A simple definition for a baitcaster is a reel that has a revolving spool and sits on top of a casting rod with a trigger handle. This is exactly opposite to a spinning reel, which sits underneath a the rod and with the line guides facing down.
They are important tools for anglers who want to be able to effectively fish larger lures and techniques where light line spinning reels simply don’t cut it. A good baitcasting combo gives you a high degree of control of your lure, allowing pinpoint lure placements, and the power to pull slounches out of cover and deep water.
This guide will help you understand how to choose the best baitcasting reel for the money, one that helps you fish your favorite techniques as efficiently as possible, as well as coming in under your budget. For those new to baitcasters, we’ll cover the most important specifications to look for so that you make the right choice for your own personal best baitcasting reel. If you are familiar with these things already, then jump right down to our Top 7 baitcasting reels.
Quick Answer: The 7 Best Baitcasting Reels For 2019
- Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Fishing Reel
- Daiwa Tatula CT Type-R Baitcast Fishing Reel
- Shimano Curado I Baitcast Reel
- KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Reel
- Piscifun Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel
- Lew’s Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel
- KastKing Speed Demon Baitcasting Fishing Reel
Best Baitcasting Reels
|ABU GARCIA BLACK MAX BAITCAST FISHING REEL||DAIWA TATULA CT TYPE-R BAITCAST FISHING REEL||SHIMANO CURADO I BAITCAST FISHING REEL|
|Weight:||7.3 Ounces||7.2 Ounces||7.4 Ounces|
|Features:||5+1 ball bearings pair with the Power Disk drag system||7+1 ball bearings, Magforce Z Cast Control System||5+1 ball bearings can be used for fresh and saltwater fishing|
Baitcasting Reel Reviews
Abu Garcia Black Max at a Glance:
Weight: 7.3 Ounces
Gear Ratio: 6.4:1
Bearings: 5+1 stainless steel
Drag: 18 Pounds
Pinching pennies? The Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Fishing Reel is a solid choice for anglers on a budget. It features a low profile design and an ergonomic bent handle that increases your comfort on all-day fishing trips. The one-piece frame and side plates are made of graphite, while the spool is made from machined aluminum for added strength.
The brass gears offer a fast ratio of 6.4:1, while five ball bearings pair with the Power Disk drag system to provide a smooth cast. The MagTrax braking system improves your range and accuracy by creating consistent brake pressure throughout your cast. Choose the right or left-handed version according to your personal preference.
Daiwa Tatula CT Type-R at a Glance:
Weight: 7.2 Ounces
Gear Ratio: 6.3:1, 7.3:1, 8.1:1
Bearings: 7BB(2CRBB) + 1RB
Drag: 13.2 Pounds
Loved by Amazon reviewers for its pro-caliber performance and reasonable price-tag, the Daiwa Tatula CT Type-R Baitcast Reel is a great all-rounder for freshwater angling. It features an ergonomic low profile design, as well as a rugged gear train protected by a super lightweight aluminum frame and side plate. Highlights include the Magforce Z Cast Control System and a hybrid levelwind equipped with Daiwa’s signature T-Wing aperture. The former allows for pinpoint accuracy across a wide range of different lures.
The latter allows for fast, friction-free casting and even distribution of the line across the spool width upon retrieval. With no fewer than eight ball bearings, retrieval is also exceptionally smooth. The reel’s Ultimate Tournament Drag System features a 13.2-pound maximum drag and an extra strong drive gear for turning the heads of larger fish. The 90mm swept handle boasts soft-touch knobs and a cut-away design that reduces the reel’s overall weight. Different models offer 6.3:1, 7.3:1 and 8.1:1 gear ratios and the option to choose right or left-handed configurations.
Shimano Curado Baitcaster at a Glance:
Weight: 7.4 Ounces
Gear Ratio: 7.2:1
Bearings: 5+1 S A-RB® bearings
Drag: 12 Pounds
Shimano baitcasting reels are a name that many people would recognize and buy just because they loved their reels. They’ve been around for years making gear products and there’s no exception here.
This grey and silver low-profile baitcasting reel is available in 5.5, 6.3, and 7.2 ratios so you can buy one of each and have them on hand for different fishing styles.
It also packs plenty of nice features at a reasonable price, so stocking up isn’t out of the question.
With a 5+1 ball bearing system, you’ll have a moderately smooth reel that will get the job done. Recovery lies between 23” to 30” per turn depending on what ratio fits your needs.
With a max drag of 12lbs and a reel weight just over 7 ounces, you’ve got fresh water versatility in a lightweight package and the best casting reel under $200.
