Angler Approved: Best Baitcasting Reels for the Money (2017)

If you have a baitcasting rod and you are thinking about getting yourself a new reel, it can be difficult to start narrowing down your options. The most important thing that you need to do, is make sure that you make the reel match the type of fishing that you want to do.

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Getting a reel that is meant for a different size of fish than the ones that you regularly go after, can really add a lot of unnecessary difficulty to your fishing experience. Check out our recommendations for the top baitcasting reels below, or keep reading for more information on what to look for when shopping.

Top 10 Baitcasting Reels for Beginners (and Intermediate)

REELSOUR RATING
Abu Garcia BMAX3 Max Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel
4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)
KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Fishing Reel – 11 + 1 Shielded Bearings – 17.5 Lb Carbon Fiber Drag - 7.0:1 Gear Ratio
4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Daiwa Tatula Baitcast Fishing Reels
4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)
Lew's Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel
4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)
Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel
4.7 Stars (4.7 / 5)
KastKing Stealth Baitcasting Reel - All Carbon Baitcaster Fishing Reel - 6oz Super Light Weight - 16.5 Lb Carbon Fiber Drag, 11 + 1 BB, Dual Brakes
4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Reel
4.7 Stars (4.7 / 5)
Abu Garcia REVO Rocket Low Profile Reel
4.7 Stars (4.7 / 5)
Abu Garcia Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel - RVO3 SXHS / RVO3 SXHSL
4.7 Stars (4.7 / 5)
Piscifun Saex Premier Baitcasting Reel 7.3:1 6.5:1 Baitcaster Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel
4.7 Stars (4.7 / 5)
*ratings based on value, performance and quality

What To Look For

To help you be able to figure out what the best baitcasting reel is for yourself, we have come up with a buyer’s guide as well as a list of our picks for some of the best baitcasting reels on the market.

Ball Bearings:

Ball bearings are one part of the rod that you can’t see by just looking at the surface. However, ball bearings play a huge role in how smooth the rod feels when you are reeling it in. The more ball bearings that are incorporated into a rod, generally the smoother the rod will feel when it is being used. With that in mind, there are different types of ball bearings that are used in construction of reels and some are certainly better than other ones in terms of quality. If you are looking at a reel and it just lists how many ball bearings there are inside of it, this is generally not a good sign. You should look for reels that list what type of a ball bearing is inside of them, so that you can make sure that you get something that is of a good quality. Look for reels that say they are both corrosion and rust resistant. Having this resistance means that the rod will remain in good shape for a long period of time and not rust out on you, losing the smoothness of the reel in the process.

Reversible Function:

One thing that may not cross your mind, but that can be a good indication as to the quality of a rod, is the ability for the reel to be able to switch from a left hand to a right handed reel. Almost all reels that are of a high quality are capable of switching the handle between both hands according to your needs. If a reel isn’t capable of switching hands, the manufacturer will generally have both a left hand and a right handed option available. It is extremely important to make sure that you get the correct handed reel that you need. If you get a right handed reel, this means that the handle is on the right side of the reel. If you get a left handed reel, this means that the handle is on the left side of the reel. Traditionally, right handed reels were the only ones that were really used. If you were a right handed fisherman, you simply casted with your right hand and switched the rod over to your left hand and then started reeling in. The benefit of today’s rods is that you can get a rod where you can cast with your right hand and reel in with your left (or the opposite) allowing you to be able to start reeling as soon as your bait hits the water. Many people still like to use the traditional right handed rod, but it is definitely a matter of personal preference.

Braking:

If you want to be able to cast your rod accurately, making sure your rod has good brakes is of extreme importance. Brakes essentially allow you to be able to stop your line mid cast and be able to drop your bait into the water whenever you please. Different rods use different mechanisms in order to be able to brake and drop the line into the water. If you are looking to get yourself a high end rod, you should look for a rod that uses a dual braking mechanism in its design. This type of braking system is the most reliable and the most effective, but it does result in the reel costing a higher price.

Material:

If you want your rod to be able to last you for a long period of time, then you are going to have to make sure that you get a material that is capable of doing that. Most rods will be labeled with what materials they are made up of and it is important to know what sorts of materials are of a good quality. If you get a budget rod, it is likely that the rod will be made out of steel. The problem with steel spools, is that over time they begin to rust and this can affect both the smoothness of your reel as well as your reel’s ability to function. Instead of buying cheap steel reels, one thing that you can do, is you can look for a reel that is meant to be able to be used for both freshwater as well as saltwater. Generally, if a reel is able to withstand being around salt, then it is going to be made of higher quality materials. If a rod is made out of aluminum or if it is made out of a carbon fiber design then it may be more expensive, but it is probably going to last you for a much longer period of time and it is probably worth paying the higher price tag for it.

