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3 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels Under $100 in 2018

If you're gearing up for some serious saltwater fishing and are looking for a good quality fishing reel at a reasonable price, then this article is for you. After reviewing more than a dozen spinning reels, we've come up with a list of what we believe to be the 3 best saltwater spinning reels under $100 being sold on the market today.

What Makes a Good Saltwater Fishing Reel?

Saltwater fishing can be addictive. Big, powerful fish, high-speed action, and a seemingly endless expanse of water to explore. But, before you march out into the surf, you better make sure your gear is up for the challenge — especially your reel.

When shopping for your next saltwater spinning reel, take the following factors into consideration so there are no surprises when you hook into a big, salty monster.

Corrosion Resistance

If you're fishing in freshwater, you can use just about any reel you like and get away with it. In saltwater, however, you have to take some extra precautions as saltwater is very corrosive and damaging to metal, plastics, bearings, and other components found in spinning reels.

Plus, you'll most likely encounter sand, mud, and other grit when fishing in saltwater that can cause serious damage to a reel.

Look for a spinning reel that is as corrosion-resistant as possible. The body should be made of either aluminum or carbon fiber. The ball bearings in the reel should be fully sealed, or at the very least, shielded. Ideally, the reel should have seals at all the points where water or grit can enter the reel.

For under $100, you should be able to find a reel that meets most of these requirements. (Hint: the three we've recommended do.)

Strong Drag

Most gamefish you'll be targeting in saltwater are considerably larger and more powerful than freshwater fish. For this reason, your saltwater spinning reel should have plenty of fish-stopping drag power.

Unless you're after huge pelagic species — tuna, marlin, etc. — a spinning reel with 15 to 20 pounds of drag will be adequate for the majority of saltwater fishing you do.

If you're targeting really big striped bass, bull redfish, or nearshore dorado, you may want a reel with a bit more drag power, say 30 to 40 pounds.

Plenty of Line Capacity

Just as saltwater fish require more drag power, they can also make long runs, requiring lots of extra line on your spool.

The reels we've recommended are available in a range of sizes, each with a different line capacity. Choose the size that can hold at least 150 yards of the line you intend to use.

For most inshore and nearshore saltwater fishing, reels that hold 150 to 200 yards of 20 to 30 pound braided line are ideal. Reels with this line capacity will generally be the 2500 to 4000 size range depending on the brand and model.

Best Saltwater Spinning Reels Under $100 Dollars

1. Penn Battle II

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For under $100, the Penn Battle II gives you whole a lot of reel for the money. The Battle II is the new incarnation of the ever popular Battle series of reels, and Penn made several improvements that make the reel a winner.

The Battle II features a full metal body that won't rust or corrode from exposure to saltwater. Five fully sealed ball bearings give you even more insurance against damage from saltwater, sand and grit, keeping the reel cranking smooth for all its days.

With Penn's signature HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, the Battle II offers up to 30 lbs of incredibly smooth drag on its largest model (8000). In the smaller saltwater sizes — 3000 and 4000 — the Battle II has 15 lbs of drag power, which is perfect for most inshore species you encounter.

The medium sizes of the Battle II — 5000 and 6000 — offer up to 25 lbs of drag which is plenty to handle larger inshore fish.

If you're fishing with braided line, any size of the Battle II should give you plenty of line capacity with the 8000 size holding up to 475 yards of 50-pound braid!

Overall, the Penn Battle II is a very smooth, very powerful saltwater spinning reel with plenty of line capacity to handle a wide variety of saltwater species. The only drawback to the Battle II is that while the bearings are sealed, the body isn't.

That means you should keep dunking to a minimum and get in the habit of rinsing the reel with freshwater after every use.

2. Penn Pursuit II

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Another great budget-friendly reel from Penn is the Pursuit II.

Coming in at roughly half the price of the Penn Battle II, the Pursuit II lacks some features, but is a very capable reel for saltwater anglers on a budget or who are in need of a couple of backup reels.

The body of the Pursuit II is made of graphite which is very strong and inherently corrosion resistant. The spool is made of machined aluminum that is also corrosion resistant and able to withstand the torque produced by a powerful fish.

At first glance, the Pursuit II appears very similar to the Battle II, but there are several key distinctions that you should know about if you're trying to decide which reel to purchase.

First, the Pursuit II has fewer ball bearings (4) than the Battle II (6). What's more important to point out is that the bearings in the Pursuit II are only shielded while those of the Battle II are fully sealed.

Shielded bearings do offer some protection against saltwater and grit, but not as much as fully sealed bearings. Rinsing with freshwater after every use is critical.

Another distinction is the drag system. The Pursuit II features an entry-level oiled felt drag, whereas the Battle II features a carbon fiber drag.

With these differences in mind, the Penn Pursuit is a great reel that will perform well in saltwater with proper maintenance and care. It's available in five sizes with the largest having a maximum drag of 25 lbs and a maximum line capacity 525 yards of 50-pound braided line.

3. Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning Reel

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Wrapping up our list of the 3 best saltwater spinning reels under $100 dollars, we have a reel that can handle the bigger fish you might hook into in the salt — the Okuma Azores.

The Azores is a very rigid reel. This might seem like a negative, but when you're fighting a big fish that can place significant pressure on a reel, it's a highly positive trait.

The reel's rigidity comes from the all-aluminum body and the sturdy brass pinion gear.

These two components combined keep the reel stiff in during a fight, allowing for an efficient transfer of energy from your hand to the reel to the fish.

Okuma's Dual Force Drag system offers the strongest drag of any reel on this list. This system uses both carbonite and felt drag washers giving you 44 pounds of maximum drag that remains smooth throughout the entire range.

With a corrosion-resistant coating, seven fully sealed ball bearings, and high density, corrosion-resistant gearing, the Azores is built specifically for saltwater use. It also has a hydro-block water tight seal protecting the drag housing from contaminants.

The bottom line is the Okuma Azores is a high-quality reel intended for heavy duty fish, and it just might be the best all-around saltwater reel for under $100 on the market.

Conclusion

If you've been wanting to try saltwater fishing but don't want to spend a ton of money do yourself a favor and grab one of these 3 best saltwater spinning reels under $100 dollars. Even if you have to settle for the low-priced Penn Pursuit II, you'll be amazed at the caliber of reel you actually get for the money. Plus, once you get out there and start catching, you'll save yourself a trip to the fish market!

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