If you’ve been fishing for a while and want to move on to a set-up that gives you greater control and power, it might be time to consider a baitcasting rod and reel. We first covered casting rods—and our top picks—in a previous post. (Click here to check out the best baitcasting rods)
This time, we’re focusing on baitcasting reels. What’s the difference between (the more common) spinning reel and a baitcasting reel? First, a spinning reel is attached to the underside of a fishing rod. The line is released by flipping up the metal bail wire and when you flip the wire back down, the line stays put. When the line being pulled back in, it spins on the reel.
A baitcasting reel is positioned on top of the rod. Unlike the spinning reel, you control the cast by using your thumb to press against the line. This technique is more prone to backlash and takes longer to learn but the rewards can be great. In general, baitcasting reels and rods give you more control along with a more powerful cast. They’re often used for bigger fish.
Ready to choose the best baitcasting reel for you? Here are our top picks:
This model by Kastking—in the newer low-profile design—offers a dual-brake system to ensure extra-long casts. Despite its low price, the reel is still made from high-quality materials such as forged brass and aircraft-grade aluminum.
- THE KASTKING ROYALE FAMILY - Select a low profile versatile KastKing Royale Legend 7.0:1, or WhiteMax 5.3:1 Low Gear Ratio baitcaster, or an amazing super lightweight all carbon KastKing Stealth 7.0:1 fishing reel and match it to a peak performance carbon graphite KastKing Royale Legend fishing rod for a fantastic KastKing Baitcasting Combo!
- UNMATCHED – Precision cut brass gear structure (high-strength aerospace grade aluminum precision gear in the Stealth) and carbon fiber drag system delivering 17.5LBs/ 8KG of drag offer the ultimate in a high performance low maintenance baitcasting reel package.
- PROVEN - We use only the highest quality, anti-corrosion shielded ball bearings to produce the smoothest, quietest casting reel you’ve ever held in your hand. These 11 ball bearings combined with our instant-stop one way bearing clutch delivers long, accurate casts and lightning fast hook sets.
- TOURNAMENT READY – Experts and pro anglers will appreciate the multi-level, dual braking system for fine tuning and obtaining the longest possible casts. Anglers new to casting reels will rely on the dual brake system to avoid over runs and lost fishing time. Our dual brake system utilizes a 4 pin, internal friction brake that when combined with our powerful 7-magnet, externally adjustable magnetic brake, provides for the ultimate in fine casting control over a wide range of baits and conditions
- Performance Defined – Only the finest components are used to deliver professional level performance. Hard forged brass/aluminum gears, aircraft grade aluminum spool, high grade comfortable EVA knobs and braid resistant ceramic line guide insert ensure that these casting reels will be your trusted partner every time you hit the water.
Piscifun’s low-profile model has a graphite composite body and a reinforced brass gear system that provides a 7:1:1 high-speed gear ratio.
- 【Unbeatable Value and Performance】The Piscifun Torrent I is a baitcaster reel that is affordable yet delivers exceptional performance and durability. It is designed to cater to anglers of all levels and comes in a compact size with a concealed side cover release.
- 【High-Performance】The new double bearing supported pinion gear technology used in this product offers high-performance and delivers a 30% increase in smoothness under load compared to the single bearing supported technology. Plus, the Japanese Hamai cut 3604 brass gears, nickel-plated brass driver shaft, and CNC aluminum spools make this baitcasting reel incredibly strong and durable.
- 【Adaptable to Your Needs】Piscifun baitcasting reel available in 5.3:1 and 7.1:1 gear ratio options. The 5.3:1 gear ratio model is perfect for crankbaits or slower presentations, while the 7.1:1 gear ratio model quickly picks up fishing line at 30” per turn, making it great for pitching jigs or burning baits at high speed. From cranking to flipping and pitching, the Torrent has you covered.
- 【Unmatched Drag Power】The Torrent baitcasting reel offers unmatched drag power, with an 18lbs drag system that enables anglers to unleash their fishing potential. The baitcaster reel utilizes advanced triple carbon washers to provide ultimate strength when battling trophy fish, is design to help anglers manage the fight with the fish and increase their chances of successfully landing their catch.
- 【Ease of Use】Maximize your reel's performance. The unique side plate oil port design of this fishing reel makes it very user-friendly and easy to maintain. This feature not only helps beginners to take care of their fishing reel, but it also helps experienced anglers to perform maintenance work more quickly and easily. As a result, this design contributes to extending the overall lifespan of the reel and ensuring its maximum performance.
This versatile model offers super smooth casts and retrieves with four ball bearings and one roller bearing. Its design allows for control even when using lighter lures.
