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.
- PERFORMANCE - Low profile design bait caster with a super silent high speed 7.0:1 line retrieve.
- UNMATCHED - Precision cut brass gear structure and carbon fiber drag system delivering 17.5 LBs of drag offer the ultimate in a high performance low maintenance baitcasting reel package.
- PROVEN - 11 + 1 shielded MaxiDur corrosion resistant ball bearings for super smooth casting, retrieve, and long life.
- TOURNAMENT READY - The new Royal legend bait caster has state of the art dual brakes with a quick, easy to fine-tune reliable centrifugal and magnetic brake system for superior casting control.
- DYNAMIC - Two color anodized aluminum forged multi-ported whiffle-style spool offers maximum strength while reducing weight.
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.
- POWERFUL- Advanced, 3-washer, gives the low profile baitcasting reel physically powerful 18LB carbon fiber drag to handle the big fish you are after
- DURABLE - Industrial durable-strength, climate-resistant Japanese Hami cut 3604 brass gears, these are all top quality gears you expect for baitcaster fishing reels
- PERFORMANCE - Low profile design bait caster featuring two gear ratios specifically designed for the versatile angler. The Super Silent high speed 7.1:1 Gear Ratio is perfect for getting fish quickly out of cover and faster fishing tactics. The 5.1:1 Gear Ratio is a true workhorse offering the torque you need for any deadly slow rolling technique
- UNIQUE - Unique side-plate oil port for prolonged maintenance for Novice to Pro to maximize your baitcast reel life and performance
- UNPARALLELED - Strong double wind shafts and backlash-eliminating 0-10 magnetic dial-in settings
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.
- Gear ratio: 7.2:1, left handed baitcasting fishing reel
- Mono line capacity (lbs/yd): 10/120, 12/110, 14/90
- PowerPro line capacity (lbs/yd): 20/150, 30/135, 40/105
- Line retrieve per crank: 30 inch, max. drag force: 12 lbs
- Bearings: 4 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing
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
- Power Disk system
- 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.
- FISHING REEL: Reel constructed from a one-piece aluminum frame with a double anodized aluminum U-style spool, an easily removable palming graphite sideplate, aircraft-grade Duralumin drive gear and premium 10 double-shielded stainless steel bearing system
- CASTING REEL: Features Zero Reverse one-way clutch bearing, a Multi-Setting Brake (MSB) utilizing both an external click dial to adjust the Magnetic Brake System and an internal 4-pin position on/off Centrifugal Brake System
- BAITCASTING REELS: Built with a double anodized aluminum spool tension adjustment with audible click and includes a rugged carbon fiber star drag system (20 lbs. of drag power) and an audible click, bowed, anodized aluminum star drag
- BAITCASTING REEL: Features a bowed, lightweight, aluminum reel handle with LEW'S custom paddle handle knobs, zirconia line guide and an external lube port
- LEW'S FISHING GEAR: Compare our baitcasting reels, spinning reels and rod and reel combos to fishing gear from Abu Garcia, KastKing, Seaguar, Okuma, Ugly Stik, Penn, Wakeman, Shimano, Piscifun, Berkley, Bass Master, Shakespeare and Zebco
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.
- Featherweight- Weighs only 5.70 ounces, premium carbon fiber frame, side plates and handle provides significant weight reduction without sacrificing strength and durability
- High Performance- 7.0:1 gear ratio provides long distance, accurate casting and instant hook set, 6 anti-corrosion stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 clutch bearing, all shield to extend the durability
- Strong Power- 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
- Dual Brake- Dynamic 6-pin Centrifugal brake plus Magnetic brake provide the anglers with on-the-fly tournament ready adjustments
- 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.
- MegaJaws - Inspired by the most powerful sea predator, the KastKing MegaJaws baitcasting fishing reel conveys essential shark elements that represent the power and strength that sport fishing anglers desire today. The shark tooth front hood, shark fin side covers, and rigid metal components will consistently remind you the sense of dominance and the total confidence on the water.
- Super Long-Cast System & Slick Design - The MegaJaws unique KastKing LFTV (Low Friction Tapered Vortex), funnel shaped line guide greatly reduces line friction, giving you super long casts. MegaJaws adopts the same palm perfect ergonomic engineering as the Royale Legend Elite. Its low-profile frame fits perfectly and comfortably in the palm of your hand. MegaJaws is a compact, palm sized baitcaster that reduces fatigue for all day long comfort. Cast after cast, you will feel the difference.
- Color-Coded System - KastKing knows how difficult it can be to quickly identify a specific gear ratio reel on the deck of your boat for a specific fishing application. KastKing has given the MegaJaws unique colors for each gear ratio so you can quickly identify the right reel for the job and gain a competitive advantage to win bass fishing tournaments. Select from 5.4:1. 6.5:1, 7.2:1, and one of the fastest ratios in the market -- 9.1:1.
- Powerful Components - MegaJaws bait casters are full featured, tournament ready reels in every way. 11+1 double shielded stainless steel bearings throughout; The manganese brass pinion and main gears and a nickel-coated brass worm drive gear provide strength, durability and consistent performance for freshwater or saltwater fishing. Its ultra-smooth carbon fiber drag uses multiple carbon discs providing up to 17.6 lbs of fish stopping power for hard fighting trophy fish.
- Attention to Detail - Command your fishing situation with CNC Aluminum spools for amazing casts, a powerful aluminum handle with comfortable rubber cork knobs, and a spool tensioning knob with click stop adjustments. The unique MegaJaws magnetic casting control system features 8 magnets with 10 adjustment settings that control backlash and overruns. Easy access lubrication and drainage ports provide long-term performance and simple maintenance.
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.
- Aluminum frame
- Air rotation
- Ultimate Tournament carbon drag utd with 13.2 lbs. Of drag
- Magforce-z cast control
- Infinite Anti-Reverse