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Catching small fish can be a ton of fun. While everyone else is busy fishing for big game fish, you’ll spend the same amount of time actually catching fish. Ultralight reels give you the agility and feel to hook smaller fish. They also make the fight much more fun! Perch, bass, kokanee, trout, and many other species can be a blast to catch on ultralight tackle combined with higher strength fluorocarbon spinning line. But what type of ultralight reel should you get?
In this article, we cover the best ultralight spinning reels for 2020. We chose our favorites at various price points, features, and quality to give you several options to choose from depending on your needs.
We feature a quick summary of our favorite ultralight spinning reels below. If you want to get into more detail, we go into our reasoning in the following sections and include the pros and cons of each reel review. Enjoy!
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
Overall Ultralight Spinning Reel Winner
Pflueger President Spinning Reel
The Pflueger President Spinning Reel is our overall ultralight spinning reel winner for 2020. You may have noticed it also won our best trout fishing reel guide! The Pflueger President Spinning Reel has more features than the most economical ultralight reels but keeps price low by focusing on quality components. The Pflueger President Spinning Reel comes in five iterations with varying line capacity and reel size. The 25X and 30X are the most suited for ultralight fishing.
For a relatively economical reel, the Pflueger President Spinning Reel comes with many high-quality components. The reel features a 10 ball bearing system with corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings. This ensures the President will stay functional for many years of heavy action battling feisty small game fish.
The Pflueger President Spinning Reel’s body is built out of graphite and has a braided line ready spool. The reel’s drag system features sealed washers that stay lubricated for smoothing reeling. Slow oscillation gearing improves the line lay and minimizes twist.
The five different models of the Pflueger President Spinning Reel have varying specifications. We’ll cover the 25X and 30X since they make the most sense for ultralight fishing. The 25X can hold up to 220 yards of 2 lb test, 110 yards of 4 lb test, and 90 yards of 6 lb test. The 30X can hold up to 255 yards of 4 lb test, 190 yards of 8 lb test, and 160 yards of 10 lb test. The 25X and 30X both weigh 9 oz. Both also have a gear ratio of 5.2:1.
- Great price for the quality of components.
- Time tested brand.
- A little pricier than other options.
The Pflueger President Spinning Reel is our winner for the best overall ultralight spinning reel. It has quality components, is very affordable, and is a great addition to any fisherman’s reel collection. It will stand up to the test of time and is a great ultralight reel to hand down to the next generation.
High-End Ultralight Spinning Reel Winner
Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel
The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel is our high-end ultralight spinning reel winner. It costs over three times as much as some of the other reels in our test but comes with many features that a professional ultralight fisherman would want. It’s built for many years ultralight fishing from both boat and shore, and will take on any small fish you throw its way. The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel comes in four different versions, but we recommend the 25X or 30X for ultralight fishing.
The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel features a premium magnesium frame that keeps weight down and strength high. It also has a carbon composite washer construction that exerts a smooth but strong drag on the spool. The Supreme XT has 10 stainless steel ball bearings that are corrosion resistant and keep retrieval even and cool.
The Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel comes with a machined handle also decreases the reel’s weight while adding a stylish adonized orange trim. The spinning rotor has a slow oscillation gearing system with EVA knobs for comfortable cranking. The spool is braided-line ready with a line tying insert that prevents slippage.
The four different models of the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel have varying specifications. We’ll cover the 25X and 30X since they make the most sense for ultralight fishing. The 25X can hold up to 220 yards of 2 lb test, 110 yards of 4 lb test, and 90 yards of 6 lb test. The 30X can hold up to 255 yards of 4 lb test, 190 yards of 8 lb test, and 160 yards of 10 lb test. The 25X and 30X both weigh 9 oz. The 25X has a gear ratio of 5.2:1, while the 30X has a gear ratio of 6.2:1.
- Strong components on a lightweight frame.
- Durable construction that will last generation to generation.
If the price is not an issue for you, we highly recommend the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel. Its lightweight frame and magnesium body will withstand years of intense ultralight fishing and heavy use. If you’re an ultralight fisherman looking for the best and willing to pay more, the Supreme XT will fulfill everything you need in an ultralight reel.
The Best Balanced Ultralight Winner
Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel
The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel is our winner for balanced ultralight spinning reels. Okuma is another giant in the fishing reel industry, and the Ceymar has all the quality hallmarks Okuma is known for. It comes in 6 different variations, but the C10 and C20 make the most sense for ultralight fishing.
