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Best Baitcasting Reels – You Need To Bait Them First Before You Reel Them In

  • Updated: November 23, 2019
Best Baitcasting Reel | Man Casting In A River

Whether you've mastered the basics of casting. Or, already competent, and looking to expand your arsenal, a baitcasting reel is for you

Baitcasting reels are more difficult to use than spinning reels and usually chosen by the more experienced fishermen. If you are new to fishing you may want to check out our list of spinning reels.

Read next: Check out our review of the best fish finder, underwater fishing camera , and sit on top kayaks.

Please note: This article contains affiliate links. If you buy something through the links on this page you won't pay a penny, but we'll get a small commission.

Best Baitcasting Reels - (Comparison Table)

Best Overall
SHIMANO Tranx 500 HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Reel
Daiwa CLTW200HS Coastal TWS Reel, 7.3: 1 Gear Ratio, 7CRBB, 1RB, 15.40 lb Max Drag, Right Hand
Daiwa TACT-R100H TATULA CT Baitcast Reel, Black
Ardent Apex Pro Baitcasting Reel, 7.3:1 Gear Ratio, 10+1 BB, Right Handed
Best Budget
Piscifun Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel - Only 5.7oz, Our Lightest Baitcaster, 17LB Carbon Fiber Drag, 7.0:1 Gear Ratio, Dual Brakes Baitcast Fishing Reels, Incredible Cast Distance (Left Handed)
Brand & Model
SHIMANO TRANX
Daiwa Coastal TWS T
Daiwa Coastal TWS T
Ardent Apex Pro"
Piscifun Phantom Carbon
Weight
340 g (12 oz)
229 g (8.1 oz)
218 g (7.7 oz)
178 g (6.3 oz)
162 g (5.7 oz)
Line Capacity
0.30-270/0.35-240/0.40-140
14/165, 17/125
14/120
12/150, 15/125
-
Gear Ratio
7.6:1
7.3:1
6.3:1
7.3: 1​
7.0: 1
Drag
8 kg (17.63 lbs)
6.98 kg (15.4 lbs)
7.71 kg (17 lbs)
5.17 kg (11.4 Lbs)
7 kg (17 lbs)
Bearings
5 + 1
8
7+1
10 + 1
6 + 1
Best Overall
SHIMANO Tranx 500 HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Reel
Brand & Model
SHIMANO TRANX
Weight
340 g (12 oz)
Line Capacity
0.30-270/0.35-240/0.40-140
Gear Ratio
7.6:1
Drag
8 kg (17.63 lbs)
Bearings
5 + 1
Daiwa CLTW200HS Coastal TWS Reel, 7.3: 1 Gear Ratio, 7CRBB, 1RB, 15.40 lb Max Drag, Right Hand
Brand & Model
Daiwa Coastal TWS T
Weight
229 g (8.1 oz)
Line Capacity
14/165, 17/125
Gear Ratio
7.3:1
Drag
6.98 kg (15.4 lbs)
Bearings
8
Daiwa TACT-R100H TATULA CT Baitcast Reel, Black
Brand & Model
Daiwa Coastal TWS T
Weight
218 g (7.7 oz)
Line Capacity
14/120
Gear Ratio
6.3:1
Drag
7.71 kg (17 lbs)
Bearings
7+1
Ardent Apex Pro Baitcasting Reel, 7.3:1 Gear Ratio, 10+1 BB, Right Handed
Brand & Model
Ardent Apex Pro"
Weight
178 g (6.3 oz)
Line Capacity
12/150, 15/125
Gear Ratio
7.3: 1​
Drag
5.17 kg (11.4 Lbs)
Bearings
10 + 1
Best Budget
Piscifun Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel - Only 5.7oz, Our Lightest Baitcaster, 17LB Carbon Fiber Drag, 7.0:1 Gear Ratio, Dual Brakes Baitcast Fishing Reels, Incredible Cast Distance (Left Handed)
Brand & Model
Piscifun Phantom Carbon
Weight
162 g (5.7 oz)
Line Capacity
-
Gear Ratio
7.0: 1
Drag
7 kg (17 lbs)
Bearings
6 + 1

Top Bait Casting Reels

Best Baitcasting Reel Overall 

SHIMANO TRANX

The Shimano Tranx consists of a Hagane body which is both hard and rigid, whilst remaining amazingly light.

This is a low profile reel that is very strong and suitable for large fish. Its construction is suited for both salt and freshwater

With its new design, it reduces the backlash that inevitably occurs when casting. The 3D modeling process used when designing the Tranx, has resulted in gears that are silky smooth and turn the retrieval process into a seamless dream.

  • Weight: 340 g (12 oz)
  • Drag: 8 kg (17.63 lbs)
  • Bearings: 5 + 1
  • Line Capacity: 0.30-270/0.35-240/0.40-140
  • Gear Ratio: 7.6:1

What we like

  • Hagane body
  • Suitable for both fresh and saltwater
  • Lightweight and durable

What we don't like

  • On the higher price range for casting reels

The design of this reel is intended to keep it lightweight but still capable of coping with heavy inshore fish.

The Daiwa TWS T features the T Wing system, designed to add extra line control that makes it easier to cast further without as much backlash as other baitcasting reels have.

The unit features a tournament drag system that limits friction. Its gearing has been engineered hand in hand with the drag system to with withstand heavy loads and keeps the ratio of retraction low so as not to allow your quarry to escape.

