Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels for 2021

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Baitcasting reels are the best reels for thicker lines, long cast, trolling, and working heavier lures. In short, they are much more versatile than any other type of fishing reel. Their construction is a lot more resistant too! Thus they can easily cope with saltwater.

However, it might take you a while to find the one for you as there are so many options in the market. But don’t worry. We’ve already reviewed and tested the 10 best saltwater baitcasting reels. 

After countless tests, we conclude that the SHIMANO SLX is the best saltwater baitcasting reel for the money. It is easy to use and runs buttery smooth. The KastKing Kapstan is another suitable option if you can find the SLX. But what you are looking for is around baitcasting reel, then we recommend KastKing’s Rover

In the end, you will also find some useful information about these reels. Let’s get started. 

Our Reviews: 10 Best Saltwater Baitcasters

SHIMANO SLX

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: 6.3, 7.2, and 8.2
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 120/10
  • IPT: 25, 28, 32
  • Weight (ounces): 6.9
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 12
  • HAGANE body
  • CNC aluminum spool 

SHIMANO fishing gear is of top quality. They hardly ever disappoint. Sadly, the price is often the biggest drawback. However, this time, the SLX baitcasting reel sits around 100 bucks. It is not the cheapest but is not the most expensive either. 

Thankfully, you will be getting a lot in return for your money. First, the full Hagane body minimized flex to a minimum. Thus, transforming all your movement into cranking power. The SHIMANO SLX will face no trouble landing massive fish. Lastly, the metallic body also means that SLX can cope with the elements without breaking a sweat.

The baitcasting reel is also amazing on the inside. The super-free spool technology virtually eliminates friction between the spool and main shaft during a cast. Plus, the braking system uses centrifugal force instead of magnets. The weights leap forward as you cast. Thus, applying pressure to the spool at the beginning of the cast. 

The drag, on the other hand, is not that impressive. It does get the job done. But it only delivers up to 12, which is not the best value we’ve seen thus far. So, it might take some extra skills to land aggressive fish. 

In short, the SLX almost casts by itself. So, no matter if you are a seasoned angler or not, using this reel is as easy as it can be. 

Pros: 

  • Easy to use
  • Sturdy frame
  • Frictionless casting
  • Smooth drag

Cons: 

  • Terrible line capacity
  • Low drag

KastKing Kapstan Elite Saltwater Baitcasting Reel

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: 5.4:1
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 230/14
  • IPT: 26
  • Weight (ounces): Up to 10.8
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 35
  • Metallic body
  • CNC aluminum spool

The Kapstan Elite is not as affordable as other options from the brand. However, it packs lots of premium features that are worth that extra bucks.

First, you get to enjoy a triple-disc carbon fiber system that grants up to 35 pounds of power! That’s plenty of power for stripers, ref fish, and similar inshore spices. The 5.4:1 gear ratio, 26 IPT, and 5.1-inch aluminum handle provide enough torque for reeling big game fish. The Kapstan is ideal for working heavy jigs and similar lures.

The aluminum spool needs no backing and holds up to 230 yards of a 14-pound monofilament. Thus, the Kapstan is also suitable for trolling. The strike alert will advise you when the fish gets hooked. 

The eight double-shielded bearings transfer power from one place to another in an almost frictionless way. The manganese brass main and pinion gear and the stainless steel main shaft also play a major role. They decrease play between the handle and the spool. Thus, efficiently using all the power you place in the reel. 

Likes

  • Ideal for trolling, inshore fishing, and surf fishing
  • Self-draining ports
  • Superb drag for its size 
  • Smooth operation

Dislikes

  • The drag controls are stiffer than usual
  • The centrifugal braking system could use some work
  • One size on

KastKing Rover 

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: 5.3, 4.2, and 3.6:1
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 750/16
  • IPT: 24.9, 25.4, and 25.9
  • Weight (ounces): Up to 22.1
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 30
  • All metallic body

Nothing beats a round baitcasting reel. And the Rover, by KastKing, is arguably one of the best. It is affordable and packs a lot of value for your money. 

First, there are six models available. Each one has a unique IPT, drag, gear ratio, line capacity, and bearings combination. The larger round baitcasting reels hold more yards of lines, more drag, fewer ball bearings, lower gear ratio, and IPT. Thus, they are more suitable for large fish or trolling over saltwater. 

Apart from that, all Rover models have the same construction. All-metal body, thick anodized aluminum plates, CNC machined aluminum spool, alloy level wind, stainless steel shafts, brass gears. Depending on the model, the Cymbal drag Washers yield up to 30 pounds. Enough power to reel any giants. 

There is one thing to be aware of. The KastKing Rover is not easy to cast with. Plus, it is not as smooth as its low-profile counterparts. However, keep in mind that round baitcasting reels are suitable for other purposes. 

