10 Best Baitcasting Reels Reviewed

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Best Baitcasting Reels

Howdy! You’re about to read my review of the best baitcasting reels.

It’s no secret that most baitcasting reels are bought for bass fishing. Given that bass aren’t as big as your typical monster fishes, you can afford to have less drag in your reel. However, you will still need your reel to be smooth, light, and to cast well regardless of the lure.

Out of the many available baitcast reels, only these 10 made the cut. Among these 10 awesome fishing reels, I recommend the 13 Fishing Concept A Baitcasting Reel for anglers who are willing to splurge slightly on a first-rate reel. Whether it’s drag, smoothness, lightness, casting ability, or affordability, it’s got it all.

Don’t worry if that was out of your budget though, there are plenty of cheaper options to suit any budget.

Let’s begin.

Our Top 10 Picks

  1. 13 Fishing Concept A (Best Overall)
  2. Shimano Curado DC (Best Splurge)
  3. Abu Garcia Revo Rocket (Best Retrieval Speed)
  4. Daiwa Coastal TW (Best Line Capacity)
  5. Lew’s Tournament Pro Speed Spool LFS (Best Smoothness) (Best Lightness)
  6. Abu Garcia Max Pro (Best For Beginners)
  7. Daiwa Tatula 100 (Best Budget Lightness)
  8. KastKing Royale Legend GT (Best Budget)
  9. Piscifun Torrent (Best Budget Power)
  10. Abu Garcia Revo SX (Best Power)

The 10 Best Baitcasting Reels

Before we go any further, you may be wondering whether the baitcasting reels belong to the round reel or low profile baitcasting reel category. To clarify, all 10 of the reels are low profile. 

There are many reasons for this, but the main one is comfort and ease of use. You may have lesser line capacity but you’ll have a much easier time on the water.


Best Overall

1. 13 Fishing Concept A

  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Reel Size: 1000
  • Gear Ratio: 6.6-8.1:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 22 pounds
  • Weight: 6.8 ounces

The first baitcaster is the best baitcaster overall – the 13 Fishing Concept A. It’s nearly unrivalled in casting, light, durable, and powerful enough for any bass.

First off, this incredible reel was designed to cast better and further than other baitcasting reels. The most commonly faced problem with baitcasting reels is trouble casting with light lures and lines. Not only does this reel have no such issue, but it can also cast further than even the top baitcasting reels.

Weight-wise, at just 6.8 ounces, it’s the second lightest reel on this list and one of the lightest on the market. With this reel, you’ll be able to fish long hours on the water without becoming fatigued.

On top of that, the stainless steel anti-corrosion bearings are durable enough to fish in saltwater.

Most importantly, you’ll need 15 pounds of drag to take on the monster bass. This reel has a whopping 22 pounds of it. You’ll have no trouble even if you want to catch big fish like salmon.

All this is pointless though if you can’t afford it, which is why you’ll be glad to hear it’s very reasonably priced. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line baitcasting reel to take on bass or even bigger fishes, look no further.


Best Splurge

2. Shimano Curado DC

  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Reel Size: 1500
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2-8.5:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 11 pounds
  • Weight: 7.8-7.9 ounces

As usual, Shimano’s state-of-the-art technologies place their reels at the top of the hierarchy. The Shimano Curado DC will cast further and more easily than any reel you’ve ever used.

Remember how I said the Concept A was almost unrivalled in casting? This is the reel that beats it. It’s able to do so thanks to the Intelligent Digital Control braking system (I-DC 4) and Super Free Spool.

I-DC 4 utilizes a microcomputer to keep track of the spool an unbelievable 1000 times per second and applies just the right amount of brake to prevent backlash and maximize casting distance. The best part is that there are 4 different modes so that you can cast just about any lure you want with any line, whether it’s fluorocarbon or monofilament. This means this reel isn’t just able to cast both heavy and light lures, but you’ll also face bird’s nest much less often.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Super Free Spool further enhances the casting capabilities of the reel. With this reel technology, the pinion gear is supported by a ball bearing so that the pinion gear and spool shaft will be in perfect alignment when the clutch is disengaged. This results in zero friction on the spool shaft, thus allowing you to cast even further.

The only flaw with this reel is its drag. At 11 pounds, you’ll be able to snag some relatively sizeable bass, but you’ll have a hard time with the biggest ones.

Other than that though, this reel excels in all areas. If you’re looking for the absolute best baitcasting reel and have the money to spare, this is it.

Also, the product page doesn’t state the full specifications, so here they are.


