The Best Spinning Reel Under $100 in 2021 Reviewed

UPDATED 29 JANUARY 2021

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by Bill Laney

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If you’re looking for a new spinning reel, we suggest looking for a reel in the $100 dollar range. At this price range, you can find reels that are great quality, and will perform well for most kinds of fishing, without being too expensive.

But before you decide on which reel to buy, it pays to check out all the top models, since the value and the features you get for the same price can vary quite a lot. In order to make the choice easier, we’ve reviewed the top 11 spinning reels under 100, so you can compare their strengths and features to make the best buying decision.

 

The 11 best spinning reels that cost less than $100 in 2021 compared

Model nameImagePriceBall bearingsGear ratioRetrieve rate Max drag (lb)Weight (oz)Our verdict
1. Daiwa BGDaiwa BG75.3:1 – 5.7:128.3″ – 53.3″4.4 – 338.5 – 30Best overall performance
2. KastKing Sharky IIIKastKing Sharky III115.2:126.2″ – 33.4″13 – 396.9 – 10.5Best budget option
3. Pflueger SupremePflueger Supreme95.2:1 – 6.2:122.8″ – 38.6″8 – 14 6.6 – 9.6Best lightweight model
4. Pflueger PresidentPflueger President105.2:120.2″ – 31.6″6 – 147.5 – 11.5Best option for beginners
5. Penn Battle IIPenn Battle II65.2:1 – 6.2:122″ – 44″9 – 308.1 – 30.2Best option for saltwater
6. Shimano SedonaShimano Sedona44.6:1 – 6.2:126″ – 41″7 – 247.6 – 10.6Runner up best overall performance
7. Penn Pursuit IIIPenn Pursuit III55.3:1 – 6.2:133″ – 43″10 – 259.8 – 29.1Runner up best budget option
8. Okuma TrioOkuma trio high speed106.0:132.6″ – 39.8″16 – 2010.4 – 14.7Solid runner up
9. Shimano SaharaShimano Sahara55.0:1 – 6.2:129″ – 41″2.5 – 117.6 – 10.6Solid runner up
10. Penn Fierce IIIPenn Fierce III55.2:1 – 6.2:122″ – 44″9 – 307.8 – 28.7Solid runner up
11. Abu Garcia Elite MaxAbu Garcia Elite Max75.6:1 – 6.2:128.2″ – 38″14 – 187.9 – 13.3Solid runner up

 

The table above compares the most important specifications of the top 11 models side by side. 

Note: all these reels come in a range of sizes, and some of the largest sizes cost a little more than $100. So for the purpose of this review, we focused on the small to midsize models, since we’re assuming that those will cover most spin fishing needs. If you require an extra large sized spinner reel, you might want to consider models that cost more than $100.

Now let’s take a look at each model in more detail:

  • Daiwa BG
  • Kastking Sharky 3
  • Pflueger Supreme
  • Pflueger President
  • Penn Battle 2
  • Shimano Sedona FL
  • Penn Pursuit 3
  • Okuma Trio High Speed
  • Shimano Sahara
  • Penn Fierce 3
  • Abu Garcia Elite Max

 

Detailed review of the best spinning reel under 100

1. Daiwa BG

Daiwa BG

This spinning reel impressed us the most out of all the models we reviewed for this article. In addition to its smooth action, it has a ton of power behind it to handle big fish.

It casts very smoothly, and retrieves fast, which makes it excellent for high speed spinning. In addition, the aluminum spool and “Hard Bodyz” construction makes it highly durable and corrosion resistant, and one of the best reels for saltwater fishing and other extreme conditions.

Features:

  • Black anodized aluminium housing (“Hard Bodyz”)
  • High line capacity
  • Instant anti-reverse gear mechanism
  • Waterproof carbon drag system
  • Braided line ready spool

The Daiwa BG line of reels is tough as nails due to the black anodized aluminium construction,  and it’s strong enough to handle strong fish, such as tuna and sailfish, making it a favorite for offshore anglers.

 

2. Kastking Sharky 3

KastKing Sharky III

This spinning reel is bulkier than most of the others reviewed here, and offers excellent value at just over $50. The construction is highly durable and corrosion resistant, which enables it to withstand regular exposure to saltwater.

