Best Ultralight Spinning Reels – 2019 Anger’s Review

When it comes to spinning reels, an ultralight reel is one of the best choices for frequent travelers and angling newcomers. While there is a multitude of great ultralight spinning reels on the market today, there are some that stand out over others.

This article will lay out some of the best options for spinning reels available today. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Ultralight Spinning Reels

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Okuma Helios HSX-30, 125 Yards-10 LB

  • Smooth casting and drag system.
  • Lightweight but sturdy and durable.
  • The best ultralight spinning reel on our list.
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Cadence CS8

  • Sleek and compact design.
  • Speedy retrievals and casts.
  • Lightweight and comfortable.
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Okuma Ceymar

  • Sizable line capacity.
  • Approved for use in saltwater.
  • Best pick for anglers on a budget.
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Pflueger President

  • Slow oscillation gearing .
  • Best pick on our list for trout fishing.
  • 10 ball bearing system allows for smooth casting and retrieval.
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KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reel

  • Nice special features.
  • Ergonomically designed.
  • The best reel on our list for under $50.
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Okuma Helios HSX-40, 165 Yards, 12 lb

  • Smooth operation.
  • Best reel for under $100.
  • Lightweight but durable.
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SHIMANO Sedona FI

  • Super reliable.
  • Solid and smooth drag system.
  • The smallest ultralight reel on our list.
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What is an Ultralight Spinning Reel and What is it Used For?

An ultralight spinning reel is a style of reel that is created to use in conjunction with an ultralight rod. They are often used as a travel option because they are very lightweight and easy to pack into small spaces. Ultralight spinning reels are a great angling tool for targeting smaller fish species and panfish, and they are also very user-friendly, making them a desirable pick for beginners.

Spinning reels work with the help of a rotor, rotating handle, and spool. The operator releases a bail arm, which keeps the line in place when the reel is not in use, and then casts, allowing the line to unspool freely.

How to Choose an Ultralight Spinning Reel

If you’re thinking about adding an ultralight spinning reel to your angling gear stash, it’s important to consider your options carefully. Every great spinning reel will possess some underlying features that make it the best possible set-up for catching fish. 

Drag 

Although you may not need as much power with an ultralight set-up, having a quality-made drag system can provide essential control in a fight with a feisty fish. The system should operate smoothly, and it should be easily adjustable to allow for moment-to-moment control. 

Material Quality 

Purchasing a reel created with high-quality materials is the easiest way to guarantee longevity. With an ultralight model, it’s best to seek out a reel that is created with a durable graphite body or graphite composite body. Graphite is very lightweight and durable when handled correctly. 

Weight and Size 

Having a well-balanced rod/reel combo is crucial to an angler’s success on the water. An ultralight spinning reel should be, as the name suggests, lightweight. If you already have an ultralight rod, ensure that your new reel will balance properly.

Quick Take - The Best Ultralight Spinning Reels

These are our recommendations for the best ultralight spinning reels:

  1. Okuma Helios HSX-30, 125 Yards-10 LB
  2. Cadence CS8
  3. Okuma Ceymar

Review of the Best Ultralight Spinning Reels  

In this section, we’ll identify some of the best ultralight spinning reels on the angling market in a variety of categories, ranging from style to budget options. 

Okuma Helios SX HSX-30 Lightweight Spinning Reel

Pros

  • Fairly powerful.
  • Great drag system.
  • Durable construction.
  • Provides smooth, long casts.
  • Lightweight carbon fiber frame.

Cons

  • Bail wire can stick.
  • Finish can scratch up easily.
  • Line may fly off quicker than expected when fully spooled.

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of the feedback for the Okuma Helios ultralight reel is overwhelmingly positive. Buyers were, for the most part, very pleased with their purchase and had nice things to say about its super smooth operation and quality-made drag system. Some users wished the outer finish was more scratch-resistant.

Why it Stands Out To Us

The Okuma Helios earns the top spot on our list for several different reasons, but mainly its overall solid performance as an ultralight reel. We were impressed with its excellent drag system and smooth-as-silk operation when it comes to casting and retrieval. It also comes at a fairly reasonable price, which we appreciate.

