Baitcasting reels can be the best investment you decide to make for your fishing adventures – however, many anglers shy away from it due to certain fears they may hold. Among these fears is the dreaded ‘bird’s nest’ that makes anglers become reluctant to give the reel a try.
However, when you decide to invest in these reels, they will serve you well. They are a necessary tool for all those that love fishing since they provide you with the chances to use specific techniques and presentations while you use a heavier line, most of which other reel types will not provide.
As long as you do some practice on them, they are easy to master, and they will do much more than spinning reels, for the record.
In this article, we look at the top ten baitcasting reels, as well as what to look for when buying one – you need all the knowledge you can get to avoid the infamous ‘buyer’s remorse’.
Best Baitcasting Reels of 2018
Abu Garcia BMAX3 low-profile bait cast reel – Best for Beginners
Giving you a chance to enjoy a maximum performance at great value for your money, the Abu Garcia BMAX3 reel is your answer to all your fishing needs.
Coming with great features that put it above many of its competitors, it continues to set the pace for bait cast reels. It serves as a great introduction to a new angler, as well as being competent enough for experienced anglers.
The reel has a power drag system, which gives it a smooth drag even for the hard-pulling fish that are difficult to tame. Your grip is enhanced further because of the recessed reel foot as well as the low-profile design.
It is easy to cast using this reel since it comes with a MagTrax braking system – this serves to create greater levels of consistency with your casts through exerting consistent brake pressure.
In addition, the design is a winner – the sleek design and lightweight nature have graphite side plates and a one-piece graphite frame for added durability.
For the case of reliable operations, the reel has four ball bearings made of stainless steel, as well as a roller bearing to enhance its ability to retrieve effortlessly. You can also grip the handle comfortably, even for longer hours – this is due to the compact bent handle.
Pro tip: before you go fishing, it is good to watch some baitcasting videos, as this may be challenging to handle, especially for a beginner.
KastKing Royale whitemax/legend baitcasting reel – Perfect for Freshwater Fishing
The KastKing Royale offers the best for any technique of fishing you use, such as casting, pitching, flipping, and so on. Acting as a good reel for bass fishing, it markets itself as the best solution for freshwater fishing environments and accommodates braided fishing lines.
The performance is of high quality, as the low profile design has a very high speed that remains silent – with a line retrieve of 7.0:1.
The drag is high as well, thanks to the carbon fiber drag system and the precision cut brass gear structure. In fact, the drag measures up to 17.5 LBs, giving you the ultimate experience in a low maintenance reel package.
The reel itself has a durable structure due to the shielded MaxiDur corrosion resistant ball (made up of 11 + 1 ball bearings). These also work to enhance the casting ability, the shelf life of your reel, and its retrieving ability.
In the case of the performance aspect, you do not need to worry too much – the reel is tournament-ready in its structure. It comes with high-quality dual brakes, which you can control quickly and easily through the magnetic braking system and reliable, easy to fine-tune the centrifugal system.
All this is contained in the lightweight reel, which still retains its strength, thanks to the two-color spool that is made from anodized aluminum in a whiffle style.
Pro tip: if the reel has a grinding sound due to insufficient oiling, take the spool out and apply some grease in the dog gear.
Abu Garcia pro max fishing reel – Best Choice Under $100
Having the advantages of smooth casts as well as accurate manufacturing this bait cast fishing reel offers a professional performance that many professional anglers want. Even if it does not have numerous features, it remains a reliable choice to go for.
Thanks to its MagTrax braking system, it gives you a highly accurate cast ability that you can customize to fit your needs as you fish. The system exerts brake pressure at consistent levels, which improves your accuracy and casting range.
In addition, the Power Disk drag system gives the reel the smooth drag that get needs to tame any stubborn fish. Smoothness is enhanced further thanks to the seven stainless steel ball bearings, as well as one roller bearing.
The reel has a smooth design, and the durability is due to the overall structure, comprised of a one-piece graphite frame, a CNC machined double-anodized aluminum spool and graphite side plates. Thanks to the lightweight design and the recessed reel foot, the bait cast reel can handle long fishing days, and you can also handle it for longer periods comfortably.
Lew’s fishing tournament MB cast reel – Best Under $150
The MB series has long been associated with bigger reels, but the Lew’s baitcasting reel that uses the LFS platform ensures that the series is new getting reels that are lightweight and smaller in their profile. In fact, the reel only weighs 6.7 oz., making it a viable option for those who are looking to fish for long periods.
