10 Best Inshore Spinning Reels in 2020

Whether you fish in saltwater or freshwater, choosing an inshore spinning reel can be daunting. We've compiled a list of the 10 best shore fishing reels to make your fishing adventure prosperous and fruitful.

Best Overall
Shimano Stradic
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Best value
Penn Battle II
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Best Premium
Shimano Exsence
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Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated September 14, 2020
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Introduction

Whether you’re new to the sport, or you’re simply browsing around for a new reel for inshore fishing, spinning reels are a must-have for any angler’s fish-catching arsenal. 

Known for being easy to use, spinning reels are a great option for lighter baits and live baits alike. 

Plus, they’re great for use when fishing on both freshwater and saltwater bodies of water.

Top 10 Best Inshore Spinning Reels

But choosing the best spinning reel from an endless sea of options can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. 

Not to worry, we’ve chosen 10 amazing spinning reels for inshore fishing, to get you started. 

And we’ve even included a handy buyer’s guide afterward to help answer any questions you may have. 

1. Shimano Stradic C4i+ Spinning Reel With Front Drag

Best Overall
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG FB

When one of the world’s most popular reels gets an upgrade, you know it’s going to be a big deal. And that’s exactly why the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 XG delivers on all fronts. 

You’ll love the ultra-light, impeccably strong Cl4+ carbon body and cold-forged aluminum spool. Plus, with the Magnumlite rotor, this reel is the ultimate in smooth casting and reeling. 

Inside, you’ll find 6 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, making this a high-performing piece of equipment. With minimal line management issues and exceptional smoothness, you’re going to love the casting capabilities offered. 

Available in 4 sizes so that you’ll always have exactly what you need on hand, when you need it.

Finally, the X-ship technology offers increased durability and long-lasting performance by eliminating friction between gear enhancing and the spool shaft, giving you a longer cast overall. 

Talk about a fisherman’s dream!

2. Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

Best value
Penn 1338217 Battle II 2500

When you’re looking for a reel that’s built strong enough to handle big saltwater gamefish, the Penn Battle II is exactly the high-range reel you need on your rod. All washers are treated with a long-lasting, patented grease, so performance is basically guaranteed by the maker. 

Plus, it’s built strong and tough, with a full metal side plate, rotor, and body. 

The heavy-duty aluminum bail wire gives you durability designed to last fish after fish. This reel keeps it smooth, with an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, so you’ll have a powerful drag without the extra hiccups. Then, its anti-reverse bearing stops snap back in an instant, meaning you’ll be able to continue reeling without interruption. 

When a high-quality spinning fishing reel comes in at under $100, you’ll find unmatched quality at a price you’re going to love.

3. Shimano Exsence Spinning Reel

Best premium
Shimano Exsence Spinning Reel

For a reel that’s built to withstand even the harshest and toughest saltwater conditions, the Shimano Exsence Spinning Reel always delivers. 

The Hagane Body is a high-rigidity, metal body, and as a result, it offers more durability and impact resistance, while also eliminating body flexing, and giving you more cranking power under pressure. 

With its internal labyrinth structure, saltwater is prevented from being able to enter, even when facing heavy sprays and splashes. 

This reel holds a Magnumlite Rotor that is 25% lighter giving you better balance when reeling. It also needs less inertia to start and stop, making it a smoother feel overall. 

Combined with the X-Ship gear durability, the pinion gear maintains precise alignment under extreme loads. This virtually removes spool shaft and gear friction, giving you enhanced casting performance for longer casts and higher performance with light lures.

4. Abu Garcia Revo Inshore Spinning Reel

Abu Garcia Revo Inshore Spinning Reel

If you need a reel that’s built to handle hard pulling fish and tough corrosive saltwater environments, you’re going to love the Abu Garcia Revo Inshore Spinning Reel. As the name suggests, this reel is ideal for inshore species, while holding tough during even the strongest fights. 

Built with a stainless steel main shaft and components, this reel offers serious corrosion-resistance. 

The everlast bail system and Amgearing System provide unmatched durability and smoothness on the line, so you’ll never falter when under pressure. This gear design is computer optimized, making it one of the most efficient systems available. 