Gear Ratio:

One of the most important things, if not the most important thing to look at when you are looking at buying a rod is the gear ratio. Depending on the size of the fish that you plan to catch, you are going to want to make sure that you have a gear ratio that is capable of taking on that size. Gear ratios in the specifications for the reel will look something like 7:1. This number represents the number of times that you have to turn the handle (2nd number) for the amount of times that the spool does a full rotation. Especially when you are baitcasting, the gear ratio can have a large impact on how much the bait pulls on your rod. The lower the gear ratio, the higher the amount of torque that the reel has. More torque allows you to be able to pull in larger fish while using less effort. You will even notice a large difference if you are casting big baits when using a low gear ratio rod. Large baits may move around a lot in the water, but you won’t notice the movement nearly as much with this reel if you were using a higher gear ratio reel for the same size bait.

Drag:

One part of a fishing reel that is often overlooked by people is the amount of drag that the reel is capable of. Drag is extremely important as it allows the reel to be able to let the fish swim away when hooked, without having the line snap on you. It is important to consider both the size of the fish that you plan to catch, as well as how often you are going to be going out fishing, when you are deciding on the drag that you need. If you are fishing for giant saltwater fish like tuna and marlin, then this is when you may need to have a very large amount of drag (30-50 lbs). If you were to try and fight a large fish without enough drag it would take forever to be able to reel the fish in and your line may also snap during the process.

Our Baitcasting Reel Reviews

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel Review

If you want to get a reel that has a lot of style, but still offers good quality parts in its design, then this reel could be the one for you. There are four different options that you can choose from at the checkout for this reel and it is available in both a left hand as well as a right handed design to suit your needs. The reel is a relatively new design and is actually a 2016 model. This model is built so that is can be used as both a freshwater as well as a saltwater fishing reel, which is ideal in terms of long term durability.

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Pros:

  • The aluminum side plates and spool used in the design are corrosion and rust resistant
  • Depending on the reel that you purchase, there are from 5-7 ball bearings built into this unit to keep it nice and smooth
  • A carbon fiber drag system on the unit offers up to 20 lbs of drag; plenty enough drag for use on a boat as long as you aren’t fishing for massive fish
  • Relatively low price tag of the reel makes it appealing to a lot of people
  • Red and chrome design looks fancy, but is very functional
  • The ball bearings on this unit are made up of stainless steel which makes them resistant to corrosion and rust

Cons:

  • You may not need a drag that is capable of pulling this kind of a weight if you plan to catch smaller fish
  • May not hold as much line as some other reels on the market

Verdict:

So long as you aren’t going to be fishing in the deep sea and need a lot of line, it is going to be hard to find this kind of quality in a reel that is for sale at or anywhere near this price point. Rather than cheating out on small components, the reel uses only the highest quality materials in its design in order to offer an optimal performance for its customers. Not only should this rod be able to last you for a long period of time, but it will also allow you to be able to catch some saltwater and freshwater fish.

Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile Reel Review

This is a relatively low priced reel, but it is of a very good quality. This reel comes in four different options at the checkout that you can pick from to suit your fishing needs. The reels are largely made up of quality parts and you will find things such as an aluminum spool and a brass gear system. There are a total of five Ball bearings in the design of this reel, which helps to make your whole fishing experience a lot smoother.

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Pros:

  • Aluminum and brass components will allow you to use this reel in freshwater and saltwater as you need
  • The power disk drag system incorporated into the design offers great fishing performance and will keep your line from snapping
  • Advanced brake system allows you to put your bait in the water wherever you please
  • Very smooth casting rod that contains a gear ratio of 6.4:1, allowing you to be able to fight some larger fish if you desire to do so

Cons:

  • Some people may not like the dual handle design of the reel

Verdict:

So long as you don’t mind the dual handle design of this reel, this is a high quality reel that can definitely meet your fishing needs. The four size options allows you to be able to choose a reel to catch the type of fish that you want to. You will love the smooth casting and reeling on motions that this reel possesses. It is definitely hard to be able to find this kind of quality in a low priced reel.

