At some point in your fishing career, you’ll run across the great question for anglers who are looking to improve their performance – spinning reel or baitcasting reel. While spinning reels are great to learn on, sooner or later, you’ll need a reel that can consistently keep up with your evolving skillset – which is where the baitcasting reel comes in.
Baitcasting reels, otherwise known as “baitcasters“, are for those who want more control and precision with their casts, and those who have lots of previous experience perfecting their technique. Baitcasters are widely considered the best fishing reels over spinning reels for advanced or professional anglers because they have a higher gear ratio that gives you a faster retrieve. They can be used for larger crank baits, buzz baits, and more.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the best baitcasting reels today, highlighting their features, and some potential advantages and disadvantages of buying these reels.
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- 1 Choosing the Best Baitcasting Reel (Baitcaster) – Buying Guide
- 2 10 Best Baitcasting Reel Reviews for 2018
- 2.1 1. Shimano 200IHG Curado RH Baitcast Reel – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Abu Garcia Revo 4 Rocket – Best Saltewater Baitcasting Reel
- 2.3 3. SHIMANO Metanium MGL150 – Best Freshwater Baitcasting Reel
- 2.4 4. Lews Hyper Mag SLP – Best Lightweight Baitcaster
- 2.5 5. Okuma Komodo SS – Best Big Water Baitcaster
- 2.6 6. Diawa Tatula SVTW – Best Midrange Baitcaster
- 2.7 7. Daiwa Lexa CC Baitcast Reel – Best Baitclicker Reel
- 2.8 8. Abu Garcia Revo 3 SX – Best Baitcasting Reel for the Money
- 2.9 9. Okuma Citrix 300 – Best Beginner Baitcaster
- 2.10 10. Lews Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel – Best on the Budget
- 3 Conclusion
Choosing the Best Baitcasting Reel (Baitcaster) – Buying Guide
Before purchasing a baitcaster, there are a few differentiating factors that you should be aware of:
- The brand or manufacturer of a baitcasting reel matters a lot when you want to select the reel of your choice. Each brand will produce reels with different features that you may need or not need, depending on your style of fishing.
- Some brands have great perks like additional lifetime or multi-year warranties.
A baitcasting reel with dependable braking system will result in easy casting. There are two types of breaks found in different reels – the magnetic system and the centrifugal system.
- Magnetic system – This is the cheapest and easiest braking system to learn on, but is the least efficient in dealing with adjustments.
- Centrifugal system – More of a manual system, this offers freedom to make adjustments you may need to make in strong winds or other factors.
3. Speed, Gearing and Gears
- Choosing a reel with a good speed ratio will lower the torque in your reel and give better performance.
- Standard gears are usually made from brass, but top of the line gears are made of metal. Metal gears will be more durable and dependable, but more costly. We recommend avoiding reels that have plastic gears, as they will fail quickly and give terrible performance.
- Bearings reduce friction between moving gears in the reel and improve the life of the product – using more bearings will give you a better cast. However, a reel with 5 quality bearings will give a better performance than a reel with 15 poor bearings.
- Bearings are graded from 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest) in terms of performance.
- Aluminum frames are the most expensive, but will give the best performance.
- Alloy or graphite frames are common, though they are weaker than aluminum. The frame acts as the reel’s foundation, so you should ensure that it is one piece.
10 Best Baitcasting Reel Reviews for 2018
|Model||Max Drag||Weight||Our Score|
|Shimano Curado 200IHG||12 lbs||7.4 oz||4.9|
|Abu Garcia Revo 4 Rocket||20 lbs||12.6 oz||4.8|
|SHIMANO Metanium MGL150||11 lbs||6.2 oz||4.8|
|Lews Hyper Mag SLP||20 lbs||5.4 oz||4.9|
|Okuma Komodo SS||25-30 lbs||10.9-16.5 oz||4.7|
|Daiwa Tatula SV TW||13.2 lbs||7.2 oz||4.7|
|Daiwa Lexa CC||25 lbs||17 oz||4.8|
|Abu Garcia Revo 3 SX||24 lbs||7.83 oz||4.6|
|Okuma Citrix 300||25 lbs||11 oz||4.6|
|Lews Fishing Tournament MB||14 lbs||6.7 oz||4.7|
1. Shimano 200IHG Curado RH Baitcast Reel – Best Overall
Shimon is close to their 100 year anniversary of making quality fishing equipment. They started out with the goal of uncompromising quality and have lived up to that reputation for the many decades and models in their production line. There may be better reels out there but the margin is so thin that most anglers will never notice.
