Best Inshore Spinning Reels

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Inshore fishing is a fun way to spend the summer. You can enjoy the warmth of the coast while you reel some trophy-sized fish. But it also means sun, sand, and salt exposure. Here, your regular spinning reel will be of little use. You need something able to cope with the harsh salty environment. Here is where inshore spinning reels come to the rescue. 

However, it will take you some time to find the right model for you with so many options. But don’t worry. We’ve already done the heavy lifting for you. We’ve tested, searched, and asked for the best inshore spinning reels you can get. 

But we know that not everyone has the time to read all the reviews. That’s why we suggest getting the PENN Fierce III. It is available in many different sizes, offers up to 30 pounds of drag, and holds up to 340 yards of line. If you can’t afford it, then the KastKing Sharky III is the best bet. It offers the best value for your money. And, for those willing to pay for it, the SHIMANO Stradic FL offers consistent performance for years to come. 

Let’s take a peek at the other options we’ve prepared for you. 

10 Best Inshore Spinning Reels Reviewed

PENN Fierce III Saltwater Reel

Features: 

  • Sizes: 1000 to 8000
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 28.7
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 30
  • Gear ratio: 5.3, 5.6, and 6.2:1
  • IPT: Up to 44
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 340
  • All-metal frame
  • Anodized aluminum braid-ready spool 
  • Double-shielded bearings 
  • HT-100 carbon drag matrix

The PENN Fierce III not only looks great. It also has a superb performance for a reel sitting at the 100 bucks mark. The full metal body is corrosion-resistant. But more importantly, it keeps a precise gear alignment that’s key for a smooth and efficient operation. 

The anodized aluminum spool is braid-ready and holds up to 340 yards of line. It is more than enough for inshore fishing. The spool also comes with line rings. They give us an estimate on how much fishing line we have left. Not that you need it, though. 

The Fierce III is available in seven sizes, starting at 1000 and going all the way to 8000. IPT, drag, and line capacity increase with size. The HT-100 drag washers yield up to 30 pounds of buttery-smooth spool pressure. Performance doesn’t seem to drop if the reel ever gets wet. 

PENN added their Techno-Balanced technology to the rotor. The result is a smooth operation during both casting and retrieving. In short, the Fierce III is among the best options for those willing to pay for it. 

Pros: 

  • Smooth operations in all departments 
  • Cast long
  • Incredible line capacity
  • Quick retrieves 
  • Plenty of sizes to choose 

Cons: 

  • The line easily gets out of the spool
  • Small handle

KastKing Sharky III

Features: 

  • Sizes: 1000 to 5000
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 10.6
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 33.8
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • IPT: Up to 33.8
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 220
  • Braid-ready spool 

KastKing now presents us with their third generation of the Sharky lineup. There are five models available, starting with the 1000 reel and ending in the 5000 version. All feature the same construction, starting with a light yet strong carbon fiber body and rotor. It shows little to no flex under load, which is always a good sign.

The Sharky III comes with an anodized spool that holds up to 220 yards of line. It is lower than other reels on this list. But at least the spool is braid-ready. Therefore, you won’t waste capacity adding monofilament backing.

The thick stainless steel main shaft carefully aligns with the zinc alloy gear and brass pinion. Thus, increasing movement and efficiency. Still, there is a little play between the aluminum handle. But nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, the triple drag discs yield a silky-smooth performance even when the system is under load. 39.5. pounds of drag is more than enough for any inshore gamefish. So, no worries about this department. KastKing sealed the drag matrix with a rubber O-ring. This way, water won’t affect performance. 

Pros: 

  • Sealed carbon drag washers 
  • Smooth drag
  • Quick anti-reverse system
  • Thick gears 

Cons: 

  • There is some play between the handle and the spool
  • Low line capacity compared with other options
  • Performance decreases with time. It needs regular maintenance 

SHIMANO Stradic FL

Features: 

  • Sizes: 1000 to 5000
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 10.4
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 24
  • Gear ratio: 6.0, 6.2, and 6.4:1
  • IPT: Up to 40
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 260
  • All-metal frame
  • Anodized aluminum braid-ready spool 

Holding a SHIMANO reel is something that any angler must do. They are expensive products, yes. But they are worth it. This time, we will take some time to review the Stradic FL.

