I remember competing with my dad on everything as a kid whether it was sports or who could eat fastest, but the thing we would clash on most was fishing. For the most part, I was a good fisherman, but I wasn’t allowed to use a baitcaster until I was old enough to handle one and that drove me crazy. We still compete, but now it’s about which baitcasting reels are the best, he has his preferences and here are mine.
7 best baitcasting reel – reviews & buyer’s guide:
- Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel
- Abu Garcia Ambassadeur SX Round Reel
- KastKing Royale Legend Low-Profile
- Daiwa Tatula SV TW Baitcast Fishing Reels
- SHIMANO Curado 70 Baitcasting Reels
- KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
- Piscifun Torrent
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, and if you don’t see your favorite baitcaster here, don’t worry, I’m sure it’s great, these are just my favorites. Read below to find out why these are the 7 best baitcasting reels and why you should consider switching from a spinacast over to a baitcast reel and what you need to know before purchasing a reel.
Buyer’s Guide to a Baitcasting Reel
Before we get into what baitcasting reels are the best, and definitely better than the ones my dad likes, let’s quickly go over what you should look for when shopping for a reel. These metrics will vary based on how you like to cast or what you are fishing for.
If you’re a pro looking to buy a new reel just scroll down to the 7 best baitcasters, but I highly recommend both novices and seasoned fishers to have a look through the following when purchasing a reel:
- Profile: Low vs. Round
- Line Capacity
- Turn Gear Ratio
- Ball Bearings
- Braking: Centrifugal vs. Magnetic
- Frame, Handle, and Grips
Let’s take a quick look at each metric.
Profile: Low vs. Round
The profile of your baitcasting reel mostly depends on what you’re going after and your desired grip style. Reel’s are broken down into two styles:
- Low Profile Reels have great grip because they run low and feel very “palmable.” A low profile reel is perfect for beginners who want a higher comfort level while winding. They are also ideal for lighter game.
- Round Profile Reels are gripped from the back instead of the side like a low profile reel. These have great grip and excellent torque, which makes them ideal for large heavy game fish.
Both applications work fine. It just depends on what your fishing for and which grip feels right for you and your technique.
Size is obviously something you want to consider because you are likely going to travel with your reels, so you don’t want something that’s really heavy. Brands may label their baitcasters differently, but the size range is mostly the same across the board.
You will see labels with from in the 10’s, 100’s, and 1000’s with most low profile reels in the 100 range and round profiles in the 1000 range.
Low Profile Reels
- Low Profile Reels at 100-200: usually around 4 to 10 oz and have a line capacity that goes up to 170 yards of 12 pound monofilament. Best for mid-size fish like bass.
- Low Profile Reels at 300: usually around 9 to 12 oz with a line capacity that goes up to 120 yards of 20 pound monofilament. Good for above-average weight game including catfish.
- Low Profile Reels at 400 and over: usually around 14 to 18 oz and have a line capacity that goes up to 190 yards of 20 pound monofilament. Great for larger more predatory fish.
- Round Reels at 4000 and under: usually between 8 and 12 oz and have a line capacity of up to 175 yards of 12 pound monofilament. Great for mid-sized and slightly heavy fish.
- Round Reels at 5000: usually between 9 to 16 oz and have a line capacity of up to 230 yards of 14 pound monofilament. Great for large bass.
- Round Reels at 6000: usually between 10 and 17 oz with a line capacity that goes up to 250 yards of 14 pound monofilament.
- Round Reels at 7000 and over: these can weigh between 19 and 24 oz and have a line capacity of up to 150 yards of 20 pound monofilament. Perfect for large and heavy game fish.
Many of the metrics that you want to consider go hand in hand. With that said, let’s take a look at line capacity and what it has to do with profile and sizing.
This isn’t something you have to worry about too much unless you are going after really large preceptorial fish like salmon. Most of the time, your line will be able to handle the mid-sized and semi-large fish.
However, some fish are fighters, and they will give you some trouble. You want to be certain that you have enough line to cover the distance in case your fish starts to a run.
The larger your reel spool, the more line it will hold, which means the two are directly correlated. This is why you don’t want to go after big game with a low profile reel because the size of the spool can’t support the necessary capacity of line to handle a strong swimmer.
Again, most of the time, a low profile reel will have plenty of line capacity, but for those larger fish, go with a round profile reel with a large spool to support a linger line capacity.
