Over the last few years, baitcasting reels have seen a lot of changes. This is a positive thing for anglers because the best baitcasting reel for your needs is likely much more user-friendly than was the case a decade ago. If you’ve ever spent time watching the outdoor channels on television and have watched bass fishers doing their thing, you’ve seen what a baitcaster is capable of. The best baitcasting reels have handle-heavier lures and line than other reels and are created with the ability to haul in large fish quickly.
It can take some time to get used to using a baitcasting reel, but after you put in some practice, you’ll have a reel that offers the ultimate in precision and casting distance. Using the free spin of the reel, anglers can drop their lure or bait at the exact spot required. This is a reel that is super-efficient, especially compared to a typical spinning reel. That’s exactly why so many professionals choose this type of reel for their fishing adventures.
Today, we are going to be offering baitcaster reels reviews and sharing the top 11 freshwater and saltwater baitcasting reels on the market. We’ll share insights into the most important things to know about baitcasting reels and how to determine what separates a fantastic reel from one that isn’t quite there. But first, let’s take a look at the top baitcasting reels we’ll be going over today.
Our Top Baitcasting Reel List
Daiwa Tatula Baitcasting Reel
Daiwa is an extremely popular brand in Asian countries, but it’s a bit of an underestimated name in the United States. However, even if the name isn’t one that you are familiar with, a Daiwa casting reel will offer high quality and a durability that you can trust. The reason Daiwa isn’t as known in the states is because there hasn’t been a lot of marketing put out in the country. However, in recent times, this is changing and Daiwa is a company building a presence in the western world.
Showing itself as a strong reel that can take some abuse, the reel is created with an all-aluminum spool, frame, and reel arm. Each piece of the reel is also hard anodized to prevent any issues with corrosion. The body and the side plates of this contender for the best baitcaster are made of a graphic composite, which means it has more resistance to cracking than pure graphite. It also indicates that the Daiwa baitcaster is going to be nice and lightweight.
As far as breaking goes, this reel uses the Magforce-Z which takes the traditional breaking and adds in smoothness using a magnetic system. For individuals who are new to baitcasting, this make the reel easy to use to control breaks. You can expect to get great distance and an improved cast. With the TWS level winding system used by the reel, you can expect a gain over similar reels.
There are a few different sub-models of the Tatula, but all have the same drag and line capacity which makes things easy to understand. The drag hits its maximum at about 13 pounds. The gear ratios also vary between 6.3:1 and 8.1:1. Daiwa baitcasting reels are high-quality and you won’t regret adding one to your gear package.
- Super smooth operation
- Features nine ball bearings
- Uses the T-Wing System for casting
- Some users find the dial is in a strange position
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Special Round Baitcast Fishing Reel
Abu Garcia saltwater reels are hugely popular among catfish anglers and there is a good reason for that. These baitcasting reels are built to last and affordable at the same time. As long as you keep up with the maintenance and cleaning, your reel could easily last you years and years. The Ambassadeur Catfish Special is similar to the C3 baitcasting reel from the same company, but it comes with special graphics and colors. It also comes with a power handle, rather than a typical one.
Having access to a power handle is huge for many anglers when compared to a standard dual paddle handle. In fact, there are many cases of anglers replacing the handle of their reel with the power handle to get an extra dose of power and performance. This reel offers a smooth cast and you can easily manage to hit a lure wherever you want it to be. It is designed to allow you to hook a bait and cast without spending much time or effort on it.
This Catfish Special reel comes with 3 + 1 stainless-steel ball bearings which helps conserve energy and reduce rolling resistance. This reel utilizes the Carbon Matrix drag system with frictionless bearings that are resistant to corrosion. Thankfully, the system makes the reel simple to operate and will help you fight fish without trouble. The brake with this reel is a six-pin centrifugal brake which is robust and wont’ need to be changed. The biggest problem is experimenting to find the settings that work best for you.
- Features extended bent handle for better cranking power
- Improved castability through synchronized level wind system
- Designed with a six-pin centrifugal brake
- Some users note this can be a noisy reel
Shimano Metanium MGL 6.2:1 Casting Reel METMGL150
The first thing many people are going to want to know about this Shimano baitcaster is what sets it apart from all the other reels on the market. That is an easy answer in this case. The reel technology here is top of the line and offers a large amount of smoothness and castability through the Metanium MGL reels. This reel comes in a 6.2:1 gear ratio with a maximum drag of 11 pounds. This reel has a ball bearing configuration of 10 + 1 and a weight of only 6.2 ounces.
