Best Saltwater Ready Inshore Spinning Reels

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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 15 lb of max drag.

The Penn Spinfisher VI is my top choice because of its corrosion-resistant materials and waterproof design. It features sealed HT-100 drag washers, a full metal body, side plate, and rotor for improved durability. It is ideal for inshore anglers who understand how quickly saltwater corrodes unsuitable equipment and value longevity in their reels.

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 Reel

Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Reel

  • Saltwater Ready
  • IPX Waterproof Seal
  • HT-100 Drag Washers
  • Stainless Steel Ball Bearings
  • Full Metal Body
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
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

1. Penn Spinfisher VI

Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Reel
  • Saltwater Ready
  • IPX5 Waterproof Seal
  • HT-100 Drag Washers
  • Stainless Steel Ball Bearings
  • Full Metal Body
Update July 2023 - At ICAST 2023 the Penn Spinfisher VII was released. This model comes with new technology, improved materials, and better specifications.


  • 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
  • The sealed HT-100 Slammer drag system provides robust, silky-smooth drag, while the friction trip ramp prevents premature bail trip when casting

The Penn Spinfisher is one of the finest reels on the market today, and it is ideal for inshore angling. It is durable and can handle the harshest environments, which you often find in the sandy waters just offshore.

This model comes in different sizes, including 3500 to 10500. Of all of them, the 6500 model is the most popular. This means it is powerful enough to handle large saltwater species.

Its handle is reversible, and it has 6 ball bearings.

I recommend the Spinfisher VI as the best inshore saltwater spinning reel due to its durable design, robust materials, and waterproof features. It might not have the highest performance, but it will last for a lifetime and give great value for money.


25006.2:16240/10 220/15 160/2015LB255/6 175/8 140/1033″10.7 OZ
35006.2:16310/10 270/15 220/2015LB360/6 285/8 220/1037″12.1 OZ
45006.2:16390/15 320/20 250/3020LB425/8 320/10 235/1240″12.5 OZ
55005.6:16500/20 380/30 335/4025LB430/10 330/12 230/1539″18.5 OZ
65005.6:16485/30 410/40 335/5030LB390/12 345/15 205/2042″22.3 OZ
75004.7:16530/40 440/50 400/6535LB490/15 330/20 220/3038″26.5 OZ
85004.7:16730/40 600/50 555/6540LB455/20 310/30 260/4042″28.3 OZ
95004.2:16730/50 670/65 435/8045LB350/30 300/40 240/5040″37.1 OZ
105004.2:16845/50 780/65 540/8050LB435/30 360/40 255/5043″38.6 OZ

What I Like About It

  • One of the great features of the Penn Spinfisher VI is its IPX5 watertight design 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 when casting.
  • Its full metal body provides an excellent backbone for your spinning reel.
  • It comes with infinite Anti-reverse and heavy-duty aluminum bail.


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


  • It is on the heavier side compared with its size, which can lead to muscle fatigue after an extended fishing trip
Penn Spinfisher Reel

2. Penn Clash

Penn Clash II Spinning Reel
  • Saltwater Ready
  • HT-100 Drag Washers
  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Accurate Casting
  • Computer Numeric Control Gear

Penn Clash Spinning Reel comes with features that are far better than mediocre. Even if you invest in an affordable range, you still receive excellent 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.

The Hydrophobic Line Roller Bearing and the Clutch Armor System ensure the protection of critical components in all weather conditions without sacrificing weight.

The Clash is a higher-tier reel than the Spinfisher, but it still has all the durability. It has a smoother retrieve from the additional ball bearings, and I found the line lay technology allows longer casting distances.

It is also available in high speed 7.0:1 gear ratios which is better suited for fast-moving topwater lures or pelagic saltwater species. The downside is that the drag only gets to 20 lb, even in the largest size, so you won’t use this for the larger fish.


