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Best Tarpon Spinning Reel: Our Top 6 Buying Guide

Our editors at Finn’s Fishing Tips independently research, test, and recommend the best products to help you make purchase decisions. You can learn more about our review process here. We sometimes get a commission through purchases made via our links.

It sure sounds like a dream to go tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys right now. It’s undoubtedly one of the most thrilling and lively experiences you can think of! Not to mention, it could give you the chance to catch a 100+ lbs Tarpon! So what is the best tarpon spinning reel?

Tarpons drive anglers crazy since they’re tough to deal with. If you want to catch one, you must have exceptional gear. One of the most crucial elements is a high-quality spinning reel that can handle big fish.

In this article, we’ll help you choose the best tarpon spinning reel for your fishing needs. We’ll also provide you with our tarpon spinning reel guide and an extensive FAQ section.

Let’s get started!

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…

Our Top Picks for Tarpon Spinning Reels

Here are some of the best spinning reels we reviewed. They cover every budget and include spinning reels for saltwater.

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Daiwa is known for making one of the best saltwater spinning reels on the market. The product delivers high-end quality at a very reasonable price. 

It has an attractive aluminum body, a great waterproof drag system, an oversized Digigear system that gives maximum performance and smoothness, and an infinite anti-reverse system that gives it leverage over its competitors.

The Daiva BG Spinning Reel has multiple features and comes in an incredibly durable build. The reel itself is a little on the heavy side. However, its innovative design guarantees an enjoyable experience.

Due to its small size, the reel is portable and can perform tasks quickly. It has a thick pedal on its handle that provides smooth rotation. This feature makes the reel work in a similar way to that of a larger reel in a fishing operation. Pair it with a typical tarpon rig and you’ll be good to go!

What We Like

  • Waterproof drag system that prevents corrosion
  • Aluminum handle arm that’s easy to grasp
  • The large roller prevents tangling
  • Smart spool design

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavy and a little bulky
  • No auto-return of the reel

Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel

Pflueger has always been innovatively designing reels while making sure to provide the best user experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fisherman, this reel is one of the most popular among all because it’s straightforward to use and flexible. 

The reel is made up of graphite, which makes it super lightweight so the anglers wouldn’t have a problem while performing their favorite activity. To further improve the experience, the aluminum handle is well made and provides a comfortable grip.

The most prominent feature of the reel is its durability due to the smart construction using graphite. Also, the seawater wouldn’t have any negative effect on the material because the bearing is made up of stainless steel—a material that is resistant to corrosion.

We especially loved the Pflueger’s drag system. It’s sealed, and the company claims it needs little to no lubrication to work properly. The reel promises you won’t run into any stiffness, and the slow oscillation gears will ensure you don’t encounter any line twists.

The bearing system is made from stainless steel that guarantees 100% corrosion resistance. However, some users reported some slight grinding when they were slowly cranking it. We even tested holding it upside down, and it still worked.

What We Like

  • Stronger drag providing space and ease for line retrieval
  • Light material construction for easier handling
  • More functional compared to other quality reels of the same price

What We Don’t Like

  • The lines sometimes get twisted and tangled
  • The gears and bearings aren’t as durable.

Penn Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel

There are a lot of good things about the Penn Pursuit III, but its most notable feature remains the HT-100 drag system—one of the most in-demand drag systems in the market. The fact that Penn has included it in such a budget-friendly reel doesn’t leave room for hesitation before investing your money in it.

Whatever kind of a fisher you are, this reel will be at your service in any situation, whether you like to hunt for fish in freshwater or saltwater. 

The drag system promises power without sacrificing smoothness, accounting for an enjoyable fishing experience. Paired with the super line spool, they’ll help you catch some stubborn tarpons out there.

The best thing about this reel is that you can use it in competitive angling without paying a fortune. It’s durable, functional, and smooth.

What We Like

  • A super line gasket included
  • Top-quality HT-100 drag system
  • Multiple reel sizes available to choose from

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited aspects
  • The drag makes a noise when pulling out the line

Kastking Sharky III Spinning Reel

Amongst all the spinning reels that KastKing offers, the Sharky III is the most appealing reel due to its pricing and handling.

