5 Best Inshore Spinning Reels [Saltwater Ready] + Buying Guide

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Written By Russ Egan

Russ is a professional fisherman with over 20 years of experience. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ comprehensively tests and reviews all his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing he prefers than heading down to his local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test.

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The best inshore spinning reels are made with corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings, a sealed drag system, over 150 yards of 10 lb mono capacity, and over 15 lb of max drag, such as the Penn Spinfisher VI.

I have put together the best inshore spinning reel reviews. There are a lot of variations in design and type, so this will be helpful for people looking for something new.

Here I have picked 5 of the best spinning reels specialising in inshore fishing. I will also discuss their technical specification, benefits, and new technology. I have added a buying guide to help you choose the right one.

Best Inshore Reel
Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel

Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Fishing Reel

  • Saltwater Ready
  • IPX Waterproof Seal
  • HT-100 Drag Washers
  • Stainless Steel Ball Bearings
  • Full Metal Body
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Best Value for Money Reel
Penn Clash Spinning Reel

Penn Clash Spinning Reel

  • Saltwater Ready
  • HT-100 Drag Washers
  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Accurate Casting
  • Computer Numeric Control Gear
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Most Durable
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

  • Saltwater Ready
  • Braid Ready - No Mono Backing Required
  • Machined Aluminum Housing
  • Infinite Anti-Reverse System
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In this article, we will discuss our top 5 inshore spinning reels highlighting their excellent features and benefits. We will also explain why they are best available on the market compared to other brands. Here are our top picks.

1. Penn Spinfisher VI – Best Inshore Spinning Reel

  • Saltwater Ready
  • IPX5 Waterproof Seal
  • HT-100 Drag Washers
  • Stainless Steel Ball Bearings
  • Full Metal Body
  • The Full Metal Body Makes it Heavier Than Alternatives

8out of 10

Value for Money8


  • A watertight spinning reel performs reliably in saltwater and sandy environments
  • Durable construction with full metal body, side plate, and rotor and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
  • Sealed HT-100 Slammer drag system provides robust, silky-smooth drag, while friction trip ramp prevents premature bail trip when casting

Looking for a single reel that will be perfect for fishing from the kayak? This Penn Spinfisher is one of the finest reels on the market today. 

This model comes in different sizes, including 3500 to 10500. Of all of them, the 6500 spin fisher is the most popular.

What I Like About It

  • One of the great features of the Penn SPinfisher VI is its watertight design. This is due to its sealed drag and stainless-steel shield.
  • The HT-100 slammer drag system provides silky-smooth drag and robustness that secure from untimely bail trip in casting.
  • Being a full metal body, this Penn spinfisher presents an excellent backbone for your spinning reel.
  • It comes with infinite Anti-reverse and heavy-duty bail of aluminum.


  • Reliable in a sandy and saltwater environment
  • High-quality finish
  • Superline spool included


  • On the heavier side compared with its size
  • It does not come with a spare spool
Penn Spinfisher Reel

2. Penn Clash – Best Lightweight Reel for Inshore Fishing

  • Saltwater Ready
  • HT-100 Drag Washers
  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Accurate Casting
  • Computer Numeric Control Gear
  • Low Max Drag - Go Up a Size
  • Lightweight Reel May Have Trouble Casting in High Winds

8.7out of 10

Value for Money8

Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel comes with such features that are far better than mediocre. Even if you are investing in an affordable range, you still receive amazing benefits from this inshore spinning reel.

This class series from Penn features seven models ranging from CLA2000 to CLA8000. Among them, CLA6000 is the most well-reviewed spinning reel.

What I Like About It

  • First, it comes with CNG (Computer Numeric Control) gear that perfectly matches the gear in a softer retrieve.
  • Like the other series of Penn spinning reels, this is made with eight sealed, stainless steel bearings. This is perfect for saltwater angling.
  • The next noticeable feature we would like to introduce is its excellent Leveline Oscillation system which keeps the overall balance on the retrieve and the line wraps.
  • It comes with Penn’s patented HT-100 Carbon Fiber drag washers.