The Stradic FL features a metallic body. SHIMANO used their proprietary Hagane technology; thereby, creating a reel with no noticeable flex. Despite not being made with graphite, the reel remains pleasantly light. They also moved the center of gravity towards the rod, making it easier to cast. 

Inside we also find Hagene gears which are both durable, smooth, and corrosion-resistant. Plus, they maximize torque, making it easier to reel the line. 

The cross carbon drag washer delivers up to 24 pounds of stopping power. It is more than enough for most inshore fishing applications. But note that the drag gets stiffer after some time. 

Pros: 

  • Smooth casting and retrieving
  • Light for a metallic reel
  • Durable gears

Cons: 

  • Low line capacity compared with other reels 
  • No anti-reverse switch

KastKing Royale Legend II Inshore Spinning Reel

Features: 

  • Sizes: 1000 to 4000
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 10
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 22.0
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • IPT: Up to 32.2
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 205
  • Graphite frame
  • Anodized aluminum braid-ready spool 
  • Double-shielded bearings 
  • Stainless steel main shaft

The KastKing Royale Legend II is a superb option for those looking for a mid-range inshore spinning reel. It features a corrosion-resistant graphite frame and anodized aluminum spool. The latter already comes with a braid backing and holds up to 205 yards of line, depending on the size and type. 

The Royale Legend II comes in four sizes ranging from 1000 to 4000. All of them come with the same 5.2:1 gear ratio. IPT and drag, on the other hand, increase with the reel size to a maximum of 32.2 and 22 pounds, respectively. 

Inside the reel, we find five durable double-shielded ball bearings. A thick stainless steel main shaft with zinc alloy drive gear and brass pinion makes for the rest of the gearbox. As you can see, all components are saltwater-resistant, which is key in any saltwater spinning reel. 

The 22 pounds of drag come from a carbon drag matrix. The front dial allows you to adjust how much pressure you want. And here is one of our main complaints. The dial is flimsy, making it hard to set the right amount of drag. 

Pros: 

  • Good value for your money
  • Braid-ready spool
  • Anti-slip rubber knob
  • Smooth line roller bearing

Cons: 

  • Flimsy drag dial 
  • The reel is not that smooth under load
  • The bail wire is difficult to close

Lew’s Custom Inshore Speed Reel

Features: 

  • Sizes: 200 to 400
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 10.2
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 24
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1
  • IPT: Up to 37
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 200
  • All-metal frame
  • Anodized aluminum braid-ready spool 

Available in three sizes, Lew’s Custom is a sturdy inshore spinning reel that will please even the most demanding anglers. The aluminum body and side plates feature a corrosion-resistant coating. Lew’s practiced a couple of drain ports in the body that allows water to get out of the reel. Thus, decreasing the time it takes to dry out. 

The double anodized aluminum spool handles saltwater without breaking a sweat. It comes with a rubber backing. Therefore, there is no need of adding monofilament when using braided fishing lines. Beware, capacity is not as good as other reels on this list. For instance, the larger size only spools up to 200 yards of line.

The carbon drag washers yield up to 24 pounds of fish stopping power. It is more than enough for many inshore monsters. You can easily set how much pressure you want with the front dial. 

One thing that you should know is that the handle has some play. You might need to adjust it sometimes. 

Pros: 

  • Easy to cast with
  • Enough bearings to keep the reel running smooth
  • Drain ports 
  • Braid-ready spool

Cons: 

  • Low line capacity 
  • The handle has some play

13 FISHING Prototype TX Saltwater Inshore Fishing Reel

Features: 

  • Sizes: 2.0 and 4.0
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 10.2
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 20
  • Gear ratio: 5.2 and 5.3:1
  • IPT: N/A
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 335
  • All-metal frame
  • Anodized aluminum spool
  • Water-repellent coating

Although 13 FISHING is not a widely known brand, their Prototype TX is too good to be left behind. It has a rigid metallic body that matches the heavy-duty internals. As a result, the Prototype XT sits among the heaviest inshore spinning reels on this list. 

The Prototype TX is available in two sizes, 2 and 4. The maximum drag and line capacity are the two things that change between models. Sadly, we don’t know about IPT, as the supplier doesn’t offer much detail. 

Inside the reel, we find Japanese gears and carbon drag washers. The entire gearbox is corrosion-resistant. Plus, the water repellent coating helps evacuate water faster, decreasing the chances of it generating rust. On the other hand, the carbon drag matrix delivers up to 20 pounds of pressure. It might not be as smooth as other reels of similar size. But it is definitely enough for inshore fishing. 