KastKing Assassin Carbon Baitcasting Reel Review

This reel is available in both a left hand as well as a right hand design to suit your needs. The reel is designed to be extremely light weight in order to offer you a smooth fishing experience. The reel incorporates a lot of carbon fiber in its design in order to keep the weight down, but in doing so it does increase the price of the reel by a bit. The reel has a pretty nice drag system in its design that is rated at 16.5 pounds. The reel has a relatively low gear ratio of 6.3:1, which means that you should be able to fight some larger fish with this reel if one of them chooses to bite onto your bait.

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Pros:

  • The dual braking design of this rod allows you to drop your bait in the water whenever you please
  • Easy to access side plate on the reel allows you access to interior components
  • The light weight design is noticeable when casting and will help you to be able to cast farther and more accurately
  • 12 ball bearings in the design of this reel will allow you to have an extremely smooth reeling and casting experience
  • The ball bearings in this design are manufactured to be corrosion resistant so that the reel lasts you for a long period of time

Cons:

  • The price of this unit is starting to get kind of high, thanks to all of the carbon fiber that is incorporated into this unit

Verdict:

So long as you have a high budget for a reel, you certainly aren’t going to be disappointed with purchasing this one. The carbon fiber design will allow you to be able to fish both in saltwater and freshwater as you desire. This unit is built out of some very strong materials that are both corrosion and wear and tear resistant. As long as the 6.3:1 gear ratio and 16.5 lbs of drag is appropriate for you, you shouldn’t have problems catching fish with this reel on your baitcasting rod.

Lew’s Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel Review

If you have a very high budget for a fishing reel and you want something that is of supreme quality, then this reel could be the one for you. This reel is available in both a left hand as well as a right handed design to suit your preferences. The reel comes with six different options that you can choose from at the checkout, each with different mechanical factors allowing you to be able to match the reel to the type of fishing that you do. With a 12 ball bearing design, meant to make this reel as smooth as can possibly be, it is hard to beat this reel in terms of quality.

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Pros:

  • With gear ratios of : 5.6:1, 6.8:1, 7.5;1, 8.3:1 it is hard to find something that doesn’t suit your needs
  • There are multiple settings for the braking system on this rod, so that you can change it depending on your circumstances
  • Low weight design allows you to be able to cast far distances with ease
  • Very easy to be able to adjust the settings on this reel to suit your needs
  • Extreme smoothness

Cons:

  • The price tag of this reel will definitely be out of reach for some people

Verdict:

So long as you have a high budget for a reel and want smooth performance, this reel will do the job for you. It is hard to find reels on the market that are this smooth to reel in and cast. The reel allows you to be able to cast with great accuracy and even allows you to be able to cast long distances. It is difficult to find a reel that is so easy to setup and adjust. If you take the plunge and decide to purchase this product, you won’t be disappointed in terms of its overall quality.

Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Reel Review

If you have a mid to high budget and you want to get a high end reel for a good deal, this reel could be the one for you. This reel incorporates the use of eight different ball bearings in its design in order to offer you an optimal amount of comfort and control when reeling and casting with this reel. This rod is available in both a left handed as well as a right handed design at the checkout to suit your personal preferences. This rod is built to be durable and it should last you for a very long time as long as you take proper care of it.

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Pros:

  • Aluminum spool helps to make this reel corrosion and rust resistant
  • Light weight design of this reel allows you to be able to cast long distances
  • Lots of ball bearings makes this an extremely smooth rod to handle, no matter your fishing experience
  • Nice breaking system allows you to be able to drop your bait in the water as you please
  • The rod uses a 7.1:1 gear ratio, allowing you to be able to handle mid-sized fish with ease
  • 18 lbs of drag will help to keep your fish on the line, without the line snapping on you

Cons:

  • Some users may not be a fan of the Dual handle design

Verdict:

So long as you have a relatively high budget and you don’t mind a reel that has a dual handle design, then this unit may be the one for you. You will definitely like how far this reel is capable of casting and you will also enjoy just how smooth this reel feels to use at this price point. Although it may take you longer to be able to reel in larger fish using this rod thanks to the 7.1:1 gear ratio on the unit, the rod should be able to handle larger fish biting every once and a while thanks to the 18 lbs of drag in the design.

Final Verdict:

After reading through both the product reviews in this article as well as our buyers guide, we hope that you now feel as though you have a better grasp as to what sorts of options you have when it comes to buying a reel. Always make sure that you double check the background of the brand that you are buying from, so that you can be sure that the manufacturer has your back. It is also a good idea to do this, so that you can be sure that you are getting a quality product with your purchase and not a toned down version of a product that sounded good in technical terms. Best of luck in your search and hope that you get an awesome reel that’ll help you catch fish after fish!

Baitcaster image By User:xxrevsxx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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