Without a doubt, the most popular selling spinning reels are those that cost less than a hundred bucks. It’s a sweet spot where weekend guys like you and I can afford to get a few rod and reel combos and still have a few bucks to buy a couple of crankbaits and some packs of worms.
At this price range though, we do have to look out for the junk reels masquerading as the good. We have a good deal of experience with spinning reels, so we are confident in pointing you towards the best spinning reel under $100. So read on and pick one that looks best with your rod and fits well with how you like to fish.
What to Expect from a $100 Spinning Reel
Reel Weight – The total reel weight starts to creep up in this class of spinning reels as manufacturers use less costly materials that are not as highly optimized for weight. Heavier reels are not a bad thing in itself, but just keep an eye out on those ounces because long days of use can take its toll on your wrists.
More Plastic Components – Reel manufacturers will swap metal parts for plastic ones to save costs. Plastic isn’t necessarily bad, but does wear faster and has a less solid, refined feel you get from metal components.
No Spare Spools – Usually reels under $100 only come with one spool, unlike the higher-priced reels that have a standard spool plus a spare braid ready spool. The good thing is the standard spools at $100 are braid-ready, which is important, especially if you use your spinning reels for bass fishing.
Unsealed Drags and Bearings – To save on some cost, the drag stacks are usually not sealed on the cheaper reels. That doesn’t usually come into play unless you fish the bank or on a beach a lot where sand and dirt can sneak its way into the components and muck up the smoothness.
5 Best Spinning Reels Under $100
Abu Garcia Revo X – Editor’s Choice
Editor’s Choice: In the Revo X, Abu Garcia has finally released a Revo model that most anglers can afford. Having used several Revo spinning reels in the past, like the awesome Revo SX, I have a lot of confidence in recommending the X at this price point.
The first thing you’ll notice is the sleek, all-black finish, reminiscent of a stealth aircraft. Even more, stealth is all the high-end Revo features they built into it. For starters, there is the C6 carbon body and insert molded X-Craftic gearbox. The handle is also graphite, with a machined spool that makes using braid easy to tie on. The 30 weighs just 8.3 ounces, and the 40 comes in at 9.1oz, putting them on equal footing with reels costing twice as much.
You’ll get more nice fishing features, like the Rocket Line Management System, stainless steel bearings, and the hollow Everlast bail. The Rocket system improves the castability of all line types and lays the line down evenly with a Slow Oscillation. The Revo X provides a lot of bang for the buck.
Whisper Light Magnesium Body: Pflueger Supreme
The Supreme is the only magnesium frame spinning reel in this price range. It’s a bit shocking that Pflueger can offer an affordable reel of this type. The size 40 is a full 0.5oz lighter than the President XT 40. That may not sound like much, but it adds up over the course of long days on the water.
Besides the body material, the other big upgrade is to the drag system. You’ll get oil and felt stainless steel drag stack with a carbon inlay, versus the basic sealed drag on the President. The line capacity is equal to the Presidents and has just a slightly less retrieve rate. The Supreme is a smooth, durable reel, and every bit as reliable as the Pflueger name is known for.
Best Value in the Price Range: Daiwa Exceler LT
The Daiwa Exceler LT is one of those reels that don’t get a lot of press but are sneaky good. While a little on the heavier side, the Exceler is smooth, balanced, and sturdy making them a nice choice for anything from crappie to bass and pike. They look sharp too, I like the two-tone body with a gold spool.
Even though priced as a budget reel for the average weekend angler, they are loaded with some nice Daiwa technology. For starters, the reel has the Air Rotor design, hollow stainless Air Bail, anodized aluminum ABS spool, and Digigear gearing. That’s a lot of value packed into a reel priced well under $100.
Best Fresh/Saltwater Combination: The Okuma Inspire is a quality little dual-purpose fresh or saltwater spinning reel. The size 30 is great for all-purpose freshwater fishing but choose the ISX- 40R for its larger capacity for inshore. There is also a small 20 sized reel if you want to pair it with a light-action panfish rod.
The Inspire has a nice construction to it, with a carbon frame, carbon side plates, and aluminum handle and spool. A couple of performance features stand out to me, like the Centrifugal Disc Bail that uses a precision weighted disc to balance the rotor and bail for a no wobble retrieve. Then there is the progressive carbon fiber drag system that helps set a more even drag adjustment.
Abu Garcia Orra S
If you’re looking for a reliable spinning reel, but really can’t shell out $150+ for a premium model, then the Abu Garcia Orra2 S should be one of the first you look at. Not only is it an awesome spinning reel, but it is priced perfectly.
The Orra is built on 6 HPCR ball bearings (High-Performance Corrosion Resistant), and a unique insert molded frame design called IM-C6. Basically, they insert the X-Craftic alloy gearbox into a mold and form the C6 carbon frame around it, resulting in a seamless body with tightly tolerance alignment and low overall weight. One minor point of contention on the Orra2 S is the handle design. It screws into the body and doesn’t feel as “tight” as a Revo S or Revo SX would.
