Baitcasting Reel Sizes Explained: Everything You Need to Know

The size of a baitcasting reel affects its performance, comfort, and compatibility with different fishing lines and lures, so it’s important to understand how each size can be used for …

The size of a baitcasting reel affects its performance, comfort, and compatibility with different fishing lines and lures, so it’s important to understand how each size can be used for your particular fishing techniques and locations. 

The huge amount of reel sizes available on the market can be overwhelming for even experienced anglers, so beginners coming into the hobby can be left completely confused and intimidated. 

In this article, we will provide a detailed look at various baitcasting reel sizes and will cover the different types and their best applications. We’ll also take a look at other factors to consider when choosing the right size of baitcasting reel for your fishing needs.

Baitcasting Reel Sizing

High speed baitcasting reels 1
Baitcasting reels come in different sizes, determined by spool diameter and body size, and labeled with numbers indicating size.

Similar to a spinning reel, Baitcasting reels come in a range of different sizes from ultra-light to heavy-duty. The baitcaster reel sizes are determined by its spool diameter and overall body size. The spool diameter determines how much fishing line the reel can hold, while the body size affects the reel’s weight, power, and control. 

Baitcasting reel sizes are usually denoted by a number, such as 100, 200, 300, etc., with smaller numbers indicating smaller reels and larger numbers indicating larger reels. Each size is designed for specific fishing styles and target fish, so choosing the right size can help you achieve the best results.

Baitcasting Reel Size Chart

Reel SizeLine CapacityRetrieve RateMaximum DragBest Used For
5010/135, 12/110 (lb/yd)2412Light freshwater (e.g. trout, panfish)
7014/180, 16/140 (lb/yd)2614Freshwater (e.g. bass, walleye)
10014/220, 16/180 (lb/yd)2716Freshwater (e.g. bass, catfish)
20020/220, 25/160 (lb/yd)3020Freshwater (e.g. pike, musky) or inshore saltwater (e.g. redfish, snook)
30030/245, 40/195 (lb/yd)3225Inshore saltwater (e.g. tarpon, stripers) or offshore (e.g. tuna, dolphin)
40050/295, 65/230 (lb/yd)3430Offshore (e.g. marlin, sailfish)

Smallest Baitcaster Sizes (Below 100)

Baitcasting reels that fall under the 100 size class are the smallest reels available on the market. They are commonly used while finesse fishing for small or light species such as trout, crappie, and panfish. Due to their compact size and lightweight design, these reels are perfect for anglers who prefer a more nimble and delicate approach to fishing. 

Some of the popular brands that offer baitcasting reels in this size class include Shimano, Abu Garcia, and Daiwa. Each of these brands offers a range of models with varying specifications, such as line capacity (that is how much line a specific baitcaster reel holds), gear ratio (indicating the number of times a spool rotates), and drag systems to suit your unique needs.  

While the smaller size may limit the amount of line and the size of the lure that can be used, these reels are versatile and can be suitable for various fishing techniques, such as finesse jigging, drop-shotting, and live bait fishing. The compact design of these reels also makes them an excellent choice for fishing in tight spaces or when fishing from a kayak or other small watercraft.

100 Size Baitcaster

Baitcasting reels in the 100 size class are considered to be medium-sized reels and are a popular choice among most anglers. They offer a balance between line capacity, weight, and power, making them suitable for a variety of fishing applications. These reels are commonly used for targeting species such as bass, walleye, and other mid-sized game fish. 

Some of the popular brands that offer baitcasting reels in this size class include Abu Garcia, Shimano, Lew’s, and Daiwa. These brands offer a range of models with varying specifications, such as gear ratio, spool capacity, and drag system. 

The 100 size class is versatile and can be used for a range of fishing techniques, such as jigging, topwater fishing, and crankbait fishing. The medium-sized design of these reels also makes them comfortable to use for extended periods, and they are suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

200 Size Baitcaster

Abu Garcia Low Profile Baitcasting Reels
Baitcasting reels in size 200 have more power and line capacity and are used for catching bigger fish in freshwater and saltwater.

Baitcasting reels in the 200 size class are considered to be larger reels that offer more line capacity and power than smaller reel sizes. These reels are commonly used for targeting larger species, such as largemouth bass, pike, and catfish. The 200 size class is also suitable for saltwater locations such as inshore fishing for redfish and snook. 

Some of the popular brands that offer baitcasting reels in this size class include Shimano, Abu Garcia, Daiwa, and Lew’s. These brands offer a range of different models with varying specifications, such as drag system, gear ratio, and spool capacity so you’re able to find one that fits your needs. 

The 200 size class is versatile and can be used for a range of fishing techniques such as pitching, flipping, and swimbait fishing. The larger size of these reels may make them less comfortable to use for extended periods, but they offer more power and control when fighting larger fish.

300 Size Baitcaster

Baitcasting reels in the 300 size class are considered to be heavy-duty reels that offer maximum line capacity and power. These reels are commonly used for targeting large and aggressive species that will put up a good fight, such as musky, striped bass, and offshore saltwater species including tuna and marlin. 

Some of the popular brands that offer baitcasting reels in this large size include Shimano, Daiwa, Penn, and Abu Garcia. These brands offer a range of models with varying specifications, such as high line capacity, heavy drag system, and high gear ratios so you can land the monster fish of your dreams. 

The 300 size class is highly versatile and can be used for a range of fishing techniques such as trolling, deep jigging, and live bait fishing. The larger size of these reels may make them heavier and less comfortable to use for extended periods, but they offer more power and control when fighting larger fish.

