Baitcasting reels are the original, conventional fishing reel, and are the choice for most professional and advanced anglers interested in serious bass fishing.
The best bait casting reels can handle heavier line, and can generally cast longer distances than their spinning counterparts of the same size. One type of reel is not better than the other, but if you’re a true fishing fanatic, why not learn both? Beginners often start with easy spinning gear, but if you love fishing and want to expand your knowledge, learn how to use a baitcasting reel as well!
When I began fishing, I started with spinning equipment. Since then, I’ve learned to love fishing and sharpen my skills a with baitcaster reel! While it does take practice, there are undeniable benefits to using a conventional rod and reel in certain situations.
Top Rated Baitcaster Reels for 2021
Don’t waste your money on a low quality fishing equipment. Instead, get one of the best reels available so that you can catch bigger fish and have long lasting gear for all your fishing trips!
In my experience, baitcasters don’t have to be the most expensive – some of the reels on this list are extremely affordable, especially when you consider their quality.
These Are the Best Baitcasting Reels:
- Daiwa Tatula SV TW
- Pflueger President XT Low Profile Reel
- Lew’s Fishing Tournament MB
- Shimano SLX DC
- Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Morrum ZX
- Penn Fathom II Star Drag Reel
- KastKing Royale Legend
- Okuma Citrix Low Profile
- Piscifun Phantom Carbon
- Shimano Curado K
- Abu Garcia Revo SX
Daiwa Tatula SV TW
Daiwa reels have always been fan favorites. They are quality reels with intriguing designs that are sure to catch fish and attention. This reel is black with gold accents, for a sleek look.
It has a 6.3:1 gear ratio, so it reels in fish quickly without sacrificing torque. The Daiwa Tatula also has a great air brake system with 20 different adjustable levels. The swayed, ergonomic handle also gives the fisher a nice, comfortable grip. A UTD tournament drag system allows for very smooth and powerful drag. A TWS T-shaped lever winder adds 5% more casting distance. The magnetic breaking system creates smooth casting for tackle 1/8 oz and heavier.
This reel is a good baitcasting reel. It is made by a company that is known for it quality and durability. The Daiwa Tatula is versatile and performs extremely well, and is available in a range of sizes to fit your fishing needs.
Daiwa Tatula SV TW Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.3:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 14/100, 16/90
- Line Retrieve: 25.7 in
- Weight: 7.2 oz
- Bearings: 7+1
- Gold accent for 6.3:1 gear ratio, Line per turn: 25.7”, Weight 7.2 oz
- Drag: 13.2lb, Bearings: 7(2CRBB)+1, Action FW / SW - M / L
- Air brake system, with 20 level adjustable from outside, Swayed handle 80mm long
- TWS T shaped level winder, UTD tournament drag system offers smooth drag
- High-grip I shaped knobs, Clicking drag
Pflueger President XT Low Profile
The Pflueger President XT Low Profile Reel is one of the best reels you can get. For its quality, it’s also seriously affordable and built to last. This lightweight reel is made for both freshwater and saltwater, so it’s a great choice for inshore or offshore anglers, or for anyone looking for a versatile reel.
The Pfluger President XT is made with aircraft grade aluminum, so it’s extremely durable. It has 9 corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings, so casting is super smooth. This reel has a magnetic braking system, making it easy to cast with externally adjustable brake controls for optimal spool rotation and reduced backlashes. A soft touch rubber knob creates a comfortable grip, even on longer fishing days.
This reel is low profile, so it is lightweight and compact, but it doesn’t sacrifice strength. The Pflueger President XT is a favorite surf fishing reel, but works well in all applications.
