Best Spinning Reel Under $100 Buyer’s Guide
If you're anything like me, walking into a tackle shop or any other store with fishing equipment can be huge tease. There is an endless amount of fishing gear calling my name, and when I'm on a budget, the sense of frustration of not being able to test out different tackle or upgrade my current setup is palpable.
However, like many other things in life, with experience, you can learn where it's easier and more difficult to save money, while still trying out all the cool equipment and improving your repertoire. While the saying "you get what you pay for" generally holds true, at a certain point, the increase in cost just isn't worth the small improvement in quality or performance. Beside, the equipment is only as good as the angler casting with it!
Therefore, in this article, we would like to review our Top 5 picks for best spinning reels under $100. This limits the selection, but even still, we have attempted to show a variety of different reels within this price range in attempts to kill two birds with one stone: showing you good choices, while still allowing you to get a sense of the variety available. In a previous article, we reviewed the best spinning reels in general, so feel free to check that out as well, but as you might suspect, some of those spinning reels come with a fairly hefty price tag.
Best Spinning Reels Under $100 - Reviews
- Overall solid value
- Many different sizes available
- Lightweight graphite frame, sideplate, and rotor.
- Fast action with mechanisms to reduce backplay and wobble
- Standard features
- Lower end model
- Slightly more prone to tangling
- May need re-greasing sooner than other reels
The Shimano Sienna is your basic lower-end spinning reel. To be clear, that doesn't mean it's bad, rather, there just isn't any fancy bells and whistles, which isn't always necessary anyway.
This reel comes in many different sizes to help accommodate your line capacity. For example, the base model has a line capacity ranging from 2/210 - 6/110, while the Shimano Sienna 4000FD boasts a line capacity ranging from 8/240 - 12/160.
The components are mainly graphite, which is standard for this price point. The graphite will offer a lightweight feel and good performance, but may not be as durable. Moving components may need to be greased sooner than some other reels.
Overall, this is nice reel from a very reliable fishing brand, and is more well-suited to smaller fish, likely those found in fresh water (e.g. bass, perch, catfish, salmon. While it may not last as long and isn't anything special, it will be tough to find something cheaper. Therefore, we recommend the Shimano Sienna spinning reel for beginners, those you want a spare reel, those on a very strict budget, or anyone fishing relatively small fresh water fish that simply want good value.
- Great value
- Up to 41.5 lbs (19 KG) of triple-disc carbon fiber drag
- 10+1 corrosion-resistant MaxiDur ball bearings
- Light and strong CNC machined aluminum spool
- Precision mesh brass gears
- Stainless steel main shaft
- Neck may be a little weak for larger sizes
- Some anglers find that the line can become caught under the spool more than some other reels
This is an excellent spinning reel that is under $100. KastKing is becoming an increasingly well-known brand, and at least in terms of spinning reels, this is for a good reason: they offer great value. The KastKing Sharky II Carbon Fiber Spinning Reel is one that often flies under the radar of many anglers, which is a shame, because it really is quite good.
In this case, KastKing seems to have improved on the features of more basic reels like the Shimano Sienna that we reviewed above, but only to the point where it won't become crazy expensive. It's actually pretty clever, as even just listed that specs makes it appear much more advanced than the very most basic reels.
For example, they incorporate a carbon fiber triple disc drag system that is actually quite strong. They incorporate a ton of bearings (10+1) to try and make the rotation as smooth as possible, and they reduced the weight as much as possible. In this way, the angler potentially improves their reel by virtue of a stronger and lighter reel at a good cost, which will be immediately noticed.
Overall, this isn't the cheapest spinning reel out there, but it's still well under $100 and offers surprisingly high quality components and solid performance for the price. While it's not without its limitations (e.g. it's not corrosion-resistant, and some anglers find line can get caught under the spool sometimes), it will be difficult to find a better spinning reel for the money.
- Very reliable brand for reels
- Full metal body, side plate, and rotor.
- HT100 carbon fiber drag washers
- Heavy duty aluminum bail wire
- Instant anti-reverse bearing
- Some of the larger sizes may clear $100 (can usually find them cheaper online).
- While it's very durable, there is the odd complaint about performance dropping after heavy use.
This is a great spinning reel that can usually be found at a cost of under $100. It is built with quality materials that ensure solid durability. With 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and all components greased with Penn's proprietary grease, the smoothness is excellent right out of the box.
Penn's HT100 Versa Drag washers are keyed into the spool such that both sides of the washers can be used. This allows for higher maximum drags and a larger range than lower-grade spinning reels.
Similar to other reels, there are many different sizes/variations of the same model which allows you to select something more specific to your usual fishing holes. Line capacities can range from 275/2 - 230/30 (mono) and 160/6 - 345/80 (braid) depending on the exact reel.
While the vast majority of customers provide glowing reviews about this reel, and really any other PENN product, there is the odd complaint about performance issues after a while, but these problems don't appear to be overly common. Some find that if you use it heavily on a very regular basis it may start to stick way earlier than expected, but these problems seem to be quite rare.
Overall, The Penn Battle II is an excellent spinning reel built with quality components and backed by a reliable brand. While there is some good value in this reel, it's still on the more expensive end (usually between $50-$100 depending on the size and where you get it), and therefore we only recommend this reel for those who know they need something a little higher-end and have tried using at least one reel before. That being said, if it's well within your budget, this reel will rarely be a bad choice.
Things Worth Considering
Spinning reels are extremely versatile reels that can be used in almost every situation. Like anything else, the old saying of "you get what you pay for" usually holds true, but this is usually only the case for low- to mid-range price ranges. Once you get to the very technical and advanced reels, small increases in already-good performance will cost a bundle.
All of these reels we reviewed above are good options, so don't worry about not getting enough in the reel. Worst case, you spent the lowest amount on the Shimano, may not be 100% happy with it, and now you have a spare and something to build on.
In terms of brands, all the three brands of reels that we included above are solid. Shimano is tried, tested, and true. There's a huge selection of Shimano reels available, and the Sienna spinning reel is a great introduction. That being said, they have such a huge selection of products in general, that they aren't really specialists in one particular domain. KastKing is an ever improving brand that is just becoming highly popular among a wide variety of anglers. The Sharky II is a particularly well-liked brand, but again, you're dealing with a company that doesn't have the same level of history. Finally, PENN is a great brand when it comes to reels. This is what they have always focused on, and they remain true to their #1 passion. The only downside for consumers is that this reliability usually comes with a slightly heftier price tag.
Overall, the three spinning reels that we reviewed above are all great choices and provide solid value for their respective price points. There are more professional reels available at higher price points, but for the avid recreational angler, these reels offer a great chance to make the most out of your budget. Happy casting!