Best Retrieval Speed

3. Abu Garcia Revo Rocket

  • Ball Bearings: 10+1
  • Reel Size: 1000
  • Gear Ratio: 10.1:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 18 pounds
  • Weight: 7.3 ounces

Next up, we have the fastest baitcasting reel on the list – the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket. 

As the name suggests, its retrieval is fast as a rocket. With a high gear ratio of 10.1:1, a single turn of the handle will reel in a ton of line. This makes it ideal for lures that require super fast retrieves. It also takes a lot less effort to get fish out of the water into your hands since you’ll need much fewer turns.

But that’s not the only reason to get this reel. Apart from its lightning fast retrieve, it’s also got strength and exceptional smoothness.

For strength, it’s got 18 pounds of braking power to stop even prize bass in their tracks.

For exceptional smoothness, there are 10+1 bearings. It’s also nice that they’re corrosion-resistant, so you can safely use this reel in saltwater.

To sum it up, you’ll want to get this reel if you want to spend the least effort when there’s a fish at the end of your line. And of course, don’t forget that it’s also robust and smooth like butter.


Best Line Capacity

4. Daiwa Coastal TW

  • Ball Bearings: 7+1
  • Reel Size: 2000
  • Gear Ratio: 7.3:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 15.4 pounds
  • Weight: 8.1 ounces

When it comes to line capacity, few reels can match the Daiwa Coastal TW.

This reel features the T-Wing System (TWS) that allows line to exit the spool with minimal line angle and friction. This reduces noise and backlash and delivers more accurate and longer casts.

Moreover, as you’ll notice, this is the largest reel on this list, and thus it has the most line capacity. However, while rare, there are casting reels on the market that can compete and even surpass this reel’s line capacity. 

What they can’t beat though, is its well-roundedness.

With 15.4 pounds of drag, 7+1 corrosion-resistant bearings for smoothness, and TWS for casting, it’s got it all.

The only qualm I have with this reel is that like most other baitcasting reels, you won’t be able to cast lighter lures very far. To cast any sort of distance, your lure will have to weigh at least 1/2 ounce.

That aside, the Daiwa Coastal TW has no flaws. For those looking for a baitcaster with more line capacity, you won’t find a better one than this.


Best Smoothness

Best Lightness

5. Lew’s Tournament Pro Speed Spool LFS

  • Ball Bearings: 10+1
  • Reel Size: 1000
  • Gear Ratio: 6.8-8.3:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 20 pounds
  • Weight: 6.4 ounces

On to the next reel, the Lew’s Tournament Pro Speed Spool LFS possesses astounding lightness, smoothness, and strength.

Right off the bat, the 6.4 ounces stands out as the lightest on the list. With this reel, you can expect to feel fresh even after a long day of fishing. 

I was also blown away by this reel’s smoothness when I put it to the test. This is likely due to its 10+1 bearings. Even though the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket has the same number of bearings, they’re not double-shielded to keep debris away. As such, the Lew’s Speed Spool LFS is still the smoothest. 

As for strength, 20 pounds of stopping power gives you the confidence to go after any bass, regardless of its size. In fact, you’ll be able to handle even larger fishes like walleyes.

In short, this is an unbelievably light and smooth reel that won’t let you down, whatever bass you’re up against.


Best For Beginners

6. Abu Garcia Max Pro

  • Ball Bearings: 7+1
  • Reel Size: 1000
  • Gear Ratio: 7.1:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 15 pounds
  • Weight: 7.4-13.2 ounces

Next on the list is the Abu Garcia Max Pro. I included this reel because I feel it’s perfect for beginners.

Baitcasters are without a doubt harder to use than spinning reels. That’s why I’m sure some beginners will appreciate an easier-to-use baitcaster over a more complicated one, even if the more complicated one may be of higher quality.

The Abu Garcia Max Pro isn’t specifically tailored for beginners, but from my personal experience, it’s the easiest and most instinctive baitcast reel to use on the market.

I also like that to keep costs down, this reel doesn’t overdeliver in any area. It isn’t the best baitcasting reel in any particular aspect, like smoothness or power, but you’re getting everything you’ll need.

Beginners who are looking for a premium baitcaster but without the premium price tag, this fishing reel was made for you.


Best Budget Lightness

7. Daiwa Tatula 100

  • Ball Bearings: 7+1
  • Reel Size: 1000
  • Gear Ratio: 6.3-8.1:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 11 pounds
  • Weight: 6.9 ounces

If you value lightness above all but found the lighter premium reel options too costly, you’re going to love the Daiwa Tatula 100.

Weighing in at 6.9 ounces, it’s the third lightest reel on the list, just 0.1 ounce behind the Concept A.

