10 Best Baitcasting Reels

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles - Doug Larson 

Fishing isn’t just a hobby and a pastime popularised by Mark Twain that idles away the hours of the day in a state of bliss and fulfilled joy.

It’s a fully immersive lifestyle that encourages you to push yourself to the limit of your ability and teaches you the disciplines of patience, dedication, and devotion.

That said, fishing is also a lot of fun and is enjoyed by a worldwide community of enthusiasts who happily, and readily accept any and all newcomers, and who with a little bit of cajoling, will happily share their angling secrets with you. 

There will come a time, as your interest in fishing and ability increases, that you’ll want to start investing in a better pole and a better reel.

And there’s no better way to up your angling game, catch bigger fish and learn to more accurately cast with your line, than with a baitcasting reel.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the ten best baitcasting reels so that you can take advantage of all of the tools available to you and become the sort of freshwater fishing person that you always wanted to be.

Whatever you want to catch, bass, trout, salmon, pike, sturgeon, or any of the other fish that lurk in the rivers and lakes of America, armed with a baitcasting reel, you’ll be able to hook the prey you want, when you want. It’s time to start casting…

OUR TOP PICK

SHIMANO SLX XT 150 HG SLX150 XT HG Low Profile RH Baitcast Reel Box, 5, Multi, One Size

For the last one hundred years, Shimano has been focused on designing and creating the sort of fishing and cycling products that are dedicated to helping people increase their connection with, and to, the outdoors and nature. 

Fully immersed in the worlds that they helped to popularise and bring to mainstream attention, Shimano has never deviated or swayed from doing what they do best. Making the sort of reels that you can trust and depend on, time, and time again. 

Built using Shimano’s patented S3D technology, its balanced and thin-walled aluminum construction means that the SLX XT suffers from greatly reduced spool vibration which in turn makes it far more smooth when you use it to cast and retrieve lures.

It’s Hagane body also imbues the SLX with a rigidity that helps to increase the reels stiffness and impact resistance which eliminates body flexing in the reel, which increases the cranking power of the reel and transforms the SLX’s efficiency into the sort of strength and reliability that you’ll always be able to depend on, regardless of where you’ve chosen to go fishing. 

With Super Free Spool technology (which eliminates shaft friction by using a ball bearing system to increase the effectiveness of the pinion gear) and SVS Infinity braking, to afford you greater control over the spool speed and the accuracy of your casting (especially with lighter lures), that in turn make it possible for you make the sort of split-second adjustments you need to when casting, the SLX is a powerful baitcasting reel for newcomers and freshwater veterans alike.

Shimano has primed the waters to make it possible for you to fish the way you’ve always dreamed about. 

Pros

  • Budgeted to suit the pocketbook of every angler, the SLX XT packs an incredible amount of angling power at an incredibly affordable price. 
  • Packed with more technology than NASA was able to cram into both it’s Mercury and Gemini programs, the SLX XT has been engineered to be incredibly accurate, strong, durable, and reliable and let you hook any fish that crosses your path while you’re out in the wild. 
  • Made in both left and right-handed versions, the SLX XT has been created to level the angling playing field. While Shimano doesn’t specify the difference between the two,  the right-handed model is the SLX One-Fifty series and the left-handed model is the One Fifty-One. As long as you know which is which, you’ll be able to fish with confidence, content in the knowledge that you’ll be able to pull in whatever you catch.

Cons

  • A number of anglers have complained that the SLX XT while being a budget-friendly baitcasting reel, has been made with that budget in mind, and as such has been built with budget parts and isn’t up to the usually high Shimano standards. While we’d like to disagree with them, we’re forced to admit that even though this baitcasting reel is an excellent addition to any anglers arsenal, it doesn’t have the same sort of capability and functionality as some of Shimano’s slightly higher budget reels. Still, for an introductory baitcasting reel, the SLX XT has set an incredibly high benchmark that it’s a competition will find it difficult to match or challenge.

