Ask any experienced angler what the best type of reel for casting a line is and they will all say the same thing – a baitcaster.
While spinning reels are unquestionably easier to use, the accuracy and control they offer are nothing compared to the best baitcasting reels. The reason for this is because of the design of the reel, which sees the spool rotate as the user casts. Due to this, the inertia must be powerful enough to rotate the spool yet avoid being so strong that it causes the line to tangle in the reel.
Because of this, getting the handle on a baitcasting reel often takes time and plenty of practice. However, once you get used to the right technique for baitcasting, the benefits are even more apparent.
Perhaps the best advantage of using a baitcasting reel is accuracy. Upon learning the nuances of baitcasting techniques, you will immediately notice how much more accurate your casting is, with lures reaching their intended destination more often than not.
Spinning reels offer nowhere near the same level of accuracy, as the lure tends to reach a desired area rather than an exact spot on the water. The control of bait presentation is vitally important to successfully use certain techniques, such as flipping and pitching, so by buying and learning how to use a baitcasting reel you are only increasing your own skills and techniques as an angler.
So, it’s safe to say that any angler can stand to benefit from a quality baitcasting reel. Yes, it takes some hard work and a lot of patience to master, but the advantages make it completely worth it in the end.
Be wise like these guys in selecting the right reel
Of course, knowing the top baitcasting reel isn’t the easiest for those unfamiliar with this reel type. Luckily, we’ve taken the time research all the best options out there and provided a handy buying guide to help you find a suitable model.
Best Baitcasting Reel Buying Guide
When it comes to using the biggest variety of artificial lures, having a baitcasting reel is the perfect match as they offer incredible accuracy unlike any other reel – you can literally stop the lure mid-air with the proper technique!
Therefore, any passionate angler will want to invest in a quality baitcasting reel to really up their game, but knowing what to look for isn’t always obvious. After all, there are many types of reels suitable for various types of fishing, while some are much easier to learn how to use than others.
Knowing what features to look for in a good baitcasting reel can make choosing a suitable model so much easier. There’s quite a few things to take into consideration, so let’s take a closer look in our baitcasting reel buying guide:
Perhaps the most important feature to look for in a baitcasting reel is the gear ratio. This feature effects the speed in which the reel retrieves the lure, so the higher the gear ratio the faster it can retrieve the lure.
Thankfully, gear ratios are one of the first things advertised on any baitcasting reel, so it should always be clearly displayed, making it much easier to find one that is suitable for you.
There are two numbers to look at in a great ratio, the first of which shows the number of spool rotations, with the second number referring to the handle rotation.
For example, a 5:1 gear ratio means that the spool rotates five times for every one handle rotation. Therefore, the higher the first number first number is the quicker you can expect the lure to be retrieved by the reel.
Some include a second after the first number (e.g. 5.4:1), which refers to an incomplete spool rotation. So, following the 5.4:1 example, the spool rotates 5.4 times per handle rotation.
In most instances, 5:1 is an average speed for a baitcasting reel, with 6:1 and above being considered fast. Conversely, a 4:1 gear ratio is generally considered slow. The speed is important for the type lure used, so be sure to take this into consideration when looking.
For instance, a crankbait lure requires something quite slow, so anything below 4:1 is fine. For soft plastics and jigs, average speeds are suitable, while fast action lures require 6:1 and above to be effective.
The spool of the reel is very important, as it impacts the amount of line you can use. Should you prefer to catch bigger fish, then you will need a deep spool in your baitcasting reel to fit a heavier line. Longer lines are also important to allow large fish to make runs, so a good rule of thumb is larger fish require larger spools.
For other types of fishing, standard size spools should be more than enough. For instance, anyone using their baitcasting reel for bass fishing is using lighter lines, so a smaller spool is usually more than enough. It still offers the suitable strength, but you don’t need to worry about losing any casting accuracy like with larger spools.
