The 10 Best Saltwater Baitcasting reels for the Ultimate Fishing Experience

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I love saltwater fishing. I have recently swapped the cold waters of Northern Ireland for the Caribbean sea. Although the fish species may be different, the principle remains the same.

Having a solid saltwater reel is the key to success. A quality reel means you will land more fish with ease and with fewer problems. It does not matter if I am on the ocean or the sea- I want to catch fish and enjoy my day without reel mishaps. How can we choose the best reel for the job?

Baitcasting reels have thicker lines and longer casts. They can handle trolling and can work heavier lures. In short, they are much more versatile than any other type of fishing reel. Their construction is a lot more resistant too! And they can easily cope with saltwater.

However, it might take some time to find the one for you. There are so many options on the market. But don’t worry. We are here to save you time and research. Our team has reviewed and tested the 10 best saltwater baitcasting reels. 

Our Top Picks

In this article, we outline the most important information you need to know about these reels before you go shopping. Let’s get started.

Our Reviews: 10 Best Saltwater Baitcasters

Why you can trust LureMeFish! Our team of expert reviewers spends countless hours testing and comparing products to ensure that you can make informed decisions about your gear purchases. Find out more about how we test.

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. I have owned numerous SHIMANO rods for fly fishing and bait/lure fishing. This brand does not disappoint. Sadly, the price is the main drawback. However, the new SLX baitcasting reel sells for around 100 bucks. It is not the cheapest but is not the most expensive reel this brand sells.

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

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

Not as impressive is the drag. It does get the job done. But it only delivers up to 12, which is not the best value we’ve seen. So, it might take some extra skills to land aggressive fish.

In short, the SLX almost casts itself. Whether you are a seasoned angler or not, using this reel is as easy-peasy. I enjoy this reel. It’s easy to use. I like it for fishing for yellowtail snapper. Catching these fish off a beautiful Mexican beach makes life sweet!

Pros: 

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

Cons: 

  • Terrible line capacity
  • Low drag

KastKing Kapstan Elite Saltwater Baitcasting Reel

KastKing Kapstan Elite Baitcasting Fishing Reel,Size...
  • Large Capacity, Low Profile Casting Reel –...
  • Power and Control– KastKing Kapstan Elite 300...
  • Tournament Proven Components – Kapstan Elite...

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 a little pricey compared to other reels they offer. It is loaded with premium features making it worth those extra bucks.

Firstly, this reel offers a triple-disc carbon fiber system that grants up to 35 pounds of power! That’s plenty of punch for stripers, reef fish, and similar in-shore species. 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. The Kapstan is also suitable for trolling, and the strike alert will advise you when the fish gets hooked. 

The eight double-shielded bearings transfer power from one place to another almost frictionlessly. The manganese brass main, pinion gear, and stainless steel main shaft also play a role in this reel´s success. There is decreased play between the handle and the spool, efficiently putting all the power in the reel. 

We found this reel excellent for larger fish such as red snapper.  With red snapper, you never know when that 20-pound fish will strike.  It will not let you down. You will land the fish with ease. 

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 

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, Right Handed Fishing...
  • Bullet Proof - The KastKing Rover round...
  • More Powerful - You will love the stronger, more...
  • Super Smooth - KastKing Rover baitcaster reel have...

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 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. They are more suitable for large fish or trolling over saltwater. 

Apart from that, all Rover models have the same construction. An all-metal body, thick anodized aluminum plates, CNC machined aluminum spool, alloy level wind, stainless steel shafts, and brass gears. The Cymbal drag Washers (not in all models) yield up to 30 pounds, definitely enough power to reel any giant fish. 

Casting is not the easiest with the KastKing Rover. Also, it doesn’t work as smoothly as some of its low-profile counterparts. Keep in mind that round baitcasting reels are also suitable for other purposes. 

After trying out this product, our team was impressed.  It’s a solid reel for the price.  For those wanting to get into saltwater angling, it’s a good choice.

