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If you’re looking to buy a new baitcasting reel, you’ve come to the right place! In this buying guide, we review our top baitcasting reels for 2020. We cover the best overall baitcasting reel, the most economical baitcasting reel, as well as higher-end options for experienced fishermen.
Baitcasting reels are one of the classic types of fishing reels and work well for many different conditions. Baitcasting reels often have a higher gear ratio than spinning reels, and can also handle heavier fishing lines. They are also better for situations when you want to let the line go slack, then reel in quickly to set the hook on a fish.
Baitcasting reels work well with monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided lines. Use braided lines if you’re looking to add more line length at a stronger test. Braided can also be used as backing to give you the endurance to battle a fish that may be too large for your setup.
Baitcasting reels work well for bass, trout (see our article on how to fish for trout), and many other small sports fish.
Whether you’re looking to buy your first baitcasting reel, or add to a collection of many, we’ve got you covered. Read on to see our top choices in the different categories!
Most Economical Baitcasting Reel. The best value for the price. Has durable components.
13 Fishing Concept Z
Best Overall Baitcasting Reel
KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel
The KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel is our choice for best overall baitcasting reel. It has all the features you want in a first baitcasting reel, but could also be a great addition to a line up of different reels. The KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel is solidly built and will withstand anything you throw at.
It’s 6.3:1 gear ratio allows you to reel in line much faster than other spinning reels, and it has added torque from the dual retrieval handles. The KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel is great for many types of mid-sized trophy game fish, from largemouth bass to rainbow trout.
The KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel comes with a micro-cast dual centrifugal and magnetic brakes. This adds strength to the drag system while keeping retrieval under pressure smooth. The aluminum spool is CNC machined to specification, then matched to powerful brass gears.
The KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel has 11+1 corrosion resistant ball bearings that keep action smooth and cool even under the most intense battle situations. The rubber and cork knobs give the KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel the traction you need to reel in a tough fighting fish.
The KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel comes in both left and right handed retrieval modes, and can be bought with a black, silver, or neon blue finish. It has a 17.5 lb drag rating, a 6.3:1 gear ratio, and 11+1 steel ball bearings. The KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel weighs 8.1 ounces and reels in 28.3 inches per turn.
It’s Mono Line Capacity is (Lbs/Yds): 10/125 12/100 15/85.
Braided line capacity is (Lbs/Yds): 40/125 50/100 65/85.
- Feature packed with a reasonable price.
- Durably built.
- Higher priced options have more features.
The KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel is our choice for best overall baitcasting reel for many reasons. It has everything you need to start fishing, and doesn’t cost as much as other reels that aren’t built as well. If you want a great entry level baitcasting reel, go for the KastKing Spartacus Baitcasting Reel.
Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel
If you’re looking for a baitcasting reel on a budget, the Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel is the best reel you can buy for under $40. The Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel is rich with features, and will get the job done without fuss. It comes in both left and right hand modes, and has up to 18 lbs of drag. This is more than models that cost two or three times as much!
The Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel has a 4 washer reel system that allows for powerful retrieval without sacrificing smoothness. The low profile design features a 7.1:1 gear ratio that helps get fish out from cover and into your boat faster.
The gear system also has industrial strength Japanese Hami cut 3604 brass gears. These gears are used in many higher end options that cost much than the Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel. The double wind shafts and backlash eliminating shield help you keep control when battling the toughest of fishes.
The Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel gears have a larger tooth size than other competitors which adds the reels overall strength and durability.
There are two Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel specs that you can buy: the 7.1:1 gear ratio and 5.3:1 gear ratio.
Gear Ratio 7.1:1 | Max Drag : 18 LB | Brake System : Magnetic Brake | Ball Bearings: 5+1 | Retrieve per Turn : 30.0 in | Braid Capacity: 30 lb/120 yd | Mono Capacity : 10 lb/120 yd | Reel Weight: 8 oz.