The anodized aluminum spool houses up to 335 yards of line. You might need to add some mono backing if you plan on using braid. 

Pros: 

  • Sturdy, corrosion-resistant frame
  • The drag is easy to adjust 
  • The gears have a water repellent coating that helps to drain water faster

Cons: 

  • The spool is no braid-ready
  • Heavier than other reels of similar size and build
  • The drag is not that smooth for the price 

Abu Garcia Revo Inshore Spinning Reel

Features: 

  • Sizes: 30 and 60
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 14
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 24
  • Gear ratio: 5.6 and 6.2:1
  • IPT: 35
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 250
  • Graphite frame
  • Anodized aluminum spool and rotor

The Revo Inshore by Abu Garcia features a carbon fiber body and aluminum rotor. Both help to keep the weight down. But sacrifice power in the process. Graphite reels are not as strong as metallic ones. Thus, they tend to flex under heavy load. 

The anodized aluminum spool is braid-ready and holds up to 250 yards of line. While it is not as good as other reels, it is still enough for inshore fishing. 

The drag dial is very sensible, which makes it a little tricky to set the right amount of drag. Apart from that, the carbon drag system delivers up to 24 pounds of fairly consistent pressure. There are some jerks from time to time, something uncommon on reels at this price point. 

Six stainless steel bearings and gears are the ones keeping the reel running smoothly. Although the Abu Garcia is not the most smooth reel, it is not that bad either. It gets a little stiffer as the load increases. But nothing unmanageable.

Pros: 

  • Rust-proof body 
  • Lightweight
  • The bail wire wraps the line evenly around the spool

Cons: 

  • Performance drops when the reel in under load
  • The drag dial is very sensible 

Penn Conflict II Inshore Reel

Features: 

  • Sizes: 2000 to 5000
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 20
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 24
  • Gear ratio: 5.6 and 6.2:1
  • IPT: 38
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 270
  • Resin frame 
  • Anodized aluminum spool 
  • Stainless steel ball bearings 

Conflict II is different from what we’ve seen so far. It uses the RR30 proprietary resin for the body. As a result, the reel is resistant to corrosion right out of the box. Plus, remarkably light. 

The aluminum spool is braid-ready. You can wrap up to 270 yards of line into it. Plus, since it already has an anodized treatment, you don’t need to worry about corrosion. On the other hand, the line capacity rings come in handy when the line is running out. 

The HT-100 carbon fiber washers deliver up to 20 pounds of drag. It might not look like much when compared with other reels on this list. However, the drag on Conflict II works like a charm. We noticed no jerks as we operated it. 

The CNC gears tightly fit together, thus taking advantage of all the power you place on the oversized knob EVA foam knob. 

Pros: 

  • Many sizes available
  • Smooth drag, casting and retrieving 
  • Fast retrieve 
  • Large and comfortable knob

Cons: 

  • It needs constant maintenance to keep it running 
  • Delicate reel foot 
  • Stiff bail 

Cadence Stout Saltwater Spinning Reel

Features: 

  • Sizes: 1000 to 6000
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 10.4
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 30.9
  • Gear ratio: 5.2, 5.6, and 6.2:1
  • IPT: Up to 39
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 400
  • Braid-ready spool 

If you are looking for a reel that you can rely on without breaking the bank, then the Cadence Stout is a safe bet. It is available in five sizes, ranging from 1000 to 6000.

Line capacity, drag, and IPT increase as you move from 1000 to the 6000 model. All come with seven sealed stainless steel ball bearings. Cadence added one extra for the anti-reverse system. All of them work fine regardless if they are wet or not. 

The Cadence Stout inshore fishing reel features an aluminum body stem and a carbon cover. Therefore, you get double the protection against saltwater. Sadly, this also means that weight will increase as well.  

Internally the Cadence Stout offers a stainless steel main shaft, zinc alloy gear, and a sealed carbon drag system. The entire gearbox has a saltwater treatment. So, in theory, it shouldn’t rust. Plus, the oversized gears increase cranking power, decreasing the effort needed to reel a big fish. 