Pflueger President XT Low Profile Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 7.3:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 145/12, 125/14 (Mono)
- Line Retrieve: 31 in
- Weight: 6.80 oz
- Bearings: 9
- Max Drag: 12 lbs
- 9 Bearing System: Corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings
- XT Low Profile
- Magnetic Breaking System: Externally adjustable break controls spool rotation and backlash
- Aluminum Handle: Aircraft grade aluminum, extreme durability
- Soft Touch Knob: Soft touch rubber knob provides excellent grip
Lew’s Fishing Tournament MB
Lew’s Fishing is known for high quality products, and the Tournament MB Baitcast Reel is a standout. It’s also a fairly inexpensive choice compared to some of the pricier reels on this list. This reel is made from quality components, so it is sure to last a long time with proper care.
Lew’s Tournament MB has 10 ball bearings and a zero-reverse clutch bearing, so casting is incredibly smooth. The ball bearings are double-shielded and made of stainless steel. The reel itself has an aluminum frame and spool, a graphite side plate, and solid brass gearing. It is lightweight but very durable, and works in both salt and freshwater. The Lew’s Fishing Tournament MB reel has a dual cast control system with externally adjustable multi-setting brakes.
This reel also features a Zirconia line guide and an external lube port. The spool is high capacity, so you can hold a lot of line. The Lew’s Fishing Tournament MB Reel is a great choice for any angler, with plenty of features and 5 sizes to best fit your needs.
Shimano SLX DC
Shimano has always been a favorite because they are known for great fishing reels. The Shimano SLX DC is the newest baitcaster from Shimano, and has already received great reviews from anglers. I’m excited to try this reel myself!
The Shimano SLX DC uses Shimano’s new DC (Digital Control) braking system, with an easy to use, externally adjustable brake dial that makes adjustments easy. The HAGANE body is strong and rigid, but still light so it won’t weigh down the reel. Super Free Spool technology eliminates friction from the pinion gear. Shimano’s S3D stable spool design is better balanced for reduced spool vibration, resulting in smooth casting and retrieve.
The latest in baitcasting reels from Shimano, the SLX DC holds up very well in a long line of quality Shimano reels. If you’re interested in trying digital control braking.
Shimano SLX DC 150 Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.3:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 10/120, 12/110, 14/90 (Mono), 20/150, 30/135, 40/105 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 26 in
- Weight: 7.6 oz
- Bearings: 4+1
- Max Drag: 12 lbs
- HaganeBody - The HAGANE Body is a metal reel body with high rigidity. The body stiffness and impact resistance virtually eliminates body flexing. The result transforms the angler's actions directly into cranking power. Iy'ss efficiency through strength.
- SVS Infinity - Shimano's newest innovation in brake system technology, SVS Infinity provides easy-to-manage, consistent spool control and brake force. With weights that use inner friction against the raceway during the cast, SVS Infinity controls spool speed for precision casting especially when using lighter lures. The external adjustment knob provides for quick, precise adjustments for either the conditions or when you switch baits
- S3D Spool - This technology leads to reduced spool vibration. By designing a balanced and uniform thin wall aluminum constructed spool, S3D creates an incredibly smooth feel casting and retrieveing lures
- Super Free Spool - Was designed to eliminate friction on the spool shaft during the cast. In standard baitcasting reels, hen the clutch bar is pressed down, the pinion gear is freed and actually can drag on the spool shaft creating friction that can limit the length of the length of the cast. With Super Free, the pinion gear is supported by a ball bearing so that when the clutch is disengaged for a cast, the pinion gear and spool shaft are kept in perfect alignment.
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Morrum ZX
This is reel is the top baitcasting reel made by Abu Garcia. The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Morrum ZX reel can withstand 135 yards of 12 pound mono or 30 pound braid line. This reel also has Abu Garcia’s infinitely variable centrifugal brake system that allows for smooth, silent, precise casts.
The reel frame and side plates are made with machined aluminum so that it is strong and lightweight. There are also 10 stainless steel bearings that allow fast retrieval. The carbon fiber drag applies up to 15 pounds of pressure while still maintaining its smooth action.
The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Morrum ZX Baitcasting reel should be seen as an investment because of all the benefits it has to offer. It is one of the best medium duty reels on the market. For those reasons, this reel should definitely be worth you checking out during your search for the best baitcasting reel for you.
