5 Best Baitcasting Reels For The Money in 2018 – Reviews

Baitcasting reels are as a rule a stronger type of reel. You can use heavier lures and lines with this type of reels, which are crucial for larger fishes. Bigger fishes can fight for quite a while, and a baitcasting reel can be used for these prolonged struggles.

You may have to spend some time mastering a baitcasting reel, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. With the best baitcasting reels, you have the tool to help you troll the open seas or to go for catfish.

5 Best Baitcasting Reels - Comparisons

Keep in mind that these are lineups of baitcasting reels, and each lineup comes with several different models. It’s like buying a car that’s available in different trims. They may be made for right or left-handed anglers, and they may come with different gear ratios and spool sizes. But they also offer technology that’s specific for each model line.

5 Best Baitcasting Reels For 2018 - Reviews

1. Shimano 200I Curado RH Baitcast Reel

Shimano 200I Curado RH Baitcast Reel, Grey

The Shimano 200I Curado RH Baitcast Reel is another high quality baitcasting reel with a frame and spool made from aluminum. The spool even comes with a titanium line guide.

It features 5 (+1) bearings, along with anti-reverse. It’s available in an all-around 6.3 gear, but there’s a slower 5.5 to 1 gear if you’re using bigger baits or deep-diving crank-baits.

If you’re more into flipping and pitching, there’s also a 7.2:1 gear ratio. There are also left and right-handed models. There are several unique technologies that can be seen in the Curado, and one of them is the adjustable braking system called “SVS Infinity”. With this design, you can actually fine-tune braking system to how you like it.

You have tabs for brake pads which you can turn on or off. Then on the side plate you have a small knob that lets you control the level of the brakes you want on your line. You can reduce the brakes and so you can increase the distance of your casting. 

On the other hand, you can also increase the brakes to reduce the chance of back lashing. Then there’s also the X-Ship technology that helps the reel last for many years because it protects your gears. Most of the time, the pinion gear on the baitcasting reel is supported at just one end. 

The problem with this is that you stress the internal gears and eventually they’ll wear down. However, with X-Ship technology you now have support at both ends for the pinion gear. This doesn’t just help the gears last longer. It also gives you greater power and torque.

Finally, there’s the Super Free spool. What this spool does is make sure that your spool has perfect balance. This excellent balance in the spool lets you cast more smoothly for greater distances. The spool also removes the friction on the spool shaft when you make your cast.

In regular baitcasting reels, the pinion gear is freed when the clutch bar is pressed down. The pinion gear can then drag on the spool shaft. This results in friction that can shorten the distance of your cast.

The Super Free spool uses a ball bearing to support the pinion gear. This causes the pinion gear and the spool shaft to be perfectly aligned when you prepare to make a cast and the clutch is disengaged. That perfect alignment reduces the friction to zero.


  • It’s very light at about 7.4 ounces.
  • It’s extremely well-made and it can last for many years.
  • It’s available in a low, medium, and high gear ratio, although only the 6.3:1 and the 7.2:1 models have left-handed variants.
  • The drag and the cast are extremely smooth.
  • The braking system is top-of-the-line as it is even adjustable so you can adjust for distance or to minimize backlashes.


  • You may be concerned about the few bearings.
  • This has a maximum drag of just 12 pounds.
Daiwa Tatula Baitcast Fishing Reels

The Daiwa Tatula Reels is available in different gear ratios, including 6.3, 7.3, and 8.3. It’s also available in both left and right-handed versions.

It’s made from aluminum, which makes it both strong and lightweight.

It uses 8 corrosion-resistant bearings, Magforce-X casting brakes, and a carbon drag system that’s extremely smooth. It also features its unique “T-Wing Casting System” in all the Tatula models.

This features a line guide that’s specially designed to minimize the friction and the obstruction on your cast. At the same time, you keep an even level line when you retrieve and wind the line on to your spool.

This line guide flips up into the casting position, and then you have a T-shaped hole instead of a small hole for the line to go through on your cast. With this bigger hole, you’re able to cast smoother and for a greater distance, since you don’t have the small hole restricting the flow of the line.

When you retrieve the line, the T-wing hole flips down and the line lies on a very narrow groove. You’re able to wind the line more evenly onto the spool.


  • You have several options of high gear ratios to choose from, so that you can pick the ratio that matches your fishing methods and preferences.
  • There’s a left-handed version, so the needs of 10% of the angler population aren’t ignored.
  • It uses magnetic brakes.
  • It has plenty of bearings that are corrosion-resistant.
  • The drag system is very smooth, with a maximum drag of about 13.2lbs.
  • The weight ranges 7.4oz.
  • The T-wing concept lets you cast farther out, and the retrieve is smoother.