KastKing Royale Legend at a Glance:
Weight: 7.5 Ounces
Gear Ratio: 7.0:1
Bearings: 11+1 stainless steel
Drag: 17.5 Pounds
Primarily intended for freshwater fishing, the KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Reel has a gear ratio of 7.0:1. This allows for a silent, speedy retrieval of 31.5 inches per turn (IPT), perfect for buzz baits and other fast action lures. The gears are made of precision-cut brass, while 11 + 1 corrosion-resistant ball bearings help to make your casting and retrieval as smooth as silk. The spool is made from lightweight anodized aluminum with a ceramic line guide that’s compatible with monofilament and braided line.
Available in left and right-handed configurations, the reel weighs just 7.5 ounces but uses a carbon fiber drag system to provide 17.5 pounds of maximum drag. The dual centrifugal and magnetic braking system allows for superior casting control, while the oversized stainless steel handle features EVA padded foam grips that help to wick moisture during the fight. The reel’s professional-quality attributes are even more impressive when one considers its affordable price-tag.
Piscifun Phantom Baitcasting Reel at a Glance:
Weight: 5.7 Ounces
Gear Ratio: 7.0:1
Bearings: 6+1 stainless steel
Drag: 17 Pounds
With a carbon round drag system and graphite side plates, this baitcaster reel is meant to provide smooth reliable drag for a long lifespan.
Full size baitcasting reels are meant more for big fishing so this would be appropriate for salt water or Great Lakes fishing. Head for this reel when you might be sending bait to serious depths or fighting fish that take long runs.
This one comes in a set gear ratio of 7.1 with CNC machined brass gear. You have your choice of left or right handed models. With 7 total stainless steel ball bearings, there’s plenty here to keep the casting and reeling smooth as butter.
They’ll even throw in some 4-strand line which is nice, but most fishermen are going to prefer putting their own line on. No chance risking a catch on unknown line!
Overall the reel weighs in at 5.7 ounces and can pack in up to 240 yards of 10-pound test.
The magnetic braking anti-reverse system should help to massively eliminate those nasty bird nests as well. If you looking for a cheap baitcaster, I think the Piscifun Thunder is the best baitcasting reel under $100.
Lew’s Fishing Tournament MB at a Glance:
Weight: 6.7 Ounces
Gear Ratio: 5.6:1, 6.8:1, 7.5:1, 8.3:1
Bearings: 9+1 stainless steel
Drag: 20 Pounds
With a highly adjustable brake sporting multiple settings, a 10-bearing crank, and a redesigned slim profile it’s hard to complain here.
For the price tag, they managed to put on this reel they also somehow got away with a centrifugal and magnetic brake system. That’s a lot of features at a reasonable price.
The entire reel, without line, weighs in at under 7 ounces so you won’t get fatigued casting and reeling all day long.
You’ll have tons of control over your brake system on this reel with an internal 4-pin centrifugal brake and an external click dial for adjusting the magnetic braking system.
This gives you precision control over when and how much braking occurs during parts of the cast.
Gear ratios range from 5.6 – 8.3 and many in between so there’s plenty of options for any type of casting you’ll want to do.
There should be a reel ratio here for everything from spinners to poppers and in my opinion the Lew’s Tournament is the best baitcaster for the money.
KastKing Speed Demon at a Glance:
Weight: 8.3 Ounces
Gear Ratio: 9.3:1
Bearings: 12+1 stainless steel
Drag: 13 Pounds
This baitcaster has got something to truly set it apart from the competition. With a gear ration of 9.3, CNC machined brass gear and aluminum spool it’s able to pull in line faster than just about any other reel.
With 13 total shielded ball bearings, there’s a guarantee that it’ll be smooth casting and quick. Unfortunately, having such a high gear ratio also means that it’s going to have a harder time hauling in loads.
4-disc carbon fiber drag system can handle up to 13 pounds of smooth drag pressure which should be plenty for any fish you’ll be catching on a compact baitcasting reel.
They’ve used a magnetic brake system on this reel for elimination of backlashing, or bird nests. It’s moderately adjustable and should be able to handle most situations but I would have liked to see a bit more fine-tuning ability.
Overall, this is definitely a reel that sacrifices torque for speed. I would keep this on a rod that’s dedicated to light and fast casting.
If fast gear ratio doesn’t bother you and you’re looking for high speed retrieval, this is one of the top baitcasting reels for a budget price!