20006.2:19210/8 180/10 165/1510LB240/4 180/6 125/831″8.3 OZ
25006.2:19240/10 220/15 160/2012LB255/6 175/8 140/1033″8.8 OZ
30006.2:19250/15 180/20 130/3015LB200/8 165/10 120/1235″10.1 OZ
30007.0:19270/15 195/20 140/3015LB215/8 175/10 130/1241″10.8 OZ
40006.2:19360/15 260/20 185/3015LB270/8 220/10 165/1235″10.6 OZ
40007.0:19410/15 295/20 210/3015LB305/8 250/10 185/1244″11.4 OZ
50005.6:19420/20 300/30 240/4020LB225/12 200/15 135/2038″16 OZ

What I Like About It

  • It has CNC (Computer Numeric Control) gearing that improves the meshing and reduces friction.
  • Like the other series of Penn spinning reels, this is made with 8+1 sealed, stainless steel bearings, perfect for saltwater angling.
  • Its excellent Leveline Oscillation system improves the line lay and allows you to cast further, over the breaking waves.
  • 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

Shimano Baitrunner OC Spinning Reel
  • Extremely Sturdy Reel Design
  • Stainless Steel Ball Bearings
  • Minimal Maintenance Requirements
  • 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.

The gear ratio is only 4.8:1, so you are better suited to use this reel for live bait or deep diving crankbaits rather than finesse baits.


40004.8:13+115/27015LB12/16028″13.4 OZ
60004.8:13+130/24520LB12/26535″19.2 OZ
80004.8:13+140/29520LB14/29536″20.8 OZ

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.
  • The Leveline Oscillation system allows a more exact line lay and removes any line twist.
  • It has Anti wobbled Dyna balance which has redistributed the weight of the rotor and generates smooth rotation.


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


  • Heavy reel at over 20 ounces in the largest model
  • The retrieve is rougher due to the lack of ball bearings

4. Daiwa BG

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
  • Saltwater Ready
  • Braid Ready - No Mono Backing Required
  • Machined Aluminum Housing
  • Infinite Anti-Reverse System

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.

The Daiwa BG is a highly versatile reel and frequently earns the top of my lists for spinning reel performance. If you are looking to use a reel in many different situations, then I would recommend the BG.


BearingsGear RatioRetrieve RateWt.
Mono Line Capacity
(Lb / Yards)
BG15006+15.6:128.3″8.54/155, 6/1004.4 lb
BG20006+15.6:129.5″8.56/135, 8/1104.4 lb
BG25006+15.6:133.2″9.36/210, 8/17013.2 lb
BG30006+15.6:137.4″10.88/240, 10/20015.4 lb
BG35006+15.7:138.5″14.110/240, 12/21017.6 lb
BG40006+15.7:139.9″14.310/300, 12/26017.6 lb
BG45006+15.7:143.1″22.014/350, 17/28022 lb
BG50006+15.7:147.4″22.614/470, 17/38022 lb
BG65006+15.3:148.7″29.520/370, 25/31033 lb
BG80006+15.3:153.3″30.020/550, 25/44033 lb

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.
  • I would avoid anything smaller than a 3000, which lack drag and line capacity for inshore fishing.
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel on Box

5. Shimano Vanford

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel
  • Lower Weight than its Predecessor
  • Extremely Durable
  • Long Casting Distance
  • Full of Shimano's Latest Technology

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.

Of all the inshore spinning reels I have listed, the Vanford is the best performing. But because of its higher cost, I can’t rank it as highly from a value-for-money perspective.

It is also incredibly lightweight. Even the largest sized reel is only 7.8 ounces.

I would recommend selecting a reel from the 2500-size and above as they come with a significant increase in drag power. The smaller sizes aren’t suitable for common inshore fish species.


BearingsGear RatioRetrieve RateWt.
Mono Line Capacity
(Lb / Yards)
500F6+15.6:127″4.94/100, 6/606 lb
1000F7+15.1:125″5.34/160, 6/1107 lb
2000HGF7+16.1:132″5.36/165, 10/957 lb
2500HGF7+16.0:135″5.36/200, 10/14020 lb
3000XGF7+16.4:137″6.38/170. 10/14020 lb
4000XGF7+16.2:140″7.610/200, 12/16024 lb
5000XGF7+16.2:140″7.810/240, 14/16524 lb

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.


  • Combining 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.

I generally won’t pick a reel that has less than 15 pounds of drag.

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.

I like to have at least 150 yards of 10 lb mono when I am targeting bass, and even more than that for larger inshore species like redfish.

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 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 more comprehensive view of the performance under multiple conditions.

I take all reels down to my local freshwater lake for bass, 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 construction materials, the workmanship quality, and the servicing requirements. There are also bonus points for manufacturers’ warranty.

For products I can’t test for long enough, I also consult experts who have been using them for 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 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

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.

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