Best Ultralight Spinning Reels

Ultralight Reel

Brand

Price Range

Rating

Okuma Ultralight

Okuma

$

Sweepfire

Daiwa

$$

Spirex FG

Shimano

$$$

Steez EX

Daiwa

$$$$

Ultralight spinning reels have become increasingly popular, partly due to the fun you can have with them, but also the improvements that have been made in creating smaller equipment that still packs a punch.

When to Use an Ultralight Spinning Reel

Ultralight spinning reels aren't for everyone, but they can certainly provide a different style of fishing from a conventional spinning reel, which can be challenging and fun. Generally speaking, ultralight spinning reels are used when you need a setup for casting very small lures. Lures in the 1/16 to 1/32 range can be very difficult to cast and provide enticing action with when using heavier line. Similarly, an ultralight rod will provide much more sensitivity to smaller bites. The reel will provide the connection between the lure action/line and the rod, maximizing your chances of success.

Most people use ultralight spinning reels for panfish and usually spool 2-6lb test line. This lighter line will allow for further and more accurate casting of light lures and will facilitate action that can be irresistible for many fish. Ultralight setups are great for fish 5 pounds and under, but as many have come to learn, you can also haul in some pretty big fish as well! 

In order to catch larger fish with an ultralight setup, you will need to adopt a different strategy than when using a medium-heavy action setup. The most fundamental difference is that you will need to work the fish a bit more, rather than simply reeling it in. Much more emphasis will be placed on operating the drag, and usually the fight will last much longer. ​It certainly provides a challenge, but with an ultralight setup you will have an incredible feel of what's happening at the end of your line, allowing you to receive constant feedback to make any necessary adjustment.

Ultralight Spinning Reel Reviews

Now that we established that ultralight spinning reels can be very effective in certain situations, and also provide a fun challenge for any angler, it's beneficial to have an idea of what the best ultralight spinning reels are currently on the market. Check out our reviews below, where we will highlight good ultralight spinning reels in different price ranges.

  • Basic
  • Mid-Range
  • High-End
  • Pro

Shimano Spirex FG Ultralight Spinning Reel

$$$

Pros

  • Good value
  • Propulsion line management system
  • Quickfire II one-handed casting system
  • 6 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
  • 6.2:1 gear ratio
  • Lightweight graphite frame, sideplate, and rotor
  • 7 lbs max drag
  • Approved for saltwater

Cons

  • Starting to get a little more expensive
  • Double handle can feel a little weird at first
  • Anti-reverse isn't quite instant

General Consensus

The Shimano Spirex FG ultralight spinning reel comes in at a moderate price range, but still offers great value due to the performance and reliability known from this brand.

This ultralight spinning reel has been crafted with more care in order to include some features that can be difficult to fit into a reel this size. For example, the 6 stainless steel ball bearing are shielded, which protects them from corrosion especially when used in saltwater. The max drag is a little higher than lots of other ultralight spinning reels, and the trigger provides an easy-to-use casting system.

The lightweight nature of this reel make it feel a little cheap, but the durability is definitely better than the Okuma and Daiwa (lower end) ultralight reels that we reviewed. The frame, sideplate, and rotor are all made of graphite, and the total weight of this reel is 8.8 oz.

The main complaints associated with this reel are the double handle, which can take some getting use to if you aren't used to that style. That's a minor complaint, but still worth noting. The other common complaint is that the anti-reverse isn't quite instant, but instead, can spin almost a full turn before it engages. This is something that you can address by being alert and anticipating the delay, but it's still not overly desirable.

Overall, the Shimano Spirex FG ultralight spinning reel provides great bang-for-your-buck, and simply put, is a good all-around ultralight spinning reel. The performance is solid and durability is better than all the lower end models. Keep in mind, even though it's approved for saltwater use, this will likely shorten the lifespan if you use it a lot in that environment. We would recommend this reel to anyone who wants a good ultralight spinning reel at a decent price.

Using an Ultralight Spinning Reel

Using an ultralight spinning reel will definitely feel a little strange at first, and if you keep your habits from a normal spinning reel, you may find it difficult to haul in larger fish. You're ultralight setup will limit you to a certain extent in that you likely won't land massive trophy fish, and keeping your tendencies from a conventional spinning reel may also provide some frustration when fighting a fish.

That being said, after a few cast you will definitely start to get the hang of it, and if you find a spot with an abundant amount of small fish, then you have the perfect practice water. Try going after the smaller fish first that are around the weight of your line or smaller. Then, as you begin learning hands-on how to play the fish with an ultralight setup, it will become increasingly fun with each cast!

For a great demonstration of using an ultralight setup in an area where most would probably elect for more conventional options, check out the video below. Matt Wettish provides some valuable info based on experience and also discusses his gear near the end of the video.

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