Bass fishing is the most popular form of fishing in the US. To successfully catch bass, however, you need the right equipment. Fishing gear can be versatile, but it can also be made specifically for certain styles and types of fishing.
One of the most important pieces of fishing gear you’ll need to catch bass (or any fish) is your fishing reel. Without a reel, your fishing rod is pretty much useless. Finding the best bass fishing reel for you takes some knowledge, however.
To make things easier, we’ll break down the top bass reels so that you can find the right one for you and get out on the water and start catching.
First you’ll need to choose between a spinning reel or baitcasting.
Top 5 Spinning Reels for Bass
- Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
- KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reel
- Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
- Shimano Stradic HG
- Pflueger President Spinning Reel
Great for beginners and anglers who prefer spinning gear. Spinning reels are easier to use and work wonders when catching bass. Check out the top-rated spinning reels for bass and find the perfect fit for you.
Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
The Penn Battle II Spinning Reel is one of the best spinning reels for bass and in general. This reel, from trusted and renowned brand Penn, is durable and extremely affordable for its quality.
It’s saltwater safe, so it can be used fishing for sea bass or freshwater bass. The Penn Battle II has a fully metal body, sideplate, and rotor, as well as an aluminum bail wire.
This reel has an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system for smooth but powerful drag strength. The Penn Battle II has an extremely fluid retrieve, with 5 ball bearings and one anti-reverse bearing. Its superline spool is braid-ready and requires no backing. The spool also features capacity rings, so you know how much line capacity is left.
The Penn Battle II Spinning Reel comes in 8 sizes, from 1000 to 8000. For bass fishing, we recommend anything from the 1000 to the 4000 model, depending on the size of bass you’re targeting, style of fishing, environment, and other factors.
Penn Battle II 2500 Spinning Reel Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Line Capacity (lb/yds): 255/6, 175/8, 140/10 (Mono), 240/10, 220/15 160/20 (Braided)
- Line Retrieve: 30″
- Bearings: 5+1
- Max Drag: 12 lbs
KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels
The KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels are unbelievably affordable, especially considering the quality of the reels. If you’re looking for a great spinning reel on a budget, this is the one for you.
These reels are lightweight, with a narrow graphite design to save on space and weight. Despite how light this reel is, it is powerful, with a precision machined pinion gear for fish fighting power.
The KastKing Summer/Centron Reels are incredibly smooth casting, with 9 ball bearings and one anti-reverse bearing. The frame is corrosion resistant, and the unique handle is right and left handed.
The KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels come in sizes ranging from 500 to 5000. We recommend a mid-range reel like the 3000 for bass fishing, although your size can be tailored to your preferences.
KastKing Summer and Centron 3000 Spinning Reel Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Line Capacity: 8/330, 10/270
- Line Retrieve: 25.2″
- Bearings: 9+1
- Max Drag: 13 lbs
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
Daiwa is another top-tier fishing brand, with an emphasis on innovation and quality. The Daiwa BG Spinning Reel upholds those values, making a great choice of reel for catching bass.
This reel has black anodized machined aluminum housing, a waterproof drag system, and a braided line ready aluminum ABS spool. It is safe for freshwater or saltwater fishing.
The Daiwa BG Spinning Reel allows for super smooth casting, with 6 ball bearings and 1 anti-reverse ball bearing. It has an over-sized Digigear, which provides smoother and extended gear life as well as more power and torque.
The Daiwa BG Spinning Reel comes in ten sizes, from 1500 to 8000. For bass fishing, a mid-size reel is probably the best choice unless you’re targeting extra large bass. The 3000 model has a drag max of 15.4 lbs, which is larger than most bass.
Daiwa BG 3000 Spinning Reel Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
- Line Capacity: 8/240, 10/200, 12/170 (Mono), 15/280, 20/240, 30/190 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 37.4”
- Bearings: 6+1
- Max Drag: 15.4 lbs
Shimano Stradic HG
Shimano is a well-known and trusted brand of reels and other fishing gear. The Shimano Stradic HG is a top-tier reel for bass fishing.
This reel is made with X-Ship technology, for improved durability and reduced friction between the spool shaft and gear. The high tech elements of the Shimano Stradic HG make for smoother, longer casting.
A built-in Dyna-Balance rotor and Fluidrive II system improves casting and mitigates line management issues. The sleek body reduces the weight, so you won’t be fatigued holding this reel for a long day of fishing. It has 6 ball bearings and a roller bearing for anti-reverse purposes.
The Shimano Stradic HG comes in five sizes ranging from 1000 to 5000. Depending on where you’re fishing and what bass you’re targeting, you can pick the best size for your needs.
Shimano Stradic HG 2500 Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.0:1
- Line Capacity: 6/200, 8/140, 10/120 (Mono), 10/150, 15/145, 30/100
- Line Retrieve: 35”
- Bearings: 6+1
- Max Drag: 20 lbs
Pflueger President Spinning Reel
The Pflueger President Spinning Reel is an all-around top-rated reel. It has a graphite body and rotor, so it is lightweight.
