One of the perks of having fishing as a hobby is that you can find its essential gear at accessible prices. Spinning reels are favored by the majority of anglers around the world for their ease of use and versatile features. Yet, the best thing about them is that you don’t have to break the bank to obtain a feature-loaded and top-quality spinning reel.
We understand that you want to add a budget spinning reel to your tackle box without compromising its quality and performance. Since there are many excellent options currently on the market, we gathered and reviewed the best spinning reels under $100 to help you make a decision.
Also, later in this article, you’ll find a buying guide to help you make sure that you’re buying the right reel for the right job. Now buckle up and let’s go!
At a Glance:
- Pflueger President – Best Overall
- Shimano Sedona FI – Most Advanced Technology
- Penn Battle II – Best Saltwater Spinning Reel
- Okuma Ceymar – Most Versatile Spinning Reel
- Kastking Summer and Centron – Best Spinning Reel Under $50
- Piscifun Carbon X – Fastest Spinning Reel
Budget Spinning Reels Comparison Table:
|Reel||Gear Ratio||Weight||Maximum Drag|
|Pflueger President||5.2:1||8.8 ounces||10 lbs.|
|Shimano Sedona FI||6.2:1||10.4 ounces||24 lbs.|
|Penn Battle II||6.2:1||9.8 ounces||10 lbs.|
|Okuma Ceymar||5:1||8 ounces||15.4 lbs.|
|Kastking Summer & Centron||5.2:1||9.1 ounces||17.5 lbs.|
|Piscifun Carbon X||6.2:1||7.8 ounces||22 lbs.|
The 7 Best Spinning Reels Under $100
1. Pflueger President – Best Overall
Judging by being the most popular spinning reels among anglers for many years, Pflueger has succeeded in making a brilliant reel concerning every possible aspect. Its lightweight graphite body and rotor that reduce its weight to 8.8 ounces are sturdy enough to handle the abuse of harsh conditions and ensure hassle-free long fishing days.
We love the solid feel and frictionless retrieves provided by Pflueger President’s ten stainless steel corrosion-resistant ball bearings used in its construction. With five different models, you can choose a size and drag power ranging from 6.8 up to 14 pounds to suit your targeted species.
Moreover, enjoy its super long casts, which are made possible by the line capacity that reaches up to 224/4 of monoline and 275/6 of braided line. Folks who would like to add a sleek and classy piece to their tackle box will find this beautiful piece-of-art with its stellar blue and gold finish definitely eye-catching.
On the other hand, some customers have complained about receiving faulty reels. Hence, you should pay attention to what you’re purchasing and try it out to make sure you don’t need to exchange it for a better-made one. Also, it requires frequent maintenance to avoid having grinding gears.
- Sturdy graphite body and rotor
- Smooth casting
- Feels good in the hand
- Sealed drag and corrosion-resistant bearings
- Common line twists
- Some quality control problems
- Needs frequent maintenance
To put it simply, this reel has all of what you can be asking for in a spinning reel regarding smooth performance and lightness at this price point. Customers have been using it for a long time and are extremely satisfied with its robust drag and right balance.
2. Shimano Sedona FI – Most Advanced Technology
Coming from the flag bearer of high-tech sports equipment, Shimano Sedona offers a bag full of surprises. Made by Shimano’s cold-forging technology, the striking HAGANE gearing is responsible for its sturdy core and astonishingly long casts. You can use it for many years to come and still be amazed by its unchanging performance.
To reduce tangles and backlashes, they replaced the standard spool lip with a new propulsion one, which also increased the casting distance. Nobody wants to suffer from a sprained wrist after a long day of fishing. That’s why Shimano’s G-free body that weighs only 10.4 ounces guarantees a prolonged comfortable grasp over the reel.
In addition to its middle-ground gear ratio of 6.2:1, its oval oscillation gear provides a consistent spool speed that enhances your control over the line and makes it easier to work various types of lures and baits.