It comes in various sizes and differs from the other reels, thanks to its lightweight, drag system, and reel line capacities.

Constructed from a graphite body and rotor, the KastKing Sharky III should hold up well when handled with care. Its moderate weight makes it feel comfortable and rigid in the hands, making it suitable for elders as well.

One of the best features of the Sharky is the drag system. It’s made from triple-disk carbon fiber, and the shaft is made of steel. The gears are made from manganese brass, which increases precision while cranking.

The remarkable water-resistant design boosts the reel’s quality and makes it compatible with saltwater as well as freshwater. If you use it in saltwater, try not to submerge it because it’s still prone to rust.

The Sharky III comes with a low gear ratio with increased torque, which makes it suitable for fish fights.

What We Like

  • It comes in several sizes
  • Operates smoothly and quietly
  • Multiple drag settings available
  • Budget-friendly 

What We Don’t Like

Piscifun Flame Spinning Reel

If you’re extra cautious about the looks of your spinning reel, this product might be the perfect fit for you. Its exquisite design makes it stand out from the rest, thanks to its matte black and red color scheme.

Piscifun is widely renowned for its high-quality spinning reels and affordable tools to fishers all around the world. While considering the budget of its buyers, it provides quality products with many valuable features.

This spinning reel has a set of 9 ball bearings, accounting for an enjoyable experience because of the reduced friction. You’ll also be able to speed up your fishing game, thanks to the smooth action of the reel.

A feature that distinguishes this reel from the others on the list is its Brain Ready Spool. It prevents the line roller from being cut easily by the braid, adding to the reel’s overall value.

What We Like

  • Available in attractive designs and captivating colors
  • Suitable for braided lines
  • Cost-effective
  • An excellent option for beginners

What We Don’t Like

  • Not the most durable material
  • Not recommended for saltwater

Cadence CS5 Pro Spinning Reel

If you want a fishing reel that’s hard to beat, the Cadence spinning reel is worth a thought. The frame of this reel is constructed using heavy-duty carbon, making it lightweight and sturdy. Only a few spinning reels can pull off being lightweight without sacrificing durability and power.

The Cadence has a lot of features that make you immediately want to add it to your collection of fishing gears. Not only is it designed uniquely with a touch of style, but it’s also fit for any fishing. You can use it in any weather condition without worrying about its resistance.

The spool of the reel is excellently robust and comes with a powerful drag system, making it possible to reel tarpons and other big fish.

What We Like

  • Small and compact
  • Two spools included
  • Extremely smooth drag
  • Highly resistant to rust

What We Don’t Like

  • The line clip is a little complicated
  • The reel handle needs to be tightened occasionally

Everything You Need To Know About Tarpon Fishing and Spinning Reels

Feeder - fishing tackle for catching fish

Recreational fishing is the art of fishing for enjoyment and entertainment purposes. People of all ages and groups enjoy fishing because it gives you a sense of serenity and calm. Typically, it’s done using a rod, reel, line, and hook. 

For you to become a pro in fishing and even going competitive, here are a few essential pieces of information you must know to enhance your interest and skills further.

Why Are Tarpons a Good Choice for Fishing?

Tarpon, being an extraordinary fish, can grow to a length of over 8 feet and weigh about 300 pounds or above. It’s of no commercial value and is only a catch-and-release fish, but it gives a great sense of achievement when you’re able to catch it!

Since these fish are scarce, catching one can be a massive reward for you and will give you inner satisfaction—it’s definitely something to brag about among your fisher friends!

The Perfect Time and Place To Catch a Tarpon

Tarpon fishing is the best from April to August when the temperature of the water is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. As these fish are known for their migratory behavior, you must be present at that particular place at the right time. If you miss their season, the stakes of catching one will be pretty low.

Author Note: Tarpons are mostly found around Islamorada, Florida Keys, Boca Grande, Florida, and St. Simons Island, Georgia. If you fish around these areas, the chances of catching one are high. You have to be patient, though, because tarpons don’t like making themselves known!

How To Catch a Tarpon

To catch a tarpon, you must be clever enough to overcome the hurdles that come with it. Tarpons have injured anglers many times because they’re huge, fast, and strong, with the ability to jump up to 10 feet or more. So, fish fights can be lengthy and striking for the viewers. 