The reel does not have a ton of features, but one that sets it apart from the competition is the Multi-Setting Brake (MSB) system, which features a centrifugal braking system as well as a magnetic casting control – making the reel easier to control on your end.
The gear ratio is 5.6:1, while the beatings are nine ball bearings and one round bearing. Overall, it is an excellent bait cast reel if you have crankbaits, as long as the reel has ratios of slower retrievers.
Pro tip: when you are setting up the reel, tighten the drag for the spool by the winder. This will reduce any instances of tightness within the drag, and make the bait cast reel easier to use even in rough water.
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur S round reel – Best Choice for the Money
This bait cast reel proves to be a performer since it has many features – all at a great price range. Featuring the timeless round reel design, it has a two ball bearing as well as a multi-disc drag that allows you to fish comfortably for the whole day.
The multi-disc drag system allows for smoother drags, regardless of the drag range, and this is enhanced further thanks to the one roller bearing. The reel is able to give consistent braking pressure throughout the cast since it features a four-pin centrifugal brake. This feature also helps to improve the accuracy of your casts.
The reel features a better line lay, due to having a synchronized level wind and its multi-disk system. The handle is also comfortable to handle because of the competent bent handle and star.
Shimano Curado bait cast reel – Perfect Product Under $200
If you are searching for a fishing reel that can change your fishing game immensely, then this may be your answer. Its construction is of high quality, as it is in a rigid metal Hagane body that guarantees high impact resistance and ensures durability.
The low profile design is helpful in giving you a smoother cast and retrieving ability. It utilizes the patented Shimano Stable Spool Design technology, which gives a thin wall throughout the structure and reduces chances of vibration within the gears.
In addition, the SVS infinity technology gives you greater levels of control – this is through use of brake weights, which generate internal friction in the spool control while you cast, mostly in the case of using higher lures.
You can adjust the friction when you need to, due to the outer knob – for instance, when you change your bait or when conditions change.
The Metal Hagane body is strong and rigid enough to give greater levels of cranking power and reduce flexing, while the Super Free Spool removes friction from the spool shaft while you cast.
The reel features a ball bearing, which supports the pinion gear – helping to keep the spool gear and shaft aligned at all times, even when you disengage the clutch.
The design features a one-piece frame (HEG design) that has an integrated set plate, larger drive, one-piece stamped side plate, as well as pinion gears. All these work to remove drivetrain flexing and improves your leverage and power.
Durability and efficiency in operation are further improved by the S A-RB bearing shields, which stop any sand or salt from entering the gears and interfering with rotation. The ball bearings are one roller bearing, and five ball bearings (7.2:1 ratio).
Daiwa Tatula bait cast reel – Good for Light Tackle
Many people know the Daiwa Tatula reels because of their repute in meeting the need for performance and durability for the professional angler. This specific bait cast reel features a rugged gear train, which is supported completely by the rigid aluminum housing.
Durability is improved even more thanks to the unique hybrid design of the level wind, which combines the casting performance of the Daiwas T-Wing aperture and the durability of standard level winds.
You do not need to worry about the comfort of this reel – the handle has both an ergonomic design (I-shape handle knob) that allows you to handle it all day, while the casting ability is unmistakable due to the accuracy of your casts.
The reel has seven ball bearings and one roller bearing, and it also comes with an anti-reverse corrosion resistant clutch mechanism. In addition, the air rotation capacity of this reel is high, but the design remains lightweight due to the 90mm power handle that has cutouts to reduce the weight.
The drag is smoother as well since the reel has Magforce-Z technology to enhance your casting control, as well as UTD (Ultimate Tournament carbon Drag), with limits of 13.2 lbs. maximum drag. The gear ratio is 5.4:1.
KastKing Spartacus plus baitcasting reel – Best Under $50
You may wonder what the name has to do with the efficiency of this reel – but it still packs a punch in its operations – it has the dynamic features that anglers want and need when you are attempting to reach your personal bests, some which are newer to the series.
The micro-cast dual magnetic and centrifugal brakes will give you an exceptional performance. In addition to that, the reel is a strong contender for your heavy fishing trips, as it comes with a carbon fiber drag with a stopping power of 17.5 Lbs.
Its operation is very smooth, thanks to the superior shielded 11 + 1 ball bearings that are resistant to corrosion, while enhanced further by the CNC machined aluminum spool, giving smoother casts overall.
The instant stop anti-reverse mechanism gives devastating and powerful hook sets, while the strong precision matched brass gears and ceramic guideline inserts help your casting experience efficiency and accuracy.
