12 Best Baitcasting Reels Reviewed

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Best Baitcasting Reels

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

Over countless casts and many a sunrise, I’ve tested a myriad of baitcasting reels. I’ve felt every nuance and tweak in their mechanics. This has not only sharpened my skills but also introduced me to some remarkable pieces of fishing gear.

From the robust workhorses to the budget-friendly starters, I’ve seen it all. And I whittled down my list to the top performers.

Each reel has its moment to shine, but it’s the Daiwa Zillion SV TW G that consistently stands out. It’s the reel that seamlessly blends performance, innovation and reliability. It’s perfect for anglers ready to take their technique to the next level.

But I get it, not everyone’s looking for the same features or has the same budget. That’s why this roundup covers a range of options to suit different preferences and price points.

So, let’s cast off into the details and find which baitcasting reel is right for you.

Our Top 12 Picks

  1. Daiwa Zillion SV TW G (Best Overall)
  2. Abu Garcia Revo Rocket LP (Best Retrieval Speed)
  3. Lew’s Pro-ti SLP (Best Splurge)
  4. Abu Garcia Revo Max STX (Best Budget)
  5. Daiwa Tatula Sv TWS (Best For Distance Casting)
  6. Shimano Curado MGL 150 Hg (Best Workhorse)
  7. Shimano Curado 300K (Best For Swimbaits)
  8. Piscifun Torrent (Best Budget Power)
  9. 13 Fishing Concept C2 (Best Versatility)
  10. ProFishiency Krazy (Best For Beginners)
  11. Ark Gravity G7 (Best Innovation)
  12. Penn Fathom (Best For Jigging)

Why Choose A Baitcasting Reel?

When you’re after both precision and power, a baitcasting reel is what you need.

I personally turn to a baitcaster when I’m targeting bass in heavy cover. It gives me the control to place my lure exactly where I need it. And when it comes to fighting and landing those aggressive strikes, the torque and leverage I get from a baitcasting setup are unmatched.

For those new to the game, here’s the scoop: baitcasting reels sit atop the rod. That means the line comes off directly in line with your rod. This reduces line twist and gives you a direct line to the lure. The result? Greater accuracy and a significant increase in casting distance.

If you’re wondering, “Is this reel too much for me?” — not necessarily. Sure, it takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, the control is game-changing.

Imagine flicking lures exactly where you want them. That’s what a baitcaster brings to the table. It nails those spots that spinning reels can’t touch. That’s the baitcasting difference.

Buying Guide

Selecting the right baitcasting reel can feel like you’re trying to pick a needle out of a tackle box. But worry not; let’s break down the essentials that make a reel worth your cast.

Smoothness of Retrieve

Nothing beats a silky-smooth retrieve. It’s the difference between fighting the fish and fighting your gear.

I personally look for reels with high-quality ball bearings — the more, the merrier, usually starting at five. These little rollers reduce friction, making each retrieve as smooth as butter.

Castability

A reel that casts smoothly is a gem. Aim for models with adjustable braking systems — they help minimize the dreaded backlash. Magnetic or centrifugal? I’ve used both and found that a good magnetic brake is a beginner’s best friend for easy adjustments.

Line Management

Line twist is a no-go. A baitcasting reel with a consistent and even line lay is essential for avoiding those bird nests.

Look for a reel with a good tension knob — it’ll keep your line tight and right.

Gear Ratio

Quick retrieves or power cranking? Gear ratio decides.

A 7.1:1 ratio reel whips line back in a flash — perfect for quick lures. For more grunt, I’d go with something like a 5.4:1, especially when I’m pulling in those stubborn swimmers.

Comfort

If it feels clunky, put it back. A reel should be an extension of your arm. Compact, ergonomic handles and a palmable grip are what I look for — they make casting all day a breeze.

Frame Durability

The battle with the beast below can test any reel’s mettle. An aluminum frame offers strength without the arm-aching heft. Go for one that balances ruggedness with lightweight ease.

Price

At last, the old classic divider. The sweet spot here is a reel that doesn’t make your wallet weep but still performs like a champ. There’s no need to break the bank, but investing a few extra bucks can mean a world of difference in quality and durability.

Keep it tight and your reels tighter. With these pointers, you’ll have the reel deal in no time.

The 12 Reels

There’s plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to baitcasting reels.

Here’s my rundown of the absolute best in the market right now.


Best Overall

1. Daiwa Zillion SV TW G

  • Ball Bearings: 8+1
  • Gear Ratio: 6.3:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 11 pounds
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces

Starting off strong, we’ve got the Daiwa Zillion SV TW G.