What’s more, it’s designed in 7 models ranging in sizes from 1000 to 8000 in order to give the customer the freedom to choose whatever suits his style. Nonetheless, the vast majority of anglers prefer the 4000 model for its average size and maximum drag power that reaches 24pounds.
Unfortunately, the newer versions lack the anti-reverse on/off switch which aids in situations when you have to turn off the anti-reverse system and back-reel to be able to pull a fighting fish without breaking the line.
- Long life span
- Extremely affordable for a Shimano
- Sturdy drag
- Clicking noises after getting wet
- Missing a toggle switch
- Stiff bail
To wrap up, we can say that with this reel, Shimano stays true to its principles. If you want to obtain a comfortable spinning reel crafted from quality materials and high technology without paying lots of cash, then Shimano Sedona FI is your perfect choice.
3. Penn Battle II – Best Saltwater Spinning Reel
Penn has always been reliable when it comes to designing long-lasting saltwater reels. You can drive it to the beach without a care in the world, given that its body, side plate, and rotor are constructed from heavy-duty corrosion-resistant aluminum. This way, you can depend on it to beat off the potential bumps against rocks and jetties, besides enduring the abuse of saltwater.
Featuring five sealed stainless steel bearings along with an instant anti-reverse one, Battle II promises you a super smooth spool that can last a long time in good condition.
On top of that, its HT 100 carbon-fiber drag washers provide the reel with more pressure capabilities to help you adjust the drag according to your wishes. Without the need for mono backing, you can load this reel with 240/4, 180/6, 125/8 of monoline or 210/8, 180/10, 165/15 of braided line.
It comes in six different models in total. The first three models featuring the sizes 1000, 2000 and 2500 are the affordable choices at this price point. That may put a limit to the type of fish you’re targeting, but it saves you from the significant increase in weight that’s part of the package in larger sizes.
One possible drawback is that, like Shimano Sedona, it lacks the anti-reverse switch, which means you won’t be able to back-reel.
- Tough body
- Corrosion-resistant drag and sealed bearings
- Aluminum bail wire
- No need for monofilament backing
- Models from 3000 to 8000 are expensive
- The seal can be flawed
- Clunkiness of the spool
- Large sizes are on the heftier side
- No anti-reverse switch
You can trust Penn when it comes to surf fishing reels. We totally recommend it if you’re looking for a robust reel that can withstand the surf in the long run. We can assure you that its beastly drag system can do a good job landing large marine species, which means you can hardly be disappointed with this reel.
If you are just looking for saltwater fishing gear, I have a complete guide on the best saltwater fishing rods here that you will definitely find helpful.
4. Okuma Ceymar – Most Versatile Spinning Reel
It definitely earned high points thanks to its eight versatile models that render it suitable for any type of fishing.
It’s important not to mistake the C-10 size as an equal to size 1000 in standard reels. In fact, it equates with the size 500, which is more common in ice fishing by ice fishing reels than freshwater and surf fishing. Surprisingly anglers who used this size didn’t complain about the limited fishing options.
Nevertheless, we prefer the C-30 model for it can flawlessly open the door for finesse applications like drop-shotting bass with 6-8 pounds line and maximum drag pressure of 15.4 pounds. Surf fishermen will totally benefit from the C-55 models that are equipped for inshore saltwater.
The C-65 model is specially designed for catfish fishermen who need a lot of line capacity along with the capability to cast long distances from piers and jetties.
Thanks to its seven ball bearings along with the quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing, this reel doesn’t compromise the smoothness of operation. Also, its elliptical gearing system and cyclonic flow rotor guarantees the ability to long cast and minimizes water intrusion so as to keep the reel safe from corrosion.
However, like any budget-friendly reel, quality control complaints should be expected. Moreover, there are some reports about the line getting caught behind the spool and wrapping around the spindle.
- Versatile sizes
- Sturdy aluminum build
- Suitable for freshwater and saltwater
- Accurate long casts
- Minimum wobbles and line twists
- Quality control
- Some complaints about squeaking noises
With Okuma Ceymar, you get much more than your money’s worth. This reel is impressively smooth for the cost, and its drag is like a workhorse, owing to its reliable stopping power. It can nicely team up with a lightweight rod and provide you with an impressive combo.
