If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best baitcasting reel for the money is, then we recommend the ABU GARCIA Revo SX Low Profile reel.
Maybe you’re looking to try your hand at baitcasting for the first time? Or maybe you’ve been doing it your whole life and are just looking for something new to step your game up? Either way, this is the place to start your search for a new baitcasting reel.
Finding the perfect reel for the price that you want is a hassle on your own. With our guide, you’ll quickly be able to find one within your price range. That way you can get out on the water and back to fishing as soon as possible.
By the way, as an Amazon Associate, I earn when buying qualified products through links on my site.
Whether you’re looking for the best baitcaster reel for beginners or one for a long-time pro, we’ve got you covered. All of our selections have advanced magnetic braking technology to prevent backlash. We’ve also cherry-picked the reels on the market that will give you the best quality for the lowest price.
If you’re looking for saltwater baitcaster reels, well, I’d head on over to our post where we talk more in-depth about that.
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top 3 Picks…
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Reviews: Best Baitcasting Reels For Beginners
ABU GARCIA Revo SX Low Profile
A slightly more expensive reel than our last entry, the ABU GARCIA Revo SX Low Profile baitcasting reel manages to provide an increase in quality for its increased price. As the fourth generation of the Revo SX, this model is the most impressive, durable, and high-performing one yet.
The reel comes with 9 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing guaranteeing a smooth and efficient cast every time. Constructed out of a strong base alloy with C6 carbon sideplates, the reel is durable and sturdy to ensure you get the most use out of it for the price. And there is a match made in heaven with the high quality of this model’s brass gears and the efficiency of the ABU GARCIA D2 Gear Design.
While this is another low-profile and compact reel, you shouldn’t be worried about it not standing up to a bigger catch. The Power Stack Carbon Matrix drag system will ensure that you land those big fish even with hard direction changes, charges, and break-off hazards. Not to mention that the improved Infini Brake design and Infini II spool design make casting the easiest thing in the world and prevent backlash even when in the hands of a beginner.
One of the bigger problems with this reel though seems to be that the sideplates can be prone to accidental removal. The lever that unlocks and locks the plate is positioned so that it can be accidentally pushed into the open position during casting if you’re not careful, which makes it easy for the plate to come off exactly when you least want it.
If you’re careful with your grip while casting though, then you can rest easy knowing that your money isn’t going to waste with this quality baitcasting reel.
DAIWA Fuego CT
If you’re looking for a great anti-backlash reel for a low-price that will last, then you can’t go wrong with the DAIWA Fuego CT baitcasting reel. Even if you aren’t sure how to prevent backlash yet, this reel model ensures that you can cast and reel in the big ones without worrying about it.
This reel is built out of top quality aluminum into a palm-sized frame that allows for easy handling and added durability. It comes with 5 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing which provide a smooth cast in about any sort of conditions and has a gear ratio of 6.3:1. As a compact model, this reel won’t take up unnecessary space and can be gripped easily for enhanced drag control.
Speaking of drag control, the Fuego CT’s U.T.D. (Ultimate Tournament Drag) system allows you to easily manage even the biggest catches without line breaks or unnecessary tension. You’ll have the “ultimate” cranking power to haul in any sort of monster you hook while retaining a smooth and efficient reel.
We haven’t even gotten to the smooth casting ability and spool yet! With an ample amount of line, that you probably won’t ever reach the end of, and a silky smooth spool, this model makes for an effortless cast. While it won’t fill all of the needs that a pricier and larger model might, it makes for one of the best baitcasting reels for under $100 dollars and can last you as long as you need it with minimal issues.
SHIMANO SLX DC
If you’re looking for a reel that is sturdy and dependable, then you don’t have much further to look than the SHIMANO SLX DC baitcasting reel. It is probably one of the best baitcasting reels for beginners as it doesn’t overwhelm the caster with too many advanced or variable features while still eliminating backlash. The model has a maximum drag allowance of 12 lbs and a gear ratio of 6.3:1.
Its custom Hagane body structure is designed for increased rigidity and impact resistance which eliminates body flexing. This, combined with the unique SVS Infinity braking system, makes for a durable and solid reel. It also comes with other braking systems that controls spool speed using six centrifugal brakes and an external adjustment knob with four different settings.
The SHIMANO SLX also comes with increased spool advancements. The S3D spool configuration provides decreased spool vibration, as it provides a uniform, thin aluminum wall which increases the smoothness of your cast, especially when it comes to lighter lures. It is also designed to be Superfree, which eliminates friction by keeping the spool and pinion gear apart during casting.
It may seem like purchasing a more compact model like the SHIMANO SLX DC would mean you’d lose a good amount of spool, but in fact the SLX DC has the same capacity as the larger SHIMANO Caenon. While there have been some issues with line fluffing, overall, the SHIMANO SLX DC baitcasting reel is a great product. It is one of the best baitcasting reels for under $100 and is great for preventing backlash and ensuring a smooth and reliable cast.
