Best Crankbait Reel Reviews: How to Choose the Best Reels for Crankbaits

Last Updated on April 29, 2021 by Coty Perry

Best Overall

Daiwa Tatula SV TW Baitcaster

4.7/5

Best Runner-Up

Shimano SLX DC

4.8/5

Best Torque

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast

4.8/5

Fishing with crankbaits is something that every angler will learn at one point or another. When you’re ready to step up your crankbait game, you’ll want to pick up the best crankbait reel. Some characteristics that make up a crankbait reel are:

  • Low gear ratio
  • Great braking system
  • Efficient line management

Without these three things you’ll deal with many of the problems I see anglers having all the time. I always see them struggling with bird’s nests and inaccurate casts. Equip yourself with the right knowledge by going through this guide covering the top five crankbait reels. 

The 5 Best Crankbait Reels

Daiwa Tatula SV TW Baitcaster

BEST OVERALL

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Shimano SLX DC

Best Runner-Up

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast

Best Torque

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Lew’s Tournament MP Speed Spool

Best Lightweight

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

KastKing Royale Legend GT

Best Budget

SPECIFICATIONS
BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS

Best Crankbait Reel Buyer Guide: How to Choose?

best crankbait reel on a kayak
Photo Credits: Wesley Littlefield

The big question now is, what features are most important when choosing a crankbait reel? What specifications, what components, and what numbers should you be looking at when determining the best crankbait reel for you? This section will help clear things up.

Gear Ratio 

The ideal crankbait reel ratio doesn’t exist and if anyone tries to give you a specific number, they’re lying. We all know that a gear ratio in the range of 6.0:1 is where most of us would like to be but that can vary from angler to angler. What you need to understand is that a slower gear ratio is ideal for crankbaits because you’re generally presenting the lure at a slower rate and targeting big fish. 

Having a slower gear ratio will result in you giving the fish a little more slack, allowing them to work the lure, while you sit back and gradually tire them out. If your gear ratio is too high you’ll run the risk of snapping your line and grinding up the internals. 

The gear ratio you choose also depends on where you’re fishing and what for. If you’re using an inshore spinning reel compared to an offshore saltwater spinning reel, you would want to have different gear ratios. The offshore reel would need a lower gear ratio because you’re targeting larger fish. 

Finding the perfect middle ground is what I like to do. I don’t buy specific reels just to fish certain lures so I like to find something that will work for crankbaits but also for other lures as well. All of the options above should fit that description. 

Braking System/Drag

The next most important factor is your braking and drag system. When it comes to baitcasting reels these really go hand-in-hand. I’ve found that the Daiwa Tatula SV TW offers the best braking and drag system but there is a bit of a learning curve there. If you’re new to baitcasters you might want to go with KastKing or Lew’s because their systems are a bit more standard and you’ll have a higher chance of running into them in the future if you upgrade to a different reel. 

Weight 

We also can’t forget that the weight and overall profile of the reel matter as well. If you’re fishing crankbaits, you’re typically applying a slow presentation and could be dragging your lure through mostly open water. This creates a lot of fatigue on your part which is only going to be made worse with a large 10 ounce reel. Most of the baitcasters you’ll find for crankbaits will range between 7-8 ounces which isn’t overly large but it’s certainly something you’ll want to keep in mind. 

The weight on these reels is much different than if you’re fishing an ultralight spinning reel. Transitioning from that to this would be a hard thing to do without some experience. 

Rod and Reel Combo 

The last thing you’ll want to consider is your crankbait rod and how fishing rods pair with your reel. Having a high-quality reel is important but you’ll also need to make sure you have the right baitcasting rod to go with your reel. This will help with long casts and going with a high speed reel requires you to have a durable and strong graphite rod to go along with it. 

The most experienced anglers will take their fishing experience and use it to craft the most high performance rig out there. If you’re concerned about hitting that sweet spot every time, I suggest putting as much thought into your rod as you do for your reel.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best crankbait reel is all about understanding baitcasters, braking systems, and gear ratios. Once you understand how they all come together to impact the presentation of your lure you’ll have a much easier time making a decision. I’d highly recommend any of the five crankbait reels above from Amazon so give them a further look and don’t dwell on it. The longer you sit here deciding the less time you’re spending on the water. Good luck out there! 

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