Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels: Top 10 Buying Guide

July 29, 2020

Our editors at Finn’s Fishing Tips independently research, test, and recommend the best products to help you make purchase decisions. You can learn more about our review process here. We sometimes get a commission through purchases made via our links.

The right saltwater baitcasting reel doesn’t only help you catch big fish, it can also stand up to the harsh ocean environment. It can handle everything being thrown at it without the slightest bit of damage. Saltwater baitcasting reels are great for speckled trout, redfish, black drum, and many other saltwater gamefish species. 

We’ve gathered some of the best saltwater baitcasting reels for you to choose from. There’s a wide selection on the market, but these are the best of the best. They’re great for all techniques – like skipping a baitcaster.

If your reel isn’t providing you with the best power, strength, and durability, then it’s time for you to stop and pick a new one.

Read ahead to find your new fishing partner.


In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…




Best Overall Saltwater Baitcasting Reel: KastKing Spartacus

The KastKing Spartacus provides you with the best all-day offshore fishing. It delivers 17.5 lbs of carbon fiber drag power. At the same time, it’s lightweight and easy to operate.

This reel features a dual brake system to boost your casting accuracy and speed. Alongside that, you have sturdy, long-lasting aluminum spools and an efficient ball bearing system.

Designed to withstand the harsh saltwater, it’s resistant to rust and corrosion. You’ll feel confident using this reel for hours on end, catching some of the largest and heaviest offshore fish – like bluefish, tuna, and more.

To top it off, the handle on this reel is made of comfortable and ergonomically designed cork. It feels soft on your hands, yet it’s sturdy enough to help you keep your rod well-balanced.

Pros

  • Sturdy and durable components
  • Reliable ball bearings
  • Dual brake system
  • Easy to operate
  • Resistant to rust and corrosion
  • Lightweight cork handle
  • Moderately priced

Cons

  • The braking system isn’t easy to use



Best Budget Saltwater Baitcasting Reel: KastKing Royale Legend

The KastKing Royale Legend is our best saltwater baitcasting reel for fishermen on a budget. It boasts of an easy-to-use centrifugal magnetic brake system. It’s designed to reduce backlash while providing you with greater casting ability.

With its low-profile and magnetic ten-level dual brake system, this reel is guaranteed to deliver a smooth and impressive fishing experience.

You can enjoy all-day fishing with this durable reel. It’s great for catching striped bass, speckled trout, and other large fish species.

One of its best features is the stainless steel and oversized handles. They’re made from EVA foam, which ensures maximum comfort and optimal control. That’s why we generally recommended it for beginners.

Pros

  • Smooth casting
  • Speedy and swift
  • Made from high-quality, durable material
  • Great for beginners
  • Budget-friendly price

Cons

  • Requires elaborate cleaning after use



Best Inshore Saltwater Baitcasting Reel: Abu Garcia REVO

The Abu Garcia REVO reel is built with an X2 alloy frame. This makes it highly resistant to rust and corrosion.

It’s considered by many anglers as one of the best baitcasting reels for inshore fishing. While you may not go deep-sea fishing with this reel, it’ll still provide you with excellent casting and smooth reeling to catch the best types of inshore fish.

Its top-notch roller comprises seven stainless steel ball bearings. These ensure a smooth and accurate fishing experience, no matter what type of fish you wish to catch.

This reel offers many great features, and one of them is its Carbon Matrix drag system. This works, in combination with the magnetic brake system to provide the spool with a hassle-free and effortless performance.

Pros

  • Magnetic brake system, which can be upgraded to a centrifugal brake system
  • Made with high-quality X2 alloy
  • Offers smooth and effective casting
  • Carbon Matrix drag system

Cons

  • Expensive



Largest Casting Distance: Daiwa Coastal TWS

The Daiwa Coastal is a remarkable lightweight reel, yet it has all the features that heavier powerful inshore reels offer. Even though it has a low max drag, its line capacity is top-notch. Daiwa can pull off such an impressive capacity with the help of its deep spool design.

Its braking system is easy to set up and adjust. Also, this reel features a T-Wing design to reduce friction. It’s through this system that you get the best casting. You’ll be able to cast smoother and with more control than ever before.

With the durable frame and side plates made of durable aluminum, you can enjoy a relaxing day of inshore casting. It’s resistant to corrosion and rust, making it perfect for the saltwater.

Pros

  • Impressive casting
  • Top-notch brake system
  • Impressive line capacity
  • Durable and anti-corrosion
  • T-wing design

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Drag power is quite low



Best Low-Profile Saltwater Baitcasting Reel: Abu Garcia BMAX3 Black Max

The feature that sets the Abu Garcia Black Max reel apart is its well-designed low-profile build. It boasts of top-quality performance with an ergonomically-shaped handle. It’s bent at an angle to provide the best support possible.

Another great feature is its smooth drag power. This allows you to pull out your fish evenly and smoothly. It also comes with a recessed reel foot for a relaxed, hassle-free performance.