EDITORS CHOICE

Daiwa Tatula CT 100XS 8.1:1 Hyper Speed Right Hand Baitcast Fishing Reel - TACT100XS

Daiwa has been pushing the envelope of fishing and angling technology for more than sixty years and has consistently changed the path that the sport has followed during that time.

A brand that believes that you should only ever have the best equipment on hand, Daiwa has made it their primary goal to ensure that every single reel that they make will enable you to follow your heart and fully embrace the thing that you love doing most; fishing.

Forged from aluminum, the Tatula 100 is light, strong, and made to resist corrosion and anything that the elements can, and will, throw at it.

Using Daiwa’s Magforce Z technology which effectively and efficiently controls the intensity of the reels magnetic field and allows it to cast further, the Tutalua was engineered using the T-Wing system that incorporates a larger, wider, and less restrictive line guide that allows you to cast further and with a greater degree of accuracy. It’s strong, accurate, and made to go the distance. 

And thanks to the revolutionary SV-Concept that Daiwa readily embraced, you don’t have to adjust the Mechanical Spool Brake Knob when casting.

All of the full adjustable braking power that you’ll need to help you control the accuracy and distance of the Tatula is readily available with a twist of the magnetic dial.

Daiwa has thought of just about everything, so all that you need to do is get out there and start casting. 

Pros

  • Made from aluminum, the Tatula was purpose-built to be the ultimate in competition reels. It’s light, strong, and thanks to the combination of Magforce Z and T-Wing technology that it uses, it’s also incredibly accurate and can go further, and for longer, than you ever thought possible.
  • And, more importantly, it won’t hurt your bank account or scar your pocketbook. The Tatula was made to be any everyday reel that the everyday fishing fanatic could easily afford. 
  • Daiwa’s name and reputation mean everything to them and nothing leaves their design workshop without being pushed far beyond the limit of everything that they expect it to do and more. In other words, the Tatula is a baitcasting reel that you’ll always be able to depend on and rely on.

Cons

  • It’s a right-handed reel and isn’t available in a left-handed version. This seems a little odd to us, as it cuts out a significant part of its target audience and alienates a large percentage of the fishing community, but then we don’t make the decisions at Daiwa. If you’re a lefty, you’re going to have to look elsewhere for your baitcasting reel. 
  • While it’s a smooth casting reel, it is a little louder than some fishing folks would like. While this isn’t a deal-breaker, it can be a little distracting when you’re out on the lake fishing, especially if the company you’re with isn’t used to the sort of volume that it makes when you’re using it.

BEST VALUE

Ardent AA65RBA Apex Elite 6.5:1 Baitcasting Fishing Reel - Right Handed

Based in St Louis and Missouri, Ardent is an American owned company that designs all of its products at home and has them manufactured overseas so that they can always deliver maximum performance at the lowest possible cost.

Specializing in freshwater fishing equipment, everything that Ardent does is done with fishing devotees in mind. Nothing they do is left to chance, and everything they make is precision built to their demanding and exacting standards. 

The Apex Elite’s lightweight, high strength aluminum frame provides an ideal platform for its deep machined spool that’s not only made to be long lasting but also uses an incredible twelve plus one ball bearing system to make sure that the Elite has a long casting distance and incredibly smooth retrieval.

And talking about the spool, Ardent has fashioned the handle that you’ll use to control it from carbon fiber, so it’ll outlast you and your fishing pole, and fitted it with EVA foam grip knobs, which are durable and staggeringly comfortable to use while you’re on the water, in pursuit of your latest catch.

The Elite also has a two hundred and seventy-degree magnetic brake and swept-back aluminum star drag to ensure that it’s accurate, easy to get to handle, and will always operate smoothly and efficiently.

Ardent knows what the American fisherman needs, and expects from his kit, and with the Apex Elite, they’ve delivered a baitcasting reel that’ll keep up with, and satisfy, all of their demands. 

Pros

  • A favored reel among the fishing fraternity, the Apex Elite does everything that Ardent claims it will and much more besides. It was made to make fishers happy and that’s exactly what it does. 
  • As it’s made from high-quality cast aluminum, carbon fiber and uses EVA grip knobs, you know that the Elite has been made to last and with you in mind.  And it’s accuracy and long-distance casting won’t rip a hole in your pocketbook either. It’s been made to be affordable for anyone who wants to fit a great quality, reliable baitcasting reel to their fishing pole. 
  • It’s also available in both left and right-handed variations, and surprisingly (and for once), the left-handed variant is more affordable than the standard right-handed one.

