7 Best Baitcasting Reels: A Buyers Guide

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Baitcaster reels provide the ultimate casting performance and once you have mastered how to use them, your casting distances and accuracy will go through the roof. 

But, baitcaster reels are not easy to use and are considerably more difficult than spinning reels as you have to control the line leaving the spool with your thumb. Getting it wrong leads to a lot of backlashes, bird’s nests, and tangles you might spend hours undoing. 

While there is no way of avoiding these without practice, having the best baitcaster reel in your hands will definitely help. You can adjust the braking system perfectly to minimize tangles and ensure that you cast perfectly every time. 

Finding a good baitcaster reel isn’t so easy though which is why we have narrowed it down to these 7 best based on our end-user experience and reviewed them so you can choose the right baitcaster reel for you. 

  • Lew’s Tournament MP Baitcasting Reel – My Best Overall Pick!
  • Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Baitcast Reel – My Most Versatile Pick!
  • KastKing Royale Legend GT Baitcasting Reel – My Best Budget Pick!
  • Shimano Curado K Baitcaster Reel – My Best Quality Pick!
  • Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast X Low Profile Baitcasting Reel – My Best Saltwater Pick!
  • KastKing Spartacus II Baitcasting Fishing Reel – My Best Beginners Pick!
  • Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS Baitcasting Reel – Best Lure Use Pick!

My Best Baitcasting Reels 

Baitcasting reels are for both saltwater and freshwater – take note of how the reel is positioned on top of the rod, not under it like a fixed spool spinning reel

Whether you are out fishing on the tropical seas or on your regular bass spot baitcasting reels are going to be a big part of your fishing tackle box. Yes, they can be frustrating to use and take some time to learn to use effectively but once you have overcome that, then the sky is the limit.

Whenever possible, try to match your bait caster reel and rod, and also make sure that you buy the right or left-handed version that you need. Most reels for baitcasting are not interchangeable and only very few are ambidextrous like the Daiwa Tatula 200.    

Lew’s Tournament MP Baitcasting Reel – My Best Overall Pick!

​​The Lew’s Tournament MP Baitcasting Reel is designed for professional baitcasters who have mastered throwing these super fast reels without any backlashes. 

What makes this reel so great is how reliable it is. Built with an aluminum frame and high-quality components so you can rest assured that this reel is going to last, handle a few knocks, and provide excellent performance pretty much forever. 

The reel features 9 ball bearings which transfer load excellently so you can crank smoothly even when under pressure. The gear ratio and thus retrieve rate is off the charts at 31 inches per second which means you can gather slack in seconds and put a ton of pressure on fish in the fight. 

The drag system on this reel is excellent too. With a max of 20 lbs of pressure, you can stop fish with ease and it is butter smooth too with close to zero start-up inertia. The reel is also incredibly light so you won’t be fighting or casting with any extra weight you don’t need. 

The braking system on this reel can be hard to get used to but once you do, it will be like a match made in heaven. You may suffer a few backlashes at first though. Overall, this reel is quite expensive but it is well worth it for the quality you get.

Pros

  • Lightweight for comfy casting 
  • Works well for inshore and freshwater fishing 
  • Durable build that lasts   
  • Lots of ball bearings for smooth performance 
  • Cranks like butter 
  • Awesome max drag of 20 lbs 
  • Super smooth crank with an excellent gear ratio 
  • Great to cast with when the brakes are dialed in 
  • Incredible retrieve of 31-inches per crank

Cons

  • Takes a while to get used to the braking system
  • A little expensive 

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 12/120
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 50/120
  • Max Drag: 20 lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: 7.5:1
  • Ball bearings: 9+1
  • Weight: 6.9 oz
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 31 inches
  • Retrieve Side: Left or right

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Baitcast Reel – My Most Versatile Pick! 

The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Baitcast Reel is the perfect reel for anyone looking for a baitcaster that can match up to some serious trophy-size saltwater and freshwater fishing. This is the reel that I have used as a flats saltwater fishing guide across countries such as Seychelles and Mexico, despite being over 5 years since I purchased one.

