The best ultralight spinning reel when fishing braid
I love fishing braid on ultralight tackle, it is my go to line for trout and most other species. While many reels do a decent job when fishing monofilaments, fishing braid can put reels under a lot more pressure. The thin diameter of braid can also cut through unhardened areas and even damage any areas where the tolerance is less than ideal.
When choosing a braid fishing reel, it is important to get one with good line lay. The line must lay on the spool so it does not bury itself out of order. Buried wraps of braids can result in many headaches, tangles and even break-off. I prefer a line lay with a criss cross pattern, this prevents the braid from burying itself beneath other layers. While a criss cross line-lay can slightly reduce casting distance, it is still much better than dealing with buried line.
Lets get straight into the recommendations. I start with the cheapest reels and finish with the more expensive.
While many cheaper reels do a decent job at handling braid, the cheapest reel which really shines is the Daiwa Regal. I have fully reviewed the Regal over on my spinning reels buyers guide, but I will cover the highlights here.
The Regal, and its cousins the Exceller and Legalis are built impressively well for a reel which weighs under 7oz.
Most importantly when fishing with braid, the criss-cross line-lay does a superb job at preventing braid from digging into itself and becoming buried. I will say this now, no other brand line lay system does a better job at controlling braid than Daiwa. It is the best.
One downside, which is also an upside is the oversized spool. The spool is large, which means fewer wraps.. but it also means the capacity is much larger than comparable reels. When fishing braid on a regal, to save money I highly recommend using a monofilament backing.
The Daiwa Legalis shares a lot in common with the regal, but it features better sealing making it more suitable for saltwater use. It is quite a bit more expensive.
Abu Garcia Revo SX
If you can not find the Daiwa Regal or Legalis, or simply do not like the brand. Then the Abu Garcia Revo SX is a nice spinning reel for the money. It is more expensive than the Legalis, and the line-lay is less braid friendly but it is still a very well made and smooth reel.
One word of advice, when fishing braid. Make sure to manually close the bail arm and remove any lose coils after every cast. This will greatly reduce the amount of wind knots. This should really be done with all reels, but especially for the non-daiwas when fishing with braid.
The Shimano Stradic is a classic. Follow this link to my review.
It is simply an excellent lightweight spinning reel which has dominated its price range for the best part of two decades.
While I think the Stradic really excels at casting monofilament, it is still excellent at handling braid. It also comes with a long spool which improves casting distance. Certainly worth the money.
I have fished with Stradics for years and struggle to say anything bad about them.
The Vanford costs slightly more than the Stradic. Basically think of it as a Stradic but with a carbon fibre body. It is an excellent reel.