The Ceymar C10 and C20 are great choices for fishing for trout, crappie, bluegill, sunfish and other small game fish. If you’re worried about your larger gear overpowering small but feisty fish, we recommend getting the C10.
The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel comes with an oiled felt drag system that helps with keeping the reel cool while battling aggressive small fish like trout or crappie. The drag system is paired with a precision machined brass pinion gear system.
The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel is built with 7 shielded stainless steel ball bearings. Its body made out of machined aluminum that is adonized for corrosion resistance. The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel also includes Okuma’s RESII computer balanced rotor system which keeps the spool centered under intense reeling.
The six different models of the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel have varying specifications. We’ll cover the C10 and C20 since they make the most sense for ultralight fishing. The C10 can hold up to 210 yards of 2 lb test, 110 yards of 4 lb test, and 70 yards of 6 lb test. The C20 can hold up to 210 yards of 4 lb test, 110 yards of 6 lb test, and 70 yards of 8 lb test. The C10 and C20 both weigh 9.2 oz. They also both have a gear ratio of 5.0:1.
- Another great and economical ultralight reel.
- 5.0:1 gear ratio is slower than other options.
The Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel is a great spinning reel for ultralight fishermen looking for a starter option that’s a little cheaper than the Pflueger reels. If you’re a fan of Okuma or already own Okuma products, we recommend adding the Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel to your collection.
Most Economical Ultralight Spinning Reel
KastKing Centron Spinning Reel
The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel is packed with everything you need to start your ultralight fishing hobby, and its price can’t be beaten: it’s less than dinner out! It also won our most economical reel for trout fishing for the same reason. As long as you treat it right and don’t do anything stupid, this affordable reel will help you land almost any type of small fish you throw at it. The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel comes in five different versions, but the Centron 3000 and 4000 work perfectly for crappie, bluegill, perch, and any other small gamefish.
The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel is built with a lightweight graphite frame that’s been expertly balanced for smooth reel action. Its superior drag system offers incredible stopping power with up to 17.5 lbs of drag pull. It’s hardened metal shaft with mesh gear drive will withstand intense ultralight fishing battles and ensure your equipment won’t fail under dire circumstances.
The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel has nine ball bearings for smooth spinning. It also has an instant one-way stop for anti-reversing. The casing also comes in a brilliant anodized blue colorway that looks good with many different rod setups.
The five different models of the KastKing Centron Spinning Reel have varying specifications. We’ll cover the 3000 and 4000 since they make the most sense for ultralight fishing. The 3000 can hold up to 330 yards of 8 lb test or 270 yards of 10 lb test. The 4000 can hold up to 310 yards of 10 lb test or 260 yards of 12 lb test. The 3000 weighs 9.1 oz while the 4000 weighs 12.1 oz. Both have a max drag of 17.5 lbs.
- It’s the most affordable reel on our list!
- It has everything you need to start fishing for small game fish.
- Limited warranty.
- Not as durable as other options.
The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel has everything you need to start ultralight fishing, and it costs less than a tank of gas! The 3000 and 4000 sizes are the most appropriate for ultralight fishing and come with everything you need to get started. The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel is a great option for ultralight fishermen on a budget.
Before wrapping up our guide on the best ultralight spinning reels, here are the factors we considered when picking out the best ultralight spinning reels.
The drag system is responsible for putting pressure on the fish when it tries to run from your boat/the shore. The best ultralight spinning reels should have a max dag pressure of at least 10 lbs. This will help keep a strong bluegill or perch in check and help you tire them out faster. A rear drag system can also be more useful, as it gives the angler faster access to adjust in the middle of a fight.
Gear Ratio and Speed of Retrieval
Small fish love retreating to underwater structures when they feel threatened. Once a crappie or bluegill is hooked, it’s crucial to reel the fish in as fast as possible to prevent it from tangling your line around logs or rocks. You also don’t want a bigger fish to eat it! This means that reels with at least a 5:0 gear ratio are best. This ratio and above allow you to keep the fish away from dangerous logs and rocks and into the boat or onto shore as quickly as possible.
Smooth Bearings and Anti-Reverse Switch
Smooth bearings aren’t necessary, but they definitely give you more confidence when fighting a strong fish. In general, the more money you spend on a reel the smoother the bearings. The best ultralight spinning reels should be extra smooth.
An anti-reverse switch is also important for ultralight fishing. The anti-reverse switch will help you set the hook effectively and make sure the line doesn’t go slack if the fish jerks the lure after biting.