed top 7 ultralight spinning reel reviews and buying guide are handy companions to help you choose a model that best meets your fishing demands.
- 7 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels – Review
- 1. KastKing KRLSPNSU-S30WH – Best Ultralight Spinning Reel for Professionals
- 2. Shimano Stradic HG – Best High-Performance Ultralight Spinning Reel
- 3. Okuma C-30 – Versatile Ultralight Spinning Reel
- 4. Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight – Best Budget Ultralight Spinning Reel
- 5. Cadence CS8-1000 – Best Ultralight Spinning Reel for Heavy Fish
- 6. Quantum Genx2 Ul – Lightest Ultralight Spinning Reel
- 7. Piscifun RL003-A – Good Ultralight Spinning Reel for Freshwater Fishing
- How to Buy the Best Ultralight Spinning Reel