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Morrum ZX Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.3:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 135/12 (Mono), 135/30 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 28 in
- Weight: 7.3 oz
- Bearings: 10+1
- Max Drag: 15 lbs
- 10 stainless steel hpcr Bearings + 1 roller bearing provides increased Corrosion Protection
- Machined aluminum frame and sideplates provides strength without Excess weight
- Carbon matrix drag System provides smooth, consistent drag pressure across the entire drag range
- Infinitely variable centrifugal brake (ivcb-iv) gives very precise brake adjustments allowing anglers to easily cast a wide variety of baits
- Infinity II spool design for extended stability and extreme loads
Penn Fathom II Star Drag Reel
A new reel from Penn, this should be at the top of your list of new reels to try! Penn is known for high quality fishing gear, and all reports thus far say that the Penn Fathom II Star Drag Reel continues that tradition of excellence.
The Penn Fathom II Star Drag Reel is extremely strong, with a maximum drag of 30 pounds in the size 15 model. It has six shielded, stainless steel ball bearings and an instant anti-reverse bearing, so casting and retrieve is super smooth. With a full metal body and sideplates, this reel is durable and saltwater safe. The Live Spindle design makes this one of the longest casting reels on the market today. A Versa Drag system and HT-100 washers further ensure smooth casting.
I always expect quality from Penn, and this reel holds up. If you’re looking for a powerful and smooth baitcasting reel, the Penn Fathom II Star Drag reel is one of the most exciting new products available.
Penn Fathom II Star Drag Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.1:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 355/12, 305/15, 200/20 (Mono), 550/20, 415/30, 290/50 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 30 in
- Weight: 17 oz
- Bearings: 7
- Max Drag: 30 lbs
- Penn Fathom Star Drag Conventional Baitcast Reel 12lb / 260yd
KastKing Royale Legend
KastKing is known for high quality products at an extremely affordable price. This is the least expensive reel on our list, but it still performs incredibly well. With a low profile design, this baitcaster has a super silent and high speed line retrieve.
A brass gear structure and carbon fiber drag system gives the KastKing Royale Legend an impressive 17.5 pounds of drag power. This reel has 11+1 shielded MaxiDur corrosion resistant ball bearings, for smooth casting and retrieve. Since they’re shielded and corrosion resistant, the reel is sure to last without friction or damage. The KastKing Royale Legend has a dual braking system, with magnetic braking and centrifugal braking for superior control.
This reel is made of anodized aluminum, so it is lightweight but incredibly durable. Padded foam grips make retrieving comfortable and slip-free. The KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Reel is the perfect choice for an angler on a budget.
KastKing Royale Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 7.0:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 10/125, 12/100, 15/85 (Mono), 40/125, 50/100, 65/85 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 26 in
- Weight: 7.4 oz
- Bearings: 11+1
- Max Drag: 17.5 lbs
- GREAT FOR BEGINNERS – The 1st Generation Royal legend baitcasting reel has one of the best dual brake systems with a quick, easy to fine-tune reliable centrifugal and magnetic brake system for superior casting control. If you are new to baitcasters or get frustrated with backlashes, the Royale Legend is the perfect choice.
- BIGGER LINE CAPACITY – Royale Legend I is a bigger baitcasting reel than the 2nd generation. It’s a good fit when you need to have more lines on your reel.
- PERFORMANCE - Low profile design bait caster with a super silent high speed 7.0:1 line retrieve. Two color anodized aluminum forged multi-ported whiffle-style spool offers maximum strength while reducing weight.
- UNMATCHED – Precision cut brass gear structure and carbon fiber drag system delivering 17.5 LBs of drag offer the ultimate in a high performance low maintenance baitcasting reel package.
- PROVEN - 11 + 1 double shielded MaxiDur ball bearings for super smooth casting, retrieve, and long life.
Okuma Citrix Low Profile
Okuma is another well known fishing brand, and the Okuma Citrix Low Profile Baitcaster has a solid reputation. This reel has an aluminum frame and sideplate, so it’s lightweight and compact, but still strong.
