The Best Baitrunner Reels: 7 Top Spinning Reels With Baitfeeder Mode (2024)

Baitrunner, baitclicker or bait feeder reels – whatever you call them these are great for bait fishing for species such as catfish and carp.

If you’re an avid angler looking to enhance your spinning reel setup with the convenience of having a baitfeeder mode, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the world of baitrunner reels and look at seven exceptional bait clickers for the best catfish reels that are loved by fishing enthusiasts of all skill levels. 

We’ll take a look at the key features, functions, and advantages of each fishing reel to help you make an informed decision when selecting one of these popular catfish reels to add to your angling gear collection.

What Is a Baitrunner Reel?

Baitrunner reels shimano
Baitrunner reels are great for bait fishing for catfish

A baitrunner reel, also known by various names such as baitfeeder reel, baitclicker reel, catfish reel, or freespool reel, is a type of spinning reel designed specifically for fishing situations where live or cut bait is used

The primary feature of a baitrunner catfish reel or line counter reel is the secondary drag system typically located on the back of the fishing reel. This secondary drag is often adjustable and allows the line to be released under minimal resistance when a fish takes the bait.

This function is particularly useful in situations where fish may be shy or easily spooked when feeling resistance on the bait. It’s exceptionally common for catfishing, and having a good quality catfish reel can help you catch catfish all year round.

What Is a Baitrunner Reel Used For?

Baitrunner reels shimano 2
Carp anglers also loved baitrunner reels

A baitrunner fishing reel is particularly useful in scenarios where fish are known to be cautious or easily spooked. You want to allow the fish to take the bait and swim away with it, experiencing minimal resistance. This increases the chances of a successful hookset on even the most shy or suspicious fish.

The ability to offer freedom to the fish while still maintaining control is the key advantage of using a baitrunner catfish reel. It allows you to set the hook at the appropriate time since the secondary drag system can be disengaged by simply turning the fishing reel handle.

This feature enhances the overall angling experience by providing a balance between giving the fish some leeway and maintaining the ability to reel them in when the time is right.

Best Baitrunner Spinning Reels: Quick Picks

Best Overall
Shimano Baitrunner D
9.8

This Shimano fishing reel is widely regarded as one of the top baitrunner reels available, and it is the first one I'd reach for fishing situations where this system is an advantage. It offers smooth drag performance, durable construction, and a reliable baitfeeding system making it a favorite for those of us who value quality and precision in the best catfish reels.

Best Value
KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III
9.7

In my view, KastKing has created an excellent baitrunner catfish reel known for its affordability and impressive performance. It features a smooth carbon fiber drag system, precise baitfeeding function, and a sturdy build, making it an exceptional value overall as one of the best catfish reels.

Best Saltwater
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
9.6

The Daiwa BG baitrunner fishing reel is highly praised for its exceptional durability and robust drag system. With its corrosion-resistant design, smooth operation, and excellent line management, I personally think it is one of the best catfish reels and a popular choice among saltwater anglers seeking the best baitrunner reel that can withstand rigorous fishing conditions.

Top Baitclicker Reels: Full Reviews

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
Our Score

The Penn Battle II is a popular choice of casting reel thanks to its robust construction and smooth drag power performance. It features a full metal body and side plate for enhanced durability, making it suitable for challenging fishing conditions or those with little fishing experience.

With its powerful HT-100 drag system, exceptional fishing line capacity, and reliable baitclicker functionality, this fishing reel delivers the strength and reliability necessary to tackle a wide range of fish species.

  • Full metal body and side plate for increased durability
  • Powerful and smooth HT-100 maximum drag power system
  • High fishing line capacity for versatility in various fishing situations
Shimano Baitrunner D
Shimano Baitrunner D
Shimano Baitrunner D
Our Score

This Shimano baitrunner spinning reel is widely recognized as one of the finest baitclicker reels available. It excels in terms of durability, smooth operation, and precision performance.