Pros: 

  • Various models available
  • Ideal for trolling 
  • Superb line capacity
  • Large and powerful handles
  • Corrosion-resistant

Cons: 

  • Difficult to cast with
  • The release button gets stuck at times 
  • Noisy

PENN Fathom Low Profile Baitcasting Reel 

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: up to 9.2:1
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 250/10
  • IPT: up to 43
  • Weight (ounces): up to 13.9
  • Sizes: 200, 300, and 400
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 30
  • Full metal body
  • Aluminum spool 

Let’s start with a strong candidate: The PENN Fathom saltwater baitcasting reel. The all-metallic reel and side plates are more than capable of handling the corrosive nature of saltwater. 

The brass main gear ensures a smooth transition between the handle and the spool. In addition, the titanium-coated level wind system ensures an even line distribution. On the other hand, the drag system yields up to 30 pounds of maximum drag. It has plenty of stopping power for most saltwater fish. 

The aluminum spool handles up to 250 yards of a 10-pound test fishing line. Naturally, the thicker the line, the fewer yards you can wrap around the spool. Still, it is more than plenty. Don’t worry. The aluminum spool has a protective anti-corrosion coating. 

The handle is larger than the reel itself. Thus, it gives you plenty of power to reel even the largest of fish. In addition, you get up to a 9.2:1 gear ratio and 43 IPT. So yes. You will be reeling the line in no time. 

Pros: 

  • Fast retrieve rate 
  • Very light
  • Smooth internals 
  • Large handle

Cons: 

  • The left-handle models are only available in standard gear ratios 
  • The drag dial is not that precise 

KastKing Royale Legend II

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: 5.4 and 7:2:1
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 130/10
  • IPT:22.4 and 29.8
  • Weight (ounces): 7.2
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 17.6
  • Graphite body
  • CNC aluminum spool 

KastKing will always be a suitable choice for those looking to get the best value for their money. Let’s take some time to talk about the second generation of the Legend baitcasting reels. 

First, it has a graphite body, which might not be the best for larger fish. But we couldn’t notice any flex. They also made the Legend II 5% smaller than the previous generation. The result is a compact and light reel, weighing just 7.2 ounces. 

Internally we find a stainless steel main shaft, Hamai machined brass gear, and double bearings. On the other hand, the drag system comprises four carbon drag washers. The system can deliver up to 17.6 pounds of stopping power. Plus, the 10-level adjustable drag allows you to set the drag precisely. 

There are fewer chances of backlashes, thanks to the 8-magnet braking system. Plus, the ceramic line guides help with friction reduction. While casting is smooth, it still falls short compared with much more expensive reels. 

Line capacity is another issue we found. The CNC aluminum spool only handles around 130 yards of a 10-pound test monofilament fishing line. While it is enough for the average angler, it is not for large saltwater fish. 

Pros:

  • Feather-like weight
  • Fine-tune drag
  • Compact
  • Good value for your money

Cons:

  • It produces loud noises when casting
  • Stiff release button 

Piscifun Alijoz Baitcasting Reels

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: 5.8 and 8.1:1
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 190/15
  • IPT: 26.8 and 36.2
  • Weight (ounces): 7.2
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 33
  • Aluminum body
  • CNC aluminum spool 

With an aluminum frame, the Alijoz Piscifun baitcasting makes its way into this best baitcasting reels review. It is expensive, yes. But its construction and performance are worth it. 

The Alijoz saltwater baitcasting reel boasts a Hamai cut brass gear. The hardening process made it stronger than other similar gear. Plus, the stainless steel double-shielded ball bearings keep things running smoothly. On the other hand, the anti-reverse bearing grants additional stability to the brass main and pinion gears. 

The aluminum spool houses up to 190 of a 15-pound test monofilament line. But you can boost capacity if you use braided lines instead. 

Now, the drag system is something special. It yields up to 33 pounds of pressure, which is more than enough for landing a saltwater gamefish. We wish for it to be a little smoother. But it is not a deal-breaker. 

The Alijoz baitcasting reel comes with two different gear ratios: 5.9 and 8.1:1. The latter is better for working fast-moving lures such as buzz baits. Both models come with the same 8-magnet braking system that greatly reduces backlashes. 

Pros:

  • Great line capacity
  • Superb maximum drag
  • Smooth casting experience
  • Large and comfortable handle
  • Quick-access thumb bar

Cons: 

  • There is some noticeable play between the handle and spool
  • It requires constant oiling 

Daiwa Coastal TW Baitcasting Reel 

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: 7.3:1
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 165/14
  • IPT: 32.2
  • Weight (ounces): 8.1
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 15.4
  • Aluminum body
  • CNC aluminum spool 

Small but powerful. The Daiwa Coastal TW is an amazing baitcasting reel for inshore fishing. The aluminum frame boasts an anodized coating that protects it from saltwater. Plus, the sealed ball bearings won’t let water inside, keeping the reel smooth at all times. 