- The Casitas low-profile reel delivers versatile performance ready action on your favorite bass lake or inshore saltwater destination
- Equipped with 4 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing; this reel ensures super smooth casts and retrieves
- Outfitted with SVS infinity providing easy-to-manage; consistent spool control and brake force; controls spool speed for precision casting especially when using lighter lures
- Featuring S3D Stable Spool design delivers improved spool balance for reduced vibration and improved casting
- Max Drag: 12 lbs. / Gear Ratio: 7.2:1. / Weight: 6.7 oz. / Line Retrieve: 30" / Bearings: 4BB + 1RB – PowerPro Line Cap: 20/150; 30/135; 40/105 – Mono Line Cap: 10/120; 12/110; 14/90 – Retrieve: Left
This high-performance model offers a high-torque handle, corrosion resistance ball bearings, and carbon fiber drag.
- NEW features added - Like its gladiator name, the Spartacus bait casting reel is a warrior! KastKing Spartacus bait casting reel has the dynamic features you need in the battle for your personal best.
- POWERFUL - You will love the exceptional micro-cast dual centrifugal and magnetic brakes. Plus tournament ready carbon fiber drag with 17.5 LBs of trophy fish stopping power, make the Spartacus bait caster a strong contender.
- SMOOTH - A Spartacus bait casting reel has: superior shielded 11 + 1 corrosion resistant ball bearings, CNC machined aluminum spool for smooth casting, powerful precision matched brass gears, and KastKing logo embossed hi-grade rubber cork handle knobs.
- NO MERCY - A KastKing Spartacus bait caster fishing reel with its versatile 6.3:1 gear ratio create an exceptional bait casting weapon in your fishing tackle collection that will save you money and bring you years of fishing pleasure.
- GAME CHANGER - Go beyond the limits with this phenomenal, yet affordable new Spartacus bait cast reel that is smoother and more powerful than any other brand bait casters in its price range.
With a compact handle and recessed design, Abu Garcia’s Black Max offers a dependable ergonomic grip for all-day fishing trips.
- Lightweight design with one piece graphite frame and side plates
- 4 stainless steel ball bearings
- Clear tip design for strength and sensitivity
- MagTrax brake system boosts range and accuracy of casts
- Compact bent handle and recessed reel provide an ergonomic grip
If you’re looking for a small, lightweight reel, Lew’s has a model that checks both boxes without compromising performance. Reviewers praise its long smooth casts and easy set up.
- One-piece die-cast aluminum frame. RPT: 31 inch
- Drilled and forged, double anodized aluminum U style spool
- Easily removable palming graphite side plate
Piscifun also has a lightweight reel (at just 5.70 ounces) that will protect against fatigue on all-day trips. Don’t be fooled by its size though. It nonetheless provides 17 lbs. of stopping power.
- 【Lightweight to 5.7 OZ】 The phantom baitcasting reel frame, side plates and handle are made of premium carbon fiber, provides significant weight reduction without sacrificing strength and durability.
- 【Excellent Casting Performance】6+1 imported stainless steel bearings combined with oversized titanium line guide offers incredible casting! 7.0:1 gear ratio provides faster reeling speed and the faster the bait moves through the water, is great for pitching jigs or burning baits at high speed.
- 【Dual Brake System】Dynamic 6-pin centrifugal brake plus 10 precise magnetic brake provide the anglers with on-the-fly tournament ready adjustments. Dual Brake system offers more precise adjustments, which can effectively reduce backlashing
- 【Up to 17 Lbs Drag】Double hard anodized Aircraft grade aluminum main gear and pinion gear paired with 4 disc carbon fiber drag washers deliver exceptional 17 lbs stopping power to fight your biggest fish.
- 【Ease of use】The 105mm extended carbon crank handle gives the anglers the leverage and power needed to pull the biggest fish out of the thickest cover.
ts front hood has a row of teeth) and TK, this tournament-ready reel offers power and durability.
On the opposite end of the style spectrum is this model from Shimano. Its traditional round reel design and TK give it a timeless look that’s matched by its performance.
- The Calcutta series of reels represents the core of Shimano’s quality, versatility, dependability, and long-term value
- This classic round reel will keep up with the fastest low profile reels for today’s fishing styles and is suitable for almost any application whether in fresh or saltwater
- Built with super-strong, ultralight forged aluminum frames and side plates ensures that all parts will remain in perfect alignment for lifelong smooth power and solid rigidity
- All sizes feature the ultra-smooth Dartanium Drags and the popular Speton Handles along with Anti-Rust Bearings
- Max Drag: 17.5 lbs. / Gear Ratio: 5.0:1. / Weight: 11.7 oz. / Line Retrieve: 24" / Bearings: 3BB + 1RB – PowerPro Line Cap: 50/305,65/180,80/160 – Mono Line Cap: 12/330,14/260,20/160 / Retrieve: Right
With a lightweight aluminum frame and contoured handle, Daiwai Fuego’s model is comfortable enough for any adventure but still offers tournament-ready quality and performance.
- Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag UTD with 13.2 lbs. of drag
- Magforce-Z cast control
- Large, 90mm swept power handle with cutouts for reduced weight
- 5BB + 1RB, 6.3:1 Ratio
- Line Capacity (Lb. Test / Yards)-MONO: 14/125, 16/110, J-BRAID: 30/140, 40/110