For casting, the Orra2 S incorporates a design called “Rocket line management” and “Rocket spool lip design”, both with the intent of controlling and managing all types of lines efficiently. The Orra S also has the hybrid Carbon Matrix drag system that is on all of Abu Garcia’s spinning reels, so you know it’s going to be smooth and strong, yet give when you need it to.
Penn Battle II
The Penn is manufactured with a full aluminum body, sideplate, rotor, and bail wire. It comes with a strong carbon fiber drag system that has smooth adjustments.
The Battle II features 5 sealed stainless steel bearings and has an anti-reverse bearing system. It has a high-capacity spool well suited for heavyweight braided line. The Penn Battle II will hold enough line to handle fishing in 100 feet of water without any line issues.
The Battle II features the great construction that Penn is known for and also enjoys Penn’s reputation for excellent customer service.
The Penn Battle II is a very durable and strong reel well suited for offshore fishing for Snapper, Grouper, and larger species as well. With proper cleaning and maintenance, The Battle II is designed for a long life of saltwater fishing. It provides a great combination of durability and function at a great price.
- It is available in left-handed or right-handed retrieve.
- The body design and construction of the Penn are durable and strong.
It is heavy and may wear down some anglers during a long day on the water.
Daiwa BG — Most Versatile Spinning Reel Under 100 Dollars
The Daiwa BG is made of machined aluminum and features a waterproof carbon drag system. That uses 6 ball bearings and has a 5.6:1 gear ratio. It has an all-time anti-reverse system. The spool design on the BG provides exceptionally smooth casting and handles braided line as well as it does monofilament.
The Daiwa BG is usable in almost every fishing application depending on the size reel used and when it is matched with a proper rod. From ultralight freshwater tackle to surf and inshore saltwater fishing, the Daiwa is adaptable to large and small species.
The waterproof drag compares favorably with much more expensive equipment. The drag allows for fine adjustments during a fight and provides confidence that the line will stand up and handle the pressure when a large fish is hooked.
The BG is great for all-around versatility and multiple fishing styles. The smooth retrieval and sturdy drag make it a great choice for anglers of all ages and skill levels.
- It is designed to withstand saltwater conditions and is very durable.
- The BG is comfortable and has a highly ergonomic design.
- The bail wire is a bit sticky without regular lubrication.
Pflueger President — Best Bass Spinning Reel Under 100 Dollars
The Pflueger President XT, has been perhaps the most popular spinning reel under $100 for many years. It’s hard to find anyone with a negative comment about the President XT reels. There are literally hundreds of positive reviews online for these reels.
The President XT is a lightweight reel for this class (7.6oz and 9.1oz for the most popular sizes). It’s an around solid performing reel, making it one of the best spinning reel values around. Choose from 5 sizes of reels to match your preferred species. They have a size fit for almost anything, from ultralight trout fishing to bass and walleye, and up to carp and steelhead.
The Pflueger President XT is known as a durable reel that can take some abuse and retain its smooth casting and reeling performance. It boasts an all graphite body construction, stainless steel components and a new lighter aluminum main shaft. Like the Revo reels, it comes stock with a machined anodized aluminum spool that is braid ready. The reels also have on/off anti-reverse, a sure clicking aluminum bail, and an impressive 10 stainless steel ball bearings.
The President is made of lightweight graphite and has a water-sealed drag system. It features 10 stainless steel ball bearings and has a smooth retrieval.
The anti-reverse system can be switched on and off in the event that an angler wants to keep the handle spinning when idle. The front positioned drag system allows for fine adjustments when battling bass and other freshwater fish.
The President is an easy to use spinning reel with a bail wire designed for comfortable repetitive use on a long day on the water. It features a Sure-Click bail that produces an audible clicking sound to give immediate feedback and certainty that the bail is closed and the line is secured.
The President is a great choice for many lighter-duty freshwater fishing techniques. It is lightweight and casts well for bass fishing and even for ultralight applications. The Pflueger President has a smooth retrieval that makes for fun fights with bass and other freshwater species.
- The graphite President is lightweight and comfortable during long outings.
- The ball bearing system is of very good quality for an affordable reel and provides very smooth turning.
- It requires some attention during retrieval to avoid line twist with monofilament line.
SHIMANO Sedona FI — Best Freshwater Ultralight Spinning Reel Under 100 Dollars
Shimano’s Sedona Fl is an excellent lightweight and compact spinning reel for all smaller freshwater species, including smallmouth, panfish, sauger, and crappie. That comes with Shimano’s famous cold-forged Hagane gears and is the first Shimano reel in the under-$100 price point to offer these highly engineered and reliable gears.