I shan’t elaborate on the other components, but by now, you should be able to tell this is a solid fishing reel with great specifications.

Although priced at roughly $150, it isn’t exactly a budget budget reel, but it’s as close as it gets if you want both quality and lightness. If you don’t want to pay over $200 for a reel below 7 ounces, you might want to check this reel out.


Best Budget

8. KastKing Royale Legend GT

  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Reel Size: 1000
  • Gear Ratio: 7.2:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 17.6 pounds
  • Weight: 7.2 ounces

Cheap but able to perform, you won’t find a better budget baitcaster reel than the KastKing Royale Legend GT.

As you can see from the listed features, it has sufficient bearings to run smoothly, enough drag for the whole range of bass, and it’s a pretty lightweight reel at 7.2 ounces.

While this might not be very impressive when compared to the higher-end reels, keep in mind that you’re paying less than 40 bucks.

Of course, it comes with the usual casting reel drawback of incompatibility with lighter lines and lures. Still, you’re getting a ton of value at this price.

When you’re on a tight budget, the KastKing Royale Legend GT is exactly what you need. For the price of a few cups of coffee, you’ll have yourself a well-functioning baitcast reel.


Best Budget Power

9. Piscifun Torrent

  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Reel Size: 1000
  • Gear Ratio: 5.3-7.1:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 18 pounds
  • Weight: 8 ounces

Another extremely affordable reel, the Piscifun Torrent is a great alternative to the Royale Legend GT.

Users of the Piscifun Torrent will appreciate its strength and casting prowess. It’s nowhere near what you’ll get with the more expensive baitcasting reels, but compared to the Royale Legend GT, you’ll be able to use lines and lures that are a little lighter and you’ll have a tad more drag.

Do note that you’ll need to lubricate this reel right out of the box though. If that isn’t an issue, this just might be the reel for you.


Best Power

10. Abu Garcia Revo SX

  • Ball Bearings: 9+1
  • Reel Size: 1000
  • Gear Ratio: 6.6-7.3:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 24 pounds
  • Weight: 7.8 ounces

Last on the list, the Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Reel boasts the most powerful drag thus far.

If you recall from earlier, you’ll need 15 pounds of drag for bass fishing. Well, the Abu Garcia Revo SX offers so much drag that you can even take it musky fishing. This means you can target a much wider variety of fishes.

Clearly, power is the main focus of this reel. However, you can tell that it doesn’t neglect other aspects from the 9+1 stainless steel ball bearings that give it amazing smoothness.

The only problem with this reel is that the sideplate button is positioned such that it’s easy to click it by accident while casting.

All things considered though, if you want a powerful baitcast reel, you could do a lot worse than the Abu Garcia Revo SX.


Baitcasting VS Spinning Reels

If you’re here, it probably means you want a baitcasting reel. 

In case you still aren’t sure whether to get a baitcasting or spinning reel though, here are the differences between them.

Casting Accuracy

First off, baitcasters offer a lot more casting accuracy than spinning reels.

Unlike spinning reels, with casting reels, your spool spins freely. By using your thumb as the brake, it’s possible to control the outgoing line with pinpoint accuracy.

Lures

As you may have noticed, baitcasters work way better with heavier lures. On the other hand, spinning reels are more suitable for lighter lures. 

While it isn’t always the case, more often than not, you’ll be casting big baits further with a baitcasting reel and light lures further with a spinning reel.

Line Pound Test

Similar to lures, heavier lines (above 10-pound test) tend to be more compatible with baitcasting reels. Lighter lines (below 10-pound test) usually work better with spinning reels.

Ease Of Use

At this point, it seems obvious that if one wants to fish heavier lines and lures, baitcasters are the obvious choice.

However, the final factor to consider is ease of use. As the only brake you’ll have on your baitcasting reel is your thumb, it’s a lot harder to use properly. 

Many beginners have gone home empty-handed when fishing with a baitcasting reel for the first time. 

Once you’ve mastered using baitcasting reels though, your fishing trips will be much more bountiful. Even though it may be hard, you’ll be able to take your fishing game to the next level once you’re able to use baitcasters.

How to pick a good baitcasting reel

Alright, if you’re still here, great! That means you’ve decided that you do indeed want a baitcasting reel. 

In that case, the next step is to pick the right one. This section will teach you what to look for in a baitcasting reel.

Reel Size

Baitcasting reel sizes are presented slightly differently from spinning reels. 

Normally, reel sizes are presented as multiples of 10 or 1000, such as size 20 or size 2000. However, baitcasting reel sizes are usually given in multiples of 100, like 300 or 400. This means if you see a reel size 50, while it would typically be a size 5000 reel, in this case, it would be a size 500 reel.

