Best Ultralight Spinning Reel – Buying Guide and Reviews For 2021

USAngler is a big fan of ultralight fishing gear.

Keep reading if you are looking for an ultralight setup or a replacement reel. You’ll find reviews and in-depth discussions of the top ultralight reels, as well as our favorite picks.

Here’s a quick look at the top ultralight fishing reels.

  • Cadence CS-8 1000 –Our Choice!
  • BassPro Micro Lite Elite
  • Daiwa Exceler LT 1000D
  • Okuma Ceymar C-10
  • Pfleuger President PRESSP20X
  • Shimano Sahara SH1000FI
  • Shimano Stradik FK ST1000HGFK

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel Reviews

Cadence CS-8 1000 reel – Our Choice!

CS8 Spinning Reel,Cadence Ultralight Fast Speed Premium Magnesium Frame Fishing Reel with 10 Low Torque Bearings Super Smooth Powerful Fishing Reel with 36 LBs Max Drag & 6.2:1 Spinning ReelLine capacity:6 lb./110 yards

Bearings 9 + 1 roller bearing

Gear ratio:5.2:1

Maximum. Max.11 lbs.

Cadence’s CS-8 reel is a remarkable reel that could challenge more well-known brands in terms of performance. This reel may be the best value for money, especially considering its price.

The CS-8 runs extremely smooth and has a high build quality. Cadence packed this ultralight full of high-quality components. This makes it a contender to other expensive options. It fishes just like a high-end reel and offers the same performance as expensive options.

It’s amazing, with a carbon fiber brake system that’s reliable smooth, and efficient. With 11 pounds of drag, you can fish any rod I have, and the spool can hold 115 yards (10-pound) braid.

Cadence claims that their reels are comparable to models twice the price. Cadence believes that this is true. We are sure you will be impressed if you buy one!

The casting is excellent and the CS-8 is a great reel for a medium price.

Pros

  • Operation super-smooth
  • Very high quality, excellent drag system
  • Casting is great
  • Nice line capacity

Cons

  • Drag isn’t sealed or waterproof

BassPro Micro Lite Elite

Line capacity:6 lb./150 yards

Bearings 6 + 1 roller bearing

Gear ratio:5.2:1

Maximum. Max.6 lbs.

Available at Bass Pro

BassPro reels are a great choice for those who don’t want to buy from a chain store. They’re also very affordable in terms of price and performance. These reels are actually quite high quality for their price.

This is not my opinion. Check out the reviews! After testing it against other competitors, I bought and now fish one of these rods on my ultralight rod. The MicroLite Elite was as smooth as the Pfluegers three times it’s price. However, it takes a little more force to close the bail using a crank.

The front-mounted drug works well and is very smooth. Casting is also excellent.

This reel has a lot to like. It’s small, lightweight, and can hold 150 yards of mono (6-pound) easily. This is a remarkable ultralight reel. If those features concern you, the MicroLite Elite might be a good choice.

Pros

  • Affordable pricing
  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent drag system
  • Many line capacities
  • Casting is great

Cons

  • Drag isn’t sealed or waterproof

Daiwa Exceler LT 1000D

Line capacity:6 lb./160 yards

Bearings5 + 1 roller bearing

Gear ratio:5.2:1

Maximum. Max.4 lb

It’s no surprise that a Daiwa makes our shortlist if you are an experienced angler. Daiwa reels have a long history in the fishing industry. The Exceler LT series from Daiwa helps to illustrate why.

The 1000D is quiet and smooth. We’d like to say, just as the Cadence, that this reel is well worth its price, and offers impressive performance for a midlevel reel.

The Exceler LT has one of our most powerful spools and is a great choice if your goal is to catch larger fish such as bass using ultralight gear. With this capacity, you can pack more mono or go for a serious braid. You won’t be outgunned if you have a maximum drag weight of 8 pounds.

You’ll find the drag knob at the front of your spool. It delivers an enviable smooth pressure even with 4-pound lines. However, it can only provide 4 pounds of drag so you will need to use all the lines you have!

See also  Can You Eat Marlin and How Does it Taste?

Casting is as good as you would expect.

Pros

  • Operation super-smooth
  • Very high quality, excellent drag system
  • Casting is great
  • Line capacity is amazing
  • Very quiet

Cons

  • Maximum drag low
  • Drag isn’t sealed or waterproof

Okuma Ceymar C-10

okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel Size 10 - 5Lb Max Drag PressureLine capacity:4 lb./100 yards

Bearings7 + 1 roller bearing

Gear ratio:5:1

Maximum. Max.6.8 lbs.

Okuma’s C-10 reel is small but powerful. It is priced to suit any budget and shows that you don’t have to pay more for a better reel.

The C-10 reel is smooth and silky smooth. This Okuma reel is gaining converts from other brands due to its outstanding build quality, which translates into exceptional overall performance.

