What Are The Top Saltwater Spinning Combos Under $100?
UPDATED 14 MAY 2023
by Robert Ceran
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Are you looking for an affordable saltwater spinning combo, but not sure which one is right for you?
My team and I tested the most popular saltwater spinning combos on the market, and evaluated them on their ability to throw a range of lure sizes and catch inshore fish species such as redfish, snook, sheepshead, and bluefish.
Based on our testing, here are our picks for the best saltwater spinning combos under 100:
- Best overall: Penn Battle III Combo
- Best lightweight option: Cadence CC5 Combo
- Best heavy option: Penn Spinfisher VI Combo
- Most durable: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Camo Combo
- Best for surf fishing: Daiwa D-Wave Saltwater Combo
Best saltwater spinning combo under $100 in 2023 reviewed
If you plan to buy a saltwater spinning combo from the list that we tested, make sure you choose the right size for your purpose. Avoid choosing an overpowered rod for catching small fish, or an underpowered rod for tarpon or big snook.
In case you’re not sure what kind of saltwater fishing you’re going to be doing, the best option is to choose one of the medium sized options, which should leave you plenty of options to try.
Now let’s dive into the details and take a closer look at the test results of each of these combos:
1. Penn Battle III Spinning Combo
This is a great option in the medium size category, and in our opinion also the top performer overall.
The Battle 2 combination is bolstered by the superior quality of the Battle 2 reel. If you buy this reel on its own, it already costs more than 100 dollars. But as part of the medium heavy combination which includes the 3000 size Battle 2, you get an excellent deal with this package.
The Battle 2 has a full metal body, rotor and side plates, and during our testing we found that this is the reason for its legendary durability, which is absolutely essential for saltwater fishing. And if you choose the medium heavy version of this saltwater fishing pole combo, you can use it for both inshore and boat fishing.
With 25 lb maximum drag power, the Battle 2 has the most drag power of all the options on this list, and our testing showed that this is easily strong enough to handle some of the bigger fighters you can hook into from a boat, including tarpon, snook, spanish mackerel, big redfish, and snapper.
Based on our test results, this is overall the best saltwater spinning combo.
For more information on the Battle II reel, check our our review of the Best Penn spinning reels.
- One piece rod
- Aluminium oxide guides
- Fast action tip is great for casting
- Powerful drag with 25 lb max pressure
- Gear ratio: 5.2:1
- 7’ medium size rod with 300 reel
2. Cadence CC5 Spinning Combo
This high quality combination is the best light weight option in this list. With a 2000 size reel this is definitely on the lightweight side when it comes to saltwater fishing, but when we put it to the test we found that it’s a great inshore fishing combo if you’re going to be fishing canals and estuaries for small fish like pinfish, flounder, and speckled trout.
During our testing we found that you can use the Cadence CC5 for catching redfish inshore, though it’s definitely too small if you want to catch big reds from a boat.
The model comes with 8 ball bearings, generating incredibly smooth retrieval action, and making it a pure pleasure to use. It’s also very lightweight due the carbon composite material of the frame and side plates.
Overall, our testing showed that this is the best inshore spinning combo.
- Two piece rod
- Medium power carbon blank
- Fast action tip great for casting
- Ideal for mono
- 6’6” medium size rod with 2000 reel
3. Mitchell Avocet RZT Spinning Combo
This is the best budget medium weight option on this list, and at its price you can get excellent value with this top performing combination.
Similar to Penn, Mitchell fishing reels are famous for their quality and durability, and our test results showed that this is exactly what you need in order to handle the punishing environment of saltwater fishing. This model comes with 8 ball bearings, and instant anti reverse.
When we tested it, we found that the multi disc drag system is powerful enough to handle quite big fish, and has 14 lb maximum drag pressure.
- Two piece rod
- Handle with split cork grips
- Stainless steel guides
- Medium power graphite blank
- Gear ratio: 5.1:1
- 6’6″ medium size rod with 2000 reel
4. Penn Spinfisher VI Spinning Combo
The Penn Spinfisher VI combo is the best saltwater fishing rod and reel combo for heavy applications, and is very similar in power to the Daiwa D-Wave. The 5500 size reel comes with a 5.6:1 gear ratio, which is great for fishing with heavy lures, rigs, and weights.
