Best Spinning Reel Under 100 Dollars: Are the Top Budget Reels Worth It?

Last Updated on December 28, 2022

We independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.

If you’re in the market for a new spinning reel (not to be confused with a spincast reel), there are plenty of great options available for less than $100. The best spinning reels under $100 will combine characteristics like smooth action, durability, and a strong drag system. 

As an angler with more than two decades of experience using various spinning reels from the top brands in the industry, I have some suggestions that will help you navigate through the search process.

I’ve combed through most of the top models to compile this list of the best spinning reels under 100 dollars that are currently available in today’s market.

In my opinion, the best spinning reel under 100 dollars is the Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel. Keep reading to find out why!

Comparison Table – Best Spinning Reels Under $100

ImageProductRatingPrice
Best Overall
Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel

Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel

Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
Weight: 8.8 ounces
Bearings: 4+1
Line Capacity: 6/200, 8/140, 10/120 – 10/150, 15/145, 30/100

9.7
Amazon
Most Budget Friendly
Abu Garcia Elite Max

Abu Garcia Elite Max

Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
Weight: 8.5 ounces
Bearings: 6+1
Line Capacity: 225/6 175/8 140/10

9.1
Amazon
Runner-up
Pflueger President Spinning Reel

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
Weight: 7.3 ounces
Bearings: 9+1
Line Capacity: 200/2, 100/4, 80/6

9.4
Amazon
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
Weight: 10.8 ounces
Bearings: 6+1
Line Capacity: 8/240, 10/200, 12/170

8.8
Amazon
Penn Battle II

Penn Battle II

Gear Ratio:6.2:1
Weight: 19.8 ounces
Bearings: 5+1
Line Capacity: 225/12, 200/15, 135/20

8.6
Amazon
Pflueger Supreme Spinning Fishing Reel

Pflueger Supreme Spinning Fishing Reel

Gear Ratio: 5.2:1, 6.2:1
Weight: 6.6 to 9.6 ounces
Bearings: 8+1
Line Capacity: 4/110, 6/90, 6/145, 8/130, 6/230, 8/185, 8/285, 10/230

8.2
Amazon
Okuma Inspira

Okuma Inspira

Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
Weight: 7.4 ounces
Bearings: 8+1
Line Capacity: 190/4 (0.24), 120/6 (0.26), 90/8 (0.25) (mm)

8
Amazon
KastKing Sharky III

KastKing Sharky III

Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
Weight: 15 ounces
Bearings: 10+1
Line Capacity: 8/220 10/175 12/130

8.4
Amazon

In-Depth Reviews of Our Favorite Spinning Reels Under $100

Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel

Shimano Sahara Spinning Reel

BEST OVERALL

Specs

  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Bearings: 4+1
  • Line Capacity: 6/200, 8/140, 10/120 – 10/150, 15/145, 30/100

Pros

  • Incredibly smooth casting and retrieval
  • Many sizes
  • Great balance

Cons

  • No anti-reverse switch

What Do We Like?

The Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel is arguably the best spinning reel for under $100 that you’re going to find in today’s market for a number of reasons.

It has incredibly smooth performance when casting any type of fishing line, as well as retrieving everything from braided line to mono or fluorocarbon.  

The Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel is able to achieve this high level of smoothness thanks to the 4+1 5-bearing system that features Shimano’s X-Ship Technology system.

This technology is specially crafted to eliminate as much friction as possible from each cast and retrieve with the reel and allows anglers to cast lures out to a surprising distance.  

The fact that the Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel is made with Hagane gearing is another reason why so many anglers prefer this as their go-to spinning reel for under $100.

Anglers are able to choose between a large variety of different-size reels, which lets them select the one that’s right for their needs.  

The reel also sports superior balance and high-quality graphite frame and side plates that all combine to create an outstanding reel that takes the No. 1 spot on our list of the best spinning reels for under $100.

What Needs Improvement?

The only basic item that the Sahara FI is lacking is an instant anti-reverse bearing switch.

