9 Of The Best Baitcasting Reel Reviews – A Guide for Saltwater and Freshwater

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Best Baitcasting Reel

At some point in your fishing career, you’ll run across a great question for anglers who are looking to improve their performance – should I use a spinning reel or baitcasting reel. While spinning reels are great to learn on, sooner or later, you’ll need a reel that can consistently keep up with your evolving skillset, which is where the baitcasting reel comes in.

At A Glance: Our Top 4 Picks for Baitcasting Reels

Everyone starts fishing, gets better at it, and then seeks tools that would make trips most productive.

One of such tools is the baitcasting reel. If you’re at the point where you want to improve the outcomes of your fishing trip, you should consider getting a baitcasting reel. You should also acquire the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.

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Top 4 Best Baitcasting Reels (Summary)

 

Image Product Details  

Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel

Greatest Line CapacityAbu Garcia Revo 4
  • Smooth and consistent casting
  • Powerful drag and drive system
  • Dual EVA gripped aluminum handle for custom pressure

Shimano Metanium 150 Low Profile Baitcasting Reel

Most DurableShimano Metanium
  • Well balanced and fast
  • Good line capacity
  • Great fit and finish

Lew's Team Lews HyperMag SLP 8.3:1 Right Hand Baitcast Reel

Lew’s Hyper Mag
  • Incredibly light weight
  • Smooth casting
  • Very versatile

Okuma Komodo SS Large Capacity Low Profile Baitcaster, KDS-471P, 130 yds-30LB, Power Handle , Grey

Okuma Komodo SS
  • Easy to cast
  • Strong drag
  • Great braking

For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.

Baitcasting reels, otherwise known as “baitcasters”, are for those who want more control and precision with their casts and those who have lots of previous experience perfecting their technique. Baitcasters are widely considered the best fishing reels over spinning reels for advanced or professional anglers because they have a higher gear ratio that gives you a faster retrieve. They can be used for larger crankbaits, buzz baits, and more.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the best baitcasting reels today, highlighting their features and some potential advantages and disadvantages of buying these reels.

What Is a Baitcasting Reel

A baitcasting reel is a tool that is placed on top of the casting rod. It is designed to improve the efficiency of fishing and lure them effectively. Effective control is important for every angler who desires to catch a lot of fish. Baitcasting reels are aimed at achieving the level of control that guarantees maximum results.

Why Do You Need a Baitcasting Reel

Instead of a baitcasting reel, an angler can decide to use a spin casting reel. However, baitcasting reels provide a level of control and efficiency that can’t be found with any other similar tool.

When you make a good catch, you need a measure of stability to effectively lure the catch and pull it out of the deep. A baitcasting reel is the support system that provides the required stability. The strength of the average baitcasting reel allows it to support anglers.

It is a well-known fact that baitcasting reels are adapted for experienced anglers, as they’re tailored to achieve the level of efficiency they desire. While the spools of spin casting reels sit in line with the rod, such as the premium bass fishing rod, the spools of baitcasting reels are perpendicular to the fishing rod, making them especially suitable for heavy fishing lines. 

If you fish with heavier lines, you need a baitcasting reel to catch a lot of fish and make your angling more productive. Finally, longer casts are more achievable with a baitcasting reel than a spin casting one.

Pros and Cons of Using a Baitcasting Reel

Pros

  • Highly efficient with better control
  • Tailored to meet individual needs
  • It will make your fishing business more productive

Cons

  • Baitcasting reel could be difficult for a novice angler to use
  • They are heavy
  • They can be handled most effectively by experienced anglers

Types of Baitcasting Reels

When you decide to get a baitcasting reel, a necessary first step is deciding on the type you need. The two basic types of baitcasting reels are low-profile reels and round-profile reels.

Both types differ in their design. These two designs are suitable for different fishing styles. Your preferred line capacity would also determine the more suitable of the two types of baitcasting reels.

Types of Baitcasting Reels

Round Profile Baitcasting Reel

A major feature of round profile reels is the fact you grip them from behind. This grip offers greater torque than the low-profile versions.

Because round profile reels offer a lot of torque, they are adapted for anglers who prefer to go after bigger fish. If your fishing style includes big lures and baits, you would need a round profile reel.

Another distinguishing feature of round profile and low profile reels is the amount of line they can hold. Round profile reels hold much more line than low profile ones. Thus, round profile reels are adapted at anglers that prefer to seek fish at greater depths.

If you target fish such as spike, steelhead and salmon, you would be more efficient with a round profile reel. You should also note that a lot of round profile reels are made of metal which makes them especially suitable for angling in salt waters.