Features:

  • Machined aluminum spool
  • 10 plus 1 rotor bearing
  • Lightweight and tough graphite construction
  • Braid ready aluminium spool 
  • Instant lock anti-reverse mechanism

This powerful reel has smooth action as well as being powerful enough to handle fighting big fish. It’s a great spinning reel for anyone who’s looking for high quality without breaking the budget.

 

3. Pflueger Supreme

Pflueger Supreme

The 9 ball bearings of the Supreme make line retrieval action buttery smooth, and also give precise speed control for fishing lures at varied speeds, which makes the Pflueger Supreme the best model in this price category.

It’s a little lighter than most other spinning reels, and this is very helpful if you want to cast a lot without wearing out your casting arm. The extremely smooth drag is great for battling strong fish that like to do explosive runs after taking the lure. The lightweight combined with the smooth action drag is great for smallmouth bass fishing.

Features:

  • 9 stainless steel ball bearings
  • Magnesium ultralight body and rotor
  • Oil and felt drag system with carbon inlay
  • Braid ready spool 
  • Aluminium handle

This reel provides very consistent and easily controlled drag pressure. More and more anglers prefer to use braided line, and the braid ready spool of the Pflueger Supreme allows braid line to be tied directly to the spool. Together with the featherlight stainless steel body, the aluminium handle is highly durable, which allows the Supreme to handle wear and tear extremely well.

See also: Pflueger Supreme vs President.

 

4. Pflueger President

Pflueger President

At a price point below $60, the Pflueger President series is cheaper than most other reels reviewed here, and due to it’s extremely high value for money, it is perhaps one of the most popular spinning reels for a small budget, and a top choice reel under 100.

Among its top qualities is it’s extremely high durability, enabling it to handle a lot of abuse while keeping it’s smooth casting and retrieval performance.

Features:

  • 7-10 ball bearings (depending on the model)
  • Lightweight carbon body and rotor
  • Multi-disc sealed oil felt drag system
  • Aluminium handle with soft-touch knob
  • Braid-ready spool

The high number of ball bearings make the line retrieval operation of this spinning reel super smooth, and the light weight makes it ideal for long days of fishing without experiencing casting fatigue. All in all, it’s hard to go wrong with a Pflueger President. 

See also: Pflueger President vs President XT.

 

5. Penn Battle 2

Penn Battle II

There are good reasons why the Penn Battle II is the favorite of many spin fishers. The full metal body construction makes it highly durable and corrosion resistant, while its action is both strong and smooth, which is great for fighting big fish.

Features:

  • Full metal body, sideplate and rotor
  • 5 stainless steel bearings
  • HT-100 dual force carbon fiber drag
  • Quick set anti-reverse mechanism
  • Braid ready superline spool with line capacity rings

The aluminium spool and full metal construction is ideally suited for durability and extreme punishment, including regular saltwater exposure. In addition, the carbon fiber drag system is reliable and easily adjustable while battling a strong fish. For these reasons, many sea anglers swear by the Penn Battle II when it comes to spin fishing.

See also: Best Penn spinning reel reviewed.

 

6. Shimano Sedona FL

Shimano Sedona

While most Shimano spinning reels cost more than $100, the Sedona FL offers great quality at less than that. It’s the only lower end priced Shimano reel that includes Shimano’s famous HAGANE gearing. The drag power is beefed up, which allows for the casting of bigger bait and catching bigger fish. In addition, the light weight helps to reduce casting fatigue on long fishing days.

Features:

  • Cold forged HAGANE gears (normally reserved for Shimano’s high end reels)
  • Aluminum spool
  • Propulsion line management system for longer casting distances
  • Super lightweight Magnumlite rotor 

The Sedona FL embodies the core qualities of Shimano spinning reels: high quality materials, light weight, and superior performance. It casts like a dream due to the propulsion line management mechanism, and retrieves mono line very smoothly. At this price point, it’s harder to get higher value for your money.

