27 Best Baitcasting Reels in 2020 Review

Baitcasting reels are most commonly used for bass fishing. However, these are good reels to use when casting heavy lures and jigs for many types of fish. Some anglers prefer baitcasting reels and some prefer spinning reels. The truth is both have advantages and disadvantages based on the method of fishing.

best-baitcasting-reels

Baitcasting reels have two main advantages over spinning reels. First, the reel offers resistance to the lure as it is being cast. This can be done with internal drag in the reel or by applying thumb pressure to the spool. This added resistance allows heavy lures and jigs to quietly splash into the water. Second, the eyes on a baitcasting fishing pole face upward.  This is similar to conventional fishing rods and these setups work well for jigging. The baitcaster rod and reel combo allow for high torque and short vertical jigging motions to be easily applied to heavy jigs.

Here Are the Best Baitcasting Reels


1. Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel

piscifun-torrent-baitcasting-reel

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Price: Around $40

Models and Specifications
5.3: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 8.0 oz, retrieves 22.8 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/10, braid 120/30.

7.1: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 8.0 oz, retrieves 30 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/10, braid 120/30.

The Torrent reels are available in either 7.1:1 or 5.3:1 gear ratios in both left or right-handed configurations. Features include three carbon fiber washers to achieve 18 lbs of drag, 5+1 shielded ball bearings, and 10 magnetic braking settings to keep the stainless steel spool at a comfortable speed. Baitcasting reels like this one are commonly used for bass fishing.

The Torrent is one of the cheaper offerings from Piscifun and is one of the best reels under 50 dollars. The frame consists of a very well polished graphite composite body and highly durable EVA knobs. This makes the reel lightweight and surprisingly robust. It also has double wind shafts, which are typically found on higher priced baitcasting reels. This reel does use shielded stainless steel bearings but is intended to be used in freshwater. Large brass gears are used and can be lubricated without taking reel apart. Torrent baitcasting rods are also available.


2. Piscifun New Phantom Baitcasting Reel

piscifun-phantom-carbon-lightweight-baitcasting-reel

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Price: Around $72

Models and Specifications
7.0: Drag 17 lbs, weighs 5.7 oz, retrieves 30.3 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/10, braid 120/30.

Piscifun New Phantom baitcasting reels are built on a carbon fiber-based platform. The reel has a high 7.0:1 gear ratio and is available in both left and right-handed configurations.

This reel has a few similarities with the cheaper Torrent reel but offers a much higher level of build quality using more expensive materials. Construction of the reel consists of high-quality materials such as a 6-pin brake system, aircraft-grade aluminum gears, 4-disk carbon fiber drag washers, 105mm carbon crank handle, and 6+1 stainless steel shielded bearings.

This reel only weighs roughly 6 ounces, which is achieved using a high-quality carbon fiber frame and crank handle. Although these are lightweight reels they are also strong and durable. With this model, Piscifun is attempting to create a tournament-grade model at a reasonable price. Features include a dual brake system, 6-pin centrifugal brake, 1-10 external metal brake, CNC hallow spool, and an oversized line guide.


3. Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Baitcasting Reel

abu-garcia-revo-toro-beast-low-profile-baitcasting-reel

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Price: Around $246

Models and Specifications
BTS50: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 13.58 oz, retrieves 24 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 210/14, braid 235/30.

BTS50HS: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 13.58 oz, retrieves 31 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 210/14, braid 235/30.

BTS60: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 13.83 oz, retrieves 27 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 250/14, braid 283/30.

BTS60HS: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 13.83 oz, retrieves 34 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 250/14, braid 283/30.

The Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast is a large high-end baitcasting reel. This reel comes in 50 and 6o sizes which are both available in lift hand models as well. The high-speed version has a 6.2: gear ratio and the standard version has a 4.9 gear ratio.

Features of this fishing reel include 5 +1 HPCR stainless steel ball bearings, a smooth carbon matrix drag system, DuraClutch, and Infini brake system that allows precise adjustments.

The X2 frame and side plate are made from a metal alloy. It also has a heavy-duty Duragear and extended bent handles for increased torque when turning the reel handle. This large real is great for targeting large freshwater fish like striped bass, northern pike, and musky.

Abu Garcia is a well-known brand for making baitcasting reels and convection fishing reels. This is for good reason, as they offer fantastic feature-filled reels with an attractive low profile design at a reasonable price point.


4. Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile Baitcasting Reel

abu-garcia-black-max-low-profile-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: Around $40-$50

Models and Specifications
6.4: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 7.3 oz, retrieves 26 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 145/12, braid 140/30.

The Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcaster comes as a right-handed or left-handed reel. It has a 6.4:1 gear ratio. Features include 5 ball bearings, an instant anti-reverse bearing,  power disk drag system, and the MagTrax magnetic brake system.

The reel is made with a one-piece graphite frame, graphite side plates, bent star drag handle, brass gear, and a red machined aluminum spool. This is a reasonably priced reel that has similar specs to high-end baitcasting reels. It has strong enough drag and holds enough line to catch large freshwater fish.  This would be a great reel option for most recreational fishermen.


5. Abu Garcia Pro Max Baitcasting Fishing Reel

abu-garcia-pro-max-low-profile-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: Around $67-$80

Models and Specifications
7.1: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 7.3 oz, retrieves 29 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 145/12, braid 140/30.

The Abu Garcia baitcasting reel has a 7.1: one gear ratio and comes in left-hand right-hand configurations. The c in Pmax3-c is just for plastic clamshell packaging but is the exact same reel as the Pmax3.

Features of the reel include 7 Stainless steel ball bearings, an anti-reverse roller bearing, a customizable MagTrax magnetic braking system,  and a power disk drag system. Pro Max reels are constructed of a single piece graphite frame with brass gears, CNC double anodized aluminum spool, and high-density EVA handles.


6. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Reel

abu-garcia-ambassadeur-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: Around $150-$170

Models and Specifications
6500: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 11.6 oz, retrieves 26 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 320/12, braid 310/30.

7000: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 21.5 oz, retrieves 22 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 250/20, braid 420/40.

The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 is a round baitcasting reel. It has a low 4.1:1 gear ratio which works well for catching large catfish. Features of the reel include 3 stainless steel ball bearings in the 6500, 2 stainless steel ball bearings in the 7000, a roller bearing, and a 6 pin centrifugal brake. This is a low-maintenance reel that can be used for trolling, casting, jigging, and drift fishing. There also is a bait clicker which helps notify of bites when rods are placed in the rod holder.


7. Shimano 17 Scorpion Baitcasting Reel

shimano-scorpion-right-handed-baitcasting-reel

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Price: Around $306

Models and Specifications
7.2: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 7.6 oz, retrieves 18.5-29 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 110/12, braid 110/30.

The Shimano Scorpion baitcasting reel has a high gear ratio of 7.2:1 or 6.3:1 and is available in both left and right-handed models. This reel is constructed with a Shimano Hagane frame which is a cold forged-aluminum body.

Features include the X-SHIP ultra-high-efficiency gearing system, I-DC5 digitally controlled brake system that has 5 brake levels, and shielded ARB  bearings. A smart DC brake adjusts the speed of the spool every 1/1000 of a second, essentially eliminating backlash completely. The super fee spool makes it so that casting can be done with minimal spool resistance if desired.


8. Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reels

shimano-slx-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: Around $99-$126

Models and Specifications
6.3: Drag 12 lbs, weighs 6.9 oz, retrieves 25 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 110/12, braid 150/20.

7.2: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 6.9 oz, retrieves 28 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 110/12, braid 150/20.

8.2: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 6.9 oz, retrieves 32 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 110/12, braid 150/20.

The Shimano SLX reel comes in gear ratios of 6.3:1, 7.2:1, and 8.2:1. It is also available in both right-handed and left-handed reels.  Features of the reel include 3+1 ball bearings, S3D spool for a smooth lure retrieve, and super free spool for far casting due to low gear resistance on the spool.

Variable Brake Adjustment VBS is the spools brake system used to prevent bird nests when casting. The brake is centrifugal and weights are forced outward at the beginning of the cast to add a set amount of resistance that will allow for a smooth cast without backlash. The reel has a compact low profile and is constructed with a rigid Hagane metal body with a black matte finish. This is an above-average quality baitcasting reel that is good for all types and styles of bass fishing.


9. Shimano Curado K Baitcasting Reels

shimano-curado-k-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: Around $99-$126

Models and Specifications
200K: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 7.6 oz, retrieves 26 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 155/10, braid 190/30.

200HGK: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 7.6 oz, retrieves 31 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 155/10, braid 190/30.

200XGK: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 7.6 oz, retrieves 36 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 155/10, braid 190/30.

The Shimano Curado K series is a baitcasting reel with gear ratios of 6.2:1, 7.4:1, and 8.5:1. It has many top features for Shimano reels including cross carbon drag, X-ship gear durability, super free spool, and shielded A-RB stainless steel bearings. Other features include micromodule gear with more teeth than standard gears and the S3D spool to reduce vibration when pitching and reeling.

The SVS Infinity is a new brake system that allows smooth break control even with light lures. On the side of the reel, there is a knob that allows for precise brake adjustments. The reel is made with the Shimano Hagane metal body that is extremely rigid and durable. This a good baitcasting reel for people that only use baitcasting reels and not spinning reels. The break allows for smooth low resistance casting even with lightweight soft plastics, small poppers, and frog baits.


10. Shimano Calcutta Round Baitcasting Reel

shimano-calcutta-saltwater-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: Around $189-$310

Models and Specifications
100: Drag 9.5 lbs, weighs 9.0 oz, retrieves 23 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 110/14, braid 175/30.

200: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 10.1 oz, retrieves 27 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/14, braid 130/50.

400: Drag 17 lbs, weighs 11.7 oz, retrieves 24 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 160/20, braid 305/50.

700: Drag 16 lbs, weighs 18.2 oz, retrieves 28 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 310/20, braid 620/50.

The Shimano Calcutta is a unique baitcasting reel for two reasons. First, it has a round metal body that looks more like a conventional fishing reel. Second, the reel has corrosion resistance ARB bearings so that it can be used when fishing in saltwater environments. This reel comes in four sizes and the 200 class reel comes in both left hand and right-hand reel options.

Features of the reel include variable brake adjustment, centrifugal spool brake, cross carbon drag, and a super free spool. The Hagane body is made from cold-forged aluminum as is the spool and side plates. The super stopper within the reel is a one-way stainless steel anti-reverse bearing that helps immediately set the hook. This is a good baitcasting reel for anglers that like to fishing inshore and on the reef with jigs and heavy lures. Baitcasting reels allow the baits to be placed in the water quietly and jigged efficiently. The Shimano Calcutta D is the premium big game saltwater baitcasting reel that is commonly used to catch tarpon.


11. Shimano Cardiff Baitcasting Reel

shimano-cardiff-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: Around $115-$158

Models and Specifications
200: Drag 10 lbs, weighs 8.6 oz, retrieves 24 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 210/10, braid 210/30.

300: Drag 10 lbs, weighs 8.9 oz, retrieves 24 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 230/12, braid 230/40.

400: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 11.9 oz, retrieves 22 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 330/12, braid 330/340.

The Shimano Cardiff is a levelwind baitcasting reel. This reel is similar to the Shimano Tekota which is a conventional fishing reel. This reel is available left hand and right-hand reel handle orientations.