  • Extremely lightweight
  • Durable reel design
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Anti-reverse mechanism


  • The lightweight reel may have trouble casting in high winds
  • Low top drag settings
Penn Clash

3. Shimano Baitrunner OC – Best Spinning Reel for Live Bait

Live Bait Specialist
Shimano Baitrunner OC Spinning Reel
8/10Our Score
  • Extremely Sturdy Reel Design
  • Stainless Steel Ball Bearings
  • Minimal Maintenance Requirements
  • Heavy Reel Can Cause Muscle Fatigue

6.7out of 10

Value for Money6
  • The S A-RB bearings feature shields on both sides of the bearings, reducing the possibility of salt or sand inhibiting the bearing’s position
  • The dyna-balance feature eliminates wobble during the retrieve by counterbalancing the rotor to enhance sensitivity and smoothness
  • Fluidrive II features a large master gear polished using a wrapping process; increasing the efficiency of the retrieve

Need professional performance? Shimano Baitrunner OC Reels are designed to get out most of a reel. This item got some superb features of better castability, less backlash, comfortable grip, and high max drag.

This will be a great choice for you if you are looking something for a handy, comfortable spinning reel. This class series from Shimano features sizes from 4000 to 8000. 4000OC is the most well-review spinning reel.

What I Like About It

  • The first noticeable feature we would like to mention is its easy and quick access for oil maintenance that allows maintaining the reel without pulling apart the whole reel.
  • This spinning reel is made from an aluminum spool that guarantees a robust and durable spool that can adjust the pressure to fight powerful fish.
  • At the same time, Leveline Oscillation system allows a more exact line lay and solves the posed problem and line twist.
  • Excellent stainless steel and ball bearing of 3+1 on the double-sided that works like a top-performing reel in saltwater to handle the fish easily.
  • Made from Anti wobbled Dyna balance – you can redistribute the weight of the rotor and generate smooth rotation.


  • Super easy to maintain
  • Very sturdy reel design
  • Stainless steel ball bearings handle saltwater well


  • Heavy reel

4. Daiwa BG – Most Durable Spinning Reel

  • Saltwater Ready
  • Braid Ready - No Mono Backing Required
  • Machined Aluminum Housing
  • Infinite Anti-Reverse System
  • Lower Max Drag
  • Heavier than Alternatives

8.8out of 10

Value for Money8.3

The Daiwa BG spinning reel is popular among all kinds of fishermen, from inshore to bass anglers. One of its top features is the metal body that makes the reel stiff and solid for long-term performance. The reel is well designed for waterproofing along with stainless steel ball bearings.

The BG features Digigear technology which features high precision cutting techniques for better gear meshing – you will notice an improved smoothness when under load compared to some older models.

The reel also looks great with the gold and black styling.

What I Like About It

  • This is a well-balanced reel in terms of good design leading to solid performance and high durability, all at a reasonable price tag.
  • The spool is braid-ready, so you don’t need to apply any backing mono line.
  • The machined aluminum housing makes it very durable in the long term.


  • It is available in a wide range of sizes from 1500 to 8000, so you can select a drag and line capacity that suits your fishing environment and target species.
  • The stainless steel ball bearings are corrosion-resistant to saltwater.


  • The max drag is on the low side, especially in the smaller models.
  • The reel is a little heavier, but probably not enough that you would notice unless you fish for extended periods.
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel on Box

5. Shimano Vanford – Most Lightweight Spinning Reel

People's Favorite
Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel
9/10Our Score
  • Lower Weight than its Predecessor
  • Extremely Durable
  • Long Casting Distance
  • Full of Shimano's Latest Technology
  • More Expensive than the Shimano Stradic Ci4+

9out of 10

Value for Money8

An upgrade to the favorite Shimano Stradic Ci4+ is the Shimano Vanford. It comes with a series of improved features and specifications. The main differences are that it is even lighter than the older model (which was already ultralight), and comes with a higher gear ratio which is better suited for fast-moving lures.

Shimano has put all of its latest technologies into this reel, including X-Protect, Silent Drive, and Cross Carbon Drag.

What I Like About It

  • I was already a fan of the previous iteration, and the Shimano Vanford takes that to a new level. It is more expensive than the Stradic Ci4+, but it is still good value for money.
  • The Vanford is suitable for saltwater with the upgraded carbon drag washers, water-resistant line roller, and Shimano’s patented X-Protect and X-Ship waterproofing on their coated gear materials.


  • The combination of long stroke spool and propulsion line management gives you a longer cast.
  • I noticed the improvement in durability with the added technologies and engineered solutions.


  • The smaller sized models of 500-3000 don’t have upgraded carbon drag washers.
  • The price is higher than that of the old model it is replacing but I still feel it is good value for money.

Specification Comparison

These specifications are based on the 3000-4000 reel model for a closer comparison.

