Best Baitcasting Reels For Salmon Fishing

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Are you looking to land some salmon? Then you should find a suitable baitcasting reel. However, finding the one that best suits your needs is not an easy endeavor. But don’t worry. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you. 

After a lot of testing, asking, and searching, we’ve created a comprehensive selection of 10 of the best salmon baitcasting reels. Because we know that some of you might be in a hurry, let us briefly describe our winner. 

The Abu Garcia Black Max is probably one of my favorites. It has an adequate gear ratio and IPT. The spool also holds enough line for salmon fishing. On top of that, the large handle reduces the effort needed to reel a big one.

And, for those who don’t care about the price, the SHIMANO Curado K offers top-notch performance. Didn’t you find the one? Don’t worry. Here you have more options. 

10 Best Baitcasting Reels For Salmon Reviewed

Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile 

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): 7.4
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 10/150
  • Maximum drag (pounds): 15
  • IPT: 25
  • Gear ratio: 6.4:1
  • Type: Low Profile 
  • Magnetic braking system
  • Synthetic drag washers 

Are you looking for an affordable option? Then, the Abu Garcia Black Max baitcasting reel is a suitable choice. All models retail for less than 70 dollars. 

With that investment, you will be getting a machined aluminum spool that holds up to 155 yards of line. Plus, a power disk drag system delivers 15 pounds of maximum drag. It is not the smoother system of all. But it gets the job done. 

The Abu Garcia Black Max comes with four stainless steel ball bearings that keep everything running somewhat smoothly. However, the 90 mm handle gets stuck at times, especially if the reel is under heavy load. We also notice a substantial drop in performance as soon as the reel gets soaked. 

Another issue that we found is that the graphite reel flexes under heavy load. Naturally, this increases the struggle while reeling a big salmon. 

Pros: 

  • Lightweight
  • Large handle
  • Superb drag

Cons: 

  • The drag is not as smooth as it should
  • It gets stiffer when the reel gets wet

Sougayilang Fishing Baitcasting Reels

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): 7.4
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 10/150
  • Maximum drag (pounds): 18
  • IPT: 32
  • Gear ratio: 8.1:1
  • Type: Low profile 
  • Nine stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Carbon drag washers 

This one is another option for those looking for an affordable option. It retails for around 40 bucks and is available for left and right-handed anglers. 

The baitcasting reel has an 8.1:1 gear ratio and 32 IPT. It is ideal for working fast-moving lures. There is no other option available, though. So, you will need to look elsewhere if you need something different. 

Both frame and spool feature an aluminum construction. Sougayiland also uses plastic in some parts to keep both weight and price down. The spool, on the other hand, is able to accommodate up to 150 yards of line.  

The drag is nothing impressive. It is strong, yes. But it lacks the smoothness of other expensive reels. On the bright side, you can easily set how much drag you want, thanks to the start dial. 

The reel boasts a magnetic braking system and ten stainless steel bearings. They are not shielded. So, make sure not to take it to the sea. On the other hand, the braking system works well. Although it gets stuck at times. 

Casting-wise the reel does its job. The thumb level is smooth, and the levelwind helps with line distribution. 

Pros: 

  • Compact
  • Light
  • Cast great
  • Beautiful craftsmanship
  • User-friendly drag dial

Cons: 

  • Jerky drag
  • The braking system gets stuck at times
  • The reel gets slower with time 

SHIMANO Curado K 

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): 7.6 and 7.8
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 8/180
  • Maximum drag (pounds): 11
  • IPT: 26 to 36
  • Gear ratio: 6.2 to 8.5:1
  • Type: Low Profile 
  • Six stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Carbon drag washers 
  • Metallic reel

The Curado K is every angler’s dream. It is light, despite having a metallic body. The cold-forged frame eliminated flex. As a result, all your actions transform into cranking power. 

The aluminum spool holds up to 180 yards of line. But the capacity substantially reduces as the line gets thicker. 

SHIMANO added their SF, Super Free Spool technology. In other words, a ball bearing supports the pinion gear at all times. This way, it doesn’t touch the spool, increasing the casting distance.

All models come with six ball bearings plus one roller bearing. SHIMANO applied an anti-corrosion treatment to further increase their lifespan.

Our main problem with the Curado K is the low drag. The carbon disc delivers 11 pounds of stopping power. At least it is silky smooth. 

In terms of ration and IPT, you have six different combinations that will please most anglers. You can choose a slow, powerful reel or a fast one to work fast-moving lures.