Plus, you’ll never have to sacrifice comfort either since the large EVA knobs keep you in control by being designed for a superior grip and the utmost comfort. 

With machined aluminum braid ready spool, prepping with a monofilament line will become a thing of the past. You’ll be able to tie any braided line directly on to the spool without facing any slippage.

5. Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel

Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel

With industry-leading ingenuity and top-performing components, the Daiwa BG Spinning Reel is built to perform against the hardest competition. 

You’ll love the Hard Bodyz aluminum body and side cover, built for strength and stability. The black Anodized body and cover offer scratch and corrosion resistance, keeping your reel in top-performing order despite the elements. 

You’ll never have to sacrifice smoothness or durability thanks to the waterproof Carbon ATD. The Daiwa holds a seven-bearing drive system and an Infinite Anti-Reverse System or the Infinite Dual Anti-Reverse. 

Thanks to its unique shape, the air rotor weighs 15% less than ordinary rotors, for a lightweight design holding ultimate strength and dependability. And, it’s built for multiple line capacities.

The Daiwa BG Spinning Reel is built to perform under pressure against anything you throw at it.

6. Okuma Avenger Baitfeeder Graphite

Okuma Avenger Baitfeeder Graphite

Used by both novice anglers and professionals worldwide, the Okuma Avenger Baitfeeder Graphite Spinning Reel is a top-performing product that is sure to change the way you fish with live baits.

With its multi-disc felt drag system, and a 7 bearing drive system, this reel is designed to withstand some serious hits, providing you with high-quality performance all along the way. 

With Baitfeeding technology, the Okuma Avenger includes a secondary drag system in the rear of the reel, specifically designed for bait fishing. It allows fish to eat the bait without feeling the resistance of the line. Then, once the fish has taken the bait, simply flip the reel handle to the primary drag system and reel ‘er in!

This reel can be used for all fish species, in both freshwater and saltwater environments, making it a versatile reel, built for virtually any occasion.

7. KastKing Megatron Spinning Reel

KastKing Megatron Spinning Reel

Packed with enormous amounts of strength and durability, the KastKing Megatron Spinning Reel is a hybrid of incredible design with ultimate performance. Its unique, geometric form is courtesy of bionic engineering, created with a rigid aluminum skeletal frame designed for hard battles with both salt and freshwater fish.

The reel’s professional level gears help you capitalize on performance, making this a fantastic option for all tournament anglers wanting to improve their game. Plus, with its zinc alloy main drive gear and a solid brass pinion gear, the KastKing stays rigid and smooth under any condition.

This reel also offers a carbon fiber drag system that provides over 30 lbs of power, meaning you can handle big gamefish quickly, without sacrificing smoothness.  

Double-shielded stainless ball bearings give the ultimate protection equally in saltwater and freshwater. With 7+1 MaxiDur double-shielded stainless-steel ball bearings, the KastKing Megatron offers a fluid performance you’ve got to try for yourself.

8. Penn Clash II Spinning Fishing Reel

Penn Clash & Clash II Spinning

The last thing any angler needs when fishing is trying to fight with wind knots, which makes the Penn Clash & Clash II the perfect addition to any tackle box. 

This reel offers the optimal combination of appropriate spool dimensions, and slow oscillation, which deliver the perfect setup for long, smooth casts.

Stepping things up with this high-performing reel, the Penn Clash & Clash II uses CNC Gear technology to ensure the drive pinion, and oscillation gear are cut precisely using premium metals.

Holding HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers, anti-reverse bearing, and an 8+1 stainless steel bearing system, you’ll love the smooth, comfortable experience the Penn Clash & Clash II offers in the water.

9. Daiwa Saltist Back Bay LT

Daiwa Saltist Back Bay LT Spinning Reels

For the angler needing a light reel with unwavering strength, look no further than the Daiwa Saltist Back Bay LT. Featuring the brand’s revolutionary HARDBODYZ design, this reel is a durable option for the avid saltwater fisherman.  

This reel is made from an aluminum metal alloy, keeping it lightweight and comfortable without sacrificing performance strength. The stainless-steel AIR BAIL system keeps your reel functioning at optimal performance against the strongest competitors, without compromise. 