As for what reel size you should get, while baitcasting reels range from size 500-4000, you’ll see most anglers using a size 1000.

I recommend getting reel size 1000-2000 because that covers almost every baitcasting reel application. If you’re fishing for huge bass or just much bigger game in general, you should go for a size 2000 reel. Otherwise, like most bass anglers, a size 1000-1500 reel will serve all your needs.

Ball Bearings

Ball bearings reduce friction and keep your reel spinning smoothly. The more you have, the smoother your reel will be.

That said, for a smooth casting reel, 5+1 bearings is enough. From 5+1 onwards, each ball bearing will only increase smoothness by a small margin. 

Coincidentally, all the reels on this list have 5+1 or more bearings, so smoothness won’t be much of a concern.

Also, for those wondering, there’s always a +1 in the number of bearings because that’s the roller bearing.

Drag System

The drag system in a reel is the steel plates that prevent line from coming out.

Naturally, the heavier you set the drag, the stronger a fish will need to be to overcome it. Once the fish’s pull exceeds the drag, your spool will release the line. This is to prevent your line from snapping.

You’ll want to set the drag to 1/3 or 1/4 of your line’s pound test. So let’s say you’re using a 24-pound line, your drag should be set to 6 or 8 pounds.

When choosing a baitcasting reel, you should look out for a max drag weight of ideally 15 pounds and above. That’s the amount of drag you’ll need to take on the largest bass.

Gear Ratio

Gear ratios are measures of how many times your spool turns for each turn of the handle. This matters because higher gear ratios allow you to retrieve more line for each turn. In other words, a higher gear ratio translates to less effort in retrieval.

For baitcasters, 5:1 is one of the slower gear ratios while 7:1 is one of the faster gear ratios. 

You should consider the lures you’ll be using when deciding on your reels’ gear ratios. Lures that require faster retrieves will call for higher gear ratios and vice versa for slower lures. 

I recommend getting a 6:1 gear ratio so that you can fish both slow and fast lures.

Material

Most reels will be constructed from either graphite or anodized aluminum. 

The difference between the two materials is that graphite will be lighter while anodized aluminum will be tougher.

For those having difficulty choosing, consider this. A graphite spool will be lighter but less strong, while an anodized aluminum spool will be heavier but sturdier.

FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about baitcasting reels.

Are baitcasting reels better for saltwater fishing?

Baitcasting reels are meant for heavier tackle. Since you’ll meet bigger fishes in saltwater fishing, baitcasting reels actually tend to be better than spinning reels for saltwater. Nonetheless, you can still use them for bigger fish in freshwater fishing.

Is a magnetic braking system or centrifugal braking system better for baitcasting reels?

It depends. 

When choosing your brake system, the main choice is between constant casting range and better casting against conditions that require deceleration, like casting against wind. A magnetic brake system will allow your lure to be cast at higher speeds initially before slowing down. A centrifugal brake system will allow you to cast more consistent distances.

This means you’ll need to consider your fishing style and fishing techniques and decide for yourself which braking system is better for you.

How heavy is heavy for a baitcasting reel?

First off, even the best casting reel will feel heavy if it’s a new baitcasting reel that’s heavier than your previous reel. That said, there is a certain reel weight that’s considered heavy to most anglers. 

Since baitcasting reels tend to be heavier, I’d say if your reel weighs less than 10 ounces, it should be fine. I’d consider anything more than that to be too heavy to use.

Can you use spinning gear for bass?

As mentioned above, spinning fishing gear tends to work better with lighter lines and lures. This means you can and should use a spinning rod and spinning reel if you intend to fish exclusively for smaller bass.

My Verdict

To reiterate, a considerable percentage of baitcasting reels are unable to cast far with light lines and lures. But not all baitcasters were created equal.

The reels on this list are the best reels on the market and are a cut above the rest so you can rest assured they won’t give you those problems. 

For those who still can’t make up their minds, you can’t go wrong with the 13 Fishing Concept A. It’s sturdy, smooth, lightweight, and won’t break the bank.

If that didn’t float your boat, there’re plenty of other reels on the list to fit your budget. I hope you find one that you like. 

On a side note, chances are, you’re a bass angler who’s getting a baitcasting reel because you’ve heard that professional bass anglers recommend using baitcasting reels. Unfortunately for those looking for baitcasting rods, I couldn’t find a good baitcasting rod and reel combo to include. That’s why I compiled this list of the best bass fishing rods.

All the best!

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AUTHOR

Reuben went on his first fishing trip when he was 9. That's when he fell in love with fishing. When he's not fishing, he's searching for new gear and ways to fish better.