Low-Profile Baitcasting Reels

Low-profile reels are adapted for anglers that seek reels that are particularly easy to use. These reels have an ergonomic design that makes them easy on the wrist.

Because of the ergonomic design, anglers can hold them with ease. They allow more stability than round profile reels and will be more suitable for people that want reels that provide maximum comfort. If your target is mostly bass, you would be better off with this type of reel.

Generally, if you do more casting than targeting big fish, a low profile reel is more suitable for your fishing style. The ease and comfort of use is also related to their lightweight nature. Graphite is applied in making a lot of the low profile reels. Carbon composite is another lightweight material for making low-profile reels.

How to Choose the Best Baitcasting Reel

Before you choose a baitcasting reel, it is important to consider several factors that indicate the effectiveness of these tools. Proper consideration of baitcasting reel options will lead you to the most effective one.

The factors that you should consider before buying a baitcasting reel include the following:

Brand

The brand or manufacturer of a baitcasting reel matters when you want to select the reel of your choice. Each brand will produce reels with different features that you may need or not need, depending on your style of fishing. Some brands have great perks like an additional lifetime or multi-year warranties.

Brakes

Brakes on baitcasting reel are like brakes on. You need them to work well. An effective braking system will ensure the control of spool and avoid occurrences such as birds’ nests that would frustrate anglers.

The centrifugal brakes, otherwise known as mechanical brakes are similar to brakes that are found in cars. This brake system has a pin for engaging and disengaging it. This type of brake is found in more traditional reels. They are also particularly adapted to avoid backlash.

Magnetic brakes were designed as modern modifications of the braking system. These brakes have a handle aimed at easy maneuver. However, some fishermen say that these types of brakes are not very effective at preventing backlash.

While magnetic brakes are mostly found in the more expensive models, mechanical brakes are found on a lot more baitcasting reels, including the budget-friendly versions.

A baitcasting reel with a dependable braking system will help with easy casting. There are two types of breaks found in different reels – a magnetic system and a centrifugal system.

  • Magnetic system – This is the cheapest and easiest braking system to learn with but is the least efficient in dealing with adjustments.
  • Centrifugal system – More of a manual system, this offers freedom to make adjustments you may need to make in strong winds or other variables.
Baitcasting Reel Parts

Speed, Gearing and Gears

Choosing a reel with a good speed ratio will lower the torque in your reel and give better performance.

Standard gears are usually made from brass, but the top of the line gears are made of metal. Metal gears will be more durable and dependable, but more costly. We recommend avoiding reels that have plastic gears, as they will fail quickly.

Bearings

Bearings reduce friction between moving gears in the reel and improve the life of the product. Using more bearings will give you a better cast. However, a reel with five quality bearings will give a better performance than a reel with 15 poor bearings.

Bearings are graded from 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest) in terms of performance. The bearing of a baitcasting reel determines its efficiency. It influences the smoothness of casting as well as retrieval. Regarding bearing types, the most effective baitcasting reels are those with bearings that are made of ceramic or high-quality steel.

It is important to mention that, for ball bearings, you should look out for quality more than quantity. The number of ball bearings is not necessarily an indication of the quality.

Search for ball bearings with features such as complete sealing to prevent water from entering it, especially for smaller bearings. Also, look for ball bearings with high-quality materials.

Line Capacity

You should consider line casting while shopping for a baitcasting reel because it would impact on your ability to make long runs. Thus, your fishing style will determine the most suitable line capacity of your reel.

Frame

Aluminum frames are the most expensive but will give the best performance. Alloy or graphite frames are common, though they are weaker than aluminum. The frame acts as the reel’s foundation, so you should ensure that it is a single piece.

Spincasting reels are especially known for being light and easy to use. Although baitcasting reels are generally not as light as spin casting reels, a lot of lightweight materials have been applied in their manufacturing. You should look for baitcasting reels that are made with light materials, like aluminum and carbon composites. Carbon composites are especially known to be light and strong.

Spool Tension

The spool tension collaborates with the braking system to ensure its smooth operations. Spool tension knobs are included in reels to improve their level of efficiency. Manufacturers have modified spool tension knobs to include features such as a clicker for enhanced control of the spool.

Handle Size

Baitcasting Reel Handle Size

Handles of baitcasting reels are adapted to suit different fishing styles. The handles of baitcasting reels could be long and large or short. Baitcasting reels with shorter handles allow a high level of control which is not achievable when using reels with longer handles. 