  • Weight: 229 g (8.1 oz)
  • Drag:  6.98 kg (15.4 lbs)
  • Bearings: 8
  • Line Capacity: 14/165, 17/125
  • Gear Ratio: 7.3:1

What we like

  • The aluminum body makes the unit both lightweight and durable.
  • The design lets the lure be cast longer and further.
  • Well sealed and resistant to corrosion

What we don't like

  • The Drag is a little light and could be stronger.

Best Baitcasting Reel For The More Experienced Fisherman

Daiwa Tatula CT Type R

The Daiwa Tatula CT Type R is the successor of the Tatula CT. It is about 25% lighter and slightly smaller than its predecessor.

This unit features the outstanding T Wing line control system, reducing friction and backlash when casting.

The Tatula CT also features an air rotation system making the winding smoother and the reel is designed to spread the pressure across the reel to make the whole retraction process easier.

  • Weight: 218 g (7.7 oz)
  • Drag:  7.71 kg (17 lbs)
  • Bearings: 7+1
  • Line Capacity: 14/120
  • Gear Ratio: 6.3:1

What we like

  • Air rotation system
  • Features the T Wing control system

What we don't like

  • Can be a little noisy.
  • The reel does need proper maintenance else the gears and breaks can wear quickly.

Best Value Casting Reel

Ardent Apex Pro

This is an extremely light reel that fits snugly in the palm of your hand. The aluminum frame forms the base of the reels construction.

With 11 bearings this unit offers competition level performance. The smooth retraction is one of its biggest features.

The reel also features a magnetic braking system with a V6061 T6 aluminum spool

  • Weight: 178 g (6.3 oz)
  • Drag:  5.17 kg (11.4 Lbs)
  • Bearings: 10 + 1
  • Line Capacity:  12/150, 15/125
  • Gear Ratio:  7.3: 1

What we like

  • Magnetic braking system
  • Extremely light

What we don't like

  • The drag rate is a bit on the low side

Best Budget Baitcasting Reel

Piscifun Phantom Carbon

The cost of quality baitcasters is usually a lot more expensive than the average spinning reels that are aimed at beginner fishermen. This can be a deterrent for those new to fishing, or making the conversion to baitcasting.

The Phantom is a unit that is not only of high quality but very well priced and affordable.

This baitcasting reel weights an astonishing (5.7oz) Its carbon fibre body and handle make this unit only light but sturdy too.


The aluminum spool and anodized gears make the unit highly water-resistant and able to stand up to harsh fishing conditions.

The Phantom has a dual braking system, featuring both a centrifugal and magnetic brake. This combination helps to almost eliminate backlash in the hands of an experienced angler.

  • Weight: 162 g (5.7 oz)
  • Drag:  7 kg (17 lbs)
  • Bearings: 6 + 1
  • Line Capacity: 
  • Gear Ratio:  7.0: 1

What we like

  • Extremely light, yet strong.
  • Dual braking system
  • Anodized gears and hollow aluminum spool

What we don't like

  • Breaks can be difficult to adjust.

  • Parts although light are not of the best quality

Buyer's Guide for Baitcasting Reels

If you are new to the idea of casting reels, there are some significant advantages that baitcasting reels have over spinning reels

  • Can Take Heavier Lines
    Because of the design of casting reels, the line comes off the spool, through the guides and into the line guides of your rod. This means that heavier lures and thicker lines can be used, than on more traditional spinning reels.
  • Line Twist
    One of the main complaints that users of spinning reels have is their habit of twisting lines.
    This is a significant advantage a casting reel has over its counterpart. Because the line is spooled perpendicular to the casting reel, the twist on the line is radically reduced.
  • Control
    The braking system on a bait caster is what give s you the control over the spinning spool. Make sure you pay special attention to the types of braking system that you want. Some reels offer a dual braking system, (centrifugal and magnetic), where others only offer one.
  • Weight
    One of the main differences between bait and spinning reels is the weight. Baitcasting reels are much lighter than most spinning reels, but as a result, are usually more expensive.


Things to consider when buying a casting reel

Right vs Left

If you are left-handed and buy a spinning reel that has the handle on the right, this is no big issue. Simply swap the handle over. This option is not available on casting reels, however. You need to make sure you buy the right type of reel for your dexterity. This is an area where I myself have fallen victim so be sure to do your homework.

Breaking Systems

The braking system is responsible for slowing down the reel once the bait has been cast. This reduces the chance of a birds nest developing by the reel over spinning.

The braking systems reduce the backlash once the bait hits the water. Backlash is the line that continues to run due to the inertia of the cast.

Gear Ratios

The gear ratio affects ho much line is wound in when the handled of the reel is turned.
For heavier catches its important that the gear ratio is lower. Should the speed of the retrieve bee too fast the line can come lose quite messily.

The ratio is indicated by two numbers “6.4: 1”. The first number indicates the revolution of the spool and the second number is the turns of the handle it takes to achieve the revolutions. 

In the example ratio of 6.4: 1. This means that for each turn of the handle the spool will rotate 6.4 times.

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Category: Fish

About the Author Brad Pickering-Dunn

Hey, I'm Brad - the founder and editor of Watercraft Watch. My love for boating is what prompted me to start WatercraftWatch.com – helping people find the right equipment and supplies so they can enjoy their time on the water. I hope you find the articles on the site useful, and share in my love for boating.

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