Best Baitcasting Reels In 2020 – Top 10 Rated Reviews

A good day out fishing can only get better when you manage to hook a big one. If you want to pull in one of the bigger fish, you’ll need a solid baitcasting reel. With so many options in the marketplace today, it can be overwhelming trying to find the perfect option for you.

That is why we have put together this list of the best baitcasting reels currently available. First, though, we will lay down the reasons you might need one for your next fishing trip.

Best Baitcasting Reels

Advantages Of Baitcasting Reels

Most anglers will agree, baitcasting reels are a part of any good tackle box. They are more effective for those larger lures. Baitcasting reels also allow you to use angling techniques lighter spinning reels can’t handle.

The best baitcasting reels provide a combination of power and casting control. They allow you to drop the line exactly where you want it. Once you have that sucker on the line, they provide the torque needed to pull up bigger beasts.

Baitcasting reels help you cast further

As long as you have the right reel in hand, baitcasting reels allow you to easily outcast your spinning reel casting limit. This is due to the way the line comes off the spool. Rather than uncoiling as it does on a spinning reel, the line comes out the rod directly from the spool.

Baitcasting reels experience less line twist

Line twist is one of the most annoying parts of the day for any angler. And spinning reels are notorious for it. Baitcasters have the spool line mounted perpendicular. This means that the only real line twist you encounter with baitcasting reels will likely come from your lure. Especially if you are fishing soft plastics.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Mörrum ZX

Baitcasting reels provide for greater control

Because of the two advantages of baitcasting reels discussed above, they also allow for greater casting control. As long as your aim is good, you simply outcast your intended drop spot. Then thumb the line to slow and stop it where you think the fish are most likely to bite.

Baitcasting reels also provide more power, thus letting you use heavier lines.

With the spool axis of rotation running perpendicular with the rod guides, you can run heavier lines through the rod guides. If you have a good setup, you can run 10-20 pound test lines and 1-ounce lures.

If you’re going to be running a heavier line, you’ll also want a reel that provides extra power. The in-line spool handle and gears on a baitcasting reel provide more torque. With the handles mounted directly onto the reel frame, you don’t have to worry about a lever arm flexing with bigger fish. Put this all together, and you get more power to pull in bigger fish.

Top 10 Best Baitcasting Reels In 2020 Reviews


1 Shimano Calcutta Conquest 400

The first item on our list of the best baitcasting reel reviews is made by Shimano. Their Calcutta Conquest 400 isn’t just loaded with features, it’s also beautiful to look at. And it certainly better be, because it’s easily the top-priced baitcasting reel we looked at.

This might be out of your budget, but if you can afford it…

Well, then you will get the rigidity and precision past Calcutta Conquest models are well known for. Plus, you get the upgrades. These include a synchronized levelwind, an eight pin VBS braking system, and an HG gear ratio.

Great upgrades, but what made this one of the best baitcaster reels in the first place?

This reel has a 12+1 bearing system. That’s backed with a micro modular gear system for a smooth retrieve. This highly efficient system provides more contact points between the drive and pinion gears.

Made with cross carbon drag, you also get the smoothest Shimano drag performance ever, and the widest range of drag settings ever. This is housed within a S-Compact Hagane body. It’s up to 25% smaller than A side plate, and that means you will be able to fish in comfort for longer.

Designed to limit spool vibration…

To help with vibrations, the S3D technology has a thin wall aluminum wall. It’s the precision of the manufacturing that you have to appreciate here. The Calcutta Conquest wall is uniform and balanced much better than most options further down our list.

This reel also has a Super Free Spool, allowing you to cast further…

Please also note that the rod we looked at is right-handed only. If you want to reel from the other side, you’ll need to ensure you order a left-handed reel. This is true for most reels on the market.

Shimano Calcutta Conquest 400
Our rating:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Pros

  • 12+1 bearing system.
  • S3D Technology.
  • Super Free Spool.
  • S-Compact Hagane body.
  • VBS Breaking System

Cons

  • Considerably more expensive than all the other options we reviewed.

