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Best Baitcasting Reel

Last Updated: January 24, 2020
Nancy Reagan
Product Review by Nancy Reagan

Baitcasting reels are essential for handling the heavier lures and lines that are essential for catching larger fish. Their powerful gearing is designed for hauling in big and fast fish.

Previously, baitcasting reels would only have been seen on TV used by tournament bass fishermen. Now, baitcasters are user-friendly and have moved into the hands of everyday anglers.

If it’s your first time shopping for a baitcaster, you’ll need to spend some time mastering your skills. Don’t worry, once you’ve put in the practice, your reel will provide you with precision and distance on your casts.

Once you have control of the free spin of the reel, your bait or lure can be dropped with pinpoint accuracy. Casting with these reels provide more efficiency than dealing with the bail and line on a spinning reel.

With such a broad market in 2019, which is the best baitcasting reel?

From freshwater to saltwater, round and low-profile oval – there’s a broad range to choose from.

We’ll review our top 5 picks of today’s best baitcasting reels. Below the reels there’s an extensive buyers guide, be sure to check it out before you make a purchase.

Our Reviews

1

Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel

This powerful and advanced 4-washer gives this low profile baitcasting reel a powerful 18lb carbon fiber drag to handle big-game fish: the durable, industrial-strength and climate-resistant Japanese Hami 3604 top-quality brass gears rival premium baitcaster models.

The Piscifun Torrent Baitcaster Reel is for the versatile angler. The 7.1:1 gear ratios provide super-silent high-speed baitcasting for faster fishing tactics like catching quickly out of cover.

The unique side-plate oil port provides prolonged maintenance for anglers of all abilities. The maximized baitcast reel life and performance are perfect for skill development. Plus, the durable double wind shafts and 0-10 magnetic dial-in settings provide backlash-elimination.

The precision cut-gears, stainless steel springs, and screws provide strength, water resistance, reliable operation, and steady speed retrievals. Plus, the four custom-fit carbon fiber drag washers outlast sand and makes fine-tuning to power a simple turn of the star drag adjustment.

Five strategically placed magnets optimize the magnetic effect on the ported aluminum spool, and the precise dial-in-gauge is excellent for backlash control. The days of tangled bird nests are over thanks to the spool tension knob and light thumb pressure.

Lastly, this baitcast reel is an overwhelmingly great value pick. If you’re a beginner with a smaller budget, this is a fantastic choice!

Pros

  • 30lb braid capacity
  • Quick oil port
  • Precision cut gears
  • Stainless steel springs and screws
  • Graphite composite body
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Budget friendly

Cons

  • May not be suitable for heavier lures
2

Shimano Calcutta Baitcasting Reel

If you’re willing to pay for top quality, you’re in for a treat!

Shimano reels are considered works of art by anglers, and rightfully so! They’re beautiful to look at, built-in sleek gold metal with a series of drill-outs, cut weights, and the Calcutta Conquest allows for drainage.

The rigid frame eliminates flex and transfers all energy to the crank and the spool is tough enough for 140 yards of 80lb test Superline. Additionally, the Micro Module Gear technology uses additional smaller gear teeth for efficiency and a silky smooth operation.

The pinion gear is supported with 6 ball bearings on each end for perfect alignment under heavy loads. Plus, the pinion gear cuts friction between the spool shaft and gear cast.

The reel provides a secure grip with a thick, cold-forged handle that has perfect curvature, designed to clear the star drag wheel as it rotates the 5.6:1 gear ratio. The stainless steel knob provides precision and lets you adjust the 20-point cast-control system with any lure in all conditions.

Back-play is eliminated thanks to the anti-reverse one-way roller bearing. This provides instant hook setting power.

Pros

  • Durable build with beautiful detailing
  • Silky casts and retrieves
  • Shimano quality
  • Erosion resistant
  • Easy-grip handles
  • Perfect for experienced anglers

Cons

  • Not budget friendly
  • Not suitable for beginners
3

Johnny Morris Platinum Signature Baitcast Reel

The Johnny Morris Baitcast Reel provides incredible stopping power, smooth handling, and the ability to precisely deliver lures with a budget price tag.