This reel is built to be bomb-proof with its machined, corrosion-blocking, aluminum frame. Now, the use of quality aluminum does make it a little heavy compared to others but even if you treat this reel badly, it will only come back for more.

The Ambassadeur C3 Baitcast Reel features an excellent line capacity as with 310 yards for a 30lb braid there isn’t much you can’t catch. Everything from permit, sailfish, and tarpon will be caught with this reel. Once hooked up, the super smooth carbon matrix drag system has some serious stopping power and the solid retrieve rate gives you every in the fight. 

When it comes to casting, this baitcaster reel makes things easy, as the brake is easy to adjust and provides consistent pressure so once it is dialed into your casting stroke, you should get it right every time. 

The reel also features anti-reverse which means you can use it for live baiting too, as you can drop your bait back and let the fish take it before setting the hook. 

Pros

  • Incredibly durable 
  • The solid aluminum frame can handle rough treatment 
  • Massive line capacity 
  • Great max drag
  • The carbon drag system is super smooth  
  • Built to survive in saltwater 
  • Easy to adjust and fine-tune the brake 
  • Great and easy to cast with 
  • Comes with anti-reverse for live baiting 
  • Great value 

Cons

  • Quite heavy 

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 12/320
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 30/310
  • Max Drag: 15 lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: 5.3:1
  • Ball bearings: 4
  • Weight: 10.70 oz 
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 26 inches 
  • Retrieve Side: Left or right

KastKing Royale Legend GT Baitcasting Reel – My Best Budget Pick! 

The KastKing Royale Legend GT Baitcasting Reel is another awesome affordable option that packs a punch at its price point.

This baitcaster reel is designed to be used in both freshwater and saltwater fishing and is built from mainly brass, stainless steel, and aluminum – all materials that handle corrosion well. The specs stack up for large species too with a max drag of 17.6 lbs, a solid line capacity, and a super fast retrieve rate. 

The quadruple disc carbon drag is very smooth for the quality and there is close to no start-up inertia. The crank is super smooth thanks to the 5 + 1 Double Shielded Stainless Steel Bearing and gearing system that transfers load perfectly. 

The magnetic brake system uses 8 magnets to provide the perfect casting tension but it does adjust very sensitively so it may take a while to dial in. This makes it a great reel for beginners to baitcasting to start off with. 

The one main complaint about this baitcaster reel is that it is noisy when you cast. This doesn’t bother me but it does bother some anglers. Overall though, it is a great baitcasting reel for the money. 

Pros

  • Great for use in fresh and saltwater 
  • Very affordable for the quality 
  • A good reel for beginners to start with 
  • The drag is reliable and butter smooth
  • The braking system is simple 
  • Casting is quite easy with this reel 
  • Awesome max drag
  • Super high retrieve rate 

Cons

  • A little noisy when casting 
  • The brake adjustments are sensitive 

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 10/130,12/110,14/90
  • Braid capacity  LB/YD: 40/130, 50/110, 65/90
  • Drag: 17.6lb
  • Gear Ratio: 7.0:1
  • Ball bearings: 11+1
  • Weight : 7.51oz
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 31.5 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Right or Left 

Shimano Curado K Baitcaster Reel – My Best Quality Pick!

Shimano makes some of the best fishing equipment on the planet, from rods to reels, and the Shimano Curado K Baitcaster Reel is no different. 

This baitcaster reel is built to last forever and is one of the longest-lasting baitcasting reels on the market. Not only is it made from super durable materials, it is also built to be easily maintained, and with some TLC you will have this reel forever and hand it down to your grandkids. 

One of my favorite things about this reel is the braking system. It is super easy to use and find the perfect tension with, which in turn makes casting easier and reduces backlashes too. When you combine this with the super-fast spool, you can achieve some incredible casting distances. 

The Curado K Baitcaster Reel also features Shimano’s micro module gearing and x-ship technology which work together for super smooth performance and efficiency. It makes every crank count, winding butter smooth, and the drag is the same too. 

Overall, the Curado K is a very impressive reel, with amazing performance and long-lasting durability but it is a little expensive. You should think of it as an investment as it will last for a few lifetimes. 

