We independently research, test, and rate the best products. This article contains affiliate links. If you click on these and make a purchase, we may receive a small percentage of the sale without any additional costs to you. Read our privacy policy to find out more.

15 Best Baitcasting Reels of 2021

Share on:

Many anglers shy away from baitcasting reels. They don’t appreciate that baitcasters force you to adjust their spool tension for lures of various sizes. They also blame their dislike of baitcasting reels on the high risk of backlash they pose while casting.
Such anglers are missing out on the benefits baitcasting reels offer. Sure, you’ve to adjust their spool tension if you’re catching fish of multiple sizes. But these reels also offer long-distance casting ability, a higher casting distance, and a bigger range of gear ratios than spinning reels.
Aside from that, once you’ve learned how to use your baitcasting reel, it will enable you to handle much heavier lures than spinning reels. That is despite the fact that these reels are relatively lightweight and much more durable. Read on to know more about the 15 best baitcasting reels in 2021.
Related: Best Spinning Reels of 2021

Baitcasting Reels Comparison Chart

Our Picks
Best Overall Baitcasting Reel
Best for Saltwater Fishing
Best Under $100
Best for Beginners
Best for Inshore Fishing
Best for Bass Fishing
Lightest Weight Option
Best for Catfishing
Best for Light Lures
Best Anti Backlash
Best for Crankbait Fishing
Best without Ball Bearings
Best Performance for Value
Best for Heavy Line and Tackle
Great for Slow Pitch Jigging
Models
Shimano CURADO DC
Shimano CURADO
View on Amazon
Daiwa Coastal TW
Daiwa Coastal TW
View on Amazon
Pflueger President XT
Pflueger President XT
View on Amazon
Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel
Abu Garcia Revo SX
View on Amazon
Lews Custom Inshore Speed Spool
Lew's Custom Inshore
View on Amazon
Abu Garcia Revo Rocket
Abu Garcia Revo Rocket
View on Amazon
Lews Team Pro-Ti Speed Spool
Lew's Team Pro-Ti
View on Amazon
KastKing Kapstan Elite Size 300
KastKing Kapstan
View on Amazon
Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS
Daiwa Tatula SV TW
View on Amazon
SHIMANO SLX DC
SHIMANO SLX DC
View on Amazon
13 Fishing Concept A
13 Fishing Concept A
View on Amazon
13 Fishing Concept Z
13 Fishing Concept Z
View on Amazon
Lews Speed Spool LFS
Lew's Speed Spool LFS
View on Amazon
Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS
Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS
View on Amazon
Piscifun Alijoz
Piscifun Alijoz
View on Amazon
Suitable for- Freshwater
- Bass, zander and perch
- Saltwater
- Speckled trout and Gulf coast redfish
- Freshwater applications
- Small-to-medium size fish
- Saltwater and freshwater conditions
- Small-to-medium sized fish
- Saltwater
- Speckled trout, redfish, flounder
- Inshore and saltwater applications
- Medium-to-large sized fish
- Freshwater and inshore
- Small-to-medium size fish
- Inshore saltwater baitcasting
- Red fish, snook, and stripped bass
- Freshwater applications
- Small-to-medium size fish like speckled trout and redfish
- Lakes, ponds, swamps, creeks and rivers
- Pike, salmon, muskie
- Saltwater and freshwater applications
- Bass fishing
- Inshore and saltwater applications
- Medium-to-large sized fish
- Inshore and saltwater applications
- Medium-to-large sized fish
- Inshore and freshwater applications
- Small-to-medium size fish
- Freshwater and saltwater fishing
- Medium to large sized fish for pike and bass
What We LikeThe Shimano Curado DC is equipped with the unique DC braking technology, is lightweight yet sturdy and has managed to eliminate friction on its spool shaft.The Daiwa Coastal TW is one of the very few baitcasting reels out there which have the footprint of a 100-size reel but still provide the capacity of a 150-line model.The Pflueger President XT has a soft-touch knob, magnetic braking system and is made out of aircraft-grade aluminum. All these feature make it easy to use as well as enhance its durability.The Abu Garcia REVO SX comes with an instant anti-reverse feature and has managed to stay lightweight without sacrificing durability and strength.The Lew’s Custom Inshore has a sealed 10-bearing system, comes with a speed dial line indicator and also offers a lube port for easy maintenance.The Abu Garcia Revo Rocket is by far the fastest baitcasting reel on the market.The Lew’s Team Pro Hi-Ti Speed Spool is extremely lightweight yet offers 20 pounds of drag and comes with an integrated Speed Keeper that preserves its resale value by keeping scratches at bay.The KastKing Kapstan Elite Size 300 has a powerful centrifugal braking system, operates without making much noise and comes with comfortable EVA grips.The Daiwa Tatula hasn’t let its affordable asking price stop it from offering high-end features. These include a lightweight & stiff aluminum body, durable construction, and the integration of both magnetic and centrifugal braking systems.The Shimano SLX DC comes equipped with the latest DC Brake Control technology and has a spool that casts seamlessly and manages all types of line with ease.The 13 Fishing Concept-A baitcasting reel weighs only 6.8 ounces, has 3+3+1 corrosion-resistant bearings and provides comfortable grip with its Concept Cork knobs.The 13 Fishing Concept Z is easy to grip, comes with a powerful drag system that lets you put big fish out from the water and has been made for extended use.Despite being extremely rugged and featuring an externally adjustable magnetic braking system, this reel is one of the most affordable ones out there.The Daiwa TWS 200 can handle the load of ultra-powerful quarry due to its reinforced bass gearing and a custom 100mm swept handle.The Piscifun Alijoz is equipped with high-performance features that give anglers the upper hand when catching saltwater and freshwater fish.
ProsZero backlash; friction-less; High-end brakingPrevents backlash; long casting distance; keeps saltwater outLong-lasting construction; simple operation; reliable brakingInstant anti-reverse; lightweight; durableSturdy frame; easy to maintain; convenient line indicatorEfficient gearing; adjustable cast control; rust-proofLightweight; smooth operation; integrated Speed KeeperPowerful brakes; comfortable to hold; quiet operationExceptional casting; massive cranking power; compactHigh-end braking technology; load-resistant gears; rigid constructionSaltwater-resistant; 6-way centrifugal brakes; anti-corrosion screw padsSelf-lubricating; solid hookup; 22lbs dragBudget-friendly; magnetic operation; smooth castingLong-lasting construction; simple operation; reliable brakingEasy to use; high line capacity; rust-resistant
ConsExpensiveNot for offshore fishingOnly for freshwaterPoor placement of the release buttonCan’t catch big fishExpensiveBacklash issueCan’t adjust spool tension with ‘on’ clickerDrag star built cheaplyGears don’t run smoothlyNot easy to adjust brakesNoisy when you castLow drag powerOnly for freshwaterNo lube port
Bearings6+17+17 to 10109+11110+1984+17zero9+179
Line CapacityMono - 10/120 to 14/90
Braid 20/150 to 40/105
Mono - 14/165 to 20/100
Braid 40/190 to 50/145
Mono - 200/2 to 195/12
Braid 180/4 to 200/20
Mono - 160/0.29 to 95/0.28
Braid - 190/20 to 100/50
Mono 140/12
Braid - 140/50
Mono - 160/0 to 95/0.38
Braid 190/20 to 100/50
Mono 110/12
Briad 110/50
Mono - 14/230
Braid - 65/230
Mono - 088
Braid - 160/1
Mono - 10/120 to 14/90
Braid - 20/150 to 40/105
Mono - 12/125Mono 12/135Mono - 120/12
Braid 120/50
Mono - 60/185
Braid - 55/130
Mono - 0.369mm /175m
Braid - 0.330mm/190m
Drag11 lb.15.4 lb.6 lb. to 14 lb.24 lb.20 lb.18 lb.20 lb.35 lb.13.2 lb.11 lb. , 12 lb.22 lb.22 lb.15 lb.13.2 lb.33 lb.
Weight7.8 to 7.9 oz.8.1 oz.5.6 oz. to 10.1 oz.7.8 oz.6.9 oz.7.3 oz.6.3 oz.10.8 oz.7.2 oz.7.6 oz.6.8 oz.6.4 oz.7.1 oz.8.1 oz.11 oz.
Ratio6.2:1 to 8.5:17.3:15.2:1 to 6.2:16.6:1 to 7.3:17.5:110.1:17.5:15.4:16.3:1 / 8.1:16.3:1 to 8.2:15.3:1 to 8.1.16.6:1 / 8.1:15.6:1 to 8.3:16.3:1 to 7.3:15.9:1 to 8.1:1
IPT26" to 36"32.2"20.7" to 38"27" to 30"30"41"30"2625.7" / 32.8"26" to 35"21" to 32"28.9" to 32"23" to 35"28.2" to 32.2"27 to 36
Price$249.99$184.12 - $243.52$80.83$159.95$145.69$259.24$247.35 - $250.33N/A$199.00 - $313.48$189.99 - $299.99$169.00 - $289.00N/AN/A$169.99N/A