  • It may take a while to get used to the T-wing design.
  • There aren’t any options for low-gear ratios.
Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile

This is a premium baitcasting reel from Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile, and it’s an excellent example of how with a little bit larger budget you can get yourself a truly superb reel.

This is a showcase of excellent design with the features to match.

The trend with the REVO line is that it’s becoming lighter than ever. That’s surprising how strong the Revo SX is, but the trick here is that Abu Garcia uses strong yet lightweight components for the reel. The latest models now use C6 Carbon for the side plates, for example.

It is also surprisingly compact. The low profile makes it more ergonomic and comfier in your hands. The weight is also amazingly low at a mere 6.7 ounces, so using this all day long isn’t as much of a strain as the other heavier reels.

The design also features a bent power handle. The bend gives you the leverage you need for cranking without the strain on your arms brought on by a bigger power handle. The alloy frame is corrosion resistant, and the spool is designed to handle heavy lines and loads.

There’s anti-reverse, and the line guide has a titanium coating which reduces the friction on your casts. It uses 10 bearings of high quality, with a maximum drag of 20 pounds which can allow you to engage in bottom fishing.

This also uses a special magnetic braking system, which is a relief for newbies that aren’t familiar with centrifugal brakes. You can adjust the brake by turning the knob outside the reel. You can then decide how close you want the brakes to the line, so you can control the distance of the cast and the likelihood of backlashes.

This comes in a 6.4:1 gear ratio, which is excellent for all-around performance. It’s what you need when you’re using topwater lures, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits. But there’s also a 7.1:1 ratio available for fishing lily pads by mimicking hopping frogs.


  • Due to the use of materials such as carbon fiber, this is very strong yet extremely lightweight. At 6.7 ounces, you’ll probably never find a comparable weight in a reel unless it’s made from hard plastic.
  • With then high drag, you’re better able to deal with even aggressive bass.
  • The magnetic brake is superb and a boon for newbies. With it, you have consistent pressure that slows down the reel. With a little practice, you’re able to make accurate casts more consistently and more easily.
  • The spool can handle a heavy line and heavy loads, so you can go after bigger fish with the right tackle.
  • Everything works smoothly.
  • The compact design also makes it very easy to handle.


  • There’s no low gear ratio variant.
Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile Reel

If the excellent Revo SX is too expensive for you, then the Black Max Reel may suffice at less than half the cost.

It’s still compact and lightweight, and offers reliable performance. In bass fishing, it’s the classic reel for beginners.

This is very smooth, despite the use of just 4 stainless steel ball bearings and 1 roller bearing. Part of the reason for the smooth drag performance is the use of the “Power Disk” drag system, which is excellent.

The maximum drag is an impressive 18 pounds, and it also offers the instant anti-reverse feature. With the Duragear brass gear, you have an extended lifespan for the gear. It also only comes with the 6.4:1 gear ration. However, for most people this is sufficient especially for beginners. 

It’s the recommended gear ratio for overall performance. With this, you also get the superb MagTrax brake system that allows you to put the brake pressure consistently throughout your cast. It’s adjustable, and all you have to do is to turn a knob outside the handle.

That lets you control the brake, so you can reduce the pressure for casting at greater distances or increase the pressure to minimize the chances of back lashing. This is quite lightweight at just 7.3 ounces. At that weight, you can fish the whole day without having to feel as if you’re lifting weights in a gym.

That’s because it uses graphite for the frame and sideplates, and graphite is both strong and lightweight. Then spool is also made of machined aluminum, which adds to the strength without adding to the weight too much.

This is also ergonomic, so you will have an easier time handling this for long periods of time. It has a compact bent handle and star and this bend allows you greater leverage without being too cumbersome. The more comfy design is also due to the use of a recessed reel foot.


  • This is a very ergonomic design, and it’s really comfortable to handle.
  • It’s lightweight yet it’s strong too.
  • The brake system is superb and beginners will appreciate it. You can adjust the brake pressure just by turning a knob. With a little practice, the consistent brake pressure will let you cast accurately on a constant basis.
  • The drag limit is 18 pounds.
  • It’s extremely affordable.


  • It only uses 5 bearings.
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur S Reel AMBS-6500

The Classic C3 series is still available, and it’s one of the best-selling reels of all time.

Now it’s been upgraded to the Ambassador C4 series, which retains the best features of the Classic C3 while it also introduces new technologies and features.

It’s available in several spool sizes, though they all come in the 6.3:1 gear ratio for great all-around performance. It also has left and right-handed models. The drag material is made from carbon fiber while the spool is made from aluminum.

What the new series retains is the classic “Carbon Matrix” drag system that’s extra smooth, and it has a maximum drag of 15 pounds. It also has the instant anti-reverse feature that most modern reels have these days.

