Best Baitcasting Reels to Check Out: Complete Baitcasting Reel Review

Last Updated on May 4, 2021 by Coty Perry

Best Overall

Lew’s HyperMag Speed Spool Baitcaster

4.9/5

Best Runner-Up

Abu Garcia Revo Toro

4.3/5

Best Baitcasting Reel Under 150

Lew’s Speed Spool LFS

4.8/5

Baitcasting is a style of fishing that involves larger lures, heavier techniques, and more powerful cranking. The best baitcasting reel will support those efforts with a powerful gear system, optimal braking, and a large enough body to help you crank in larger fish. 

I love my spinning gear but even I can admit that baitcasters are the right choice for deep crankbaits and swimbaits. I was intimidated by them years ago because I was so worried about getting tangled but after a few hundred (or thousand) casts, you get the hang of it. Let’s take a look at the top seven baitcasters from the best brands in the world.  

The 7 Best Baitcasting Reels: Total Breakdown

Lew’s HyperMag Speed Spool Baitcaster

BEST OVERALL

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Abu Garcia Revo Toro

Best Runner-Up

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Lew’s Speed Spool LFS

Best Baitcasting Reel Under 150

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Daiwa Tatula SV TW

Best Low Profile

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Shimano Curado DC

Fully Loaded

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Shimano Chronarch MGL

Smoothest Baitcaster

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

KastKing Royale Legend GT

Best Baitcaster For The Money

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

How to Choose the Best Baitcasting Reel

best baitcasting reel breakdown

As you’re shopping around for the best baitcasters, there are some important factors that you’ll want to keep in mind. Everything outlined in this baitcasting reel review is great, but it means nothing if you don’t know what you’re shopping for. 

Gear Ratio 

The gear ratio refers to how many times the spool turns per revolution of the handle. So, if you have a 6:1 gear ratio, it means that the spool will turn six times each time you crank the handle around once. The most typical gear ratios you’ll find are 6.4:1 and 7.1:1. These are the best choices for worms, jigs, and topwater spinnerbaits. 

Lower gear ratios are ideal for deeper cranks and swimbaits. When you’re moving the bait slower you’re keeping it in the strike zone longer giving it more time for a strike. You also get more power out of these baits making them a great choice for flipping into cover. Fewer revolutions also means that you can tighten your drag a bit because you’re not going to be burning the line up on the way back to the boat battling a big fish. 

If you desire a reel with a high gear ratio, these are best for fishing smaller topwaters and plastics when you need to set the hook quickly and get the fish back to the boat as fast as possible. Higher gear ratios are more popular with spinning reels and fishing things like topwater frogs

Spool Size

The size of the spool will determine how much line you can fit on the reel before you start reaching the backing. They also play an important role in managing the line so you don’t have to deal with nesting or other tangling related issues. If you do a lot of pitching or flipping, you don’t need a large spool because you’re not casting long distances. 

For the most part, many spool sizes are standard and there isn’t too much variation between how much line you can fit on all of them. This information will apply most for sea anglers who are fishing for much larger offshore fish where they’re taking the line out really far and battling for 10-15 minutes at times. 

Handle 

When it comes to the handle you’ll want to focus on the size and materials. The best baitcaster for bass will be low-profile with smaller handles because you won’t need to have as much power to crank them in. If you’re fishing with primarily jigs and soft plastics, you don’t have to worry too much about fatigue with a low-profile reel because the cranking isn’t the issue, it’s the presentation. 

That said, if you’re doing any type of offshore fishing or even inshore saltwater, you might be fishing for larger fish with big crankbaits. Having a longer handle will give you more leverage to pull the fish out of dense cover and battle them when they’re dragging your lure in the opposite direction. 

Handle and knob material is important as well. EVA knobs are most common but a lot of manufacturers are doing things to make them more comfortable while increasing their durability. This is important but it’s impossible to say which one is “best” because everyone has their own preferences. Shop around and understand that these are necessary factors to think about. 

