The Best Baitcasting Reels: Our Top 8 Picks

Our best baitcasting reel or 2020 is a superb piece of gear designed to help you catch more fish. Find out which budget reel gave it a run for its money.

The choice of reel is critical when selecting a baitcasting outfit. 

The best baitcasting reels allow you to punch out quick and accurate casts even with light lures.

Best Overall
Daiwa Tatula SV TW
9.7

Lightweight, smooth and a dream to cast, the Tatula wins our review here as the best baitcasting reel of 2020.

Next-Best
Abu Garcia Revo SX
9.5

This low profile reel is a great looking piece of kit that doesn’t let you down when it comes to performance.

Best Budget
KastKing Spartacus
9.6

The Spartacus does everything you want for a great price and has good features and durability.

The ability to thumb the spool at the end of casts makes lobbing your lure into a tight structure relatively simple. Something that is important when targeting bass and other medium-sized sportfish.

But it is critical to choose a reel that is durable, easy to cast (minimizes bird’s nests), and has both the right drag and retrieve settings for the fish you are targeting.

Best Baitcasting Reels – 2024‘s Top Picks

best baitcasting reels

Best Baitcasting Under $250

For us, the reel that ticks all the boxes here and is our best baitcasting reel of 2020 is the Daiwa Tatula SV TW. This superb reel makes casting a pleasure and stopping even tough fish an easy task.

Best Baitcasting Reel Under $200

But it is a close-run thing, and the Abu Garcia Revo SX is a strong competitor if you want a bit more stopping power, this may be the better baitcasting reel for you.

Best Budget Baitcasting Reel

And for those on a tight budget, the KastKing Spartacus gets you on the water with a decent baitcasting reel with a lot of change in your pocket.

With that said, it’s on to the body of the review to find out about our picks for the best baitcasting reel this year.

The 8 baitcasting reels we have reviewed here are:

Best Baitcasting Reels of 2024: Comparison Table

Daiwa Tatula SV TWShimano Curado KAbu Garcia Revo SXPiscifun PhantomKastKing Spartacus
Bearings7+14+19+16+111+1
Line Capacity14/100 (mono); 30/115 (braid)20/150 (braid)10/175 (mono) 20/190 (braid)10/190 (mono)20/215 (braid)10/125
FeaturesAir Brake system; Stress-free Vertical technology; Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag, ultra-lightweight spool made of Super Duralumin, T-Wing level wind systemDigital Control (DC): Hagane Body, which helps to ensure that the reel is extremely rigid and durableCarbon Matrix™ hybrid drag system; MagTrax™ brake system, X2-Cräftic™ alloy frame, Dura-clutch design4 Disc Carbon Draglow profile frame, carbon crank handle, and hollowed spool designCarbon fiber drag, brass drive gear, CNC machined aluminum spool
Affordability****************

Best Baitcasting Reels: Full Reviews

Daiwa Tatula SV TW
Daiwa Tatula SV TW
Daiwa Tatula SV TW
Our Score

Lightweight, smooth, and a dream to cast, the Tatula wins our review here as the best baitcasting reel of 2020. The 7+1 ball bearings provide super smooth action and the carbon drag and lightweight rigid body contribute to a strong reel that gets your lure right where you want it on a consistent basis and stops the strongest of fish. Daiwa has a great reputation for quality and the Tatula is no exception. This is the reel that we want to own out of this group.

Abu Garcia Revo SX
Abu Garcia Revo SX
Abu Garcia Revo SX
Our Score

This low-profile reel is a great-looking piece of kit that doesn't let you down when it comes to performance. Being a low profile model there is a slight compromise on line capacity with standard models, but it is super light and packed with features including a carbon drag and twin centrifugal and magnetic braking. It’s a smooth reel that makes casting a breeze and is a worthy competitor to the two Japanese-designed reels here - the Daiwa and the Shimano.

SHIMANO Curado K
SHIMANO Curado K
SHIMANO Curado K
Our Score

The Curados have a cult following among their fans and it is easy to see why. The braking system is superb, helping to control overun without limiting casting distance. It’s a reel that just feels right in your hand. You can choose a range of gear ratios right up to a fast 8.2:1. It’s light, strong and durable. A fine choice and relatively good value for money.