Drilled spools are always a much better quality when compared to forged spools (which can be rather rigid), but they do cost a bit more. The quality is always worth it in most instances however, as forged spools tend to be used in only the cheaper baitcasting reels.
The better the braking system on a baitcasting reel, the easier it is to catch with, making it an important feature to look out for. They work by slowing down the rotations of the spool mid-cast and are completely adjustable, allowing users to get the ideal balance of speed when casting and retrieving.
Two types of brake systems are found in baitcasting reels – magnetitic and centrifugal. Magnetic brake systems are generally cheaper and easier to use, making them a great choice for beginners. However, they don’t offer as accurate brake adjustments when compared to centrifugal systems.
Centrifugal systems are more complex to use as they act as a more manual brake system, with the ability to make precise adjustments that can make the world of a difference when fishing.
The better the bearings in a baitcasting reel, the longer it will last, as it helps to lower friction that can deteriorate the gears. So, it is certainly worth investing in baitcasting reel with quality bearings to ensure it lasts for many years.
More bearings are always good for the real, but don’t always be fooled by high numbers of bearings – sometimes the quality of the bearings makes their quantity less effective. For example, a reel with 5 high-quality bearings is going to be much better than a reel with 10 bearings of poorer quality.
Bearing quality is easy to determine, just look for the bearings to be described as sealed or double shielded, as these are typically the best quality bearings.
The frame material of the reel determines its overall durability, which is especially important when using in saltwater environments that have more damage effects on the reel.
Most baitcasting frames are made from similar materials, with the most widely used being graphite or aluminium. Graphite offers a more cost-effective option, but lacks the same level of durability compared to aluminium. Furthermore, aluminium frames tend to be more stable – look for one-piece aluminium frames for the best quality.
Baitcasting Reel Reviews
After conducting a crazy amount of extensive research on these products, here is our list of the best buys for 2018:
The most notable aspect of the KastKing Speed Demon is its incredible speed. As the name suggests, speed is a big selling point for this baitcaster, and with an incredible 9.3:1 gear ratio, this is one of the fastest baitcasting reels available.
Simply put, you will struggle to find a baitcasting reel that can pull in a line quicker than the Speed Demon. This does mean the Speed Demon may be too fast for some, especially those coming to grips with a baitcaster, but if you want unrivalled speed then this is certainly a baitcasting reel to consider.
The Speed Demon also features an impressive magnetic brake system for complete control over the baitcasting reel. Easy to adjust, this cross drilled brake system is of the highest quality, and makes usability that bit easier.
You can also expect to take one some bigger fish with this baitcaster, thanks in no part to high-quality drag system. Featuring a three-disc carbon fibre start drag system that utilises state of the art technology, the Speed Demon comes with 13.2lbs of drag power, more than enough for any fish you want to catch with your baitcaster.
Other cool features round out one of the best bait casting reels on the market. For instance, a high-torque handle offers easy grip and comfort when reeling, while a spoolcross drilled aluminium spool prevents backlashing.
The overall contraction is of the highest quality too. For example, the main shaft is constructed from extra durable stainless steel, while the 13 ball bearings (12+1) are shielded and fully resistant to corrosion, both of which make the Speed Demon even more durable.
The KastKing Speed Demon is a fantastic baitcasting reel that offers unrivaled speed and a quality brake system to ensure easier handling of the reel. Build from quality materials that ensure longevity of the product, it’s a great baitcasting reel in every sense of the word.
If you are seeking the best value baitcasting reel possible, then be sure to consider the KastKing Royale Legend, a low profile baitcasting fishing reel with a lot to like for such an affordable price.
Despite the impressively low price, the Royale Legend offers plenty of quality, which many don’t expect from level-entry models. However, this baitcaster performs very well and comes in a lightweight design that make it easy to carry around – a fine addition to any tackle.
What really impresses with this baitcaster is the drag system. Offering 3 distinct drag setting options, it allows you to finetune your casting and improve your overall technique and prevent backlashes from occurring.