Inshore Spinning ReelBall BearingsGear RatioMax DragRetrieve RateMono Line CapacityWeight
Penn Spinfisher VI5+16.2:115 lb37 inches/crank220 yards of 10 lb12.1 oz
Penn Clash II8+16.2:115 lb35 inches/crank165 yards of 10 lb10.1 oz
Shimano Baitrunner OC3+14.8:115 lb28 inches/crank200 yards of 10 lb13.4 oz
Daiwa BG6+15.6:115 lb37 inches/crank170 yards of 12 lb10.8 oz
Shimano Vanford7+16.4:120 lb35 inches/crank140 yards of 10 lb6.3 oz

Inshore Spinning Reel Buying Guide

In this section, we have written a guide to help you select which reel will fulfil your requirements. Here in this article, we try to cover the entire buying guide that will help you. If you can’t decide how to choose the best inshore saltwater spinning reels, this buying guide will help you.

Reviewing the following criteria will help you to get the finest spinning reel for saltwater.


The first thing to look at carefully is its material. Is it stainless steel, aluminum, or graphite? Magnesium is great for reducing weight but is not perfect for saltwater. We recommend looking for something with aluminum or stainless steel for spinning reels


When you buy your reel for inshore fishing, pick the right size and weight. This depends on the size of the fish you are targeting. So choose wisely, something that is well shaped by size and lightweight.

  • 1000 – Panfish
  • 2000 – Crappie
  • 3000 – Bass, Trout, Redfish
  • 4000 – Walleye, Pike, Catfish


More than anything, a smooth and strong drag is the must-have feature of an ideal spinning reel. Pick the one with a sealed drag that prevents salt and sand from getting in. If your spinning reel doesn’t have a smooth drag, it will make your fishing go to hell.

Sturdy Sealing:

A good seal will secure the reel from saltwater moving in and out from the reel’s inner parts. So make sure your spinning reels have easy rinsing and get flushed after use.

Line Capacity:

The next noticeable feature while picking an ideal inshore reel is its line capacity. How long the line should depend on the species you will target and the environment you will be fishing in. When you tend to catch a bigger fish, the line capacity should be as large as you need – you don’t want to re-spool your line too often.

How We Rate Products

Russ Egan and Donny Karr have over 40 years of combined fishing experience. We know the difference between a high-quality reel and a poor alternative.

I thoroughly review all products to measure their performance, durability, and value for money. I conduct bench and field testing to check how the product performs. Each reel is tested for at least 8 hours, with a full test taking 2 full weeks. This testing results in an overall score that I give to all products. All metrics are scored out of 5.


The performance score is how well this product fulfills its primary purpose. Does it have all the features and optional extras you need to catch the target species? I also interview expert anglers on their experience to build a broader and more comprehensive view on the performance under multiple conditions.

I take all reels down to my local freshwater lake for bass and panfish, or inshore fishing off the beach for redfish.

  • Test 1: I confirm that the max drag meets the manufacturer’s specifications using a calibrated scale.
  • Test 2: I test the maximum casting distance using a 1.0-ounce lure.
  • Test 3: I test the accuracy by casting 10 times into a 3 ft diameter circle at 30 yards.
  • Test 4: I check the versatility and the ability to handle multiple uses by field testing with 3 different lures and baits, by actually going fishing.


Durability refers to how long the product will continue functioning. I twist, bend, and break all the products to check their longevity. This score is for the materials of construction, the quality of the workmanship, and the servicing requirements. There are also bonus points for manufacturers’ warranty.

For products that I can’t test for long enough, I also consult with experts who have been using them for multiple decades to judge their longevity.

  • Test 5: I pull it apart to check the grease and oil levels, how difficult it is to maintain, and whether any sand or salt has deposited after use in saltwater.

Value for Money

The final aspect of the scoring system is the price or, more specifically, the value for money. Value for money is a comparison against the closest alternative products, both by the same manufacturer and other brands.

Overall Score

Finally, I average the three scores of performance, durability, and value for money to give the overall score of each product reviewed.

To see more details, please read the complete guide on how I test and evaluate fishing products.

Final Verdict

To wrap up the best inshore spinning reels reviews, any of the spinning reels on our list will ensure maximum performance for the long term. They are highly efficient and cost-effective as well.

Every spinning reel in our top list has been entered for its excellent benefits and value. We highly recommended Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Reel for its excellent functionality with classic, elegant design. On the other hand, Penn is one of the finest reel manufacturers in the fishing industry today.