This sleek, low-profile baitcaster is one of the best value reels on the 2019 fishing market. The Signature Baitcast Reel is engineered with a solid, one-piece aluminum frame for absolute precision thanks to the 10-ball bearing system.

The ball bearing system is teamed with Johnny Morris’ PowerLock™ instant anti-reverse one-way roller bearing, and their acclaimed Spring Calibrated six-pin centrifugal cast control. These elements provide quick and easy adjustments for exact casting precision. Hooking up to a big-time runner is a breeze with this reel’s dependable drag system, and that provides excellent stopping power.

Built for performance, the Johnny Morris Platinum features beautiful construction detailing. These details include a solid machined-aluminum frame, side plates, an unbreakable titanium deposition finished, and a double-anodized aluminum spool.

The internals are tight and well-protected with a drive system that consists of a light, high-strength Duralumin drive gear, crankshaft, and 11-bearing (10+1) system built around ten double-shielded Japanese stainless steel bearings. The Powerlock ensures smooth performance for the long haul.

Pros

  • Excellent construction detailing
  • 10-ball bearing system
  • Spring calibrated 6-pin centrifugal cast control
  • Instant anti-reverse
  • High speed 6.3:1
  • Budget friendly

Cons

  • Side plates are slightly difficult to open
4

Shimano Metanium DC Low-Profile Baitcast Reel

Jam-packed with Shimano’s latest technologies, the Shimano Metanium DC Baitcasting Reel combines tournament-grade versatility, high-performance gearing, and intelligent electronics in a lightweight package. This reel is available in 7.4:1 and 8.5:1 gear ratios in both left and right hand retrieve.

The Metanium DC boasts a 10-bearing drag system (9BB +1RB) with up to 11lbs of drag. Additionally, the Digital Control braking system utilizes a microcomputer spool speed 1,000 times every second. The braking system precisely applies the perfect amount of pressure for the perfect casting without fear of backlash.

The Hagane body exhibits a strong performance without tilting despite its light weight. The Metanium DC is fortified with Shimano’s newest set of reel technologies. X-Ship Technology provides smoothness and durability; MicroModule Gearing ensures frictionless gyration, and S3D delivers consistent spool control and brake force.

The I-DC5 braking is adjustable to match not only your lure weight but also your line type. This allows you to personally adjust the reel’s casting performance to the degree that’s not possible with lesser reels.

The interior dial allows you to select for braid, mono, or fluoro line.

The external dial offers four brake strength settings plus a microcomputer-driven Intelligent Auto mode, which adjusts itself 1,000 times per second for optimal braking.

Pros

  • Tournament-grade versatility
  • Available in left and right hand retrieve
  • Premium 9+ bearing system
  • Anti-rust ball bearings
  • Provides accurate casting with all line and lure combinations
  • Unyielding body construction

Cons

  • Premium option - not budget friendly
5

Abu Garcia® C3 Round Baitcasting Reel

The Abu Garcia C3 Round Baitcast Fishing Reel is an excellent choice for devoted anglers. The Carbon Matrix drag system offers a smooth and consistent drag across the entire range. This provides the precision and power necessary to conquer the most tenacious gamefish.

This reel’s six-pin centrifugal brake applies consistent pressure throughout the cast for superior control.

This amazing saltwater reel is capable of horsing in giant fish due to the synchronized level wind system that ensures an even line lay and an effortless retrieve.

The extended bent cranking handle and power knob offer the powerful reeling action and leverage that’s necessary for hard-fighting fish.

This reel has been designed to meet the demands of the most hardcore anglers!

The compact bend handle and star adjustment provide anglers with the fighting advantage. The ultrasmooth Carbon Matrix drag system resists overheating when your trophy fish takes you for a run.

Stress and fret of line snapping are eliminated because the synchronized levelwind system improves castability and line while preventing extreme line angles when a fish pulls.

Pros

  • Synchronized levelwind system improves castability and linelay
  • Heat resistant
  • Erosion resistant
  • Compact bent handle
  • Six-pin centrifugal brake
  • Budget friendly

Cons

  • May not be suitable for beginners

What is the Best Baitcasting Reel?

We’ve reviewed the products, now let’s break down the necessary specifications.