Abu Garcia machined the spool on the Black Max is from high-quality aluminum, which resists rust and corrosion. Additionally, the MagTrax brake system optimizes your accuracy and provides you with a high cast range.

The BMAX3 provides you with four stainless steel ball bearings. They help provide near-perfect casting every time for hours on end.

Pros

  • Well-designed low-profile
  • Smooth drag power
  • Aluminum spool
  • MagTrax brake system
  • Moderately priced

Cons

  • Line retrieval is inconsistent



Best Braking System: Shimano Curado K

The Shimano Curado comes equipped with the ingenious I-DC4 digital brake control system. This technology ensures a versatile and efficient performance to help you cast farther and smoother.

This digital braking system comes with a microcontroller chip placed within the reel. Its job is to keep an eye out for the spool speed.

Each time you cast, the chip measures the speed at a rate of 1000/second. Then, it adjusts the brake pressure accordingly. What’s great about this feature is that it yields fantastic results each time you cast, even if you aren’t the best angler around.

Shimano machined the Curadoa Hagane’s alloy frame out of aluminum for maximum durability and corrosion resistance. It ensures a long product life and a reliable fishing experience every time.

Pros

  • I-DC4 digital braking system
  • Efficient casting
  • High-quality Hagane alloy build

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than other reels
  • Expensive



Best Multipurpose Saltwater Baitcasting Reel: Lews Fishing Tournament MB

The Lews reel comes with so many great features and functions. It requires minimal effort to achieve a longer cast. This feature comes in handy when you’re using crankbaits and weedless bass lures

Another terrific feature is its lightweight construction. It compromises an aluminum frame, an anodized aluminum spool, and gears made of the durable alloy, Duralumin. Together, they provide the accuracy and strength other reels don’t have.

The Tournament MB is also easy to handle due to its compact build. However, the handle and paddle knobs are designed with a large size, which should be convenient for beginners.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Easy to cast
  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy design
  • Compact build with a large handle and knobs

Cons

  • Price is a bit high



Best Drag Power: Piscifun Perseus

Are you looking for a baitcasting reel that can keep up with large fish species without showing signs of damage or wear? Then the Piscifun Perseus is for you. Featuring an 18.5 lbs drag system and three carbon fiber drag washers, this reel will stand up to the heaviest of fish.

Plus, it has brass ball bearings and double line winding shafts. This helps make retrievals hassle-free, even in areas filled with obstacles. Its high-quality build ensures smooth efficiency.

The Perseus comes with a dual brake system that uses both a centrifugal and magnetic design. They work to keep the casting and retrieval processes as easy as possible.

The handle on this reel is super comfortable. It’s designed to keep your rod balanced, thereby enhancing your performance.

Pros

  • Powerful drag power
  • Brass ball bearings
  • Dual brake system
  • Budget-friendly price

Cons

  • Low line capacity



Best Spooling Technology: Abu Garcia Pro Max

The Abu Garcia Pro Max is one of the most user-friendly reels available. It’s easy to master while still provides good support to hone your skills

Its double-anodized aluminum spool is designed with durability in mind. Indeed, the power disk drag system isn’t cut out for large fish, but the spool boosts its ability to handle the elements of the deep sea.

Another great feature is its graphite frame build, which makes it super lightweight. Plus, it comes with EVA foam handles for a comfortable grip.

The Pro Max has seven stainless steel bearings. They work efficiently to create seamless castings and smooth retrievals. Also, this reel has a MagTrax brake system, which helps you cast farther with more precision.

Pros

  • Durable and reliable spool
  • Recommended for beginners
  • MagTrax brake system
  • High-quality build
  • Comfortable handle
  • Stainless steel ball bearings
  • Moderately priced

Cons

  • Power disk system makes the drag slightly lower



Most Innovative Saltwater Baitcasting Reel: Daiwa Tatula CT

Thanks to the T-Wing casting system, the Daiwa Tatula CT is considered to be one of the most innovative baitcasting reels on the market. This system allows you to easily open and close on casts to control the distance and speed.

And with its uniquely designed aperture, the line will flow smoothly with little to no friction. The T-Wing also dampens the effect of any obstruction that may happen to be on the cast.

Additionally, this system helps maintain a steady and even retrieval. So your line moves faster and smoother as it goes out and comes back in.

Besides the innovative T-Wing, the Tatula also boasts of eight ball bearings, Magforce-X casting brakes, and a carbon fiber drag of about 13 lbs.

Pros

  • T-wing casting system
  • Magforce-X casting brakes
  • Carbon fiber drag
  • Provides smooth casting and quick retrievals

Cons

  • It’s a bit pricey



Saltwater Baitcasting Reels: A Buyer’s Guide

Baitcasting reels are built to handle stronger, longer, and heavier fishing lines. This is mainly because they’re designed with higher gear ratios. So they’re able to land larger fish, in addition to efficiently handling extended line lengths in deep water. The inline spool also makes it easier for the reel to apply drag to the line.