Pros

  • The quality braking system is easy to use
  • Easy to cast with for a baitcaster 
  • Great for long casting distances 
  • Super fast reel 
  • Great for freshwater and light inshore fishing 
  • Super smooth drag and retrieve 
  • Durable and will last forever with care 
  • Excellent Shimano quality 

Cons

  • Quite expensive 

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 8/180, 10/155, 14/110
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 30/190, 50/120, 65/80
  • Max Drag: 11 lbs
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1   
  • Ball bearings: 6+1
  • Weight: 7.6 oz
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 26 inches 
  • Retrieve Side: Left or right

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast X Low Profile Baitcasting Reel – My Best Saltwater Pick!

The Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast X Low Profile Baitcasting Reel is one of the top reels out there. It performs in every way and in every environment! You can use it to catch everything from giant sea species to really good size bass and huge pike. 

This reel couldn’t be built from better materials and features an X2-cräftic aluminum alloy frame and side plate, stainless steel HPCR bearings, and a carbon matrix drag. All of these components are tougher than nails and laugh in the face of saltwater and corrosion with ease. 

The specs on this baitcaster reel are also top of the line with a retrieve rate of 27 inches per crank, a max drag of 30 lbs, and you can get over 300 yards of 20lb braid on there. With this combination, you can literally handle most fish on the planet. 

The smoothness with which this baitcasting reel performs is off the charts too, both when you wind in under pressure and when you are casting. The magnetic braking system is simple to use and so incremental, you can find the perfect casting tension. 

Once the brake is set, you can cast incredible distances with this reel and accurately too so long as you pair it with a fast action but sensitive rod. 

The only issue with this baitcaster reel is the price. It is a hugely expensive reel but so it should be when you consider the performance and durability. 

Pros

  • Great for fresh and saltwater
  • Huge line capacity and max drag 
  • Perfect for big species 
  • Bomb-proof build using strong materials 
  • The drag is incredibly smooth 
  • Retrieve is excellent under pressure 
  • The braking system is simple and very effective 
  • Cast long distances accurately with ease 

Cons

  • Super expensive 
  • Retrieve rate could be higher for the price 

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 12/240 14/205 17/170
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 20/310 30/235 50/165
  • Max Drag: 30 lbs
  • Gear Ratio: 5.8:1
  • Ball bearings: 5+1
  • Weight: 9.5 oz 
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 27 inches 
  • Retrieve Side: Left or right

KastKing Spartacus II Baitcasting Fishing Reel – My Best Beginners Pick!

The KastKing Spartacus II Baitcasting Fishing Reel is an awesome baitcaster reel for anyone shopping on a budget and for beginners to baitcasting too. 

This baitcaster reel is built to be used in all environments from freshwater to saltwater and it comes with enough gusto to handle the species there too. With up to 17.64 lbs of super smooth drag power and a super fast retrieve rate, you have some serious fish-stopping power once you are hooked up.

With over 7 ball bearings, winding this reel is as smooth as can be, even when the spool is under pressure. With a retrieve rate of 28 inches per crank, you can fish lures super quickly and gather lines fast on every pump. 

Casting with this reel is excellent, once you have the braking system down. It has two brakes that need adjusting which means you can dial in the perfect amount of tension. Getting this right can be hard, especially for beginners, but once it is correct, casting becomes very easy. 

Overall, this is an incredible reel for the price but it might not suit pros as it isn’t as high performing as other more expensive baitcaster reels.  

Pros

  • Works well for fresh and saltwater fishing  
  • Superlight for long casting days 
  • Dual brakes ensure easy casting 
  • Simple to use, great for beginners 
  • Awesome retrieve rate 
  • Solid line capacity 
  • Great max drag 
  • Awesome price for the quality 

Cons

  • Quite hard to get the braking system right  
  • Double brakes will annoy season baitcaster anglers 
  • A bit slow for professionals 

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 10/140, 12/110, 15/90
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 20/270, 30/140, 40/115
  • Max Drag: 17.64 lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: 7.2:1
  • Ball bearings: 7+1
  • Weight: 6.0 oz
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 28 inches
  • Retrieve Side: Left or right 

Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS Baitcasting Reel – Best Lure Use Pick!