Here are some of the best tips to catch a tarpon:

  • Put two baits behind your boat, so you can have the chance to catch tarpons running against the current.
  • Add a free-floating bait and let it move with the current.
  • Use lures when you can. Long grub tails and white jigs can grab the tarpon’s attention.
  • When your rod hooks a tarpon, quickly grab with both hands, get on top, and maintain control.

Tarpons are among the most challenging fishes to catch, so apart from luck, you’ll also be needing a lot of practice and trials with different lures.

How To Choose a Reliable Spinning Reel

Spinning reels are known to be excellent for beginners because of their portability and convenience. They don’t get tangled up, making it easier for the anglers to continue their hunt without interruptions.

Firstly, try to match the size of the reel to the length of the rod. Tarpons are the ultimate test for a reel because of their heavy size and thrashing nature.

Also, the reel size is proportional to the size of the tarpon you wish to catch. The ideal size of the rod should be 11 wt to catch an average tarpon.

You must have a robust drag system to catch tarpons and similar big fish. All manufacturers report their reel’s maximum drag, so you can make your choice according to the type of fish you intend to catch, along with the weather conditions in your fishing area.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tarpon Spinning Reels

Three fishing spinning in a rubber boat

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received. If you’re still confused about anything regarding tarpon spinning reels, these answers will hopefully help you.

Can I Use a Spinning Reel on a Casting Rod and Vice Versa?

It is possible to attach a spinning reel to a casting rod; however, this is putting both the reel and rod at risk and perhaps compromising their functionality. 

What Fishing Line Works Best With Spinning Reels?

Fishing lines are of four types, which include fusion lines, fluorocarbon, monofilament, and braid. 

If what you want is a thin strength line, then you should go for fusion or braid because they’re thin and slippery. 

On the other hand, if you need a thick line, monofilament is your go-to.

How to Switch the Handle on a Spinning Reel?

In order to switch the handle of the spinning reel, first, unscrew the dust cap and the reel handle. Next, insert the reel arm where the dust cap was located. Now, put the dust cap on the left side of the reel and tighten it up.

How To Maintain A Spinning Reel?

It is advised to rinse the reel off with fresh water and dry it with a cloth afterward. If you directly place it under high pressure of water or submerge, it will cause severe damage to the gearing and drag system.

What Is The Best Bait To Catch A Tarpon With?

Usually, Tarpons consume dead baits; common examples of these being Mullet, Shrimps, Pinfish, and Grunts. These baits are placed on a circular hook. The tail of the lures should be cut off to give a vibrant scent into the water, which helps you catch the Tarpons in a short amount of time.

What Is The Minimum Time It Takes To Catch A Tarpon Fish?

The average amount of time for catching a tarpon is between 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how long the fight goes on.

As Tarpons are known for giving a hard time to the anglers, it isn’t a rare sight for the fight to go on for hours as well.

How Do You Calculate The Drag?

One-third or one-quarter of the elasticity of the line should be the drag limit—any further increase would put the line at risk of breaking.

How To Prevent The Reels From Getting Corroded?

Since salt water has a direct impact on the durability of the reel, you should use anti-corrosive products to prevent the effect. 

You can spray those inside the spool, on the interior and exterior of the frame, and in any ventilation holes. However, spraying on springs, bearings, and drag surfaces should be avoided.

How To Prevent The Line From Getting Tangled?

To prevent the mixing up and constant tangling of the line, lay it evenly on the spool. The main reason the line overlaps and gets tangled is if there’s more line at the top or bottom of the spool. If you make sure this doesn’t happen, it’ll stay clear without tangling.

Wrapping Up

Beginners mostly prefer spinning reels over baitcasting reels because of their smoothness, ease of use, and high functionality. Baitcaster reels require a person to be speedy and accurate, which typically comes with practice. For beginners, spinning reels have the upper hand because you can use them in all sorts of situations.

If you’re a beginner who’s looking for a spinning reel to start Tarpon hunting with, a suitable choice for you would be Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel. It offers you some of the best features, and it provides decent performance for its price. It has a smooth retrieve and long-lasting durability, so you won’t have to buy one every Tarpon season. 

So, which tarpon spinning reel caught your attention? 


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