With the main shaft protected by a magnetic oil, saltwater is repelled away from the components. No matter the water conditions or the spray, you’ll feel confident knowing your reel is safeguarded against corrosion. 

The machined aluminum alloy offers smooth performance, while digitally milled gearing increases the efficiency of gear-tooth interactions. Plus, it offers 15.4 lbs of drag, all packed into a lightweight and durable composite shell.

10. Okuma Inspira Carbon Frame Lightweight

Okuma Inspira Carbon Frame Lightweight

Sometimes you need a reel that works consistently and reliably, every single time you take it, which is why I personally recommend giving the Okuma Inspira Carbon Frame Lightweight Spinning Reel. 

Designed for inshore saltwater and freshwater fishing, the Inspira is a tough reel that performs well under hard conditions.

The C-40X long-strand carbon fiber framing offers a frame that is 25% lighter and 50% stronger than graphite frames. This means you’ll get a rigid reel with reduced twist and flex. 

It’s a lightweight, powerful, and agile reel, helping you stay in control of your casts and reeling from start to finish.

Featuring a centrifugal disc bail, the Inspira brings maximized strength and stability for the life of your reel. On top of that, the 13-pounds of even drag pressure can handle large, powerful fish, while continuing to deliver a smooth experience.

The cyclonic flow rotor allows strong airflow around the rotor, pushing water from the spool and minimizing corrosion due to water intrusion.

What To Consider When Buying Inshore Spinning Reels

Spinning Reel Parts Infographic

When you’re setting out on a fishing trip, having the proper equipment can directly impact your overall experience and performance. After all, getting frustrated while trying to reel in a big fish is the last thing anyone wants. 

If you’re looking at inshore spinning reels, you need to make sure you know what to look for before buying. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first fishing rod or if it’s time for an upgrade, consider these tips before purchasing your reel.

Ball Bearings

ball bearings and fishing reel smoothness

The ball bearings are located inside a spinner reel, and are a major component of the functionality of your reel. You’ll notice that the number of ball bearings inside the spinning reel varies substantially between brands and models, which is often associated with the quality of the reel.

Simply put, the more bearings your reel has, the smoother your experience casting and reeling is going to be. 

If you’re looking at purchasing a new reel, always try to purchase a reel with the highest number of ball bearings you can afford. But, at the very minimum, you’ll want to look for a reel that has at least five bearings.

Anti-Reverse Functioning

Anti-reverse functionality prevents the reel from turning backward and instead engages the drag function. Some spinning reels offer a customizable switch that allows anglers to engage or disengage the setting, depending on personal preference. 

However, it’s best to look for a reel that offers an anti-reverse option, or one that has a permanently set anti-reverse feature, when shopping for a new reel.

Determine the Environmental Conditions

Most saltwater reels are compatible with freshwater bodies of water, but freshwater reels and tackles aren’t suitable for saltwater conditions. 

That’s why it’s important to consider where you intend to fish, and whether it will be in fresh or saltwater. 

For anglers hoping to use their inshore spinning reel in saltwater applications, you’ll want to find a spinning reel that is designed to handle tough environments.

On top of that, saltwater is naturally corrosive, meaning it can eat at metal reels over extended periods. Because of this fact, it’s important to try to find a reel that offers water resistance.

Cost And Your Own Personal Budget

Although every angler would love to have an unlimited budget, and I know exactly where each one of us would spend every last dime, the price of a spinning reel for shore angling will naturally play a factor in your purchase. 

If you’re looking to purchase your first inshore spinning reel, always define your budget based on quality, functionality, and performance. 

Price can vary substantially when comparing brands, with some of the more economic options available under $100, while luxury brands can sometimes cost well over $500.  

When setting your budget, make sure to consider how much you’ll be using it and how often you’re going to be replacing the reel. 

Remember that even if the initial cost of a reel may seem steep, if you’re only going to need to buy a quality reel once every decade or two, the price might be worth the investment in the long-term.

Understanding Gear Ratio

Gear Ratio Infographic

The gear ratio of the spinning reel is the number of times the bail rotates around the spool in one handle rotation. In other words, how fast do you need to spin your handle for the reel to make a full rotation and wrap around the spool. 

