For the untrained eye and inexperienced anglers, baitcasting reels may look the same, but they are very different. And, choose the wrong one, and you’ll end up with a disastrous fishing trip. Picking the best baitcasting reel can save you from this headache, and we will let you in the best choices so you can stop researching and start fishing!
What You Should Consider Before Buying Baitcasting Reel
There are many benefits of switching to a baitcasting reel. It exceptionally handles heavier lines needed to fight and land larger fish. It also provides maximum control while working a wide selection of baits and lures. But, what should you look for when you are shopping for this type of reel? Here is a handy baitcasting reel buying guide.
The spool is your connection between the fishing line and your baitcasting reel. Baitcasting reels tend to have larger spools and hold more lines of a heavier weight rating.
Most spool sizes will be adequate for stationary fishing and smaller ponds or rivers. More line is beneficial if you like to troll, engage fish that run, or on large bodies of water. You should consider a larger spool if you need to cast farther or handle runs during a fight.
Most of today’s baitcasting reels use one or more materials. Aluminum, graphite, and composites are the most popular choices for manufacturing. Aluminum reels are strong but weigh more. On the other hand, graphite reels are lighter but at the cost of durability.
As for the buttons and knobs, they often contain high-impact plastics or composites. You will pay more for a single-piece reel, but it does add to overall durability.
A gear ratio indicates the speed at which you can retrieve the fishing line. Manufacturers usually list a reel’s gear ratio as two numbers separated by a colon. The first number indicates the number of rotations on the spool. A number behind the spool displays the number of turns on the handle.
For example, a 3:1 would indicate three spool rotations for each complete handle rotation.
Centrifugal Brakes vs Magnetic Brakes
The braking system, either centrifugal or magnetic, helps reduce backlash tangles. But what is the difference?
A centrifugal brake system uses pads to create friction on the sides of the spool. These pads apply even resistance throughout the cast (especially at the start). For less experienced anglers, they will enjoy this “set-and-forget” setup.
On the other hand, as its name suggests, a magnetic brake system uses magnets to produce resistance as they spin past each other. More experienced anglers often prefer the ability to dial in the resistance with magnets. You will notice more friction as the spool slows at the end of a cast.
Reel Shape: Round vs Low Profile
Another design consideration on a baitcasting reel is the shape. The two options you will find are either low profile or round housings.
Low profiles are beginner-friendly and comfortable to hold. However, they have a lower line capacity, making them better suited for short casts and smaller fish. On the other hand, round baitcasting reels have a larger body to hold more lines. Experienced anglers will also have a better time controlling line on round reels.
Freshwater Versus Saltwater
Water corrodes metals over time. Saltwater reel designs use either alloys that are more resistant to corrosion or have coatings to protect metals. They also have sealed interiors that freshwater baitcasting reels might lack.
You will also find that saltwater reels are larger and include heavier drag settings, making them more expensive. The downside is saltwater baitcasting reels are harder to control and cast and heavier than freshwater counterparts.
Other Features to Consider
- Level Wind System: Level winds guide the fishing line as you reel it onto the spool. It moves back and forth as you crank the reel to position line across the entire spool.
- Drag System: Drag is a control feature that places tension on the fishing line as you fight a fish. Greater tension settings make it more difficult for the line to be stripped away by the fish on your baitcasting reel.
- Ball Bearing: These reduce internal friction between moving parts. More ball bearings create smoother movement.
- Baitcasting Anti-Reverse: You can set this to prevent your reel from moving backward. That is a critical feature as you fight fish.
What Are the Best Baitcasting Reels?
There are hundreds of baitcasting reels to choose from. But if you only want the best for your needs and budget, our top five choices are the cream of the crop. They excel in performance, durability, usability, and features. And of course, if you’re budget is limited, we found some excellent options too.
1. Shimano Curado Dc Reel – Best Baistcasting Reel
Shimano designed this low-profile baitcasting reel for freshwater settings. Four separate settings allow you to set the brakes to match your angling style. Its gear ratio of 6.2:1 falls in the typical baitcaster range acceptable for most conditions. But, what stands out on this baitcasting reel?
Shimano uses a new Digital Control Brake system that monitors the reel’s spool speed 1,000 times each second. Keep in mind that the set price on the Curado Dc is higher than others on the list. It also has a limited line capacity suited for short casting situations while taking on smaller game fish.
2. Lew’s Tournament MP Speed Spool LFS Baitcast Reel
Blended materials make up the frame and housing of this baitcasting reel. It includes zero reverse and a brake system of both magnets and pads. That extra control makes it one of the best baitcaster for beginners on this list.
You might find this to be the best baitcaster if a smooth operation is your criteria. Lew’s uses a 10-ball bearing system to reduce friction. Each stainless steel ball-bearing has double-coated protection against corrosion. The cost of these tournament baitcasting reels can get pricey with the faster gear ratios. You will pay almost triple the price for the 8.3:1 gear ratio compared to the 5.6:1 gear ratio.
3. Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel
Limited budget? Piscifun is an excellent choice. This low-profile reel uses Japanese Hami cut brass gears and aluminum bearings. It even has a 10-setting magnetic brake system and side oil port that beginners will find easy to use.
The 5.3:1 gear ratio is on the lower end of baitcasting reel speeds. That will be an issue if you want to fish lures quickly. It will serve your purposes better if you are trolling from a boat or floating baits along the water column.
4. KastKing Royale Legend GT Baitcasting Reel
KastKing has redesigned this cheap baitcaster to look and perform better than previous models.
The low-profile reel is small enough for most hands to palm. Plus, its graphite body and coated interior parts make it more water-resistant. It even offers adequate control using eight cross-fire magnets for braking. Add the carbon fiber drag system and 5 +1 Double Shielded ball bearings, and you have one of the best baitcaster under 100.
A 7.2:1 gear ratio is faster than some reels. That may prove frustrating if you are new to fishing and want to retrieve slowly. You will need to practice to get slower speed control.
5. 13 Fishing Concept Z Reel
You will find this to be one of the best casting reels for saltwater fishing on the list. It is a low-profile design that uses centrifugal braking to prevent backlash. It has a 7.3:1 gear ratio, a mid-speed retrieval that the best baitcaster for beginners will provide as a compromise between cost and control. Plus, the aluminum and other materials used in construction are protected using Ocean Armor 2 Saltwater Protection Process.
However, the low-profile design is small compared to some saltwater baitcaster reels.
It can be confusing to shop for your first-ever baitcasting reel. Hopefully, our review and guide can point you to the right best baitcasting reel based on your needs and budget!