However, reels with shorter handles are not adapted for making large catches. On the other hand, those with longer and larger handles reduce one’s level of control but are suitable for large catches. If you apply a variety of fishing styles, you could get different reels adapted for these styles.

Gear Ratios

It is important to note the gear ratio of baitcasting reels before you choose the most suitable option because it determines the speed. Gear ratios are stated as figures such as (3.2.1). 

The first two figures refer to the spool revolution, and the last figure refers to the number of turns of the handle. Thus, 3.2.1 means that for every handle turn, the spool will spin 3.2 times.

When comparing gear ratios while choosing the most effective reel, you should aim for those with a higher number of revolutions and a low value for the number of handle turns. The gear ratios of some of the most effective reels include 5:3:1, 6:4:1 and 7:1:1. If you apply tasking fishing techniques, you would need a reel with high gear ratios.

Gear ratios determine if a reel is a slow reel, a moderate reel or a fast reel. Slow reels include those with a gear ratio of 5.9.1. Moderate reels include those with a gear ratio of 6.0.1. Fast reels include those with a gear ratio of 7.2.1. There are reels with a very high gear ratio — up to 8.1.1.

Weight

Since a reel is a critical tool for angling, you should also consider its weight, especially if you engage in angling for long periods of time. The weight of the reel you’ll choose will also be determined by your fishing style. 

Low-profile reels which are generally known to be lightweight are suitable for most inshore and freshwater angling. If you engage in saltwater angling, a round profile reel would be an ideal option because these reels are typically heavier.

Spool Size

The spool size will determine the suitability of a baitcasting reel for your needs. The bigger the spool, the better it is for heavy lines. Plus, a big spool is easier to control.

9 Best Baitcasting Reel Reviews

1. Abu Garcia Revo 4 Rocket– Best Saltewater Baitcasting Reel

To get this out of the way, Abu Garcia is easily one of the most popular and successful rod and reel manufacturers in the world. As a part of that success, you see more tournament fishermen and overall anglers using their reels on regular basis. This may seem like commercialism but their success has been well earned against a number of very good brands.

What makes this reel great?  Well, it starts with a full graphite body with a proprietary X2 frame to keep the weight down on what would otherwise be a large, heavy reel. This isn’t a minnow picker, but a tool designed for use by serious anglers going after the larger fish species. This can easily handle bass, pike, and even musky when needed.

The gearing is brass and saltwater safe and set to a quick 7.1 to 1 ratio. When paired with the dual EVA gripped aluminum handle, you can put the pressure down when you need to. Line capacity for mono is nearly 140 yards of 30-pound braid. This is what you need when fishing far and fishing heavy.

The braking system is a combo MagTrax that has become such a killer for Abu Garcia. It exerts constant and consistent tension on the line to prevent backlash or any other problems as long as you get everything set as you should. This allows you to cast heavy bait long distance and even into the wind without issue.

Your drag is going to max out at 18 pounds which is plenty for big cats and the largest bass. Best when paired with a heavier rod of moderate speed, this is a great reel for target fishing those areas where big fish lurk. This is a hauling reel that handles the bigger fish very well.

Topping the scales at half a pound, this is no dainty reel. It was made to last for people who use their reels a lot and who use them hard. If this sounds like you, you won’t find many options that are much better. Abu Garcia does exceptional work on their high-end reels.

Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Great line capacity
  • Smooth and consistent casting
  • Powerful drag and drive system

Cons

  • Finicky break system
  • Best on stiffer rods

2. SHIMANO Metanium MGL150 – Best Freshwater Baitcasting Reel

There are a lot of great reel manufacturers but Shimano has killed it this year. Having 2 back to back is a feat but when the margin of quality between the two is so narrow, you know you are making quality reels. The Curado hedges out ahead by the slimmest margins.

Like the Curado, this reel is made with a solid aluminum frame and handle with a Hagane body to stand up to any rough treatment. The spool is Shimano’s new Magnumlite which promises up to 20% more casting distance with lower inertia. This can make getting the brakes perfectly tuned a little difficult but manageable.

The breaking uses a completely sealed magnetic system that is both smooth and strong. This is what separates great reels from merely good ones. Brakes aren’t hard but making great brakes is a science that Shimano has perfected.

This reel is available in a variety of gearing from 6.2 to 8.5 to 1. On the upper end, this is among the fastest reels in production. This mates up well with the 11-pound drag system and fully sealed drive bearings. Overall, this is a perfect fighting reel for medium sized fish but may have trouble with larger offshore species.