I’ve had this one for over 5 years and it’s honestly one of my favorites. It’s comfortable, light, but still packs a ton of power.

The first thing you’ll notice is how it turns each retrieve into a smooth gesture. Just like skipping a stone over calm water. Its 9 ball bearings system works beautifully, and the moderate gear ratio of 6.3:1 strikes a perfect balance between speed and torque.

The star of the show is undoubtedly the Air Brake System though. This feature actively minimizes the dreaded backlash. It’s a real advancement for those perfecting their cast, delivering the kind of precision that can truly refine your technique.

Now, while this reel is on the pricier side, it’s a classic case of “getting what you pay for”. The construction quality speaks volumes about its durability and long-term performance, making it a reel that lasts season after season.

The T-Wing System is not to be overlooked either. It is Daiwa’s unique answer to the casting distance dilemma. By reducing line friction, it extends your casting range without extra effort, which can make ALL the difference. Especially when aiming for those hard-to-reach spots!

The Zillion isn’t just another reel; it’s an investment in your angling arsenal. It’s built to endure, crafted for precision, and designed for anglers who take their time on the water seriously.

Gear up, cast out, and watch as it turns your next catch into the catch of the day.


Best Retrieval Speed

2. Abu Garcia Revo Rocket LP

  • Ball Bearings: 10+1
  • Gear Ratio: 10.1:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 18 pounds
  • Weight: 7.5 ounces

This next reel is one you might’ve heard me talk about in other articles…

Say hello to the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket LP. If speed is your need, the Revo Rocket feels like having a sports car on your fishing rod.

Boasting an ultra-fast gear ratio of 10.1:1, this beast turns retrieval into an art form. It pulls in an impressive 41 inches of line with a single handle turn.

Techniques like flipping and pitching? It handles them with the urgency of a sprinter off the blocks. Burning baits across the surface? It’s a blur of efficiency.

With its lightweight aluminum frame, it’s a solid piece of engineering that promises endurance without the bulk. And that ergonomic handle? It’s like shaking hands with comfort itself.

It may be a tad heavier than its peers, but that’s the trade-off for unrivaled speed and power.

Now, I won’t dance around the price — it’s a high-end reel with a tag to match. But for anglers who thrive on quick casts and rapid retrieves, the investment is a no-brainer.

Abu Garcia is a name that I recognize since I first headed out into the water.. And that was over 20 years ago.

The Revo Rocket is no doubt a specialized tool. But if your fishing style is fast and furious, this is the reel you need.


Best Splurge

3. Lew’s Pro-Ti SLP

  • Ball Bearings: 10+1
  • Gear Ratio: 7.5:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 20 pounds
  • Weight: 9.6 ounces

The Lew’s Pro-Ti SLP isn’t just a baitcasting reel. It’s the Rolls Royce of baitcasters—and it comes with all the luxury features you’d expect from a top-of-the-line model.

This was the first Lew’s I’ve ever tried. I bought it after hearing a friend talk about it, and this thing does not disappoint.

It’s so incredibly smooth and effortless to cast or reel. And the amount of adjustment and fine-tuning you get to fit your desire is amazing. Better than any other reel.

With a one-piece aluminum frame, this fortress is as sturdy as it is lightweight. I’ve taken it out on the water, and it feels like it could survive a shark attack.

Lew’s Multi-Setting Brake system is like having a fishing coach built into your reel. Whether you’re throwing light lures on a calm morning or battling the winds with heavier tackle, a quick tweak to the dual cast control sets you up for success.

And let’s talk gears – the hard-anodized aluminum speed gears are tough as nails. They’ve got you covered whether you’re pulling in a feisty bass or a deep-dwelling monster. Plus, with a titanium-coated line guide, say goodbye to wear and tear on that line.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. It’s a splurge for sure. But for those who live and breathe angling, it’s a worthwhile investment. Think of it as buying peace of mind; this reel will stand by you for seasons to come.

Color options are slim, and the gear ratio isn’t built for speed demons, but what the Pro-Ti lacks in variety, it makes up for in sheer performance and resilience.

It’s not about having a reel that does the job; it’s about owning one that redefines it.


Best Budget

4. Abu Garcia Revo Max STX

  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Gear Ratio: 6.4:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 15 pounds
  • Weight: 7.3 ounces

Up next, the Abu Garcia Revo Max STX slides into the spotlight with a performance that can only be described as smooth yet powerful.

With its carbon matrix drag system and Infini brake system, every cast feels like a controlled launch. Every retrieve is as satisfying as reeling in a prize catch.