Features of the reel include 5+1 A-RB corrosion resistant ball bearings and VBS centrifugal spool brake. The reel is made with a rigid aluminum Hagane body. This reel is only slightly heavier than most baitcasting reels but is more durable and built to last. The larger 400 size reel works great for casting and can also be used for trolling to catch bass, walleye, and salmon.


12. Pflueger President XT Low Profile Reel

pflueger-president-xt-low-profile-baitcasting-reel

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Price: Around $60

Models and Specifications
7.3: Drag 12 lbs, weighs 7.7 oz, retrieves 31 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 145/12, braid 145/40.

The President XT is a low profile baitcasting reel with a 7.3:1 gear ratio. The reel is constructed with a graphite body, C45 carbon side-plates, and aluminum handle with rubber cork soft-touch knobs. Features of the reel include 8+1 stainless steel ball bearings and an easily adjustable magnetic braking system.

Pflueger has been crafting top tier reels out of Akron, Ohio since 1881 and the low-profile baitcaster offered by them is a great reel. This President XT model is also offered as a freshwater spinning reel.


13. Pflueger Patriarch Low-Profile Baitcasting Reel

pflueger-patriarch-low-profile-baitcasting-reel

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Price: Around $170

Models and Specifications
7.1: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 6.28 oz, retrieves 29 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 175/10, braid 190/20.

The Pflueger Patriarch is a low profile baitcasting reel with a 7.1:1 gear ratio. Features include 10 stainless steel double-shielded ball bearings, a single anti-reverse bearing, Pflueger proprietary ultimate adjustable braking system, and a carbon fiber drag system.

The frame itself is machined stainless steel with C45 cam-lock carbon-infused side plates. The handle is also carbon fiber with high-grade EVA knobs that are more durable than your standard cork or rubber knobs. The shaft and gears are constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum and the drag system is comprised of more carbon fiber awesomeness. Since so many of the components are made of high-quality carbon fiber and aluminum, this reel weighs just a tad over 6 ounces. In the picture, the reel is shown as a pale blue color. In reality, this reel is actually gunmetal gray and metallic dark blue, making it a bit shinier than what the photos show.


14. KastKing Royale Legend Whitemax Reel

kastking-royale-legend-whitemax-low-profile-baitcasting-reel

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Price: Around $40

Models and Specifications
White: Drag 17.5 lbs, weighs 7.4 oz, retrieves 24.3 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 195/10, braid 195/30.

Royale: Drag 17.5 lbs, weighs 7.4 oz, retrieves 32 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 195/10, braid 195/30.

The KastKing Royale Legend is a very popular baitcasting reel. KastKing has several reels in the Royal Legend series. The Whitemax has a low gear ratio of 5.3:1. The black Royale Legend has a high gear ratio of 7.0:1.

The body of the reel is made from graphite with a brass main gear, brass gear shaft, and EVA padded knobs. It has a dual brake system using both centrifugal and magnetic brakes. The star drag uses 4 aluminum plates and carbon fiber disks for smooth and powerful drag. It has 11+1 MaxiDur shielded corrosion resistant ball bearings. The low gear ratio of the Whitemax makes it a great reel for casting heavy lures and jigs while bass fishing.


15. KastKing Royale Legend II Baitcasting Reel

kastking-royale-legend-II-baitcasting-reel

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Price: Around $40

Models and Specifications
5.4: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.2 oz, retrieves 22.4 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 130/10, braid 130/30.

7.2: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.2 oz, retrieves 29.8 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 130/10, braid 130/30.

The KastKing Royale Legend II is the latest model of the Royale Legend reel and as is available in both left-hand and right-hand retrieves. Gear ratios are 5:4:1 and 7.2:1.

The reel is built with a graphite body, brass main gear, ceramic line guide on the levelwind, CNC machined aluminum spool, and EVA handle grips. Features include 5+1 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings and a smooth 4 disk carbon fiber drag system. This is one the best baitcasting reels available under $50. It works great for fishing for largemouth bass in the warm shallows and for jigging for smallmouth bass in the deep cold rocky ledges and structure.


16. KastKing Royale Legend Elite Series

kastking-royal-legend-baitcasting-reel-elite-series

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Price Range: $72-$80

Models and Specifications
Red: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.2 oz, retrieves 34.1 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 130/12, braid 130/50.

Black: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.2 oz, retrieves 30.7 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 130/12, braid 130/50.

Blue: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.2 oz, retrieves 27.8 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 130/12, braid 130/50.

White: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.2 oz, retrieves 22.3 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 130/12, braid 130/50.

Another fantastic KastKing offering, the Royale Legend, adds a great deal of functionality, aesthetics, and quality. The Royale Legend is available in 4 different configurations each of which come in both right hand and left-hand configurations.

The unique color schemes correlate to different gear ratios within the reel. The crimson red reel has a gear ratio of 8.1:1, gloss black is 7.3:1, light blue is 6.6:1 and arctic white has a low gear ratio of 5.3:1.

The Royale Legend frame is constructed of graphite, utilizes high strength brass gears, a CNC aluminum spool, and a stainless steel handle. Features include 11 double-shielded ball bearings, an additional reverse bearing, and a multi-disc carbon drag that provide excellent consistency. This is a great baitcasting reel for both novice and experienced fishermen.


17. KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel

kastking-spartacus-baitcasting-reel-ultra-smooth-casting-reel

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Price: Around $47

Models and Specifications
EVA: Drag 17.5 lbs, weighs 7.2 oz, retrieves 28.3 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 125/10, braid 125/300.

Cork: Drag 17.5 lbs, weighs 8.1 oz, retrieves 28.3 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 125/10, braid 125/300.