3 Tips for Buying a Baitcasting Reel

  1. Round Vs Low Profile
    Round-shaped baitcasting reels hold more line, can help you toss larger baits, and therefore come in handy for long runs during the fight. You can use them for catching steelhead, muskie, salmon, and pike.
    Low-profile baitcasters, meanwhile, are more ergonomic as they are much easier for wrist action and can be used for palming. The species you can catch using low-profile baitcasting reels include bass and crappie.
  2. Gear Ratio
    Gear ratio determines the speed of the fishing reel. Common gear ratios in baitcasting reels are 7.1:1, 6.4:1, and 5.4:1. Confused by what these numbers mean? The first number describes how many revolutions the spool will make for every turn of the handle.
    If you’re a beginner, we suggest you opt for a baitcasting reel in the 5.4:1 to 6.2:1 range. This will let you fish both fast- and slow-moving baits with ease.
  3. Braking System
    Some baitcasting reels come with centrifugal brakes, the sort of which use pins inside the reel’s side plate to make adjustments. To engage them, you’ve to push the pins outward. Others, meanwhile, come with magnetic brakes. These brakes rely on the spool and the magnets to adjust the spool’s RPM.

Top 15 Baitcasting Reel Reviews

1. Shimano CURADO DC

Shimano CURADO DC
Pros:
✅ Offers minimal backlash
✅ Almost friction-less operation
✅ Awesome braking system

Cons:
⛔ Pricier than most other baitcasting reels

Evolution (What’s New?):
The Shimano Curado DC is equipped with the unique DC Braking technology that you won’t be able to get if you opt for its predecessors. This digital control braking system uses a microcomputer to monitor the spool speed 1000times/second. This helps it maximize distance and prevent backlash and provides you with trouble-free casting.

Outstanding Features:
This baitcasting reel comes with multiple features one can term as outstanding. These include the Super-Free bearing supported pinion gear technology that has successfully eliminated friction on its spool shaft. You also get the MicroModule Gearing that ensures efficient and seamless rotation.
Next comes its Digitally Controlled breaking system. It helps you make adjustments to the reel based on whatever type of casing you intend to do. We were also impressed with this model’s small form factor as it helps its user palm the reel easily, thereby taking fatigue out of your fishing.
The S3D spool is another excellent addition to this reel. By reducing vibrations and ensuring the spool stays steady throughout, it enables smooth casts and retrieves. And on top of everything else, the S-A-RB Bearing System helps protect this reel in saltwater and similar environments.

Fishing Environment:
Given the features we’ve discussed above, it should go without saying that you can use this model in all fishing environments. However, if you intend to use it in saltwater areas, make sure to rub it with oil afterwards to maintain its performance.

Construction:
This model boosts the tough CI4+ construction that has reduced its weight while also increasing its sturdiness. A powerful Hagane body helps it withstand abuse and a cross carbon drag system adds to the experience when fishing with it.

Shape:
This is a low-profile baitcasting reel that is ideal for catching fish in freshwater conditions. Its 8.5:1 gear ratio, meanwhile, makes it a good choice for jigs, bait worms, Texas rigs, and Carolina rigs.