Pros: 

  • Durable
  • Premium-grade materials
  • Cast great

Cons:

  • Low drag
  • Low capacity

Daiwa Fuego Baitcasting Reel

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): 7.6
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 30/140
  • Maximum drag (pounds): 13.2
  • IPT: 30.5
  • Gear ratio: 7.3:1
  • Type: Low Profile 
  • Five stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Carbon drag washers 

Regardless of how long you have been fishing, you must have heard of Daiwa. They make some of the best fishing gear you can find. Most of them show superb value for your money. That’s the case of the Daiwa Fuego baitcasting reel. 

It has a lightweight aluminum frame that exhibits close to no flex. Inside it, you will find five stainless steel ball bearings, the Magforce-Z braking system, and tournament carbon drag washers. The drag system delivers up to 13.2 pounds of stopping power, which is more than enough for salmon. 

The FGCT100HSL model offers a 7.3:1 gear ratio and 30.5 IPT, which makes it ideal for fast-moving lures. In addition, the aluminum spool holds up to 140 yards of a 30-pound braid line. You can increase the number of yards if you switch to a thinner monofilament line. 

Overall, the Daiwa Fuego is a balanced baitcasting reel for salmon. It has enough power, capacity, and speed. Our main complaint is the start drag dial. It is very sensitive. 

Pros: 

  • Smooth
  • Decent line capacity
  • Comfortable handle
  • Light

Cons: 

  • The drag dial is too sensitive 
  • You can swap the handle position 

KastKing Royale Legend Elite Low Profile Baitcasting Reel 

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): 7.2
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 12/150
  • Maximum drag (pounds): 17.6
  • IPT: 22.4 to 34
  • Gear ratio: 5.3 to 8.1:1
  • Type: Low Profile 
  • Color-coded

The Elite series of the KastKing Legend includes four different models. Each one has a unique gear ratio and IPT combination. They come in unique colors as well. It might not be useful once you start fishing. But you can quickly tell the ratio and IPT of the reel according to its color. 

Apart from gear ratio and IPT, all four models feature the same construction and features. So, let’s start with the frame. It is compact and light, weighing only 7.2 ounces. The graphite looks long-lasting. Sadly, we’ve noticed that it is quite fragile. The aluminum spool holds up to 150 yards of a 12-pound test line. It might not be the best capacity. But keep in mind that the KastKing Legend Elite retails well below 100 bucks. 

Internally we find 11 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings. Plus, one anti-reverse bearing and aluminum main gear. The system works great. But it does struggle with corrosion in the long run. 

A brass pinion gear, carbon drag disc, and magnetic brake system make for the rest of the internal structure of the reel. The drag delivers up to 17.6 of stopping power. It is at the same level as much more expensive reels. But it is not as smooth. 

Pros: 

  • Powerful drag
  • Left and right-handed models
  • There are several gear ratio and IPT combinations 
  • The magnetic braking system reduces backlashes 
  • Lightweight

Cons: 

  • Delicate frame
  • It gets noise under load
  • Colors fade 

Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel for Salmon

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): 8.0
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 10/195
  • Maximum drag (pounds): 18
  • IPT: 22.8 and 30
  • Gear ratio: 5.3 and 7.1:1
  • Type: Low Profile 
  • Five stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Carbon drag washers 

If you only have 40 bucks to spare, then the Torrent baitcasting reel by Piscifun is your candidate. There are two models available with different gear ratios, IPT, and line capacity. Apart from that, both feature the same construction. 

The graphite body handles pressure well for the price. But make sure to handle the reel with care. Piscifun added a quick oil port at the handle side. You can pour oil whenever you need to keep things running smoothly. 

The Torrent baitcasting reel comes with reinforced CNC brass gear, four premium-grade carbon drag washers, and six double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings. So, you get plenty of value for your money. However, don’t expect top-notch performance. 

For instance, the drag is a little jerky. In addition, while the magnetic brakes do decrease backlashes, they still occur more often than other reels.

Pros: 

  • Affordable
  • Huge line capacity
  • Well balanced

Cons: 

  • Constant bird nests 
  • It runs out of oil quickly 

SHIMANO TEKOTA Round Baitcasting Reel

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): 31
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 25/530
  • Maximum drag (pounds): 24
  • IPT: 33
  • Gear ratio: 4.2:1
  • Type: Round profile 
  • Three stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Carbon drag washers 

Large, strong, and expensive are the distinctive words of the SHIMANO TEKOTA. It might be a little too much for salmon anglers. But it gets the job done regardless. 

The TEKOTA comes with a large aluminum power handle that makes reeling easy. Plus, the powerful carbon drag discs deliver up to 24 pounds of stopping power. It is more than enough for any salmon you came across on your trips. 

