9 Best Ultralight Spinning Combos Reviewed

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Best Ultralight Spinning Combos

Welcome to my review of the best ultralight spinning combos!

Ultralight gear makes small fishes feel like giants and makes fishing tiny fishes a blast. Even if you do find an ultralight rod and ultralight reel though, you’ll face backlash with every cast if the rod and reel aren’t suited for each other. As such, many anglers prefer to get rod and reel combos. This way, their rod and reel are guaranteed to work well together. What’s more, rod and reel combos tend to be less pricey than getting the rod and reel separately. Knowing all these, my team and I set out to find the best ultralight combos for you.

While looking through the tons of rod and reel combos on the market, we had to consider many criteria like durability, sensitivity, and smoothness. Even with 21 years of fishing experience, I still took 17 hours along with my team to go through all the combos out there. In the end, these were the nine best ultralight combos on the market.

Out of these nine, one stood out above the rest. That combo is the Pflueger President Spinning Combo. Tough, sensitive, and unmatched in smoothness, it’s the whole package. You’ll also be glad to hear that it’s priced very reasonably.

In case that wasn’t for you though, fret not. We’ve got eight cheaper ultralight combos for you to choose from, so let’s get started!

Our Top 9 Picks

  1. Pflueger President Spinning Combo (Best Overall)
  2. Penn Fierce III Combo (Best Sensitivity)
  3. Cadence CC5 Spinning Combo (Best President Alternative)
  4. Shimano Sedona Ultralight Combo (Best For Beginners)
  5. Daiwa Mini System Ultralight Spinning Combo (Best Portability)
  6. Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Combo (Best For Casual Anglers)
  7. Pflueger Monarch Spin Combo (Best Black Max Alternative)
  8. Okuma Safina Spinning Combo (Best Budget)
  9. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo (Best Budget Smoothness)

The 9 Best Ultralight Spinning Combos

As you read on, you’ll notice we only listed one or two reel sizes for each combo, leaving out the other reel sizes. That’s because we’re only listing the reel size(s) of the ultra light option(s) for each combo.

Also, we didn’t list the power for each combo because since they’re on this list, their power rating is ultra light. The only exceptions are the Penn Fierce III, Cadence CC5, and Abu Garcia Black Max, which don’t have ultra light power ratings. However, they’re still on this list for good reason, which we’ll address later on.

Best Overall

1. Pflueger President Spinning Combo

  • Action: Fast
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Ball Bearings: 9+1
  • Reel Size: 2500

Kicking things off is the Pflueger President Spinning Combo. This top-notch ultralight combo is rugged, responsive, and smooth beyond compare.

Featuring a cork rod handle, stainless steel guides, and a braid-ready aluminum spool and aluminum reel handle, this combo is extremely long-lasting. Cork has a natural lifespan of 50+ years. On the other hand, stainless steel and aluminum are sturdy and highly resistant to corrosion. Combining these, the result is a heavy-duty ultralight combo that will withstand the test of time. I dare say you’ll still be using the Pflueger President Combo ten years down the road as long as you take good care of it.

This spinning rod is also very responsive, thanks to the graphite blank. Graphite is the most sensitive material for rod blanks and is what gives this spinning rod its fast action. This enables you to feel even the soft bites of small panfish.

The best part of this combo is how smooth the spinning reel is. This spinning reel is armed with 9+1 bearings that make it silky smooth. No other ultralight combo out there comes with this many bearings. In other words, this is the smoothest ultralight combo there is.

The only issue I could find with this combo is the noise level. It makes a bit of noise when a larger fish is on the line, but other than that, it’s the perfect ultralight spinning combo.

To sum it up, the Pflueger President Combo excels in every aspect. It’s also quite wallet-friendly. If you’re looking for an affordable first-rate ultralight combo, look no further.

P.S. For those wondering what makes stainless steel and aluminum so resistant to corrosion, both materials react with oxygen to form a protective layer. This layer is what protects them against corrosion.

Best Sensitivity

2. Penn Fierce III Combo

  • Action: Extra Fast
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Ball Bearings: 4+1
  • Reel Size: 2000

Up next is the most sensitive ultralight combo on the market – the Penn Fierce III Combo. That’s not the only reason to buy it though. Aside from being unbeatably sensitive, it’s also smooth and able to take lots of abuse.

First off, this combo’s toughness can be attributed to its stainless steel guides and aluminum spool, body, and sideplates.

With more aluminum and stainless steel parts, it’s no wonder that this combo is as long-lasting as the Pflueger President Combo. This is even after taking into account that its EVA handle is less resistant to wear and tear than cork. The higher number of aluminum parts evens out the less hardy handle, giving both combos the same level of toughness. Safe to say, the Penn Fierce III Combo will last for years to come.