2. Daiwa Coastal TW

Daiwa Coastal TW

Pros:
✅ Air brake system keeps backlash at bay
✅ T-wing system provides longer casting distance
✅ Bearing system offers protection against saltwater intrusion

Cons:
⛔ Low drag rating makes it less than ideal for offshore fishing

Outstanding Features:
The TWS system is what truly sets apart Daiwa Coastal TW from the competition. It addresses the issue of level wind/traditional line guide systems constricting line flow by opting for a T-shaped line guide that is larger, wider, and consequently less restrictive.
TWS allows this reel’s line to exit seamlessly from the spool with minimal friction and line angle, thereby reducing backlash and line noise, while also providing more accurate and longer casts. Then there are the EVA knobs that provide maximum (and optimum) contact in wet conditions.
Next comes the UTD DRAG system. It combines alloy and stainless steel drag plates with advanced carbon washers and specifically designed grease for smooth performance. And you also get an air brake system to prevent the likelihood of backlash.

Shape:
This left-hand reel has a low-profile design with a maximum line capacity of 40/145 and an ultra-fast gear ratio of 7.3:1. All these factors make it a must-have for anglers who are always eager to make the next cast after retrieving the previous one.

Construction & Design:
The Daiwa Coastal TW is encased in an aluminum frame as well as aluminum plates. Both make this model incredibly compact but not at the cost of its sturdiness. Need proof? This reel has been able to maintain the footprint of a 100-size reel while providing the capacity 1/5x bigger.


3. Pflueger President XT

Pflueger President XT

Pros:
✅ Aircraft-grade aluminum
✅ Soft touch knob
✅ Magnetic braking system

Cons:
⛔ Can’t be used in saltwater

Evolution (What’s New?):
The Pflueger President XT has received one upgrade since its release in 2015. Unlike its previous version, which came without a sealed drag system, this baitcasting reel comes with one. You can thus count on it to be sturdier than its previous version.

Outstanding Features:
Begin with the magnetic breaking system whose externally adjustable brake controls backlash and spool rotation. Nine corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings hold their own against saltwater, plus an aircraft-grade aluminum handle oozes durability.
We were also impressed with the soft-touch knob. You too would be once you experience for yourself the excellent grip it provides. And to top it all of, this reel’s availability in different reel sizes makes it suitable for a wide array of fishing styles.

Shape:
The President XT is a low-profile reel offering a gear ratio of 7.3:1 and a retrieval rate of 31-inches per crank. A magnetic braking system, together with external adjustable brake settings, limit issues with its tangled line and make this reel easy to control for anglers.

Design and Construction:
The Plfueger President XT is made out of aircraft-grade aluminum, has nine corrosion-resistant ball bearings as well as a magnetic braking system, Neither of the components should give you any reasons to doubt this reel’s sturdiness.


4. Abu Garcia Revo SX

Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel

Pros:
✅ Instant anti-reverse
✅ Lightweight yet durable
✅ Infini Brake System

Cons:
⛔ Placement of the release button on the sideplate could have been better

Evolution (What’s New?):
Abu Garcia has released four generations of this baitcasting reel. The latest (4th) generation maintains the color scheme of its predecessor but is glossier, whereas the 3rd generation SX was matte. The gen 4 also weighs 1.1ounces lighter than gen 3.
Previous generations of the REVO SX were equipped with the basic MagTrax braking system. This one, however, has received the upgraded Infini Braking System. This system uses both centrifugal and magnetic brakes to take this model’s performance up a notch.
The change to brass gears from aluminum has impacted the REVO SX’s retrieve, making it noticeably less noisy and slightly more smooth. Plus, the replacement of the traditional I-style knobs with the contoured, PVC knobs has given more power in your hands.

Outstanding Features:
The Abu Garcia Revo SX has the Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag System. It has provided this reel with a max rated drag of 24 pounds, making it an excellent choice for largemouth bass anglers out there. An awesome line capacity of 12/145, an instant anti-reverse feature and 9+1 stainless steel ball bearings are other features of this reel that caught our eye.

Shape:
The REVO SX is a low-profile baitcasting reel whose 6.6:1 gear ratio makes it a must-have for a wide array of fishing applications. Keep in mind, though, that this model is also available in the 7.3:1 gear ratio, which you can turn to if you want to cast baits and retrieve lines faster.

Construction:
Alloy construction has managed to keep this reel lightweight but without affecting its durability. A tough caging and use of C6 carbon for parts that aren’t made of stainless steel have also imparted remarkable strength to this baitcasting reel.
The absence of any protrusions or ugly gaps – as well as the near-perfect alignment of the sideplate with the frame – also assures you of its durability.


5. Lew’s Custom Inshore

Lews Custom Inshore Speed Spool

Pros:
✅ Sturdy 1-piece aluminum frame
✅ Lube port for easy maintenance
✅ Speed dial line indicator

Cons:
⛔ Drag isn’t stout enough to catch big fish

Outstanding Features:
The Lew’s Custom Inshore Speed Spool is equipped with the Speed Keeper to let you secure lures and rigged baits without scratching this baitcasting reel. Its main gear has been lubricated to enhance corrosion resistance and a patented speed dial line indicator allows for easy identification of pound test and line type.
Aside from that, a multi-setting brake system uses internally adjustable centrifugal and externally adjustable magnetic braking to offer seamless performance. And you also get an external lube port to effortlessly oil the whole thing.

Shape:
The Lew’s Custom Inshore Speed Spool Baitcast Reel has a low profile design with a speedy gear ratio of 7.5:1. Together with its line capacity (120/12) and recovery per turn (30-inches), its shape and gear ratio make this model an exciting option for anglers interested in instant slack uptake.

Construction & Design:
Machine-forged double anodized aluminum makes this reel more durable than ever before. C45 carbon sideplates are rugged and lack any openings that could let saltwater, sand, or salt through. The coming together of these parts allow this baitcaster to outlast its warranty with ease.
It also offers a sealed 10-bearing system to keep rust and corrosion out. All the stainless steel ball bearings are corrosion-resistant, though it should be noted that they aren’t corrosion-proof. This minor distinction means you’d do well to oil them after each use.