​Who Will Use This Most

This is a versatile choice that can be used in a variety of fishing settings, targeting a wide range of fish. We’d recommend this particular reel to anglers who are seeking something lightweight but powerful enough to pull all kinds of fish.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

While this reel doesn’t have any major flaws to correct, every product could use some improvement one way or another. One complaint that came up with this Okuma reel was the durability of the outer finish, which some reviewers said was scratch-prone. Adding a protective sealant coating to the outside could improve this issue.

​Bottom Line

Overall, this is an easy recommendation from us. We’re huge fans of the performance that the Helios reel can provide, especially when it comes to control and casting. This reel is a great pick for any angler looking for a versatile ultralight reel.

Runner-up:
Cadence CS8

Cadence CS8 Spinning Reel, Ultralight Fast Speed Premium Magnesium Frame Fishing Reel with 10 Low Torque Bearings Super Smooth Powerful Fishing Reel with 36 LBs Max Drag & 6.2:1 Spinning Reel

Pros

  • Even line lay.
  • Quick retrieval.
  • Smooth casting.
  • Attractive design.
  • Lightweight frame and handles.

Cons

  • Drag is fairly touchy.
  • Some quality control issues.
  • Anti-reverse is tough to engage.

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased the Cadence CS8 were happy with the majority of the qualities of this ultralight reel. Besides some problems reported with the adjustments of the drag and anti-reverse, buyers had positive things to say about the feel of the reel and its solid casting performance.

Why it Stands Out To Us

We’re big fans of the Cadence reel, and the reason it makes an appearance as the runner up on our favorites list is because of the consistent, reliable performance it provides on the water. We love the durable, lightweight carbon fiber frame, quick retrieval, and control the drag system provides.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a great option for anglers who are in search of consistency and reliability. Some ultralight reels cannot provide the durability that is needed for longevity, but such is not the case with the Cadence CS8. This freshwater reel has a powerful structure thanks to the thoughtful construction and high-quality material used in creation.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The main complaints that stood out among the reviews of the Cadence CS8 had to do with the adjustments of the drag system and the anti-reverse. Users said the drag was pretty touchy, which could result in unexpected adjustments with an unintended movement, and that the anti-reverse was difficult to engage.

Bottom Line

While the drag and anti-reverse adjustment settings could use some improvements, these minor issues shouldn’t overshadow the overall quality performance that the Cadence CS8 provides as an ultralight reel. This product is a solid pick.

Best For The Money:
 Okuma Ceymar

Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel Size 10 - 5Lb Max Drag Pressure

Pros

  • Speedy retrieval.
  • Light but durable.
  • Large line capacity.
  • Great value for the price.
  • Versatile; can be used in saltwater.

Cons

  • Clicking sound.
  • Drag is a bit stiff.
  • Reel foot flexes under pressure.

What Recent Buyers Report

The recent buyers of the Okuma Ceymar were mostly very pleased with its performance in comparison to the reel’s price. Purchasers were impressed with the value, which they say shined through in the small but mighty design, versatility, and large line capacity. Some users wished the drag was a little smoother.

Why it Stands Out To Us

Another Okuma pick on our list, the Ceymar is included because it is an excellent value for the low price it is offered at. Unlike some cheap alternatives on the market, Okuma doesn’t compromise the quality of materials used in construction, and this is reflected in the reel’s usability and performance.

Who Will Use This Most

This is another reel that earns major points for versatility. Its finish is corrosion-resistant, so it can be used in saltwater if that’s your preference. It’s also a perfect size and weight to handle a wide variety of fish species from larger bass or trout to small panfish.

What Could Be Improved and Why

While this wasn’t a complaint among all users, some reviewers wished that the drag was a little smoother. Some were disappointed that the drag system was stiff, while others just wanted more pressure power. The Ceymar could benefit from a higher-quality drag system.

Bottom Line

Aside from the minor issues with the drag system, the Okuma Ceymar is an awesome option for those anglers who may need a reel that can provide a little more bang to their buck. Not only is it high-performing and versatile, but it is a great overall value, too.