All in all, this is an amazing reel that takes the fight to the fish best on a medium or stiffer rod. Weighing in at about 11 ounces, it is on the heavy side but can hold a lot of lines, up to 120 yards of 10 lb. mono. Plenty enough to bring in most of the inland species in the U.S. Even some larger cats and pike are little issue.

At the top end, you are looking at reels for the serious angler. If you are out there week in and week out, this is the reel that lasts and continues to pull in fish year after year. It is an upfront investment but, with a little care, it can last you a lifetime and still perform better than any budget reel.

Shimano Metanium 150 Low Profile Baitcasting Reel

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Pros

  • Very durable
  • Well balanced and fast
  • Good line capacity
  • Great fit and finish

Cons

  • Somewhat heavy
  • Breaking harder to set
  • Weaker drag

3. Lews Hyper Mag SLP – Best Lightweight Baitcaster

Lews is one of those companies that you simply don’t hear enough about. They have a loyal following but have never seen the success of many of the other top-notch brands. This is a sad state of affairs because Lews makes some very nice reels on the higher end.

Carbon fiber is one of those miracle materials of the space age. It is light, strong, and very durable which is likely why it was chosen for this light as a feather reel. At a mere 5 and a half ounces, it almost feels like a toy but that would be far from the truth. This reel is strong and tough and can easily handle some massive fish!

This reel uses four separate carbon fiber discs for a drag system that keeps the pressure on up to 20 pounds. Paired with a 7.5 to 1 retrieve ratio, you can really put the fight on when it comes down to the wire. If you are hauling bass out of the weeds, this is the kind of power you want. If you are fighting a big cat, this is the power that you need!

With a dual handle aluminum crank, you get plenty of leverage when fighting. Paired with a hard-anodized aluminum gearing, you can keep the fight on the fish so he doesn’t shake the hook. This all routes through a 10 bearing drive that keeps the reel smooth no matter how tough the battle may get.

Breaking is a dual magnetic/centrifugal system that provides a nearly infinite level of adjustment. You can fine-tune this for your rod and bait to get a perfect, nest free cast. Speaking of rods, this does well on multiple setups from a stiff rod for catfish to a fast rod for bass. This is a reel without hard limitations.

With enough capacity for 110 yards of 12-pound braid, this rod has the capacity but not by sacrificing weight. At just 5.4 ounces, this is one of the lightest reels you are likely to fish. At first, it almost seems like you don’t have a reel at all. After a little adjustment, you will start to love the perfect balance this reel adds to your setup.

Lew's Team Lews HyperMag SLP 8.3:1 Right Hand Baitcast Reel

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Pros

  • Incredibly light weight
  • Great line capacity
  • Very versatile
  • Smooth casting

Cons

  • Smaller size can be hard to control

4. Okuma Komodo SS – Best Big Water Baitcaster

Okuma is another new company that has been doing some pretty amazing things with their reels. This would be considered another fan favorite that is well known for producing amazing casting reels. These are very popular amongst coastal fishermen even though most are not salt-proof.

The Komodo series is a full aluminum frame and side plate construction with machined stainless steel internals. This reel is large and incredibly strong with no compromises. Speaking of which, this reel weighs over a pound depending on the model but none of them are lightweight.

Depending on the model, you get around 6 to 7 to 1 gear ratios which works well on a variety of fish with a lot of different techniques. At the heart of the gearing is heavy-duty steel drive shaft with sealed stainless bearings and a corrosion-resistant drive with anti-reverse. Not only does this keep things smooth but provides excellent casting with little chance of backlash.

The braking is a hybrid magnetic system that does a good job of keeping just the right tension on the line. This reel was designed with braided lines in mind and is built to cast those with only the smoothest action possible. Depending on the model, you can get upwards 290 yards of line.

Drag is a beefy 25 to 30 pounds, depending on the model, and uses a multi-disc system that keeps everything running smoothly even under large amounts of strain. You have enough drag pressure to battle the biggest fish and adjusts easily and smoothly on the fly. Stick it to them when you need to or let them run if they are a real fighter.

This is quite an attractive reel and well suited to most environments. It’s hard coated for durability and a good, clean finish. Best paired with a medium to slow rod, you can get some very serious pressure. Stay away from fast rods that can’t keep up with all of the strain you can put on this massive reel.

