6 Best Spinning Reels Under $200: Inshore & Saltwater Reviewed

Last Updated on

Any angler with a few seasons of fishing under their belt knows that the right gear can go a long way towards making a trip to the lake or the sea a success. But of course, getting the right gear can be easier said than done. After all, there are hundreds of options when it comes to reels and poles alone! That’s not to mention their prices, either, which can sometimes be higher than your budget will allow for.

Buying fishing gear on its price alone can be a risky prospect, though. If you aren’t careful, you may end up with a cut-rate model that simply falls apart the first time you land a big catch. Surely, you’re looking to avoid that kind of let down.

If you are, then you’ve found a perfect guide. Herein, you’ll learn about the features to look for in a reliable, yet affordable spinning reel. I’ve also reviewed 6 of this year’s best spinning reels under $200 so that you can make a quick selection and get back out on the water.

Preview

Product

Gear Ratio

Line Capacity (yds/lbs.)

Check Price

Penn 1259880 Spinfisher V Spinning Fishing...

PENN Spinfisher V 8500ll

6.2:1

250 /6

Penn, Spinfisher VI Saltwater Spinning Reel,...

Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI

6.2:1

255/6

Daiwa Saltist 6500 5.3:1 Saltwater Spinning...

Daiwa SSaltist

6500

5.6:1

210/6

Shimano Stradic 2500FK HG Freshwater Spinning...

SHIMANO STRADIC HG ST2500HGFK

6:1

270/2

Quantum Fishing SSM30XPT.BX2 Fishing Reels

Quantum Smoke

S3 Pt

6:1

150/10

Pflueger SUPXTSP30X Supreme XT Spinning...

Pflueger Supreme Supxtsp30x

5.2:1

220/2


Advantages of a Spinning Reel

Spinning reels have numerous advantages that all anglers should take into consideration when purchasing their next set of tackle. For example, spinning reels can help you throw lighter tackle further than a regular reel. This can be a big advantage when trying to cast as far from the dock or your boat as possible. Spinning reels are also far more effective in windy conditions due to their minimization of backlash.

One often-overlooked advantage of spinning reels is their overall versatility. To be specific, right-handed or left-handed anglers can use the same rod and reel set with ease, so long as it is equipped with a spinning reel. This can make a spinning reel set a must-have when teaching a young angler the ropes.


Spinning Reels Under $200 - Buyers Guide

Fishing Environment

As with all of your chosen tackle, you should select your spinning reel with consideration towards your expected fishing environment. This is especially true if you plan to fish in saltwater, as not all reels are designed to withstand saltwater corrosion. In addition, the size of fish and even their species can impact the size of the spinning reel you eventually choose.

Reel Specifications

Be sure to review your prospective reel's specification sheet carefully. If you do, you'll be able to easily compare models based upon their size and gear ratio. In addition, you'll be able to evaluate if your chosen reel will feel comfortable in hand. Checking a reel’s weight and grip type are the easiest ways to make that particular evaluation in a hurry.

Drag System

A reel’s drag system can be crucial to its essential operations. As such, you should carefully compare the drag systems in each model you consider buying. Specifically, be sure to compare each model’s front and rear drag power because both are important for reeling in a sizable catch.

Ball Bearings

Most every spinning reel today includes some number of ball bearings that allow it to spin freely when the bail is opened. On average, a standard spinning reel will include 5 ball bearings for this purpose. Any more than that will simply provide an even smoother casting experience. Ideally, your reel's ball bearings should be durably built, too, given that they will take a lot of wear over the reel’s entire lifespan.

Spool Style

Naturally, you'll want to compare your potential spinning reels based upon their spool type. Internal and skirted spools are the norm in this class, and both can provide you with a smooth cast once you get the hang of them. Also, given the lightweight materials that most reels are made from today, neither type is likely to add too much weight to your rod, overall.

Line Capacity

If you plan on casting at great distances, then you’ll want to pick out a spinning reel with a large line capacity. This is usually communicated in a reel’s listing in yards. Generally speaking, 200 yards of line capacity should be more than enough to handle most recreational fishing tasks.

Price & Warranty

While comparing your prospective spinning reels, always be sure that their prices are as affordable as they appear. To do this, be sure to factor in shipping costs before committing to a certain model. At the same time, be sure to factor in the value of a multi-year warranty. These can add to your price tag but often pay for themselves in the long run.