As with all quality products, it all starts with quality materials. The aluminum, steel, and graphite that make up this reel have been rigorously tested for quality. Shimano reels are built like you could stake your life on them. This reel is no exception.
The aluminum handle has dual oversized knobs for plenty of traction and connects to the spool through a one-piece aluminum frame. The housing is made of a lightweight Hagane for added strength and the spool is a hard anodized aluminum and balanced against vibration. All in all, this adds up to a lightweight reel that is a pleasure to fish.
Some of this has to be attributed to the 5 bearing race sitting behind the reel that allows for smooth retrieval. As far as that goes, this a very fast reel with a 7.2 to 1 gearing. This works well for the rather sizable 190-yard line capacity, depending on the line you fish.
Breaking is weighted magnetic and features an infinite level of adjustability so you get the perfect cast for your rod, line, and lure weight. The overall goal is a reel that functions flawlessly and with perfect balance. Alongside the breaks, you will find the drag which can be set for up to 12 pounds. This may seem light but works well, even on larger fish.
Weighing only 7 and a half ounces, this is a great lightweight, high-performance reel. You get a massive amount of durability with Shimano’s X-ship and Super Free Spool technology. The overall effect is a low friction cast that has a ton of control and no annoying backlash.
- Supreme Quality Components
- Smooth and Fast Retrieve
- Great Line Capacity
- Very Durable
- Weaker Drag
2. Abu Garcia Revo 4 Rocket – Best Saltewater Baitcasting Reel
To get this out of the way, Abu Garcia is easily one of the most popular and successful rod and reel manufacturers in the world. As a part of that success, you see more tournament fishermen and overall anglers using their reels on regular basis. This may seem like commercialism but their success has been well earned against a number of very good brands.
What makes this reel great? Well, it starts with a full graphite body with a proprietary X2 frame to keep the weight down on what would otherwise be a large, heavy reel. This isn’t a minnow picker, but a tool designed for use by serious anglers going after the larger fish species. This can easily handle bass, pike, and even musky when needed.
The gearing is brass and saltwater safe and set to a quick 7.1 to 1 ratio. When paired with the dual EVA gripped aluminum handle, you can put the pressure down when you need to. Line capacity for mono is nearly 140 yards of 30-pound braid. This is what you need when fishing far and fishing heavy.
The braking system is a combo MagTrax that has become such a killer for Abu Garcia. It exerts constant and consistent tension on the line to prevent backlash or any other problems as long as you get everything set as you should. This allows you to cast heavy bait long distance and even into the wind without issue.
Your drag is going to max out at 18 pounds which is plenty for big cats and the largest bass. Best when paired with a heavier rod of moderate speed, this is a great reel for target fishing those areas where big fish lurk. This is a hauling reel that handles the bigger fish very well.
Topping the scales at half a pound, this is no dainty reel. It was made to last for people who use their reels a lot and who use them hard. If this sounds like you, you won’t find many options that are much better. Abu Garcia does exceptional work on their high-end reels.
- Great Line Capacity
- Smooth and Consistent Casting
- Powerful Drag and Drive System
- Finicky Break System
- Best on Stiffer Rods
3. SHIMANO Metanium MGL150 – Best Freshwater Baitcasting Reel
There are a lot of great reel manufacturers but Shimano has killed it this year. Having 2 back to back is a feat but when the margin of quality between the two is so narrow, you know you are making quality reels. The Curado hedges out ahead by the slimmest margins.
Like the Curado, this reel is made with a solid aluminum frame and handle with a Hagane body to stand up to any rough treatment. The spool is Shimano’s new Magnumlite which promises up to 20% more casting distance with lower inertia. This can make getting the brakes perfectly tuned a little difficult but manageable.
The breaking uses a completely sealed magnetic system that is both smooth and strong. This is what separates great reels from merely good ones. Brakes aren’t hard but making great brakes is a science that Shimano has perfected.