Piscifun Phantom
Piscifun Phantom
Piscifun Phantom
Our Score

A quality reel at a nice price. We like the strong stopping power with 18lb of drag, and the range of gear ratios available - something you don’t get with its bargain competitor, the KastKing Spartacus. The one thing that lets it down in our eyes is the lack of a magnetic brake. 

KastKing Spartacus
KastKing Spartacus
KastKing Spartacus
Our Score

What you are looking for with this reel is that it does everything you want a baitcasting reel to do and that it is durable. That’s because, at the price point, you know that if it ticks these boxes you are getting tremendous value. And we have to say, on balance, it does deliver.

The competing reels in this review have better components, better features, and a better finish, but for the price, the Spartacus absolutely delivers in terms of getting a budget-conscious user on the water with a reel that’s going to do the job.

It’s also a great reel for less experienced anglers as it has both magnetic and centrifugal braking to really minimize the potential for bird’s nests. One of the best value reels around.

Lew's Hyper Mag SLP
Lew's Hyper Mag SLP
Lew's Hyper Mag SLP
Our Score

Another higher-end reel, Lew's Hyper Mag SLP is designed to be both light and powerful. Lew's achieves this with the use of a one-piece magnesium frame with lightweight carbon side plates.

The reel even has a carbon fiber handle and the aluminum spool is drilled out to save weight.

There is no compromise on quality though and this is a reality that you'll love to cast thanks to its sophisticated centrifugal braking system.

And the rugged carbon fiber drag is great for stopping fast fishing.

13 FISHING - Concept A2
13 FISHING - Concept A2
13 FISHING - Concept A2
Our Score

This is a really versatile and reliable baitcasting reel that is a dream to cast. We like the cork knobs on the handle and the upgraded Bulldog carbon drag. In an era when some manufacturers are cutting down on line capacity, the A2 has 25% more line capacity for the same size of reel. It is still a lightweight reel though with an aluminium frame and you won't get tired fishing with this.

Pflueger President XT
Pflueger President XT
Pflueger President XT
Our Score

The Pfleuger is an awesome mid-priced baitcaster. It is significantly cheaper than the leading Japanese models but offers similar performance.

The President's is fit for use in fresh and salt water. With nine bearings and a magnetic braking system, the President has a similar spec to its more expensive rivals. Our experience with friends who have used this reel is that it is fun to cast and very robust. For those looking for a high-performing reel for a very competitive price, the President is a great choice. This is consistently rated the best value baitcasting reel in this mid-range price point.

When to Use a Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting reels tend to be used by more experienced fishers as they are more difficult to come to grips with than a spinning reel. That said, modern baitcasters are smooth and easy to use, and the dreaded bird’s nest that results from failing to control the spool rotation is most easily avoided.

The single best advantage of a baitcasting reel over a spinning reel is the ability to control the cast length by thumbing the spool to correct it. 

The other thing to consider is if you are casting lightweight baits and lures, it’s better to stick with a spinning reel as the baitcasting reel needs a bit more weight to rotate the spool on a cast.

RELATED POSTS: Best Baitcaster ComboBest Baitcasting RodUltralight Spinning Reels

Baitcasting Reel Buyer’s Guide

Bearings

Look for reels with stainless steel or ceramic bearings for their corrosion resistance. In general, the more bearings, the better, but the quality of the bearings used is just as important in getting a reel that will stand the test of time.

Gear Ratio/Retrieve Speed

Unlike with spinning reels, many baitcasting reel models come with a choice of gear ratios. If the type of fish you target like a fast retrieve, go with a more highly geared reel. Conversely, if you target fish that need a lot of grunts to haul them out, you may want to choose a slower retrieve.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe gear ratio lets you know how many times the spool turns in one revolution of the handle. The higher the gear ratio, the more turns of the reels and the more line that is retrieved per turn of the handle. Typical baitcasting reel gear ratios are 5.3:1, 6.4:1, and 7.1:1.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eMost people go with a 6.4:1 ratio as a versatile choice. This ratio allows you to do both the slower retrieves involved in big spinnerbaits and swimbaits and techniques where a faster retrieve is needed, such as fishing plastics and jigs and topwater lures.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eYou can choose the higher or lower ratio depending on which type of fishing you do more off.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eRemember, too, that a lower gear ratio provides more power to haul in a heavy fish, but it is not as good at ripping a fish out from cover before it can turn around and bury you in heavy timber.

