Best Shimano Baitrunner Reels For All Types Of Fishing

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Shimano is the company that first came up with the baitrunner reel and released it in the late 1980s. They literally created a whole new form of the reel and even coined the term ‘Baitrunner,’ which is actually a Shimano-owned trademark. 

In this Shimano baitrunner reel review, we will focus on the best Shimano options, look at what a bait runner actually is, how they work, and what they are useful for. 

By the end of the article, you should know everything there is to know about these popular reels and even which model is best for certain species.

Here Are My Best Picks For Shimano Baitrunner Reels 

  • Shimano Baitrunner ST 10000 6000 RB – My Best Pick For Larger Carp and Catfish!
  • Shimano Baitrunner DL 6000 1000 RB – My Best Pick For Barbel and Mid-size Carp!
  • Shimano Baitrunner DL 10000 1000 RB – My Best Pick for Pike and Zander!
  • Shimano Baitrunner BTR8000D – My Best Saltwater Baitrunner!

So, let’s get right into the details. 

What Is A Baitrunner Reel?

Shimano carp Baitrunners
Shimano baitrunner reels set up for carp fishing

A baitrunner reel is a normal reel that comes with two drag systems – this might surprise you, but it makes a lot of sense. 

You can find baitrunner systems in both round reels (often called a multiplier reel) and spinning reels, but when it comes to Shimano reels, we are talking about spinning reels with two drag systems.

The first drag is your fighting drag, this is standard on most reels, this is the drag you use to slow fish down during the fight. The second drag is for your bait – whether it’s a live or dead bait or a boilie targetted for carp, you can choose to set this drag to your preferred tensions. But why is this drag helpful? 

What Are Baitrunners For? 

If you’re a bait fisherman, using, live bait or dead baits, or baits that require you to let the fish run, (such as specimen carp fishing) the second drag system in a baitrunner is going to be crucial to catching and landing that large carp, pike or catfish. 

For example, you need to let the fish take the bait, run with it, and begin to swallow it when you’re fishing with live bait. For this to happen, you have to free-spool your reel, letting the fish take line without any tension whatsoever, and this is what the second drag system is for.

By having a dedicated “bait drag system,” you can dial in the perfect amount of tension in order to feed your bait to your desired species, and then, when it’s time to hook the fish, you can engage the fighting drag with the flick of a switch. It doesn’t get any easier than this. 

If you were to fish like this without a baitrunner, you would need to set your fighting drag to free-spool (zero drag) and wait. Then, when a fish eats your bait and it’s time to hook it, you would have to manually increase the fighting drag and guess where to stop. 

This is a massive hassle with a spinning reel, and you can easily overtighten the drag and break your fishing line at the critical moment when the fish starts to “run” with your bait. This could even pull your rod into the water on a large fish!

Shimano Baitrunner Overview 

So, what is so good about Shimano Baitrunners? Well, I’m sure Shimano needs no introduction as they are, without a doubt, one of the best, if not the best fishing reel manufacturer on the planet. 

All the reels in the range are particularly smooth, with an ergonomic design that makes them incredibly easy to use. They look like normal spinning reels but come with drag systems on the bottom of the reel. 

There is a switch that allows you to engage or disengage baitrunner mode, and the knobs on the bottom of the reel let you adjust drag tension. By placing the drag systems on the bottom of the reel, your hands go nowhere near the line while a fish is eating your bait. 

The transition from baitrunner mode to fighting drag is about as smooth as it gets, you would barely know it happened if there wasn’t fish pulling on the end of the line. 

The reels are durably built from a graphite shell and aluminium bail arm, meaning they can handle corrosion. They are incredibly smooth to cast with and have an excellent retrieve rate, so you can gather lines back onto your spool quickly as needed. 

The line capacity and maximum drag pressure across the range excellently match the species and casting distances the reels are designed for. No matter which model of Shimano you choose, you’ll be able to fill it with up to 300 yards of mono and even more if you’re using braid. 

The reels also feature a quick-release braid-ready spool, meaning you can change spools from braid to mono in seconds and fill the spool with braid without it slipping. 

The Best Shimano Baitrunners For Different Species 

Shimano Baitrunner ST 10000 6000 RB – My Best Pick For Specimen Carp and Catfish!

The Shimano Baitrunner ST 10000 6000 RB is your best baitrunner choice for carp fishing as it is light enough for holding smaller line weights while providing a solid line capacity and fighting drag power. 


  • Model: ST 10000 6000 RB
  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 10/300, 12/265, 14/210, 20/120
  • Braid capacity mm/m: 0,30-370 / 0,35-240 / 0,40-140 / 0,45-110
  • Max Drag: 13.23 lbs
  • Gear Ratio: ​​4.6:1
  • Ball bearings: 1+1
  • Weight: 19.4 ounces
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 30 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Left/Right 

Shimano Baitrunner DL 6000 1000 RB – My Best Pick For Barbel and Big Carp!