Drag is one of the most important aspects you need to consider when purchasing a baitcasting reel. It both controls the breaking point of your line and the pressure on the spool, as well as the fish on your line.
You can adjust the drag with star-shaped knobs near the reel handle (some models look different, but the construction is basically reliant on small discs.) These discs help alter the heat of the line to stretch and expand as needed.
As a fish pulls at the end of your line, the discs will heat up, thus expanding the line relative to the speed and pressure placed on the line. This keeps constant pressure on the line preventing it from breaking and snapping.
Look for baitcaster reels with solid drag numbers and ones made of ceramic, carbon, or graphite.
Turn Gear Ratio
This is where you get into the nitty-gritty, and in all honesty, this isn’t something you need to consider your first time out with a reel. In fact, it’s not really an issue for pros, either just something to keep in mind.
For every turn you make with the baitcaster handle, the spool will turn a couple of times. This is only ever an issue if you tend to reel in the game very quickly and rapidly, which is something amateurs struggle with a lot, or if you have a fish that is light and you put too much effort in dragging it in.
If your reel has a 5.1:1 ratio, it means for every turn of the handle you make the spool will turn 5.1 times.
If you’re going for smaller fish and tend to reel in your fish in an excited manner, then go for a slow ratio, whereas if you are working with big predator fish then go with something fast.
- Slow – 5.8:1 and lower
- Moderate – 5.9:1 to 7.2:1
- Fast – 7.3:1 and above
Ball bearings are important in general just because they prevent the spool from spinning backward and causing issues you don’t want to deal with on a fun fishing trip.
If you want a smooth reel, go with something that has a higher bearing count made of steel.
Braking: Centrifugal vs. Magnetic
You need to use braking when reeling in order to prevent backlash. It is how you tune your line to the lure you’re using. All you have to do is crank the lure to the end of your rod and lighten the brake so that the lure reduces down between 6 and 10 inches.
There are two types of braking adjustment forces:
- Centrifugal: will control the spool at the start of the cast to control spool RPM
- Magnetic: provides consistent resistance, regardless of the spool RPM
It really doesn’t matter which braking force your reel uses. When it’s a toss-up, always go for the cheaper option as long as it checks the other boxes.
Frame, Handle, and Grip
This isn’t just cosmetic stuff. The frame, handle, and grip of your baitcasting reel will have a noticeable impact on your ability to fish properly.
Look for a frame made of graphite or some other light but solid material like an aluminum alloy. On the expensive side of the scale, you’ll have single-unit reels where the entire baitcaster is constructed from a single piece to maintain rigidity.
When it comes to the handle and grip, there isn’t much price variation, so you have to look at what feels comfortable in your hand, what looks solid, and can handle tough tasks.
For handles, you can go with the light and strong carbon fiber and graphite handles or the more expensive aluminum handles, which I don’t recommend if you are going to be fishing for a number of hours.
The grip needs to be soft and feel comfortable but also do their part and not slip, something like an EVA or soft-touch rubber, both of which do well in extreme weather conditions. Avoid anything wrapped in tape.
Last but definitely not least is the pricing. I have included a wide range of models that come at different prices. Know this: in part, you are paying for the brand name, but generally speaking, the higher-end models do perform the best.
That being said you don’t have to pay $250 for a solid reel I have included something under $100 that I think performs perfectly well.
So definitely consider the price when buying a reel and select something that is within your budget.
Difference Between Baitcasting and Spincasting
I know you want to get into the best reels, but I just wanted to go over the differences between a baitcaster and a spincaster mostly because I wasn’t allowed to use a baitcasting real until I could prove to my dad that I was a pro with a spincaster.
Spincasters are the reels you see actors using on TV. They look like what you imagine a fishing reel to look like, and they are perfect for novices. Spincasting is relatively easy to execute and reel back in.
You can use lighter bait like those small colorful plastic baits you see at Walmart. Unfortunately, a long cast is relatively limited with a spincaster, but they are perfect for kids, and you don’t have to worry about backlash.
All you have to do is switch the bail and secure it, place a finger on the line and shoot, then reel it back in clockwise. These reels are perfect for small game.
Baitcasters give you much more freedom of technique, game, and bait. With baitcaster reels, you can cast lures as well as crank and spinnerbaits with a large degree of accuracy. You also have a much longer and wider cast length and angle.