6. Abu Garcia Revo Rocket

Abu Garcia Revo Rocket

Pros:
✅ Highly efficient gear system
✅ Externally adjustable cast control
✅ Increased corrosion protection

Cons:
⛔ Hefty price tag

Evolution (What’s New?):
When it was first released in 2014, the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket had a gear ratio of 9.0:1, the fastest of any reel at the time. Fast forward four years and its 2018 version saw the retrieve ratio touch the 10.1:1 retrieve ratio, making it the fastest baitcaster on the market.

Outstanding Features:
Revo have named it “Rocket” for a reason. Every turn of this reel handle takes up 41-inches of line, a feat unheard of with baitcasting reels. This allows you to quickly hit your targets and move on to the next lure within a matter of seconds.
The Linear Magnetic Breaking System exploits 5 magnets for one purpose only: to induce as much resistance on the spool as possible. Throw into the mix its maximum drag pressure of up to 24lbs, and what you’re looking at is one of the most robust reels in 2021.

Shape:
The Abu Garcia Revo Rocket has a low-profile design with a maximum 10.1:1 gear ratio and a dual braking – centrifugal + magnetic – system. It also offers a linear magnetic braking system to put as much resistance on the spool as is humanly possible.

Construction & Design:
The Revo Rocket’s frame is made of X-craftic alloy and the handle is made out of carbon fiber, with sideplates also present to offer enhanced corrosion resistance. All of these, plus the Carbon Matrix drag system uses a set of carbon washers, deliver constant and smooth performance.


7. Lew’s Team Pro-Ti

Lews Team Pro-Ti Speed Spool

Pros:
✅ Relatively lightweight
✅ Smooth and efficient cast
✅ Comes with an integrated Speed Keeper

Cons:
⛔ Some users have faced backlash

Evolution (What’s New?):
Professional anglers who are fed up with smaller reels weighing too much might appreciate that this reel has undergone an upgrade in the weight department. Unlike its predecessors, most of which were made of aluminum, the Lew’s Team Pro-Ti is made with 32 mm aircraft-grade Duralumin U-shaped spool.
Apart from being much smaller in profile and lighter than its predecessors, the spool offers better acceleration too. This makes it a must-have for those small, light lures when you’d have to cast out much farther than you’d do under normal circumstances.

Outstanding Features:
Despite being lightweight, this baitcasting reel offers 20 pounds of drag, which is more than enough for dealing with common species like walleye, bass, and many others. Double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings block the entry of salt and sand to decrease any friction they might have caused.
A Speedcast Adjustable Centrifugal Braking System can be adjusted to complement your needs. The braking system also slows down progressively to minimize the chance of a bird’s nest. And the presence of an external knob means you can quickly adjust it, too.
On top of everything else, this reel is equipped with a Speed Keeper. This integrated hook keeper will save the reel from a bunch of scratches, preserving its resale value.

Shape:
The Lew’s HyperMag is another low-profile reel with a faster gear ratio (8.3:1). Some examples of baits that will match well to this gear ratio are lipless crankbaits, jerk baits, big worms, rigs, and Texas rigs, among others.

Construction & Design:
This reel’s one-piece magnesium frame prevents it from flexing or giving anything against extreme amounts of pressure or weight. Two C45 carbon side plates also play their part in bringing down this model’s overall weight while not sacrificing much in the way of its sturdiness.
One point that we cannot miss while discussing how durable this model’s construction is its spool. It’s made of aircraft-grade duralumin and gives the reel all the power it needs to hold its own while fighting with a sizable fish.


8. KastKing Kapstan Elite Size 300

KastKing Kapstan Elite Size 300

Pros:
✅ Powerful centrifugal braking system
✅ Comfortable EVA grips
✅ Low-noise operation

Cons:
⛔ Spool tension is difficult to adjust when the clicker is on

Outstanding Features:
The KastKing Kapstan Elite Size 300 comes with an ultra-wide body. One that lets it hold 230+ yards of 14lb mono or 50lb braid fishing. A powerful triple disc carbon drag offers over 40lbs of fish stopping drag to let you target the largest freshwater fish.
Its spool tensioning nut comes with click adjustments for more accurate control, and a powerful centrifugal braking system reduces the chance of overruns upon casting heavy baits. You also get an indicator on the reel making sure you always remember the lb. test line you have set on your reel.

Design and Construction:
This reel is an epitome of sturdiness. Its stainless steel main shaft, a powerful triple disc carbon drag, and a braid-ready aluminum spool are good examples of this. An on/off switch close to the palm of your hands lets you ensure the spool clicker stays audible.

Shape:
The KastKing Kapstan Elite is a low-profile reel with a centrifugal braking system that isn’t as reliable as its magnetic counterpart. A gear ratio of 5.4:1 means it’s one of the slowest reels in this review, thereby making it a good option for fighting heavy fish.


9. Daiwa Tatula SV TW

Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS

Pros:
✅ Delivers exceptional casting
✅ Gives plenty of cranking power
✅ Feels compact and ergonomic

Cons:
⛔ Drag star is made of plastic and feels cheap

Evolution (What’s New?):
The Daiwa Tatula SV TW 2020 is an upgraded version of the Tatula SV TW 2017. The latest version weighs 6.7 ounces, exactly half an ounce lighter than the 7.2-ounce SV TW 2017. This allows it to palm better and you to cast farther with much more ease. Other than that, there aren’t many notable differences between the two reels.

Outstanding Features:
Daiwa has equipped this reel with its patented SV Spool and Airbreak technology. It’s basically a dual-casting system that improves casts and reduces backlashes through the integration of both centrifugal and magnetic braking systems.
This reel’s T-Wing System allows you to maximize its casting even further. It does that by opening up the line feed and letting the line to cross the spool smoothly. This gives all weight ranges of this reel a unique unhindered casting feel.
To further sweeten the deal, the 90mm oversized, aluminum swept handle does a fine job of providing a solid grip. That shouldn’t come as a surprise once you consider that it has borrowed its soft-touched handle from the much pricier Tatula Elite.