This reel is available in a variety of gearing from 6.2 to 8.5 to 1. On the upper end, this is among the fastest reels in production. This mates up well with the 11-pound drag system and fully sealed drive bearings. Overall, this is a perfect fighting reel for medium sized fish but may have trouble with larger offshore species.
All in all, this is an amazing reel that takes the fight to the fish best on a medium or stiffer rod. Weighing in at about 11 ounces, it is on the heavy side but can hold a lot of line, up to 120 yards of 10 lb. mono. Plenty enough to bring in most of the inland species in the U.S. Even some larger cats and pike are little issue.
At the top end, you are looking at reels for the serious angler. If you are out there week in and week out, this is the reel that lasts and continues to pull in fish year after year. It is an upfront investment but, with a little care, it can last you a lifetime and still perform better than any budget reel.
- Very Durable
- Well Balanced and Fast
- Good Line Capacity
- Great Fit and Finish
- Somewhat Heavy
- Breaking Harder to Set
- Weaker Drag
4. Lews Hyper Mag SLP – Best Lightweight Baitcaster
Lews is one of those companies that you simply don’t hear enough about. They have a loyal following but have never seen the success of many of the other top-notch brands. This is a sad state of affairs because Lews makes some very nice reels on the higher end.
Carbon fiber is one of those miracle materials of the space age. Its light, strong, and very durable which is likely why it was chosen for this light as a feather reel. At a mere 5 and a half ounces, it almost feels like a toy but that would be far from the truth. This reel is strong and tough and can easily handle some massive fish!
This reel uses four separate carbon fiber discs for a drag system that keeps the pressure on up to 20 pounds. Paired with a 7.5 to 1 retrieve ratio, you can really put the fight on when it comes down to the wire. If you are hauling bass out of the weeds, this is the kind of power you want. If you are fighting a big cat, this is the power that you need!
With a dual handle aluminum crank, you get plenty of leverage when fighting. Paired with a hard anodized aluminum gearing, you can keep the fight on the fish so he doesn’t shake the hook. This all routes through a 10 bearing drive that keeps the reel smooth no matter how tough the battle may get.
Breaking is a dual magnetic/centrifugal system that provides a nearly infinite level of adjustment. You can fine tune this for your rod and bait to get a perfect, nest free cast. Speaking of rods, this does well on multiple setups from a stiff rod for catfish to a fast rod for bass. This is a reel without hard limitations.
With enough capacity for 110 yards of 12-pound braid, this rod has the capacity but not by sacrificing weight. At just 5.4 ounces, this is one of the lightest reels you are likely to fish. At first, it almost seems like you don’t have a reel at all. After a little adjustment, you will start to love the perfect balance this reel adds to your setup.
- Incredibly Light Weight
- Great Line Capacity
- Very Versatile
- Smooth Casting
- Smaller size can be hard to control
5. Okuma Komodo SS – Best Big Water Baitcaster
Okuma is another new company that has been doing some pretty amazing things with their reels. This would be considered another fan favorite that is well known for producing amazing casting reels. These are very popular amongst coastal fishermen even though most are not salt-proof.
The Komodo series is a full aluminum frame and side plate construction with machined stainless steel internals. This reel is large and incredibly strong with no compromises. Speaking of which, this reel weighs over a pound depending on the model but none of them are lightweight.
Depending on the model, you get around 6 to 7 to 1 gear ratios which works well on a variety of fish with a lot of different techniques. At the heart of the gearing is heavy duty steel drive shaft with sealed stainless bearings and a corrosion resistant drive with anti-reverse. Not only does this keep things smooth but provides excellent casting with little chance of backlash.
The braking is a hybrid magnetic system that does a good job of keeping just the right tension on the line. This reel was designed with braided lines in mind and is built to cast those with only the smoothest action possible. Depending on the model, you can get upwards 290 yards of line.
Drag is a beefy 25 to 30 pounds, depending on the model, and uses a multi-disc system that keeps everything running smoothly even under large amounts of strain. You have enough drag pressure to battle the biggest fish and adjusts easily and smoothly on the fly. Stick it to them when you need to or let them run if they are a real fighter.
