The Best Crankbait Reels of 2018 – Our Top 10 Choices Compared

A crisp morning greets you with the smile of the dawning sun, kissing the tree tops and reflecting off the mirrored surface of the lake—you have a feeling that today will be your day, the day you finally snag the big one. You are prepared because you did the research and found the best crankbait reel to help you ensure the smoothest cast and give you perfect control of the line.

Going crankbait fishing means that you will be using a lure that simulates live bait. For that, you need the best crankbait reel to make sure that your rig can handle the casting of the crankbait and give you the most control when making the lure dance to entice that trophy fish in for the catch. 

Top 10 Best Crankbait Reels comparisons

Top 10 Best Crankbait Reels

1. Lew's Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel

Our first reel is a top brand popular among the fans of Crankbait fishing. The Tournament MB is a light reel that offers the strength of a 20-pound drag without making the reel feel heavy or bulky. The idea behind the weight distribution of this reel is to offer a quick and powerful casting experience without weighing down the butt of your rod.

The MB series features intuitive multi-brake settings with the help of an adjustable external magnetic brake and an internal brake to give you a pleasingly high degree of cast control. When you have snagged your target fish, the MG reel will provide a smooth 5.6:1 gear ratio and a line retrieval rate of 23 inches. The ratio and retrieve rate put this reel in the powerhouse of crankbait fishing to make sure your lure stays in the mouth of your catch without pulling too hard that would yank the lure free from the fish.

What we liked

  • Lightweight at only 6.7 ounces
  • Smooth casting action and great control
  • Adjustable braking system customizable to different lures
  • Durable metal and carbon body

What we didn't like

  • Drag can be tricky to tune properly

2. Lew's Laser MG Speed Spool Casting Reel

This next baitcasting reel was designed and manufactured to help the budget-conscious angler get their hands on a seriously hardcore reel for crankbait fishing, while still getting the build quality and performance Lew’s Reels are known for.

The Speed Spool is made from durable aluminum that will give you a little leeway to celebrate your catch without having to rush to clean and dry your reel. The body is also highly durable to help prevent damage to the reel should you drop it accidentally. The bearing system is made from stainless steel to give the reel consistent and reliable performance.

The gear ratio is 7.1:1 and has a retrieval rate of 31 inches per rotation. You get smooth control thanks to the 5-bearing system and zero-Reverse one-way clutch bearing with 6-pin brake to prevent the line from continuing to unspool when casting. All these features combined ensure the Lew’s Speed Spool has a smooth cast and retrieve that will help eliminate the chances of the line turning into a rat’s nest.

What we liked

  • Good reel at a good price
  • Smooth and easy action
  • Great control when casting
  • Adjustable braking

What we didn't like

  • Gear ratio is a little high for crankbait casting, but still good
  • Drag seems to slip every few pulls

3. KastKing Royale Baitcasting Reel

The Kastking Royale is a high-class, low-budget crankbait reel featuring 11 + 1 ball bearings that are resistant to corrosion and provide an easy and smooth cast and retrieve. The 11-bearing system takes the pressure off each individual bearing to decrease wear and extend the life of the reel. We all know that one of the best features of a reel is if you don’t have to replace it every few seasons.

The body of the KastKing is made from aluminum to give it a lighter weight and offer ample strength. The gears and drag system are made from brass and carbon fiber that can withstand up to 17.5 pounds of drag, while maintaining an impressive weight-to-power ratio.

For precision casting, the KastKing has a dual magnetic and centrifugal brake system that is adjustable for different casters and different lures. The adjustable brake is very forgiving for newbies and veterans alike who want to perfect their casting technique.

What we liked

  • Smooth and powerful casting
  • High performance from a budget reel
  • Works well for both fresh and salt water

What we didn't like

  • •7:1 gear ratio is on the high end for crankbait fishing
  • Braking and drag need to be adjusted to work properly

4. ABU Garcia Revo SX Casting Reel

Abu Garcia is one of the most trusted names in fishing gear, and for good reason. The Revo SX low-profile casting reel has been a favorite of crankbait anglers for a long time. Using 9 stainless-steel bearings and a single roller bearing, the Abu Garcia offers a cast and retrieve action that doesn’t feel like the line is sticking and doesn’t force you to overcompensate by cranking faster or with a weird pattern.

The Revo SX is made from carbon fiber, X2-craftic alloy, and brass to complete a strong yet lightweight reel that provides you with a comfortable angling experience. We all love a fish battle, but we don’t want to fight our equipment just to get to the fish.

A MagTrax magnetic brake applies just the right amount of breaking power to create an easy and consistent casting motion letting you worry more about your aim instead of your line getting tangled.

What we liked

  • Adjustable breaking makes casting easier and more consistent
  • Lightweight
  • Reliable breaking system
  • Smooth retrieving action

What we didn't like

  • Low-profile limits the available space for line
  • Requires frequent cleaning to maintain a smooth feel

5. Daiwa Tatula Baitcasting Reel

I’ve never felt this way about a reel—I have to admit the Daiwa Tatula is an awesome-looking piece of hardware. The aluminum body is shined to a glimmer that is only matched by its performance. The Tatula is a tournament performance-ready reel that can manage 13.2 pounds of drag force with a 5.4:1 gear ratio.

This combination of light drag force and low gear ratio lets you easily cast and nab those medium-sized bass that pop off the crankbait lure easily. While the 7+1 ball bearing configuration doesn’t sound as impressive as some other reels, it is still more than enough to give you smooth and consistent casting.

What we liked

  • Looks amazing
  • Great drag
  • Easy casting
  • Excellent reel for crankbait fishing

What we didn't like

  • Reel needs some tuning out of the box
  • Braking system is unforgiving

6. Shimano Caenen Baitcast Reel

The Shimano Caenan casting reel is your comfortable middle ground option that offers a good combination of performance and budget price. If you opt for the Shimano, you will find yourself with a highly capable reel without having to dish out a ton of cash.