The Duragear brass gear ensures durability and long-lasting life on the water. It’s the kind of reel that quickly becomes a trusty sidekick.

And trust me, it’s hard to find a reel with a flipping switch these days! A mechanism that allows you to engage the reel by simply releasing the thumb bar. For those quick, one-handed casts, it’s a convenience that’ll have you flipping with joy.

But no reel is without its quirks. I’ve heard whispers about the sideplate playing hard to get upon reassembly. And a spool tension knob that might want to wander.

To be honest, I didn’t experience this, but I haven’t used it for too long yet. They also seem like minor hiccups in what is otherwise a stellar performance.

Price-wise, the Revo Max STX doesn’t play hardball. It’s positioned as a budget-friendly option, yet it doesn’t skimp on features or functionality.

The Abu Garcia Revo Max STX proves that you don’t need to empty your wallet for quality. It’s a reel that offers versatility and a level of performance that punches above its weight class.


Best For Distance Casting

5. Daiwa Tatula Sv TWS

  • Ball Bearings: 7+1
  • Gear Ratio: 6.3:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 13.2 pounds
  • Weight: 7.2 ounces

The Daiwa Tatula Sv TWS is like the long-distance runner of baitcasting reels—built for endurance and covering ground. Or in this case, water.

Its SV spool and TWS line guide are the kind of dynamic duo that reduces friction and practically says goodbye to backlash. They let you cast to the horizon without asking too many questions.

This reel’s ergonomic design is a real wrist-saver. It feels right at home in your palm, with a handle and star drag that make for comfortable, all-day casting.

The magnetic brake system is fantastic as well. Sort of like having a co-pilot, making mid-flight adjustments a breeze. The high-quality bearings ensure your operation is more stealth bomber, less cargo plane.

Sure it’s not the lightest reel you’ll hold, and if salty seas are your playground, it’ll need some TLC to keep it spick and span. But that’s a small trade-off for the distance and precision it offers.

The Daiwa Tatula Sv TWS isn’t just a reel; it’s a casting coach, a precision instrument, and a testament to Daiwa’s commitment to innovation.

Ideal for freshwater aficionados targeting the likes of bass and pike, it’s a reel that respects your need for distance and accuracy.


Best Workhorse

6. Shimano Curado MGL 150 Hg

  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 13 pounds
  • Weight: 6.5 ounces

Coming up next, we’ll look into the Shimano Curado MGL 150 H.

I’ve dubbed it the ‘Best Workhorse’ because it’s the kind of reel that doesn’t shy away from regular use and versatile challenges. Your reliable day-in, day-out fishing partner. 

What grabs your attention first is the MGL (MagnumLite) spool. It’s like the nimble athlete of spools – lighter and more responsive. This translates to casting that feels both effortless and accurate, particularly with lighter lures and baits that demand a delicate touch.

Now, it’s not the Hercules of reels with its max drag weight, and some anglers might find the drag system a tad less silky than they’d like. But let’s not miss the forest for the trees; this reel is about consistent performance, not just brute strength.

What really sets the Curado MGL 150 Hg apart is its Silent Tune technology. Imagine casting without that high-speed spool whir – it’s music to an angler’s ears. This feature not only ups the reel’s performance, but also makes each fishing trip more pleasant.

The Shimano Curado MGL 150 Hg strikes a sweet spot. It’s not the most budget-friendly, nor does it boast the highest power, but what it offers is solid, all-around performance.

It’s like the reliable 4×4 of baitcasting reels, ready for various techniques and situations. It might not break records, but it’ll certainly help break your personal bests.


Best For Swimbaits

7. Shimano Curado 300K

  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Gear Ratio: 6.6:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 18 pounds
  • Weight: 10.4 ounces

Next up is a favorite for anglers aiming to land the heavy hitters of the deep. The Shimano Curado 300K is a reel that’s made a splash in the baitcasting community for all the right reasons.

First off, a notable highlight is the generous line capacity paired with a robust build. It’s a go-to for targeting larger species that demand more line and resilience from your gear.

What truly sets it apart though, is its unique combination of power and smoothness. This reel is designed to handle heavy loads without sacrificing finesse and control.

Anglers rave about the durability and the ease of casting and retrieving with the Curado 300K. Its versatility shines, whether you’re flipping jigs or throwing big swimbaits. Just note that it might take a bit of tuning to get the cast control just right, especially in windy conditions.

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’re planning to cast all day, as it’s quite heavy. But that’s exactly what you want when working with swimbaits. The heft provides stability and balance when casting those sizable lures.