This reel is made of lightweight carbon material which has a large amount of durability, even for those who fish in harsh conditions. Based on that, the size and weigh of the rotor and body are minimal. This is a top choice of professional bass anglers with a light, smooth feel when turning the handle. It has tons of high-end features to ensure a great fishing experience including Micro-Module Gearing, Hagane Body, Silent Tune, and X-Ship. It also offers the new SVS Infinity braking.
The Micro-Module gearing is included to create a smooth retrieve when out on the water. The gear set uses smaller teeth which means it can pack a larger amount of them in. This creates a reel that has more contact points between the pinion gear and drive gear for more efficiency. The SVS braking system makes spool control easy and creates plenty of brake force. This allows for precision casting even when in an intense fishing situation. In addition, the adjustment knob offers quick adjustments when you switch bait or conditions change.
- Impressively high line capacity
- Fast reel and well balanced to use
- Durable and will last a long time
- Heavier than some bait casting reels
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Round Reel
If you’re an angler looking for a saltwater baitcaster or you’re looking to do some bottom fishing, the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 may be the best baitcasting reel for the money. This is one of the top selling baitcasting reels of all time and a true classic. It offers 6.3:1 gearing and a 320-yard, 12-pound monofilament capacity, this reel is designed to pull even the largest fish out of the water. This reel does come in several sizes but the 6500 is the biggest and capable of handling whatever you need.
The C3 features a centrifugal brake which means it may not cast are far as magnetic cast reels. However, the magnetic reels aren’t going to be capable of pulling up huge catfish and bass. The Abu Duragear system used in this reel offers massive cranking power and combined with the carbon matrix drag to create torque you can count on when you need it. The drag wheel and wind system also looks great if aesthetic matters to you.
This is a saltwater casting reel with a large open face, which means it is less apt to get tangled like low-profile reels. It’s a lot easier to work with, especially for those who are new to angling. This is likely the best casting reel for those who enjoy fishing off piers, casting into deep water, or using large bait. The price point is reasonable, and it gets a lot of positive attention in baitcasting reel reviews. The only real low point is that it’s a bit heavy at almost 10 ounces in weight.
- Instant anti-reverse is helpful when setting hook
- High accuracy during casting
- Durable and made to last for years
- Drag may be too light for some
Lew’s Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel – Right Handed
Lew’s might not be as well-known as some companies, but that doesn’t stop them from creating some truly impressive salt water casting reels. In fact, many professionals would rank this brand as one of the best that is out there. You can often see Lew’s reels in the hands of competitive anglers on the water. This company has been creating reels for several decades, so you know they have the chops at what they are doing.
The first thing you may notice about the Tournament MB is that it is high-quality and constructed in a great way. This starts right from the beginning with the use of top of the line materials. In this case, that means a single piece of aluminum for the frame and double-anodized aluminum for the spool. This is combined with graphite side plates to drop the weight down with an aluminum and steel drive and bearing system. With all these components put together, you get smooth operation which is enhanced by a one-way clutch and a magnetic/centrifugal brake system.
With a drag system made of carbon fiber, this reel is both durable and efficient to handle even the most extreme fishing conditions. The maximum drag pressure is 20 pounds and the reel can handle up to 120-yards of 12-pound line. The gear ratio is 5.6:1 which is plenty to bring large fish in quick when they take a munch on the line. This reel is less than half a pound and has what you need to fish well for a long time. It also has a low-profile, something many modern anglers prefer.
- Offers a good amount of line capacity
- Tangle-free, smooth casting ability
- Offers exceptional drag pressure
- May be too slow for some anglers
Shimano Tranx Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel
While some people enjoy a traditional round reel, many others want something more compact like a low-profile inshore baitcasting reel. This is because low-profile reels offer nearly as much power as a bulkier reel but with better ergonomics. Shimano is known for offering some of the best saltwater baitcasting reels, and the Tranx is not an exception to the rule. It offers a sleek design but also incorporates things like HED and X-SHIP technology to offer the best fishing experience to anglers looking to bring in huge fish.
The Tranx comes in versions for those who are right-handed and those who are left-handed. They offer a 5.8:1 ratio and a double handle that features rubber knobs and can retrieve up to 30 inches of line. The idea behind these saltwater casting reels is that they have a nice combination of power and line capacity, which makes them ideal when working with larger bait and fish. The Tranx 400 can hold up to 170-yards of 65-pound line while the Tranx 300 can hold 190-yards of 50-pound fishing line.
Casting with the Tranx is easy and smooth due to the VBS casting system. It feels as if you are fishing with a smaller reel while having the perks of a reel that can handle large fish. The 5 + 1 bearings in this baitcasting reel offer a smooth retrieve and it delivers a major amount of torque. The teeth in the main gear are moderately sized to add durability to the reel. All in all, the biggest thing to expect from the Tranx is a large amount of strength when you need it the most.