If you’re wanting to use a fast retrieve lure, you’ll want something with a high gear rotation, which means even a small turn of the handle might give you multiple turns around the spool. 

For the beginner angler, looking to add a decent all-purpose reel to their kit, you’ll want to look for a gear ratio that sits somewhere in the mid-range, usually around 5:1.

Frequently Asked Questions

Although we’ve already covered quite a bit about spinning reels and the best models currently available on the market, I thought it might be a good idea to go over some of the most frequently asked questions as well.

What is the best spinning reel for inshore fishing?

Although we’ve made a few recommendations for great spinning reels, the best reel for inshore fishing is one that holds and performs the way you want it to. 

Most cheap spinning reels aren’t designed with saltwater in mind, and they won’t hold up well against an inshore environment either. 

You’ll want to purchase a quality reel that is designed to repel water away, which is a crucial feature for all saltwater fishing. 

You’re also going to want a spinning reel that works well with a braided line, unless you’re entirely comfortable with a monofilament line. This is because some bail rollers can’t handle braided lines due to the slight gaps on the ends, which can cause slipping, sliding, binding, and a whole lot of headaches that you’d rather not know about. 

Finally, you’re going to want a reel that simply feels good in your hand. 
When you’re doing inshore fishing, a lot of species will put up a good fight, so you’d better be comfortable with your reel. 

Always make sure to look at features like drag and anti-reverse function while shopping around, especially if you’re hoping to keep your reel for as long as possible.

What reel size is best for inshore fishing?

The best reel size for inshore fishing ultimately depends on two things. 

The first thing you need to consider before purchasing is the size of the line, be it monofilament or braided, that you’re going to be putting on your reel. 

If you’re looking at a 2 to 10 lb monofilament line, or a 4 to 15 lb braided line, a small size spinning reel will work just fine. Small size reels are usually somewhere around a 1000 to a 3,500.

On the other hand, if you’re using an 8 to 18 lb monofilament line, or an 8 to 30 lb braid, opt for a medium-size reel. Medium size spinning reels will be between 4,000 and 6,000 in size.

For any lines larger than these sizes, it’s best to opt for a larger size. 
Large size spinning reels, between 7000-9000, are best suited for monofilament lines of 14 to 25lb, or 15-60 lb braided lines. 

The proper lines will be determined by the species you are fishing. If you’re after small species, a lighter line will suffice. For large big gamefish, make sure the reel can accommodate a heavy line.

How much drag do you need for inshore fishing?

The drag is arguably one of the most important components of landing fish. It prevents your line from breaking when you land a big fight, and if set improperly, can outlast even the feistiest fish. 

Remember, it’s better to have the drag a little too loose (and have the fish fight a while longer) than to have it too tight and break off completely. 
Although many anglers will tell you many different things, a good rule of thumb to follow is a 20% to 30% rule when it comes to your drag settings. 

What that means is this: take the lines strength and determine what 20% and 30% would be for that line strength. That’s the ballpark number that you should use to set your drag.

For example, if you happen to use a 10lb line for inshore fishing, you’re going to want your drag between 2 to 3 pounds. 
Finally, always make sure to set your drag before you cast your line into the water. 

The last thing you want to do is lose a beautiful fish because you weren’t able to set the reel properly.

Conclusion

Fishing rod with a inshore spinning reel equipped

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to upgrade from your button-style reel, if you’re trying your hand at fishing for the first time, or if you’re a seasoned competitive angler, having a decent reel can make or break any fishing trip. 

Choose the wrong option and you’ll spend more time fighting with your reel than you will be reeling in the fish. 

When it comes to choosing the best spinning reel, the options really are endless. 

By carefully considering reel functionality, such as how many ball bearings it has, or its casing materials, you’ll be able to find the right equipment you need for your tackle box.

In the end, it’s always best to try and purchase the best quality items your budget will allow. 

You’ll find that a quality reel can make all the difference after a day on the water. 

Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand everything you need to know about spinning reels, and how to ensure your next purchase is a quality reel you’re going to love.

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