LEW’S Tournament Pro
LEW’S has been a trusted casting line for as long as most can remember and their Tournament Pro baitcasting reels continue that record of quality and dependability. It’s probably a model that an advanced caster might find more useful as it eliminates backlash almost entirely and provides an overwhelming amount of features that can be adjusted for maximum control over your casts.
This reel features a Speed Spool design. With a double anodized aluminum spool that adopts an effective U-shape, you can be sure of smooth casting and reeling while the durable and high strength solid brass gears that allow you to apply as much force as you need without worrying about breaks. Combined with the SLP graphite reel frame and side plates, the Mach Crush can weather most tough catches and water conditions easily and efficiently.
It comes with 11 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings including its LEW’S Zero Reverse one-way clutch bearing. Along with that comes the Adjustable Brake dual cast system that has an external click-dial for setting the 6 brake shoes which utilize centrifugal force. All of that just means that you have the ultimate amount of control over this model’s braking system to meet whatever conditions you face while casting.
Of course, with that added control comes the problem of the rod being too complex for inexperienced casters. If you’re just starting out you’ll likely still be able to use and enjoy this model, but only advanced casters will be able to get the most out of it.
The last entry on our list is one of the least expensive and one of the best. The PISCIFUN Phantom baitcasting reel sells itself as one of the lightest, coming in at only 5.7 ounces, that retains the strength and durability of heavier models.
And they aren’t lying! The Phantom comes with a 7.0:1 gear ratio ensuring fast reeling and efficient performance, but it also comes with 6 anti-corrosion stainless steel ball bearings and 1 clutch bearing. All of the bearings are then shielded to provide the smoothest and sleekest performance for as long as possible.
In terms of strength, this reel model also delivers in terms of power. With an extra hard anodized Aircraft grade aluminum main gear and pinion gear, you’ll have the sturdiest structure possible when pulling in a tough catch. Combined with the four carbon fiber drag washers, this reel has a maximum drag of 17lbs despite its lighter build.
One of the minor issues with this reel model though comes from the smaller frame and its lower price. While you’ll still be able to cast easily and smoothly, the Phantom doesn’t have as large a spool capacity as some other models. Because of that, and the strong magnetic and centrifugal braking system that are designed to nearly eliminate backlash even when used by a beginner, you may find that the lure doesn’t go as far as you want on some casts.
Overall though, you’ll find that this baitcasting reel is a great product for the lower price. Not to mention, if you’re getting bird’s nest with every cast this is one of the best baitcasting reels to prevent backlash on the market.
Buyer’s Guide: What To Look For In A Good Baitcasting Reel
You might think that you’re all set and ready to purchase your first (or next) baitcasting reel; ready to get out there and start hauling in big catch after bigger catch. However, there are a number of important things to consider before you actually spend the cash on any specific baitcasting model.
For instance, what kind of bait should you use with your reel? Or are you planning on using lures instead?
Here, we’re going to look at a number of important things to consider before reaching for your wallet.
Are Baitcasters Good For Beginners?
First off, let’s get this question out of the way–should you even be shopping for a baitcasting reel for your first or second reel?
Baitcasters are not ideal reels for beginners because they require advanced and specific technique to avoid tangles. Although they can be very powerful reels, it requires some skill to be able to use them without spending your entire fishing trip untangling your line.
Fishing can be a hard sport to get into. Often, we’re introduced to fishing when we’re kids, and the last thing a kid wants to do is fuss with gear. The fussiness of your baitcaster really depends on what you buy, but in general, baitcasters require some specific technique that makes it less appealing for the complete beginner.
I’d recommend going with a closed-face spinner (spincast) reel for a beginner to fishing. You get the fun of fishing without worrying (too much) about the reel and they just work. (although believe you me, they can get in really bad tangles too.)
What Is An Anti-Backlash Baitcasting Reel
Backlash is a problem that is uniquely common to baitcasting reels. It occurs when the lure slows down after casting, but the spool doesn’t. This leads to a knotted, tangled mess of line that is called a “bird’s nest”.
Most beginner baitcasters are turned off of baitcasting because they continue to get bird’s nests again and again when casting. With practice, patience, and a whole lot of backlash, most casters that stick with are able to get their form and technique down and avoid it eventually, but a large number of them would rather switch to an easier fishing sport.
To keep new baitcasters from quitting, specific anti-backlash reels are designed to remove backlash even in the hands of beginners. Most anti-backlash reels use a magnetic braking system in order to drastically reduce the chances of bird’s nest’s forming by using magnets to restrain the spool and prevent it from overtaking the lure. They rely much less on the caster in order to function properly and require less adjustment than other types of braking systems.