- Oversized gears can handle large bait and fish
- Durable design and high-quality reel
- Fantastic for snook, reds, and pelagics
- Does not come with a clicker
KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Reel Elite Series
When you take a look at the KastKing Royale Legend, the first thing you are likely going to notice is the way that it looks. This is a low-profile reel that is mostly a sleek black with red inlay and chrome features that will make the reel stand out. This reel also comes with a high-quality reel cover so you can keep it safe and protected when not in use. This baitcasting reel performs well and is solidly built. It’s lightweight enough to handle a long day of fishing without making your hands tired.
This reel comes with multiple drag points so you can make changes and adapt to ensure your lure goes where you want it to go. The drag system is magnetic which helps tune the last stage of your cast when the lures starts to slow before reaching the water. The casts with this reel are short but controlled and quite smooth. The spool tensioner is responsible for keeping the spool in check until the lure goes to the water.
If you are looking for the best baitcasting reel under $100, you’ll likely be happy with what KastKing offers here. It’s a great budget option that offers the power you need to bring in some big fish. The reel offers 11 + 1 ball bearings, has 17.5 pounds of carbon fiber drag, and easily fits in the hand. This is a tournament-level fishing reel at a price point that is nearly unbelievable. You can expect precise, fast, and controlled fishing when you head out onto the water.
- Smooth casting for effortless fishing
- Lightweight casting reel at 7.5 ounces
- Makes for a fantastic beginner’s reel
- May not be as durable as some reels
Piscifun New Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel
The Piscifun Phantom is a saltwater baitcasting reel that is extremely light yet offers tons of different options. It incorporates a dual brake system with an internal centrifugal brake and a magnetic brake on the exterior. Making adjustments is simple and allows an angler to use a large variety of bait. It also creates a reel that can maximize the distance of your cast by doing a bit of fine tuning as needed. It offers a 7.0:1 gear ratio for comfort while spending long days fishing.
The carbon fiber drag system can reel at up to 17 pounds of drag power but manages to be smooth at the same time. You can also expect the drag pressure to be consistent throughout the full drag range. The thumb bar has a comfort grip add which adds control and comfort to every cast you make. The main gear and shaft use an anodized aluminum alloy for durability, while creating a reel that gives a consistent performance.
As one of the top bait casting reels, you also get an aircraft-grade built CNC hollow spool. The spool gets going and speeds up much quicker than most large spools. It handles light lures and lines even better than a traditional baitcaster to handle all the techniques you need to pull off as a big fish angler. This reel also features a large titanium line guide that is a bit far form the spool to prevent line friction and ensure the best performance while casting.
- Reliable, smooth drag due to round drag system
- Offers a total of seven stainless steel ball bearings
- Weighs only 5.7 ounces for comfort and ease of use
- Feels a bit low-quality to some anglers
KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel
The MegaJaws by KastKing takes inspiration from the most terrifying predator on the water, the shark. This baitcasting reel offers a look that reminds you of the elements of a shark, showcasing the great power and performance you’ll get by choosing this reel. It has shark teeth on the front hood and shark fins on the side covers to really pull off that feeling. It’s made of solid metal materials to offer confidence and a feeling of performance while using it on the water.
The MegaJaws uses a unique low-friction tapered-vortex line guide which reduces the amount of line friction that you can expect. This gives you the chance to take on extremely long casts with ease. It has an ergonomic design that fits well in the hand for easy fishing encounters. This is a low-profile reel with a small frame that won’t tire out your hands. The baitcaster is built to reduce fatigue when you are going to be fishing all day long.
It can sometimes be difficult to figure out where the right ratio is when fishing in specific situations, which is something KastKing thought about. There are different colors for each ratio so casting is simple and easy. This can be a huge advantage when you take part in a competition. It features 11 + 1 bearings that are double-shielded to prevent corrosion and 17.6 pounds of power to stop fish in their tracks. When combined with the aluminum spool on the reel, you have a powerful reel that can’t be beat.
- Built out of high-quality components
- Powerful drag system for smooth casting
- Offers a substantial 9.1:1 gear ratio
- Line capacity may be too low for some anglers
KastKing Spartacus Plus Baitcasting Fishing Reel
Perfect for saltwater or freshwater applications, the KastKing Spartacus Plus offers an aluminum spool and frame for a sturdy yet flexible body that will help you fight against large fish without a worry. The reel has a large handle with non-slip grips and shielding bearings, which makes it a great choice of saltwater baitcast reels. This is one of the beefiest models from KastKing and is ready for whatever the water has to throw at it.