The KastKing Spartacus has a version with EVA knobs and versions with cork handles. Most of there reels have a 6.3:1 gear ratio and retrieve 28.3 inches per turn of the handle. Color options include black, chartreuse green, rocket red, and sword silver.

The body of the reel is made of graphite and it has a machined brass main gear, graphite side plates, and a CNC aluminum handle. Feature of the reel includes 11+1 stainless steel bearings, and a carbon fiber disk drag system. There is a 6-pin on/off centrifugal brake and a 10 level magnetic brake for the spool. This dual brake system allows the spool resistance to match the requirements of both heavy and light lures. Spartacus is another quality reel at a reasonable price for recreational anglers.


18. KastKing Brutus Baitcasting Reel

kastking-brutus-baitcasting-fishing-reel

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Price: Around $35

Models and Specifications
6.3: Drag 10 lbs, weighs 7.1 oz, retrieves 28.3 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 125/10, braid 125/300.

The KastKing Brutus has a 6.3:1 gear ratio and comes in both right hand and left-hand configurations. It is constructed with a graphite frame,  aluminum handle, brass main gear, and brass pinion gear. The V style spool is computer numeric controlled (CNC) aluminum.

Features include 4 MaxiDur shielded stainless-steel ball bearings, an anti-reverse bearing, and smooth disc drag. The magnetic braking system had 10 levels of braking control.


19. KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel

kastking-megajaws-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: $62-$70

Models and Specifications
Red: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.6 oz, retrieves 37.7 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 125/10, braid 125/30.

Black: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.5 oz, retrieves 29.8 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 1125/10, braid 125/30.

Blue: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.5 oz, retrieves 26.9in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 125/10, braid 125/30.

White: Drag 17.6 lbs, weighs 7.5 oz, retrieves 22.4 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 125/10, braid 125/30.

This KastKing Royal MegaJaws comes in four different colors based on gear ratios. The predator red has a high speed of 9.1:1 gear ratio, blacktip has a 7.2:1 gear ratio, pelagic blue has a 6.5:1 gear ratio, and great white has a low 5.4:1 gear ratio.

Features of the reel include tapered line guides on the levelwind to reduce friction, 11+1 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings, a magnetic braking system consisting of 8 magnets and 10 resistance levels, and smooth multi-disk carbon fiber drag. The reel is made with a graphite frame, CNC aluminum spool, aluminum handle, and EVA knobs. When looking at the front of the reel it looks like shark jaws. This is a freshwater reel and is not intended to catch sharks.


20. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

kastking-rover-round-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: $45-$70

Models and Specifications
40: Drag 15 lbs, weighs 11.6 oz, retrieves 25.9 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 200/12, braid 200/50.

60: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 12.6 oz, retrieves 25.9 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 2250/16, braid 250/70.

70: Drag 25 lbs, weighs 19 oz, retrieves 24.9 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 430/16, braid 430/70.

90: Drag 30 lbs, weighs 21.2 oz, retrieves 25.4 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 750/16, braid 750/70.

The KastKing Rover Round is a baitcasting reel with the appearance of a conventional fishing reel. Its body is made with red anodized aluminum, the spool is aluminum, and the worm shaft is machined brass. Features of the reel include 4+1 shielded ball bearings, carbon fiber drag, a clicker sound that can be turned on or off, and the size 40-60 have a two-pin centrifugal brake.

This reel is very similar to the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur catfish reel reviewed previously in this article. The Round Rover is more popular likely due to large size options and a low price point. Being able to hold lots of fishing line makes the 70 and 90 series able to also work as trolling reels. This reel is commonly used to catch bass, walleye, and catfish. It is made with corrosion-resistant coatings and components and is rated to work in saltwater.


21. Enigma IPPON Baitcasting Reel

enigma-fishing-ippon-baitcasting-reel-carbon-fiber-drag

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Price: Around $100

Models and Specifications
6.6: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 5.9 oz, retrieves 26 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 150/12, braid 150/50.

7.3: Drag 18 lbs, weighs 5.9 oz, retrieves 30 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 150/12, braid 150/50.

The Enigma IPPON comes in a black reel with a 6.6:1 gear ratio and a white reel with a 7.3:1 gear ratio. This reel has been featured on the Bassmaster stage along with several other big-ticket competitive environments.

The top feature everybody raves about is the ABEC7 High-Speed Ceramic Spool system. This is basically a ceramic spool that has undergone a special chemical treating process to reduce the surface drag coefficient of the spool as much as possible. The ball bearings also go through this chemical treatment. For most casual fisherman, you likely won’t notice much of a difference. However, if you’re an enthusiast who has a few years of experience with multiple other baitcasting reels, you’ll notice how this is one of the smoothest casting reels.

Features include an 11+1 high-speed ceramic bearing set, a 6-pin magnetic brake system that utilizes 25 different braking configurations, and a carbon fiber drag system. The gears are also chemically treated and consist of duralumin, which is basically just a fancy word for durable aluminum. A carbon fiber frame and crank handle and T6 aircraft-grade double anodized aluminum U style spool allow the reel to weigh just 5.9 ounces.


22. Lews Baitcasting Tournament MB Reel

lews-tournament-mb-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: $140-$180

Models and Specifications
5.6: Drag 14 lbs, weighs 6.7 oz, retrieves 25.9 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 150/12, braid 150/50.

6.8: Drag 14 lbs, weighs 6.7 oz, retrieves 28 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/12, braid 120/50.

7.5: Drag 14 lbs, weighs 6.7 oz, retrieves 31 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/12, braid 120/50.

8.3: Drag 14 lbs, weighs 6.7 oz, retrieves 35 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/12, braid 120/50.