The medium heavy power rod has extra fast action, which can be a great choice for casting lures. With 6 ball bearings it has incredibly smooth action. This size works great with either fluorocarbon or braid, depending on your preference.
When we put it to the test, we found that this combo is ideal for boat fishing, where the chance of hooking a big fish is much higher than fishing from shore. Also, if you’re going to be fishing in deep water of 70 foot depth or more, you need a model with bigger line capacity. This option is the best for catching big saltwater species like tarpon, snook, and bull red drum.
- One piece rod
- Dura guides
- Graphite composite blank
- Highly durable reel with IPX6 waterproofing
- Gear ratio: 5.6:1
- 7’ medium size rod with 5000 reel
5. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Camo Spinning Combo
The rod of The Ugly Stik Camo is well known among saltwater anglers for its toughness and durability, as well as the ability to handle big, strong fish. In addition to strength, the clear tip is also sensitive enough for subtle applications.
The 3000 reel size puts this option at the medium part of the scale in terms of saltwater spin fishing. The Ugly Stik Camo provides lots of power for heavy saltwater spin fishing at a very affordable price, and based on our testing, this is our top heavyweight choice on this list.
For more information on Ugly Stik rods, check out our review on Ugly Stik GX2 vs Elite.
- Two piece rod
- Durable EVA grips
- Stainless steel guides
- Graphite fiberglass blank
- Lightweight graphite reel with aluminum spool
- 6’6″ medium size rod with 3000 reel
6. Daiwa D-Wave saltwater Spinning Combo
For the Daiwa D-Wave we recommend the 7’ rod with 4000 reel, making this one of the heavier options on the list.
This model has 1 plus 1 ball bearings, which is not that much compared to the other models on this list, but it comes with a gyro spin balanced rotor. The two piece rod is made of fiberglass, making it incredibly durable.
Overall, we recommend this combination as the best one for surf fishing after we put it to the test.
- Two piece rod
- EVA foam grips
- Aluminum oxide guides
- Highly durable fiberglass blank
- 7’ medium size rod with 4000 reel
How to choose the best saltwater rod and reel combo
If you’re looking for the best saltwater fishing combo, the first thing you need to do is figure out what species of fish you’re going to target, as well as the tactics you’ll be using. In other words, the best saltwater rod and reel combo for your purposes depends on the type of fishing you’re planning to do.
If you’re intending to fish in canals and estuaries, our testing revealed that you should choose one of the lightweight inshore spinning combos on the list above, since this will give you the most enjoyable experience catching fish that don’t grow to huge sizes, like pinfish, sheepshead, and speckled trout.
On the other hand, if you’re going to do pier and harbor fishing, there’s a good chance of running into some bigger fish like snook, redfish, and jacks. In that case you should get one of the medium sized options, since they have enough power to handle these kinds of fish, and also work well with braid.
Finally, if you’re going to fish from a boat, there’s a good chance you could hook some big redfish, spanish mackerel, or even tarpon. If that’s the case, our tests showed that it’s best to get one of the heavy options. That way you’ll have enough power to handle even trophy sized fish. The bigger sizes are also useful if you want to fish in deep water of more than 70 feet, since you need more line capacity for that.
Also, if you’re going to be fishing piers or harbors for snook and jack close to structure, such as bridge columns, you should also consider getting one of the heavy options, since you want to be able to stop a big fish from swimming around the structure and breaking the line.
This concludes our review of the top saltwater fishing combo under 100 dollars. Hopefully, you’ve found a good model for your purposes, and will put it to good use. Tight lines and see you on the water!
If you’re considering getting a rod and reel separately, be sure to check out our reviews of the best spinning reels under $100.
Methods and gear used for testing
For consistent testing results, we tested each of these spinning combos under the same conditions in Tampa Bay. We spooled each spinning reel with 25 lb test Power Pro Braided Line, and we tested them with 1/2 to 3/4 oz swimbaits in 7 to 39 feet of water.