You will also have plenty of fishing lines to land anything. The aluminum spool holds up to 530yards of monofilament line. So, no need to re-spool. Again, it might be a little too much for salmon. But if you want something strong and versatile, then the TEKOTA is a good pick.  

The TEKOTA comes with sea-proof internals that includes three stainless steel bearings and gears. The aluminum frame is also rust-proof. So, you can be sure that the reel will last as long as you need. 

On the downside, the TEKOTA is only available in one version. It comes with a 4.2:1 gear ratio and 33 IPT, which might not be suitable for fast-moving lures. 

Pros: 

  • Durable and high-quality reel
  • Impressive drag and capacity
  • Comfortable power handle

Cons: 

  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for fast-moving lures 
  • Heavy

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low-Profile Baitcasting Reel

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): 13.4 and 13.8 
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 20/380
  • Maximum drag (pounds): 25
  • IPT: 27 and 34
  • Gear ratio: 4.9 and 6.2:1
  • Type: Low Profile 
  • Seven stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Carbon drag washers 
  • Metallic reel

The Revo Toro Beast is among the most expensive reels on this list. But it is also among the best baitcasting reels for salmon. 

There are several models available. Gear ratio and IPT are the only things that change among them. And, you can choose between a left or right-hand retrieve too. 

The Revo Toro Beast has an alloy frame and side plates that are highly resistant to corrosion. There is a lube port on one side. Use it to keep the five stainless steel bearings and gears lubricated. This way, you don’t need to take the reel apart to do it. 

The aluminum spool holds up to 380 yards of line. It is more than enough for salmon fishing. And pretty much any fish you want to catch. On the other hand, the carbon drag washers offer a whopping 25 pounds of stopping power. 

So, what’s the catch? Besides the premium price tag, the Revo Toro is also very heavy. It weighs around 13.5 ounces depending on the model. It is also larger than most low-profile reels. 

Pros: 

  • Smooth casting and retrieving
  • Powerful and even drag
  • Decent line capacity
  • Comfortable handle

Cons: 

  • Heavy
  • Larger than most other low profile reels 

KastKing Spartacus II Baitcasting Reel

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): 6
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 10/140
  • Maximum drag (pounds): 17.6
  • IPT: 28
  • Gear ratio: 7.2:1
  • Type: Low profile 
  • Eight stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Carbon drag washers 

Do you have 50 bucks to spare? Then Spartacus II is your best bet. It is available for both left and right-handed anglers. You can choose between four unique colors. Nevertheless, all reels feature the same construction and features. 

The Spartacus II has a compact profile that fits in the palm of your hand. But it doesn’t lack strength. The carbon fiber drag washer delivers up to 17.6 pounds of fairly consistent pressure. 

In addition, the Spartacus II offers eight stainless steel ball bearings. The double shield design keeps the dirt out. Thus, increasing the lifespan of the bearing. On the other hand, the durable aluminum gears transfer all the power from the handle to the anodized aluminum spool. 

It doesn’t matter which color you end up choosing. You are stuck with a 7.2:1 gear ratio and 28 IPT, as well as a maximum capacity of 140 yards of monofilament line. So, better look elsewhere if you need something with more lines or a faster recovery rate. 

Pros: 

  • Super value for your money
  • Rust-proof construction
  • Feather-like weight
  • Decent casting

Cons:

  • There is only one model available
  • Flimsy thumb bar

PENN Squall Low Profile Baitcasting Reel

Features:

  • Weight (ounces): Up to 13.4
  • Line capacity (lb/yards): 14/250
  • Maximum drag (pounds): Up to 24
  • IPT: Up to 42
  • Gear ratio: 6.6, 7.3, 7.6, 8.0, and 9.2:1
  • Type: Low Profile 
  • Six stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Carbon drag washers 
  • Metallic reel

PENN consistently delivers quality products. Sadly, it is not within anyone’s budget reach. But it is a superb reel if you can afford it. There are three sizes available, ranging from 200 to 400. 

The beautiful all-metal black exterior is strong and rust-proof. But beware. It scratches easily. However, this isn’t a deal-breaker for us. 

All models have six stainless steel bearings and machined brass gears. They work smoothly, and there is no noticeable play in the handle. On the other hand, the HT-100 drag system yields up to 24 pounds of pressure. Needless to say, this is more than enough for salmon. 

Depending on the model you choose, you can end up with a 6.6, 7.3, 7.6, 8.0, or 9.2:1 gear ratio. In terms of recovery rate, you can enjoy a maximum IPT of 42. It is the highest rating in today’s selection. Thus, if you enjoy working your lure fast, then this is the one. 

One thing that is worth mentioning is how flawless the PENN Squall casts are. You won’t even notice when the braking system is engaged. And the aluminum spool makes no sound. It is a delight. But we didn’t expect less from a reel that retails around 150 bucks. 