The Lews Tournament MB baitcasting reel offers a highly customizable professional-grade experience. There are four different gear ratios, 5.6:1, 6.8:1, 7.5:1, and 8.3:1. Low gear ratios reels are best used when casting heavy jigs and high gear ratios reels are great when throwing plugs and stick baits while bass fishing.

Feather of the reel includes 9 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings, a zero reverse one-way clutch bearing, zirconia line guides, and carbon fiber star drag. The dual brake is comprised of a multi-setting magnetic brake (MSB) system operated by an external click dial and a quad pin on/off centrifugal brake system. If you enjoy the tuning aspects of high-quality reels, you’ll have a fun time dialing this one and placing your lures precisely where you want them.

Its frame was crafted from a single piece of die-cast aluminum with a drilled and forged double anodized aluminum U spool. The removable side plates are made of graphite, like most other reels. There is an external lubrication port for the main gear and pinion gear which are made from solid brass.


23. Lew’s Mach II Speed Spool Baitcasting Reel

lews-mach-II-speed-spool-baitcasting-reel

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Price: Around $134

Models and Specifications
7.5: Drag 10 lbs, weighs 7.1 oz, retrieves 30 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 110/12, braid 110/50.

The Lew’s Mach II is a baitcasting reel with a 7.5:1 gear ratio. It is built on a one-piece IM8 quality graphite blank, anodized aluminum spool, Dri-Tac knobs, zirconia line guide for the levelwind, solid brass gears, and an external port to add oil for the gears.

Features include 10 double-shielded stainless steel bearings, zero reverse bearing, and a magnetic control braking system with a large knob for easy adjustment.  Lew’s reels also make a Mach II that is a freshwater spinning reel. It has a similar appearance and style of this baitcaster. Lew’s is known for making top quality baitcasting and conventional freshwater fishing reels.


24. Lew’s American Hero Baitcasting Reel

lews-american-heroes-speed-spool-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: $59-$70

Models and Specifications
6.4: Drag 10 lbs, weighs 7.2 oz, retrieves 28 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/12, braid 120/50.

7.1: Drag 10 lbs, weighs 7.2 oz, retrieves 31 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/12, braid 120/50.

The Lews’s American Heros speed spool is a baitcasting reel with a 6.4:1 or 7.1:1 gear ratio. Color options are black with an anodized blue aluminum spool and camo with a gray spool. The reel is constructed with a graphite body, graphite side plates, brass main gear, brass crankshaft, zirconia line guides, and an aluminum bowed handle.

Feature of the reel includes five double shielded ball bearings, a zero reverse bearing, Rulon drag, and a graphite star drag system. There is a magnetic brake to increase resistance on the spool while casting. A knob on the side adjust this setting based on the lure weight and desired casting distance. Lew’s donates a portion of the profits for the is reel series to the American hero program.


25. Cadence CB5 Baitcasting Reel

cadence-cb5-baitcasting-fishing-reel

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Price Range: $37-$39

Models and Specifications
6.6: Drag 20 lbs, weighs 7.5 oz, retrieves 25 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/12, braid 140/30.

The Cadence CB5 has a 6.6:1 gear ratio. It has a graphite body,  aluminum spool, brass main gear, brass crankshaft, brass pinion gear, and an aluminum tension knob. The seven double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings are super low torque and low friction to help increase casting distance.

A carbon fiber drag system provides 20 pounds of max drag which is more than is needed for bass fishing. There is a five disk magnetic brake with an internal knob for adjustments. The spool tension knob is made with red anodized aluminum. These knobs allow the spool resistance to be properly set for both heavy and lightweight lures. Cadence offers a one year warranty and a 90 day risk-free trial on this reasonably priced baitcasting reel.


26. Daiwa Tatula CT Baitcasting Reel

daiwa-tatula-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: $90-$140

Models and Specifications
5.5: Drag 13.2 lbs, weighs 7.4 oz, retrieves 23.3 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/14, braid 130/30.

6.3: Drag 13.2 lbs, weighs 7.4 oz, retrieves 26.3 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/14, braid 130/30.

7.3: Drag 13.2 lbs, weighs 7.4 oz, retrieves 30.5 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/14, braid 130/30.

The Daiwa Tatula CT comes in gear ratios of 5.5:1, 6.3:1 and 7.3:1. A unique feature of this baitcasting reel is the T-wing levelwind system. This allows the fishing line to exit the reel in a very wide line guide. When retrieving the line it enters the narrow section of the line guide to evenly place the line on the spool. This reduces friction during a cast.

The Magforce Z breaking system enables a low amount of resistance to the spool while still preventing backlash. This is done by lowering and raising an inductor cup within the magnetic braking system. Initially, there is minimal resistance but resistance is added once the spool is at full speed to prevent bird nests.

The reel has an aluminum frame, aluminum swept handle to reduce rod and reel wobble, soft handle knobs, aluminum spool, and aluminum tension knobs. Other features include 7+1 bearings, corrosion-resistant clutch, and oversized carbon drag washers.


27. Daiwa Lexa Line Counter Baitcasting Reel

daiwa-lexa-line-counter-baitcasting-reel

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Price Range: $120-$215

Models and Specifications
100: Drag 11 lbs, weighs 8.5 oz, retrieves 25.7 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/14, braid 140/40.

300P: Drag 22 lbs, weighs 12 oz, retrieves 23 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/14, braid 140/40.

300H: Drag 22 lbs, weighs 10.5 oz, retrieves 28.8 in/turn.
Line-capacity yd/lb: Mono 120/14, braid 140/40.