Shape:
Unlike the Lew’s HyperMag that we reviewed above, the Daiwa Tatula is a round-shaped baitcasting reel. Throw into the mix its medium gear ratio of 6.3:1, and what you have is a model that will work well with baits such as castable umbrella rigs, square-billed crankbaits, and more.

Construction & Design:
The Daiwa Tatula SV TW is made of aluminum and feels solid and compact, plus its finish looks glossier and high-end. The only element of its construction which fails to convey durability is the drag star. It’s made of plastic and feels a little cheap, to put it mildly.


10. SHIMANO SLX DC

SHIMANO SLX DC

Pros:
✅ DC Brake technology
✅ Gears don’t buckle under heavy loads
✅ Highly-rigid body

Cons:
⛔ The gears don’t retrieve as smoothly as those on the Curado

Evolution (What’s New?):
The Shimano SLX DC is the upgraded version of the SLX. The main difference between both is the inclusion of Shimano’s latest Digital Control (DC) braking technology. It gives you four modes to choose from including Max Distance, Braided/Monoline, Fluorocarbon, and Skipping.
The system also saves you from adjusting the reel as much as you’d do on models with other braking systems. Its intelligent sensor monitors how you cast to the fish’s arrival on your intended spot, before automatically making fine adjustments based on the rotation of your spool.

Outstanding Features:
Apart from the Digital Control (DC) braking technology whose merits we’ve already discussed, other notable features of the SLX DC include the S3D Spool Technology that eliminates pool vibration, paying the way to a well-balanced casting and retrieval experience.
Its S-A-RB bearings feature shields on both sides to minimize the entry of salt or sand. An X ship supports the pinion gear on both ends with bearings, ensuring that it stays perfectly aligned with the drive gear. This will allow the gears to not leave their position even under the mightiest loads.

Shape:
The Shimano SLX DC is a round baitcasting reel, which means you can use it to toss larger baits. Both its 6.3:1 gear ratio and its round shape should convince you to turn to it for catching pike, salmon, and similar fishes.

Construction:
The SLX DC has a metal, Hagane body. One that has managed to virtually eliminate body flexing by increasing its impact resistance and body stiffness. As a result, whatever force you’d put into this reel would be directly transformed into cranking power, a sign of this reel’s high efficiency.


11. 13 Fishing Concept A

13 Fishing Concept A

Pros:
✅ Anti-electrolysis screw pads
✅ 6-way centrifugal braking system
✅ Freshwater and saltwater versatility

Cons:
⛔ Braking adjustment can only be accessed by opening the side-plate, a time-consuming process

Evolution (What’s New?):
The 13 Fishing Concept A has received one upgrade since its release in 2014. We’re talking about the Beetle Wing Rapid Access System. By letting you open up the side plate and move it to the side, it enables you to access the braking pins for adjustment. This is an excellent feature as it frees you from the worry of dropping the side plate in the water.

Outstanding Features:
Start with the 6-way centrifugal braking system that lets you adjust the braking system’s 6 pins from under the side plate. Then there are the 3+3+1 high-speed bearings whose corrosion-resistant coating helps the reel hold its own in saltwater.
Next comes the Arrowhead Line Guide System. It ensures that the line lays evenly on the spool when you’re retrieving, making sure there are no tangles or lumps when it’s time to cast. You might also appreciate that this model comes with Concept Cork Knobs – they give you great grip.

Construction & Design:
Given the fact that it tips the scales at a mere 6.8 ounces, you shouldn’t be surprised that this model has “Airfoil Carbon” side plates for weight reduction. Its machined aluminum parts are very smooth, with no irregularities or smooth patches and all of the seams and the tolerances are tight, too. Plus, it has Anti-Electrolysis screw pads to prevent the ingress of saltwater.

Shape:
The species you can catch using this low-profile baitcasting reel include crappie and brass. As for its ultra-fast gear ratio (7.3:1), it will come in handy for anglers who are aiming baits at relatively defined areas. Two examples of bait that would work well with this gear ratio are jigs and big worms.


12. 13 Fishing Concept Z

13 Fishing Concept Z

Pros:
✅ Self-lubricating system
✅ Gives you a solid hookup each time
✅ 22lbs Bulldog drag system

Cons:
⛔ Makes a whirring sound when you cast

Evolution (What’s New?):
What makes the 13 Fishing Concept Z different from other 13 Fishing reels are its Concept Zero bearings (CZBs). These are bushings that rely on a new polymer material that make the reel quieter, while also enhancing casting performance. What’s more, the CZBs are self-lubricating, which means they don’t need any oiling and will break-in automatically over time.

Outstanding Features:
Start with the Concept Zero bearing technology. Engineered specifically for baitcasting reels, it ensures that the reel casts as seamlessly on the 10,000th cast as it did on the first. That means you can count on this technology to not let this reel’s performance diminish with extended use.
Then there is the Arrowhead line guide system. It lets the line pass through without much resistance when you’re casting and ensures it lays evenly on the spool when you retrieve it. Also on offer is the dead stop anti-reverse to help you get a solid hookup each time.

Shape:
The 13 Fishing Concept Z has a low-profile design with a gear ratio of 7.3:1 and a 6-way centrifugal braking system. The braking system deserves your attention. Its six-pin locking system allows you to make very fine adjustments between 0 and 6.

Construction & Design:
Both the frame as well as the gear sideplates of this model are made out of aluminum, with the body coated with a light orange to protect it from the elements out there. You also get the Ocean Armor 2 saltwater protection process that keeps the gear in excellent condition.
A 22lbs Bulldog drag system combines carbon and steel washers to provide a smooth yet strong feel from the beginning. The drag is thus enough to give you the power you need to hook a large fish out from underneath deep cover.


13. Lew’s Speed Spool LFS

Lews Speed Spool LFS

Pros:
✅ Affordable asking price
✅ Magnetic control system
✅ Superbly smooth casting

Cons:
⛔ Only 15lbs of max drag power

Evolution (What’s New?):
Most anglers know that the Lew’s Speed Spool is a re-design of the Speed Spool. It packs a lot of features you didn’t find in its predecessor, including a Zirconia line guide, clickies on the drag star, external lube port, and more. All these features make the reel very easy to use.