Ten corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings make for extra smooth casting. The spool is braid-ready, so there is no need for backing. The Pflueger President Spinning reel is also extremely affordable, especially considering its quality.
This reel has a sealed drag system, with sealed drag washers that are always lubricated and always smooth. The Pflueger President has slow oscillation gearing that improves line lay and minimizes line twists.
The Pflueger President Spinning Reel comes in 5 sizes, from 20 to 40, all of which would work well catching bass. Lighter models are better for smaller bass, while the model size 40 would work for trophy sized fighting fish.
Pflueger President Spinning Reel 25 Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Line Capacity: 220/2, 110/4, 90/6 (Mono), 200/5, 140/6, 110/8 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 22.4”
- Max Drag: 8 lbs
Top 5 Baitcasting Reels for Bass
- KastKing Royale Legend/Whitecast Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel
- Abu Garcia BMax3 Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel
- Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel
- Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool Baitcast Reel
- Fishdrops Ultra Smooth Baitcasting Reel
For those who prefer baitcasting reels, there are plenty of great picks for bass fishing! Check out our top picks for bass baitcasters to find the right one for your next fishing trip.
KastKing Royale Legend/Whitecast Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel
Another great reel from KastKing, the KastKing Royale Legend/Whitecast Low Profile Baitcasting reels are extremely popular among bass anglers.
The low profile design of each is super lightweight and allow for high speed retrieval. The KastKing Royale Legend and Whitecast Low Profile reels have brass gear structures and carbon fiber drag systems for durable drag strengths.
Both of these reels have 11 shielded, corrosion resistant ball bearings and 1 roller bearing. These baitcasters have state of the art dual brakes, with centrifugal and magnetic braking systems for superior control. This reel is high quality and incredibly affordable.
These sister reels are both great for bass fishing. The Royale Legend is made specifically for bass, and the Whitecast Low Profile has greater torque for presenting heavy baits like bass swimbaits, crankbaits for bass, or larger spinnerbaits for bass. For general bass fishing, we recommend the Royale Legend, and for big bass fishing, the Whitecast Low Profile Baitcaster.
KastKing Royale Legend Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 7.0:1
- Line Capacity: 10/125, 12/100, 15/85 (Mono), 40/125, 50/100, 65/85 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 26”
- Bearings:11 + 1
- Max Drag: 17.6 lbs
Abu Garcia BMax3 Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel
Abu Garcia is a respected brand, known for high quality fishing reels and gear. The Abu Garcia BMax3 Low Profile Baitcaster is one of their best reels, top-rated for bass fishing.
This reel has a lightweight design, with a one-piece graphite frame and side plates. You can hold this reel all day, as it was designed with a compact bent handle and a recessed reel for an ergonomic grip.
The Abu Garcia BMax 3 Low Profile Baitcasting Reel has 4 stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing for smooth casting and reduced tangling. Its signature Power Disk drag system makes this reel powerful despite its lightweight design. The Abu Garcia BMax has a magnetic MagTrax braking system for improved control.
The BMax3 has one size, ideal for bass fishing so you don’t have to figure out which size to choose. At only 7.3 ounces, this reel won’t weigh you down during long days of fishing.
Abu Garcia BMax3 Low Profile Baitcasting Reel Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 6.4:1
- Line Capacity: 145/12 (Mono), 140/30 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 26”
- Bearings: 4 + 1
- Max Drag: 18 lbs
Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel
Shimano has a host of amazing reels, but the best baitcasting Shimano reel for bass is the Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel.
This reel is built tournament tough, reliable, and durable. It can be used for freshwater or saltwater fishing, and is made for bass fishing. It’s made with Shimano’s Ci4+ technology, so it has a lighter but more durable graphite construction.
A Micro Module Gear system creates a more efficient gear train, allowing for smoother retrieve. SVS Infinity controls provides consistent, easy to manage spool control and brake force. The Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel has 6 ball bearings and one roller bearing, all specially treated to be super resistant to corrosion.
There are a few different sizes of the Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel, but they are all fairly similar. The different models only differ slightly in terms of line retrieve and gear ratio, but all work well for bass fishing.
Shimano Curado K 200HGK Baitcast Reel Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 7.4:1
- Line Capacity: 8/180, 10/155, 14/110 (Mono), 30/190, 50/120, 65/80 (Braid)
- Line Retrieve: 31”
- Bearings: 6 + 1
- Max Drag: 11 lbs
Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool Baitcast Reel
The Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool Baitcast Reel has an abundance of great features that makes it a good choice for bass fishing.
The super low profile frame is extra lightweight. It has a machined and double anodized aluminum spool and brass gear and crank shaft. The Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool Baitcast reel is lightweight but super durable in design and construction.
A multi-setting brake with an externally controlled dual-cast brake system creates smooth casting for anglers. The carbon fiber drag system provides up to 20 pounds of drag power. Ten premium ball bearings and a zero reverse ball bearing are double shielded, so your retrieve will be super smooth and the reel will last.
The Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool Baitcast Reel comes in one size, perfect for bass fishing. This reel is high quality, durable, and affordable, so it is a solid investment.
Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool Baitcast Reel Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 7.5:1
- Line Capacity: 12/110
- Line Retrieve: 30”
- Bearings: 10 + 1
- Max Drag: 20 lbs
Fishdrops Ultra Smooth Baitcasting Reel
Fishdrops uses Korean fishing technology to create their Ultra Smooth Baitcasting Reel.
This reel is affordable and popular among bass anglers for its high quality components and performance. It has a double brake system that uses magnetic and centrifugal braking for maximum control and precision.
The Fishdrops Ultra Smooth Baitcasting Reel uses 18 ball bearings with an anti-reverse system for smooth casting and retrieve.
It has a machined aluminum spool and handle that is comfortable to hold. The body of the reel is made from high strength nylon and fiberglass, making it extra lightweight. It is safe in salt or freshwater.
The Fishdrops Ultra Smooth Baitcasting Reel comes in one size that is ideal for bass fishing. It has a fast, but smooth retrieve.
Fishdrops Ultra Smooth Baitcasting Reel Specs:
- Gear Ratio: 7.0:1
- Line Capacity: 9/140, 11/120, 13/110 (Mono)
- Bearings: 17 + 1
- Max Drag: 12 lbs
How To Choose Bass Fishing Reels
Choosing the right fishing reel can be complicated. Reels are complex pieces of equipment, and many beginners or even experienced anglers may not know how they really work. There are a few major factors to consider when choosing a fishing reel.
Your style of fishing, what fish you plan to catch, and other elements come into play, as well as the choice between spinning or baitcasting equipment.
Even within bass fishing, there are different styles, different types of bass to catch, and different environments where you find bass that can all affect your choice of reel and other fishing gear. Consider the following factors when choosing your bass fishing reel.
Spinning vs. Baitcasting Reels
The first major decision you should make when purchasing a reel is whether you want a spinning reel or a baitcasting reel. If you already have a bass fishing rod, make sure you get the same style so that they match and work together.
There are benefits to both spinning and baitcasting reels. Spinning reels are easier to learn how to use, so they are a popular choice among beginners. Baitcasting reels are harder to master, but are often preferred by professionals.
Spinning reels are the better choice if you’re using lighter line and casting shorter distances. Despite that rule of thumb, however, spinning technology has greatly improved, so there are great spinning reels that can cast long distances with braided line. For finesse fishing, use a spinning reel.
Baitcasting reels typically allow for longer casting, more control, and less backlash. They’re generally considered stronger, and are preferred for power fishing, fighting larger bass, and they are versatile in terms of your line choice.
Drag strength tells you how much weight the reel can pull in without damage. A reel with low drag is more likely to break under pressure or when fighting a large, tough bass. Your drag strength should be at least the weight of the fish you’re targeting, bigger if you include the weight of your tackle.
Bigger reels tend to have higher drag strengths, so bump up a reel size if you think you need better drag. Depending on the type of bass you’re looking for, their average weight is usually between 2 to 10 pounds, although record largemouth bass can reach over 20 pounds.
Gear ratio is how many times you have to turn your reel to retrieve your line. The ratio is how many turns of the spool you get for one rotation of your reel’s handle. So a gear ratio of 4:1 would mean that for every one handle rotation, the spool turns four times.
A higher gear ratio means that you can reel in your catch faster. This can be beneficial, but the highest possible gear ratio isn’t necessarily the best. Lower gear ratios tend to mean better torque with each turn, which is better for reeling in tough fighting fish.
Choose your ideal gear ratio based on the size and fight of the fish you plan to catch, or aim for a gear ratio somewhere in the middle (think 4 to 6:1) for a versatile reel.
The construction of your reel is important to consider. What materials were used when making the reel? Is the body metal, graphite, or a carbon hybrid? If you’re fishing for saltwater bass, it’s vital that your reel is made of corrosion resistant materials like aluminum that can withstand tough saltwater conditions.
Aluminum is typically favored for strength, while graphite is better because it is lightweight. Many reels have different materials for different parts, so you can get a combination of the best components.
Line capacity is how much line you can fit on your spool. This will differ based on the type of line and the size of your line, but most reels offer a comprehensive estimate of how much line they hold.
Bass fishing often entails long casting, so it’s important that you have enough line for the day. Often, bass are found in areas of heavy cover, which can lead to snagging and lines breaking. In this case, you need to be prepared with enough line to cast again.
If you know you’ll be long distance casting or that you’ll need more line, invest in a larger reel for higher line capacity.
On the other hand, if you don’t think you’ll need a huge line capacity, then you can pick a reel with less. Many reels also have rings to mark line capacity, so you can tell how much you have left throughout the day.
Another consideration on the topic of fishing line is whether or not your reel is braid ready. Some reels require backing before braided line can be added in. If braid is your line of choice, get a reel that is equipped to be spooled with braid without the extra step of adding backing.
Ball bearings allow your reel to smoothly cast and retrieve. Reels vary in terms of number of ball bearings; some add extra to reduce friction, while others stick to only 3 or 4.
Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to ball bearings. Stainless steel, corrosion resistant, shielded ball bearings will perform better than a high number of brass ones.