The gear ratio of 6.3:1 gives you a reel that is exceptional in tackling and increases your chances of catching some fish, with the rubber handle knobs having KastKing logo make the gear comfortable to handle, even for longer periods. You can even handle it comfortably regardless of your dominant hand since it has a dual-handle design.
Entsport classic cast reel – Best for Saltwater Fishing
Acting as the best bait cast reel for saltwater fishing, its composite body, and side covers are constructed from high-density titanium alloy to ensure durability and enhanced toughness. In fact, the side cover has a one push-button locking system that ensures easier adjustments and removal and reduces the chances of side covers getting loose.
The spool is comprised of CNC machined aluminum and has a large line capacity, while the main gear is comprised of high strength brass.
These enhance the durability of the build, increase your drag power and improve the speed of cast, while the ceramic insert line guide prevents any damage to the line you are using, no matter what it is.
The gear ratio is 6.3:1, which is high speed for a bait cast reel. The ten ball bearings are stainless steel, while there is also a one super stopper roller bearing (Anti-reverse), to improve the smoothness of your casts.
For additional efficiency, the reel has a very reliable braking system that utilizes magnetic brakes, which have a conveniently placed external multi-level cast control that you can easily adjust, and this allows for smoother casts, which you do not need to remove the side cover.
The handle itself is EVA foam with a soft grip, ensuring you still remain comfortable handling it after long hours.
Quantum Accurist PT LP – Lightweight Baitcasting Reel
This reel features a lightweight design with a compact aluminum housing, which has a nice external design (black and white graphics). It proves to not just look good, but also worth the performance.
The reel uses the internal ACS centrifugal casting control as well as magnetic settings (external), all which are easy to adjust as you require. For instance, when you are using multiple sizes of reels, or adjusting for external conditions like waves and wind.
The ball bearings are constructed from a hybrid of stainless steel and polymer, while the drag system is a ceramic based for easier, smoother operation. On the other hand, the lubrication port is easy to access just in case you need to do some touchups to your gear.
The frame of the reel is aluminum while the adjustment switch is of the flipping kind, making the reel easy to use even for a beginner.
Best Baitcasting Reel for the Money in 2018 – Buyer’s Guide
Why should you choose a baitcasting reel?
Simply put, they offer you a greater range of applications, while allowing you to spool bigger amounts of line, especially when compared to other reel types.
The design is actually better for long distance casting, even when used with heavier lures, and it gives higher rates of accuracy when you cast. This is due to better control levels of the reel, and the better control you have in a manipulation of the cast and lure.
What is a baitcasting reel?
Simply put, this is a reel that has a revolving spool, and it sits above a casting rod that has a trigger handle. This is the opposite of spinning reels since the spool is below the spinning rod and the line guides face downwards.
Here are some other types of fishing rods you need to know about:
- Casting Rods
These are also referred to as spin cast rods, and their design allows them to hold a casting reel that you will mount just above the handle.
They are the easiest type you can use, and are well-suited for beginners. This is due to their push-button line release that serves as a casting trigger, as well as an enclosed nosecone, where the reel releases the fishing line. They are also great for those on a budget, as they are the least expensive choice to go for.
They are most suited for river fishing and many types of lake fishing. In addition, their structure is stronger than spinning rods, so they can handle heavier lines and heavier cover like rocks and weeds.
- Ultra-light rods
You can know these because of their lighter lines, shorter lengths and lighter construction. You will use them to fish smaller species such as bass and trout, as well as types of pan fish (those that can fit in a frying pan). Because you are using smaller bait and lighter fishing lines, they are less likely to scare away small fish.
- Spinning rods
These are slightly different from casting rods, as the reel tends to hang under the rod instead of the top. Their use is also more technical, as you need to hold them properly using your second and third fingers and position them at the leg of the reel that connects to the rod. They are widely used for fishing trout, bass, walleye, and pike.
They have an advantage though – you can hold them using your dominant hand, so you have more control over them. You can also fish for longer periods because the weight of the reel is under the rod, so they are more comfortable. They can also cast lighter lures since the line peels off without blockage from reel spools or nosecone. They are useful for fishing in streams and inland lakes.
- Fly rods
These are specially designed to handle fly fishing. This entails casting of light lures (sometimes called artificial fly) that are joined to a weighted line. The lure has disguises that include hair, fur, bright feathers, or other materials.
These will attract the fish and the heavy line will sink when the fish bites. The size of the rod you choose will determine the size of fish you can catch – the heavier the fish, the longer your rod needs to be.