Best for Trout:
Pflueger President

Pflueger PRESSP30X President Spinning Fishing Reel

Pros

  • Very light frame.
  • Comfortable design.
  • Smooth drag system.
  • Large line capacity.
  • Powerful enough to handle larger fish.

Cons

  • Scratches easily.
  • Drag adjustment is inconvenient.
  • Requires consistent maintenance.

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased the Pflueger President had many praises to give. Buyers were fans of several aspects, mainly citing the smooth operation in casting and retrieval as the major draw. They also appreciated the action that is achievable with the President, but were unimpressed by the lack of unsealed components.

Why it Stands Out To Us

We admire Pflueger’s commitment to creating reliable angling equipment, and the President reel is a great example of their standards. This particular reel earned a spot on our list because it is super lightweight, can be used with ease, and also provides a smooth, powerful action for many different angling styles and techniques.

Who Will Use This Most

The Pflueger President is an awesome pick for trout anglers to pair on an ultralight combo. It is a perfect weight and has the necessary features to make it a great trout reel. It’s also super easy to use, which makes it a good pick for newbies to spinning reels or trout fishing in general. 

What Could Be Improved and Why

One issue that comes up in reviews of the President reel involves maintenance. Many reels on the angling market have begun to include sealed parts which prevent grit and grime from invading the inner workings—this reel lacks that. This necessitates periodic maintenance to ensure that the performance holds up to the original standards.

Bottom Line

Yet another reliable, consistent option on our list, the President reel from Pflueger can do great work for a wide range of anglers. We appreciate this stylish reel’s comfort, power, and abilities for trout angling.

Okuma Helios SX HSX-40 Lightweight Spinning Reel

Pros

  • Quality-made drag system.
  • Provides smooth, long casts.
  • Powerful enough to pull in large fish.
  • Created with a durable carbon fiber frame.
  • Lightweight, easy on the hands and wrists.

Cons

  • Bail wire tends to stick.
  • A little too fast for some.
  • Finish can scratch easily.

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased the Okuma Helios in the HSX-40 model gave very positive feedback about the reel’s performance. They were, for the most part, excited by the reel’s casting and retrieving abilities, which they said were very smooth and quick. The main complaint among reviewers had to do with the durability of the outer finish. 

Why it Stands Out To Us

We’re obviously big fans of Okuma, evident by the placement of three of their products on our favorites list. This option in particular is the slightly larger model of the same reel in our top spot. We love this reel’s awesome drag system and appreciate that the larger model has more power to bring in larger species of fish.

Who Will Use This Most

The HSX-40 Helio model is an incredibly versatile fishing reel that can be used not only for fishing small panfish, but also for many different types of species in a variety of settings. This is a great pick for anglers who have been looking for a lightweight reel that can handle the fight of a feisty fish.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Although there aren’t many flaws to correct with this Okuma reel, no product is perfect. The common complaint that arose with this particular model had to do with the outer finish, which some anglers said could scratch easily if not handled properly. This reel could use a protective coating on the outside to prevent this problem.

Bottom Line

All in all, we’re happy to recommend yet another reel from Okuma. We’re obviously big fans of the overall angling performance that can be achieved with the Helios HSX-40 model, thanks especially to the powerful drag system and smooth operation.

Smallest Ultralight Spinning Reel:
SHIMANO Sedona FI

Shimano SEDONA FI, Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel, 1000FI

Pros

  • Smooth drag system.
  • Durable construction.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Created with quality materials.
  • Consistent casting performance.

Cons

  • Bail wire is stiff.
  • No reverse-direction switch.
  • Drag pressure power is a little low.

What Recent Buyers Report

The recent buyers of the Shimano Sedona spinning reel were impressed by this small but mighty product. Many seemed pleasantly surprised that the reel could handle large fish and praised the durable, reliable construction. Some believed the drag pressure power could be a little higher. 

Why it Stands Out To Us

We enjoyed the Shimano Sedona reel for several different reasons. Like those who bought the product, we were surprised by the amount of power in such a small reel. We were also encouraged to place the reel on our list because of its consistent and reliable performance on the water. 