 

7. Penn Pursuit 3

Penn Pursuit III

The Penn Pursuit III is a little cheaper than the Pflueger Supreme and the Abu Garcia Revo X, and offers great quality for the price. It’s a highly versatile, solid spinning reel with a high line capacity, that can be used both for freshwater and saltwater spin fishing.

Features:

  • Lightweight graphite frame
  • High line capacity
  • Corrosion resistant aluminium handle
  • Instant anti-reverse bearing

The reel packs a lot of power, which makes the Pursuit III perfect for fighting powerful saltwater fish like tuna or striped bass. In addition, the anti-reverse mechanism helps to set the hook properly whenever a fish grabs the bait.

 

8. Okuma Trio High Speed

Okuma trio high speed

With 9 bearings, this high speed spinning reel feels ultra smooth during line retrieval. The drag is strong, but also sensitive to small adjustments.

Features:

  • Dual force drag with a multi-disc oiled felt drag system
  • 9 plus 1 bearings
  • Quick set anti-reverse mechanism
  • Hybrid aluminium and graphite body design
  • Corrosion resistant coating

The dual force drag uses both surfaces of the line spool to generate maximum drag pressure, which increases both smoothness and adjustability. This enables precise modulation of the line pressure to fight strong fish like striped bass and catfish. 

When a big fish takes the bait, the Okuma Trio allows it to run without breaking the line, but when that fish heads for an underwater obstacle, it’s easy to use the max drag to steer it away from danger.

The corrosion resistant coating makes it extremely durable even when regularly exposed to saltwater, and one of the best choices for sea anglers. 

 

9. Abu Garcia Elite Max

Abu Garcia Elite Max

The Abu Garcia Elite Max is extremely fluid to handle, with smooth casting and retrieval action, and the rocket line management system enables both long range casting and high accuracy.

Features:

  • 6 plus 1 bearings
  • Super light C6 carbon body
  • Rocket line management system
  • Carbon matrix hybrid drag system
  • Aluminium handle

This spinning reel is both super lightweight and highly durable, and at less than $80 priced highly competitively. At the same time the carbon matrix is smooth and consistent, and strong enough to handle big fish.

 

10. Penn Fierce 3

Penn Fierce III

This lightweight reel delivers very solid performance. The 4 + 1 ball bearings give a very smooth line retrieval action, and the metal body is very light which is great for long days of spin fishing. It’s also very user friendly and easy to operate for entry level anglers.

Features:

  • 4 plus 1 bearings
  • Carbon fiber drag washers
  • Full metal body and sideplate
  • Quick-set anti-reverse mechanism
  • Line control system on the spool

The Penn Fierce 3 spinning reel is a smooth and lightweight spinning reel that’s perfect for freshwater and nearshore spinning. The drag is smooth and easily controllable, which is great if you do hook a larger fish. At this price point, it offers the best bang for your buck.

 

11. Shimano Sahara

Shimano Sahara

This shimano reel comes with some of the technology that’s normally only found in high-end shimano reels, including the propulsion line management system and the one-handed casting system.

Features:

  • 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
  • Quick-fire one handed casting system
  • Lightweight graphite construction
  • Propulsion line management system
  • Varispeed oscillation

A lightweight, smooth and durable reel. It’s reliable and tough, and can handle the punishment of saltwater fishing. It has excellent casting behavior and line management properties, and is great value for money in this price class.

 

Buying guide: how to choose a spinning reel

If you’re looking to treat yourself to a new reel, the first thing you need to do is decide on your budget.  Following that, the second step is to decide what spinning reel size is best for your purpose. After that, you can focus on the features you should be looking for in the spinning reel parts.

Best spinning reel under 100 for bass

Out of all the fishing reels listed above, we found that the Abu Garcia Revo X is our favorite model for bass fishing. 

It’s both lightweight and has an incredibly smooth retrieval action, which is great for long sessions of spinning for bass.

Correct gear ratio

The best gear ratio is dependent on what kind of fishing you’re looking to do. To put it simply, gear ratio refers to the number of rotations made by the aluminum bail wire around the reel’s spool in a single rotation by the reel handle. For instance, a reel with a gear ratio of 5:1 means that its bail wire rotates 5 times for every single rotation made by the handle. In case you’d like to use lures requiring faster retrieves, go for reels with a greater gear ration. 