The Daiwa Tatula 200 TWS Baitcasting Reel is one of the best baitcaster reels Daiwa makes as it is simple and easy to cast with while performing quite amazingly. 

Built from a combination of quality aluminum, brass, and stainless steel while still maintaining a low weight, this reel is durable as can be. You can use it in saltwater without worrying about corrosion and, of course, it will work in freshwater well too. 

Between the line capacity and the max drag, this reel can handle some big fish but it is also great for small fish too. The brake system is super simple to use which makes casting easier and the spool is super fast so you can cast heavy lures and light lures at awesome distances. 

The carbon drag system is incredibly smooth, the ball bearings ensure the crank is too, and the reel is designed to be as comfortable as possible to fish with too. This is a rare reel where beginners can get to grips with it, and pros love it too. 

This is an expensive reel and it does need some regular maintenance to keep it performing but it is one that will last a lifetime with care. 

Pros

  • Super versatile for fresh and saltwater use 
  • A delight to cast with 
  • You can throw light and heavy baits with ease 
  • A great braking system that is easy to use 
  • Pros love it and beginners will too 
  • Ergonomically designed for comfort 
  • Excellent gear ratio and retrieve rate
  • Super smooth performance

Cons

  • Requires maintaining regularly
  • Very expensive 

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 16/185, 20/150
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 30/190, 40/145
  • Drag: 13.2 lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: 6.3:1/7.3:1
  • Ball bearings: 7+1
  • Weight: 8.1 oz
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 28.2 inches 
  • Retrieve Side: Right or left 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Differences Between Baitcasting Reels & Spinning Reels?

Heavier & More Line: Inline spooling on baitcasting reels reduces the memory issues in fishing line, and they can carry significantly more line (and heavy line) than a fixed spool reel. Increased casting distances and its ability to take on heavy pressure from large freshwater species as well as giants from the seas make the baitcaster reel outstanding.

Retrieve Rates: The gear ratio on a baitcasting reel is far higher than on a fixed spool reel. Long-distance casting as well as also accurate casting can be achieved far easier on a baitcasting reel.

Ease of Use: Fixed spool reels are far easier to learn how to use, baitcasting reels need a fair amount of practice and can lead to frustrations. Cleaning and maintaining fixed spool reels is very much easier than baitcasting reels. 

Handle Position: Fixed spool reels are easy to change the direction of the reel handle so they can be used by left and right-handed anglers. However, in most cases, baitcasting reels are fixed and cannot be changed over.

Drag System: Baitcasting reels have a far superior drag system. Adjustment of the starfish knob on the side to the handle is an easy change, more accurate, and provides much bigger drag than a fixed spool reel.

Finesse Fishing: Baitcasting reels are very hard to use for light lines and small lures. It’s almost impossible to control the free spool without running into tangles with light tackle.

Price: On average you are going to pay double the cost for a baitcasting reel vs a similar standard spinning reel.

Beginners: Once you have owned a baitcasting reel and taken it fishing several times it becomes much easier to handle. However, beginners will struggle if they have only previously used a fixed spool reel. My advice is to take it out in the garden and practice as much as possible, set up the drag, and get casting and retrieving to reduce the learning curve!

What Is Backlash On A Baitcasting Reel?

A major tangle (known as a birds nest) can be frustrating and a challenge when using baitcasting reels for the first time

Backlashes happen when the spool on your reel continues to spin but your bait or lure has reached the water. In many cases, this can lead to a major line tangle around the reel which can be incredibly frustrating and time-consuming to resolve.

Winding Up 

Thanks for reading my article. I hope you found it useful and have managed to choose the right baitcaster reel for you. Baitcaster reels are very personal things as you have to get used to them and build a connection, so choosing the right one is important. 

Pairing up a baitcasting reel with your baitcasting rod can be a big factor in making fishing successful. So, always pick a reel that matches what you fish for, where you fish, and your budget, and is easy to cast with, and you will be on to a winner. 
Why not check out all my articles on reels here! Covering the best fly, saltwater, and freshwater fishing.

Jamie Melvin