The 5 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels Reviewed ( 2019 Hands-on Guide )


Important Choosing Factors

man checking reel

There are some key features needed in every spinning reel and there are also some specific to circumstances where it is used.

For example, if you are purchasing a saltwater reel, you need to consider corrosion resistance. Ultralight spinning reels are no different. There are specific features you must have, others that are nice and some that simply never come into play in this type of fishing.

“Maximize the first two, don’t worry about the third” and you should have a quality reel that will not only land big fish on light tackle but do so for many seasons down the road.


It goes without saying that weight is an important feature when it comes to ultralight reels, but it is more essential than many anglers understand.

When ultralight fishing, everything you are using is lightweight – rod, line and tackle. If you try to use a reel, even a small one, which weighs too much, it will disrupt your entire system:

Bottom line, the wrong weight reel will keep you from fishing efficiently.

Graphite & Carbon Composites

Advances in technology have put the pressure on reel manufacturers to produce lighter reels.

The use of graphite and carbon composites has resulted in full-size reels weighing far lighter than ever expected which has certainly upped the game when it comes to ultralight units.

Look for an ultralight reel weighing less than 10 ounces, any more and you are pushing the lower limits for modern traditional reels.



fisher caught fish

Tossing small lures may not put much strain on your reel, but catching fat fish will.

In fact, because you are using lighter tackle and lower poundage line, your reel is likely to take far more pressure than you realize. This is why it must be constructed with the strongest material possible with the best components viable.

  • Look for solid lightweight body constructed of either aluminum, graphite or carbon composite.
  • The gears, shaft, bail, and handle must be just as durable and made of similar materials.
  • The spool will likely be aluminum, especially if the reel is braided line compatible.

Everything should be fitted tightly especially anywhere the very thin line may rub; otherwise, you are risking unnecessary snags.



Drag is always important when considering a spinning reel but when selecting an ultralight reel, it is vital.

The right drag will allow you to play and land amazingly large fish on a surprisingly light line. The wrong drag or one that performs poorly will break off even the smallest fish in the pond.

Consider These Aspects

1. The drag must be smooth. If it does not engage quickly, without hesitation, the bigger fish will run. Every foot of line lost increases the chances you will not land that fish.

If the drag hangs up or skips during the retrieval, it is likely that the line will break.

2. The drag system needs to contain high-quality materials and be either greased or oiled to prevent damage for the high temperatures created by friction.

3. The drag must be easy to engage and adjust. I prefer a front drag system as it is easier to reach while still maintaining control of the rod.

Drag weight is not as critical as overall drag performance, but most experts agree that the maximum drag for your ultralight reel should be at least 7 pounds.

Although it is unlikely that you will ever use your maximum, especially when using 4 or 6 pound-test line, but the extra drag capability provides extra protection against damage.



ball bearing spool

Again, the amount of pressure placed on a tiny package is going to create a lot of friction; and friction equals heat. The more heat you have inside your reel body, the more chances of failure, the more chance moving parts will lock up.

If you have a quality, top-notch ball bearing system it is the same as having a solid foundation for your home.

Consider These Aspects

1. The first thing most anglers look for when it concerns ball bearings is the total number, and that is no different when it comes to ultralight setups. In fact, I would say it is even more important.

On a full-size multi-purpose reel, you may get away with 5 or 6 ball bearing count — not in an ultralight. I would not recommend any reel with less than 6+1 bearing count, and even then I would not expect it to last more than a couple of seasons.

2. You need to have either a sealed bearing system or corrosion-resistant components. As was stated earlier, this is necessary regardless of whether or not you will be using this reel in salt or brackish water; it is more about overall durability.

Corrosion resistant ball bearings, such as those made from stainless steel, last longer and roll smoother because the surfaces do not pit, flake or otherwise deform. It is this overall vote of confidence you are looking for.

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