A gear ratio of 4:1 is on the slow side, whereas a gear ratio of 6:1 is on the fast side. For most spin fishing purposes, your best bet would be to go for reels that have a gear ratio of 5:1.

High quality ball bearings

Don’t worry – we won’t bore you to death with the details. However, keep in mind that the line retrieval actions of a reel usually becomes smoother as the number of ball bearings increases.

Many pros recommend going for a fishing reel that has the maximum number of ball bearings, but this strategy can quickly become costly. Instead, we recommend going for reels that have at least 6-7 ball bearings. This is the sweet spot – anything more than that is not strictly necessary for most purposes. The difference in smoothness between reels that have more ball bearings than 6 or 7 is often not that dramatic.  

Do you want a freshwater or saltwater spinning reel?

Are you planning to fish in saltwater bodies or freshwater bodies? This is a major factor that should be taken into account when looking for the best spinning reel under $100. As a rule of thumb, saltwater conditions require more durable and corrosion-resistant reels, compared to freshwater spin fishing.

A saltwater spinning reel should be constructed with highly durable materials, such as stainless steel and forged aluminum. These fishing reels can take even the toughest punishment during saltwater fishing. However, they are usually more costly compared to freshwater spinning reels.

Quickset anti-reverse mechanism

Go for spinning reels whose handles don’t have any backwards rotation. If your handle moves even slightly backward, that can affect your reel’s accuracy and power, thus affecting your chances of setting the hook when a fish takes your lure.

There shouldn’t be any sort of reverse motion affecting the handle when you try to pause the reel. You can test this by simply moving the reel’s handle forward, followed by reversing it gently. In case the handle starts backing up, put it back where you found it.

Another thing to look for in the reel handle is that it should be long enough and with a large knob. This makes it easier to hold on to even when it gets wet, or your hands are greasy. 

High quality drag

The reel’s drag system transmits the line pressure onto the fish, but at the same time helps to release line if you are fighting a fierce fish capable of breaking your line. A high-quality drag system should work smoothly to release line in a controlled, consistent manner when a fish dives or runs with full power. Ensure the reel doesn’t  jerk or stall while releasing the line. Any drag that stutters is a bad choice.

Many experienced spin fishing pros suggest using a front-drag system, since it makes it easier to adjust your drag settings quickly while battling a big fish.

Once you’ve purchased your reel, you are ready to add line to it, and for this our step by step guide on spooling a spinning reel might come in handy.

 

Conclusion

Follow the tips above while choosing the best spinning reel under 100, and you’ll soon have a reliable, top-notch spinning reel that’s perfect for all your spin fishing requirements!

If you’d like to compare these reels to more affordably priced models, take a look at our review of the top spinning reel under $50. Also, if you’re interested in lightweight applications, have a look at our review of the top ultralight spinning reels.

Finally, if you’re thinking about buying a new reel, be sure to check out our discussion of other fishing reel types, the pros and cons of spinning reel vs baitcaster, as well as our review on the best baitcasting reel under $100.

 

Additional resources:

Best spinning reel under 100Best baitcasting reel under $100Baitcaster vs spinningBest spinning reel under 50How to spool a baitcasterBaitcaster reel partsBaitcaster birds nest - how to avoid it & how to fix itSpinning Reel SizesBest ultralight spinning reelBest rod and reel combo for catfishBest saltwater spinning combo under 100Pflueger president vs trionPenn fierce vs battleZebco 808 vs 888Shimano Sedona vs SaharaPenn squall vs fathomPflueger President 20 vs 25Zebco bullet vs omega proPenn battle 2 vs daiwa bgDaiwa BG 3000 vs 3500Penn spinfisher vs battleWhat are spinning reels used forPflueger president xt vs presidentZebco 202 vs 33Best baitcasting reel for beginnersBest round baitcasting reelDaiwa Tatula 100 vs 150Pflueger supreme vs presidentBest zebco reelBaitcaster gear ratioBest Penn spinning reelBest abu garcia baitcasterSmallest baitcasting reel