Braking System

The braking system may be one of the most important components of a baitcasting reel. This is one thing that is primarily different from the spinning rod and reel combo. With a baitcaster, you have a tension knob that controls the amount of tension on your line at the beginning of the cast. The braking system will control the tension at the end of the cast. Without the right amount of tension, wind will start to impact your cast. It will slow down your lure. But, that wind is not slowing down the spool which will keep spinning at the same velocity until that lure hits the water. 

The end result is a huge mess when your line gets all knotted up in the reel which is referred to as a “nest” or “crows nest” depending on where you’re from. It’s also called backlashing. This is the number one thing that turns people away from baitcasters because this is something that you need to learn how to manage otherwise you’ll be constantly breaking apart your line and throwing it away because it’s all tangled. 

If you have a baitcaster with an exceptional braking system, these problems won’t happen. If you notice, some of the manufacturers even use computerized technology to minimize the chances of this happening. 

Bearings 

Having high-quality bearings in your reel improves the smoothness of your cast and retrieval. Some people think that more bearings generally means it’s a smoother reel but that’s not always the case. There are so many factors that determine that so don’t just run for the reel with the most bearings. 

You want one that offers ceramic or stainless steel ball bearings and is made with lightweight materials. When you combine those factors, you’ll end up with a smoother reel than if you went for something cumbersome with 11 bearings. 

Line Guides 

If your reel has a great line guide, it’s the best feature in the world, if it has a crappy line guide, it’ll be the first thing you regret. Try to find one that’s made of ceramic because it has less friction but they are very fragile so you’ll want to be extra careful when handling the reel.

Titanium guides are nice but they’re more expensive and I don’t find them to necessarily be any better. The most important thing about line guides is that they operate properly and flow smoothly with the line so they aren’t creating any tension. 

External Materials 

What’s the reel made of? All metal is the way to go and anodized aluminum offers the most durability with the lightest weight. There are also many manufacturers implementing graphite side plates as well for added durability over the internal components. No matter what, the construction of the reel is one of the most important aspects because you’ll want something that is not only durable but easy to operate. 

Why Choose a Baitcaster?

large baitcasting reel

The big question is, why would someone choose a baitcaster over a spinning reel. First, a baitcaster sits on top of the rod whereas a spinning reel sits underneath the spinning rod. There are some pros to using a baitcaster instead of a spinner though. 

These reels are generally perceived as more durable and capable of holding larger quantities of heavy line. Of course, there are unique scenarios where this might not be true but this is the reason why casting rods and reels are mostly used for saltwater fishing. They offer more control over your casting distance and precision, they have stronger drag capabilities, can hold more line, so ultimately, they are the better choice for heavier fish. 

The downside to using a baitcaster is the fact that they have a steeper learning curve. This is the reason why most people start out with spinning rod and reel applications and later switch over when they have a better feel for things. Backlashing is the number one reason for this and you’ll need to play around with the braking system and drag more on a baitcaster.

FAQs

I always believe that you need to stay in your budget, whatever that may be. You don’t need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a reel to have a good time on the water. If you’re stressing over how much the reel costs, it’s too much. There are plenty of baitcasters for less than $200 and even less than $100. Don’t worry about the price and just get what you can afford. 

As I do these reviews, I realize that I’m splitting hairs most of the time. If you’re not fishing dozens of different reels a year like I am, you won’t even notice many of the differences that I notice.

You need a baitcasting rod or a trolling rod for a baitcaster. Do not use a spinning rod because it won’t work. The reel needs to rest on top of the rod and the seat will need to be much different and larger than with a spinning reel.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best baitcasting reel isn’t as difficult as it seems. In reality, it’s as simple as understanding what makes one the “best” and simply settling on something. As I mentioned, there are plenty of great options on this list so don’t stress it too much. Find one that you like and go for it. Even if it’s not the most expensive reel on the market, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great option.

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