That being said, there can be backlash, and you may end up with a tangled line if you don’t know what you’re doing. You need to thumb the spool just right to minimize the drag resistance and potential for backlash, so practice is the name of the game.
Of course, as you familiarize yourself with a baitcasting reel, you’ll gradually increase your accuracy and cast distance.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, the choice between the 7 best baitcasting reels will be much easier!
The 7 Best Baitcasting Reels & Reviews
Now, let’s jump right into it! Here are my picks for the 7 best baitcasting reels. I have included a variety of reels that range in price, drag ability, and I have also included a review system for quick access.
1. Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel
- 9 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing...
- C6 carbon sideplates provide significant weight...
- Duragear brass gear for extended gear life
The Abu Garcia Revo SX was an obvious choice. Even if you’ve never had an Abu Garcia, you would have probably expected it to be on the list.
The Revo SX is a great light reel that has the most superior drag performance of anything on this list. I went with the low profile just because that is in line with my particular style of fishing, but I have also included a round profile from Abu Garcia.
The reel itself uses an X2-Craftic alloy that prevents it from corroding, which is great if you tend to fish in aggressive waters or bad weather conditions. The frame is extremely durable, with a carbon plate finish. Despite the firm power of the baitcaster it is actually extremely light so you get the durability against strong fish but also a sensitive reel so you can detect a lure bite quickly.
The cast and reels feel extremely smooth, and there is little to no backlash as it uses a Duragear gear system and a MagTrax brake. This is also an extremely aesthetic baitcaster that is consistent with most of the brand’s designs.
- Feels light but durable
- Corrosion resistant
- Smooth reel and cast with a consistent drag
- Brakes feel inconsistent
Easily a 5 star baitcasting reel, no question about it. A more objective review would be around 4.9, but my personal love for Abu Garcia bumps this up to a full 5 star reel.
2. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur SX Round Reel
- Made using the highest quality components
- Professional grade fishing equipment
- Tested for durability and quality
I know we just did this brand, but stick with me here. I am being a bit subjective here with the Abu Garcia reels, but the previous one was a low profile reel, and this one is a round reel, which I think we need to cover both because some people prefer the round profile.
Not to mention, this is the best baitcasting reel at under $100, so while the Revo SX is the overall best, the Ambassadeur SX is the best for its price range.
You can get this reel at 5500 or 6600, and the only difference is the length of the line and that one handles a 14 pound drag while the latter a 17 pound drag.
This is an extremely smooth round reel with a slow gear ration, 5.3:1, and 3+1 stainless steel ball bearings. It’s definitely not the best reel out there, but for the price, you are getting a great round profile here.
The reel itself is a bit heavy, but it makes sense because you want something that feels solid when going after catfish and larger game.
- Great price
- Smooth reel and cast
- A bit heavy
- Drag can feel inconsistent
This reel gets a 4.7 star review, which is consistent with most Abu Garcia’s.
3. KastKing Royale Legend Low-Profile
- PERFORMANCE - Low profile design bait caster with...
- UNMATCHED – Precision cut brass gear structure...
- PROVEN - 11 + 1 shielded MaxiDur corrosion...
The Kastking Royale Legend may not be the best baitcasting reel out there, but it is one of the best baitcasting reels for beginners. If you are a pro, just ignore this one completely, but I had to include something for people just starting off with a baitcaster.
The Royale Legend is a great low profile reel that has a fast gear ratio of 7.0:1 and 11+1 ball bearings making it very smooth for casting and reeling. It’s fairly lightweight and comes at a great price, which is perfect for people just transitioning from a spincast.
That being said, it feels cheap to the touch, and you shouldn’t expect it to last a very long time.
- Great for beginners
- Affordable price
- Lightweight and smooth reel
- Feels cheap
- Not durable and won’t last long
This reel gets mixed reviews because while it’s a solid reel for beginners, it will leave many experienced fishermen dissatisfied.
4. Daiwa Tatula SV TW Baitcast Fishing Reel
- Fishing Reel
- Versatile top of the line
- Another quality product
This is a brand you have definitely heard of, and it’s one my dad loves. These guys make reels that last. I mean talk about durability and optimal performance.
This is a staple brand for anglers, and the SV TW is no exception. It is a highly durable and lightweight reel with a 6.3:1 gear ratio and a drag of around 13 pounds.
