Choosing any baitcasting reel, much less the best one, can feel like a challenge to the average angler. There seems like a never ending array of features that need to be considered before one of these can be purchased. Options which include such things as gear ratios, braking systems, the number and type of ball bearings and spool designs. It can make choosing the best baitcasting reel an almost insurmountable challenge.
Unfortunately, some anglers never take the time to learn the basics about these type of reels or even how to use them. Sometimes this is due to the fact that some anglers have misconceptions about these reels, feeling like they are harder to use than conventional fishing reels or that they might be difficult to learn. However, both of those misconceptions are wrong. It doesn’t take too much time to learn how to properly master these reels and the benefits of using them over conventional reels more than makeup for the extra effort.
Fortunately, we can help you with finding the best reel. Below is an easy-to-follow list that has some of the better ones on the market today. These models were chosen because of their design specifications, their ease-of-use and their ability to get the job done. Of course, if you are still looking for a primer on how to choose a caster, there is also a section after the list of top reels that will help teach you some of the things you should be looking for in one of these reels.
Best Baitcasting Reels of 2018
10Daiwa Tatula Baitcast Fishing Reel (Type-R)
The Daiwa Tatula Type-R bait caster is a well-built yet lightweight reel with a 90mm swept handle and a nice, smooth black finish that’s highlighted with red. It’s a caster with a Magforce-z cast control, air rotation and a corrosion resistant mechanism for the clutch. It’s a lightweight reel that’s designed to deliver competition level performance yet still be easy to use for the fisherman who doesn’t consider themselves a pro. This model has been equipped with a stronger drive system over the conventional Tatula, which gives it more power to capture the really big fish. This high-quality precision reel should prove beneficial to just about any fisherman on the water today.
9Abu Garcia Revo SX Low-Profile Reel
Located squarely in the mid-budget reel range – right between the budget models and the more high-end reels – sits the Abu Garcia Revo SX Low-Profile Reel. It’s a reel that delivers castability and accurate cast control – all built into a frame that’s lighter than previous generations of this model thanks to its carbon C6 body. However, casting isn’t the only feature this reel has going for it. It also has some nice features that increase performance and reliability.
Some of the features built into the Abu Garcia Revo SX include an efficient D2 gear design, a power knob that gives you greater torque when hand-pulling fish, a smooth drag thanks to its Carbon Matrix drag system and Magtrax brake system to help cast heavy loads more accurately. All packaged together with a titanium-coated line guide that increases this reel’s durability.
8Kast King Royale Legend Fishing Reel
The Kast King Royale Legend is a baitcaster reel that’s is in the same price range of many budget reel models but isn’t designed to be a budget reel. Instead, it’s designed to deliver professional performance and is packed with a number of different features which should make it a powerful and durable fishing reel for some time to come.
It’s a low-profile caster that had a cut-brass gear system with a multi-disk carbon fiber drag system that delivers 17.5-pounds of drag and a dual-brake system that’s designed to deliver professional level casting control. Another great feature designed into this reel is its 11+1 MaxiDur ball bearings that are corrosion resistant and manufactured to not only deliver smooth casting but to also make this reel more durable.
7Abu Garcia BMAX3 Max Fishing Reel
Although the Abu Garcia BMAX3 Max Fishing Reel is often placed into the budget fishing reel category because of its price, it’s a great reel that can deliver better than average performance. This reel has some features that make it a powerful and reliable reel.
It has a low profile design that’s also light thanks to its graphite side plate and one-piece frame. It also has reliable operation thanks to its four stainless steel ball bearings and its one roller bearing. This model also has very nice castability and nice drag thanks to its Power Disk drag system and its MagTrax brake system. Its bent handle and recessed reel foot also make it a very ergonomic choice for both the amateur and professional fisherman alike.
6Piscifun Torrent Bait Casting Fishing Reel
The Piscifun Torrent Bait Casting is a fishing reel that’s loaded with features that are normally found in more expensive higher-end models. This model has a 7.1:1 gear ratio that pulls in approximately 30-inches of line per crank and 18-pounds of drag provided by a 3-disc carbon fiber system that gives you the power to pull in bigger fish. This reel also incorporates a magnetic braking system, 5+1 shield bearings, a 4.3-inch extended handle and a durable CNC reinforced brass gear. It’s a high-quality reel that’s powerful, durable, smooth and reliable and can be used by both freshwater and saltwater fishermen.
5Piscifun Perseus Bait Casting Fishing Reel
The Piscifun Perseus is a fishing reel named after the Greek hero which destroyed the monstrous fish Cetus in ancient mythology, which might not be a bad name for a fishing reel that can handle up to 18.5-pounds of drag and features a double-line winding system that increases winding stability and durability.
This baitcaster has a 4 & 1/3-inch handle, an over-sized EVA knob, 3 carbon fiber drag washers, shielded bearings, a dual magnetic and centrifugal braking system, brass drive gear and brass pinion gear and a CNC machined aluminum spool. Everything needed to take down the next monster of a fish.