The braid-ready

Pros:

  • Great value for your money
  • Saltwater-proof components 
  • Impressive line capacity
  • Consistent casting and retrieving 

Cons: 

  • Heavy
  • The drag isn’t smooth 
  • The anti-reverse takes some time to kick in 

Daiwa Saltist Back Bay LT Spinning Reel

Features: 

  • Sizes: 3000 to 4000
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 10.6
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): 15.4
  • Gear ratio: 5.6:1
  • IPT: Up to 35.3
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 220
  • Graphite frame
  • Anodized aluminum braid-ready spool 
  • Sealed interior

The Saltist Back Bay LT is Daiwa’s solution to corrosion and abrasion. It has a durable and light aluminum body. The anodized treatment means that it won’t corrode, making it ideal for saltwater fishing.

The Saltist Back Bay LT is available in only two sizes, 3000 and 4000. Both offer the same maximum drag. IPT and line capacity are the only two things that change. The braid-ready aluminum spool holds up to 240 yards of line. It is not the greatest. Still, it will be enough for most anglers. 

Inside the reel, we find the Automatic Tournament Drag (ATD). The dual-viscosity grease lubricates the drag washers and delivers a silky smooth performance. Neither water nor dirt tempers with performance since the Saltis Back Bay LT feature a sealed interior. A magnetized oil seal keeps intrusions out. Thus, protecting the drag system, ball bearings, and gearbox.

The digitally engineered gears perfectly fit together. Plus, they are thicker than many others, which means that they are also more durable. 

Pros: 

  • Durable hardware 
  • Sealed interior
  • Light aluminum body
  • Smooth drag

Cons: 

  • Low capacity
  • Stiff bail wire 
  • Single gear ratio option

Inshore Spinning reels Buying Guide

Inshore fishing generally involves fishing in fairly shallow waters in or near the shore. You will be dealing with saltwater splashes and sand. This means that you need to get a sturdy spinning reel able to withstand such punishment. 

best inshore spinning reels

Thankfully, inshore spinning reels have the same parts and features as any spinning reels. Therefore, it will be easier for you to choose the right model if you already know these features. But don’t worry, we’ve taken the time to talk about each one. This way, all of you that don’t know how to choose an inshore fishing reel can make the most out of their money. So, let’s get started. 

Inshore Spinning Reel Construction

Like we said before, inshore fishing involves sand and saltwater. We all know what the second involves. Consequently, inshore spinning reels should feature corrosion-resistant housing. Any other will degrade over time to the point that they are no longer useful. 

That’s why you should go for an inshore spinning reel with anodized aluminum, metal, or graphite frame. Either of them is suitable for harsh saltwater environments. Naturally, each option has its pros and cons. For example, carbon fiber is lighter than metallic or aluminum reels. But it is not as strong. In contrast, metallic reels show little to no flex under load. But they are heavier as well. 

Weight might not look like a problem. But imagine casting and moving a heavy reel and rod combo for several hours. It will take its toll eventually. That’s why many brands try to cut weight using lighter materials. 

Line Capacity

Line capacity refers to how many yards of line you can spool into the reel. This will determine how far you can cast. But it also influences the kind of fish you can target. For example, big and aggressive fish require more yards of line. The same applies if you plan on casting from afar. 

So, how much line do I need for inshore fishing? Well, this is not an easy question. Most anglers agree that 200 yards are more than enough for inshore fishing. However, line capacity depends on two things: Reel size and line thickness. Large reels hold more yards of line. 

Nevertheless, capacity decreases as the fishing line grows thicker. So, make sure that you have enough room for the line you plan to use. 

Reel Spool

The spool is that thing where you wrap the line. Typically it is of the same material as the reel body. Therefore, make sure that it can handle the corrosion nature of saltwater. 

If possible, try to get a reel with a braid-ready spool. This way, you don’t need to add monofilament backing, wasting capacity in the process. This is especially important if you plan on using braid fishing lines. 

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio shows how many times the spool rotates per handle crank. It typically comes as an X:1 relation, where the X refers to the number of spool spins. 

A higher gear ratio means a faster retrieve. Sadly, you get less power per crank too. In contrast, lower gear ratios mean more power per crank at the expense of a slower retrieve. 

A common rule of thumb is to use a spinning reel with a high gear ratio when using fast-action lures like buzzbaits, swimbaits, poppers, and similar lures. 

Anything sitting between 4.8 to 6.2:1 is perfectly fine for inshore fishing.

But gear ratio is only one of two things that influences retrieve speed, as we will see in a minute. 