Okuma Komodo SS Large Capacity Low Profile Baitcaster, KDS-471P, 130 yds-30LB, Power Handle , Grey

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Pros

  • Easy to cast
  • Strong drag
  • Great braking

Cons

  • Less smooth
  • Heavy and large

5. Diawa Tatula SVTW – Best Midrange Baitcaster

Stateside, Diawa almost seems like a sleeper brand that is far better than the attention that they get. These are one of the more popular brands in the Asian fishing culture which is every bit as strong as the culture we have here. It’s best not to doubt their quality and durability if you are looking for a top of the line reel!

One of the major issues with Diawa is their lack of U.S. markets and often lack of published materials. Finding all of the statistics and information on some of their reels was a real challenge until recently. Finally, this brand is building a real U.S. presence.

Like most of the toughest reels, this one starts with an all-aluminum frame, reel arm, and spool. Every piece is hard anodized to prevent corrosion issues. The side plates and body are a graphite composite that is more resistant to cracking than pure graphite and somewhat lighter. The whole effect is both striking and amazingly practical.

Breaking on the reel is Diawa’s own Magforce-Z which combines traditional breaking with the smooth power of a magnetic system. This is one of the easiest to control breaks out there for those who are new to baitcasting. It does wonders to improve your cast and can get good distance with good results. Coupled with their TWS level winder system, they promise at least 5% gain over other reels.

There are a number of sub-models for this reel but all of them have the same line capacity and drag. You can get around 120 yards of 14-pound mono and a bit more if you use braid instead. Drag on all models maxes out at just over 13 pounds.

You will get different gear ratios between 6.3 and 8.1 to 1. On the lower end, those are very moderate but the high-end reels are blazing fast. Best fished on a medium to slower action rod, these are a powerhouse reel more designed to get fish to the boat rather than play them on the line. Not great for large cats and hard fighters but will nail bass and smaller fish every time.

Daiwa Tatula TASV103HL Baitcasting Fishing Reel

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Pros

  • Great speed
  • Very smooth casting
  • Acceptable line capacity
  • Durable

Cons

  • Less U.S. presence
  • Somewhat heavy

6. Daiwa Lexa CC Baitcast Reel – Best Baitclicker Reel

Diawa has many great reels with a ton of quality but the Lexa stands out. While it may not be the overall quality of Tatula, when it comes to pure value, this is a definite top contender. Between construction and overall features, dollar for dollar they have all of the quality you could want in a reel.

While not as vibrant and eye-catching as some of Diawa’s other reels, this is a classy design. Looks aside, the overall durability of the reel is very good being composed of a mix of aluminum and graphite for the body and frame. The spool is aluminum while the working parts of the reel are corrosion-resistant stainless steel.

Featuring an anti-reverse, one-way clutch to keep backlash down that is augmented by a very smooth centrifugal break, this reel casts very smoothly. Your chances of getting any significant backlash are slim. This purely mechanical brake system is both durable and exceptionally easy to set.

The drag is a mix of carbon and brass that directly ties to the drive system for maximum stopping power. You can expect to get 25 pounds of drag to stop even the largest fish. Additionally, you get an extra-loud bait clicker for live baits when you are after the biggest catches.

The overall drive system is very slick with 6 coaster bearings supporting the drive bearing. As for the gear ration, that is a moderately powerful 5.1 to 1. Everything combined, you get the torque to fight any fish of any size. Line capacity is massive with over 300 yards of 55-pound braid.

Best when matched with a somewhat slower action rod, this is a good reel for targeting most of the popular game fish species around the country. It can handle very large baits and bring in tough fighting fish.

Daiwa Lexa-CC 5.5:1 Bait Clicker Right Hand Baitcast Fishing Reel w/ Power Handle - LEXA-CC400PWR-P,Blue

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Pros

  • Strong drag
  • Strong and consistent braking
  • Tons of torque

Cons

  • Quite heavy
  • Rather slow

7. Abu Garcia Revo 3 SX – Best Baitcasting Reel for the Money

If you want reasonable quality on a budget, this is the reel for you!  Abu Garcia is, of course, know for making extremely good reels. Just because this is a budget price doesn’t mean its junk. It may not be all of the greatest that you would get out of a higher end reel but it casts and fishes very well!

One of the cost savings measures implemented on this reel was the use of an alloy frame. It costs less but is very strong, quite durable, and extremely lightweight. This is a winning combination for those just getting into baitcasting reels.

One of the first things you will notice about this reel is the amazing ergonomics. With a flat top, recessed spool, and contoured handle, this is one of the most comfortable reels to fish if you are the fish all day type. This augments a 6.4 to 1 gear ratio that is perfect for putting the power down when you need it.