Cons

  • A couple of less than happy anglers have reported that the Elite isn’t up to the standard that they thought it would be, and that over time, it becomes noisy and the distance that it’s capable of reaching becomes significantly reduced. Whether it’s due to a manufacturing error, or it is an actual design flaw is a question for the ages, but it’s something to think about before investing in an Apex Elite.

RUNNER UP

Lew's Tournament MP Speed Spool LFS 6.8:1 Right Hand Baitcast Reel (TS1HMP)

Lew Childre was a man ahead of his time, and while chasing his passion for sports on the Gulf Coast of Alabama in the nineteen forties, he eventually ended up focusing on and falling in love with fishing.

After making his mark in the world of poles and grips, he eventually branched out into reels and in nineteen seventy-three invented the first teardrop reel that changed the face of his beloved sport forever.

Lew may be gone, but the company he founded and the one that still bears his name continues to diligently pursue his legacy. 

The Speed Spool LFS adheres to the two principles that Lew holds dear and its creation was driven by innovation and fueled by passion.

Made from a one-piece, super light, and strong aluminum frame with graphite side plates and fitted with a double anodized spool and hard anodized speed gears, the MP Speed Spool uses a P2 Super Pinion bearing system that’s supported by ten stainless steel double shielded bearings and a zero return one-way clutch.

All of which means that it's incredibly precise and stable and won’t let you down when you need it the most.

With an externally adjustable multi-setting brake, Lew’s Speed Spool continues to do what their founder always did.

It pushes what it’s possible for baitcasting reels to do to their absolute limits and refuses to compromise on quality while incorporating state of the art technology to ensure that this is one baitcasting reel that’ll always find its target.  

Pros

  • Noted for its exceptional performance, The Speed Spool has a dedicated fishing fanbase who believe that, for the price that you’ll pay for the reel, it’s in a league of its own.
  • The solid cast aluminum and graphite construction mean that this reel is tougher than an angry bull shark on its worst day. If you want a baitcasting reel that’s been designed to last long enough to become a family heirloom, the only name that you need to remember is Lew’s.
  • Responsible for more fishing firsts than most companies could even begin to dream about in their lifetimes, Lew’s have built the sort of cast-iron reputation around their brand that most multinational corporations would willingly sacrifice their right hands and a years worth of profit to acquire.

Cons

  • We searched and searched, and we had to because we love our Speed Spool and the only negative thing that we could find about this reel, was one instance of the bearings failing. Just one. And when you think about how many of these reels there are out there, that’s a pretty good indicator of the quality of this baitcasting reel and how dedicated Lew’s are to making the best baitcasting reels they possibly can. 

RUNNER UP

Abu Garcia REVO4 STX Revo STX Low Profile Fishing Reel

Having been in business for a century and having made their first mass-market fishing pole more than eighty years ago, it’s safe to say that Abu Garcia knows more than a little about what makes a fishing enthusiast’s souls sing and heart beat a little faster.

There’s a reason that they’ve been in business as long as they have and that’s because they’re committed to providing anglers everywhere with the highest quality and most innovative products. 

Built from an alloy frame, within an aluminum handle side-plate and a carbon side palm plate, the Revo STX is a durable, strong, and light reel.

It’s DuraClutch and D2 gear design means that it has instant anti-reverse, so you’ll be fully in control of your cast whenever you hit the water.

With ten steel ball bearing and one roller bearing to ensure continuous and smooth operation, a power stack carbon matrix system to enable to deal with extreme drag pressure, and dragger brass gear to ensure that the reel will outlast the user, Abu Garcia has put everything that they’ve learned about fishing pole manufacturer to good use with the Revo STX. 