The Shimano Sedona Fl has a sufficiently sensitive drag system and a high gear ratio to make for fun ultralight fishing. The Sedona is lightweight and comfortable when jigging and manipulating ultralight tackle over an extended time.
The spool and reel function well with light and ultralight line and tackle, allowing for accurate casting and placement of lighter baits and lures.
The Shimano Sedona is a great choice for a value freshwater ultralight setup. If you haven’t tried ultralight tackle before, the Sedona can provide for fun fights and learning experiences working with ultralight line and tackle. The Sedona makes Shimano’s famous quality engineering available at a modest price.
- The drag system is well suited for ultralight fishing when paired with a good ultralight rod.
- This is a great rod for younger anglers who want to enjoy the learning experience of ultralight fishing.
- The Shimano has some retrieval issues if it gets wet. These problems normally resolve when the Sedona dries out.
Okuma Ceymar — Best Budget Spinning Reel
The Okuma Ceymar makes a great entry-level spinning equipment for younger and beginning anglers. The Okuma’s 8 ball bearing system is comfortable and its graphite construction provides a lightweight and well-balanced experience.
The Ceymar’s rotor system and line roller make retrieval simple and efficient. It is compact and ergonomic with a design intended for ease of use.
The drag system is reliable and has easy adjustments for those learning about making changes in drag during a fight with a fish and the demands that different fish place on a drag system. Beginners generally learn much better using a front drag system like the one found on the Ceymar.
The Ceymar is a great reel at an inexpensive price for young people. The Okuma is lightweight and simple to operate. When you move on to other spinning equipment, the Ceymar will make for an excellent backup reel or as an additional rig when trolling or fishing from the bank or a dock.
- It is very user-friendly for all skill levels and allows beginners to focus on their lure and the fish.
- The drag system is well suited for ultralight fishing when paired with a good ultralight rod.
- It is designed more for its light weight and ease of use than its durability.
Spinning Reels Shopping Guide and Review
Spinning reels have become the most popular choice for anglers of all skill levels and for virtually every style of fishing over the years. Those are easy to use and do not require the practice and patience that baitcasting reels typically demand.
Spinning reels are the choice of anglers who are interested in versatility and simple function in all settings. Those can cast all kinds of tackle, including lures and live bait rigs. These reels are most useful for lighter tackle and line weights, although a properly configured spinning reel can also handle heavier weight tackle.
Spinning reels are just about as easy to use as spincast reels while being more versatile and more durable and sturdy in every meaningful comparison. With a minimal amount of practice and experience, anglers will find spinning reels to be much more useful and enjoyable than traditional spincast reels.
Spinning reels do not provide the casting accuracy normally found in most quality baitcasting reels. However, the value and durability of a good spinning reel can easily tip the scales in favor of a great value spinning reel for most anglers. Many very experienced anglers simply prefer spinning reels over baitcasters because the mounting of the reel below the rod provides a more balanced and comfortable feel.
Every spinning reel has certain features and attributes that should be considered when deciding which reel is best for you.
a. Construction Materials and Design
Most main spinning reel components are made from aluminum or graphite. Aluminum is generally more durable and resistant to corrosion, which makes it preferable for the more demanding environmental conditions involved with saltwater fishing. Graphite is lighter in weight and are usually more suited to freshwater fishing with lighter tackle.
A spinning reel should have a solid body with a strong bail wire, as strength is the key to smooth spinning reel operation.
b. Gear Ratio
The gear ratio is a measure of the number of times the bail spins around the spool to retrieve line with every turn of the reel’s handle. It is an important measure of how much power you can put into a battle with a fish on the line.
When using heavier tackle and line for larger species, smaller ratios are useful. Ratios between 4:1 and 5:1 provide slower and more powerful retrievals.
Larger ratios (around 6:1 or higher) are faster retrieving reels and are suitable for almost all smaller fish.
c. Drag Systems
Drag systems are designed to hold line firm against a fish attacking the lure and then allow the line to come off of the reel when a fish is hooked and applying pressure.
Spinning reels typically have either front drag or rear drag systems. Front drags typically use large washers and are durable and provide great drag strength. Rear drag systems can be easier to adjust on the fly while fighting a fish and can be very effective when using light or ultralight tackle and line.
The main thing to look for in a drag system is smooth adjustment ability on a system that holds line tight and does not lose its setting.
d. Ball Bearings
Quality ball bearings give a reel a feeling of smooth operation and ease of use. Nothing is much more frustrating than dealing with a cheap reel without decent bearings. Jerky and rattling reel operation makes for a very frustrating experience. Bearings of quality construction help a reel feel smooth and stable.
Quantity goes along with quality when evaluating a reel’s bearings. Usually, a higher number of bearings is a good indication of quality. However, a reel with 10 low-quality bearings does not compare favorably with a reel with fewer bearings of higher quality.