This isn’t necessarily a major downside, but it can be frustrating if you’re in the middle of fighting a fish and need the drag to engage to help get a more solid hook set. 

Overall Summary

There are plenty of reasons for anglers to like this reel, and it’s easy to see why it is among the best budget spinning reels on the market today.

Shimano is not a brand that cuts corners, and its products are made to deliver optimal performance on the water.  

It’s truly hard to find this type of fishing reel this smooth that’s not overly expensive, but the Shimano Sahara FI is priced at a level that most can afford.

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

RUNNER-UP

Specs

  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Weight: 7.3 ounces
  • Bearings: 9+1
  • Line Capacity: 200/2, 100/4, 80/6

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Good durability
  • Saltwater or freshwater
  • Great price

Cons

  • Not ideal for fluorocarbon line
  • Requires cleaning more often than other brands

What Do We Like?

The Pflueger President Spinning Reel is one of the best spinning reels under 100 dollars that offers anglers everything they might want in a quality reel.

Most of the Pflueger reels I’ve owned have lasted well over a decade—even after being put through the wringer in both saltwater and freshwater fishing for everything from bass to king mackerel.  

This reel features a roller bearing system that includes 10 stainless steel ball bearings that offer a very smooth overall casting and retrieval experience.

The Pflueger President Spinning Reel is one of the more lightweight options on our list and is ideal for bass anglers who want a great quality spinning reel.  

The reel’s housing and side plates are made of graphite material that doesn’t weigh it down, yet still provides a good level of durability.

The spool is crafted to be best suited for braided lines, and anglers will likely be surprised by how tough this lightweight reel’s drag can be when pulling against a sizable fish.

What Needs Improvement?

The President’s spool is built in a way that causes line to sometimes have twists or tangles, which is always frustrating.

There are some lines that work better than others with this reel and it may take a few tries to figure out just which one is best for your reel.

Spooling your line on a spinning reel is a very important step and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  

In addition to the line issues, the ball bearings that come with the President are not as well-made as some of the other components and this reel might lose some of it’s smooth feel over the course of a few years.

Overall Summary

The Pflueger President Spinning Reel feels more like a premium spinning reel than a budget reel.

If you’re seeking one of the best cheap spinning reels on the market, it’s hard to look past this one. It also features Pflueger’s one-year warranty in case you encounter any problems.

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Specs

  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Weight: 10.8 ounces
  • Bearings: 6+1
  • Line Capacity: 8/240, 10/200, 12/170

Pros

  • Solid interior components
  • Digigear Digital Gear Design
  • Simple and easy to use

Cons

  • Some durability concerns


What Do We Like?

The Daiwa BG is an obvious addition to our list of the best spinning reels under $100, as this one offers a premium feel without the same premium price tag.

Like most other spinning reels made by Daiwa, the BG is crafted to center around having a smooth casting ability that allows you to use a wide variety of lures.  

One of the first things you’ll likely notice with the Daiwa BG in your hands is that this reel is exceptionally lightweight compared to most other models that are similar in size.

This is because the reels housing and exterior is made of carbon, yet still capable of giving the interior components ample protection from the elements.  

The Daiwa BG is made with mostly high-quality parts like a machined aluminum handle, air rotor, and airbail aluminum bail wire that combine to alleviate most of the friction that would typically hold back other reels from being able to cast lures very far.

Daiwa has always been known as a company that centers around a smooth spinning reel design and the Daiwa BG is another solid product.  

This reel also features Daiwa’s Digigear Digital Gear Design, which is aimed at crafting reels through a process that involves precise CNC machine cutting, which ultimately gives the reel a stronger, yet more sensitive overall action compared to other reels.

What Needs Improvement?

The main concern about this reel is that it is somewhat heavier than other reels that are similar in size.

The Daiwa BG is made of highly durable material, including anodized aluminum, but this also adds a bit more weight than what anglers might expect from a spinning reel. 

