Top 5 Best Ultralight Spinning Reels | In-depth Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Fishing is always fun and now it doesn’t matter whether you are using general reel or an ultralight one. You are going to have amazing time with both. But when compared these two reels, people seem to vote more for ultralight fishing reels.

And that is because ultralight gears are easy to carry and according to few angler, they have been able to catch more small fish easily with ultralight reels.

When it comes down to ultralight fishing, it is highly important that you choose the right gear. And in order to help you pick the best ultralight spinning reel, I have put a list of 5 ultralight fishing reels which are recommended by professional anglers.

Here you go

5 Best Ultralight Fishing Reels Reviewed

You will find hundreds of reel displayed in the market which can make you totally confused. Below you will find few ultralight reels with which anglers are highly satisfied and is trending for their performance.

1. Okuma Helios Hsx-20 Ultralight Spinning Reel

Starting with the most lightweight spinning reel of this review list which also comes with a reasonable price tag, the Okuma Helios Hsx-20 Ultralight Spinning Reel. It weighs only 6.2 oz, can you imagine how lightweight it is?

The manufacturer has used C-40X carbon fiber in the body, rotor, and side plate of this reel. C-40X is one of the reason why this very model is so lightweight. Not only that C-40X make this reel highly durable too.

It is completely corrosion-resistant and 50% more stronger than graphite. The reel stem, foot I mean the entire back end of this reel is Okuma Torsion Control Armor. There would be no twist or flex at the most demanding situations.

Another best thing about this reel is, it got a Cyclonic Flow Rotor and what it does is, it evacuates water from the system and also dries the reel faster.

All you have to do is using the reel, it will automatically remove the water from inside. Isn’t that satisfying? Sure it is.

In order to give you the smoothest line retrieving experience, this reel features 8+1 stainless steel corrosion resistant bearings. It also comes with a precision Elliptical Gearing system which gives better accuracy and cast distance by eliminating friction.

The Okuma Helios Hsx-20 also comes with a high gear ratio 5.0:1 and that means the reel will allow you to retrieve line faster. For added comfort the manufacturer has attached a comfortable grip at the handle.

Quick Features

  • Weight 6.2 oz.
  • 5.0:1 Gear Ratio.
  • Mono Line capacity 4 lbs./ 200 yard 6 lbs./120 yard 8lbs./30 yard.
  • Braided line capacity 10 lbs./130 yard 15 lbs./110 yards.
  • 5lbs. Max drag.

2. KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel 1000

If you are on a tight budget and looking for an ultralight reel that comes at a cheap price and still offers a great service, then the KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel is for you. It is also a good choice for beginner anglers.

The weight of this model is 7.2 oz. It is made of graphite which made it lightweight and durable. It is true that carbon fiber is more durable than graphite but according to the price tag of this model I think graphite is much.

It comes with 10+1 stainless steel bearings which is promised to give you a smooth line retrieving experience. There is less chance of line tangling in this reel and that is because of the power launch lip which has improved line management.

This reel has a max drag of 39.5 lbs. that means you will have enough power to play with strong fish species. The manufacturer has used K.I.S.S in this reel, that stands for KastKing Intrusion Shield System. It helps to keep water out of the system.

And not to mention, to give you more comfort the manufacturer has added a EVA foam grip on the handle.

Quick Features

  • Weight 7.2 oz.
  • Gear Ratio 5.2:1.
  • Both Retrieval Hand.
  • Max Drag 39.5 lbs.
  • 10+1 stainless steel bearings.
  • Mono Line Capacity 14lbs./185 yard 16lbs./165 yards 20lbs./125 yards.



3.

What is the Purpose of Ultralight Fishing?

I also like ultralight fishing, it’s fun. Most newbie’s gets fooled by the mane. They understand ultralight fishing means only lightweight gears and which is not the only thing. I love ultralight fishing because you will be able to catch more fishes with it.

In ultralight fishing you will be able to fish with very small lightweight lures and over the time people have found out that fish strikes more when they see tiny lures. Tiny lightweight lures look like a small natural food that fishes eat and that is why fishes strikes more in these.

So the point is, if you are after hunting small to medium sized fish species, nothing could be better than ultralight fishing. You don’t have to carry heavy, rod, reels, etc.