Once you understand what you’re looking for, it’s not at all complicated.

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio tells you how many times the spool rotates in one revolution of the handle. The higher your gear ratio, the more line is retrieved per handle turn. Gear ratios of the most popular baitcasting reels are most commonly 5.3:1, 6.4:1, and 7.1:1.

The 6.4:1 is an excellent choice because you can use most fishing techniques and baits like worms, topwater, jigs, and shallow cranking. Other gear ratios are often specialized.

Lower gear ratios such as 5.2:1 and 5.3:1 and fantastic for fishing baits that pull hard like big swimbaits, diving crankbaits, and slow rolling heavy spinnerbaits.

The low gear ratio will help you reel the bait slower, keeping the bait in the strike zone for longer. These are an excellent choice for flipping and moving fish out of cover thanks to the higher torque output on the reel.

Higher gear ratios work best for techniques when taking up the slack is critical. If you’re fishing for topwater frogs or toads, go for a 7.1:1 baitcasting reel. High gears excel at pitching jigs and plastics for taking up slack quickly and driving home a good hookset.

Spool Size

Larger spools create smaller coils of line that are user-friendly and easier to manage. Smaller spools work best for short line applications like flipping and pitching.

If you like to fish with heavier 20lb lines, we suggest a bigger spool.

Handle Size

A larger and longer handle creates more torque to grab fish out of heavy cover, like punching grass mats.

Some of the most compact reels have shorter handles that work fine for most applications such as fishing a worm or a jig. However, they’re unsuitable for handling big crankbaits and swimbaits.

Brakes & Tension System

Tension knobs control the line at the start of your cast and the brake system controls the line at the end of your cast. The brakes are especially helpful when casting into the wind because your spool tends to spin faster than the bait as it is slowed down by the wind.

Before making your selection, ensure that your reel has an adequate tension and braking system to be able to make long casts with a variety of lure weights with minimal backlash.

Bearings & Materials

Look for good quality ceramic or stainless-steel ball bearings in your baitcasting reel.

Generally, the more bearings a reel has, the smoother it will cast or retrieve. Seek a reel that’s lightweight and uses strong material such as aluminum, magnesium, or carbon composite materials. These durable strong materials that will give you the best performance.

Line Capacity

For targeting big fish in saltwater, you’ll need a spool with tons of capacity for casting distance during those long runs!

For most fishermen, the best saltwater low profile baitcasting reel will have enough line capacity to handle pickerel or bass. However, fish like muskies, salmon, and, steelheads will require you to consider a full capacity fishing baitcaster.

Why use a Baitcasting Reel?

Although spinning and spincast reels are easy and comfortable to use, baitcasting reels are far more superior in many situations.

Control

You will have more control over casting distance with a baitcaster. This is because you’re able to vary the distance and speed of the lure by using your thumb to slow down the spool.

Increased Reel Strength

The baitcaster handle is connected directly in line with the frame of the reel and the spool is in line with the handle. This allows you to apply more strength when reeling in big game fish.

Fishing Line Strength

Baitcaster spools are perpendicular to the rod, this allows the line to feed directly straight through into the rod guides. Therefore, you’re able to cast with heavier lines and lures to catch bigger fish.

Recap

Baitcasting reels have a reputation for being prone to bird nesting or what is called backlash. But, if you choose the right baitcaster and apply plenty of practice, you’ll hone your skills and reap the benefits of the new addition to your arsenal.

We looked at five of the best baitcasting reels in 2019, there is no question that the Shimano Calcutta is our stand-out winner!

Shimano has been setting the industry standard since 1991 and the Calcutta is no exception. This reel is aesthetically beautiful and tough enough to spool 140 yards of 80lb Superline.

We’re aware that the Shimano is a premium product with a top-of-the-range price tag.

Therefore, our best baitcasting reel for the money is the Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel.

The powerful saltwater low profile baitcaster reel has an 18lb carbon fiber drag to conquer big game fish. Plus, the 7.1:1 gear ratios provide super-silent and high-speed baitcasting for fast fishing tactics.

What did you think of our selection?

Don’t forget to share this article and comment your favorite baitcaster below!

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