The Okuma Citrix Low Profile Reel has a multi-disc carbon drag system and a micro-click drag star for precise, smooth drag settings. Its centrifugal cast control system can be adjusted externally, so you don’t have to remove the side plate. This reel has 7 stainless steel ball bearings, plus an anti-roller bearing. All the internal features of the Okuma Citrix are stainless steel, so it’s safe in saltwater environments.
The Okuma Citrix Low Profile Baitcaster has a handle with an ergonomic design that is comfortable and that allows you to keep the reel closer to your body. It comes with a paddle handle or a power handle, so you can choose what works best for your style of fishing.
Okuma Citrix Low Profile Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.4:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 12/250, 14/230, 20/150
- Weight: 11 oz
- Bearings: 7+1
- Max Drag: 24 lbs
Piscifun Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel
The Piscifun Phantom Carbon Reel is one of the lightest baitcasters out there, at only 5.7 ounces. The lightweight design is due to its carbon fiber frame, side plates, and handle. This reel is also extremely affordable, and with its quality performance, it’s a steal.
The Piscifun Phantom Carbon has 6 anti-corrosion stainless steel ball bearings plus one clutch bearing, all of which are shielded. With extra ball bearings and a 7.0:1 gear ratio, this reel can cast long distances accurately and smoothly. This reel has an impressive drag power of up to 17 pounds, so you can fight big fish. The Piscifun Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel has a dual brake system with magnetic and centrifugal brakes, so you have ultimate control.
Another feature of this reel is the CNC hollow reel, which accelerates faster and can handle line and tackle better than standard conventional reels. It also has an oversized line guide to minimize friction.
Piscifun Phantom Carbon Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 7.0:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 10/120 (Mono), 30/120 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 30.3 in
- Weight: 5.70 oz
- Bearings: 6+1
- Max Drag: 17 lbs
- Featherweight- Weighs only 5.70 ounces, premium carbon fiber frame, side plates and handle provides significant weight reduction without sacrificing strength and durability
- High Performance- 7.0:1 gear ratio provides long distance, accurate casting and instant hook set, 6 anti-corrosion stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 clutch bearing, all shield to extend the durability
- Strong Power- Double hard anodized Aircraft grade aluminum main gear and pinion gear paired with 4 disc carbon fiber drag washers deliver exceptional 17 lbs stopping power to fight your biggest fish
- Dual Brake- Dynamic 6-pin Centrifugal brake plus Magnetic brake provide the anglers with on-the-fly tournament ready adjustments
- Ease of use- The 105mm extended carbon crank handle gives the anglers the leverage and power needed to pull the biggest fish out of the thickest cover
Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel
Another top choice from Shimano, the Curado K Baitcast Reel is one of the best on the market! This reel is build tournament tough by Shimano, a company known for reliable fishing gear that performs.
The Shimano Curado K has a Micro Module Gear System for smooth retrieve and X-Ship technology for gear durability and a supported pinion gear. The Hagane body and Ci4+ material is 250 times stronger, and extremely rigid for extra cranking power. The Curado K reel has a ton of features: a super free spool to eliminate friction, six ball bearings plus a super stopper anti-reverse bearing for smooth casting and retrieve, and SVS infinity spool control and brake force.
There are six different models of the Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel, and depending on your choice of size the reel has a gear ratio of 6.2, 7.4, or 8.5 to 1. This baitcasting reel is great for freshwater or saltwater action.
Shimano Curado K Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.2 to 8.5:1 (depends on size)
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 8/180, 10/155, 14/110 (Mono)
- Line Retrieve: 26-36 in (depends on size)
- Weight: 7.6-7.8 oz
- Bearings: 6+1
- Max Drag: 11 lbs
Abu Garcia Revo SX
You can’t go wrong with Abu Garcia, and another top reel from this manufacturer is the Revo SX. This reel is low profile, with C6 carbon sideplates that significantly reduce its weight. Despite it’s lighter weight, the Abu Garcia Revo SX is strong and durable.