Who Will Use This Most

Because this reel is so compact and lightweight, it is a really great option for anglers who have had comfort issues with larger reels in the past. It would also be an excellent choice for anglers who travel often and need a lightweight reel to throw in a backpack or a suitcase. 

What Could Be Improved and Why

Although this reel does provide quite a bit of power for its small frame, the control could be improved by a drag system with a higher pressure power. This would provide better control in angling settings where there is a tense fight with a powerful fish. 

Bottom Line

Aside from the fact that this reel could benefit from a drag system with a higher pressure power, overall, this is still an awesome choice for anglers seeking out a compact yet sturdy reel. 

KastKing Centron Spinning Reel,Size 500 Fishing Reel

Pros

  • Braided-line ready.
  • Corrosion-resistant.
  • Stylish and fun design.
  • Excellent value for the price.
  • Comfortable on the hands and wrists.

Cons

  • Drag can be sticky.
  • No automatic bail closure.
  • Handle is a little small for some.

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who bought the KastKing Summer & Centron spinning reels were very pleased with the quality of the reel, especially when considering its super affordable price. Buyers complemented the sturdy feel of the reel and also appreciated the stylish design. There were some complaints about the drag system, handle size, and bail wire. 

Why it Stands Out To Us

We really appreciate KastKing’s commitment to high-quality products at an affordable price. The Summer & Centron reels are a great example of the company’s standards, and their quality shines through in more ways than one. We’re mainly impressed with the well-constructed designs and pulling power they provide. 

Who Will Use This Most

This reel is under $50, an unfortunately rare price in the world of fishing reels. That being said, this is an excellent choice for anglers who may need a more budget-friendly pick. The Summer & Cetron reels have all the qualities of a luxury reel, at less than half the price. 

What Could Be Improved and Why

This would benefit from a smoother drag system. Some users complained that their drag and adjustment lever tended to stick, which can cause serious issues in the fight with a tough fish. The handle may also feel too small for some anglers if they are not familiar with KastKing designs. 

Bottom Line

Anglers on a budget need not look further than the KastKing Summer & Centron reels. Although there are some improvements that could be made, it doesn’t defeat the fact that these are a great pair of reels that take a step in making angling a little more accessible. 

Pros and Cons of Ultralight Spinning Reels

Ultralight spinning reels are a great option for many anglers, but to make sure they’re the best option for your fishing preferences, think about the advantages and disadvantages of buying a brand new reel.

Pros

  • Very easy to use, making them a great choice for anglers who are new to the sport, kids, or anyone who wants a complication-free fishing trip. 
  • Their lightweight, compact design makes them comfortable on the wrists and arms throughout a long day of fishing, as there is no unnecessary weight to cause fatigue. 
  • A great option as travel gear, as they are easy to pack down into a small space like a hiking backpack or travel suitcase.
  • Created with sensitive designs that can detect the bites of smaller panfish. 

Cons

  • Ultralight spinning reels are not built to handle trophy fish. They face potential damage when up against fish that are too powerful. 
  • Not the most versatile in terms of size when it comes to reels.

Benefits of Investing in a Great Ultralight Spinning Reel

If you are feeling hesitant to spend the money to get a great ultralight spinning reel, we don’t blame you! It’s quite the investment, and shouldn’t be a purchase that is taken lightly. Although you may feel tempted to skip quality in favor of price, here are a couple of reasons why you should consider the more “high-end” reels. 

Durability and Longevity 

Ultralight spinning reels that are created with high-quality materials and a thoughtful construction are much more likely to be durable in the face of bumps, bruises, and unexpectedly powerful fish. Cheap reels are often made with some plastic elements, which are likely to break under pressure. Overall, an investment in a quality reel now will likely be long-lasting and totally worth it.  

Ease of Use 

Reels that are a little more expensive are often worth it because of their thoughtful construction and design. High-end reels will have special features like level wind, a powerful drag system, and more that can make the angling process smooth and easy. 

Comfort 

More and more, higher-end reels include elements that are ergonomically designed, allowing for much greater comfort throughout a day of angling. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article provided you with some great options for your first (or fifth!) ultralight spinning reel. Above all, look for a reel that is suited to your angling style and will last for years to come. Happy fishing! 

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