With a capacity of 140 yards of a 30-pound test, you may be glad to have that gear ratio if you have a runner but with a solid drag system, you can slow them down a lot!  The Revo 3 uses Abu Garcia’s power disk drag which can be set as high as 20 pounds for those hard fighting fish that need the stopping power.

Weighing just under 7 ounces, you will find this reel perfectly suited to a lightweight rod. It is capable of fishing bass and other large species but excels at panfish and smaller inland game fish. With a 10 bearing system, it’s quite smooth while the magnetic breaks do a fine job at preventing and back feed into the reel.

Buy this reel on a budget and fish it for years with no regrets. If you can catch this reel on sale, you won’t find a better reel for the price. Getting started, this is the perfect entry level reel for those who want quality but just can’t spare the cost of other reels!

Abu Garcia REVO4 SX Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel, black/red

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Pros

  • Great weight
  • Decent line capacity
  • Strong drag
  • Easy casting

Cons

  • Unrefined fit and finish
  • Reeling can be a little gritty

8. Okuma Citrix 300 – Best Beginner Baitcaster

I will admit to being partial to Okuma reels. Yes, there are better reels on the market but, I have found even low-end Okuma to be a very good reel. They perform better than they should for the price, especially the Citrix series.

What makes these a favorite?  Mostly that is in the fine details. The Citrix series runs on a full graphite body and aluminum frame which is nothing special. The handle is all aluminum which isn’t the most exciting. But the combination of profile, anodizing, and soft touch, contoured handles just make this a great reel to use.

This is one of the most affordable reels to use a true 100% magnetic braking system. They don’t bother giving it a fancy name or anything. They just make sure it’s perfectly tuned to give you the cleanest possible cast. When it comes down to it, this is probably one of the easiest to cast entry level reels available.

There are a number of sub-models of the Citrix that perform very similarly. All of the models are capable of holding 150 yards of 20-pound braid and have a massive 25-pound drag.

The drag system is a multi-disc carbon system which is pretty normal for this price range but the gearing is quite different. You can get models topping out at 8 to 1 or as low as 6 to 1. The lower gear ratio models tend to be smoother and better performers.

With a low profile and a weight of 11 ounces, this is a small but heavy reel that can put up a healthy fight. With about 30 inches of retrieval per turn of the handle, you can really put on the pressure. Best when used with faster action rods but will do well on a medium.

Okuma Citrix 350 Baitcast Reel Rh 7+1BB 6.4:1 14Lb/230yd

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Pros

  • Fast and smooth casting
  • Strong drag
  • Good line capacity

Cons

  • Quite heavy
  • Some parts cheaply made

9. Lews Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel – Best on the Budget

Lews may be a lesser-known company than some of the other popular brands but it is easily in the top five reel manufacturers in the world. You can find these reels gracing the rods of many competitive anglers. Having made reels for decades, they have the process down pat.

One of the most notable things about a Lews is the overall quality and construction. This starts with top-notch materials. Notably, this is the one piece aluminum frame and double anodized aluminum spool. This is coupled with graphite side plates for low weight and hardened aluminum and steel drive and bearing system.

This all adds up to smooth operation that is only enhanced by a zero reverse one-way clutch and dual magnetic/centrifugal brake system. This is all a part of the Lews MBS or multi-setting break that helps avoid any issues with lines tangling or having snap back.

The drag system is carbon fiber which has proven to be the most effective and durable modern material for the job. Total drag pressure is 20 pounds which can be set with the step-up drag star.

This reel can hold up to 120 yards of a 12-pound line which gives you plenty of room for a fish to run. But has a 5.6 to 1 gear ration to get them in quick when the time comes. Overall weight is less than half a pound and you get a lot of quality and durability packed in for that price.

Overall, this is easily one of the best reals in production today with a very small and low profile form factor that makes it perfect for any fast action bass reel. Casting is smooth and retrieval more so. Easily the best buy you can make!

Lews TS1SHMB Fishing, Tournament MB Baitcast Reel

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Pros

  • Great fit and finish
  • Smooth, tangle-free casting
  • Great drag pressure
  • Good line capacity

Cons

  • Somewhat slow

Right-Handed vs Left-Handed Baitcasting Reels

A major consideration you should make before buying a baitcasting reel is whether you want a right-handed reel or a left-handed reel. These reels differ by the placement of the handle. The placement of the handle determines the hand with which you can use the reel. A lot of baitcasting reels are available in both right-handed and left-handed versions.