4Shimano Curado I Reel
The Shimano Curado I Reel is a silver-gray caster that’s considered by some anglers to be an improvement over previous Curado reels. It has a low-profile design that only weighs around 7-ounces or so but is able to handle up to 12-pounds of drag. It’s designed so that it can cast as smoothly as any of the higher end reels, as well as retrieve the line with it being capable of retrieving up to 26-inches of line per crank. Other features of this reel include an S3D spool design, an SVS Infinity braking system and S A-RB bearings which are shielded to protect against sand and saltwater. It’s a reel that handles both inshore and offshore fishing duties well.
3Abu Garcia Pro Max Fishing Reel
Designed to be a low profile fishing reel that provides precise castability that can be easily customized to fit your particular needs, the Abu Garcia Pro Max is a baitcasting reel that has a number of well-designed features that make it easier to operate and easier to reel in those stubborn fish. It’s a 7.1:1 reel that has 7 stainless ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, a MagTrax braking system and a Power Disk system that keeps the drag smooth through the entire range of the drag. It’s a lightweight reel that can handle the rigors of both inshore and offshore fishing.
2Daiwa Lexa Reel (LEXA300HS-P)
The Daiwa Lexa is a reel with a 7.1:1 gear ratio, an aluminum side plate and frame and a retrieve rate of 32.4-feet per crank. It’s a professional grade system that has quite a few design features that allow it to really reel in the big fish. This model has an over-sized swept handle with weight-reducing cutouts that doesn’t adversely affect its strength or its leverage. Another great feature of this reel is that it has sealed CRBB bearings that are designed to keep out sand and salt crystals. And these bearings are also specially treated to resist salt corrosion better than non-treated bearings. This gives it the ability to perform better longer in saltwater environments than some of its competitors.
1Shimano Curado E Reel
The Shimano Curado E is a reel that’s designed to tackle big freshwater and saltwater fish. It has a sleek, low-profile aluminum frame with lightweight graphite side plates. It also has a titanium-coated IP line guide, an aluminum spool, high-efficiency gearing and a variable braking system. Other features of this model include 5 SUS ball bearings, 1 roller bearing and a gear ratio of 6.2:1. These design specifications make the Curado E a reliable reel that casts easily and provides smooth reeling. They also give this reel to take on some of the larger fish that the angler may come across.
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Choosing a Baitcaster Reel
There are a few things to consider before purchasing one of these reels. The most important things to consider are whether you want a left/right hand reel, the gear ratio, braking systems, frame material and the ball bearing construction and configuration. Each of these considerations are explored in detail below.
Left or Right Hand Model?
Choosing the right hand configuration is important with these type of reels because the handles can’t be swapped out on them like they can on Spinner Reels. If you’re right handed, you’ll probably want to use a right handed model. Using this configuration, you would cast with your right hand and then place it in your left hand so you can use your right hand on the handle.
Choosing a Gear Ratio
There are a variety of different gear ratios to choose from – from 5.4:1 to 7.1:1 and 8.1:1. While these numbers might look complicated, they are actually describing a very simple event. Let’s take a reel with an 8.1:1 gear ratio. What that number means is that for every single crank of the handle, the reel will spin 8 times. However, that doesn’t mean that a higher gear ratio is better than a lower gear ratio. For certain techniques, such as working a crankbait, a lower ratio is preferred, while applications such as using a spinnerbait are best used with a reel that has a higher ratio. Most anglers buy several of these reels, all in different ratios, so they have a variety of options available to them while fishing.
Choosing a Braking System
Braking systems are another feature that often confuses inexperienced anglers who use this type of reel. Basically, the braking system prevents your line from continuing forward after the lure has finished its movement. There are two different type of braking systems out there, although some reels now use a hybrid of the two. These two braking systems are centrifugal brakes and magnetic brakes. Centrifugal brakes use friction to slow down the line and can be adjusted using pins. Magnetic brakes use magnets to slow down spool speed and are adjustable as well. There’s not much difference between the two except for this: centrifugal braking systems are usually easier to set and don’t have to be adjusted as much as magnetic braking systems.
Considering Frame Construction
While some pro anglers will say that there are a number of things to consider as far as frame construction is concerned, I’m going to keep it simple. The two things that should be considered are whether it’s round or low-profile and the material it’s made from.
Round reels generally hold more line and are capable of holding a heavier line. They are often also used for fights which require long runs or for tossing bigger baits. It’s generally good for salmon, muskies, and steelhead. Low-profile reels are more ergonomic and allow for a better ‘wristing’ of the line. It’s also one of the more popular reels used today. This type of reel is generally used for crappie and bass.
Frames generally are made of one of two different materials. They are made from either aluminum or graphite. Aluminum is stronger and is usually found in higher-end reels, but it’s also more expensive and heavier. Graphite is lighter and cheaper but isn’t usually a good choice if the reel is going to take a lot of abuse.
The better the ball bearings the better the operation of the reel. While some people believe that quality reels have a larger number of bearings, that isn’t necessarily the case. It really depends on the quality of the bearings and not the number of them. When choosing a reel, try to choose one with shielded bearings.
As you can see, choosing one of these reels doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Nor does learning how to use one. With a little thought, time and practice, just about anyone can master these reels and use them to catch bigger and faster fish.