It makes it easy to cast with lures of various weights and sizes, making it a very versatile baitcaster, and the 17.5lbs of drag make the carbon fibre drag system one of the most impressive aspects of the Royale Legend.
The 7:1 gear ratio offers great speed as well, while the low-profile design ensures little noise from the reel when retrieving. It’s not too fast either, and when combined with the adjustable drag setting the Royale Legend is surprisingly easy to handle when compared to most other baitcasting reels.
The baitcasting reel also comes with a magnetic brake system that comes with specialised dual brakes, which can be easily adjusted to get that perfect setting for the reel. Combined with the quality drag system and gear ratio, the Royale Legend has all the functions you need to perfect your baitcasting technique.
The build of the Royale Legend is also worth mentioning. Made from anodized aluminium, the body of the spool is lightweight without sacrificing strength, while the two-colour design of the body results in a very attractive looking reel. The 11+1 bearings are also made from premium materials to ensure quality performance and durability, coming with a shielded design and being fully resistant to corrosion.
Offering exceptional performance at a very low price, the KastKing Royale Legend is a fantastic baitcasting reel for anyone looking for a bargain.
Best Baitcasting Reel Under 100
Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel
The best baitcasting reels aren’t always the most expensive, as there are many quality products available for well below $100, including the brand new (for 2017) Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel.
Providing power and accuracy, the Piscifun Torrent comes with an 18-pound drag that is suitable for reeling in those bigger bites.
At 7.1:1, the gear ratio offers quick line retrieval without losing any of its power, while the gears themselves are bigger and stronger than most other baitcasting reels, resulting in the seriously impressive strength.
You can even use it in those faster moving waters without losing any of the speed or power, so it’s a certainly versatile baitcasting reel.
To ensure casting accuracy matches the speed and strength of the Piscifun Torrent, there are five stainless steel shielded bearings. This may not seem as much compared to many other models, but this is definitely a case of quality over quantity, attributing to the smooth casting of the reel.
The Piscifun Torrent features a magnetic braking system that is very accurate and easy to use. With ten adjustable settings, you can quickly change the brake settings to get that perfect performance level. The extended aluminium crank handle also enhances performance, making it easier to get the right leverage and power for reeling in those bigger species.
This is also a baitcasting reel that’s built to last. Those extra-large brass gears are CNC machined and corrosion resistant, while the stainless-steel bearings are also capable of handling exposure to saltwater without rusting, all of which results in an incredible durable baitcasting reel.
All in all, this a brilliant baitcasting reel that offers great strength and accuracy. Made from premium materials that guarantee quality performance and durability, the Piscifun Torrent is one of the best-priced baitcasters on the market.
Best Baitcasting Reel for Beginners
Daiwa Tatula Type-R
Perhaps the biggest drawback about baitcasting reels is their difficultly to operate. It’s one of the reels that takes hours of practice to get to grips with, and even that doesn’t guarantee easy casting in most instances.
So, finding a great baitcasting reel that is designed for beginners is always recommended. There are many fine choices out there, but the best baitcasting reel for beginners is the Daiwa Tatula Type-R.
The reason the Type- R is suitable for beginners is the innovative T-Wing casting system. Capable of making casting so much easier on a baitcasting reel, it works by using a line guide to lower friction and snags during casts, as well as maintaining an even line on the spool when retrieving. This greatly increases the usability of the Type-R, making is much easier to use compared to most other baitcaster. The lines aren’t as restricted due to the T-Wing system, allowing for smooth and accurate castings at great distances, helping to make it one of the best baitcasting reels for beginners.
Furthermore, the Type-R is available in several gear ratios, ranging from 5.4:1 to 8.1:8, although those with the slower speeds are probably the best bet for beginners, otherwise the speed makes it more difficult to be as accurate with casting. However, should you be confident in picking up the techniques of a baitcasting reel, then the higher gear ratios become a worthwhile investment.