Gear Ratio 5.3:1 | Max Drag : 18 LB | Brake System : Magnetic Brake | Ball Bearings: 5+1 | Retrieve per Turn : 22.8 in | Braid Capacity: 30 lb/145 yd | Mono Capacity : 10 lb/195 yd | Reel Weight: 8 oz.
- The most economical baitcasting reel.
- Has durable components.
- Simple features.
If price is an issue for you, look no further than the Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel. It has the durability to last years of heavy fishing, but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get it. It’s also a great option to buy as a backup up reel for emergency situations.
Best High End
13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel
The 13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel is for fishermen who want to spend a little more for an awesome product. The red paint job, lightweight construction, they all give the 13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel a feeling of luxury.
Did we mention the 13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel doesn’t have any ball bearings? That’s right, it’s designed with a zero-bearing concept design that uses polymer cylinders instead of ball bearings. This increases the 13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel’s durability and allows for an extra strong drag system.
The 13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel has an incredible 30 lbs of drag pressure that will hold down even the largest sports fish you throw its way. It’s also one of the lightest reels for it’s size due to having no ball bearings.
It’s hardened brass gearing systems ensure smooth yet fast retrieval and endurance in long fights with big fish. It’s built for tough, big, and bad situations. The 13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel is as comfortable on the ocean as it is rushing rivers. It really can do it all.
The 13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel has a 30 lb drag system and can handle both braided and monofilament fishing lines. For monofilament, the 13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel can hold up to 135 yards of 12 lb test. For braided this goes up even more.
- Strongest drag system and lightest design.
- Flashy color scheme.
- Great for skipping lures.
The 13 Fishing Concept Z Baitcasting Reel is a great choice for professional fisherman or enthusiasts looking to have the best. It’s unique drag system, cool color scheme, and lightweight design all push it above other baitcasting reels on the market.
Tried and True Winner
Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel
It wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t include one of the most illustrious baitcasting brands in our guide. The Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel is an old classic that’s a go-to for many fishermen on the water. It comes in both right and left hand models and is 22% more compact than other similar models from competitors. Don’t let its small size fool you though; it has a line capacity of over 150 yards!
The Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel also comes in three different gear ratios for all types of fishing. The highest gear ratio (8.2:1) gives the Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel the fastest action of any reel we reviewed.
The Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel comes with Shimano’s signature Hagane metal reel body that gives it a rigid and impact resistant frame. The Hagane body eliminates body flexing giving the fisherman ultimate control when fighting a fish.
It also features a 6 pin variable braking system for adapting to whatever type lure you’re using. The braking system can apply up to 12 lbs of even drag on the line. The bearing system has 4 bearings that are corrosion resistant and sealed.
The Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel has the following specifications.
- Reel Weight: 6.9 ounces.
- Line Capacity: 120 yards of 10 lb line.
- Braid Capacity: 135 yards of 30 lb line.
- Recovery: 25 inches per turn.
- Time tested design from a classic brand.
- A little pricier than the budget options.
The Shimano SLX Baitcasting Reel is the first reel of many fishermen looking to begin their baitcasting journey. While it may be more expensive than other options, it comes with all the features and reliability of the Shimano brand.
Before closing, we wanted to walk through the features we graded each reel on while picking our top baitcasting reels for 2020.
Gear Ratio/Speed of Retrieval
One of the big reasons you might buy a baitcasting reel over a different type of reel (spinning, fly rod, etc.) is it’s higher speed of retrieval. The way baitcasting reels are built allow for the fisherman to reel in their bait or lure much faster than other reels. We looked at which reels had the highest gear ratios and inch per turn to help us pick the best baitcasting reels.
The drag system is responsible for putting pressure on the fish when it tries to run from your boat. A good baitcasting reel should have a max drag pressure of at least 7 lbs, but higher drag capability is also important. Since the baitcasting line goes straight onto the reel’s gearing system, having a higher drag helps fight stronger fish.
An anti-reverse gear is also very important for baitcasting reels. When setting the hook on a fish that has bitten your lure, you need to make sure the line doesn’t loosen and let the fish spit the hook. An anti reverse gear prevents the line from going slack and helps you hook a tentative fish.