Overall Summary

Even though the Daiwa BG is heavier than some of the other models on our list, it still delivers the high-level of performance that is expected out of a quality brand like Daiwa.

In fact, we would consider it to be the best freshwater spinning reel under $100 that you’re going to find in today’s market. 

Abu Garcia Elite Max Spinning Fishing Reel

Abu Garcia Elite Max Spinning Reel

MOST BUDGET-FRIENDLY

Specs

  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Bearings: 6+1
  • Line Capacity: 225/6 175/8 140/10

Pros

  • C6 Carbon body is very lightweight
  • Machined-aluminum braid-ready spool
  • Stainless steel main shaft
  • 6+1 HPCR stainless steel bearings
  • Smooth and accurate casting

Cons

  • Durability concerns

What Do We Like?

The Abu Garcia Elite Max Spinning Reel is made to deliver a smooth casting system that operates using a 6+1 ball bearing system.

What truly stands out about this spinning reel is that it offers an exceptionally smooth casting experience despite being one of the more affordable options on our list.  

The stainless steel ball bearings are crafted from HPCR steel which are specially designed to offer outstanding quality and a smooth user experience in both casting and reeling.  

One of the most popular features of the Abu Garcia Elite Max Spinning Reel is the Rocket Line Management System that’s engineered to allow the line to freely come off the spool during each cast in a way that is more precise compared to other spool designs.

It also features a soft EVA handle for maximum comfort.  

This is important for high-level anglers because it equates to a greater amount of accuracy overall, which is extremely important for anyone who utilizes this reel as one that is geared toward a special use that demands accurate casts in and around heavy cover and brush.  

The Abu Garcia Elite Max Spinning Reel is great for bass fishing, as well as going after any other medium or big fish species.

The Carbon Matrix Hybrid drag system offers quality drag washers is well-suited for making sure the angler doesn’t lose ground when they are locked in an intense fight with a big, hard-pulling fish.  

The fact that this reel is usually priced well below some of the others made by Abu Garcia, combined with the quality and components, makes this another worthy addition to our list of the top spinning reels under $100.

What Needs Improvement?

The new and more lightweight C6 Carbon body makes the Elite Max lightweight compared to what it might feel like with other materials making up the outer housing.

However, this carbon material has been known to crack or even break in some cases, leaving many to question its overall durability compared to other, more traditional materials. 

Overall Summary

The inner components are what make this the best reel under 100 dollars.

It’s one that we would consider to be an ideal choice for beginner or novice anglers and makes a strong case for being the best bass spinning reel under 100 dollars that you’ll find, thanks to its strong drag system and very smooth ball bearings.  

Considering that this is one of the more affordable price options on our list, anglers will likely be impressed by the overall feel and smoothness of the Elite Max’s casting distance and retrieve.

This reel is one that will offer anglers of all skill levels a great fishing experience.

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

Specs

  • Gear Ratio:6.2:1
  • Weight: 19.8 ounces
  • Bearings: 5+1
  • Line Capacity: 225/12, 200/15, 135/20

Pros

  • Highly durable
  • Saltwater corrosion resistant
  • HT-100 Dual Force Carbon Fiber Drag System
  • Anti-reverse system
  • Well-suited for larger-sized fish

Cons

  • Heavier than most spinning reels

What Do We Like?

The Penn Battle II Spinning Reel is easily one of the brand’s best spinning models in the last few decades and is one that’s very well-suited for saltwater fishing.

The entire reel is made out of extremely durable material as this model is one that is very popular among saltwater anglers.  

This is usually not an issue for saltwater fishing enthusiasts, but some freshwater anglers tend to shy away from a fishing rod and reel that’s on the heavy side and opt for something lighter.

This is undoubtedly a heavy-duty reel that isn’t made for small fish.  

The Penn Battle II Spinning Reel’s full metal body, side plates, and rotor are all made of solid material, which means you’ll have no problem fishing for larger sportfish varieties that are usually found in coastal areas.