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 

PENN Fathom Low Profile Reel Black Gold 13.9 oz
  • Setting the standard in saltwater fishing since...
  • No matter where you fish, or what you fish for,...
  • Exceeds the highest expectations of any angler

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 

The PENN Fathom saltwater baitcasting reel is a strong contender if you are looking for a decent 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 gives an even line distribution. On the other hand, the drag system yields up to 30 pounds of maximum drag, providing 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. 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 pulling in that line in no time. 

I’ve caught mahi-mahi with this reel. The reel performed very well as you would come to expect from Penn. These are hard-fighting fish. With the Penn reel, I landed the fish safely. Overall, I like this reel. 

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

KastKing Royale Legend II Baitcasting Reels, Gear Ratio...
  • New Compact Design - KastKing Royale Legend Series...
  • Legacy Carry-On And Beyond – The new Royale...
  • Faster And Lighter - Royale Legend II provides...

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 good choice for those wanting to get the best value for their money. Let’s take some time to talk about the second generation of the Legend baitcasting reels. 

Firstly, it has a graphite body, and we don’t recommend it for targeting larger fish.  Also, we couldn’t notice any flex. They made the Legend II 5% smaller than the previous generation, resulting in a compact and light Reel weighing just 7.2 ounces. 

Internally there is a stainless steel main shaft, Hamai machined brass gear and double bearings. The drag system has 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, the quality is lacking compared with 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. 

My friend Jay has this reel. Do I like the reel? It’s not for me. If I am going to, buy a reel for saltwater fishing, I invest in quality.  This reel is only for targeting small fish. It’s suitable for beginners and those who fish the shoreline.

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

Piscifun Alijoz Baitcaster Fishing Reel, 300 Size Aluminum...
  • Unleash Your Inner Angler: The Piscifun Alijoz 300...
  • Built to Last: Crafted with premium aluminum frame...
  • Innovative Design: The Alijoz 300 baitcasting reel...

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 reel 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 makes it very strong, more so than other similar gear. Plus, the stainless steel double-shielded ball bearings keep things running smoothly. The anti-reverse bearing gives additional stability to the brass main and pinion gears. 

The aluminum spool houses up to 190 yards 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,  more than enough for landing a saltwater gamefish. We wished it performed a little smoother. But it is not a deal-breaker. 

The Alijoz baitcasting reel has two 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 helps reduce backlashes. 

I don’t own one of these reels. Would I consider buying one?  Yes.  It is an impressive reel and one that won’t let you down. The price is within my budget, and I can utilize it for different fishing disciplines.  

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 the spool
  • It requires constant oiling 

Daiwa Coastal TW Baitcasting Reel 

Daiwa CLTW200HS Coastal TWS Reel, 7.3: 1 Gear Ratio, 7CRBB,...
  • A7075 Aircraft Grade Aluminum deep spool
  • 8 Bearing System 7 CRBB + 1RB
  • Ultimate Tournament Drag UTD with up to 15.4 lbs....

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 and powerful- the Daiwa Coastal TW is an excellent 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. 

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

What we didn´t love was the line capacity. It only 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. That means you can quickly work your lure along the shoreline. 

The carbon and stainless steel drag washer yields 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. 

Our research indicates that this is a quality reel. It’s pricey, but sometimes you are better off investing in a reel that will last. Decide on what saltwater fishing you intend to do before buying this reel.

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

Lew's Custom Inshore SLP 7.5:1 Left Hand Baitcast Reel,...
  • One-piece aluminum frame with drain ports
  • Strong, lightweight C45 carbon sideplate on handle...
  • Forged, double anodized aluminum deep U style 32mm...

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. It has no problem handling corrosion. The same goes for the deep, U-shaped spool, which handles 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 using. The benefit is it allows the reel to modify internal settings accordingly. 

The Lew’s Custom inshore baitcasting reel uses a multi-setting brake system. It uses a magnetic brake and four disengaging internal brakes. The first brake system you can control with the external click dial. The four disengaging brakes control themselves. 