It’s also great for both light and heavy lures. A light spool makes it especially good at dealing with lighter baits, while the spool’s air rotation system means lures don’t need as much drag for a long cast.
Other noteworthy features include the strong yet lightweight aluminium frame and body, 8 ball bearings, the Magforce-Z cast control, UTD with 13.2lbs of drag, and a corrosion resistant clutch mechanism for added durability. Both the T-Wing and air flow system combine to create a baitcasting reel with incredible accuracy and smoothness. The Tatula Type-R easily casts at longer distances, and the retrieval remains quick and smooth too.
The performance of this fantastic baitcasting reel isn’t just easier for beginners – it’s a reliable piece of hardware that even experienced anglers will appreciate too!
Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reel
Abu Garcia Pro Max
Saltwater fishing is a death-sentence for unsuitable tackle. Anything that isn’t built to resist the harsh effects of saltwater exposure will quickly rust and corrode over time, so if you’re baitcasting reel isn’t durable enough to handle saltwater, then it will end up broken beyond repair in no time.
One of the best baitcasting reels for saltwater is the Abu Garcia Pro Max. Its internal components are designed to withstand damage from saltwater as well as being generally very strong and durable, making it an ideal baitcasting reel for most types of saltwater fishing – it can easily be used in freshwater environments too.
For instance, the seven ball bearings are made from stainless steel to ensure they don’t rust when exposed to saltwater, whether you accidently submerge the reel or otherwise. In fact, premium materials are found throughout the reel, with the frame and side plates constructed from quality graphite.
Not only that, the spool is made from double anodized aluminium to make durable yet very lightweight, while the brass gears ensure virtually every inner component is built to last, even when used in saltwater conditions.
Of course, durability is only one important aspect of a baitcasting reel – it needs to perform well too! Thankfully, the Pro Max delivers on all fronts, sporting an incredibly impressive PowerDisk drag system for smoother drag, while the 7:1:1 gear ratio is suitable for catching larger saltwater fish.
The MagTrax brake system offers reliable brake pressure that remains consistent with every use, and an ergonomic handle means you can use the Max Pro for long stretches without any fatigue. It also casts with great smoothness and accuracy, so it performs to the highest standard in almost every way.
For anyone seeking a reliable baitcasting reel that can handle saltwater fishing, look no further than the Abu Garcia Pro Max. Strong, accurate, but most importantly durable; this is a baitcaster that will last many years of saltwater fishing.
Best Baitcasting Reel for Bass Fishing
Bass fishing is one of the more difficult types of fishing, but when managed successfully it’s one of the most satisfying too! So, the need for suitable tackle is vital for successful bass fishing, and when it comes to reels a baitcaster such as the Shimano Curado is a must-have for serious bass anglers.
Accuracy and strength are two of the most important things you need in a baitcasting reel for bass fishing, and the Cuardo certainly delivers in this regard. For example, it features innovative braking technology known as the SVS Infinity, which allows for very accurate control over the braking system.
It features a brake knob that is moved in much smaller increments than other baitcasters, which allows for meticulous adjustments to be made, making it possible to get the perfect speed balance for your casting – control over lighter lures is particularly impressive thanks to this feature.
Casting and retrieval is also very smooth thanks to the Shimano Stable Spool Design (S3D), resulting in lower vibrations and a much more consistent performance. While there are only 5 ball bearings, their quality helps to make the Curado one of the smoothest 5-bearing reels out there.
Another important factor about bass fishing is comfort. Any angler knows how long and arduous bass fishing gets at times, and when you’re holding onto a cumbersome reel for hours on end it can become even more difficult to fish.
The shape and weight of the Curado make this a non-issue. It’s lightweight (7.4oz) but not so much that you lose strength, with the low-profile design offering the upmost comfort whether casting close or further out.
As one of the smoothest baitcasting reels available, it’s easy to see why so many bass anglers are investing in the Shimano Curado series, and ability to smoothly cast with great accuracy make this one of the best baitcasting reels for bass fishing.