This aluminum body is much tougher than any other type of material.  

The inner workings of the Penn Battle II Spinning Reel include a simple, straightforward 5-ball bearing system that is moderately smooth when casting or reeling in the line.

As we’ve already noted, this reel is better suited for targeting large-sized game fish species.  

The Penn Battle II’s HT-100 Dual Force Carbon Fiber Drag system is another reason why so many saltwater anglers know they can rely on this model to land the monster fish that prowl the waters and inlets just off the coast.

What Needs Improvement?

The only aspect of this reel that some anglers complain about is the weight, which is a bit heavier than most other models of similar size.

This isn’t usually an issue for inshore anglers as many expect to be using a larger, heavier reel to fish along coastal areas.  

However, anglers who want to use Battle II for freshwater fishing might find their arm getting tired after casting this reel over the course of a few hours.

Overall Summary

This is a great spinning reel for saltwater anglers who like to fish in and around the inlets, flats, or even in the surf near their favorite coastal areas.

It’s fully capable of handling the toughest fights against those large, hard-pulling saltwater fish species that are notorious for stripping out a drag system or doing other types of damage to reels that simply aren’t equipped for the job.

Pflueger Supreme Spinning Fishing Reel

Pflueger Supreme Spinning Reel


Specs

  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1, 6.2:1
  • Weight: 6.6 to 9.6 ounces
  • Bearings: 8+1
  • Line Capacity: 4/110, 6/90, 6/145, 8/130, 6/230, 8/185, 8/285, 10/230

Pros

  • Super lightweight feel
  • Does not require backing for braided line
  • Very smooth casting and retrieve

Cons

  • Magnesium body is not quite as durable as other material

What Do We Like?

The body is made out of super lightweight housing that consists of Magnesium ultralight material.

This is great for anglers who prefer to use this ultralight reel for smaller-sized game fish species, but might be less appealing to those who intend to use the Pflueger Supreme Spinning Fishing Reel for larger-sized fish.  

The best quality feature of this reel model is undoubtedly the 9 ball bearing system that allows for incredibly smooth casting and retrieval, even with a variety of different types of fishing lines.

This reel is also specially-designed to allow anglers to tie braided line directly to the spool instead of having to worry about using another line as backing material.  

The smooth reeling action of the Pflueger Supreme Spinning Fishing Reel means anglers will have a very high level of control over the speed at which their lure is retrieved through the water.

It also features an anodized aluminum handle that’s another solid feature.  

The Pflueger Supreme Spinning Fishing Reel comes in four different options that allow anglers to choose between a 5.2:1 or 6.2:1 gear ratio.

Despite the fact that this reel is super lightweight and a bit more well-suited for species like smallmouth bass, it is perfectly capable of being used to catch species that are a bit larger.

What Needs Improvement?

Despite the outstanding quality that most Pflueger products are known for, the Supreme does have some issues that give us concerns about its overall durability.

Many anglers have reported various parts of the reel breaking or loosening over a short period of time.  

We understand that this is one of the most affordable reel models made by Pflueger, but you may want to look elsewhere if you’re searching for a very tough reel.

Overall Summary

Despite there being some concerns over the durability of this reel and its new magnesium housing body, the Pflueger Supreme packs in quite a bit of quality in other areas.

The reel and its ball bearing system is one of the smoothest you’ll find in today’s market among the best reels for under $100.

Okuma Inspira Carbon Frame Lightweight Spinning Reel

Okuma Inspira Spinning Reel

Specs

  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Bearings: 8+1
  • Line Capacity: 190/4 (0.24), 120/6 (0.26), 90/8 (0.25) (mm)

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Smooth drag
  • Tough carbon fiber material

Cons

  • Not fully sealed
  • Needs backing for braided line

What Do We Like?