Ultralight spinning setups are easily carried to any distance which is so comfortable. This setup can be also used to fish on deep rivers and lakes

On the other hand, you cannot dream off catching big fishes with ultralight gears. Sometimes you can if you are lucky enough but in general there is higher risk of ending up breaking the gears trying to pull the big fish.

How to Choose the Best Ultralight Spinning Reel?

You need an ultralight reel that will serve you perfectly, right? And in order to get the best out of an ultralight reel, you have to pick the best one. How are you going to do that? Well, I am here for that.

In order to get a better performing fishing reel there are some factors that should be taken under consideration right before you pick an ultralight fishing reel for your next fishing trip. Have a look below

Main Body of the Reel

The main body of the reel is the base of all components. It holds everything bearings, shaft, gears and other small items. Since the body holds a lot of important parts of a reel, it needs to be super durable so that it can guard all the sensitive parts from every kind of threats.

Normally, durable materials for reel are aluminum, carbon, graphite, fiber, polymers, and metal alloys. So make sure the reel you choose is made of high-quality materials because that is what will save you from ending up wasting the investment you made on the reel.

Reel Foot

Reel foot is the thing that attaches the reel with the rod. So it is also highly important that your reel has a top-notch reel foot. Reel foots are also made of the same materials that manufacturer uses in the construction of the reel.

When landing a fish, it puts a lot of pressure between the joint of reel and rod, so if the reel foot is not well-performing, you are going to end up seeing the reel coming off, bending or twisting and also you are going to lose the fish you just caught.

Spool

Do you know what is spool? You don’t, if you are new to fishing. However, spool is the thing that has line wrapped around. You see a part of the reel where the line is stored, from where the line goes out when you cast and again gets stored when you retrieve line?

That is what called spool. It looks very simple but there is a lot of engineering goes into that just to make sure that the spool performs well.

Spool comes in different sizes, you have to pick the one that suits your reel. How are you going to do that? Here is how it is done.

The bigger the spool size, the more line they will hold. Ultralight reel spools are small, so they are going to hold small diameter line. If the spool doesn’t perform well, your entire fishing trip will become an awful experience which nobody wants.

So in order to get the best out of your fishing reel, make sure the spool is made of top-notch materials and also functions pretty smooth and well. And another thing, since after hitting the water line will again get back to the spool, there is high chance that it will invite rust.

Therefore, no way you should get a reel the is not rust and corrosion resistant.

Reel Knob and Handle

You hold the reel holding knob and turn the reel handle to retrieve line, looks too simple, right? But there is a lot of mechanism happens inside when you turn the reel handle.

The reel handle engages a gear that rotates the main shaft, which rotates the rotor and bail arm and therefore makes it move up and down.

However, since you will be turning reel handle most of the time so that will be tolerating so many pressure and that is why that needs to be durable and rigid. Otherwise, disability to tolerate pressure might cause it to bend or come lose.

Aluminum and polymer is known as durable material for reel handle. Some advanced composites handles are also durable, would be perfect for daily use.

The reel handle knob comes in different sizes and shapes. You should choose one that would deliver you nice comfort and allow you to retrieve line easily. For ultralight reels, oval or paddle-shaped handle knob would be nice since they offer fast retrieve and good grip.

Are you left handed? Or Right? Doesn’t matter, you can change the side of the reel handle according to your need. But remember that, there are reels comes for only left or right-handed.

Bail arm

Bail arm is the single line of steel that you open when you cast the fishing line and close when you retrieve the line. The bail arm is highly exposed part of a reel which is why that needs to enough powerful to tolerate bending, twisting, or some occasional falls.

Most manufacturer uses, stainless steel or carbon in the construction of bail arm, and these materials are enough durable.

Line Roller

It helps wrapping fishing line around the spool when you retrieve line back. This may seem to be a tiny part of the reel but actually it is highly important. Line roller is the thing that tries to wrap the line without getting tangled, now you can guess how much line roller does,

But all line roller will not satisfy you. Obviously there is difference between high-quality rollers and those are found in super cheap reel models. Top-notch line roller comes with their own internal bearings which helps them to spin smoothly.

And these rollers will spool your line efficiently and there is no way that the line is going to twist or get tangled.

On the other hand, cheap reel rollers come with rubber bushing which is a bit sticky and doesn’t spin at all, and that increases the risk of line tangling, twisting and bunching.