6 Best Spinning Reels Under $200 Reviewed

1. PENN Spinfisher V 8500ll

Our Top Pick

Reel Size (Inches)

8 x 7 x 5

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Line Capacity (yds/lbs.)

250 /6

Ball Bearings

6

Weight

3 lbs

“Best chunk/live bait fishing reel EVER!” – Alan from Chesapeake Bay, MD – 5-Star Review

If I’ve said it once, then I’ll say it again – the PENN Spinfisher V 8500lI is the best spinning reel under $200, hands down. I'll gladly make this my top pick, given its solid specifications and worthwhile features. That starts with this model's line capacity, which extends all the way out to 250 yards. You’ll be able to comfortably control every inch of that line length, too, thanks to this model’s utilization of the innovative HT-100 Slammer drag system.

The PENN Spinfisher V 8500lI has a lot to offer when it comes to durability, as well. For example, this reel’s body and spool design were engineered to prevent wear patterns from forming, even after thousands of casts. At the same time, this model’s stainless steel main shaft can take a lot of use before it ever begins to show signs of wear. Even this reel’s stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing are built with durability in mind.

If I were to make any one change to the PENN Spinfisher V 8500lI, it would be to list it with a warranty. While I’m sure Penn offers one for this model, it is disappointing to see them fail to advertise it properly to seasoned anglers like you and me.

Pros
  • Affordably priced
  • Shielded stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing are extra durable
  • HT-100 Slammer Drag System operates smoothly for saltwater fishing
Cons
  • Line lay is a little uneven

2. Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI

Runner Up

Reel Size (Inches)

7 x 5 x 3

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Line Capacity (yds/lbs.)

255/6

Ball Bearings

6

Weight

12.2 0z

“I am a guide in the Florida Keys, so I need a dependable reel with a great drag system and I chose the 3500 for my customers to use and man am I impressed with these reels super smooth, lighter than previous model, and a great drag in them!!!!” – Scales 2 Tales – 5-Star Review

It was hard to choose a runner up in this collection because so many of these models deserve a top spot. But if I have to settle on just one, I’d have to go with the Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI. Though it comes in second place here, it is still at the top of its game when it comes to durability.

This can clearly be seen in its full metal body and side plates, which work together to prevent excessive stress from bending this reel out of shape. Also, this model’s IPX5 sealed body and spool are masters when it comes to preventing saltwater infiltration.

Despite its durability, the Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI also remains one of the very best when it comes to usability. This is primarily because its Techno-Balanced rotor allows for super smooth retrievals, even when you are working in a windy environment. This model’s HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers also go a long way to making that possible, given that they allow this reel to maintain a solid drive on any pole.

Also, the Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI comes standard with a built-in Instant Anti-Reverse mechanism. Though some fishers overlook this detail, I believe it is extra important for getting a great performance out of your reel, regardless of what kind of fish you land on your line.

Pros
  • IPX5 sealed body and spool design prevent liquid incursions
  • Techno-Balanced rotor provides extra smooth retrieval
  • Full metal body and side plates provide years of durability
Cons
  • Hard to find replacement ball bearings

3. Daiwa SSaltist 6500

Best Saltwater Spinning Reel under $200

Reel Size (Inches)

-

Gear Ratio

5.6:1

Line Capacity (yds/lbs.)

210/6

Ball Bearings

8

Weight

9.5 oz

“One of my "run and gun" reels for offshore fishing…Really nice reel with a solid drag system. Great line capacity too.” – DJ A. from Merritt Island, FL – 5-Star Review

Daiwa has been a noteworthy player in the rod and reel industry for decades now, so it's good to see that they continue to support saltwater fisherman with spinner reels like the Saltist 6500. It’s no exaggeration to call this the best saltwater spinning reel under $200 because it includes many specifications and features you need to have a successful saltwater fishing experience. This includes a Magsealed main shaft and line roller that can effortlessly resist corrosion.

The Saltist 6500 also shows what it means to be strong while remaining lightweight. At only around 9.5 oz., you might expect this reel to be light on reinforcements. But as evidenced by its proprietary "HardBodyz" body and side cover, this reel can hold its own against excessive weight and strain. Even this model’s aluminum ABS spool shows the sure signs of being able to withstand years of proper use.

Also, casting with the Saltist 6500 could not be smoother. That’s because its ball bearings are coated in a special “magnetic oil.” This allows them to move freely as needed while still remaining firm when pressure is placed on the reel.