What Kind of Fishing Do I Want to Do?

That’s the first question you should ask yourself. Do you want to fish for larger species? Or would you prefer fishing for the lighter, speedier breeds?

If you like the bigger, more prominent types of fish, like trout and bass, then you should go for a baitcasting reel.

Otherwise, a traditional spinning reel will do just fine.

Check the Size of the Spool

If you’re going for the larger fish, it’s better to choose a reel with a big line capacity. Bigger spools can handle heavier lines. And surely, the heavier the line, the bigger the fish you can catch.

Graphite vs. Aluminum Frames

Baitcasting reels made of alloy or graphite are the most common types. They have a  lightweight build, provide more balance, and are easier to use. They’re also durable and more affordable.

Aluminum is yet another great lightweight choice. Its baitcasting reels are more robust with better handling of the pressure and strain of saltwater fishing. Furthermore, aluminum resists rust and corrosion. This means your reel will last longer when exposed to the harsh saltwater conditions.

Number of Bearings

A good rule to remember is that the higher number of bearings, the better the speed and efficiency of the reel. It’s a good idea to invest in a reel that has stainless steel ball bearings to benefit from their resistance to rust.

Braking System

There are two types of braking systems in a baitcasting reel: centrifugal and magnetic.

Centrifugal

The centrifugal braking system puts pressure on the reel by creating resistance. This is done by pressing certain pins.

Because friction is involved, this can have an advantage and a downside. The centrifugal braking provides better accuracy, higher levels of control, and increased pressure. The downside is that friction will wear away at the reel.

Magnetic

With the magnetic braking system, there’s no friction involved. While it’s as strong as the centrifugal braking system, it’s not always as accurate or as practical in many cases. But it’s easier to master.

Comfortable Handles

The most important thing while you’re out fishing is to make sure you’re comfortable. Choose the reel that provides the best support. Handles should be firm, yet soft to the touch. Look for those made with cork or EVA foam.

Low-Profile Reels

Almost all types of baitcasting reel handles are low-profile. Unlike spinning reels, low-profile reels have two sides: a palm side and a handle side.

If you’re right-handed, you should place the handle to your right. The palm side should be on the left to provide a better grip in your palm. If you’re left-handed, it’s the other way around.

Flipping Switches

The flipping switches allow you to re-engage the spool. This feature comes in handy when you’re pressed for time, or you don’t want to deal with the hassle of turning the handle.

Line Guides

Line guides are an optional feature for your reel. They keep your reel spinning smoothly, swiftly, and, most importantly, tangle-free.

The Benefits of Baitcasting Reels

Read ahead to find out more about the benefits of using a baitcasting reel.

Faster Retrieval Speeds

With baitcasting reels, you can retrieve your lines faster. This enhances your performance, gives you better control, and saves you time.

Better Accuracy

Baitcasting reels provide you with higher levels of control on your casting and your rod. You‘ll also have better control over your spool’s speed with the help of the brake system.

Softer Fall

Anyone who’s been fishing for a while knows the loud sound almost all types of lures make when hitting the water. With baitcasting reels, you can make the lure fall softly into the water by slowing it down.

Surely, this will prevent startling the fish in the area. Plus, it comes in handy when you’re flipping bait in a heavy cover.

FAQ

Q: How can I prevent the lines from getting tangled?

A: There are several ways to avoid tangled lines. One: don’t overfill the spool. Two: when you wind up the spool, make sure there are no initial tangles in the line that could get worse with use. Three: use the right line thickness and length for your spool. If you do get your line tangled, check out our guide on how to fix a fishing reel.

Q: Is there a difference between saltwater and freshwater reels?

A: The main difference is that freshwater reels aren’t designed to withstand a saltwater environment. They’ll generally get damaged and start eroding as soon as they get in contact with the saltwater.

Saltwater reels are designed to withstand the different elements that saltwater brings. Plus, it’s able to catch bigger, heavier fish when compared to other types of reels.

Q: What’s the difference between inshore and offshore fishing?

A: Offshore fishing, or deep-sea fishing, takes place in water that’s deeper than 30 meters. You also have to be at least 9 miles away from the shore. Typical species you can catch deep-sea fishing are marlin, large groupers, king salmon, yellowfin tuna, and much more.

For inshore fishing, you have to be standing inside shallower water, closer to the shore.

Our Verdict

When it comes to choosing the best saltwater baitcasting reels, you have to look for two features: control and accuracy. Use our product reviews and buying guide to help you pick out a reel that has everything you’re looking for.

Our top pick for the best saltwater baitcasting reel is the KastKing Spartacus. This reel comes with many great features. It’s sturdy, lightweight, durable, and, best of all, easy to operate.

Looking for something a little inshore? No problem! Check out the Abu Garcia REVO. This is one of the most sought-out reels for inshore fishing. It’s well-designed with top-quality components.

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