The Daiwa Lexia is a unique baitcasting reel because it has a line counter. This reel comes in a 100 and 300 size with gear ratios of 5.5:1 and 6.3:1. The reel is built on an aluminum frame. It also has an aluminum spool, handle, and tension knob. Features include 2 corrosion-resistant ball bearings, 4+1 standard ball bearings, centrifugal spool brake, and a line clicker to make noise as the spool turns.

There are many times where having a line counter will help determine the depth of bait or jig. This is very similar to a style of salmon fishing called mooching. Line counter reels are used to place baits at certain depths where fish are being marked on the fish finder. Knowing the depth can be extremely important when fishing for, bass, hybrid striped bass, walleye, perch, and crappie. If you mark suspended fish it is important to know line depth, especially when fishing in deep water.


Baitcasting Reel Guide

What is a Baitcasting Reel?

A baitcasting reel, or baitcaster for short, is a hybrid between a spincast fishing reel and a conventional fishing reel. Right-handed anglers reel with their right hand and left anglers reel with there left hand. When reeling a spinning reel right-handed anglers use there left hand.

Baitcasting reels can be intimidating to novice angels because improper use can cause backlash and bird nests. However, with a little practice using a baitcasting reel becomes just as easy as a spincast reel or spinning reel.

The primary feature of a baitcasting reel is the adjustable resistance that can be added to the spool with the break and tension knobs. When casting heaving lures there should be more resistance and when casting lightweight lures there should be less spool resistance. Drag can also be added to the spool manually with the thumb or finger. This allows anglers much more control over the lure velocity as it enters the water. The eyelets facing upward on a baitcasting rod also lends itself nicely to jigging heavy lures for extended periods.

Baitcasting Reels Versus Spinning Reels

Baitcasting reels and spinning reels are the two most common types for reels used for freshwater fishing. Both can be used to cast and jig. Both are good options to use when bass fishing. Spinning reels cast the furthest because of the open spool design of the reel and large eyelets on a spinning rod. However, when using a spinning reel there is little control of the lure velocity as it enters the water.

Baitcasting reels spool breaks can be set low to allow for far casting and can be set high to softly set heavy baits into the water. Often times when bass fishing large noises can spook bass. A baitcasting reel allows baits and jigs to be placed accurately and quietly. Also, the upward-facing baitcasting rod gives good leverage when jigging for bass. Both types for reels hold about the same amount of line and have similar max drag settings. Baitcasting reels have star darg and the drag should be checked by pulling the line forward to test the darg level.

Casting and Reeling Technique

With a spinning reel, the bail is opened and once a lure is cast there is only line resistance on the lure. The distance of cast has to be adjusted only by how much force is put into the cast. If the lure is about to go into a bush you can flip the bail to try and stop it. This method works but does not offer complete control.

With a baitcasting reel, the resistance of the lure can be adjusted by changing the brake setting resistance on the spool. This is done with a knob than usually has 10 or more resistance settings. Lures can be cast by bringing the pole back and then forward like a standard cast. Jigs are commonly pitched by bringing the rod down and then up quickly. The goal of a pitch is not distance but rather to jig near structure beneath the boat.

Letting your thumb glide on the spool allows you to apply or remove pressure as needed. This helps to achieve pinpoint casting accuracy. No more over-casting into the bushes! Another point worth mentioning here, baitcasters that are in the same fish weight category will weigh 20-50% less than a spinning reel. This has major advantages for a younger fisherman or simply comfort of use while fishing for long periods of time. A few grams less doesn’t seem like a big difference. However, the pole used with a baitcasting reel is also usually lighter and the whole package does add up to make a noticeable difference.

Fishing Rods and Line

Let’s talk about how to hold a baitcasting rod. With spinning reels, the reel would be under the pole with the eyelets facing down. Baitcasting rods are held with the reel on top of the rod and the eyelets facing upwards.

Baitcasting rods, for the most part, have a little trigger protruding from the handle of the reel. The eyelets on baitcasting reels are also much smaller and sometimes the eyelets start closer to the reel than on spinning reels. This is because the line coming off a spinning reel is from a wide and open spool. The large eyelets offer less resistance when making a cast. For the baitcasting rod, the eyelets can be small because the line comes out of a narrow line guide on the reels levelwind. A baitcasting rod is very similar to a rod used for conventional fishing reels.

Target Species

Baitcasting reels can be used to catch bass, pike, walleye, and muskie. Fishermen really enjoy using a baitcasting reel due to the increased line capacity, ability to utilize thick line, lure control, and casting accuracy. Game fish like crappie and perch are better left to spinning reels to cast very light lures and baits. Almost all freshwater fish can be caught with baitcasting reels. It ultimately comes doe to preference and fishing style.

In real life, it is common to have spinning gear, baitcasting gear, and trolling gear all loaded up in the boat. When people fish bass tournaments it is common for anglers to have 10 baitcasting rods all set up with different lures. Time is important during a bass tournament and changing lures and reel settings can be a significant disadvantage.

Often times it comes down to technique, ease of use, and the style of fishing. If you have never used a baitcasting reel it is defiantly worth giving it a try. If you prefer spinning reels they are still a good option. I think many anglers could benefit from being flexible and using both types of reels depending on the fishing conditions.

Cost and Availability

Baitcasting reels tend to be more expensive. You’re getting a lighter, more compact, and more feature-full reel that generally has better durability than other reels. Furthermore, baitcasting reels have tons of fancy features that you won’t find on traditional spinning reels such as braking systems, multi-stage drag systems, etc. Speaking of cost, like most things in life, you will get what you pay for. Cheap baitcasting reels are prone to major component failure with very little usage and won’t fare well when they get wet or dropped. Ensure you’re buying from a reputable brand that uses high-quality materials and components.