The Okuma Inspira Carbon Frame Lightweight Spinning Reel is undoubtedly a solid addition to our list of the best spinning reels for anglers on a budget, but this particular model actually feels more like a premium reel than anything else.  

Okuma has designed the Inspira Carbon Frame reel to function in both freshwater and saltwater environments, making it the ideal all-purpose fishing reel that many anglers look for which they can use virtually anywhere.  

The reel is moderately durable as it is crafted with a carbon fiber material housing, as well as carbon side plates.

This carbon material might not be quite as durable as graphite or other styles, but it does produce an exceptionally lightweight feel in the hands of any angler.  

The Okuma Inspira Carbon Frame Lightweight Spinning Reel comes in two main sizes, the ISX-30R and the ISX-40R.

According to those who have significant experience using Okuma products, the 30R model is considered to be ideal for freshwater fishing for smaller game fish species while the larger 40R is more well-suited for inshore fishing ventures.  

Each reel has a 5.0:1 gear ratio, which might not be as rapid as some of the other models on our list, but still offers more than enough turnover for anglers who want to use a quick retrieve on occasion, or get out ahead of a hard-pulling fish.  

The company went to great lengths in tasking its engineers and design experts with producing a reel that is exceptionally smooth and still capable of standing up against anything an angler might encounter on the water.  

The Okuma Inspira is made with a Centrifugal disc bail that is specially made to deliver a smoother casting experience than most other spinning reels that are of similar size and price.

What Needs Improvement?

One of the only downsides we can point out with the Okuma Inspira is that it doesn’t offer a fully sealed drag system.

This may or may not be a major point of concern, but some anglers will certainly want to know before purchasing this reel over a model that is fully sealed.

The Inspira also isn’t ready-made for braided line to be tied directly to the spool. 

Overall Summary

Okuma is a solid brand and this reel is among one of their most popular products for good reason.

It’s lightweight and provides anglers with more than enough quality functionality that makes the Okuma Inspira feel more like a premium reel despite the fact that it’s priced under $100. 

KastKing Sharky III

Kastking Sharky III

Specs

  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Bearings: 10+1
  • Line Capacity: 8/220 10/175 12/130

Pros

  • Versatile sizes
  • Suited for saltwater or freshwater
  • Graphite body
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Not quite as smooth as other models

What Do We Like?

KastKing’s Sharky III is an excellent choice of spinning reel for anglers who want a decent option for both saltwater or freshwater fishing that won’t break the bank.

The KastKing brand has made significant improvements over the last few years and the Sharky III is a testament to the hard work done by this company’s design experts and engineers.  

One of the main things that stands out about the KastKing Sharky III is toughness.

The reel is made with its K.I.S.S (KastKing Intrusion Shield System) protection system that’s specially designed to lock out any debris or other grime that might get inside the reel and cause problems.  

This reel offers 10 ball bearings that create a moderately-smooth casting and retrieval experience, even though some anglers complain that it simply doesn’t have the same overall smooth cast or retrieve that other premium brands offer in their products.  

This reel is designed to allow anglers to target larger-sized fish without having to worry about their reel not holding up as it offers a max drag of 39.5 pounds.

There’s no doubt that, all things considered, the Sharky III is among the best spinning reels under $100.

What Needs Improvement?

This reel basically lacks the same buttery smooth feel that other top models on our list are known for.

This is somewhat expected from anglers who are familiar with KastKing as a brand since their reels are geared more toward toughness and durability than anything else. 

Overall Summary

The KastKing Sharky III is great for anglers who are just getting started and want a good quality reel that won’t easily break.

One of the best characteristics about this model is the fact that it can be used literally anywhere, in both saltwater or freshwater.

You also won’t have to worry about whether or not the Sharky III will hold up against large fish either.

How to Purchase a Cheap Spinning Reel

what to look for in the best reel under 100 dollars

When it comes to shopping for a solid spinning reel that you can use and rely on without having to spend a significant amount of money, there are a few main factors that you should pay attention to in order to ensure that you’re getting a decent product and the right fishing gear for the job.  