High-quality bearings are especially important for saltwater fishing, as resistance to corrosion is key to a equipment’s durability and usefulness.
e. Line Capacity
When a spinning reel is matched with the right rod, an angler can use line as light as 2-pound test or as heavy as the largest saltwater species demand. Depending on the type of fishing you do, the line capacity can be an important variable to consider.
A designed line capacity has a direct impact on the size and shape. Pay careful attention to a reel’s capacity and do not go outside the specifications with line weight or length. Light line on a high capacity reel leads to tangles and spool issues. Heavy line on a light capacity reel will reduce the line length you can use to less than is needed for most heavy tackle conditions.
f. Spool Design
Spinning reels come with either internal or skirted reels. Most modern spinning reels are designed with skirted reels. Some experienced anglers still prefer internal spools, although they are prone to tangling and other performance issues when not used correctly.
Skirted reels are suitable for fishers of all skill levels and provide essentially similar performance and casting ability as older spool designs.
g. Anti-Reverse Handles
Modern spinning reels include anti-reverse handles or have an anti-reverse switch. An anti-reverse setting keeps the reel’s handle from spinning backward, which allows for a solid hook-set when a fish takes the lure or bait.
Anti-reverse works in conjunction with your drag system to ensure that the line is secure and tight when the time comes to forcefully and accurately set the hook and begin the fight with that big fish.
Finally, consider the basic ergonomics of the reel. Comfort over a long day of fishing also requires that you decide if you want a left- or right-handed retrieve reel. Do you prefer to cast and retrieve with the same hand, or change the rod up between hands with each cast? Many value-priced spinning reels offer both left- and right-handed retrieval or allow for the crank handle to be changed from one side of the reel to the other to match your preference.
- What are spinning reels good for?
Spinning reels are ideal for most saltwater shore fishing, especially surfcasting. They are also excellent in freshwater and are easier to use for most anglers than conventional or baitcasting setups. For boaters, they are great for fishing with light tackle and for casting.
- What’s better Baitcast or spinning reel?
Baitcast reels can handle heavier line and actually allow for longer casts than spinning gear in the same size range. A small spinning reel has a smaller, more narrow spool, which has a hard time with large diameter lines. Small baitcast reels can handle these lines and provide greater casting distance.
- What do the numbers mean on fishing reels?
Numbers (1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 …) show the diameter of the spool. Bigger the diameter means more line you spool your fishing reel with. Basically, fishing reel with 1000 spool can hold around 165 yards of nylon fishing line in size 1. 2000 – 330 yards etc.
- What is the best size spinning reel for bass fishing?
Best used with 4-8-pound line, the 1000 size works best when fishing for bass, walleye, or medium size trout.
- What does gear ratio mean on a spinning reel?
Gear ratios determine the speed at which a reel picks up line. Fishing reels with agear ratio of 6.3:1 means the spool rotates 6.3 times for every 360-degree turn of the reel handle.
- How does a spinning reel work?
When you turn the handle of a spinning reel, the gears turn the spool. The line passes under the bail via the line roller and winds onto the spool. To cast, the bail is lowered and the line held with a finger during a normal casting/throwing motion.
- Can you use a spinning reel on a casting rod?
While it is technically possible, you should not use a spinning reel on a casting rod. The guides on the casting rod are much smaller and will affect your casting distance. Also, casting rods are meant to bend in the other direction, so using them with spinning reels can break them.
- Why do spinning reels have reverse?
Most spinning reels include the reverse option for the specific tastes of a minority of seasoned anglers. Some people like to “walk back” a fighting fish by turning the handle backward, thereby avoiding the use of the drag system. This method can be effective, but it is very “old school” and rarely used by beginning anglers. In almost all cases, the anti-reverse is best left turned on.
- What is drag on spinning reels?
The drag on a spinning reel is the tension or resistance offered by the reel when line is pulled off of it. You can test the drag by simply yanking on the line once it has been passed under the bail and through the roller. The drag is adjusted by the knob on top of the spool. You typically want the line to pull off of the spool, but not too easily. This is so that you can successfully fight a fish without having it take all your line.
The best budget spinning reel for each angler depends on the type of fishing that is planned. There are multiple choices of budget spinning reels for all types: freshwater fishing as well as inshore, offshore, and surf saltwater fishing.
Those have several typical construction and performance functions that we’ll discuss in this guide. Understanding the major components of a quality and serviceable spinning reel will help you choose the best spinning reel under 100 for your needs at an awesome price.
Getting a great value in a spinning reel means balancing price against the attributes we have discussed in this article. Value pricing does not mean compromising quality, durability, and awesome functionality — if you shop carefully. We hope this guide has been of use. Let us know of any questions or comments below.
Anthony has been an angler for the past 15 years. His experience makes him an invaluable asset to FISHING GEN and writes on fishing expeditions as well as fishing gear.