If you are going bass fishing, make sure to also check out my guide to the best bass spinning reels here.
5. Kastking Summer and Centron – Best Spinning Reel Under $50
You can always count on Kastking in manufacturing reels that provide excellent value for the money. Sure, a lot of people wouldn’t expect that a $20 spinning reel can be packed with such surpassing features. However, all we can say is that Kastking has nailed it with this reel.
Crafted with a solid graphite frame and CNC machined anodized aluminum spools, this reel provides both sturdiness, lightness and a precise line-lay at the same time. Long casts are no longer impossible with its power launch lip and 6/310 mono line and 0.18/370 braided line capacity.
Its popularity for being ultrasmooth is due to its nine high-quality ball bearings plus the instant stop anti-reverse bearing. The gear ratio on this beauty is 5.2:1, which isn’t the fastest among our picks. However, it’s still ideal for freshwater conditions.
Speaking of the drag, you can count on its intensive drag power that reaches up to 17.5 pounds. Moreover, it kept the line twists to a minimum, and its bail seems to work perfectly fine with no complaints about it snapping back by itself like other budget reels.
We regret to say that surf anglers won’t benefit from this reel due to its small size and relatively slow retrieves which won’t be of much help in case of saltwater fishing.
- Perfect for beginners
- Attractive looks
- Compact and sleek design
- Ultrasmooth performance
- Covered in anti-corrosion paint
- Not suitable for saltwater fishing
- The crank handle is small for large hands
If your pockets are not deep, you don’t have to resort to shabby reels when Kastking Summer and Centron reels are present in the arena. They possess unique and exquisite qualities that make them popular among anglers, besides being capable of matching any skill level.
6. Piscifun Carbon X – Fastest Spinning Reel
Without a doubt, Piscifun Carbon X is one of the best selling reels. It comes with two gear ratios to offer different speeds. The 6.2:1 ratio present in larger models provides multiple retrieves that can help you reel in the most aggressive catches without wavering.
The lower speed which comes with the 5.2:1 ratio in the 1000 model is also perfect for anglers who like to take it slow when finessing trophy fish.
Its carbon-fiber frame and rotor render it exceptionally lightweight and easy on the wrists. Add this to its 10+1 shielded corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings, and you have a reel prepared for both fresh and saltwater.
Its premium drag is made of oversized carbon washers that can bear up to 22-38 Ib without line breaks.
With this excellent drag, this reel can handle every kind of fish that comes its way, starting from small trouts to trophy pikes and muskies. Let alone the fact that its sealed rubber ring protects the inside parts from water, dust, salt, and debris, which is another reason to consider this reel perfect for surf fishing.
What’s more, this reel is loaded with many other innovative specs that we’re used to in pricier reels. For instance, it comes with an ergonomic high-density Eva knob for a comfortable grip, and its spool is braid-ready, so there’s no need to tie mono backing when you’re setting up your reel. Also, its black aesthetics are praised by many users.
- Solid construction
- Ultralight carbon-fiber build
- Extra fast line retrieves
- Durable frame
- Perfect for both saltwater and freshwater
- Require constant maintenance
- Some complaints about the handle coming off
- Quality control
Piscifun has made it possible to get a $200 worth reel for under $70. Pair it with a medium/fast action rod and be ready for a shockingly smooth fishing experience that will exceed your expectations. If you’re a fisherman who likes to experiment with fast techniques in the waters, then this reel is your go-for choice.
If you are going surf fishing, you can upgrade your gear with these awesome surf fishing reels that don’t cost much now.
What to Expect From a $100 Spinning Reel
Since manufacturers are trying to load reels with many upgraded features at such low cost, some may sacrifice the quality and build. Hence, you should watch out for reels that are made of cheap plastics or tacky materials. Some may have hanging spools or weak drags. These parts are critical for the performance of the reel and having them in a lousy form turns the reel into a piece of junk.