Anywhere that sells fishing gear likely has a few baitcasting reel options available. As a piece of advice, make sure you research each specific model carefully and ensure it has the correct hand configuration for you. Right-handed models are usually more available than left-handed models. However, it’s looking like as of recent most manufacturers are taking the extra step to ensure they have a model fit for everyone.

What to Look For in a Baitcasting Reel

When selecting a baitcasting reel there are several features to looks at. First is the gear ratio. The gear ratio determines the amount of line that will be retrieved per turn of the handle. A low gear ratio is better for heavy jigs and high gear ratios are better for spinners and plugs that are retrieved quickly. Second is the amount of line the reel holds. It is good to get a reel that holds over 100 yards of the fishing line based on the type and pound test that will be used.

Other features to look at is the max drag value. The drag should be a minimum of half the fishing line strength. The number of bearings can be important but what is more important is the type of bearings. Some are cheap and made with standard steel. Others are sealed bearings with corrosion-resistant stainless steel. The drag system and internal components can also be sealed which helps cut down corrosion within the reel.

Left or Right Handed Baitcasting Reel

First off, let’s talk about whether you’re right-handed or left-handed. With a spinning reel, you really don’t have much to worry about it. Most of them have a removable handle that can be situated on either side of the reel. Baitcasting reels lack this feature, and what handedness you buy is what you have to live with.  Left-handed reels are not always readily available and some models are offered in both.

Another note on this topic, when shopping for reels, you’ll likely see, for example, a right-handed baitcaster and a right-handed spinning reel. That may sound like the same idea for both, but lookout, they’re actually completely different. Left-handed and right-handed functionality are different between the two. The baitcasting reel labeled right-handed means that you reel with the right hand, while a right-handed labeled spinning reel signifies you holding the rod with your right hand. The two are very different and can be incredibly confusing. That is probably the top contributor to baitcasting reels sold online being returned!

If you are right-handed you want a right-handed baitcasting reel. It might seem like if you turn a spinning reel with the  left hand you should be able to reel a baitcasting with the left hand. This is not the case. When customers request the left-handed reels on charters and I bring in the gear it always feels awkward.

Baitcaster Spool Quality

In the word of baitcasting, you are not offered many choices in terms of spool construction. Expect to primarily have choices between some type of forged aluminum, die-cast aluminum, or CNC Aluminum. All of these are decent quality and better than a graphite spool but a CNC is the highest quality.

You may see the term “aircraft-grade aluminum” thrown around in the descriptions. This simply signifies a 7075 aluminum sheet undergoes a cold forging process to increase its tensile strength and has significantly improved corrosion resistance.

Things get a little fancier than just that, but not by much. Some manufacturers have thought so much about muscle fatigue that they’ve drilled holes in the spool to make it lighter. To me, there isn’t really much difference here, but hey, if lightweight is your focus then, by all means, get a fancy drilled spool. Most modern spools of decent quality are actually drilled anyways.

Baitcaster Brake Systems

Baitcasters have tons of lovely features you won’t find in other reels, but this one is kind of funny in that it is a feature to prevent its own downfall which is reel backlash. Braking systems work by applying tension to the spool, slowing the release of the line to prevent backlashing, making these reels easier to use.

There are two primary types of brake systems: centrifugal and magnetic. They are a little different but for the most part, they do pretty much the same thing. I wouldn’t base my purchasing decision specifically on this one characteristic but more so the system’s ability to provide consistent performance.

Now, many advanced fishermen end up turning off the braking system because it doesn’t allow for quick and snappy casts and it may limit your distance. Either way, having it may be nice and shopping for it can be complicated, as braking systems come in different levels of strengths. Obviously, you get what you pay for, so your top end baitcasting reels will likely have much more sophisticated and much stronger and adjustable brake systems.

There are also spool tensioners, which basically apply pressure from both sides of the spool, ensuring it doesn’t spin any faster than what you like. This helps the lure fall to the water with more of a gradual curve, giving you more time to react and adjust if necessary.

Some baitcasting reels have dual brake systems. The centrifugal brake can be turned on or off and there is a magnetic brake system. This allows for fine-tune adjustments using any type of lure.

Baitcaster Line Clicker

A lot of baitcasters come with a line clicker, which is pretty self-explanatory. They click loudly when the fish perform a bite and run on your bait. This immediately alerts you to jump over people in the boat and snag that pole. Clickers are mostly used to add resistance when setting a line when trolling with conventional reels. In this case it acts as a notification that a fish is pulling line when using multiple poles at one time. This is common when fishing for, hybrid striped bass, salmon, and catfish.

Baitcaster Frame Quality and Materials

Modern baitcasting reels used lots of top quality materials. A basic low-cost baitcasting reel is made of graphite. This is a lightweight corrosion-resistant material but is not a rigid or as strong as other materials. Carbon fiber and aluminum are great options for the body and side plates. Stainless steel, aircraft-grade aluminum, and brass are good material to use for the gears, pinions, and ball bearings.

Just reading the basic specifications most reels sound very similar. These reels do use similar components and it often comes down to tolerances and quality control of parts. Typically lower cost reels will work well for a year or two. Quality reels last for many years if they are not abused and taken care of. If you use a baitcasting reel is saltwater make sure it has a sealed drag and sealed ball bearings. Shielded parts are ok and sealed parts offer the most corrosion-resistant protection.

Baitcaster Reels Gear Ratios

As you shop around for reels you’ll quickly notice numbers arranged in a ratio, usually as part of the marketing tag line. Maybe they look like 7.1:1 or perhaps something more like 5.4:1. In simple terms, the gear ratio is referring to the speed of the reel. These gear ratios are usually best paired up with a specific type of bait. High gear ratios tend to work well when you need to reel quickly and recast, using something like a spinnerbait that needs constant motion to be effective. Lower gear ratios, on the other hand, offer a bit more control and are best when pitching heavy lures and jigs.