The thing that we loved the most about the Coastal TW was its handle. It is large, with comfy grips. The 100mm aluminum handle increases torque. Thus, decreasing the effort needed to reel a big fish.

Line capacity is nothing impressive. It holds up to 165 yards of a 10-pound test monofilament line. But the good news is that you can enjoy a 32.2 IPT with a 7.3:1 gear ratio. Thus, you can quickly work your lure along the shoreline. 

The carbon and stainless steel drag washer yield up to 15.4 pounds of stopping power. Yes, it sits on the lower side. But it is buttery-smooth. It applies constant pressure on the line, minimizing snapping chances. 

Pros: 

  • Buttery-smooth drag
  • Smooth operation
  • Large handle
  • Great for casting from afar

Cons: 

  • Low drag
  • So so line capacity
  • Paint scratches with ease 

Lew’s Custom Inshore Speed Baitcasting Reel

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: 7.5:1
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 120/12
  • IPT: 30
  • Weight (ounces): 6.6
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 20
  • Double Anodized aluminum body
  • CNC aluminum spool 

The Lew’s Custom inshore baitcasting reel boasts a double anodized aluminum core. Thus, it has no problem handling corrosion. The same goes for the deep, U-shaped spool, which can handle up to 120 yards of 12-pound test monofilament.  

As soon as you look at the Custom, you will notice the speed dial. You can identify the line pound and type you are currently using. Thus, allowing the reel to modify internal settings accordingly. 

The Lew’s Custom inshore baitcasting reel uses a multi-setting brake system. It uses both a magnetic brake and four disengaging internal brakes. You can control the first one with the external click dial, while the latter controls by itself. 

We find CNC machinery and brass gears inside, while ten double-shielded ball bearings keep everything running swiftly. The carbon drag washers yield up to 20 pounds of drag. It is not the highest here. But it has plenty of power for most applications. Besides, with a 30 IPT and 7.5:1 gear ratio, the Custom is more suitable for medium-sized fish. 

Pros: 

  • It comes with both right and left hand retrieve 
  • The braking system reduces the chances for backlashes 
  • Decent drag 
  • Sturdy gear reduce play between the handle and spool 

Cons: 

  • Not enough line capacity for the price 
  • The drag is not as smooth as it should be 
  • It is not user friendly 

Piscifun Chaos XS Saltwater Round Baitcasting Reel

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: 5.3:1
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 305/15
  • IPT: 24.8
  • Weight (ounces): Up to 24.8
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 22
  • Metallic body
  • CNC aluminum spool 

The Chaos XS saltwater baitcasting reel features an all-metallic body with anodized treatment. The frame is strong enough to handle the pull of muskies, pikes, and bass. 

The CNC aluminum spool holds up to 305 yards of a 15-pound monofilament line. It is more than enough line for trolling and surf fishing alike. Additionally, the carbon and steel drag offers up to 22 pounds of drag. It should be enough for a wide range of applications. One thing, though. The drag washers don’t operate as smoothly as they should. So, don’t exaggerate by setting it too high. 

On the inside, we have six shielded ball bearings. They all are resistant to corrosion. So, you will face no trouble while using them for saltwater angling. 

The level wind was the thing we liked the most. It distributes the line evenly around the spool as you reel the line. Then, it takes the line out progressively as you cast. Thus, minimizing line twists, which in turn increases casting distance. 

All three models come with the same IPT and gear ratio. Maximum drag, weight, and line capacity are the only things that change between models.  

Pros:

  • Superb line capacity
  • It comes with a bait clicker 
  • Smooth casting 

Cons:

  • Drag is not smooth
  • The thumb bar is rather flimsy

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Low Profile Baitcasting Reel

Features: 

  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1
  • Line capacity (yards/lb): Up to 250/14
  • IPT: 34
  • Weight (ounces): Up to 13.8
  • Maximum Drag (Pounds): Up to 25
  • Metallic body
  • CNC aluminum spool 

If you are not willing to pay top dollar for a saltwater baitcasting reel, then you should look away. The Abu Garcia Revo Toro retails for around 400 bucks, making it the most expensive option until now. You get all the good stuff, of course. 

Let’s start with the X-2 Craftic proprietary frame. It is light yet strong to hold even the toughest of fish. On the other hand, the oversized aluminum handle makes things easier when reeling a monster. The five stainless steel ball bearings provide a frictionless experience. They are also resistant to corrosion. So, don’t worry about them either. 