From high to low-end line roller, all of them needs to be maintained well for delivering the performance they are supposed to do. Dirt, sand, water, grime, these can affect negatively and will definitely not allow the roller to function properly.

Anti-Reverse Switch

It is actually switch placed somewhere in the reel and it prevents the reel handle from turning backward. Different manufacturers place the switch in different positons.

Though this anti-reverse feature doesn’t play a major role in fishing but it always good to ensure everything is high quality.

Internal parts of the reel

A reel holds a lot of small tiny parts inside which can’t be seen unless you open the entire reel, but don’t do it for the sake of seeing small parts because any misalignment of gears will cause you to change the entire reel.

Reel includes pinion, bearings, washers, screws, shims, gear, springs, etc. And the quality of these parts makes the difference between the best ultralight spinning reel and rest of the low end reels.

So if you want your reel to serve you really long, then you should never compromise with the quality of the parts. Okay, let’s assume you have picked one that comes with top-notch quality parts but how are you going to evaluate those?

There is no way to evaluate them in short time. But what you can do is, go after reels that belongs to reliable and well-established brands, there is high-chance that your investment won’t go wrong.

Reel Finishes

How long a reel is going to survive and deliver the best performance of this mostly dependent on the finishes and the quality of the materials.

Well-established popular brands use the top-shelf material, mechanism, engineering in the making process of the reel which results in the higher user satisfaction.

The material, engineering used in high-end models are not similar to the budget-friendly options. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay big buck to get a good performing reel. There are still some models which are both budget-friendly and good performer.

There is one way of getting a good reel without breaking a bank. And that will happen when you would buy a reel understanding the materials and the purpose.  Ultralight spinning reels are made of different materials which are suitable for different needs.

If you have enough sense of every material, then you can hope to get something perfect without blowing much money. However, below I have demonstrated a bit about all the popular and widely used materials, hope that will help.

Stainless and Carbon Steel

One of the most popular model for fishing reels. Steel is basically an iron alloy where trace elements are mixed in order to change the characteristics. There is no harm in these elements, in fact they improve the strength of the steel.

In ultralight reels, not all steels are made equally, there are some differences. Carbon steel comes with carbons around .05% to 1.7%. With the increase of carbon, it becomes harder and less ductile.

In order to make the carbon more ductile Vanadium is often used to carbon steels, this also enhances the shear strength.

One flaw of carbon steel is, they are corrosion resistant. That means when they will be exposed to salt or water, the carbon steel will get rusted easily which will make your entire reel useless with time.

This problem can be avoided, if the carbon steel comes with zinc, chrome, nickel, or titanium finishes.

On the other hand, stainless steels are corrosion resistant naturally and they also don’t require any kind of finish most of the time. These streels often comes with up to 16% chromium and that is greatly strong element and enough to prevent any kind of oxidation.

Stainless steel is stronger and harder than the carbon steels and that is what makes stainless steels more expensive. Most manufacturer uses stainless steel in the construction of both external and internal parts of a reel. Overall, this material is very durable.

Aluminum

Another widely used and highly famous alloy is aluminum and that too comes in different grades which contains different amounts of trace elements such as silicon, copper, magnesium and iron. These components enhance the strength of the aluminum.

Finding out the grade data of aluminum will be very hard, because manufacturers doesn’t expose this information. However, if anyhow you get your hands on the grading information, pick one with higher rating if you want great amount of durability.

For example, 6061 grade aluminum is weaker than the 7075 aluminum. On the other hand, the higher the grade gets, the more money it will cost.

Aluminum is generally used in the main body of the reel and in the handle and spool. Manufacturers use aluminum wherever lightweight materials are needed. However, aluminum materials would not be a good choice for bail arms or gears.

Another important thing, though aluminum is corrosion resistant but it will still get oxidize with regular contact with water or salt. Sometimes you can escape with an aluminum reel that doesn’t have any finish but you won’t be lucky all the time.

So it would be very wise and s mart move if you choose an aluminum reel that at least has powder coating.

Magnesium

There a several types of metal alloys which are widely being used in reels, stainless steel, aluminum and carbon steel is most widely used. But there are some other alloys too that manufacturer uses to make the reel lightweight and increase the strength of the reel.

And magnesium is one of them. Magnesium alloy is 33% lightweight than the aluminum alloys and 75% lightweight than the stainless steel. In some cases, magnesium alloys are also stronger than these two popular alloys.