Ball Bearing Systems

As we’ve already noted, the ball bearing system is one of the most important—and misunderstood elements of the best spinning reel under $100, than anything else.

In most cases, novice and beginner anglers will see a higher number of ball bearings and likely assume that the more bearings a reel has, the better it will perform. 

This is not always true as the quality and precision with which the ball bearings are made play a much larger role in the overall performance of a spinning reel as it relates to casting and retrieving.  

Spool Size and Line Capacity 

Anglers must understand what each type of spinning reel is capable of delivering in terms of performance.

In order to have a more firm grasp on this, it’s key to have a working knowledge of the spool size and line capacity that a particular spinning reel offers.

Most spinning reels come in three or four main sizes that vary in their overall line capacity. 

Most brands will offer an estimate as to how much line a reel is capable of holding depending on the specific type of fishing line being used, as well as the pound test rating of the line.

As you might already be aware, a spool will be able to hold much more line if you happen to spool it with a lighter pound test line than if you opt for using a heavier rated line. 

Some reel models will also be able to allow anglers to tie braided line directly to the spool or will typically note whether a ‘backing’ line is needed to first be spooled on.

It’s usually a good idea to select a reel that can hold at least 150 to 200 yards of line for bass fishing.  

Drag System 

The drag system is easily one of the most important parts of any fishing reel as it will likely be the make-or-break factor that determines whether it can stack up against the kind of fish you’re after.

Make sure the reel offers a quality front drag, as well as rear drag.  

Too often, anglers select a fishing reel that might be more in line with their budget, but is also one that might have a less powerful drag system that simply won’t hold up against a hard-pulling fish when the time comes.  

The drag system is really something that anglers need to pay close attention to if they intend to purchase a larger spinning reel that will be used to catch the bigger saltwater species of game fish that are notorious for burning up a drag and even stripping one out on occasion. 

Be sure to look for a drag that is able to give a bit and allow your hook to be pulled when a fish strikes your bait.  

Adjustability of the Drag

Another very important characteristic you need to have in your spinning reel is the ability to adjust the drag to a setting that will be more suitable depending on the size and power level that you’re expecting to get from the fish you’re after. 

If your drag is too tight, you’re likely to have a fish break the line or strip the drag system out and damage the reel’s internal components beyond repair.

A drag that’s too light will cause you to lose any fight you have with a fish as your line will simply continue being pulled out without leaving you the chance to wind it back and gain some ground on your catch. 

It’s very important to make sure the spinning reel you’re looking at purchasing will allow you to adjust the drag either before you cast, or even on the fly while you’re in the middle of a fight with a fish.

Being able to adjust your drag as you’re fighting the fish is crucial as you’ll be able to have a better gauge of the power level of the fish and can adjust your drag accordingly. 

FAQs

What Size Reel Should I Buy? 

You should buy a 2500 to 3500-size reel for bass fishing.

The size reel you should buy is based on the type of fishing you’ll be doing.

What Gear Ratio is Best?

A 6:1 gear ratio is best.

An often misunderstood aspect of buying a spinning reel.

Consider what type of lures you will be using and whether you will need a faster retrieve, or if you’ll be fine using a moderately slower ratio.

How Many Ball Bearings Should a Reel Have?

A reel should have 5-6 ball bearings. This helps it reel smoothly.

The quality of the bearings is the biggest factor. High-quality bearings will be smoother than lower-quality bearings.

Last Cast

When it comes to searching for and finding the best spinning reel under 100 dollars that’s right for your needs; there are plenty of solid options on today’s market.

In fact, many of these reels stack up quite well with some of the premium options on the market that are available for hundreds of dollars.  

The reels we noted in our list of the best spinning reels under $100 are all excellent quality and will last throughout many seasons when used and cared for properly.

If you’re looking to purchase the best spinning reel under $100, then I highly recommend the Shimano Sahara FI Spinning Reel.

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