Outstanding Features:
The fact that this reel weighs extremely lightweight (7.1oz) bodes well for those of you who intend to fish for hours at a time. Its availability in three gear ratios – 5.6:1, 6.8:1, 7.5:1 – help it cover just about every application you can think of.

Shape:
The Lew’s Speed Spool LFS is a low-profile reel with three gear ratios (described above) and 9+1 stainless steel bearings. None of these features can come closer to the MCS braking system in importance. It’s an externally adjustable system that you can control via the dial on its palming sideplate.
At max braking, it applies greater breaking power, whereas turning the dial clockwise lets gives you a totally free spool with zero braking power.

Construction & Design:
One-piece aluminum frame and 10 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings make this reel more rugged than ever before. An anodized aluminum U-style spool does its best to resist corrosion, and an easily removable graphite sideplate makes it easy to palm.


14. Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS

Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS

Pros:
✅ Reinforced brass gears
✅ Multiple gear ratios
✅ Well designed for deep cranking

Cons:
⛔ The higher gear ratio makes retrieval difficult

Evolution (What’s New?):
Daiwa has equipped this baitcasting reel with a reinforced bass gearing, a more robust aluminum sideplate, and an enhanced leakproof frame than its predecessor. A bigger, 100mm handle and oversized touch knobs provide better grip and, by extension, greater torque.

Outstanding Features:
The Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS features a black anodized finish that protects its aluminum housing against rust and corrosion. It is also equipped with a waterproof ATG drag system to provide you with a jerk-free drag and has an oversized, CNC machined gear to help you get a smoother retrieve.

Shape:
Here is another low-profile reel. It is available in high speed (7.3:1) and standard (6.3:1) gear ratios in both left and right-hand crank. You can count on it to work adequately for punching, deep cranking, chatter baits, swimbaits, and punching.

Construction & Design:
Housed inside an aluminum frame and protected by side plates on both sides, this model comes with reinforced brass gearing and offers a maximum drag of 13.2 pounds. It also features a 100mm swept handle to let you effortlessly turn the barrel.


15. Piscifun Alijoz

Piscifun Alijoz

Pros:
✅ Comfortable to handle
✅ Can fight large inshore species
✅ Corrosion-resistant ball bearings

Cons:
⛔ Isn’t equipped with a lube port

Outstanding Features:
The Piscifun Alijoz has 8 built-in stainless steel ball bearings that make it one of the smoothest on the market. Both of its gear ratios are color-coded to let you grab the right model for the situation at hand and the 8 Magnet Braking System reduces backlash while fishing.

Design and Construction:
Anodized aluminum frame supplements this reel’s construction and makes it sturdier than ever before. The aluminum spool is a perfect example of this. A 33lbs Max Drag and a center of balance closer to your hand adds to your comfort when using it.

Shape:
The Piscifun Alijoz is a low-profile broadcaster with high line capacity and corrosion-resistant ball bearings that give it the upper hand on a variety of saltwater and freshwater fish. Large EVA knobs along with an extended handle make it easy to grip, too.


How to Choose a Baitcasting Reel

best baitcasting reel
So, the assumption is that you have a bit of experience now with angling and you are thinking about how you can up the ante and start complimenting your existing skillset with some additional diversity regarding the type of fish you can catch.

The simple explanation of what a baitcaster is that it’s a reel that has a revolving spool and sits on top of a casting rod with a trigger handle. This contrasts with a spinning or spincast reel which sits underneath a spinning rod and with the line guides facing down.

10 Things to Consider When Buying a Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting Reel ReviewsLet’s take a look at some things to look out for when choosing a Baitcaster reel to invest in:

  1. Materials:
    Only pay attention to Baitcaster reels where the manufacturer uses either high-grade aluminum or graphite. Graphite, which is a lighter material than frequently used metals such as aluminum, isn’t as strong nor can it provide as much raw, brute strength as other more well-suited metals can.
  2. Choosing the Gear Ratio:
    Gear ratio refers to the speed of the reel. Usually, gear ratios in Baitcast reels are 5.4:1 going up to the range of 7.1:1 – which indicates how many turns the spool makes for each rotation of the handle.
    Just to clarify, a reel with a designation of 5.4:1 it means it performs 5.1 revolutions with a turn of the handle.
  3. Braking Systems:
    Braking systems are a critical part of baitcast reels. Brakes, similar to the idea with cars, adjusting the spool’s rotation and works to slow it down. Without a braking system, the backlash would be happening a lot more during normal operation. As a refresher, a backlash is the knotted mess you are left with when your spool keeps on revolving after your lure has stopped moving forward.
    2 types of brakes:
    Baitcaster reels use a braking system to help manage the speed of the spool when casting.
    the brakes are there to reduce the amount of backlash that occurs on the reel’s spool.

    • Centrifugal
      Centrifugal brake systems include two to six pins which allow you to activate and deactivate the breaks.
    • Magnetic
      Magnetic braking systems which are based on, you guessed it, a set of magnets that react to non-magnetic metals ( such as aluminum ) incorporated in the spool. The logic behind this braking system is that when you move the magnets towards the spool it activates the breaks. Meanwhile, moving the magnets further away from the spool allows the spool to move without restraint.

    Braking systems are critical to any Baitcaster reel but learning to properly thumb the spool is equally important when it comes to controlling spool speed. This skill will take time as all baitcaster anglers have learned before you.

  4. Spool Size:
    2 sizes for different types of fishing:

    • Pick a bigger (deeper) spool because the larger spool reduces the size of the line coils which makes management of the line less complicated. Perfect when using heavy-duty lines.
    • Smaller shallow spools are great when used primarily for catching fish in covered shallow water.