The C-10 is also equipped with a front drag system. You won’t be disappointed, even with a 2-pound line.

The Okuma casts well on ultralight rods and can hold 100 yards of 4-pound mono. You may notice a slight difference in performance between the Okuma and other budget-minded reels that we reviewed, but it will leave you wondering why you would pay more for such a small margin.

Pros

  • Affordable pricing
  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent drag system
  • Casting is great

Cons

  • Very small spool
  • Drag is not sealed or watertight

Pfleuger President PRESSP20X

Line capacity:4 lb./100 yards

Bearings6 + 1 roller bearing

Gear ratio:5.2:1

Maximum. Max.6 lb

Available at Bass Pro

The President of Pflueger continues the trend we’ve seen in our reviews towards ultralight reels that are high-quality and affordable. This brand is a trusted name in business and one crank will show you why.

This Pfluger, like all other reels we reviewed, outperforms its cost-point and easily competes with higher-end options. You will be impressed by its smooth operation and the way it fishes.

Even with a light line, the drag on the front is reliable and smooth. It casts extremely well, just like all of our recommended reels. This reel, like the Okuma, has a small spool that holds only 100 yards of mono 4-pound. This is not a problem for us. However, if you are concerned, we have larger ultralights.

Pflueger reels have a long history of popularity and are trusted by many anglers. You might find yourself hooked.

Check out our detailed review of the Pflueger President Spinning Reel Review for more information.

Pros

  • Affordable pricing
  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent drag system
  • Casting is great

Cons

  • Very small spool
  • Drag isn’t sealed or waterproof

Shimano Sahara SH1000FI

Line capacity:4 lb./140 yards

Bearings4 + 1 roller bearing

Gear ratio:5:1

Maximum. Max.7 lb

This list should include Shimano reels, which are legendary for their bomb-proof durability as well as a flawless performance. The Shimanos of the past have one thing in common: they no longer have an anti-reverse lever. This is a result of rising production costs, and also a sign of improved water resistance.

This is up to you.

This is a caveat. I have fished extensively with this reel and it is one of my favorite ultralights. Although it does lose a few bearings to other reels, the Shimano reel is silky smooth. A few cranks will show you why Shimano has become a household name within the fishing industry.

The Sahara reel has a spool that is average in size for this type of reel and, in my experience, it provides ample line capacity even for bass. This reel has proven to be a reliable drag. I have landed many big ones using it. It can be fully tightened to provide 7 pounds of resistance, which is more than enough to tackle any ultralight.

This drag is very smooth and has a lighter line. It’s a great choice for little guys.

This reel is great for casting.

Pros

  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent drag system
  • Outstanding casting

Cons

  • There is no anti-reverse lever
  • Drag isn’t sealed or waterproof

Shimano Stradik FK ST1000HGFK

Line capacity:2 lb./270 yards

Bearings7

Gear ratio:6:1

Maximum. Max.7 lb

Shimano is the benchmark in quality and innovation. This is evident in the company’s dedication to quality, especially on their top-end reels like the Stradik FK series.

See also  Best Spinning Reel For Bass: Spin-in a Largemouth

The anti-reverse lever has been dropped from the newer Shimano spinning reels. This lowers costs and increases the body’s water resistance. This feature is a necessity for some anglers, while others just want to keep on fishing. This is not the reel you should be using if you are in the latter group.

This high-end Shimano fishing machine is still a great choice. It can handle even the heaviest lines. The spool can hold plenty of mono of 6 pounds. Shimano’s braid capacity is 95 yards with 10-pound PowerPro, 85 with 15-pound PowerPro, and 65 with 20-pound PowerPro. With a maximum drag of 7 pounds, I feel confident hunting bass or any other ultralight rods.

It’s smooth with a line of 2 or 4 pounds. This reel is the smoothest I have fished. This reel is a great choice for those looking for superior build quality.

It casts well, evidently.

Pros

  • Operation ultra-smooth
  • Amazing drag system
  • Casting is great

Cons

  • There is no anti-reverse lever
  • Drag isn’t sealed or waterproof
  • Expensive

Our Pick – The Cadence CS-8 1000

You might be surprised at our choice–it was a surprise to us too! The Cadence was our favorite due to its excellent drag, high-end performance, and great line capacity. While any model that made it into our reviews will be impressive, this Cadence is our favorite.

The Shimano Stradik FK is indeed impressive, but for many anglers, the absence of an anti-reverse lever can be a major deal-breaker. This factor was taken into account in our analysis and ultimately pushed Shimano out of the top spot. It’s an excellent choice, even if you don’t mind.

We chose the Cadence CS-8 to get the best performance for a reasonable price. It offers the same smoothness, casting, and drag quality as a $200 reel. This sets the standard for affordable excellence. The reel can hold a lot of mono or slender braid and has a strong drag that can handle almost any fishing challenge your rod can handle.

This is a formidable combination, and you can see why we ranked it as our number one.