It’s not unusual for baitcasting reels to come with two types of braking systems, which understandably can be a bit confusing and overwhelming for newer baitcasters. Most of the reels on our list utilize magnetic braking to make it easier for beginners to find their footing when using the reels, but we also have some that include centrifugal or other types to give advanced baitcasters more controllable and adjustable options.
What Gear Ratio Is Best
Another important part of deciding on a baitcasting reel is the gear ratio. While it seem complicated with different numbers that can vary all over the place, the main rule with gear ratios is that the higher the numbers, the faster your reel will pull in the line. So a reel that has a ratio of 7.1:1 will be able to pull in the line with fewer turns than one that has a 6.4:1 reel.
With that information, it may seem like you always want to spring for the higher ratio reels in order to pull line as quickly as possible after a hook. However, it’s never that simple is it? Lower ratio reels have their own benefits and advantages over higher ratios too.
The main difference is the types of baits that each ratio works best with. A higher ratio will work incredibly well with light or plastic baits, such as spinnerbaits and buzz baits. Meanwhile, a lower ratio, while not as fast, will work better with heavier spinnerbaits and crankbaits.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which ratio works best for your casting needs. Of course, you could always buy both a high and low ratio reel just to be on the safe side.
Are More Bearings Better
You may be thinking that the same rules for gears can apply to bearings too. The number of bearings should determine the quality and smoothness of your reel. Nope!
While some reels may advertise themselves as having a large number of bearings, in reality the number of bearings means nothing by itself in terms of quality. Instead, you need to look for the quality of the bearings themselves in order to determine how smooth the reel will be. Most, if not all, reels will be smooth and efficient right out of the box, regardless of the number of bearings, but it’s after a few weeks of use that the difference between high quality bearings and low quality will become clear.
How can you tell whether a reel has high quality bearings though? There are a few key phrases that you can look for when examining a reel that will give away whether it has them or not. Look for things such as “shielded”, “double-shielded”, and “sealed bearings” in order to determine a high quality set of bearings.
If you can though, probably the best indicator is the term “CRBB”. This stands for corrosion-resistant ball bearings, meaning that they were treated specially to resist moisture or are made of a material designed to resist moisture and corrosion, such as stainless steel.
Rounded Or Low Profile
Most of the baitcasters on our list are low profile, but maybe you’re wondering exactly what that means. Overall, baitcasting reels are either rounded or low profile in shape and construction, and each type fills a specific role in terms of what and how you’re fishing.
Low profile is the overwhelming favorite among baitcasters recently and are primarily used to fish for bass and crappie. These types of reels are sleek and easy to palm, allowing for a lot of control and comfort when casting. They also allow easier access to the spool, which can be a lifesaver in terms of untangling a messy bird’s nest.
On the other hand there are rounded baitcasters which, while not as popular, do have their own advantages over low profile reels. These reels are meant for large fish like steelhead, pike, salmon, and catfish, as they have a greater length of line than low profile reels and allow for using heavier line. They don’t sit as comfortably in the hand, but what they lose in grip fit, they make up for with extra strength, durability, and can take the full pressure of a longer hook run.
You’ll need to decide for yourself which kind of reel you’re looking for in this instance and it’ll likely be determined by exactly what type of fish you’re looking to hook.
Does Frame Material Matter
To make a long answer short, yes. While it isn’t the most important thing to consider, the material of your reel can have an impact on your casting.
The two main materials that reels are constructed out of are graphite and aluminum. Where graphite is usually found in cheaper models while aluminum is the one that most pricier models use.
It’s unlikely that you’ll find any issues when using a graphite reel, but a good number of casters are not fans of the material. If you don’t mind shelling out a few extra bucks for the aluminum model, then you’ll have a sturdier reel that can take more abuse.
What Line Is Best For Baitcasting?
Look for a low-memory line like T-Line from Mason or PLine CX Premium. A low-memory line will tangle less which is very important for baitcasters.
If you don’t have the technique down solid and your gear isn’t right, baitcasters can leave you with a tangled mess due to backlashing.
Memory is the phenomenon where the line “remembers” being spooled up and twists when unreeled and easily tangles. Memory isn’t always a problem, but with baitcasters this can be a huge headache.
There’s multiple schools of thought–if you are just focusing on the technique and want to improve and don’t care about cutting line, then Big Game line is still a favorite for many fishermen using baitcasters.
12lb or 15lb filament is a good weight for baitcasters.
Hopefully now you’ve got a good idea of what you’ll need from a baitcasting reel! If you weren’t able to find one you liked in our list of best baitcasting reels for beginners (that we spent so much time compiling after researching hundreds of models on the market), then the buyer’s guide ought to have given you a head start on looking for one.