This baitcaster has 9 stainless steel ball bearings, plus one roller bearing for super smooth casting and retrieve. It has a DuraGear brass gear, so it is long-lasting and made with quality components. The Abu Garcia Revo SX reel also features a power stack carbon matrix drag system, so it can reel in tough fish. A DuraClutch design makes this reel comfortable to hold, even after long days on the water.
The Abu Garcia Revo SX is safe for saltwater and freshwater use, so it’s a great choice for a versatile angler.
Abu Garcia Revo SX Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.6:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 175/10, 145/12, 100/15 (Mono),
- Line Retrieve:27 in
- Weight: 7.83 oz
- Bearings: 9+1
- Max Drag:24 lbs
- 9 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing provides smooth Operation
- C6 carbon sideplates provide significant weight reduction without sacrificing strength and durability
- Duragear brass gear for extended gear life
- Instant Anti-Reverse feature is available
How To Choose a Baitcaster
When choosing a baitcasting reel, it is very important to look into all the different features of the reel. Since this type of reel is notoriously difficult to get used to, knowing what to look for can make it much easier. These are the most important specs that I look at when choosing a baitcasting reel!
Taking a look at the gear ratio of the reels is a very important part of choosing the right reel for you. The purpose of gear ratio is to help with the speed while you’re retrieving your lure. Gear ratio is the number of times the spool turns when you rotate the handle one time. The ratio can be easily found; it’s usually listed on the body somewhere.
The higher the gear ratios, the faster the retrieve time will be. If you see 6:1 that means that the gear ratio allows the spool to turn six times with every handle turn. A ratio of 4:1 is slow, 5:1 is average, 6:1 or higher is fast. When choosing which ratio is best for you, make sure you know what lures you plan to use and what fish you plan to catch. A lower gear ratio is good for when you need more strength to reel in a big catch. Line retrieve goes hand-in-hand with gear ratio, as it tells you how much line you pull in with one rotation, usually in inches.
Ball bearings are essential to the function of a reel, as it needs to rotate without friction. A common rule of thumb is the more ball bearings, the smoother casting control and retrieve. Quality is more important than quantity, however, and reels with stainless steel, corrosion resistant, or shielded ball bearings typically work better because they won’t wear down as easily.
Drag power refers to how much weight a reel can pull in. The maximum drag is listed for each reel on our list. If you catch a fish that is heavier than the maximum drag power of your reel, you may not be able to reel it in, or your reel may break or be damaged in the process. Those fishing for big game fish should pay attention and buy a reel equipped with the drag power to pull in big fish. Smooth drag is also important – it helps for better casting, and reduces harmful friction.
Another key part to look at is the reel’s spool size. If you plan to go after big, strong fish you will require heavier line, which will take up more space. If you decide the bigger fish are the ones you want, then you will need a deep spool to hold as much line as you can. Those going for smaller fish can use a lighter line, which will only need a smaller spool.
Although this one might seem simple, it often gets overlooked. Some people see fancy reels with nice features and think they will be perfect, only to be disappointed that it doesn’t feel right when they hold it. If you hold a comfortable reel, you can have more accurate casts which will help you catch more fish in the long run. A reel that is hard to hold and reel in will make your hand cramp and can ruin a day of fishing. Look for an reel with an ergonomic design and handle so that you can comfortably enjoy your day of fishing.
Using your Baitcasting Reel
Once you’ve found the best baitcaster for your needs, you’ll need to know how to use it! When I first learned how to cast with baitcasting equipment, I struggled with the typical backlashes and tangles before I got the hang of it. Learn how to cast a baitcaster before you hit the water – this video from Flukemaster is a great resource for beginners.
Tips for Finding a Baitcasting Reel
Picking the best baitcasting reel for you can be difficult. You also want to make sure that you know how to properly use the equipment so you can have fun on the water and catch more fish.
Buying a high quality reel is an investment: it will last longer, perform better, and make it easier to learn if you’re new to this style of fishing. Make the most of your time fishing with the best possible equipment, and buy a reel that fits your style and budget.