The Tatula fishing reels are built for high performance and durability, and it is versatile enough to meet the needs of professional anglers. As one of the best baitcasting reel for bass, the Tatula sports a durable frame that can withstand heavy-duty use under varying conditions.
It has that signature T-shapes level winder, and it’s very well balanced. One of the major downsides is that it is rather expensive, but you are paying for quality here.
- Durable and high performance
- Smooth reel
- Very expensive
This reel easily gets a 4.9 star rating, and it’s definitely one of my top picks if we don’t consider factors like beginner status and price.
5. SHIMANO Curado 70 Baitcasting Reels
- Built tournament tough; this low-profile...
- Featuring shimano's latest technology such as the...
- Employs svs infinity braking system providing...
Shimano, like the Daiwa Tatula, is one of those long term brands that are great for anglers. With all the new brands popping up, Shimano, Abu Garcia, and Tatula have all gradually perfected their craft to remain on the top.
The Curado 70 is a great low profile baitcasting reel with little vibration and a smooth cast. It uses SVS Infinity technology, so you have consistent control over your spool by using the brake weight to produce enough friction to manage your cast.
It has a rigid body and almost no spool friction because of the Super Free Spool addition. It’s a comfortable and lightweight baitcaster, ideal for going after bass.
- Smooth and little vibrations
- Frictionless spool
- Makes a loud pitched sound when released
- Feels rigid, but not heavy duty
The Shimano gets a 4.3 star rating, just a solid and reliable baitcaster.
6. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
- BULLET PROOF - The hot Rover reel just became...
- MORE POWERFUL - You will love the stronger, more...
- SUPER SMOOTH - KastKing Rover reels have premium...
Another KastKing? Absolutely Yes! The Rover is a great round profile reel with a smooth release and a consistent drag. This is another great baitcaster under $100, and it’s actually very durable, made with corrosion free aluminum so you can fish in saltwater.
It has a solid friction-free spool making it very similar to the Shimano baitcasting reel. It has steel ball bearings for a smooth cast, excellent for anglers, and it has a slow 3.6:1 gear ratio, so you get optimum control.
Generally speaking, KastKing really does a great job in terms of balancing price and quality, and they are almost always great for beginners.
The Rover uses a T Handle design, so you don’t get tired, again perfect for novices, and it integrates a Star Drag System so you get a consistent pill that can handle up to 20 pound of stopping power.
Without a doubt, this is a great baitcaster and excellent against large game like catfish. It is slightly heavy, and while the Rover is great for beginners, you need to have a good understanding of drag adjustment to operate this baitcasting reel.
- Great price and perfect for beginners
- Handle feel nice and won’t cause fatigue
- Perfect for Anglers
- Great round reel against catfish and large game
- Fairly heavy
- Slightly difficult to operate because you need to adjust the drag to maintain the line all the way through
This reel gets a 4.1 because for the price you are getting an extremely durable and heavy-duty
7. Piscifun Torrent Carbon Fiber 7.1:1
- POWERFUL- Advanced, 4-washer, gives the low...
- DURABLE - Industrial durable-strength,...
- PERFORMANCE - Low profile design bait caster...
Piscifun isn’t a brand you hear about all too often, but for the price point, you get a solid reel. The 7.1:1 refers to the gear ratio, and it has a 5+1 ball bearing system for a smooth and reliable reel.
It’s a bit heavy and not necessarily the best looking reel, but it will get the job done. It has large handles, so it feels strong, and it uses a corrosion-resistant application so you can take it to saltwater.
The drag isn’t necessarily super consistent, and there is definitely some backlash, which is why it’s the last one on our list, but for the price point and the overall quality, I had to include the Carbon Fiber Torrent in my list.
- Great price
- Smooth cast and reel
- Solid feel
- Reliable backup reel for when you don’t want to use your main baitcaster or need an extra one for a friend
- Doesn’t look great
- Inconsistent drag and a large chance of backlash
- Not great for beginners
This reel gets a 3.6, which is an average score. It’s not the best reel out there, but it will get the job done at a good price.
There you have it the 7 best baitcasting reels. Next time you go out looking for a baitcasting reel, consider the various metrics listed above and whether you are ready to handle a baitcaster. Then it’s a matter of choice, but these are 7 you should definitely consider.