This is quite an attractive reel and well suited to most environments. It’s hard coated for durability and a good, clean finish. Best paired with a medium to slow rod, you can get some very serious pressure. Stay away from fast rods that can’t keep up with all of the strain you can put on this massive reel.
- Easy to Cast
- Strong Drag
- Great Braking
- Less Smooth
- Heavy and Large
6. Diawa Tatula SVTW – Best Midrange Baitcaster
Stateside, Diawa almost seems like a sleeper brand that is far better than the attention that they get. These are one of the more popular brands in the Asian fishing culture which is every bit as strong as the culture we have here. It’s best not to doubt their quality and durability if you are looking for a top of the line reel!
One of the major issues with Diawa is their lack of U.S. markets and often lack of published materials. Finding all of the statistics and information on some of their reels was a real challenge until recently. Finally, this brand is building a real U.S. presence.
Like most of the toughest reels, this one starts with an all-aluminum frame, reel arm, and spool. Every piece is hard anodized to prevent corrosion issues. The side plates and body are a graphite composite that is more resistant to cracking than pure graphite and somewhat lighter. The whole effect is both striking and amazingly practical.
Breaking on the reel is Diawa’s own Magforce-Z which combines traditional breaking with the smooth power of a magnetic system. This is one of the easiest to control breaks out there for those who are new to baitcasting. It does wonders to improve your cast and can get good distance with good results. Coupled with their TWS level winder system, they promise at least 5% gain over other reels.
There are a number of sub-models for this reel but all of them have the same line capacity and drag. You can get around 120 yards of 14-pound mono and a bit more if you use braid instead. Drag on all models maxes out at just over 13 pounds.
You will get different gear ratios between 6.3 and 8.1 to 1. On the lower end, those are very moderate but the high-end reels are blazing fast. Best fished on a medium to slower action rod, these are a powerhouse reel more designed to get fish to the boat rather than play them on the line. Not great for large cats and hard fighters but will nail bass and smaller fish every time.
- Great Speed
- Very Smooth Casting
- Acceptable Line Capacity
- Less U.S. Presence
- Somewhat Heavy
7. Daiwa Lexa CC Baitcast Reel – Best Baitclicker Reel
Diawa has many great reels with a ton of quality but the Lexa stands out. While it may not be the overall quality of Tatula, when it comes to pure value, this is a definite top contender. Between construction and overall features, dollar for dollar they have all of the quality you could want in a reel.
While not as vibrant and eye-catching as some of Diawa’s other reels, this is a classy design. Looks aside, the overall durability of the reel is very good being composed of a mix of aluminum and graphite for the body and frame. The spool is aluminum while the working parts of the reel are corrosion resistant stainless steel.
Featuring an anti-reverse, one-way clutch to keep backlash down that is augmented by a very smooth centrifugal break, this reel casts very smoothly. Your chances of getting any significant backlash are slim. This purely mechanical brake system is both durable and exceptionally easy to set.
The drag is a mix of carbon and brass that directly ties to the drive system for maximum stopping power. You can expect to get 25 pounds of drag to stop even the largest fish. Additionally, you get an extra-loud bait clicker for live baits when you are after the biggest catches.
The overall drive system is very slick with 6 coaster bearings supporting the drive bearing. As for the gear ration, that is a moderately powerful 5.1 to 1. Everything combined, you get the torque to fight any fish of any size. Line capacity is massive with over 300 yards of 55-pound braid.
Best when matched with a somewhat slower action rod, this is a good reel for targeting most of the popular game fish species around the country. It can handle very large baits and bring in tough fighting fish.
- Strong Drag
- Strong and Consistent Braking
- Tons of Torque
- Quite Heavy
- Rather Slow
8. Abu Garcia Revo 3 SX – Best Baitcasting Reel for the Money
If you want reasonable quality on a budget, this is the reel for you! Abu Garcia is, of course, know for making extremely good reels. Just because this is a budget price doesn’t mean its junk. It may not be all of the greatest that you would get out of a higher end reel but it casts and fishes very well!
One of the cost savings measures implemented on this reel was the use of an alloy frame. It costs less but is very strong, quite durable, and extremely lightweight. This is a winning combination for those just getting into baitcasting reels.
One of the first things you will notice about this reel is the amazing ergonomics. With a flat top, recessed spool, and contoured handle, this is one of the most comfortable reels to fish if you are the fish all day type. This augments a 6.4 to 1 gear ratio that is perfect for putting the power down when you need it.