    Deciding on spool size should be directly related to the type of fishing you plan to do

  5. Handle Size:
    Baitcaster reels have variously sized handles. Some of which have shorter than others. Which is okay for most situations like handling worms or jigs. You may reconsider if you are going to use larger crankbaits or swimbaits. Bigger and longer handles generate more torque enabling you to pry fish out easily.
  6. Bearings:
    Pay attention and be on the lookout for bearings that are made from strong materials such as magnesium and aluminum. They are lightweight and long-lasting with enhanced suitability for any type of fishing. These strong materials will give you the best performance with a lot of durabilities.
    High-quality bearings, identified as shielded, double shielded, or stainless will help support the gears and keep the reel running smoothly while enhancing performance.
  7. Drag System:
    Drag is the tension that is directed to the spool dictating how easy it is for the line to be pulled off of the spool.
    Look for a drag system that has “low start-up inertia” which means the drag is employed evenly and smoothly.
  8. Round vs Low-Profile Baitcasting Reels
    Low profile and round Baitcaster reels are very similar but the main difference is the size. Low profile means that the reel is a smaller and lighter reel whereas a reel that is heavier and larger is labeled as a round one.Round-vs-Low-Profile-Reel

    What Is The Difference Between Round and Low-Profile Baitcasting Reels

    Some common differences lay in :

    • Weight:
      Low profile is much smaller and lighter so it’s a preference for a lot of anglers due to low fatigue and easy on the wrist operation. A round baitcaster reel could be as much as 50% larger than a low one.
    • Gear Ratio:
      Low profile usually have a higher gear ratio because of the smaller size
    • Line capacity:
      This is where the round profile wins out single handily. It can hold a much larger weight and the actual amount of line so that if the fish makes a run for it, you know you have more than enough to compensate.
    • Drag:
      Low profile holds their own for their size but doesn’t have a good drag as the round baitcaster. The Round profile can handle much larger fish and provides for a much higher-rated drag system.
    • Fish targets:
      The low profile usually is for medium-sized fish ( 0-14lbs ) and the round profile is typically for much larger fish ( 12lbs+ ).
  9. Left Handed vs Right Handed Baitcasters
    Left-vs-Right-Handed-Baitcasters-1When you thought, you had it all figured out about Baitcasters and THEN you are asked if you need a left hand or right handed reel? Come again?.
    Baitcaster reels traditionally have the location of their handle on the right side. That means a right-handed caster will make a cast and then switch the rod to the left hand so the reel can be cranked with the right hand. Does that sound efficient? Most agree with you that offhand it doesn’t, but experienced Baitcaster anglers will tell you that it’s quick and simple once you get familiar with it.
    Typically, right-handed fisherman will use a spinning reel that has the handle on the left so that when casting and holding the rod with their right hand they are reeling with their left.
    There doesn’t seem to be a large reason why this became the de-facto standard besides most anglers do it and it seems to work well. Some anglers find more control with switching hands and since they are strongest dexterity-wise with their right hand, it’s preferred.
    However, there is a good argument for a reel in the lefthanded position as it does have many advantages over a handle on the right side. For example, you are not switching hands when you cast the line thus, fewer backlashes. This also allows you to work top-water baits better as the moment the bait hits the water you can start reeling without switching hands.
    Left or Right: What’s Baitcaster do I Need?
    So, the question on your mind is probably what-handed reel is best for me? That really comes down to what you have got used to when you first started angling and what feels more natural to you. Most anglers will tell you that it’s not the most fluid and easy things to do, switching casting methods from left to right or right to left after you become experienced with either one.

Baitcasting-Reel-Buying-Guide-

How to Choose A Saltwater Baitcasting Reel

best saltwater baitcasting reel
For any serious angler out there, eventually, you will be upgrading your reel from a spinning reel to a baitcaster reel. Due to its durability, strength, and high level of control, baitcasters win with experienced fishermen. Like most other products, baitcasters come in all sizes and performance levels. Usually, price does indicate the quality level you will get but that’s not a set rule. Also, each brand will produce reels with different features that you may or may not need, depending on your style of fishing and what your goal is.

When choosing a Baitcaster in general whether it’s saltwater fishing or not, you want to make sure certain criteria are checked off to ensure you are getting the best reel and the one designed for what you intend to do with it.

Let’s take a quick look with a bit of recap on a few of the main things to look out for in the best baitcasting reel for saltwater.

  • Frame:
    Look for an aluminum frame- they are the strongest and will last the longest compared to a graphite mixed one. High-quality frames are coated with an anti-corrosive layer that protects against saltwater damage and general wear and tear from the elements.
    Anti-corrosive protection appears to be the most critical aspect for saltwater fishing as it protects your investment and also maintains strength and durability so that you can fish with confidence.
  • The Brakes:
    A Baitcasting reel with a good breaking system is directly related to easy casting when you fish. Making sure the braking system is well designed will make catching the big saltwater fish that much easier.
  • Gears and Speed:
    The connection between how many times the spool turns after one turn of the handle is known as the gear ratio. A high gear ratio means a faster spool. You will want a Baitcasting reel with a higher gear ratio if you desire a faster retrieve and to avoid fatigue. For saltwater fishing, make sure they are protected from the elements.
  • Spool Size:
    For large fish, a larger spool is needed so that heavy lines can be accommodated comfortably with the spool.

When Buying a Saltwater Baitcaster, What Factors Should You Consider?

Potential saltwater reel buyers should be on the lookout for some specific qualities in a saltwater reel. Due to the inherent differences between freshwater and saltwater sources, there are specific qualities a baitcaster designed for saltwater sources should have.
Distance:

  • Achieving distance in your casts is critical when fishing in saltwater because there is a lot of open waters you need to cover. Due to the design of the baitcaster reel, it will always beat the spinning when it comes to getting some distance between you and the bait.
  • Baitcasters are designed to make the line roll directly off the spool in the direction the spool is spinning. Which is in contrast with a spinning reel, where the line slides off the non-moving spool which results in more friction.

Strength:

  • Having a reel that is durable and strong is important in saltwater situations. This factor really does set the baitcaster reel apart and makes it superior to the spinning reel in terms of strength.
  • Fishing for the big saltwater game requires you to lift a fish directly out of the water using your reel and line, and they need to be built strong to handle it
  • Fish living in saltwater are usually a lot bigger than what you can find in freshwater, emphasizing how important it is for the reel to be high performance when exposed to a lot of force. A baitcaster reel with a high-quality drag comes into play here as well.
  • An anti-corrosive coating is critical to saltwater fishing. The salt will destroy the reel and rod if the different parts of the system are not protected and designed to withstand the elements.