Moving on to sensitivity, here’s where it gets interesting.

The Penn Fierce III’s graphite composite rod should in theory be less sensitive than the Pfueger President Combo’s graphite rod. Despite this, this rod’s extra fast action puts it above the previous combo, and most other ultralight combos out there in sensitivity. It’s entirely possible for a composite rod blank to be more responsive. It all comes down to the construction, as proven by this ultralight combo. With this combo, you’ll be able to feel even the nibbles of tiny fish.

As for the smoothness, admittedly, 4+1 bearings is on the lower side. Nevertheless, you’ll still have quite a smooth reel, just not buttery smooth.

Now for the cons, besides the lack of bearings, the only drawback of this combo is its power.

The lightest power this combo has is light. Anything other than ultra light makes ultralight fishing less fun, which is why I said the power rating is a drawback. Furthermore, at moderate fast, this combo’s light power option isn’t that sensitive. As such, I’d advise you to go for the medium light option that has extra fast action.

There’s no denying this ultralight combo’s sensitivity though. Sure you’ll have a bit less fun, but no other combo gives you access to the smallest fishes like this one does. It’s also a slight bit cheaper than the Pflueger President Combo. Considering that it’s less smooth and less fun to use, but more responsive, I’d say 18 bucks cheaper is a fair deal.

Best President Alternative

3. Cadence CC5 Spinning Combo

  • Action: Fast
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Ball Bearings: 8+1
  • Reel Size: 2000

If you liked the Pflueger President Combo’s smoothness, but not the price, you’re going to love the Cadence CC5 Combo. This is, in essence, a slightly inferior but also less expensive Pflueger President Combo.

For starters, the Cadence CC5 Combo is less hardy than the Pflueger President Combo. It does have stainless steel guides too, but the only aluminum part it has is its spool. Plus, its handle is EVA foam which isn’t as durable as cork.

Sensitivity-wise, both combos are equal with fast action. Like the Pflueger President Combo, this spinning rod has a graphite rod.

But that’s not what makes this such a good alternative.

What really makes it the best alternative to the Pflueger President Combo is its bearing count. With 8+1 bearings, you can expect phenomenal smoothness. As a matter of fact, it almost rivals that of the Pflueger President Combo’s.

All in all, the Cadence CC5 Combo is less rugged and a little less smooth than the Pflueger President Combo. I wasn’t kidding when I said you’d love this price though. You can save a whole 50 bucks by choosing this combo instead. Anglers on the hunt for budget smoothness might want to give this combo a shot.

Best For Beginners

4. Shimano Sedona Ultralight Combo

  • Action: Fast
  • Guides: Aluminum Oxide
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 500

Well-rounded and inexpensive, this is a great ultralight combo for new anglers.

Equipped with aluminum oxide guides, an aluminum drive gear, and a cork grip, this combo is relatively tough. Aluminum oxide is another heavy-duty and corrosion-resistant material. This combines with the aluminum and cork to produce a pretty durable ultralight combo.

On top of that, the graphite composite blank translates to great sensitivity. This is evident from the fast action rating.

The only aspect that this combo dropped the bar in is smoothness. At 3+1, this combo has a rather low bearing count. Thankfully, Shimano’s high-quality bearings saved the day. I found this spinning reel still acceptable as it wasn’t silky smooth, but at least it wasn’t choppy.

Overall, the Shimano Sedona Combo delivers on all fronts. It costs the same as the Cadence CC5 Combo, and is a lot less smooth, but more durable. It also has the ultra light option that the Cadence CC5 Combo doesn’t, making them both even.

New anglers will appreciate this all-around combo to start their ultralight fishing journey. It doesn’t boast incredible specs like the higher-end combos, but fares pretty well in each field.

Best Portability

5. Daiwa Mini System Ultralight Spinning Combo

  • Action: Fast
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Ball Bearings: 1
  • Reel Size: 2000

Coming in at number five is the Daiwa Mini System Combo.

The main highlight of this ultralight combo is its convenience. This 4.5 feet spinning rod collapses down to five pieces, making it super compact. In addition, it also comes with a hard carrying case that will keep it safe during transport. You can stow it away on a flight or just throw it in the back of your car. Either way, you’ll never have to worry about any sort of damage to your ultralight combo. You can even take out the rod and reel and put it in your backpack if you’d like.

Unfortunately, as portable as this combo is, it’s hard not to notice the lack of bearings. With only one bearing, this is literally the least possible amount of bearings a reel can have. You’ll find operating this spinning reel quite a chore as it gets really choppy at times.