The carbon drag matrix yields 25 pounds of buttery-smooth drag. We were very impressed by it given the size of the Abu Garcia. The Duragears and clutch grant a much more efficient way of using power. Thus, minimizing the amount of effort you have to make.

The only thing we didn’t like, apart from the hefty price, was the reet foot. It is not as strong as the rest of the reel. So, make sure to attach it right to avoid bending it. 

Pros: 

  • Light
  • Impressive drag for the size 
  • Lovely handle 

Cons: 

  • Flimsy reel foot
  • Not a lot of value for your money

Saltwater Baitcasting Reels: All You Need To Know

Are you in the market for a new baitcasting fishing reel? Then, you must first understand how each part of the reel affects performance. That’s the only way to make the most out of your money. Here we will take some time to talk about each. We will also answer a couple of questions you might have on the matter. So, let’s get started.

Low or Round Profile: A Questions of Needs

There are two types of baitcasting reels: Round and low profile. Each one has its pros and cons. For example, low-profile baitcasting reels are compact, lighter, and smaller than round-profile models. They also pack more sophisticated features 

Construction is also different. Round profile baitcasting reels have an aluminum or stainless steel frame. They show little to no flex. Thus, they are much more suitable for larger saltwater species and trolling. Besides, they pack much more yards of line and offer a higher maximum drag. 

Low-profile baitcasting reels either have a metallic or graphite body. They are not always suitable for saltwater angling. However, their small footprint makes them a good choice for surf and inshore fishing. 

Baitcasting Reel Line Capacity

As we said before, low-profile baitcasting reels show a lesser line capacity. So, if you are looking to engage in some deep fishing, then a rounded model is the best bet. Nevertheless, low-profile models have been bumping their capacity in recent years. Some are even suitable for catching fast swimmers. 

One thing here. Not all baitcasting reels are suitable with any line weight. For instance, baitcasting reels usually use 10+ pound lines.

Centrifugal or Magnetic Brakes 

Saltwater baitcasting reels either come with a magnetic or centrifugal braking system. Which one is the best for you? Well, it all depends.

Magnetic brakes, as the name suggests, use a magnetic field to slow down the spool. You can tune the setting using the dial mounted on the side of the reel. However, you can only do it between casts.

On the other hand, centrifugal brakes rely on mechanical forces to slow the spool. You can also tune it. But the difference is that you can do so at any point during the cast. As you can see, magnetic brakes are much more user-friendly. Thus, more suitable for beginners. 

Gear Ratio

All saltwater baitcasting reels come with an X:1 label on the side. It refers to the number of spins (X) the spool does per handle crank. The higher the number, the more spins. Thus, the faster retrieval is. While this is good for working fast-moving lures such as jigs, it is not ideal for power. You see. A faster reel typically yields less torque. 

In contrast, a low gear ratio is more suitable for reeling massive fish. 

Inches Per Turn

Shortly known as IPT, it refers to the number of inches you wrap around the spool each time you crank the handle. 

IPT depends on spool size and gear ratio. A higher gear ratio and thicker spool often mean higher IPT. These reels are ideal for working light and fast lures such as buzzbaits.

Handle

Most baitcasting reels come with a 5-in handle. It is the right size to strike the balance between power and speed. Some reels have larger handles, which are better for muscle massive saltwater fish. Others prefer shorter ones that favor speed above all else.  

Saltwater Baitcasting Reels FAQs

Are baitcasting reels suitable for saltwater? 

Most baitcasting reels have stainless steel, graphite, or anodized aluminum core. All of these are saltwater-resistance. Thus, yes. You can use it. 

Are baitcasting reels better than other reels?

It depends on what you like the most. For example, if you only fish occasionally, then spinning is a better option. However, if you want to fish for massive saltwater fish, then a baitcasting reel is better. It handles thicker lines, and you can control the cast better with it as well. 

Who makes the best saltwater fishing reels?

PENN, KastKing, SHIMANO, and Piscifun are commonly the best brands to go with. 

Can you use a freshwater Baitcaster in saltwater?

Yes, you can. However, we don’t recommend it. The reel will corrode faster. Thus, decreasing its lifespan. 

The Verdict

Among all our options, the SLX baitcasting reel by SHIMANO was the one that surprised us the most. It has a smooth drag, even line retrieve, sturdy frame, and comfortable handles. Tune the drag and brake is remarkably easy. Something that makes the SLX suitable for both beginners and seasoned anglers alike. 

The SLX is available over a wide range of gear ratios and IPT. In our case, we stick with the 6.3:1 model as it hits the sweet spot between power and speed. Click here and get yours today!

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Hi! I’m Steven!

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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