Weighing less than half a pound, the Revo STX is the ideal baitcasting reel to begin your extended fishing journey with. It’s light, it’s strong, made using only the finest quality components, has a fantastic cast length, and is deadly accurate.

It’s the sort of baitcasting reel that long time anglers and die-hard fishing fans dream about and after you’ve used it for the first time, will continue to linger long in your memory. 

Pros

  • Abu Garcia made their reputation by creating the sort of equipment that would let anglers follow their heart’s desire with unrelenting passion. They achieved what they set out to do and they have nothing to prove to anyone. Those who know about Abu Garcia and what they do are committed to following them without question.
  • At just under half a pound, this baitcasting reel is just as tough as it is light. It’s designed to be your constant water-bound companion for years to come. 
  • There’s a left-handed and right-handed variation of the reel. It’s been made to suit, and work with, every anglers individual fishing and casting style

Cons

  • If you only have small hands and fingers, the brakes on the Revo STX can be difficult to operate and might need a few improvisational touches of your own to work the way they’re designed to.

RUNNER UP

13 Fishing Concept Z 7.3:1 Gear Ratio Freshwater/Saltwater Baitcasting Fishing Reel,Tequila Sunrise

Based in Clearwater, Florida 13 Fishing has a simple agenda. To make the lives of anglers better through the use of technology.

The Concept Z turned the angling world on its head when it first appeared and it’s still continuing to make waves by abandoning tradition and charging headlong into the future with its radical and uncompromising design. 

The only tradition that 13 Fishing kept when they made the Concept Z was their adherence to fashioning it from aluminum to ensure that it was light, durable, and strong, and able to cope with any elements and catch.

With inbuilt corrosion-proof Ocean Armor 2 technology, the Concept Z is just at home on the sea as it is on the lake, and having replaced the ball bearing system with a proprietary polymer technology and installing a high-performance reel that reaches further and faster than it’s conventional cousins, the Concept Z dragged bait casting into the world of tomorrow.

Using a unique six-way centrifugal braking system that’s fully adjustable, 13 Fishing put a weapon of mass casting destruction into the hands of fishing enthusiasts everywhere and made sure that nothing would ever be the same again. Why follow the herd, when you can walk in 13 Fishing’s footsteps and learn how to fish your own way.

Some brands are content to sit in the shadows and let life pass them by, but 13 Fishing believe that sometimes you need to step into the light and lead by example. And when they unleashed the Concept Z, that’s exactly what they did. 

Pros

  • Built like a tank and made to last, the Concept Z is proof of what can be done when you let ambition and desire take the reins and guide you. 
  • The fully controllable six-way centrifugal braking system allows you to choose the weight limit of your lure and used in conjunction with the Concept Z’s polymer ball bearing system, makes casting smooth and straightforward. Baitcasting is an art and the Concept Z is the reel that’ll help you to master it. 
  • It comes with a limited one-year warranty that protects you against any manufacturing or design defects. If the Concept Z does fail due to production error within that time frame, 13 Fishing with either repair or replace your reel.

Cons

  • And now for some good news. There are none. Everyone who uses this reel falls in love with it and adores it. It might be a little pricey side, but like all of the best things in life, the Concept Z is worth it.

RUNNER UP

KastKing Spartacus Plus Baitcasting Fishing Reel,Rubber Cork Version,Right Handed Reel

What started as an idea between four broke college buddies from Syracuse who used to fish the Finger Lakes in upstate New York soon became something more, and in two thousand and thirteen KastKing was born.

And less than a decade later, they’ve become a worldwide brand with over fifty new and revolutionary fishing products to their name. 

The Spartacus, like its namesake, was made to be a warrior. Engineered from machined aluminum, the Spartacus uses seven plus one, corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings and brass gearing with anti-reverse and has a ceramic line guide built-in.

Tournament ready, it has powerful five-button micro-cast dual centrifugal and magnetic brakes, which allows it to duel with, and defeat any fish up to seventeen and a half pounds.

And with the advanced double tapered control chute and reel launch, its accuracy is unparalleled. With the KastKing, if you hook your prize, you’ll reel it in. There’s no escape from the Spartacus. 