Baitcasting Reel Comparison Table
|BAITCASTING REEL||WEIGHT||GEAR RATIO(S)||BEARINGS||RATING|
|7.3 Ounces||6.4:1||5+1 stainless steel bearings||4,5 / 5,0|
|7+1 stainless steel bearings||4,9 / 5,0|
|7.4 Ounces||7.2:1||5+1 S A-RB® bearings||4,4 / 5,0|
|7.5 Ounces||7.0:1||11+1 stainless steel bearings||4,3 / 5,0|
|5.7 Ounces||7.0:1||6+1 stainless steel bearings||4,5 / 5,0|
|9+1 stainless steel bearings||4,7 / 5,0|
|8.3 Ounces||9.3:1||12+1 stainless steel bearings||4,2 / 5,0|
How to Choose the Best Baitcasting Reel
All right, now let’s get into the nitty gritty details of what you need to look for in a new baitcasting reel. It’s not complicated once you get to know the specs, and you’ll see which ones we care about most.
The gear ratio determines the speed of the reel. You will find a gear ratio is listed like “7.0:1”. This means the spool will revolve 7 times with each turn of the handle. The higher the first number, the more line retrieved for the same amount of work. The speed of the reel you want depends on what lure or bait you might be suing.
The 6.4:1 gear ratio is an all-around excellent choice, as you can use any kind of bait and fishing technique, like worms, jigs, topwater, shallow cranking, and have excellent performance. The other gear ratios are more specialized, and you’ll see if that’s something you want to take advantage.
The low gear ratios like 5.2:1 and 5.3:1 are great for fishing baits that pull hard like deep diving crankbaits, big swimbaits, and slow rolling heavy spinnerbaits. The low gear ratio helps you reel the bait slower, keeping it in the strike zone longer. You also enjoy a higher torque output on these reels, making them a nice choice for flipping and moving fish out of cover.
High gear ratios are best for techniques where taking up slack and burning a bait back to the boat are critical. If you like to fish topwater frogs or toads, a 7.1:1 baitcasting reel is your best choice. They also excel at pitching jigs and plastics, so you can take up slack quickly and drive home a good hookset.
A bigger (deeper) spool can be beneficial if you like to fish stiff heavy line like a 20lb fluorocarbon. The larger spool creates smaller coils of line that are easier to manage. Smaller shallow spools are best for short line applications like flipping and pitching.
Low profile bass fishing reels have different handle sizes. Some of the most compact reels have shorter handles. This may be fine for most applications like fishing a worm or a jig, but not for handling big crankbaits or swimbaits. A larger, longer handle creates more torque to winch fish out of heavy cover, as when punching grass mats.
Brakes & Tension System
The braking system adjusts the spool speed during the cast. This allows you to adjust the speed in order to avoid casting backlash. There are 2 main breaking systems, centrifugal and magnetic. Centrifugal brakes work only during the first part of the cast when the weights, which act as brake shoes, are slung by the centrifugal force out against a brake drum. Magnetic breaks work on the principal that the spool and some magnets make a generator (alternator). The process of generating requires more input energy as the speed of the generator speeds up. Thus you have a form of electric braking. The rate and amount of the braking is adjustable from the outside of the reel. Most reels use numbers on the magnetic brakes where the larger the number, the more breaking power. Don’t forget, you always have your thumb to help too!
Bearings & Materials
Look for quality ceramic or stainless-steel ball bearings in your baitcasting reels. In general. the more bearings a reel has, the smoother it will cast and retrieve. Look for reels that are lightweight and use strong materials like aluminum, magnesium, or carbon composite materials. These are strong and durable materials that will give you the best performance as well as durability.
Best Baitcasting Reel Brands
As always choosing the “best” brands of reels is subjective and truth is, with modern manufacturing and technology most all brands are pretty good. There are always a few brands that keep coming up among experienced anglers and personally I have had good luck using all these brands:
Baitcasting reels have a reputation as finicky and prone to bird nesting. With some practice and a well-tuned reel, you can quickly learn to master these reels.
They provide greater control, efficiency, and accuracy over traditional spinning reels. While baitcasting reels have some drawbacks, experienced anglers almost universally prefer their tunability and accuracy over other reels.
Make sure a baitcasting reel is the right choice for you. Whether you choose a compact or full size reel, first consider where you’ll be fishing and what type of fish you’re going after.
If you’re just going out for a weekend once a year bass fishing, baitcasting reels aren’t for you. But, if you’re ready to push the limits on what you can do with a reel, this is the reel type you need.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best baitcasting reel to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a reel I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and good luck!
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