Skip to main content

The Top 5 Vintage Ultralight Spinning Reels (In Our Opinion)

The Top 5 Vintage Ultralight Spinning Reels (In Our Opinion)

Fishing with Vintage Ultralight Reels

Fishing with vintage ultralight fishing reels can be a lot of fun for many reasons. First and foremost, using a vintage reel can provide a sense of nostalgia and a connection to the history of fishing. These reels often have unique designs and intricate mechanisms that are no longer found in modern reels, adding to the charm and intrigue of using them. Additionally, vintage reels often require more skill and finesse to operate effectively, which can make the fishing experience more challenging and rewarding. Finally, there is a certain satisfaction in catching fish with equipment that has stood the test of time and continues to function as it was originally intended. All of these factors combine to make fishing with vintage reels a truly enjoyable and memorable experience for those who appreciate the art and history of fishing.

That said, if you are new to the subject of vintage fishing equipment it can be a little daunting finding information on vintage equipment that is no longer in production. So we have compiled a list of what is, in our opinion, the top 5 ultralight fishing reels to fish with. The list of our favorites include: 

  1. Mitchell 308/408

    Mitchell 308

    Produced in France during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the Mitchell 308 and the upscale version Garcia Mitchell 408 can offer a unique and enjoyable experience for anglers. The elegance of simplicity is a notable benefit of these reels, as they feature mechanical designs that are straightforward and reliable. Despite their age, these reels continue to perform smoothly and effectively, providing anglers with a sense of satisfaction and nostalgia. In addition, the Mitchell 308 and Garcia Mitchell 408 offer a level of durability and affordability that can be hard to find in modern reels. These classic ultralight spinning reels are still highly regarded among anglers today, thanks to their smooth performance and high-quality construction.  

  2. The Shakespeare 2052

    The Shakespeare 2052

    Produced in the USA is an ultralight spinning reel that dates back to the 1960s and has become a classic among vintage fishing gear enthusiasts. One of the key features of this reel is its lightweight design, which is achieved through the use of materials such as aluminum for the body. The reel's simple mechanical design allows for smooth performance and precise control over the spool, which is operated by a manual bail system. The handle of the Shakespeare 2052 is designed with comfort in mind, typically made of rubber or plastic to provide a secure and ergonomic grip for the angler. Additionally, this vintage reel boasts a reliable and smooth drag system that enables anglers to make precise adjustments during the fight with a fish. All of these features combine to make the Shakespeare 2052 a sought-after ultralight spinning reel that offers simplicity, durability, and consistent performance on the water.

  3. The Penn 716

    The Penn 716

    Produced in the USA is a ultralight vintage spinning reel that introduced by the Penn Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Company in the 1970s. The Penn 716 ultralight is a vintage spinning reel known for its durability and reliable performance. It has a lightweight design achieved through high-quality materials such as aluminum for the body and rotor. Its smooth drag system allows for adjustments during fish fights, and its rotor cup design prevents line twists. Its simple mechanical design is easy to maintain and includes a manual bail system and smooth ball-bearing drive. Overall, the Penn 716 is a sought-after vintage reel for its lightweight design, durability, and consistent performance on the water. The early models of the designated 716 are easily identified by a green paint scheme. Sometimes these vintage models are referred to as “Greenies”.
  4. The Alcedo Micron

    The Alcedo Micron

    Manufactured in Italy, this vintage spinning reel was first produced in the 1960s by the Italian company Alcedo S.p.A. It is known for its innovative design, lightweight construction, and reliable performance, making it a popular choice among vintage fishing reel collectors and enthusiasts. One of the key features of the Alcedo Micron Ultralight is its compact size and lightweight construction, which makes it easy to handle and ideal for long casting sessions. The body and rotor of the reel are typically made of high-quality materials such as aluminum, which helps to reduce the overall weight of the reel without compromising on durability. The Alcedo Micron Ultralight also features a smooth and precise drag system, allowing anglers to make adjustments as needed during a fish fight. This feature is particularly useful when using lightweight lines and lures, as it ensures that the angler has full control over the reel at all times. Another notable feature of the Alcedo Micron Ultralight is its unique line pickup system, which utilizes a helical cam to ensure consistent and even line lay on the spool. This helps to prevent tangles and line twists, making the reel more efficient and easier to use. The oversized rubber handle knob provides a comfortable and secure grip for the angler. The reel also has a simple mechanical design that is easy to maintain and service, making it a practical choice for anglers of all skill levels. Overall, the Alcedo Micron Ultralight is a classic vintage spinning reel that continues to be highly sought after for its innovative design, lightweight construction, and reliable performance on the water. 

  5. The Zebco Cardinal 3

    Cardinal 3 reel

    Manufactured in Sweden, this vintage spinning reel can boast the precision of a Swiss clock. It is well-known for its smooth performance and durable construction, and it has a discernible two-color paint scheme that distinguishes it from other reels. Additionally, the reel's rear mounted drag provides a precise and easy-to-use drag system for anglers. The body and rotor are typically made of aluminum, which reduces the overall weight of the reel while maintaining its durability. One notable feature is that it is saltwater friendly, making it a popular choice among anglers who fish in saltwater environments. While the mechanical design is slightly more complex than some other reels, it remains reliable and features a double spring bail system and a smooth ball-bearing drive that ensures consistent performance on the water. Overall, the Zebco Cardinal 3 Ultralight is a classic vintage spinning reel highly sought after for its lightweight design, smooth performance, and durable construction.

So there you have it!. These are The top 5 vintage ultralight spinning reels (In our opinion) that we recommend for any angler seeking an exceptional fishing experience. Each of these reels boasts unique features that make them stand out from the rest. Remember to properly maintain your reel to ensure optimal performance, and most importantly, enjoy your time on the water.

If you found this article helpful, please follow us on our social channels and subscribe to our blog for updates on the latest fishing gear and techniques. We are dedicated to providing valuable information to fellow anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Until next time - Tight Lines!

Panfish Naturalist Prints Collection