Right-handed baitcasting reel has its handles on the right side. When you use it, you cast with your right hand. After casting, you could use your left hand to crank the reel. Right-handed reels are the traditional options. Thus, a lot of anglers have used right-handed reels and opt for them.

Right Handed vs Left-Handed Baitcasting Reels

A left-handed casting reel works in the opposite way. Its handle on the left side and anglers can cast from that side and also crank from the left side. Although anglers that are used to the traditional anglers go for the right-handed options, the left-handed versions could be more natural to use, especially if you have used spinning reels in the past.

Your choice of right-handed or left-handed reels should be based on the ease of use. Basically, you should buy the version that you understand how to use best. Confirm the handedness of a reel before buying it as it would determine its ease of use.

How to Use a Baitcasting Reel

If you have never used a bait caster or have used only the traditional versions, you should expect a learning curve as you begin to use this reel. It is thus important that we provide this guide to direct you until you get  the hang of the process.

We should mention that a baitcasting reel is a somewhat complicated tool. Novices are not advised to start off with a baitcasting reel unless if they are especially dedicated to learning how to use it. Baitcasting reels have several moving parts so they are complicated to use.

You should pay particular attention to understanding how your baitcasting reel works. Only then will you be able to use it effectively for improving the quality of your angling.

Step 1 – Understand the Braking System

Begin with understanding how the braking system works and where it is located. The braking system could be a centrifugal system or a magnetic braking system. Centrifugal brakes are usually found on the side of the reel when the side plate is removed.

Magnetic brakes, on the other hand, are usually attached to with the knob. You should also consult the instruction booklet attached to your reel for more specific information on the braking system.

Step 2 – Adjust the Braking System and Length of the Cast

After locating the braking system and understanding how it works, you should adjust it according to the length of your cast. The length of the cast will determine if you would adjust the braking system by engaging or disengaging it.

For long casts, you should disengage the brake system. Disengaging the braking system for long casts would prevent backlash. However, you should make long casts only when you fully understand the braking system.

If you don’t understand your braking system well enough or do not have a lot of experience using it, then you should engage it and make short casts. That way you would be able to adjust to it and later disengage it as you get to understand it.

Step 3 – Adjust and Test Tension

When you have adjusted the braking system according to the length of the cast, you should then adjust and test the tension. As mentioned above, the spool tension and brakes work together for effective use and control of the spool.

You will find the tension knob on the same side as the handle of the reel. You can adjust the knob by turning it clockwise or counter clockwise. When the knob is turned clockwise, you increase the tension and vice versa. The weight of the reel will determine whether you would have to increase or decrease the tension.

To find the most suitable tension, you should also test it. You can test the tension by releasing the spool button while holding the rod at the tip, repeating the process until you get the most appropriate tension. 

Step 4 – Handle the Bait Caster

After figuring out the basic systems of your reel, such as the brakes and spool tension you should then focus on the proper handling of the bait caster. Learning how to grip a baitcasting reel requires a lot of practice.

Practice gripping the handle of the reel with your dominant hand: your right hand if you’re right-handed and your left hand if you’re left-handed. The quality of your grip will determine the level of stability you would attain as you use it.

Step 5 – Release the Line

Another essential aspect of baitcasting you should learn is the process of releasing the line. The length of line you should release would be determined by the type of cast you’re making. If you’re not very experienced, you should aim for short casts as you would have to release short lines too.

If you’re learning to release lines, you could start with allowing a good measure of the line to hang before casting it. You could also measure the length of the line.

Step 6 – Release the Spool and Cast

You would also have to learn how to release the spool and cast. When starting out, you could release the spool and cast according to any method you wish. Over time, you should understand the standard way of releasing the spool and cast. The standard way of releasing the spool and the cast is to release the spool and place your thumb over it to spot it.

Step 7 – Practice Casting

Finally, you should practice casting to get better at it. Even though you would have to start with the short cast when you begin, you should aim to make long casts. Practicing will improve your casting skills. While casting, you should pay particular attention to swinging your entire arm and not your wrist.

As you practice casting, you could try several techniques to find the best method for you. Practicing casting is the only way you can get better at it. Even if it is a long and hard road, you shouldn’t be discouraged.

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Basic Equipment Needed for Baitcasting

The basic equipment you would need for baitcasting is highlighted and explained below.

Baitcasting Reel

A baitcasting reel is the most essential tool for baitcasting. Choose the most appropriate reel, which improves your angling. The best reel for you will also be compatible with your fishing style. The factors you should look out for while buying a baitcasting reel have been highlighted above. Consider them adequately in choosing the option that is most suitable for you.