Best Baitcasting Reel for Catfish
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Special
The best tackle and techniques for catfishing have long been debated, but if there is one thing that most anglers agree upon it’s the fact that baitcasting reels are the best reels for the job. Strong, accurate, and versatile enough to catch most species, baitcasting reels have everything you need to up your catfish haul.
While there are many great options out there, the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Special is up there with the best, which is hardly surprising when you consider it’s a baitcaster designed specifically for catching catfish!
The Catfish Special series is available in the C3-6500 and C3-7000 models, with the latter coming in a larger size with more line capacity. Both are fantastic, offering plenty of power to catch those large catfish, while the smooth operation of the reel makes it very enjoyable to use.
Power is probably the first thing to check in a reel for catfish. Each model comes with a carbon matrix drag system that offers exceptional power without sacrificing any smoothness and accuracy of the reel. Catfish are a hard-pulling species, so the power offered by the drag system is very useful indeed.
To further enhance the power of the reel, the reel handle features an extended design for additional leverage and more comfortable grip. The power knob on the handle makes getting more torque and cranking power much easier, allowing the reel to bring in those larger catfish.
Power isnt everything however, so the smoothness offered by the stainless-steel ball bearings certainly helps. Yes, the three ball bearings and single roller bearings may seem on the small side, but these are perfectly aligned bearings engineered for smooth operation, and you can definitely feel this when using the baitcaster.
If you’re looking to reel in a trophy catfish, then the C3-7000 is a great option for the additional line capacity, otherwise the C3-6500 is more than enough for a spot of casual catfishing.
Best Baitcasting Reel for Light Lures
KastKing Assassin Carbon Baitcasting Reel
While baitcasting reels are known for their compatibility with heavier lures, there are many occasions where an angler will want to use some lighter lures, with some even preferring them when using a baitcasting reel.
The reason that a baitcaster and light lures go so well together is the accuracy. You have so much more control over casting and retrieval that they make light lures even more effective. One of the best baitcasting reels to use with light lures is the KastKing Assassin.
This is an incredibly lightweight baitcaster, weighing just 5.7oz. While most baitcasting reels sacrifice power for such weights, this isnt an issue as the Assassin is designed to be used with lighter lure, so the lightweight design makes much easier to use over long stretches of fishing.
That’s not to say this baitcaster can’t handle bigger species. It’s got enough power to reel in those bigger fish you may catch, with a carbon fibre drag system offering 16.5lbs of drag. The 6-pin centrifugal and magnetic dual brakes are incredibly accurate, so you can get the right cast much easier, with accuracy being very important for light lures.
Casting is also very smooth thanks to the 11+1 shielded ball bearings. They’re made from corrosion resistant materials, as is the hard-anodized aluminium spool, while the 6.1:3 ratio gears are made from brass.
This all results in a lightweight yet powerful baitcasting reel that can be used with a variety of lures and rigs. The accuracy and ability to control your casting makes the KastKing Assassin Carbon Baitcasting Reel a must-have for anyone looking for a great baitcaster for lighter lures.
How to Set Up a Baitcasting Reel
It’s important to set up a baitcasting reel properly to minimize the chances of backlashes. This is when the spool moves faster than the line feeding through, resulting in a tangled mess of a line that can be real annoyance.
Setting up a baitcasting reel isn’t too difficult, and taking the time to do it properly will only make your life easier when using it. Let’s take a closer look at the process of setting up a baitcasting reel:
Choosing a Line
Before you do anything, you will need a suitable line for your reel. Fluorocarbon and braided lines can be used at any point, but it’s best to start out with a mono line to make things easier – it’s the best type of line for avoiding backlashes so is the best choice for first time users.
12 or 15lb monofilament lines are a great choice for learning how to cast with baitcasting reels. It’s an effective line that gets the job done, so should be the first line you use in a baitcasting reel. To begin, you should avoid filling the line to max capacity as it may lead to overrunning around the outer layer of the line.