So, for the people that are curious, what do the ratios actually signify? It is the ratio of the main gear to the gear the turns the spool. It is easier to understand in terms of how many inches of the line is retrieved per turn of the handle. A high gear ratio like 8.1:1 retrieve about 34 inches of line per turn of the handle. A low gear ratio like 5.3:1 retrieve bout 22 inches of line per turn of the handle. Reels are not the same size so these numbers vary but these are typical of most baitcasting reels.

Baitcaster Reels Ball Bearings

Just a quick little note on ball bearings, these are the things that allow the moving parts of your reel to operate smoothly. In terms of shopping, you want to look for key indicators that the bearings are of high quality and are also well protected. Terms like sealed, shielded, double-shielded, and sealed bearing encasement are what you should look for.

Aside from that, some cheap reels will try to trick you into thinking they have quality movement by saying crazy things like “packed with 10 bearings”. Just because a reel has a lot of bearings doesn’t mean they’re of good quality or will remain good after abuse. If your ball bearings go bad or become damaged, it doesn’t matter how many there are, operation of the reel will suffer.

There are different materials manufacturers use to construct these ball bearings. For the most part, the thing to look for is stainless steel ball-bearings. If it says that it should work well for freshwater fishing. For saltwater, sealed or shielded bearings are required.

Baitcaster Line Guides

A line guide is a guide is the small circle that the line exits the reel from. The levelwind moves this back and forth to evenly place line back on the reel. Line guides can be made of ceramic, Titanium, zirconia. This is similar to the eyelets on a fishing pole. If it brakes the line can get cut by the guide. For the most part, these are durable and are not a point of failure for reels. If a line does become frayed just check to make sure the guide is not broke.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, this information helps you select the best baitcasting reel for your budget and fishing needs. If you have any questions there is a comment section to this article. Thanks for reading and good luck fishing!


Frequently asked Questions

How do you set the drag on a baitcasting reel? 

Drag on all baitcasting reels is called star drag. There is a star-shaped spindle on the same side as the crank handle. Rotating the spindle counter-clockwise tightens the drag and rotating it clockwise loosens the drag. This is the adjustment that changes the spool resistance when the tumb bar or spool release button has not been pressed down. The tension knob and magnetic brake change the resistance when the spool release button has been pressed.

What is the tension control knob?

The tension control know is a small knob usually made of aluminum on a baitcasting reel. It is not the brake but a sperate tension adjustment for the reel. It applies consistent pressure to the spool rather than tension based on spool velocity. Proper adjustment will allow for far casting while also eliminating backlash and bird nests in the line.

What is the best line type for a baitcasting reel?

The best fishing line for a baitcasting reel is a braided fishing line. It is lightweight which helps with far casting. Braided line is strong which can help pull gear through weeds when bass fishing. Most importantly braided line is much less likely to backlash when casting. Some people say that it is to easy to use and people should practice using a monofilament line first. Monofilament line also works well with a baitcasting reel but fishing with braided line does provide an advantage. Braided fishing line is more visible to fish. For this reason, I use a 4-6 foot fluorocarbon leader when bass fishing with braided line.

Why do pros use baitcasting reels?

Pros use baitcasting reels for several reasons. First, it gives them more lure control in both distance and how fast the lure enters the water. Oftentimes a quiet splash is better and a loud splash from a no resistance cast from a spinning reel. Second pithing gigs and bait is a quick way to place lures accurately that is not typically done with a spinning reel. Baitcasting rods have eyelets that face upward and this configuration is more comfortable for jigging. Lastly, baitcasting reel works well with heavy lines. A strong braided line allows the hook to be set firmly and big bass to be reeled in and netted quickly.

Can you use a baitcaster for trout?

Yes a baitcasting reel can be used to catch trout but a spinning reel or fly fishing reel is typically a better option. Trout lures are very lightweight and will cast further with spinning reels. Baitcasting reels will not allow for far distance casting which limits good lure presentations. If fishing in a small deep hole a baitcasting reel would work just fine. If all you have is a baitcasting setup it will work for trout fishing. However, it would not be wise to get a baitcasting reel specifically for trout fishing.

How do you cast a baitcasting reel?

To cast a baitcasting reel first set up the reel based on the lure weight. To do this turn the brake off and tighten to spool tension knob. Then push down the spool release button and turn the spool tension kob until the lure just starts to pull the line off the reel with gravity. Then turn the magnetic brake to about halfway up and you are ready to make a cast.

When casting push the button and keep your finger on the spool. Pull back and bring the rod forward smoothly. Feather the spool with your thumb during the entire cast to prevent backlash. If you keep tension on the spool with your thumb the reel should not get bird nested. Then practice, casting for distance and practice casting to allow the lure to gently enter the water. The brake can be fine tuned based on the desired casting distance.

How do I stop my baitcaster from backlashing?

There are three controls that need to be properly set to prevent a baitcasting reel from backlashing. First is the tension control knob. With the brake turned off to push the button to release the spool. The lure should slowly fall due to the force of gravity. Next is the brake adjustment. Set this to 1 for light lures and 10 for heavy lures. Lastly and probably most important is your thumb. When casting always keep some pressure on the spool. Adding pressure to the spool is most important as the lure stops. If the pressure is not increased the momentum of the spool moving forward is what causes a backlash. Once the lure has entered the water, retrieving the lure can begin.

Are baitcasters only for bass?

Baitcastiers are most commonly used for bass fishing. These reel work well for casting and jigging heavy lures. Many people also use baitcasting reels to catch catfish, walleye, and hybrid striped bass. Saltwater baitcasting reels can also be used in canals and shallow water areas to catch fish like snook, bonefish, snapper, and tarpon.


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