You’ll appreciate its reliable baitfeeding system and the seamless transition from baitrunner to fight mode ensuring effective hooksets.

With its solid construction and exceptional drag capabilities this fishing reel delivers the reliability and functionality that most catfish anglers of all skill levels want in their bait clickers.

  • Durable construction for long-lasting performance
  • Reliable and adjustable baitfeeding system
  • Easy transition from baitrunner to fight mode
Okuma Cedros CJ-65S Spinning Reel
Okuma Cedros CJ-65S Spinning Reel
Okuma Cedros CJ-65S Spinning Reel
Our Score

The Okuma Cedros is a top-tier baitclicker catfish reel known for its strength and durability. Its precision Dual Force solid Drag system ensures smooth and consistent performance, while the corrosion-resistant construction makes it ideal for your next saltwater fishing adventure.

You’ll notice the reel's large fishing line capacity, precise line lay, and ergonomic design, which help make it an excellent choice for targeting big fish species.

  • Dual Force maximum Drag system for consistent precision
  • Corrosion-resistant construction for saltwater durability
  • High fishing line capacity for tackling big fish
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
Our Score

The Daiwa BG is a powerhouse among baitclicker reels and is well known for its rugged design. Its robust drag system provides consistent and reliable control, while the corrosion resistance makes it great for saltwater environments.

This catfish reel offers smooth operation, excellent line management, and impressive casting distance to be an ideal choice for both freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing.

  • Corrosion-resistant design for saltwater durability
  • Strong and reliable drag system for optimal control
  • Smooth operation and excellent line management
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Baitcasting Reel
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Baitcasting Reel
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Baitcasting Reel
Our Score

The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur is a classic baitclicker catfish reel that has stood the test of time. Known for its legendary performance and great durability, as all Abu Garcia reels are, it features a unique level wind system that improves the line lay and allows effortless casting.

The smooth and powerful drag system on this fishing rod casting reel, exceptional line capacity, and versatility for various catfishing techniques make this fishing reel a go-to choice for both freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing.

  • Synchronized level wind system for even line lay
  • Smooth and powerful drag system
  • Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fishing
KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III
KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III
KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III
Our Score

The KastKing Sharky is a standout baitclicker fishing reel that offers exceptional performance at an affordable price. This catfish reel offers a smooth carbon fiber drag system that delivers consistent power with a baitfeeding system that ensures precise control during hooksets.

The reel's solid construction and ergonomic design provide comfort and durability, making it a top choice for anyone that spends a lot of time on the water.

  • Smooth carbon fiber drag system for consistent power
  • Reliable and adjustable baitfeeding system
  • Comfortable and ergonomic design for extended use
Quantum Cabo PT Spinning Reel
Quantum Cabo PT Spinning Reel
Quantum Cabo PT Spinning Reel
Our Score

The Quantum Cabo is a premium baitclicker catfish reel renowned for its extreme durability. The sealed drag system on this fishing rod casting reel provides consistent and smooth operation even in saltwater.

The reel's solid aluminum construction, stainless steel ball bearings, and precise line lay to make it a top choice for anyone seeking reliability and longevity in their fishing gear.

  • Sealed drag system for exceptional performance in saltwater
  • Durable solid aluminum construction
  • Stainless steel ball bearings for smooth operation

What to Look For in a Baitrunner Reel: Buyer’s Guide

Baitrunner reels shimano 1 1
Shimano is a leading player in the baitrunner reel market

Reliable Baitrunner Mode

The baitrunner mode is a key feature of a baitrunner catfish reel, and it allows big fish to take the bait and swim away without feeling significant resistance. It is important to choose a fishing reel with a reliable baitrunner mode that offers smooth and consistent line release. Look for a fishing reel that provides precise adjustment of the baitrunner tension allowing you to fine-tune the resistance when needed.

Durability 

For durability, consider the materials and construction of the fishing reel. Look for fishing reels made from high-quality alloys, carbon fiber, or reinforced composite materials since they provide strength and resilience to withstand the demands of fishing, including the pressures of battling big catfish, bass, or other species and exposure to corrosive saltwater environments.