This reel has a dual centrifugal and magnetic brake system and offers up to 17.5 pounds of drag power. It also uses 11 + 1 shielded ball bearings that are resistant to corrosion from sea water. The reel offers instant stop anti-reverse and handsome brass gears. The gear ratio is great at 6.3:1 to offer a cast that can bring in the massive fish you want. Beyond that, this is one of the cheapest reels on the list so even those on a budget can enjoy the high-performance of this reel.
This reel comes in both right-handed and left-handed versions and has a one-year warranty when used for recreational fishing. KastKing is known for offering high-quality fishing gear at some of the best prices on the market. It also has a nice aesthetic with a black appearance and red and silver accents along with corking on the handle. This is a fantastic low-profile baitcasting reel that can be used by beginners but will also offer great things in the hands of someone who is more experienced.
- Super affordable reel for a beginner
- Offers a variety of drag settings for your needs
- Compact and lightweight design
- Hard to dial in drag when changing lure sizes
Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel
The Torrent by Piscifun is an excellent product from a company with a reputation for offering great reels and other fishing gear. The reel is reinforced using precision-cut gears and uses stainless-steel springs and screws. This ensures the highest strength as well as a noiseless operation while fishing. The bearings are shielded to prevent corrosion form particles and sea water. The Torrent itself is made of a18-pound fiber drag washers to help you retrieve and cast your line as you need.
The Torrent baitcasting reel features a 7.1:1 gear ratio and 18 pounds of maximum drag. On top of that, the reel weighs only eight ounces and retrieves 30 inches per turn. With a monofilament line, the reel can reach 10 pounders per 120 yards. Those who prefer braided line can reach 30 pounds per 120 years. One of the other features of the reel is an extended handle with EVA knobs to offers increased leverage and power.
In order to ensure the highest stability, strength, and performance, Piscifun has included a double line winding shaft. There is also a quick oil port design where you simply release a level on the side plate to increase your performance. It has magnetic brakes to optimize casting and a dial-in gauge to control backlash.
- Easy maintain even for beginners
- Durable and made to last a long time
- Well-constructed and designed
- Challenging to manage braking system
What to Look for in a Baitcasting Reel
There are a lot of parts that make up the best baitcasting reels and understanding what to expect from each of those parts is important. We want to share some of the things you should be aware of when you are choosing the reel you want to purchase. This will give you insight into which reels are fantastic and which are just good. You’ll also learn how to choose the best features for your fishing style.
The gear ratio of a reel is an explanation of the amount of spool rotations you get by turning the handle one time. That lets you know how quickly you can retrieve your line, but there is more to it than that. A lower ratio is going to be slower but it’s also going to do better bringing up large fish. Your own style of fishing is going to determine the gear ratio you want to choose.
Size of Spool
The spool is the part of the reel where the fishing line is wrapped up. When you choose a larger spool, that means more line can be held. However, the material is also important to think about. For instance, aircraft-grade aluminum is the most durable, but it also tends to be the most expensive. Some spools also have a braid ready feature which can be super convenient on the water.
Choice of Frame
The first thing you want to think about in terms of frame is the shape, which can be round or low-profile. This is largely a matter of preference, as some anglers prefer one or the other for various reasons. Low-profile reels keep the line closer to your hand while the round frame has a distinct feel.
The material used in the frame is also important to think about. The most common choices are high-grade aluminum, graphite, and other metals. High-grade aluminum is generally considered to be the best option as it’s lightweight but durable. However, it can also cost a lot. Graphite also works well and is less expensive but twisting and damage are more common.
Number of Bearings
The first thing to know about bearings is that a reel with more bearings is going to have a smoother retrieve. However, the more bearings are present, the more likely it is that one will fail, which should also be considered. The reality is that not all bearings are made the same. The best option is a stainless-steel bearing with shielding on both sides.
Brakes or Drag
The brakes on a baitcasting reel are referred to by the term “drag.” The best reels out there today use carbon discs which push against each other to create friction. This system doesn’t engage until your reel is in gear and taken out of free spool. After you place it in gear, anti-reverse sets in which will not allow the spool to go backwards. Maximum drag rating is important and it’s always good to go higher than you would expect with this component.
Many anglers who try a baitcasting reel never go back. It often is the superior option to a spinning reel. With the information we’ve provided today, you are well on your way to choose a reel that meets your needs. Each of the reels showcased here is high-quality and worth considering
Think about what you are going to use the reel for and add that to the information you now have about the reel components and you can find a reel that works well for you. Whether you go with a reel on this list or not, you’re prepared to get your reel so you can get to the fun part – getting yourself on the water.