Inches Per Turn (IPT)

Retrieve speed, measured in inches per turn, determines how many inches of line you can retrieve per handle crank. Bigger spool and higher gear ratios mean that you can spool more inches of line. 

Like we said before, a fast retrieve is more suitable for fast-moving lures. They are more suitable for fast swimmers as well. This way, if the fish is swimming towards you, you will be able to reel faster, preventing slacks. 

Most inshore fishing reels have an IPT rating of at least 25.

Reel Drag

The drag is arguably the most important feature of any fishing reel. It helps to tire the fish out, thus making it easier to reel your catch afterward. But, how? 

The drag systems put pressure into the spool. This way, as the fish swims away, it will face some degree of pressure. Consequently, it will get tired to the point it can no longer fight back. 

Most fishing reels use felt, carbon, or metal drag washers. The first approach is typically cheaper. But performance is cheap as well. That’s why most brands use carbon fiber and metallic discs. They offer a much more smooth experience. But they are expensive as well. 

Maximum drag is as important as a smooth operation. Most inshore spinning reels yield between 15 to 30 pounds of stopping power. You can adjust it using the front dial located on top of the spool. 

How Much Drag Do I Use for Inshore Fishing?

It depends on the line you are using and the fish you are after. For example, if you are using a 20-pound test line, then you should set the drag to about 6 pounds. 

Inshore Spinning Reel Gears 

Along with ball bearings, the gears are responsible for keeping everything running smoothly. Therefore, choosing a reel with corrosion-resistant gears is crucial. It also pays to get a model with a sealed gearbox. This way, neither water nor sand will temper with performance. Naturally, this extra protection typically adds a couple of bucks to the price. 

Most inshore spinning reels use stainless steel, brass, zinc alloy, or magnesium gears. Any of them will do the trick. 

Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are two concentrical metallic rings with metal balls in-between them. Most inshore spinning reels feature stainless steel ball bearings. They are highly corrosion-resistant. But has a major flaw. 

If either sand, dirt, or dust gets inside the bearing, performance will not be the same. The bearings will get stiffer. Plus, they will erode quicker, to the point that they are no longer useful. 

Most anglers think that the more bearings, the better. Sadly, this is not always true. The quality of the bearing also plays a major role. 

For example, sealed ball bearings prevent dust and sand from entering inside the bearing. That’s why we suggest getting a reel with such hardware as long as you can afford it. 

Our Top Pick: PENN Fierce III

After a lot of testing and reviewing, we’ve found that the PENN Fierce offers the best performance of all options. It has a massive line capacity, powerful and smooth drag, braid-ready spool, and sturdy gears. 

The metallic body is strong and doesn’t flex, which translates into more cranking power. It handles saltwater without rusting, which is crucial on any inshore spinning reel. 

You also get double-shielded ball bearings. They remain smooth no matter how wet the reel is or how long you’ve been using it. 

The PENN Fierce III cast smoother and farther than any of the other reels on this list. That’s why it is ideal for those fishing from a boat and wishing to remain unnoticed by the underwater world. 

While the Fierce III is not the most affordable reel listed here. It is an investment that will pay itself in time.

FAQ

What Reel Size for Inshore Fishing? 

It depends on the fish you are after. Larger fish require stronger lines that can only be spooled on large spinning reels. For example, 4000 to 6000 spinning reels are suitable for 8 to 20-pound test lines. Go smaller if you don’t need such a thick fishing line. 

How Much Drag Do I Need for Inshore Fishing?

Again, it depends on the line that you plan on using. A good rule of thumb is to set the drag around 20 to 30% of the line’s test strength. 

We recommend getting a reel that offers 20 pounds of drag. This way, you can target a wide variety of fish. Anything lower than that will narrow your chances of getting a large fish. 

Can I Use Any Spinning Reel for Inshore Fishing?

In theory, you can. But we don’t recommend it. Regular spinning reels lack the much-needed saltwater protection to cope with the corrosive effects of sea environments. 

So, in short. We recommend getting a sturdy reel that copes with harsh environments. 

What Line Should I Use for Inshore Fishing?

Braid fishing lines are much more suitable for inshore fishing. That’s why more inshore spinning reels have braid-ready spools. 

Braid fishing lines are thinner, absorb less water, and have less line memory. These lines also show more UV resistance, which is key for inshore fishing. 

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I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started luremefish.com to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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