Pros
  • Ball bearings utilize super smooth and responsive “magnetic oil”
  • ABS spool's core diameter and reversed taper allow for use of 100% of line
  • Magsealed main shaft and line roller resist corrosion reliably
Cons
  • A little heavier than usual for this style of reel

4. SHIMANO STRADIC HG ST2500HGFK

Best Freshwater Spinning Reel under $200

Reel Size (Inches)

5.5 x 6 x 3.5

Gear Ratio

6:1

Line Capacity (yds/lbs.)

270/2

Ball Bearings

6

Weight

11.8 (oz.)

“I've used the Stradic 2500 to catch just about all inshore fish, and does a jam up job. Light weight, smooth drag, and bullet proof...what more could you want?” – Stuart from Daphne, AL – 5-Star Review

If you've already done some research into a spinning reel, the chances are that you came upon the SHIMANO STRADIC HG ST2500HGFK. If so, there's a good chance that you've seen it called the best freshwater spinning reel under $200 or something similar.

That title is well-earned by this reel because it can provide you with plenty of range while fishing in your local waterways. More importantly, its stiff, yet agile HAGANE body will ensure every ounce of your physical effort is transferred into the casting and retrieving motions.

Speaking of which, the SHIMANO STRADIC HG ST2500HGFK feels great whether you’re throwing out some line or reeling it back in with a bite on the line. That’s because its Fluidrive II system provides for a smooth casting action, even after many years of regular use. Then, while drawing your line back in, you’ll feel the impact of this model’s Aero Wrap II system. It wraps your line in an X-pattern to prevent tangles and increase future casting distances.

This reel also comes standard with enough durability to make it your go-to reel when fishing at a local lake or river. Its spool, for example, is made from cold-forged steel that wears down or warps when used season after season. The X-Ship technology incorporated into this reel’s gears also makes them durable, particularly against repeated friction pressure.

Pros
  • Aero Wrap II lays line in X-pattern to prevent knots and increases casting distance
  • Cold-forged aluminum spool provides added durability
  • Fluidrive II system provides smooth casting, even after years of use
Cons
  • May produce noise if not oiled regularly

5. Quantum Smoke S3 Pt

Best Inshore Spinning Reel under $200

Reel Size (Inches)

4 x 3 x 3

Gear Ratio

6:1

Line Capacity (yds/lbs.)

150/10

Ball Bearings

10

Weight

11.7 (oz.)

“Excellent product and great value, I recommend Quantum reels to all my friends and family. Built tuff to handle professional bass fishing and can go all day and deliver smooth casting and no backlashes.” – Anonymous Reviewer – 5-Star Review

If you prefer to fish inshore, then you're probably in the market for the best inshore spinning reel under $200. For you, I present the Quantum Smoke S3 Pt. This all-aluminum uni-body reel is ideal for fishing nearby lakes and rivers, especially those that are off the beaten path.

That’s because its body construction allows it to be extra durable without being extra heavy in exchange. This model includes SaltGuard Protections, though, so you could also take it to the sea if your fishing aspirations carry you there.

The Quantum Smoke S3 Pt is actually an enhancement on a previous model, as it turns out. As such, it’s impressive to see that Quantum improved several key components of its internal operations. This includes its high-strength aluminum gears, which have been refined such that they mesh with near-perfect alignment. This model also now includes a changeable hand retrieve, allowing left- and right-handed users to feel comfortable with it in hand.

This reel’s ACS 4.0 cast control system also makes it surprisingly useful for beginners. It doesn’t require a lot of force to achieve a lengthy cast or quick retrieval, so this reel can definitely be used as a teaching device. You may just want to keep it all to yourself, though, once you feel its ceramic-carbon drag system in action!

Pros
  • All-aluminum, uni-body construction provides durability without becoming heavy
  • SaltGuard Protection provides safe use in any fishing environment
  • ACS 4.0 cast control is easy to start and recover
Cons
  • Prone to some backlash

6. Pflueger Supreme Supxtsp30x

Best Ultralight Spinning Reel Under $200

Reel Size (Inches)

5 x 5 x 4

Gear Ratio

5.2:1

Line Capacity (yds/lbs.)

220/2

Ball Bearings

10

Weight

9.7 (oz.)