If you’re a barbel fisherman or big carp fisherman, then hopping up to the Shimano Baitrunner DL 6000 1000 RB is your best bet. While this has the same line capacity and max drag as the ST 10000 6000 RB model, it features more ball bearings and a faster retrieve rate. 

Barbel and large carp are intense fighters and you’ll want the additional inches per crank along with the smooth crank the ball bearings provide to tame these species. 

RB stands for Baitrunner system.


  • Model: DL 6000 1000 RB
  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 10-300 / 12-265 / 14-210 / 20-120
  • Braid capacity mm/m: 0,30-270 / 0,35-240 / 0,40-140 / 0,45-110
  • Max Drag: 13.23 lbs
  • Gear Ratio: 4.6:1
  • Ball bearings: 3 + 1
  • Weight: 20.8 ounce
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 32 inches 
  • Retrieve Side: Left/Right 

Shimano Baitrunner DL 10000 1000 RB – My Best Pick for Pike and Zander!

The Shimano Baitrunner DL 10000 1000 RB takes things one step further with a larger line capacity and retrieve rate compared to the other models. This makes them ideal for larger predators like pike when you might want to add a higher line class and have more control in the fight.  


  • Model: DL 10000 1000 RB
  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 10-545 / 12-430 / 14-325
  • Braid capacity mm/m: ​​0.30-500 / 0.35-350 / 0.40-250
  • Max Drag: 13.3 lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: ​​4.6:1
  • Ball bearings: 3 + 1
  • Weight: ​​21 ounces 
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 34.25 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Left or Right 

Shimano Baitrunner BTR8000D – My Best Saltwater Baitrunner! 

Finally, we have the Shimano Baitrunner BTR8000D which is designed for fishing in saltwater. The materials used on this reel are more robust to handle saltwater and the corrosion it brings. For example, the spool is made from aluminium to help with this. 

The reel also comes with a much larger line capacity for saltwater species, a large max drag of 20 lbs, and a better retrieve rate of 36 inches – everything you need to tame the likes of dorado, wahoo, sailfish, tarpon, and smaller tuna. 

The BTR8000D also features Dyna-balance technology for consistent oscillation for better line lay, improved casting distances, and cranks during the fight.  


  • Model: ​​BTR8000D 
  • Mono capacity LB/YD: ​​14/295; 17/250; 20/195
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: ​​40/295; 50/290; 65/180
  • Max Drag: 20 lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: 4.8:1 
  • Ball bearings: 3 + 3
  • Weight: 21.7 ounces 
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 36 inches 
  • Retrieve Side: Left/Right 

What Fish Do Anglers Catch With A Baitrunner? 

Baitrunners, as mentioned above, are only useful when fishing with bait when fish run away with the line and are, therefore, very popular among carp fishermen and anglers who target pike, catfish, barbel, and larger saltwater species. 

Allowing a fish to take the line and then instantly, at the press of a button, engage the fighting drag means you can take your time, get all your drag settings right, and not have to stand right next to a rod all the time. 

This is very beneficial for specimen carp anglers who fish for 72 hours solid using three rods simultaneously. 

Do I Need A Baitrunner Reel? 

Shimano carp setup 1
A typical 3-rod carp fishing setup with Shimano baitrunner reels

It’s very easy to get caught up in the hype of buying a new reel and everything it offers, but it’s always worth asking the question, do I really need one? 

Major Reasons for Buying A Baitrunner

  1. If you fish with bait and need to free-spool your bait to hook the species you’re targeting, these baitrunner reels will make life easier and increase your catch rate. 
  1. If your target is carp or catfish in medium to large lakes or rivers then a baitrunner is a must-have!
  1. If you are an avid saltwater fisherman going after small to medium size tuna, sailfish, and tarpon, a baitrunner will be your number one choice.
  1. If you throw lures, float fish, or troll for large fish weighing 10 lbs or more, then a baitrunner’s special functions would be best used in these forms of fishing.

Baitrunner reels are often used by carp anglers in conjunction with bite alarms, this allows anglers at night to fish even when sleeping.

If you are only targeting smaller species or small carp then a baitrunner is not required. A smaller normal spinning reel with one drag is sufficient.

Running Out 

Thanks for reading my article; I hope you enjoyed it and are now sold on these reels’ usefulness. If you’re a carp or bait fisherman, having a few Shimano in your arsenal is necessary. 

If you are interested to know more about other fishing reels check out my articles here!  Alternatively, if you are looking for the right fishing line and braid to choose for your reel, then look at all my fishing line articles. 

Jamie Melvin