Since magnesium alloys are better than aluminum and stainless steel in some cases, it is a bit expensive too.

Similar to the aluminum, magnesium is used where a lightweight and stronger materials are needed. And magnesium is also soft as aluminum which makes it bad choice for bail arms, gears, and other parts.

Fiberglass

It is a fiber-reinforced polymer material that uses glass fiber in order to increase the strength. It is highly durable and comes at cheap price. Fiber glass alloys are very easy and cheap to produce which is why this material is used widely in construction of different fishing tackle.

Fiberglass can be molded into shapes which is not possible with other materials and it is completely weather resistant. The reflex of fiberglass allows manufacturers to style them.

This material is normally used in the main body. But nowadays manufacturer is using it to making switches, handle knobs, etc. Fiberglass don’t need to have any kind of fishing, but since the raw look of this material is not so good, you might want to paint it.

Carbon fiber

It is also a plastic that is reinforced with fiber like fiberglass. But instead of using glass fiber into it, it uses super durable, string and lightweight carbon fibers. Carbon fiber is all-rounder, it is lightweight and it is highly durable.

Carbon fibers are almost same to the fiberglass, you can mold carbon fibers in complex shapes and it is also weather resistant. The difference between carbon fiber and fiberglass is, carbon fiber doesn’t require any painting, it looks good without paint.

Little More Discussion About Metal Alloys

Previously couple of time I have mentioned that there are a lot of metal alloys and polymers that manufacturers are using in the construction of reel and rods.

I have covered few of them above. Each material comes with their own set of advantage and disadvantages, so got to be very careful when you choose the material. Make sure you choose one that will suit your need.

For internal gears such as washers, shafts, and even the main body, metal alloys are good. And since hard alloys like steel are stronger, bend and break resistant, they are perfect for reel parts that needs to be durable.

Aluminum and magnesium alloys are lightweight which makes them perfect for spools and body construction.

When it comes down to metal items, oxidation and weathering is a major issue. There are some metals which are naturally corrosion and weather resistant like stainless steel. Though they are naturally weather resistant, they still need to maintained nicely.

They need to get lubricated and cleaned after every use, otherwise they will not serve you as long as they are supposed to.

There are very materials that are weather resistant like stainless steel and in order to survive against the water and salt they needs to get finishes. It they don’t get proper finish, they might invite rust when exposed to salt or water and with time your entire reel will fail.

There are hell lot of several polymers and plastics available which are more than enough for fishing reel construction. They look like metal alloys and you won’t get to know which material is it actually.

Manufacturer also doesn’t reveal the truth, so there is nothing you can do, accept buying from the reputed brand which is serving the market for very long. There is high chance that you wouldn’t end up picking the worst material.

Line holding capacity

This is highly important that your reel has enough line capacity. As you can guess, line capacity means how much line the reel can hold. Normal ultralight reels can hold monofilament lines up to 130-yards.

How much line a reel can hold also depends on the spool size. Braided lines comes with smaller diameter, so a normal ultralight reel can hold 40 percent more line.

You have to make sure that your reel holds enough line so that you can cast to a moderate distance and play with the fish.

As I said, a typical ultralight fishing reel can hold up to 130-yard of monofilament line and a normal cast will take 40-yards of line, that means, you will still get 90-yards of line just to play with the fish which is enough.

If you are holding a reel to buy that comes with less than 90-yards of test monofilament line, I would say you better ignore that and move on to another one with little better capacity. Always try to pick one that holds a bit more line than you would need.

Drag system

Light line will require you to regulate the drag every time you catch a fish depending on the size.  If not that, there is high risk that the line will break. In ultralight fishing a smooth drag can create a world of different in fish landing.

Anyways, you have to make sure that you are getting a nice drag which will perform as you want. And in order to get that there are some parts of drag where you have to put your sharp eye.

Different manufacturer produces different designs so how many parts a drag system has that completely depends on the brand, some brands drag comes with more parts and some with less.

But there are some certain parts that every drag system has and you have to ensure the quality of those parts.

Drag knob, key washer, drag washer, and stop spring, these are the parts that every drag system has and the quality of these parts is what makes the difference between a good and worst drag system.

Drag knob: Drags knobs are normally made of polymer, metal alloy or plastic. As you know, metal alloy material will be more durable but all these three materials are good and widely used. You can choose any of these materials made drag knob.