KastKing had one simple goal. To make sure that fishing was, and is fun, and with the Spartacus, they went above and beyond to fulfill their mission parameters.

They did what few other companies could. They brought innovation and affordability together to create the sort of baitcasting reel that everyone can enjoy every time they venture out for a spot of fishing. 

Pros

  • Weighing in at just six ounces, KastKing’s Spartacus is the sort of battle-ready fishing weapon that every angler needs, and deserves to have, on their side. 
  • With a choice of six different colors, the Spartacus is about more than just technology and giving you every possible advantage you could ever want whenever you cast your line into a river or a lake. It’s also about making you look good while you’re doing it. 
  • And contrary to popular opinion, all of the technological fishing power that the Spartacus is infused with doesn’t cost the Earth.  In fact, the opposite is true, as the Spartacus has been designed to fall in line with every single fisherman’s budget and if you do things the KingKast way, your pocketbook will be your best friend forever and a day. 
  • It also comes with a total peace of mind one-year warranty that’ll help you sleep soundly at night and fish well during the day.

Cons

  • There are a few disgruntled fishermen who claim that the old adage about getting what you pay for applies to the KingKast. It is, according to this vocal minority beset by durability and reliability issues. While we’d normally take that into consideration, given the percentage of the fishing community who swear by this baitcasting reel and having used this reel ourselves on numerous occasions without issue, all we can say is that we’d be a little worried if we hadn’t used it and if it wasn’t for KastKing’s twelve-month warranty.

RUNNER UP

SHIMANO Curado DC 150; Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Fishing Reel

Sometimes you just need to push the fishing boat out as far as you can and put your faith in not only the future but also a brand that helped to shape the face of modern fishing.

The DC is the most technologically advanced of their much-vaunted Curado line of reels. 

The Curado DC is powered by Shimano’s new digital braking system that uses a micro-computer to monitor braking and line speed one thousand times a second to eliminate backlash and maximize the distance that the reel can reach.

Utilizing a four-button control method, the brakes can be adjusted to your personal setting, so that the reel can do all of the hard work and you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Its micro module gears and patented XSHIP ensure that the DC has seamless reeling and smooth cranking, and as it’s all packed into one of Shimano’s devastatingly tough Hagane frames, the chances of the Curado ever failing to live up to your high expectations are almost non-existent. 

Efficient and highly effective, the Curado DC puts you in charge and hands you an unprecedented amount of baitcasting power. Shimano wants to help you to make your dreams come true and to live every second of your free time to its absolute fullest.

And the Curado DC is the culmination of almost one hundred years of casting innovation and invention that’s been designed to encourage you to embrace your hobby and savor every single moment that you spend fishing. 

Pros

  • The epitome of fishing technology, Curado DC proves that the computer revolution has reached far beyond the confines of the modern home. Be part of the revolution and let Shimano guide you to a brighter fishing future. 
  • It isn’t just a marvel of the digital age, the Curado DC uses a Hagane frame which means that it’s also tough and durable and has been built to last.

Cons

  • All of the advanced technology that’s been packed into its hardy, lightweight frame comes at a reassuringly high price that all but ensures that it’ll only ever be the plaything of those with money to burn and time enough on their hands to thoroughly enjoy it. 

RUNNER UP

Piscifun Torrent Right Handed 7.1:1 Baitcasting Reel 18LB Carbon Fiber Drag Low Profile Baitcaster Fishing Reel Tournament Baitcast Reels

With a name that means “Fishing Is Fun” in Latin, this less than a decade old brand has made serious waves in the fishing world in a surprisingly short amount of time. 

Founded by two friends who wanted to share their passion for fishing with the world, PIscifun is dedicated to bringing high-quality, innovative, and imaginative fishing gear to everyone around the world. 

Featuring double line winding shafts, shielded stainless steel ball bearings,  a reinforced brass gearing system, four premium carbon fiber drag washers, and a ten setting magnetic braking system, the Piscifun Torrent has been designed with the fishing fan in mind.

Made to cast further, faster and more accurately, it’ll hook an eighteen-pound fish and hold on to it while you reel it in with relative ease. 