Rod

Every person that engages in fishing has a rod. Since baitcasting is an advanced form of angling, you probably already have a rod. Overall, the choice of a rod should be determined by factors such as its adaptability, affordability and efficiency. There are no special rods for baitcasting. Regular fishing rods can be baitcasting rods, too. As long as the rod you have already serves you well, you’re good to begin baitcasting with it.

Line

You should specifically consider the type of line to use for baitcasting. Factors that determine the suitability of a line include your rig setup. Braided lines have been suggested by expert anglers as some of the most suitable lines for baitcasting.

Bait

You can use any of the available types of baits for baitcasting. However, you may have to consider factors such as your rig setup when choosing a bait. Since there are a lot of bait options on the market, you would stick with your personal preference that works for your rig.

It is important to mention distinguishing features of baits, especially those that can attract fish such as neon light baits. Neon light attracts fish and baits with bright neon light could improve your chances.

Does Spending More Mean Better Quality

The features of a bait-casters usually determine its price. Thus, the pricey bait-casters are bound to have impressive features. However, it is also important to mention that the quality of a bait caster is determined by features such as the quality of materials with which it was made.

If you pay enough attention to the features that determine the quality of a baitcaster, you should be able to find one with good quality at any price range. Thus, paying attention to the features of the baitcaster rather than spending more determines the quality. 

Carry out quality research and you will find baitcasters with your required features at a variety of price ranges. Your decision to spend more should be based on whether the reel has specific features you seek and other preferences such as the brand.

FAQ

FAQ about Baitcasting Reels

Should I use mono or braided line on my baitcaster?

A lot of anglers use braided line for baitcasting because of reasons which include the enhanced stability of sets. Setups that include braided lines also include mono lines as leaders. 

The firmness of sets achieved with braided also have their drawbacks such as angling with a braided line could be tricky and difficult to master. The type of line you should use should be dependent on your setup and preference. Basically, you should find what works for you and stick to it, making adjustments as you develop new styles.

What is a low profile baitcasting reel?

Of the two basic types of baitcasting reels, the low profile type is more common because of features such as weight and size. They are usually small and light.

The size and weight of low profile baitcasters are the basic differences between this type and the round profile type which are larger and more suitable for fishing techniques that require a lot of fishing line.

What gear ratio is good for me?

You should choose a gear ratio based on your preference as well as your fishing style, noting that the gear ratio determines the speed at which the line will be retrieved. Baitcasters with high gear ratio allow easy and fast retrieval. Thus, these baitcasters are most suitable for search baits as well as fishing in shallow waters. If your fishing style involves easy and long retrieval, you should opt for a model with a high gear ratio.

Baitcasters with a low gear ratio, on the other hand, require more time for retrieval. Retrieval is not also as easy as it is with reels with high gear ratios. These baitcasters are thus more suitable for anglers that aim for big fishes as it allows for struggling during retrieving.

You should note that when using a baitcaster with a high gear ratio, you can reduce the speed of the retrieval but you can’t increase the speed of retrieval with a baitcaster with a low gear ratio.

Why should I use baitcasting reel?

Baitcasting reels are especially known for a level of control and efficiency that can’t be gotten with any other similar tool. When you make a good catch, you need a measure of stability to effectively lure the catch and pull it out of the deep. A baitcasting reel is the support system that provides the required stability. The strength of the average baitcasting reel allows it to support anglers.

Conclusion

It takes time and patience in order to become an expert at choosing and using a baitcasting reel. Baitcasters should offer smooth performance and feature sturdy and durable construction. Overall, the best baitcasting reel for you should come at an affordable price and one that challenges you to improve your performance, making casting more enjoyable!

As you improve your angling skills, you would use a baitcaster. With the wide range of options currently on the market, you would need to conduct proper research based on the factors highlighted above and personal preferences in choosing the best option.

Photos from: lunamarina / depositphotos.com, VadimVasenin / depositphotos.com, sytnik / depositphotos.com and project1photo / depositphotos.com.

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Sammy Garrard

I am the Founder and Chief Editor of soutdoors.com and a prepper with over 15 years of experience. I’m excited to my knowledge and the things I learn while travelling in British Columbia, Canada where I live and around the world. Feel free to follow me on Twitter!

1 thought on “9 Of The Best Baitcasting Reel Reviews – A Guide for Saltwater and Freshwater”

  1. Never knew the capabilities of the baitcasting reel until now. This post is very helpful, especially to we the novice anglers.

    Reply

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