With a capacity of 140 yards of 30-pound test, you may be glad to have that gear ratio if you have a runner but with a solid drag system, you can slow them down a lot! The Revo 3 uses Abu Garcia’s power disk drag which can be set as high as 20 pounds for those hard fighting fish that need the stopping power.
Weighing just under 7 ounces, you will find this reel perfectly suited to a lightweight rod. It is capable of fishing bass and other large species but excels at panfish and smaller inland game fish. With a 10 bearing system, it’s quite smooth while the magnetic breaks do a fine job at preventing and back feed into the reel.
Buy this reel on a budget and fish it for years with no regrets. If you can catch this reel on sale, you won’t find a better reel for the price. Getting started, this is the perfect entry level reel for those who want quality but just can’t spare the cost of other reels!
- great Weight
- Decent Line Capacity
- Strong Drag
- Easy Casting
- Unrefined Fit and Finish
- Reeling can be a little gritty
9. Okuma Citrix 300 – Best Beginner Baitcaster
I will admit to being partial to Okuma reels. Yes, there are better reels on the market but, I have found even low-end Okuma to be a very good reel. They perform better than they should for the price, especially the Citrix series.
What makes these a favorite? Mostly that is in the fine details. The Citrix series runs on a full graphite body and aluminum frame which is nothing special. The handle is all aluminum which isn’t the most exciting. But the combination of profile, anodizing, and soft touch, contoured handles just make this a great reel to use.
This is one of the most affordable reels to use a true 100% magnetic braking system. They don’t bother giving it a fancy name or anything. They just make sure it’s perfectly tuned to give you the cleanest possible cast. When it comes down to it, this is probably one of the easiest to cast entry level reels available.
There are a number of sub-models of the Citrix that perform very similarly. All of the models are capable of holding 150 yards of 20-pound braid and have a massive 25-pound drag.
The drag system is a multi-disc carbon system which is pretty normal for this price range but the gearing is quite different. You can get models topping out at 8 to 1 or as low as 6 to 1. The lower gear ratio models tend to be smoother and better performers.
With a low profile and a weight of 11 ounces, this is a small but heavy reel that can put up a healthy fight. With about 30 inches of retrieval per turn of the handle, you can really put on the pressure. Best when used with faster action rods but will do well on a medium.
- Fast and Smooth Casting
- Strong Drag
- Good Line Capacity
- Quite Heavy
- Some Parts Cheaply Made
10. Lews Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel – Best on the Budget
Lews may be a lesser known company than some of the other popular brands but it is easily in the top five reel manufacturers in the world. You can find these reels gracing the rods of many competitive anglers. Having made reels for decades, they have the process down pat.
One of the most notable things about a Lews is the overall quality and construction. This starts with top-notch materials. Notably, this is the one piece aluminum frame and double anodized aluminum spool. This is coupled with graphite side plates for low weight and hardened aluminum and steel drive and bearing system.
This all adds up to smooth operation that is only enhanced by a zero reverse one-way clutch and dual magnetic/centrifugal brake system. This is all a part of the Lews MBS or multi-setting break that helps avoid any issues with lines tangling or having snap back.
The drag system is carbon fiber which has proven to be the most effective and durable modern material for the job. Total drag pressure is 20 pounds which can be set with the step-up drag star.
This reel can hold up to 120 yards of 12-pound line which gives you plenty of room for a fish to run. But has a 5.6 to 1 gear ration to get them in quick when the time comes. Overall weight is less than half a pound and you get a lot of quality and durability packed in for that price.
Overall, this is easily one of the best reals in production today with a very small and low profile form factor that makes it perfect for any fast action bass reel. Casting is smooth and retrieval more so. Easily the best buy you can make!
- Great Fit and Finish
- Smooth, Tangle-free Casting
- Great Drag Pressure
- Good Line Capacity
- Somewhat Slow
It takes time and patience in order to become an expert at choosing and using a baitcasting reel. Baitcasters should offer a smooth performance and feature a sturdy and durable construction. Overall, the best baitcasting reel for you should come at an affordable price and one that challenges you to improve you performance, making casting more enjoyable!