Having said that, no ultralight combo out there can surpass the Daiwa Mini System Combo in portability. Maybe you’re planning to go ultralight fishing on your travels. Or you may be just looking for an ultralight combo to store in the back of your car for spontaneous fishing sessions. Either way, this is the best ultralight spinning combo for you.

Best For Casual Anglers

6. Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Combo

  • Action: Moderate Fast
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 500

Another well-rounded but not too costly combo, the Abu Garcia Black Max Combo is ideal for casual anglers.

For durability, with only an aluminum spool and stainless steel guides, it’s nowhere near as rugged as the higher-end combos. In fact, it won’t last even as long as the Cadence CC5 Combo. But it is nonetheless a tough combo that will be able to weather the elements for a few years.

For sensitivity, the graphite rod provides moderate fast action. This, once again, isn’t too shabby, but just doesn’t measure up to the combos before it.

For smoothness, you’ll have 3+1 bearings. As mentioned earlier, this will suffice for a decently smooth reel.

All things considered, the Black Max Combo definitely can’t hold a candle to the higher-end combos. Moreover, it doesn’t have an ultra light option so you’ll have to get the light action one. But at the same time, this combo is the least expensive one thus far.

Casual anglers often just need a functional ultralight combo that gets the job done. If that sounds like you, this could just be the ultralight combo you’re looking for.

Best Black Max Alternative

7. Pflueger Monarch Spin Combo

  • Action: Fast
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Ball Bearings: 4+1
  • Reel Size: 2000

If the Black Max Combo was still out of your means, we’ve got just the thing for you. The Pflueger Monarch Combo is even lower-priced than the Black Max Combo. Here’s why.

Durability-wise, both combos are outfitted with stainless steel guides. The difference is, this combo doesn’t have an aluminum spool like the Black Max Combo. Its cork handle does earn it some points. But ultimately, the Black Max Combo is still longer-lasting.

Sensitivity-wise, this combo’s fast action beats the Black Max Combo’s moderate fast.

Smoothness-wise, 4+1 bearings also give this combo the edge over the Black Max Combo’s 3+1.

In short, the Pflueger Monarch Combo is moderately more sensitive and smoother than the Black Max Combo, but less hardy. Because of that, it’s $9 more modestly priced. If that’s the price range you’re looking at, there’s no better ultralight combo than the Pflueger Monarch Combo.

Best Budget

8. Okuma Safina Spinning Combo

  • Action: Fast
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Ball Bearings: 1
  • Reel Size: 2500

This next ultralight combo is for those on a shoestring budget. It’s basically the cheapest ultralight combo that we can in good conscience recommend.

It shouldn’t take much explaining to see why you can get this combo at such a bargain. The one ball bearing kind of says it all.

Its other specs are fine, such as the fast action, stainless steel guides, aluminum spool, and cork grip. The thing is, these are all nothing special and only to be expected in a quality ultralight combo. Any other combo on this list would easily outperform the Okuma Safina Combo. 

Still, at this price, what the Okuma Safina Combo offers is commendable. It may not turn any heads, but at least you can enjoy ultralight fishing with it.

One of our side quests on our hunt for the best ultralight combos was to find the most affordable working ultralight combo, and this was it. We found anything below this price to be just trash that would fall apart after a couple uses.

For those on a tight budget, you could do a lot worse than the Okuma Safina Combo.

Best Budget Smoothness

9. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo

  • Action: Fast
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 2000-2500

Finishing things off is – you guessed it, another budget option! We included the Ugly Stik GX2 Combo for those who can afford to spend slightly more for a smoother ultralight combo.

The main difference between this combo and the Okuma Safina Combo is the bearing count. This spinning reel is constructed with 2 more bearings and you can feel the obvious difference when using both combos.

Both combos are similar in all other areas, whether it’s toughness, sensitivity, or even reel size.

Essentially, you’re paying about $10 more for a smoother ultralight combo. Anglers who value smoothness but are on a tight budget, this ultralight combo is worth considering.

What To Look For In An Ultralight Spinning Combo

Doubtful about our selection process? Then read on to learn how to judge an ultralight combo for yourself.


Rod power refers to how strong your fishing rod is. This may sound like a redundant question to seasoned anglers, but new anglers may be confused.

Beginners often mistake “ultralight” to mean very light in weight. This isn’t the case, as “ultralight” actually refers to the power rating.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, there’s no question then that the rod power of an ultralight rod should be ultra light.