Precision:

  • After you are experienced with the mastery that is required from a baitcaster, you can cast your bait with greater accuracy than with a spinning reel.
  • This is one of the great qualities of a baitcaster, where you can adjust the speed and distance of your bait using your thumb. Precision matters because it gives you complete control of how much line is coming off.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasters are the preferred choice for seasoned anglers who have a taste for the precision and brute strength that the reel provides them. With all things in life, there are benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s important to know about the famous baitcaster.

  1. Benefits of a Baitcaster Reel
    Heavy Lines:

    • Heavy lines are critical fishing larger game fish.
    • Baitcast reels are significantly more adept at handling larger and heavier weight lines than spinning reels, especially when it comes to casting. T
    • The direct winding design of a baitcaster reel, allows the frame of the reel and spool to absorb the load of the line rather than the bail wire

    Casting Precision:

    • Once you gain mastery over the baitcaster’s learning curve, the line control possible by placing the thumb on the spooled line allows for enhanced levels of accuracy and placement that you don’t find in spinning reels.

    Line Twist:

    • Spinning reels have a more susceptibility to line twist that can affect the performance and casting of the line.
    • Line twist is not an issue with baitcaster reels. The line spools directly onto and off the spool of the reel, which also may help prolong the longevity and usefulness of the lines.
  2. Drawbacks of a Baitcaster Reel
    Price

    • Baitcasters are typically more expensive than regular spinning reels- you have to pay for the enhanced performance and precision. Although, you can find decent reels for under $100.

    Learning Curve:

    • Baitcasters are not for newbies or people that are just starting in the world of angling. They require a lot of patience, work and practice to master the subtle movements required to cast the perfect line and not to make a mess of things.
    • Backlash, which is when you fail to control the line and it turns into a big tangled mess, happens when you have not learned how to control the Baitcasters subtle mechanics. Ask any angler out there, A backlash is dreaded and you do NOT want to have to deal with untangling the mess created by it.
      Baitcasting is a very manual fishing experience unlike the simple operation style of a spinning reel.

FAQS:

  1. Q: What is the difference between a spinning reel and a baitcaster?
    Let’s take a look at a few of the attributes of a baitcaster reel and how they differ from a spinning reel.

    • Longer Casts:
      A Baitcaster combo (rod and reel), without effort, provide longer more comprehensive casts than other reels include spinners. The difference lays with the amount of control you have with the baitcaster and that the instead of uncoiling like a spinner, the line is unwound straight from the rod. Check out The top things to consider when buying a rod and reel combo!
    • Powerful:
      Baitcasters are considered more powerful with enhanced torque and control. Due to the design of the reel and the way the line is centered with the spool, gears, and handle it offers a higher level of ruggedness and ability.
    • High Level Of Control:
      Baitcasting reel combos are able to offer the angler more control while casting and due to the highly tactile way, one operates the reel- with their thumb. Pressure can be applied and taken off depending on what you want and what your goal is.

    And, be sure to check “differences between baitcaster and spinning reel” full review for further information!

    If you’re still having a hard time to decide, you should also check out the differences between fishing reel types!

  2. Q: Are there reels better for saltwater fishing?
    A: Yes! saltwater fishing requires additional protection for the reel and other components to make sure they last the brutal conditions of the open seas.
  3. Q: What do I need to know about the differences between reels made for freshwater and saltwater?
    A: Well, for starters, salt is deadly to all metals. Which makes sense as to why fishing reels designed for saltwater are made with stainless, non-corrosive steel to the metal, that is the reason why saltwater reels are made from stainless steel and other non-corroding components. You cannot escape it buy you can resist it!.
    When in contact with saltwater, reels that are designed for only freshwater sources will corrode and most likely get damaged. One solution to that is rinsing your reel after its use. Make sure you get a reel that Is designed for the saltwater.
    Saltwater reels are for catching much bigger fish and that’s why they have larger and bigger line capacities compared to freshwater reels. This is also why they are usually more money to buy.
  4. Q: Ok, so I am looking to get into using a baitcaster reel, what should I look out for?
    A: There are a few main characteristics that you should pay attention to when buying a baitcaster reel.
    The Frame: Look for an aluminum frame- they are the strongest and will last the longest compared to a graphite mixed one. High-quality frames are coated with an anti-corrosive layer that protects against saltwater damage and general wear and tear from the elements.
    The Brakes: A baitcasting reel with a good breaking system is directly related to easy casting when you fish.
    Gears and Speed: The connection between how many times the spool turns after one turn of the handle is known as the gear ratio. A high gear ratio means a faster spool. Physical Size Of The Spool: For large fish, which typically baitcasters are designed for to catch, you will have to buy a larger spool size so that heavy lines can be accommodated comfortably on the spool.
  5. Q: What are some pros and cons with using a baitcaster reel?
    A: Good question. Baitcasters are known for their durability, superior casting, and precision when it comes to catching the big fish out there. What you do make concessions for are to do with price ( they are more expensive than spinners ) and they do have a much longer learning curve than other reels out there.
  6. Q: Ok, I am getting a baitcaster reel. Do I need a right or left-handed one?
    A: That usually depends on preference and what you feel lets you cast and retrieve the most efficiently. See the explanation above as to the reasons why some choose one or the other. Both have their benefits based on what the anglers are used to and what they feel works best.

When you’re done, read our guide to buying a spincast reel and fly reel reviews round-up here!

Wrap Up

All anglers with a few fishing trips under their belt will confirm, choosing the best baitcasting reel for yourself can be a bit overwhelming! You need intermediate-level knowledge and experience to operate these fishing tools. Take time to do the research and make sure the investment you are making is the right one for your specific needs.

When you do make the plunge and decide to buy a baitcaster, you need to take into consideration a few variables such as will you be using it in freshwater or saltwater environments? Do you need a right-handed or left-handed reel and what type fish are you going to be targeting while angling? Going through baitcasting reel reviews will help determine which equipment is best for you and what things you need to look for when choosing to invest in a baitcaster.

Leave a Comment