- Trolling rods
Trolling means you cast the line from moving boats and allowing the boat motion to pull the bait through the water. This is useful for the ocean and large lakes fishing. The rods tend to be stiff but have fast action.
Their construction is intended to open into a longer rod, or to collapse down to shorter lengths (similar to telescopes). They are therefore beneficial if you are a frequent traveler and want to continue your fishing experiences, as they allow you to store them in your car, backpack, bike, or crowded public transits.
They are also particularly useful in surf fishing since it needs longer rods that have lengths of up to 14 inches. You just need to take care of them by keeping the joints clean.
- Surf rods
These have greater use on the beach or other shorelines. They may look like oversize spinning rods, but with an extra feature of two long-grip handles for two-hand casts. They also tend to be longer to allow casts beyond the breaking surf where many fish tend to be, and also to add strength that holds the bottom even in rougher water.
Features to consider in a bait cast reel
Every reel has a gear ratio, and this is a simple way to describe the speed level of the reel. You will find in most bait cast reels the ratios 7.1:1, 5.4:1, and 6.4:1. These numbers indicate two things – the first number tells you the number of revolutions the spool makes for every turn that the reel handle makes.
For instance, the 7.1:1 means the spool revolves 7.1 times as the handle crank revolves once. The general rule is that the higher the ratio, the more line you can retrieve from the water using the same amount of work.
You will find the most common ratio being 6.4:1, which allows an angler to make both slow-moving presentations, as well as fast ones. Certain applications will, however, require you to use lower gear ratios or very high gear ratios. For instance, when you decide to use a buzz bait, you will need a reel with a ratio of 7.1:1. Crankbaits on the other hand, are more effective with slower gear ratios like 5.4:1.
The general rule to follow is that use higher ratios when fishing areas of smaller strike zones, since they allow the bait to return to the boat for another quick casting strike.
The braking system
Since every bait cast reel comes with a complete mechanism, braking systems are also included. They are responsible for adjusting the rotation of the spool when you are casting, so that it does not get out of hand. Otherwise, if it did not exist, you would forever be experiencing backlash (the knotted line that remains with you when the spool continues revolving, even after the lure stops moving forward).
The tension knob (the large knob on the side of the reel handle) is among the most important parts of the braking system, and it is often the first part of the offense that adjusts your spool speed. When you tighten this part, the lure falls to the ground slowly.
Once contact is made, the spool should stop its revolving immediately – the heavier the lure you are using, the tighter the tension should be, at least theoretically.
When your braking system uses centrifugal brakes, these use friction to operate. They use pins located within the side plate of the reel when adjusting for any changes. When you want to engage the brakes, you push the pins in an outward direction.
Magnetic brakes, on the other hand, have a more complex principle of operation. However, they also rely on the magnets and spool to reduce the rotation speed of the spool, and you can adjust them as well.
Regardless of the braking system your reel uses, it is important to thumb the spool correctly – at least, this will ensure you have less trouble during your casting. Your thumb will perform most of the work every time you are on the water, but you will also fine tune your reel system and the rest will work as it is supposed to.
The body of the reel will either be graphite or aluminum. Graphite is generally less costly and remains lighter in the overall weight, but it is not as durable as aluminum. The metal is used to make reels that are more high-end and durable.
Many bait cast reels will come with aluminum spools. The expensive reels have their reels comprising of forged aluminum, while the cheaper reels tend to be die-cast.
Forged aluminum is harder to scratch since it is more rigid, so it is more durable overall. Spools that have holes within them (through drilling) tend to be lighter in their weight, which makes them easier to start and stop spinning. This is what most of the baitcast reels have – even the inexpensive ones.
Here is a truth you may not know – you do not have to have more ball bearings in order to have a highly efficient bait cast reel, you just need high-quality ones.
The cheaper reels that have the so-called ‘10’ bearings tend to be of poorer quality, for instance. The words you should look for are ‘sealed bearings’, ‘double shielded’, as well as ‘shielded’ bearings. These will offer you the best performance in the game.
You will find these in either ceramic or titanium. Ceramic is less expensive (you will, therefore, find it in many bait cast reels), but it has a drawback – extended abuse makes the material break or crack. The high-end reels usually have titanium line guides, making them more long-lasting and resistant to abuse.
After studying the advantages and disadvantages of each, the Abu Garcia PMAX3 Pro is our pick, as it combines both efficiency and durability of construction to give a high-quality reel.
Among the impressive features is the SVS infinity technology that leads to greater control, while the Metal Hagane body is very good at preventing flexing and ensuring stability.