Even so, sometimes, you’ll see rods and combos with qualities too good to pass up. At times like these, it’s fine to compromise. You can simply go for the next lightest power rating of that rod or combo. This is usually light, though in some cases it can be medium light. It can even be medium, as you’ve seen for yourself in some of the combos on this list.


Rod action refers to your rod’s sensitivity. The faster the action, the more sensitive the fishing rod.

To go after the smallest fishes, you’ll need a sensitive rod. Otherwise, you won’t be able to feel when they take the bait. Therefore, the smaller your target species, the more sensitive your rod has to be.

For ultralight fishing, the point is to target small fish. As such, anything slower than moderate action is out of the question.

The more sensitive, the better, so go for fast if possible. Extra fast would be even better, but they’re hard to find.

However, note that it doesn’t mean an extra fast combo is automatically better than a fast action combo. For example, the Pflueger President Combo is superior to the Penn Fierce III Combo despite being less responsive.


Most ultralight rods are between 5 and 6 feet in length. This is because this range provides a nicely balance of how far you can cast and how heavy the rod is.

The longer your fishing rod, the farther you can cast with it. But a longer rod also means more weight. For that reason, it’s not a good idea to get a longer rod than you need.

The 5-6 ft range is usually enough casting distance for most fishing styles. I use a 6-foot rod for my ultralight ventures, so that’s the length I’d recommend you get.


Your rod’s guides should be rugged and able to take a beating.

You’ll want to look out for materials like stainless steel, aluminum oxide, and titanium. Generally, any sort of metal will be hardy, so try to find rods with metal guides.

Ball Bearings

There’s actually an ideal number of bearings for a reel, and that’s 5+1.

The reason for this is that each bearing after 5+1 only increases smoothness marginally. 5+1 is also usually enough for satisfactory smoothness.

That said, the more the better of course, as your reel will be smoother. You will have to pay more though.


Here are some of the more common questions that anglers have about ultralight fishing.

What Can You Use Ultralight Rods And Reels For?

Due to the less stiff nature of ultralight rods, even the force of small fishes is enough to make the rods bend a lot. This enables you to have a ton of fishing small fishes as they’ll feel like huge fish. That’s the main reason anglers buy ultralight rods and reels.

Ultralight fishing gear is meant for lighter lines and lures. That’s why you’ll see only spinning rods and spinning reels, but no baitcasting gear.

The optimal pound test of the lines for ultralight fishing is 1-6 pounds. For the lures, the optimal weight is 1/32-1/4 oz.

No other type of fishing gear will work as well with light lures and lines as ultralight gear does. Ultralight gear casts light baits the farthest. This compatibility with light lines and lightweight lures makes ultralight fishing gear the go-to gear type for fishing styles that require light lures and lines.

The most popular fishing style that calls for lighter tackle is finesse fishing. This style of fishing is explained in detail below.

What Is Finesse Fishing?

Finesse fishing, as the name suggests, is all about presenting your baits more delicately.

You need to make small but accurate movements to trigger bites, which is best done with ultralight spinning rods and ultralight spinning reels.

Finesse fishing also calls for light lures and lines, which is another reason why ultralight fishing gear is best suited for the job.

Can You Snag Big Fish With Ultralight Tackle?

While you certainly won’t be able to land the larger species like tuna, medium sized fishes like bass are still doable. However, doing so won’t be easy.

It’s rare to see more than 10 pounds of drag on an ultralight reels. This means you may not have enough resistance to tire out the monsters. Line capacity is also an issue as ultralight reels are smaller in size.

My point is, catching larger fish isn’t impossible, but you’ll have to be really lucky. The fish has to be weak so that it won’t empty your spool of line before it gets tired out.

My Verdict

Few fishing styles are as enjoyable as ultralight fishing – provided you have a proper ultralight spinning rod and ultralight spinning reel that work well together.

The easiest way to achieve this is by getting a rod and reel combo. You won’t have to worry about a non-compatible rod and reel and it’s easier on your wallet.

With that said, these are the nine best ultralight combos for you to take your pick from. In case you’re having trouble deciding, I’d suggest getting the Pflueger President Combo. It’s long-lasting, sensitive, and has no equal in smoothness. You just can’t go wrong with it.

Now that you’ve found the ultralight combo of your dreams, have fun ultralight fishing!

Oh you’re still here? Looks like you’ve changed your mind and now want to create your own ultralight rod and reel pairing. If that’s the case, here are the best ultralight fishing rods. And here are the best ultralight spinning reels.

Best of luck!

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Reuben went on his first fishing trip when he was 9. That's when he fell in love with fishing. When he's not fishing, he's searching for new gear and ways to fish better.