If you are a newbie you might not know what is a drag knob. It is actually the thing that holds the spool to the reel and tightens and loosens the drag. Drag knob is where all the lines are spooled.

Stop spring: The manufacturer uses whether carbon or stainless steel in making stop string but the wise move would be to choose a stop string that is both corrosion resistant and durable. Stop spring is the thing that keeps all the reel parts in place.

Key washer: Generally key washers are made of carbon or stainless steel and is placed between the drag washer. When the drag is tight the drag washer pressures against the key washer and makes it difficult for the hooked fish to take out line.

If you are using light line, then make sure you don’t make the drag so tight. Otherwise you might end up breaking both line and the rod.

Bearings

Bearings help things rotate or spin smoothly. In reel bearings are used in a lot of parts such as line roller, reel handle, and main shaft.

Some manufacturer says that, the more bearing a reel has the better the reel is, that is completely a baseless statement. They say it just to increase the sale, nothing else.

It really doesn’t matter how many bearings your reel has, what important is, how smooth those bearings are, which materials are used and what is the type.

There basically two types of bearings which are widely used, shielded and sealed bearings. Most manufacturers used shielded bearings in reels. These bearings are smooth but if not maintained well, they become useless. Here is why.

Shielded bearings allows dirt, sands to accumulate inside, since these bearings doesn’t comes with any cover. And because of the dirt, sands, etc. they require cleaning and lubricant, otherwise they won’t function properly.

Another thing, as you will lubricate those bearings so that they work smooth, I hope you know, dirt, sands accumulates much faster in sticky liquids. So that means, you have to clean the bearings very often, probably after every use.

On the other hand, sealed bearings are used in high-end ultralight spinning reels. As the name suggests, these bearings are completely sealed unlike shielded bearings.

And there is no way that dirt, sands, etc. will be able to get inside the bearing easily, therefore sealed bearings won’t require much maintenance. 

Inside all the bearings you will notice some small ball bearings which are normally made of steel and ceramic. And these are the things why bearings really work. If these balls are not well-lubricated, the entire bearing will not work properly.

So the point is, if you want a reel that requires very low maintenance then go for a reel that comes with sealed bearings. Otherwise, you have to keep cleaning and lubricating the shielded bearings after every use.

Gear ratio

If you are new to fishing you might not know what is gear ratio, let me help you. Gear ratio describes how much the spool will rotate for one crank of handle. And the ratio is described like this 5.2:1.

The gear ratio is determined by the size of the gears used inside the reel. And two things get affected by gear ration one the torque and line retrieve.

Low gear ratio reels produce more torque but offers slow line retrieve. And reel with high gear ratio produces low torque and high line retrieve.

And now which gear ratio is perfect for you completely depends on the fish species you are going to target.

For example, if you will be using heavy baits and lures that would travel through the water, then less gear ratio would be proper for you. And if you will be casting diving baits and lures that would touch the base, then you will need high gear ratio.

However, since you are here for ultralight fishing then a gear ratio between 5:1 to 6:1 would be perfect. This ration is perfect for ultralight fishing is because, in ultralight fishing angler doesn’t use heavy bait or lures and neither they need to cover a lot of water.

Reel weight

Ultralight fishing reel means your reel needs to be lightweight. Ultralight anglers can carry all their gears to big distance, when heavy gear users can. Because of the light gear weight, ultralight anglers can carry some other needed stuff too which normal anglers can’t.

Anyways.

In order to make reels lightweight the manufacturer uses different techniques which includes using lightweight materials in the construction, removing unnecessary materials, etc.

It’s easy to get a lightweight reel but it’s a little hard to get a balanced one. A balanced reel means, it would not be too light or heavy. Ultralight reel doesn’t mean you have to pick the lightest reel in the world. You have to pick the balanced one.

The problem of having super lightweight reel is, in order to make them very lightweight the manufacturer uses not so durable materials or in some case they shrink the parts which makes the entire reel fragile.

And these reels are not going to last even a couple of fishing trips. You can choose the lightest reel in the world when it is made of super durable materials. In order to reduce the cost manufacturer uses low-quality materials which is why you can’t use them.

As long as you can stick to a reliable and popular brand, you can try super lightweight reels.

FAQ About Ultralight Fishing Reels