The Shimano Curado 300K stands out in the world of baitcasting reels by marrying heavy-duty performance with the refined technology Shimano is known for.

This is a beast of a reel that doesn’t just fight the big fight, but wins it with grace.


Best Budget Power

8. Piscifun Torrent

  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Gear Ratio: 7.1:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 18 pounds
  • Weight: 8 ounces

I’ve been reeling in with the Piscifun Torrent for a solid season now, and it’s quickly earned its place in my tackle box. It’s the kind of reel that feels like it should cost a lot more. It’s sturdy, reliable, and has a surprising amount of oomph.

Right out of the gate, you’ll feel the smoothness. Each crank is like a hot knife through butter, thanks to those 5+1 ball bearings. The gear ratio of 7.1:1 allows you to pull in line fast enough to keep up with the quickest strikes.

That said, the true MVP feature here is the brass gear paired with the carbon fiber drag system, though. It’s like having a linebacker’s strength in your hands. It’s robust and ready to tussle with the biggest of fish. It doesn’t flinch!

Now, it’s not without its quirks. The Torrent is designed for muscle, not the finesse of fly fishing. It’s a bit noisier and may take some fiddling to dial in just right. But when it’s battle time? This reel is your front-line general.

What’s truly impressive is how Piscifun delivers such quality at a wallet-friendly price. It’s like finding a hidden gem in a market full of high-priced stones. You’re getting the performance that rivals the big names, leaving enough cash to splurge on lures.


Best Versatility

9. 13 Fishing Concept C2

  • Ball Bearings: 8+1
  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 25 pounds
  • Weight: 5.9 ounces

I bought the previous version of this model a while back. I decided to upgrade for the sake of giving you an updated account.

And boy, oh boy. If the other one was already great, this is even better.

It’s so light, it feels like an extension of my arm, not just another piece of gear. The lightness is a blessing during those marathon fishing sessions – no more aching wrists or tired arms.

The Bulldog Drag System is what takes it home, though. It’s robust, providing enough heft to haul in the big ones from their lairs. When you’ve got a lunker on the line, this system gives you the confidence to win the tug of war.

Now, let’s talk about the Beetle Wing Rapid Access Side Plate. This design is pure genius and uniquely 13 Fishing. No more worrying about dropping and losing side plates in the heat of the moment. Accessing the brakes is a breeze, making on-the-fly adjustments a walk in the park.

However, if you’re new to baitcasting, there’s a bit of a learning curve. The braking system, with its 7-position centrifugal dial, can be tricky at first.

This is a reel that takes some getting used to, but once you’ve got it dialed in, it’s precision casting at its best.


Best For Beginners

10. ProFishiency Krazy

  • Ball Bearings: 9+1
  • Gear Ratio: 6.6:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 20 pounds
  • Weight: 10.5 ounces

As someone who has mentored many a rookie angler, the ProFishiency Krazy has been my go-to recommendation for those just dipping their toes into the baitcasting world.

Its greatest draw is accessibility. Undeniably. Priced like it’s still on a Black Friday sale, this reel is a beginner’s dream without the nightmare of emptied pockets.

The ProFishiency Krazy doesn’t intimidate newbies with overly complex features either. Its gear ratio is mellow, making learning the baitcasting rhythm as calming as morning tides. And the drag is forgiving, which allows for a learning curve without the worry of losing the big one.

But let’s keep it real. If you’ve been around the block, this reel might feel like riding a bike with training wheels. It’s not crafted for the herculean task of wrangling trophy fish. But it’s also not trying to be.

What’s really fun about the Krazy is its splash of color in a sea of monotone reels. It’s like it doesn’t just want to fish; it wants to be seen doing it. This isn’t just a reel; it’s a statement piece!

In essence, the ProFishiency Krazy is the starting block for the budding angler. It’s saying, “Start here, and who knows where you’ll go?”.

If you’re ready to take the first step into the baitcasting journey, this reel is your willing partner.


Best Innovation

11. Ark Gravity G7

  • Ball Bearings: 10+1
  • Gear Ratio: 8.1:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 12 pounds
  • Weight: 7 ounces

Innovation in the fishing world is often a slow reel, but the Ark Gravity G7 has burst onto the scene, turning heads and winning its title.

With its patent-pending Gravity Control System, this reel is at the forefront of cast control technology. This system isn’t just new; it’s revolutionary.

By adjusting the magnetic field on the fly, you get unprecedented control over your cast. It’s like having a dial for wind conditions, lure weight, and personal preference. With up to 60 different settings, it’s the Swiss Army knife of tunability.