Materials Used and Weight

Using aircraft-grade aluminum and other metals means most baitcasting reels are only marginally heavier than their spinning reel equivalents. Higher-end models use carbon fiber materials that are highly rigid yet super light, allowing the manufacturer to shave precious ounces off the weight.

Braking Systems

Baitcasting reels employ a braking system to minimize the overrun that causes birds’ nests. The tension knob allows you to set the tension at the beginning of your cast, and the brake system controls the line at the end of your cast.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eHaving a decent braking system and tension control is important for making decent casts, especially when it is windy while avoiding backlashes. Most higher-end models have adjustable magnetic brakes that make casting relatively simple.

Price

No buyers’ guide is complete without a look at the price. Baitcasters range in price from about $50 under to $300 and above. Baitcasting reels are inherently more costly than comparable spinning reels. We recommend getting the best baitcaster you can afford.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eWe’ve included a couple of models around the $50 mark for those chasing budget baitcasting reels.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAnd at the other end of the spectrum, we’ve included some high-end reels at around the $150 to $200+ mark from leading manufacturers Shimano, Daiwa, and Abu Garcia.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eYou indeed get what you pay for – the higher-priced reels generally have better components. That might mean more carbon fiber, titanium, and ceramic bearings. They also have more advanced coatings on the gear and better waterproofing of the bearings.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eBut if you are starting out in fishing, or you want a reel to take on a kayak – where losing an outfit overboard is always possible, then the cheaper Piscifun and KastKing models here are fine.

Advantages of Baitcasting Reels

  • More Casting Control – one of the key reasons for using a baitcaster over a spinning reel is the extra casting control that a baitcaster provides. The ability to thumb the spool enables you to brake an overshot cast and drop the lure short of its original trajectory. You can use a slight brake for a marginally overshot cast or stop the line dead if necessary. This makes baitcasters much more versatile and effective for punching lures into tight spots around boat docks, trees, and other pockets of water near heavy structures.
  • More Power– Baitcasters can apply more power to a fish when you are winding than a spinning reel because of the way they are constructed. The spool rotates in line with the handle and gears, so the reel can apply more power and torque without flexing.
  • Less Line Twist – For the same reason, baitcasters are much better at avoiding line twists, unlike a spinning reel, where the line can get twisted as it is wound onto the spool by the bail arm; with a bait casting, the line winds straight on, meaning no twist.
  • Longer Casts – Unlike with ultralight lures – when a spinning reel is a better choice for long casts due to the inertia of the baitcaster spool – for heavier lures, a baitcasting reel will cast further, particularly with a heavy line. The line comes directly off the spool straight out through the rod guides, meaning less friction and longer casts.
  • More Power– Baitcasters are capable of more power than spinning reels, thanks to their spool layout and design. The spool is in line with the handle and gears so that the reel can apply more power and torque. Also, because the handles are mounted directly onto the reel frame, there is no lever arm to cause flex when reeling hard on a fish.
  • Better drag – in our opinion, baitcasting reels have more reliable drag systems than spinning reels. The drag is also easier to operate with the actuator being located inside the handle, where it is easy to tighten or loosen with a flick of your finger.

Summary

A good baitcasting reel is a satisfying piece of kit to fish with – the Daiwa, Abu Garcia, and Shimano models reviewed here will provide outstanding performance and durability.

 Once you’ve practiced with this type of reel, you’ll find your casting accuracy goes through the roof compared to a standard spinning reel. Baitcasters are perfect for those fishing situations where accuracy is key, and the new models can cast even light lures at a reasonable distance.

And with low-cost models such as the Kast King and Piscifun range, it’s no longer a case of spending double what you would on a spinning reel.

We hope you find a reel you like here to make a purchase, spool it up with braid, fluoro, or mono line, and get on the water for a fish.

Tight Lines!

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AUTHOR
Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species. Shawn's fished extensively for pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth and panfish species. He's developing a passion for chasing trout on the fly rod.
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