400 Size Baitcaster

Baitcasting reels in the 400 size class are the largest baitcasting reels currently available on the market. These reels are designed for targeting the largest and strongest fish species, such as tarpon, sailfish, and bluefin tuna. They offer maximum line capacity, power, and drag capabilities, making them ideal for offshore saltwater fishing. 

Some of the popular brands that offer baitcasting reels in this size class include Shimano, Penn, Daiwa, and Abu Garcia. These brands offer a range of models with varying specifications, such as high drag capacity, high gear ratios, and large line capacity so you are able to land the largest fish of your career.

The 400 size class is suitable for a range of fishing techniques such as trolling, deep-sea fishing, and live bait fishing. The large size of these reels may make them less comfortable to use for extended periods, but they offer superior power and control when fighting extremely large fish on the line

What Size Baitcaster Should You Use for Bass?

Choosing the right size baitcaster for your next bass fishing trip will depend on several factors, including your skill level, the fishing technique you plan to use, and the size of the bass being targeted. For most heavy bass fishing applications, baitcasting reels in the 100 size class are commonly used

These reels offer a balance between line capacity, weight, and power, making them suitable for a range of techniques such as flipping, pitching, and casting. They are also comfortable to use for extended periods, making them ideal for bass fishing tournaments.

However, if targeting larger bass or you plan on using heavier lures, you may want to use a baitcasting reel in the 200 size class. It means you can throw bigger lures and these larger reels offer considerably more power and line capacity, making them suitable for fishing deeper waters or targeting bigger fish.

Low-Profile vs Round Baitcaster Sizes

Abu Garcia Round Baitcasting Reels
Low-profile reels are sleek and compact, while round reels offer more power and line capacity, for targeting larger fish and faster retrieval.

When it comes to baitcasting reels, there are two main types of designs: low-profile and round. Low-profile baitcasting reels have a sleek, compact design and sit low on the rod, making them comfortable to use for extended periods. They are also easier to palm, allowing for greater control and accuracy when casting. Low-profile reels come in a range of sizes, with the 100 size class being the most popular for bass fishing.

Round baitcasting reels, on the other hand, have a bulkier design and sit higher on the rod. They offer more line capacity and power, making them suitable for targeting larger fish species such as musky, pike, and catfish. Round reels also tend to have a higher gear ratio, allowing for faster retrieval speeds. They are available in larger sizes such as 300 and 400.

The choice between low-profile and round baitcasting reels depends on your personal fishing style and preferences. Low-profile reels are more versatile and can be used for a range of techniques, while round reels offer greater power and control when targeting larger fish. 

Baitcasting Reels Line Capacity

Baitcasting reel line capacity is an important factor to consider when choosing a reel for your fishing needs. The amount of line a reel can hold varies depending on the reel size and type of line used, so you’ll need to decide how important line capacity is before you make your initial reel purchase.  

For a 10lb mono line, a size 50 baitcasting reel can hold around 200 yards, while a size 400 can hold up to 450 yards. If we’re talking about braided lines, a size 50 baitcasting reel can hold around 250 yards of 10 pound, while a size 400 can hold up to 500 yards. 

It is important to choose a reel with adequate line capacity to ensure you have enough line to handle any fish you may encounter while fishing.

  • Size 50: 200 yards of mono or 250 yards of braid
  • Size 70: 250 yards of mono or 300 yards of braid
  • Size 100: 300 yards of mono or 350 yards of braid
  • Size 200: 350 yards of mono or 400 yards of braid
  • Size 300: 400 yards of mono or 450 yards of braid
  • Size 400: 450 yards of mono or 500 yards of braid

How to Choose the Right Baitcaster Reels Size

Base It on the Species You Fish For

When it comes to choosing the right baitcaster size reel, one important factor to consider is the species you fish for. Larger fish species such as musky, pike, and catfish require a reel with greater line capacity and power, making the 300 and 400 size class suitable choices. 

For bass fishing, the 100 size class is the most popular choice, with the 200 size being used in areas where monster largemouth bass are common. Choosing the right reel size for the species you target ensures that you have the necessary line capacity and power to handle the fish once it’s on the line.

Balance It With Your Rod Choice

Another important factor to consider when choosing a baitcaster reel size is the balance with your rod choice. A reel that is too heavy or too light can affect the sensitivity and balance of your rod. 

For example, a heavy reel paired with a light rod can make the setup feel unbalanced, while a light reel paired with a heavy rod can reduce sensitivity. It is important to choose a reel size that complements the power and action of your rod so you get the best fishing experience possible.

Choose a Versatile Size if You Fish for a Range of Species

If you enjoy fishing for a range of species, choosing a versatile reel size can be a good option. The 200 size class is a great all-around reel size that can be used for a range of fishing techniques and fish species. 

It offers a good balance between line capacity and power while remaining compact and comfortable to use. If you fish for a range of different species, you can benefit from choosing a reel size that offers this level of versatility and adaptability.

Best Baitcaster Sizes for Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater fishing presents unique challenges, such as corrosive liquid, strong currents, and unusually large fish species. Choosing the right baitcaster reel size for saltwater fishing is crucial to ensure you have the necessary power and line capacity to handle the fish and conditions. If you plan to use the reel for surf fishing, make sure the reel is equipped with corrosion-resistant bearings.

The 300 and 400 size class are popular choices for inshore saltwater fishing, offering greater line capacity and high levels of power to handle larger fish species and strong currents. These reel sizes also tend to be built with more durable and corrosion-resistant materials to withstand the harsh saltwater environment.

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AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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