Inside are CNC machinery and brass gears, and ten double-shielded ball bearings keep everything running swiftly. The carbon drag washers can yield up to 20 pounds of drag. Although it is not the highest written about in this article, it is respectable. It has plenty of power for most applications. Besides, with a 30 IPT and 7.5:1 gear ratio, the Custom is more than suitable for medium-sized fish. 

What I like about this reel is it’s built to last. Regular maintenance and care will ensure the reel serves you for a long time. Before you buy this reel consider the type of saltwater fishing you want to do. 

Pros: 

  • It comes with both right and left-hand retrieve 
  • The braking system reduces the chances of backlashes 
  • Decent drag 
  • Sturdy gear reduces 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

Piscifun Chaos XS Baitcasting Fishing Reel, Reinforced Metal...
  • Professional Grade Fishing Reel: The Chaos XS...
  • Innovative Cast Technology: The Chaos XS features...
  • Hight Performance: Designed to meet the demands of...

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 action given by muskies, pikes, and bass. 

The CNC aluminum spool holds up to 305 yards of a 15-pound monofilament line. It has a suitable line for trolling and surf fishing. Also, the carbon and steel drag offers up to 22 pounds. 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, we recommend not setting it too high. 

On the inside, we have six shielded ball bearings. They all are resistant to corrosion. So, there shouldn’t be any issues using them for saltwater angling. 

The level wind was one of the features we liked the most. It distributes the line evenly around the spool as you reel the line. It then lets the line out progressively as you cast, minimizing line twists, which affects 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.  These are reasonably priced reels.  They get the job done. They have some flaws, but it is a good starter reel.

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

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing...
  • Powerful, low profile baitcast fishing reel...
  • 7 stainless steel HPCR bearings and 1 roller...
  • Power Stack Carbon Matrix drag system delivers...

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 happy paying top dollar for a saltwater baitcasting reel- look away. The Abu Garcia Revo Toro retails for around 400 bucks, making it the most expensive option we have written about in this article. You get all the good stuff, of course. Expensive? Yes, but I am still a big fan. (My wife? Not so much) 

Let’s start with the X-2 Craftic proprietary frame. It is light yet strong to hold even the toughest of fish. The oversized aluminum handle makes things easier when reeling in a monster. The five stainless steel ball bearings provide a frictionless experience. They are also resistant to corrosion. So, nothing to worry about there. 

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

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

I would consider buying this reel but there are other options at a more affordable price. It is a good reel and handles well. If you take care of it, it will last for years. For me, it’s outside of my budget.

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 need to understand how each part of the reel affects performance. Don´t waste your money by not being informed.

Here we will discuss 10 brand-name reels to provide you with relevant information. We also answer some frequently asked questions you might have. So, let’s get started.

Low or Round Profile: A Question 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 have some sophisticated features. 

Construction is different between the two baitcasting reels. Round profile baitcasting reels have an aluminum or stainless steel frame. They show little to no flex, making them more suitable for larger saltwater species and trolling.

They also have 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 surfing and inshore fishing.

Baitcasting Reel Line Capacity

As we said before, low-profile baitcasting reels show a lesser line capacity. If you want to enjoy deep fishing, a rounded model is the best bet. Nevertheless, low-profile models have been increasing their line 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 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, making them more suitable for beginners. 

Gear Ratio

All saltwater baitcasting reels come with an X:1 label on the side which refers to the number of spins (X) the spool does per handle crank. The higher the number, the more spins, making a  faster retrieval. While this is good for working fast-moving lures such as jigs, it doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of power. Why? Because a super-fast reel typically yields less torque. In contrast, a low gear ratio is more suitable for reeling massive fish.

Inches Per Turn

Inches Per Turn are also 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, for example, buzz baits.

Handle

The majority of baitcasting reels have a 5-inch handle. This size strikes a balance between power and speed. Some reels have larger handles, that are suitable for massive saltwater fish. Shorter handles favor speed above all else.  

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, a 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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