Like a fine watch, a fishing reel is a precision instrument. Using a saltwater fishing reel is like taking the fine watch and throwing it into the ocean, then running it through sand and mud. Saltwater fishing reels face the worst weather and water conditions. To survive the abuse, saltwater reels combine corrosion-resistant materials with a sturdy design.
In the past, beefing up a reel for saltwater meant adding weight and bulk. But a big, heavy reel is no fun to use. The latest generation of saltwater reels cut ounces and slim the profile without sacrificing durability and performance.
Concept TX GEN II
$300 | 13fishing.com
Designed with guidance from Gulf Coast wade fishing experts, 13 Fishing’s newest Concept TX GEN II (hand modelled above) is built for constant exposure, even regular dunking, in saltwater followed by a roll in the sand and mud. To stand up to this mistreatment, 13 Fishing started with a corrosion-proof carbon body. Precision cut gears, 12 ball bearings and instant anti-reverse allow the advanced polymer drag to produce 20 pounds of drag in a palm-sized reel.
To cast the maximum distance and avoid a massive backlash tangle, the six-way braking system controls spool speed. Since saltwater reels require extra maintenance, the Concept TX GEN II has an easy-access side plate for cleaning and adjusting the reel. My favorite feature is the cork handle knobs that are soft and grippy, especially when wet.
The new Concept TX GEN II is certified by Texas wade fishermen and it will stand up to anything a kayak angler can dish out.
Procyon MQ LT
$179 | daiwa.us
Saltwater anglers require a strong reel with durable components, but they also need a sensitive reel that is light enough to use all day. Daiwa answers the call with the Procyon MQ LT spinning reel. The Procyon MQ LT cuts weight and bulk without cutting corners.
The Procyon starts with a unique one-piece body to reduce the size and improve water resistance. Downsized, digitally cut gears are smaller and stronger while a hollow bail and shaved rotor reduce rotating weight. To add power, digitally cut gears mesh solidly to avoid slipping. Daiwa’s advanced drag system engages instantly and stays consistent throughout the fight.
The Procyon MQ LT comes in sizes down to 1,000, small enough for finesse fishing finicky speckled trout and striped bass and tough enough to beat a raging redfish.
$249 | okumafishingusa.com
Building a casting reel for saltwater fishing is like building a sports car for offroad racing. The compact reels with a long cast and pinpoint control require tight tolerances and precision engineering. To balance power with performance, Okuma’s new Komodo SS is built bulletproof.
The list of corrosion-resistant stainless steel components includes gears, shaft and bearings. Added to the cast aluminum body and machined aluminum spool, the Komodo SS is the complete saltwater package. To make a long, accurate cast, the six-pin casting brake keeps the spool from spinning too fast.
With seven models, available in left and right hand versions, there is a Komodo SS for inshore to offshore fishing.
$499 | pennfishing.com
After a century in the tackle business, PENN is the authority on saltwater reels. Maybe that’s why the iconic company named their top-of-the-line spinning reel the Authority. To perform at the highest level of saltwater fishing, a spinning reel needs to pull out all the tricks.
The Authority is intended for serious fishermen and professional anglers who demand reliable tackle. To stand up to daily beatings and repeated exposure to salt and sand, the Authority has a sealed IPX waterproof body and carbon fiber drag system. The full-metal body houses machined stainless steel gears and a fully suspended pinion to further beef up the premium reel. Twelve stainless bearings in the body and one in the handle ensure smooth performance in the roughest conditions.
With the Authority, PENN is stepping into the ring with heavyweight bruisers like bluefin tuna, yellowtail, amberjack and giant trevally. After a century of experience, PENN’s newest reel is up for the challenge.
$299 | fish.shimano.com
Shimano has established a reputation in the big game spinning reel world, and the Saragosa SW brings some of their best features at a reasonable price. The Saragosa series covers reels from 5,000 for cobia, yellowtail and striped bass to an incredible 25,000 for the biggest tuna and billfish.
In addition to advanced corrosion-resistant alloys and an all-metal construction, the Saragosa SW’s body is IPX8 waterproof. The drag and spool are also sealed to block out saltwater and sand. A big fish is brutal on a reel’s drag—the Saragosa’s premium carbon fiber drag washers dissipate heat to maintain even pressure throughout the fight.
Fishing line passes easily off the spool, making a spinning reel perfect for light lures and live baits. Anglers casting jigs or live eels at cobia or dangling live baits to sailfish and king mackerel appreciate trouble-free casting with a big saltwater spinning reel.
Next-generation reels are light, compact and tough enough for sand, salt and the biggest fish. | Feature photo: Patrick Hayes