Pros: 

  • Flawless casting 
  • Smooth drag
  • Strong handle
  • Decent line capacity
  • Beautiful design

Cons: 

  • Expensive
  • Stiff thumb bar

Choosing The Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon

Choosing a baitcasting reel is no different from choosing any other reel for many other purposes. You need to keep an eye on materials, bearing count, line capacity, drag material, design, gear ratio, and inches per turn (IPT). All these features influence performance.

Naturally, the kind of fish you are after determines which combinations of features you need. So, how do I choose a baitcasting reel for salmon? Let’s get started. 

Drag System

The drag system is among the most important features of any reel. The system makes it harder for fish to pull the line out of the spool. All reels come with a maximum drag rating.

Naturally, not all reels have the same maximum drag. Some might offer up to 50 pounds of stopping power, for instance. While others only 10. So, the question arises.

How Much Drag Do I Need for Salmon Fishing? 

Salmon are not known for their weight. So, anything around 10 to 15 pounds will be more than enough. It gives you enough power to comfortably muscle the fish. 

Just keep in mind to set the drag according to the line’s test strength. A common rule of thumb is to set the drag around 30% of the latter. This way, it is less likely to snap during a fight.  

Drag Material

There are three common drag discs materials: Graphite, felt, and steel. Each one has its pros and cons. For instance, felt makes for the cheapest materials available. But there is a problem, though. Felt drag washers are not as smooth as the other two options. 

Steel washers are very uncommon on reels with 10 to 15 pounds of drag. Thus, we won’t discuss it. 

Graphite discs, on the other hand, yield a smooth and even operation. Sadly, they are not as durable. Still, most salmon baitcasting reels use this type of washer. 

Spool and Line Capacity

Most salmon baitcasting reels feature an aluminum construction. So, there is not much of a difference here. The spool size is what’s important.

Bigger spools mean more yards of line. This means that you can let more lines loose and re-spool less often. Similarly, thin lines take less space. Therefore, you will be able to put more yards on the spool. In contrast, thicker lines take more space, which means that you can’t spool as many yards. 

Keep in mind that big fish require more yards of line. But there is no point in getting a reel with over 300 yards of capacity since salmon aren’t that big. You should be fine with anything around 200 yards of the intended line. 

Bearing Count

The ball bearings are those metallic rings that keep parts moving smoothly. They comprise two concentric rings with small balls between them. 

Most baitcasting reels today use stainless steel ball bearings. Some offer shielded versions. These are much better than regular bearings. The shields keep dirt and debris out., keeping the mechanism working smoothly. 

Some people say that the more bearings, the better. However, this is not always true. For example, you can have a reel with three, high-quality bearings that run smoother than others with eight. Quality is the name of the game. 

Baitcasting Gears

The gears are responsible for transferring movement from one place to another. They are subjected to friction, which ultimately leads to wear. Aluminum, stainless steel, and brass are commonly used for gears. The latter two are better than aluminum. They are more resistant to wear, which translates into a longer lifespan. 

Still, CNC aluminum gears are very common. They are lighter and cheaper than the other two. In addition, they last long provided you take care of the reel. 

Braking System

Only baitcasting reels use a braking system. The system is responsible for reducing the spool speed, thereby reducing the likelihood of backlashes. Nowadays, most baitcasting reels use magnetic braking systems. They are reliable and long-lasting. You shouldn’t set yourself up for anything less. 

Naturally, not all magnetic braking systems are the same. Some companies use more magnetic pins than others. However, the same rule we discussed before with bearings applies here: Quality over quantity. Sadly, the only way to test the braking system is to use the reel. 

Baitcasting Reel Gear Ratio

The gear ratio refers to how many times the spool spins per handle crank. Most reels come with an X:1 label. The X shows the number of spool spins. Naturally, higher ratios mean faster retrieval at the expense of cranking power. In contrast, low ratios are more suitable for big, massive fish. Low ratio reels are not suitable for fast fish. They leave too much slack on the line. 

 What Gear Ratio is Best for Salmon Fishing?

You will need a fast reel since salmon swim relatively fast. So, anything between 5 to 8:1 will do the trick. This doesn’t mean that you can use a reel with a lower ratio. It will just be harder to land a salmon. Keep in mind that these are not heavy fish. 

Inches Per Turn (IPT)

Shortly known as IPT, it refers to how many inches of line you can wrap around the spool per handle crank. It guards a close relationship with both spool size and gear ratio. You see, baitcasting reels with large spools and high gear ratios yield a faster retrieve. 

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I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started luremefish.com to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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