[Be sure to click through all the images in the gallery above. The last four images include photos and specs of 20 quality offshore spinning reels from top-of-the-line manufacturers.]
The monster amberjack thumped my metal jig and headed straight for the wreck, testing both my drag and knot-tying skills. It was time to put the hammer down, since I was seconds away from breaking off. I maxed out the drag and put an inspiring arc into my spinning rod, daring the AJ to continue its power dive. Who would win this battle, tackle or tail?
The zinging of the reel stopped enough for me to pump a few short cranks and pull the reef donkey’s head away from the structure. Slowly, I regained some line and some confidence. I was still in for a lengthy fight, but my offshore spinner had won the encounter.
There’s nothing like using a spinning reel in situations once reserved for conventional tackle. With drag settings regularly topping 40 and 50 pounds, and line capacities of 80-pound braid surpassing 500 yards, there’s no question that spinning reels are up to the big-game task. More and more, these reels are winning battles when up against species like wahoo, amberjack, dolphin, tarpon, snapper, grouper, sailfish, tuna, and in some cases, even marlin.
Here are 20 offshore spinning reels that can handle most fish species you’re likely to hook, sans the occasional world-record bluefin or monster mako shark. Offshore spinning reels offer a range of features; your choices might depend on whether you’re jigging offshore, free-lining live baits along the reef, slow-trolling the rips, fishing the surf for stripers, or throwing poppers. No matter your style of fishing, there’s probably a spinner for you.
About the Build
Most quality offshore spinning-reel spools and housings are now machined from high-grade aluminum alloy. Though graphite is still used in some cases, it’s waning in favor of the tougher metal.
“The reason we use aluminum is it’s a very strong metal,” says Curt Arakawa, marketing manager at Daiwa. “Materials like graphite are not as strong as aluminum, and magnesium is more likely to corrode in salt water.”
Still, don’t be surprised if tackle companies favor something instead of aluminum in future spinners — reel companies continue to experiment with new materials.
Daiwa currently uses Zaion, a proprietary material made from high-density carbon resin, in some of its reel parts. “The Saltiga, Dogfight and Isla reels all have a Zaion carbon-composite air rotor to reduce weight,” says Arakawa. “It’s good for durability, but it’s probably not strong enough from which to build a frame.”