Can You Use Freshwater Reels in Saltwater?

By Richard | Fishing Advice

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Fishing is one of the most entertaining ways to spend your free time in nature. Whether you want to go for a solo session, or you have joined a fishing club and have made it a social activity, those few hours will go a long way towards your mental clarity.

On top of all that, you could get the utter satisfaction of catching the biggest fish, taking a photo with it, and returning it to the water — where it belongs. There are a number of different fishing techniques with most being connected to the type of environment you are fishing in. While some techniques are possible to do in brackish waters, others are only suitable for a lake and river environment.

Bearing this in mind, it is important to know that there may be a difference in the equipment you will need. A fishing rod and reel are core to your success — and if you are ready to invest some time, you can find high-quality options at an affordable price.

Still, a question remains — can you use freshwater reels in saltwater? While the answer is not the most simple, we can still come to a conclusion. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and check out the various aspects of it.

What is the Difference Between Freshwater and Saltwater Reels?

Before answering the above-mentioned question, it is vital to know the difference between the two reel types. First, the material that a freshwater reel is made of is mostly aluminum or another simple metal.

On the other hand, saltwater reels feature a protective coating that will prevent corrosion and mostly feature a strong stainless steel core. The corrosion problem can mostly affect the inner components of a reel (bearings, drag system) and that is why it is critical for these to be sealed. That is something that most saltwater reels will include, while freshwater reels will lack this feature.

Additionally, saltwater reels can support heavier lines and lures as they are mostly made for fishing bigger species in the ocean. On the other hand, not many freshwater reels are able to offer such capacity. Still, while most of the above-mentioned features go in favor of the saltwater reels, not everyone has the budget to afford this option as freshwater reels are much cheaper and easier for beginners.

Freshwater Reel in Saltwater – Is it Possible?

Bearing the above-mentioned aspects in mind, the answer to this question can’t be a one-size-fits-all answer. While some freshwater reels are able to withstand harsher conditions and not corrode in brackish waters, others don’t do that great of a job.

A great example of a cheap and reliable fishing reel is the KastKing Brutus Spinning Reel; although it is not ideal, it can still endure through light fishing in a saltwater environment. The reason why the answer to this question is so important is that there are many fishing enthusiasts that simply don’t have the money to afford a saltwater reel. If you are one of them, our advice is to at least invest in a freshwater reel has some kind of coating or a stainless steel core.

Things to Consider

Once we have answered the question of can you use freshwater reels in saltwater, it is time to suggest a few things that you need to consider. If you decide to use a freshwater reel in saltwater, it is critical to soak the reel in lukewarm water and soap, and rinse your freshwater reel after any fishing session.

Additionally, invest extra time in removing anything that can corrode and damage your fishing reel (debris, etc.). Prevent possible issues by lubricating your fishing reel with the right type of oil and grease.

Last but not least, you should never forget the capacity of the reel you are using. While it may be able to endure saltwater conditions, that doesn’t mean it is designed for heavier fish like tuna or marlin. Use the freshwater reel for smaller species, and invest in a proper saltwater reel for any heavier catch.


It is pretty clear that there is no universal answer to the big question. Still, as long as you do some research and know a thing or two about how fishing reels work, you will be able to figure out whether it is worth a try or not. Stay conscious, and don’t forget to have a relaxing time when you are fishing.

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