It now has 4 stainless steel ball bearings (the Classic only had 3) and it also has one roller bearing for really smooth operations. It uses the Duragear 2 system that boosts the gear strength so you can cope with any fishing conditions you may face. It also has the synchronized level wind setup that improves your casting and the line lay.

It’s quite ergonomic and comfy to handle, as the bend handle and star are very compact. All in all, the new series is a worthy successor to the Classis line.


  • Operations with this reel are extremely smooth, whether you’re casting or you’re retrieving your line.
  • The gear system is superb and works well.
  • It’s very well-built, and you can expect this to last for years.
  • It’s very comfortable to handle.


  • It’s a bit on the heavy side, as the lightest of the C4 line weighs 9.3 ounces. The heaviest is 10.9 ounces.
  • This uses a 6-pin centrifugal brake, which can be good enough for experienced anglers. For newbies, it may be too challenging.

How to Buy Baitcasting Reels

A newbie to fishing may think that baitcasting reels are pretty much the same, but that’s the kind of ignorance that betrays their rookie status. For experienced anglers, the following factors must be considered beforehand.

Gear Ratio

This ratio gives you the number of times the spool will turn for every full revolution of the handle. The most common ratios are 6.4:1, 7.1:1, and 5.3 (or 5.2):1.

For everyday fishing and for most purposes, the generic 6.4:1 is the most popular option. It offers terrific performance, and you can use it for various types of bait and fishing methods like jigs, worms, topwater, and shallow cranking.

A high gear ratio like 7.1 to 1 that turns the spool quickly is great if you prefer to fish topwater toads or frogs. It suits at pitching jigs and plastics too.

With this ratio, you’re able to take up the slack much more quickly and you can pull back the bait to your boat faster. If you’re using fishing bait that pulls hard, then you’ll need a low gear ratio. The 5.3:1 ratio will work better when you’re using large swim baits, slow-rolling heavy spinner baits, and deep-diving crank-baits.

The low ratio allows you to reel your bait in more slowly, and that means the bait has a longer time in your target area. It also provides a greater torque output so you can flip and move bait out of cover.

Video Credit - Flukemaster

Spool Size

The spool can be bigger or deeper, or it can be smaller. The right choice depends on how you fish. With a bigger spool, you can use a heavier and longer line. You also have smaller coils of line which you can manage more easily.

With a smaller spool, you have less weight to contend with. It’s also better for short line uses, such as pitching and flipping.


In the old days, anglers had to choose between a solid reel that’s somewhat heavy and a lightweight reel that’s less durable. It’s also possible to get a heavy reel that’s seemingly solid but is actually flimsy when you use it.

Nowadays, you may want to opt for a material that’s both strong and lightweight, such as carbon composites, magnesium, or aluminum.


The general rule here is that you’ll want more bearings, since they’re more like to cast and retrieve more smoothly and more accurately. However, you also must consider the quality of the bearings. Your best options are premium ceramic or stainless steel ball bearings.


You need brakes on your reel especially when you’re casting into a strong wind. That’s because the wind will slow down your bait and so your spool will spin faster. With good brakes, you can make long casts with various types of lure weights and you can minimize the backlashes.

Here your options are basically either a centrifugal or a magnetic brake. The centrifugal brake should be good enough for experienced anglers, as it works only during the latter part of your cast. The magnetic brake, however, works evenly at each step of the cast so it’s better for beginners.

Handling and comfort

The ideal way to buy a baitcasting reel is to handle several options at a retail store and then you can buy online the reel that feels comfy in your hands. Many current reel models come with features that help with handling comfort, but every person’s hands are different. So you need to check the return policy of your seller if you’re buying online.

This is a feature that keeps the reel from turning backwards. It allows the drag to control the fish. However, for “back-reeling” you need to disengage the anti-reverse feature, which is why on some reels there’s a switch to activate or deactivate the anti-reverse.


On the other hand, they can be a weak point in the reel because they can fail when the salt gets into the anti-reverse switch.

Smooth drag and drag capacity

The smoothness of the drag is the most important factor here, and a sticky drag can let the fish get away. Of course, you may also want to make sure the drag stays smooth with proper maintenance.

Then there’s also the drag capacity, which can help you with your particular style of fishing. It depends on the species of fish you’re aiming for and the size of the lien you’re using. You only need about 12 pounds maximum drag if you’re sailfishing. With bottomfishing, you may need a maximum drag of 20 pounds.

Final Verdict

It seems like a pretty long list of factors for just a baitcasting reel, but it’s not just a reel. It’s an essential piece of equipment that you need if you’re going to enjoy your fishing. So even though it’s a fairly inexpensive tool, take the time and effort to find the best bait casting reels that suit your purpose.

David Valle

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!