How to Choose an Ultralight Fishing Reel

Ultralight: Spinning or baitcasting

Although this may seem controversial, we are not afraid to say so. For ultralight fishing, we strongly recommend using spinning reels. Major fishing companies such as Berkley also recommend them.

Baitcasting reels outperform other fishing gear for many applications. A large, powerful, and powerful baitcasting reel is the best choice if you are trolling for marlin. Additionally, spinning reels can experience memory and knotting problems as they increase in line strength and diameter.

The reels are robust, extremely smooth, and have enviable drag systems. Why wouldn’t they be reviewed?

It’s simple. Baitcasting reels can often fail you when you fish ultralight tackle. These spinning reels are best avoided, regardless of whether you’re using tiny beetle spins or 1/32 ounces of jigs.

You can understand why by looking at how these reels work to unspool the line.

Casting with the bail open on a spinning reel allows the line to unwind outwardly from the reel with little friction. The line isn’t moving on the spool; it moves around the end of its spool.

On a baitcasting reel, however, the line is unwinded by spinning the spool. This is basically the reverse of retrieving. It leaves the reel and must turn it. This creates friction when you cast, regardless of how well-constructed and constructed the components are.

You won’t notice any resistance if you are chunking a Texas rig or a large spinning lure or 1/2-ounce crankbait. As the line drags over the spool, spinning reels will fall behind bait casters. For larger and more heavy applications, the baitcasting rod will outperform the spinning one in terms of distance casting and smooth casting. Ultralight lures will show their unmeasurable resistance, and you’ll be unable to cast as far.

Ultralight reels are often spinners, which is why most ultralight anglers prefer spinning reels.

See also  How to Attach Bait to Fishing Rod Stardew Valley?

Line capacity and weight

Ultralight reels are not just small and light, although that is important for balance. It’s not the size and weight of the reel, but the line it’s intended to cast.

Reels are usually designated with the midpoint weight they’re intended for. A reel that has a capacity of 4 LB/110YDS is not meant to be used for a 2 or 6-pound test will show you this. These numbers are usually for monofilament. These numbers usually refer to monofilament. However, it is worth noting that braided or heavier lines can be spooled onto these reels if desired. Manufacturers are offering braid capability in addition to standard mono numbers.

The monofilament line weighs between 2 and 8 pounds. We prefer reels that can handle this weight. These reels can hold enough lines to allow for all-day fishing and long casts. A braided line is also available if you require more strength or distance.

Smooth operation

I love to spin a reel when I’m looking for one. Then I evaluate its balance on the rod, as well as how smooth it works.

Smoother reels can make fishing a lot more enjoyable.

Quality is a drag

Two types of drag are available for spinning reels. These can be mounted on the reel’s tail, behind it, or at the top of the spool. You’ll also find waterproof drag systems that have been sealed on high-end reels, especially those made for saltwater.

Low-quality drag systems are likely to be too tight for light lines like mono 2-pounder. No matter how light the reels are set, we look for reels that run like butter.

  • Rear drag although they are simple to use, these systems can be more difficult and less efficient because they do not directly touch the spool.
  • Front drag although they are more difficult to use while fishing, these systems have stronger, more reliable, powerful, and smoother mechanisms. These systems use mechanical “brakes”, which are applied directly to the reel’s spool. These are the drag systems that we seek in a high-quality reel.
  • Sealed dragWaterproofed, sealed drag system provides longer service life and protects from corrosion when you have the money. They are however more costly and you will decide if they are worth it for freshwater.

All of the reels that we reviewed have a front-mounted drag system.

Ratio of gears

The gear ratio of a reel (for example, 5:1) is another thing to consider when choosing one. These numbers indicate how many revolutions of the spool a full turn of the handle produces, in this instance five.

5:1 refers to mid-pack. Anything lower than that is considered slow and anything higher is fast.

Two reasons this number is important:

  • Lure action spinning lure can be retrieved faster than you think. This will make it more active and require less time for the fish to strike. This can be beneficial in warm, clear water and on sunny days. Keep in mind, however, that not all lures work well if they are fished fast. Others perform better if they are retrieved slowly. When choosing a lure, you should consider the way you fish and what you throw.
  • Speed of retrieve higher gear ratios means faster retrieves. A high gear ratio is useful when you need to quickly cover large areas of water, such as when you are casting deep or casting far away. However, too much speed can lead to a negative outcome. You need to retrieve the lure correctly for the trout, bluegill, or crappie you are after.

We generally consider 5:1 to be a good starting point for a general-purpose reel. All the options on our shortlist are centered around this number.

Last Thoughts

You’ll often see advertising for bearing count and housing materials to differentiate yourself from your competitors. These are not necessarily indicators of quality or performance for ultralight reels.

These little guys aren’t as tough as trout and panfish. Reels that are larger and heavier take more abuse from big fish than those designed for them. The housing material can really matter.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.