“I am an avid trout fisherman. I can cast multiple weight lures great distances! The retrieve is so smooth! I have landed plenty of trout even Salmon with this little setup!! Completely satisfied! A Pflueger user for life!!” – Riggz – 5-Star Review

Finally, we come to one of the best ultralight spinning reels under $200, the Pflueger Supreme Supxtsp30x. Weighing in at only around 9.7 oz., you might at first assume that this model’s manufactures left out a bunch of features to keep it lightweight. But in fact, the Pflueger Supreme Supxtsp30x comes standard with a little bit more than many of its competitors. For example, it utilizes 10 ball bearings internally. That's twice as many as its top competitors!

Meanwhile, the Pflueger Supreme Supxtsp30x didn’t earn its lightweight title on accident. It’s clear that it was built to be as little of a burden in hand as possible. This can first be seen in its carbon handle, which is around 21% lighter than a similarly-sized aluminum handle. Then, you’ll see much of the same lightweight characteristics in this reel’s magnesium body and rotor. All of these components are plenty durable as well, so you don’t have to worry about them wearing down after just a few uses.

This model has one final feature that I simply must mention. Its SMARTretrieve system will be a game-changer for anyone who has dealt with tangles on their spool. This system always lays down the retrieved line smoothly and evenly, thus ensuring each successive cast is as hassle-free as the last.

Pros
  • Magnesium body and rotor can withstand excessive, repetitive stress
  • SMARTretrieve feature provides even line lay on each cast
  • Carbon handle is easy to grip and durable
Cons
  • Line hold clip is a bit fragile

Spinning Reel Sizing Guide

When it comes to picking out a spinning reel, you may not know which size is appropriate for your uses. To start, consider what size fish you are looking to land. If you’re mostly focusing on small frys, then a 500 to 1000 size should be the size you choose.

However, if you’re looking to land larger fish out at sea, then a larger reel up to the 2500 size may be justified. There are more considerations to take into account when sizing your new spinning reel, all of which are covered in this guide.


How to Spool a Spinning Reel

Spooling your spinning reel can take a little bit of practice, especially if you’ve never owned your own spinning set. But over time, you’ll be able to perform this important piece of reel maintenance with ease.

To start, you’ll want to open your reel’s bail. Then, grab your chosen line and pull it through the bottom-most eyelet on your rod. From there, you’ll want to tie down your line, preferably with an overhand knot after lacing the line around the spool. From there, continue following the steps in this video, and you'll have a spooled spinning reel in no time.


Frequently Asked Questions

What spinning reel reviewed above holds the most line?

Theoretically, most of the reels reviewed above could hold comparable amounts of line. However, if you’re looking for the best spinning reel under $200 that is rated to hold the most line, then you’d have to go with the SHIMANO STRADIC HG ST2500HGFH. It can hold a remarkable 270 yards of line, which is far more than you should ever need when fishing a lake or even at sea.

Can I use a spinning reel for crankbaits?

Yes, you can use a spinning reel for crankbaits. In fact, I would advise you to do so if you have crankbaits available to you. Spinning reels are often able to cast these lighter bait types with ease, so you can really maximize your casting potential if you combine the two.

Are there any special care and maintenance steps for spinning reels?

Cleaning and maintaining your spinning reel is the single best way to ensure that it lasts through many future fishing trips. Doing it will require some extra time but will pay big dividends when your new favorite reel continues to function like new for many years. This video can provide you with some great tips on that front, including the best way to service your new reel after each trip out.

What are the best spinning reel brands on the market?

You’ll have a lot of great brands to choose from when you hit the spinning reel market. However, I still have a few favorites that I’d trust above all else. These include Penn, Shimano, and Abu Garcia – all of which will provide you with a quality piece of tackle at an affordable price.

Where can I buy these spinning reels for less than $200?

While I always recommend checking your local bait and tackle shop first, I recognize that these shops don’t always have the best selection of different brands and models. So, if you're trying to find a certain model at an affordable price, I recommend checking Amazon before searching elsewhere online. They can often offer the lowest prices due to their deep discounts on shipping.


Conclusion

Fishing really is one of the greatest hobbies on earth. But by no means is it the cheapest. You should always be willing to invest in the best if you want your rod and reel to take good care of you. But even so, you shouldn’t shy away from a bargain. As you’ve now seen, an affordable spinning reel need not be of low quality. Be sure to pick up one of the models I reviewed above – they won’t let you down!