Features

Consider additional features such as an anti-reverse system that prevents the handle from turning backward and provides solid hooksets. Also, look for a fishing reel with a smooth and precise line lay mechanism since it helps ensure accurate casting and retrieval. Ergonomic handles with comfortable grips are a great addition for reducing fatigue during extended fishing sessions too!

Drag System

The drag system of a baitrunner catfish reel plays a very important role in controlling the amount of resistance applied to the fishing line. Try to choose a fishing reel with a smooth and powerful drag system that offers precise adjustment capabilities since this allows you to set the drag to match the target species and fishing conditions. 

Line Capacity

The line capacity on your baitrunner catfish reel should be sufficient to accommodate the appropriate line weight and length required for your fishing needs. Try to select fishing reels with enough line capacity, particularly when targeting strong or big catfish species that may require heavier line or when fishing in situations where long casts or extended battles with big cats are common.

Baitrunner Reel FAQs

How Do You Use and Cast a Baitrunner Reel?

● Bring the rod back and cast forward as you normally would, allowing the line to unravel naturallyu003cbru003e● Engage the baitrunner mode on the catfish reel to release the line with minimal resistance when a big fish takes the baitu003cbru003e● Set the hook and adjust the line tension by switching the baitrunner mode off and adjusting the drag tensionu003cbru003e● Monitor the line for fish activity and be ready to switch to the fighting mode by disengaging the baitrunner and applying pressure to bring the fish in

What Is the Difference Between a Baitrunner and a Standard Spinning Reel?

A baitrunner catfish reel is designed with a unique baitrunner mode that u003cstrongu003eallows the fishing line to be released with minimal resistanceu003c/strongu003e when a big catfish takes the bait. This gives the fish a chance to swim away without feeling significant drag, making it a great option when fishing with live bait or in areas where target species are highly suspicious or shy.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eA standard u003ca href=u0022https://tacklevillage.com/best-saltwater-spinning-reels/u0022 data-type=u0022postu0022 data-id=u00222028415u0022u003espinning reelu003c/au003e operates with a single drag system that u003cstrongu003econtrols the resistance applied to the fishing line consistentlyu003c/strongu003e. When fishing, the line is released smoothly from the spool during a cast and retrieved by turning the fishing reel handle. The drag system on a standard spinning reel is engaged throughout the entire fishing process, allowing you to control the line tension while casting, retrieving, and fighting big catfish.

Can You Use a Baitrunner Reel for Float Fishing?

Yes! When using a baitrunner fishing reel for float fishing, you can u003cstrongu003etake advantage of its baitrunner modeu003c/strongu003e. Before casting, engage the baitrunner mode of the catfish reel to allow the fish to take the bait without feeling significant resistance. This provides a more natural presentation of live bait and allows the big fish to move freely without detecting the drag of the fishing reel.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eOnce the fish takes the bait, you can u003cstrongu003eswitch your catfish reel from the baitrunner mode to the fighting modeu003c/strongu003e by disengaging the baitrunner and engaging the main drag system. This allows you to set the hook and apply pressure to fight and land the fish.

Are Baitrunner Reels Worth It?

Baitrunner fishing reels are u003cstrongu003eworth it for catfish anglers who enjoy live bait fishingu003c/strongu003e or situations that require a more subtle approach to land their u003ca href=u0022https://tacklevillage.com/trophy-fish/u0022 data-type=u0022postu0022 data-id=u00222027417u0022u003etrophy catsu003c/au003e. The baitrunner mode allows big cats to take the bait without feeling significant resistance, resulting in more natural presentations and improved hooksets. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eBaitrunner fishing reels offer versatility by allowing you to switch between baitrunner and fighting modes as needed. While they may not be necessary for all fishing styles, these catfish reels provide distinct advantages in certain scenarios, making them a worthwhile investment for those who require their unique features to land big cats with big baits.

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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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