Best Saltwater Conventional Reels

Sometimes the tried and true conventional reel is the best way to snag a large fish on the saltwater. Here we will review the best saltwater conventional reels for the money.

Best Conventional Reels for Saltwater Fishing

  1. Daiwa SGT50H Seagate Star Drag Saltwater Conventional Reel, Black and Orange Finish
  2. Penn SQL30LWLH Squall LevelWind
  3. Avet 5.3:1 Lever Drag Conventional Reel, Blue
  4. Shimano Torium 20 HGA Saltwater Star Drag Fishing Reel
  5. Daiwa Sealine-X SHA Conventional Saltwater Reel SL-X40SHA 6.1:1 High Speed

1. Daiwa SGT50H Seagate Star Drag Saltwater Conventional Reel, Black and Orange Finish

 

Product Features

Brand Name: Daiwa
Gear Ratio: 6.4:1
Bearings: 4
Weight: 21.9 Ounces
Max Drag: 19.8 lbs

The Daiwa SGT50H Seagate Star Drag Saltwater Conventional Reel is our number one recommendation. This reel features a powerful max drag of 19.8 lbs, gear ratio of 6.4:1, and has a 4 bearing system. The spool is made from anodized aluminum and it also features a corrosion-resistant composite frame. The reel features a centrifugal spool brake and has an anti-reverse feature. This reel handles 48″ of line per handle turn and has a capacity of MONO: 30/350, 40/310, J-BRAID: 40/840, 50/630. Overall this is an extremely well-built saltwater friendly conventional reel.

Pros
  • Powerful drag
  • Fast retrieve capability
  • Saltwater friendly
Cons
  • May take some getting used to for beginners

 

2. Penn SQL30LWLH Squall LevelWind

 

Product Features

Brand Name: Penn
Gear Ratio: 4.9:1
Bearings: 2+1
Weight: 20.9 Ounces
Max Drag: 20 lbs

The number two spot on our list goes to the Penn SQL30LWLH Squall LevelWind Conventional Reel. This reel weighs approximately 20.9 ounces and features a star drag system with a max drag of 20 lbs. It has a 2+1 stainless steel bearing system and an instant anti-reverse feature. The gear ratio on this reel is 4.9:1 and it has a retrieval rate of 35″. The mono capacity of this reel is 455/25 370/30 285/40, with a braid capacity of 1020/30 710/50 590/65. They offer this one in both a right-handed and left-handed version, and also offer other models with different specs. The specs we reviewed here only contain specifically to the 30lwlh model so please keep that in mind when shopping.

Pros
  • Graphite frame keeps the reel lightweight
  • Smooth and powerful drag
  • Great reel for trolling
Cons
  • Overall this is a great mid-range conventional reel, but some anglers may prefer a higher-end model

 

3. Avet 5.3:1 Lever Drag Conventional Reel, Blue

 

Product Features

Brand Name: Avet
Gear Ratio: 5.3:1
Bearings: 8
Weight: 14 Ounces
Max Drag: 9 lbs at strike, 14 lbs full

The Avet SX Conventional Reel is a versatile reel that works great for casting or trolling. The reel is made from marine-grade aluminum and weighs approximately 14 ounces. It features a gear ratio of 5.3:1 and has 8 stainless steel ball bearings. The reel is designed to be strong and lightweight to help you battle large saltwater fish. It features a powerful drag system with a drag of 9lbs at strike and 14lbs at full. The reel also has an instant anti-reverse and features a large ergonomic handle knob.

Pros
  • Sturdy well made reel
  • Smooth action
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Some anglers may prefer a reel with a higher max drag

 

4. Shimano Torium 20 HGA Saltwater Star Drag Fishing Reel

 

Product Features

Brand Name: Shimano
Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
Bearings: 3+1
Weight: 19.2 Ounces
Max Drag: 24 lbs

Another powerful saltwater friendly reel you need to check out is the Shimano Torium HGA Conventional Saltwater Reel. This reel features a star drag system with a powerful max drag of 24 lbs. The gear ratio is 6.2:1 and it features 3+1 bearings for a smooth action. The reel is available in a few different size options and both right-handed and left-handed versions. The specs we are listing here are specific to the Tor20 Model, so other sizes have different specs. Overall this is a great high-speed reel that is great for jigging. It has a smooth action, powerful drag, and is comfortable and lightweight.

Pros
  • Great high speed conventional reel for jigging
  • Powerful drag
  • Lightweight and durable
Cons
  • This is a high-speed reel that is better for jigging. If you’re fishing deep waters you may need a different option

 

5. Daiwa Sealine-X SHA Conventional Saltwater Reel SL-X40SHA 6.1:1 High Speed

 

Product Features

Brand Name: Daiwa
Gear Ratio: 6.1:1
Bearings: 3
Weight: 18.1 Ounces
Max Drag: 17.6 lbs

The Daiwa Sealine-X SHA Conventional Reel takes our final spot. This reel features a sealed drag with smooth performance. It has a gear ratio of 6.1:1, max drag of 17.6 lbs and weighs in at 18.1 ounces. These specs are for the X40 model, other models have different specs. The spool on this reel is made from aluminum, and it features a power handle with soft grips. This versatile reel can be used for jigging or trolling and is excellent for saltwater fishing. Overall this is a pretty great reel that is fast, smooth, easy to use and durable.

Pros
  • Smooth cast and retrieve
  • Comfortable soft grips
  • Versatile saltwater reel can be used for jigging, trolling, surf fishing and more
Cons
  • Some may not like the oversized handles on this reel

 

Saltwater Conventional Reel Buying Guide

When you are shopping for a saltwater friendly conventional reel, there are a few different things you will want to consider.

  1. Gear Ratio
  2. Bearings
  3. Max Drag
  4. Reel Build

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio on a reel refers to how many times the spool rotates on a single turn of the handle. Conventional reels usually have larger spools so they can achieve higher line speeds with lower gear ratios.

Bearings

Usually, the more bearings that a reel has the better. Conventional reels should have bearings that are shielded or designed to withstand rust if they are to be used for saltwater fishing.

Max Drag

When it comes to max drag rarely will you need anything beyond 25lbs for most fishing. Many experienced anglers are opting for lighter reels with a lower max drag, and instead using better technique to battle large fish. As you get more experienced, you will develop a preference for either lighter models or more powerful drags, but this can vary from fisher to fisher.

Reel Build

The build material of the reel can greatly affect the longevity and weight of your reel. If you’re using your reel for saltwater, you need a corrosion-resistant material. A reel with a composite frame is generally good because they are lightweight and can withstand saltwater. Higher-end conventional reels are built from high-grade aluminum, which makes them tough, and rigid. The downside is they are typically more expensive though, so that is something to keep in mind when shopping.