Admittedly, the 4+1 bearing system isn’t the best I have seen, but it still provides smooth enough cranking to give you an advantage in any fish fight. The 6.3:1 gear ratio and 26-inch line retrieve rate go a long way to give you control over your retrieve speed. With a max drag of 11 pounds, the bearings and ratio work together efficiently to help you have a successful fishing trip.

To increase the amount of control over the accuracy of your casting, Shimano has built in a variable braking system that adapts to your full array of lures to let you track down your ideal largemouth bass.

What we liked

  • Great casting with almost no backlash
  • Smooth reeling even with the 4+1 bearing setup
  • Surprisingly high performance for the low price
  • Available in right and left-hand configuration

What we didn't like

  • Can jam easily if not maintained properly

7. Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel

Piscifun’s Torrent reel uses brass gears in a low-profile design that is built to provide quality performing crankbait capability with a whisper quiet 7.1:1 gear ratio for precision control. The Torrent is capable of 18 pounds of drag that will allow you to take down some of the larger species hiding amongst the reeds and rocks of your favorite fishing spot.

In order to help you get the perfect cast, Piscifun has included a variable magnetic brake with 11 settings to customize the cast to your crankbait, distance, and casting style. For novice anglers, this provides a high-degree of flexibility and helps you learn how to handle a crankbait.

Maintaining the bearings and the cranking system of the Torrent is easy thanks to the side-plate oil port—you won’t have to dissemble the entire rig just to make sure the bearings are well-oiled and protected.

What we liked

  • Great reel for beginners
  • Still maintains performance for experienced anglers
  • Double wind shafts make retrieving easier, and tangle free

What we didn't like

  • Amount of line is limited due to low-profile design
  • Drag and braking need frequent adjustment, even without changing the lure

8. Abu Garcia BMAX3 Max Low-Profile

The second Abu Garcia reel on the list provides another opportunity for you to strap a high-performance reel to your favorite rod at a budget price. The 4+1 stainless-steel ball bearing system is wrapped in a single-piece graphite frame with graphite side plates to provide a lightweight reel with smooth retrieval. The Abu Garcia’s power disk drag system further heightens the smooth action of the BMAX3.

Abu Garcia has also included the MagTrax magnetic breaking system in this budget reel to give anglers the reliable breaking needed for consistent and effective casting. The MagTrax variable system accommodates the needs of almost any angler and lets you use a wide range of lures.

What we liked

  • Quality reel for frequent use
  • Consistent and easy casting 
  • One of the smoothest retrievals of any budget reel

What we didn't like

  • Reel grips are a little small
  • Breaking can be tricky, needing frequent adjustment

9. Shimano Curado 70

The Shimano Curado is a reel for the quick angler that wants to go for smaller crankbait species. At only 6.2-ounces, you almost can’t even feel the reel on your rod. The Curado series has been around for 25-years and continues to be one of the most popular reels for going after walleye and bass.

The working specs of the Curado 70 include 5+1 bearings with a max drag of 10 pounds. Shimano has engineered the Curado with the SVS Infinity braking system to give you ultimate line control while casting. The gear ratio is 7.2:1, with a retrieval range of 28 to 32 inches per crank. With the Curado, you get a reliable and steady reel for every cast and every catch.

What we liked

  • Impressively smooth cast and retrieve action
  • Highest degree of casting control
  • Comfortable grip and feel
  • Super lightweight

What we didn't like

  • Lower drag limits the fish you can effectively catch 
  • Centrifugal brakes have a slight learning curve

10. Sougayilang Baitcasting Reel

Typically, I am a proponent of sticking with name brands that have tested and true performance, but when I checked out the Sougayilang I was surprised by how well this low-budget reel presents itself.

For starters, the Sougayilang uses an 11+1 bearing system that has 11 ball bearings and a single roller bearing that are all corrosion resistant. These bearings power a smooth machined aluminum spool, and a 3-disc carbon fiber star drag system. The materials combine to create a durable yet lightweight reel that weighs only 8.3 ounces.

Like the top-quality spinning reels, the Sougayilang has a variable braking system to give you accurate line control while casting and reduces the chances of bird-nesting your line. Double wind shafts are built into the reel to help maintain the line in the spool to increase the efficacy of casting and smoothness while retrieving.

What we liked

  • 18-pound drag limit
  • Easy cast and smooth retrieve
  • Great option for beginner anglers

What we didn't like

  • Only works with a braided line

Some Need to Knows 

Ratio 

A reel’s ratio refers to how many times the spool rotates each time you turn the handle. The reels on this list range between 5.3 and 7.5 spool revolutions for every one revolution of the handle. For crankbait fishing, you want to stick with this range to give your lure a slower and more natural motion.

Line recovery  

Along with the gear ratio, the line recovery controls how much line is retrieved with each crank. To control your crankbait lure, the ideal recovery is in the low to mid-20s. You can ease up to the low 30s, but you will need to exercise more crank speed control to make sure you don’t pull the lure too fast.

Bearings 

In general, the number of bearings in a reel is less important than the quality of those bearings. Low-quality bearings will lock up and cause more problems. According to Bass Pro Shops, you need to go for ‘shielded,’ ‘double-shielded,’ and ‘sealed bearings’” (basspro.com).

Go Forth and Fish 

I’ve included a good mix of high-end and budget crankbait reels on this list—the best crankbait reel will depend on your level of experience. For those who want a good all-around reel, I recommend going with one of the Lew’s or Abu Garcia reels. These reels provide the performance experienced anglers need, while being forgiving for the mistakes made by novice anglers.

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!

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