If you’re seeking a reel with unmatched power, precision, and customization, then a high-quality baitcaster reel is what you want. However, with so many products on the market, finding the perfect companion for your fishing rod can be tricky. We made this guide to help you find the perfect baitcaster reel to match your style.
Buying Guide for Baitcaster Reels
Why buy a baitcaster reel?
Like any type of fishing reel, baitcaster reels have their pros and cons. In terms of pros, these reels are powerful options that can be paired with heavy lines for optimal pulling power. As such, you won’t be limited by the size of the fish you seek to catch. They are also customizable, so when you decide to change your lure, you can quickly tweak the spool tension to your liking. While these reels often require more expertise (and a heftier investment) than lesser reels, they are still a fantastic option for beginners and experienced anglers of all ages and abilities.
What should you look for in a baitcaster reel?
- Toughness: A heavy-duty reel is going to withstand the test of time, so find a caster that knows how to preempt the water’s corrosive ways. Consider casters that feature a stainless steel interior and other solid metals that can be lubricated after each trip.
- Comfort: It’s also important to note that “heavy-duty” can sometimes lead to being heavy in your hands. Find a caster that understands how to remain light and comfortable in your palms, even after several hours on the shoreline.
- Performance: A good baitcaster reel can live and die on the success of its gear ratio performance. You want something you can haul in quickly yet still slow enough to be deceiving to what’s lurking below the surface.
How do you determine what a suitable gear ratio is?
A baitcaster reel’s gear ratio illustrates the number of times the spool turns when the reel’s handle is completely rotated. This, in turn, helps determine the speed of a reel’s lure retrieve. As such, the type of bait you choose to employ and your unique fishing style will be the primary factors that determine which gear ratio is suitable for you. A faster gear ratio is usually ideal for those who often fish with buzz baits and other lures that require a quick retrieve. However, a slower retrieve can be quite helpful when working with diving crankbaits and similar lures.
Our Picks for the Best Baitcaster Reels
KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
Reel in any kind of freshwater or saltwater fish with this versatile baitcaster reel.
Pros: Featuring a corrosion-resistant design that’s ideal for both saltwater and freshwater fishing, the KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel is built to withstand the test of time. It’s also a versatile option at its price range, thanks to its rugged steel framework and smooth reeling power, so you can go after fish that average casters wouldn’t dream of. If you’re seeking a lightweight baitcaster reel with a simplified drag adjustment, this one offers a great bang for your buck.
Cons: This reel is somewhat prone to backlash, especially when used by someone who is not yet totally comfortable using a baitcaster reel. It definitely has a different feel than other baitcasters in its price range, so taking some time to become accustomed to its brake system and taking plenty of practice casts is recommended when starting out.
Bottom Line: While this probably won’t be the greatest baitcaster reel you’ll ever use, it offers a ton of value for its price tag, thanks to its incredible build quality and surprising attention to detail. Despite its occasional propensity for backlash, this reel’s easy-to-adjust drag and versatile design give it a degree of versatility that few budget-friendly baitcaster reels can compare to.
Shimano CURADO DC
This baitcaster reel combines an advanced braking system with a rugged, low-profile design.
Pros: When your fish finder detects dinner within casting range, the Shimano CURADO DC is the best reel to have at your disposal. This baitcaster reel sports Shimano’s beloved Digital Control braking system, so on-the-fly adjustments are incredibly simple, and the risk of backlash is greatly diminished versus other baitcasters. This reel also stands out for its rugged, low-profile design, which can be comfortably used all day without causing the sort of hand fatigue that is a hallmark of bulkier reels.
Cons: This reel’s price tag will keep it out of the hands of plenty of anglers, which is a shame given everything it brings to the table. However, if this reel’s user reviews are any indication, those willing to spend money for the very best will likely be incredibly satisfied with what they receive.
Bottom Line: From its low profile, comfort-first design to its tech-savvy braking system, this baitcaster reel is perfect for those who desire the long and smooth casts that Shimano is known for. While it (like any baitcaster reel) isn’t exactly backlash-proof, its easy-to-master DC braking system makes it a solid choice for beginners and baitcaster veterans alike.
Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel
This budget-friendly reel scores points for its consistent braking system and easy-to-maintain design.
Pros: Featuring a low-profile design that is surprisingly rugged given this product’s budget price tag, the Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel handles like a much pricier baitcaster. Consistency is the name of the game with this product, so you won’t have to fret over its magnetic brake or tensioner since both mechanisms work well and require only a minimal learning curve. Factoring in this reel’s smooth retrieves and simple maintenance, you can see why it’s a hit with today’s budget-savvy anglers.
Cons: While some baitcaster reels come factory-tuned and lubricated right out of the box, this one requires some love and care before you take it out to the lake. Thus, be sure to sufficiently lubricate it before you put it through its paces. (Don’t worry, this reel’s side-plate oil port makes this process incredibly straightforward.)
Bottom Line: Many reviewers have noted being pleasantly surprised by this reel, likening it to baitcasters that are double or triple the price. While this product may lack some of the next-level features of premium baitcaster reels, its ease of use and consistency is hard to beat at any price point. If you’re looking for a bargain, this is a deal that’ll be hard to pass up.
KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel
This reel brings the swiftness and power of its aquatic namesake to every cast you throw.
Pros: Featuring drag capable of bagging the trophy bass you’ve been chasing all summer, the KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel boasts 17.6 pounds of stopping power to complement its affordable price tag. It’s also a joy to use with its lightweight design and comfortable grip, and it offers a 9.1:1 gear ration for those seeking a baitcaster reel with a lightning-quick retrieve. Despite this product’s low price, it’s also fairly durable and should outperform most similarly-priced reels in terms of longevity.
Cons: Some reviewers have noted that this reel’s braking system isn’t quite as intuitive as many modern baitcasters, so even experienced anglers may want to set some time aside to relearn the ropes before getting started.
Bottom Line: While this baitcaster reel requires a bit of a learning curve compared to similar products, it has a lot going for it. If you’ve been seeking a reel with serious speed and stopping power, you probably won’t be disappointed with what the KastKing MegaJaws brings to the table.
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur S Round Baitcast Fishing Reel
This baitcaster reel stands out for its excellent corrosion resistance and loud, responsive bait clicker.
Pros: Featuring a loud, responsive bait clicker and outstanding corrosion resistance, the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur S Round Baitcast Fishing Reel does its namesake proud. This budget-friendly baitcaster reel does away with some of the bells and whistles that adorn similar products, making it an ideal choice for those seeking something streamlined and simple. It also has quite a bit of stopping power for the cost of admission, making it a stellar choice for reeling in catfish.
Cons: This reel isn’t exactly designed to extend your casting range, although what it lacks in distance, it makes up for in smoothness. Also, since the level wind remains engaged when casting, backlashes are kept to a minimum since the spool speed is kept in check.
Bottom Line: While this reel might not impress you too much with a flashy design or tech-savvy features, its impressive stopping power and consistent brake pressure make it a stellar reel to bring along for a wide variety of applications. It’s also built to last, which means you should get plenty of life out of this baitcaster despite its modest asking price.
Finding a baitcaster reel that exceeds your needs is a surefire way to maximize your enjoyment (and haul) the next time you head to the water. For this reason, choosing a reel that is perfect for the type of fish you’re trying to catch, your fishing rod, and the body of water you’ll be fishing in isn’t a bad idea.