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.
The ability the thumb the spool at the end of casts makes lobbing your lure into 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 (minimises bird’s nests) and has both the right drag and retrieve settings for the fish you are targeting.
For us, the reel that ticks all the boxes here and is our best baitcasting reel of 2020 is the Daiwa Tatula SV TW.
But is a close run thing and the Abu Garcia Revo SX is a strong competitor and if you want a bit more stopping power this may be the better baitcasting reel for you.
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.
Best overall telescopic rod
Coupled with graphite blank, top quality guides and a decent carry case, this rod casts better than some standard spinning rods.
Best budget telescopic rod
A pocket sized bargain – it casts well but packs down to 13″, small enough to fit in a glove compartment, and costs less than a takeaway meal.
With that said, it’s on to the body of the review to find out all about our picks for the best baitcasting reel of this year.
The five baitcasting reels we have reviewed here are:
- KastKing Spartacus – tremendous value
- Piscifun Phantom X – great price, choice of retrieve speeds
- Shimano Curado K – high-speed retrieve, Hagane gearing
- Abu Garcia Revo Beast X – powerful drag, light-weight design
- Daiwa Tatula SV TW – Japanese quality, light and durable
The key features are in this table below.
|Daiwa Tatula SV TW||Shimano Curado K||Abu Garcia Revo SX||Piscifun Phantom X||KastKing Spartacus|
|Line Capacity||14/100 (mono); 30/115 (braid)||20/150 (braid)||10/175 (mono) 20/190 (braid)||10/190 (mono)20/215 (braid)||10/125|
|Features||Air Brake system; Stress-free Vertical technology; Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag, ultra-lightweight spool made of Super Duralumin, T-Wing levelwind system||Digital Control (DC); Hagane Body which helps to ensure that the reel is extremely rigid and durable||Carbon Matrix™ hybrid drag system; MagTrax™ brake system, X2-Cräftic™ alloy frame, Dura-clutch design||4 Disc Carbon Draglow profile frame, carbon crank handle and hollowed spool design||Carbon fibre drag, brass drive gear, CNC machined aluminum spool|
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 a super smooth action and the carbon drag and lightweight rigid body contribute to a strong reel that get your lure right where you want it on a consistent basis and stop 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.
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.
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.
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 magnetic brake.
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 minimise the potential for bird’s nests. One of the best value reels around.
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 mostly 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.
Things to consider when looking for the best baitcasting reel
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 terms of getting a reel that will stand the test of time.
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 grunt to haul them out, you may want to choose a slower retrieve.
The use of aircraft grade aluminium and other metals means most baitcasting reels are only marginally heavier than their spinning reel equivalents. Higher end models use carbon fibre materials that are highly rigid yet super light allowing the manufacturer to shave precious ounces off the weight.
Baitcasting reels employ a braking system to minimise the overrun that causes birds nests. Most higher end models have adjustable magnetic brakes that make casting relatively simple.
Once you’ve practiced with this type 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 a reasonable distance.