While some fishing folks place great emphasis on where a reel is made and by who, sometimes the proof of the fishing pudding is entirely reliant on how well a reel works. and having spent a weekend at the lake with the Piscifun, we can vouch for its veracity. It may have been designed and built in China, but it works wonders in America. 

Pros

  • It may not be the most advanced baitcasting reel that you’ll ever attach to your fishing pole, but thanks to a little innovation and forethought, it is one of the most effective and easy to use. Whether you’re a first-timer or an old-timer, you’ll have plenty of fishing fun with the Torrent. 
  • And it’s priced to fit every single pocket. Old, young, beginner, or veteran, anyone and everyone can afford to enjoy the Piscifun Torrent.

Cons

  • A small percentage of fishing fans have reported durability issues and claim that the Piscifun is beset by manufacturing errors.  Again, if the number of complainants was higher, and if we hadn’t enjoyed a pleasant weekend filled with fishing during which the Piscifun more than earned its keep, we might be inclined to believe them. We’re not, but you might be, and if you are, it might be worth finding out as much as you can about the Torrent before laying your hard-earned dollars down for it. 

RUNNER UP

Sougayilang Baitcasting Reels, Fishing Reels with 8:1 Gear Ratio Super Smooth Power Baitcaster Reel, 9 + 1 Ball Bearings Anti-Corrosion Bait Caster Reel-Right Hand

Sougayilang was founded to spread the joy of fishing around the globe, and in order to do that, they started designing and manufacturing the sort of fishing apparatus and paraphernalia that potential fishing folk everywhere could take to heart and use on their quest to become full members of the worldwide fishing family. 

Engineered around a machined aluminum frame and body, the Sougayilang has a ten stainless steel ball-bearing system, automatic anti-reverse, and a ten setting magnetic brake that’s easily adjustable.

This bait caster does exactly what its manufacturer says it will. It makes fishing fun and encourages you to find the hidden joy in every moment that you spend with it in the water. 

In an age where everything revolves around functionality and adaptability rather than ill found corporate loyalty, Sougayilang has charted their own course through the often murky waters of the fishing world.

But they’ve stayed the distance, and slowly but surely they’ve started to win their own legion of fans and prove that there’s more to fishing than the name on your reel.

Pros

  • Sougayilang isn’t about inventing new technology or pushing the boundaries of what is and isn’t possible in the world of fishing, they just want to provide affordable fishing equipment that everyone can use to improve their lives. 
  • And while we’re on the subject of affordability, this is one baitcasting reel that won’t hurt your pocketbook or damage your bank balance. 
  • They’re so confident in their product and so sure that it will help you to find your footing in the fishing community, that Sougayilang offers a two-year warranty on all of their baitcasting reels. If it fails for any reason, they happily replace or repair it for you.

Cons

  • It’s plagued by the same issues that most baitcasting reels seem to be, sometimes a bad one makes it off the factory floor and when it does, all hell breaks loose on the internet. Just remember if you’re tempted by the Sougayilang, that the good reviews and fishing fans who are happy with the reel far outweigh the bad and those who are disappointed by it

Best Baitcasting Reels Buying Guide

Which Baitcasting Reel Is The Right One For Me?

As the price differential separating the reels on our list is vast, the best way to decide which reel is the right for you is by setting a budget, sticking to it rigidly, and taking another look at our list.

Even though some of the baitcasting reels on our list include a host of features that some of the others don’t, at the end of the day, they’re all made to do the same thing. So choose wisely, choose well, and listen to your head instead of your heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Baitcasting Reel?

Baitcasting reels are fishing reels that are purpose-designed for accuracy and casting distance and can be used in both freshwater and saltwater fishing. 

Built to sit on top of a fishing pole, or rod, rather than in the more conventional below the handle of the pole position, bait casters use a braking system that is engineered to give an angler more control of her or his casting that is usually controlled by the thumb.

While bait casters grant an angler a far greater degree of control, due to their braking system and position, they’re geared toward more experienced anglers and those looking to take their next step forward in the world of fishing. 

Andrew Marshall
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