Furthermore, unsealed drag and bearings are quite common at this price segment, which may not be an issue for freshwater fishermen. On the other hand, surf anglers may find the reel showing its ugly face after a while. That’s because salt water is the biggest enemy of unprotected reels since it causes them to rust and screw up their performance.
Also, to save up some money, low-end spinning reels don’t come with spare spools, but this shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, they may come in handy, but they aren’t strictly necessary.
What to Look for When Buying a Budget Spinning Reel
When buying a budget spinning reel, there are some features you need to identify in order to choose the best possible match for you. If you can hit these bases, you’re ready to go.
Most spinning reels are made of graphite, carbon, or aluminum. It goes without saying that aluminum is the best material, given that it’s the sturdiest and most lightweight. Thus, it may not be abundant in a budget of $100, but it still exists.
Following it is carbon fiber, which is used in extremely lightweight reels but can’t be considered as sturdy as aluminum. Lastly, graphite is the most common material used in this class. Although it’s robust and doesn’t cost much, it can put on some weight on the reel.
Recently, some brands have been using magnesium in the construction of low-budget reels, owing to its low cost. Nevertheless, it’s not the best choice since it’s liable to corrosion and its strength isn’t ideal for handling fish fights.
2. Gear Ratio
This ratio indicates the number of rotations made with one full turn of the reel handle. Hence, it decides the speed of your casts and retrievals.
To reduce the price, companies hardly produce fishing reels with extra high ratios. Mostly you’ll find spinning reels with 4.8-5.4:1 gear ratios, which suit fishing styles that don’t impart a lot of action in a lure.
Aim for higher ratios like 5.5-6.2:1 should you want to pick up the slack line quicker or want to open the door for the use of jerk baits, which requires more jerking and jigging.
The maximum drag is basically the measure of how much load your line can bear without snapping. Depending on the type of fish you’re targeting, you should choose the drag power that can withstand the resistance of struggling fish.
The question here is how much drag is enough? To be able to land small to medium trouts, perch, and bluegills, 6-12 pounds should suffice as you won’t need much drag. On the other hand, big-game fish like pikes and muskies may require what can reach up to 40 pounds of drag.
4. Number of Bearings
The general rule of thumb is that the higher the number of ball bearings, the smoother the reel would operate. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the quality of the bearings matters.
At this price point, be careful of the quality of the bearings. No matter what the number of the bearings, look for the sealed or shielded ones to guarantee long-term smooth performance.
As for the size, you should expect more limited options in this class, given that bigger sizes consume more material which of course means more money. Sizes starting from 1000 to 2500 are perfect for small catches, and they are quite abundant with this shoestring budget.
Sizes 3000 and 4000 aren’t uncommon as well. They provide you with a happy medium that can support more line capacity and larger spools for better cranking power. Surf anglers who are in continuous search for large species are in love with these sizes.
However, should you be a bass or muskie angler, you’ll have a harder time finding a reel with a size more than 4000 in this category.
6. Line Capacity
When you’re looking for a spinning reel, you should think about the diameter or the breaking strain of the line you’re going to use. You need thicker lines and catfish baitcasting reels. if you’re targeting species that tend to pull up a fight like a catfish. Also, fishing around jetties or sharp rocks requires lines that can weigh up to 50 pounds.
Look for reels that can accommodate up to 200-300 yards of a line if you like to fish from the shore since you’ll need longer lines to reach far distances and depths. On the contrary, such long lines won’t really make a difference for freshwater anglers who only fish in small lakes or rivers.
Now that we’ve done our job and tracked down the best spinning reels under $100 that deserve to be added to your collection, it’s time for you to choose.
Although each one of the reels that we had the pleasure to review had some unique features, our best bet lies in Pflueger President as it struck the perfect smoothness and balance without adding unnecessary cost to the reel.
Also, we firmly believe that saltwater fishermen will be satisfied with Penn Battle II and Okuma Ceymar. They would be surprised to find themselves coming back home with more than they’ve expected because these reels were designed with the concerns of surf fishing anglers in mind.