After this, tie an appropriate size lure – anything you’re used to should be fine.
Spool Tension Setup
Setting up the right spool tension is a must for the smoothest possible casting, so make sure you take the time to do so. This is done by adjusting the tension knob, which is located at the side of the reel, typically next to the handle.
Start by holding up the rod and reeling in your lure, leaving around 8 inches of line. Then, adjust the tension knob until there is a feeling of pressure, at which point you hit the thumb bar to let the lure go.
Now, the lure sure should be slowly lowering or remaining mostly still. In either case, very slowly release the tension knob so that the lure lowers by itself. Once you’ve managed to get the lure to fall on its own, simply reel your line back in and repeat the process – the goal is to be able to set spool tension so the lure lowers in around 2-3 seconds.
Also, as you test different lures and rigs, the spool tension will be different, so expect to repeat this process to get a feeling for your different tackle. Adjusting for your favourite baits will become second nature in not time, providing you take the time to practice setting spool tension.
Setting the Brake System
Finding the best brake setting is possibly one of the most difficult parts of using a baitcasting reel. One reason for this is that different brands use their own unique systems, all of which differ slightly in how the operate, despite the fact there are only two types of system.
It’s one of the main reasons most anglers tend to stick to single brands when buying their reels, as learning to use many different braking systems can get rather tedious.
For a centrifugal system, there are a set of tabs that need pulled out to turn the brakes on, which are pushed back in when you want to turn the brakes off. It’s important to note that setting the brakes on a baitcasting reel requires even distribution of the braking pressure, meaning you can never just set one brake on.
For example, you need to turn on the brake at the opposite side of any one that is turned on, basically meaning the tabs need to be set in pairs. Also, you can set them in threes (in a triangle shape) and fours for more brake power, although two or three is the most standard setting.
Magnetic systems are much easier to set up, as they have a dial on the side for adjusting and setting the brake strength. The higher you set the dial, the more strength is applied to the brakes, so it is relatively straightforward to set up.
Test each brake setting on either system to get a feel for them and establish what you find most comfortable to use. It’s a good idea to practice casting at different lengths using various brake settings – start on dry land before you work your way to any water!
Setting up a baitcasting reel isn’t all complex – the drag setting is one of the easiest to adjust with these types of reels. Simply move the drag dial (usually a big star between the handle and body) forwards for a tighter drag or backwards to loosen it.
Again, it’s best to play around with different settings to get the optimal drag setup on your baitcasting reel. Aim for enough tension that the line doesn’t slip from the hookset, while avoiding making it too tight that you can’t get any give from the line.
Spooling a Baitcasting Reel
Learning how to spool a baitcasting reel is relatively straightforward, and it’s very important that you do this properly to avoid poor alignment that will result in a tangled mess of a line. Always take some time to practice spooling a baitcasting reel before you do any fishing with it, as the last thing you want is for it to fail during your fishing!
Start by threading the line through the guide line on the reel, and if you’re spooling with the rod attached make sure to thread through those guidelines to; not doing so will add stress to the line.
Once this is done, secure the line directly to the spool by tying it with an arbor knot. Cut away any excess line from the know.
Next, you need someone else to hold the line while you spool it in. As the fishing line needs to move freely as you spool it in, its best to get a friend to hold it using a pen or pencil through the eye hole of the line spool and hold at both ends.
Now it’s time to slowly reel the line in. Make sure to keep the line tight as its reeled in, which can be done by pinching the line with your free hand to create tension, and that you maintain a constant speed.
Spool until you have enough line, which is somewhere around 1/8 of an inch from the top of the spool. If there is space for more line you can continue spooling, but always ensure there is enough space for the spool to rotate unobstructed.
Once spooled, it’s simply a case of leaving some line for threading through your rod and for tying the lure. Now, your baitcasting reel should be fully spooled and ready to go – enjoy your time on the water! And if you enjoyed this in-depth research report, please hit a share button and let your friends know about us!