Now, all this innovation does come at a price, placing the Gravity G7 at a higher shelf. It’s not for the angler who’s watching their wallet as closely as their line.

But what sets the Gravity G7 apart is not just the Gravity Control System; it’s the build quality. Reinforced Brass Gear for robust performance, Carbon Fiber Side Plate for durability—it’s designed to endure. This reel isn’t just an innovative leap; it’s a long-term investment in your fishing arsenal.

If you’re looking to be at the cutting edge of baitcasting technology, and to cast further with more precision and control than ever before, look no further.


Best For Jigging

12. Penn Fathom

  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Gear Ratio: 7.3:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 30 pounds
  • Weight: 9.2 ounces

Our next baitcasting reel is soft, yet strong. Just how I like ‘em!

This thing can handle big fish like it’s nothing. When it comes to heavy-duty performance, the Penn Fathom stands out as a titan.

It’s built like a tank, with a full-metal body and side plates that can take a beating while jigging, trolling, or going after the big ones.

With Fathom, it’s all about muscle and might. The Fathom’s calling card is its Herculean 30-pound max drag weight. This reel doesn’t just handle big fish; it tames them.

But here’s the thing: this reel has heft. At 9.2 ounces, it’s nowhere near lightweight. It’s the reel you bring when you need to stand firm against the ocean’s brutes, not when you’re looking for a casual day casting from the shore.

The star feature is the Versa-Drag system. It’s like having a customizable clutch for your fishing needs, giving you the power to adjust drag pressure on the fly. That means whether you’re after speedsters or bottom dwellers, the Fathom has got your back.

And for those who love precision, the line capacity rings are a godsend. No more guessing games on how much line you have out there; a quick glance gives you the intel you need.

The Penn Fathom is built for the angler who doesn’t back down from a challenge, who needs a reel as resilient as their spirit. 

So, if you’re ready to take on the deep and the strong, the Penn Fathom is your steadfast ally. Cast it, crank it, and let it prove its mettle.


Baitcaster Comparison Chart

Daiwa Zillion SV TW GAbu Garcia Revo Rocket LPLew’s Pro-ti SLPAbu Garcia Revo Max STXDaiwa Tatula Sv TWSShimano Curado MGL 150 HgShimano Curado 300KPiscifun Torrent13 Fishing Concept C2ProFishiency KrazyArk Gravity G7Penn Fathom
Ball Bearings8+110+110+16+17+16+15+15+18+19+110+16+1
Gear Ratio6.310.17.56.46.36.26.67.15.66.68.17.3
Max Drag Weight (pounds)1118201513.213181825201230
Weight (ounces)6.77.59.67.37.26.510.485.910.579.2

FAQs

In this section, I go over some of the most common questions about baitcasting reels, along with all the answers you might need.

What’s the difference between a baitcasting reel and a spinning reel?

A baitcasting reel sits on top of your rod, the spool rotating as you cast. It demands precision and practice to master. Kind of like driving a manual car – more control, and you need to know how to work the gears.

The spinning reel, however, is the friendly neighbor that’s always easy to chat with. It hangs out under the rod, the spool staying put while a bail whips the line out. It’s simpler to use, great for lighter lines and lures, and it’s the go-to for many newbies casting their first line.

Are baitcasters good for beginner anglers?

For rookies, baitcasters are tough teachers: a little complex, but great for learning precision. They’re not the usual first choice due to their learning curve, but they excel in teaching new anglers the art of accurate casting and fighting larger fish.

It’s just like jumping into the deep end, but hey, that’s where the big fish are.

Which reel is a good all around bass baitcaster?

If you’re looking for a robust reel that can handle the diverse demands of bass fishing, the Shimano Curado MGL 150 Hg is a top-tier choice. Its smoothness and durability stand up to the task, and its construction doesn’t sacrifice sensitivity. Not one bit.

My Verdict

That’s a wrap, folks.

The journey through the world of baitcasting reels is as diverse as it is exciting. From the precision artistry of the cast to the adrenaline rush of the catch, the right reel transforms your experience on the water.

Sharing these finds with you has been an absolute pleasure. I know the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming, especially for those just starting to navigate these waters.

If decision fatigue is setting in, you can’t go wrong with the Daiwa Zillion SV TW G. It’s the reel that I’d keep reaching for, whether prepping for a tournament or just a casual day at the lake.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. Here’s to tight lines and the perfect cast, every time. 

Happy fishing!

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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.