2 Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Mörrum ZX

Most consumers aren’t looking to break the bank on their next reel. If you want a top-end model, that’s close to half the price of the above we got you covered. This is the first of three reels on our list from Abu Garcia. Another brand that is well known for top quality angler gear.

The Ambassador Mörrum ZX is designed for the experienced anglers out there. It comes with ten stainless steel HPCR bearings + 1 roller bearing. This is housed within a chained aluminum frame, and the side plates strengthen the unit without adding excess weight.

Cast your bait with precision thanks to the IVCB-IV System…

Are you ready for this mouth full? The Infinitely Variable Centrifugal Brake provides precision in brake adjustments. This allows you to cast a wider variety of baits. For those running ultra-light lures, this means accuracy and control.

What about the drag?

This reel has a carbon matrix drag system. It smooth, and it provides a consistent drag throughout the range. This works really well with the Infinity II spool design. All in all, this means extended stability even under extreme loads.

The bent carbon handle and flat EVA knobs also increase comfort and durability.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Mörrum ZX
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros

  • Ten stainless steel HPCR bearings + 1 roller bearing.
  • IVCB-IV System.
  • Carbon matrix drag system.
  • Infinity II spool design.
  • Flat EVA knobs, and bent carbon handle.

Cons

  • Even at half the price of the last reel we looked at; this reel is more than twice the price of others on our list.

3 Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel – Best Baitcasting Reel for the Money

Finally, we have an item for you that most anglers can afford. You still get the Shinamo name with the Curado K, but it is certainly a big step down from the first item on our list. It also might be the best baitcasting reel for the money.

It’s a big step down in cost, but what about the features?

Shimano knows how to make angling reels and rods. This particular baitcasting reel provides the 9+1 bearing system. The bearings are stainless steel and provide a smooth operation.

Is this the best low profile baitcasting reel?

It has C6 carbon sideplates to help cut down on weight. These also keep the whole thing strong and durable. They even went so far as to use Duragear brass gears for a longer life. For the price, this is a fantastic

Even costing so much less, you still get a huge range of features. This includes the micro modular gear system, Hagane body, SVS Infinity spooling system, and Super Free Spool.

One of the best value baitcasting reels available…

We think most anglers will be pleasantly surprised at the function to price comparison with this baitcasting reel.

Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel
Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • 9+1 bearing system.
  • C6 carbon sideplates.
  • SVS Infinity spooling system.
  • Super Free Spool.
  • Micro Modular Gear.

Cons

  • It’s amazing what you get for the price, but it doesn’t compare to the nicer Shimano model reviewed above.

4 Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile – Best Baitcasting Reels for under 200 Dollars

Everyone angler would like to have the best baitcasting reel available. If you like the Abu Garcia brand, but the second item our list was a bit pricey, then we got ya covered. The Revo SX is a low profile baitcasting reel at less than half the cost of the Mörrum ZX.

One of the best baitcasting reels for under $200…

The Revo SX is the fourth generation in the line. It provides a DuraClutch design. The Infini Brake System provides smooth engagement for pin-point accurate casting.

We really like the D2 Gear Design…

It works with the brass main gear for top durability and more power with less effort. The alloy frame is made of X2-Craftic for strength while maintaining a minimal weight. It also has a riding base to help with high drag pressures. Even better, there is a Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag System.

We also like the 90 mm handle with oversized PVC knobs…

The reel is available in two gear ratios. For a wide range of general fishing applications, we would suggest the 6.6:1 gear ratio model. There is also a 7.3:1 model for faster casting and line retrieval.

Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • 9+1 bearing system.
  • DuraClutch design.
  • Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag System.
  • Available in two gear ratios.
  • Oversized PVC knobs.
  • One of the least expensive options on our list.

Cons

  • Some users find the reel doesn’t cast that well in windy conditions.

5 Daiwa Tatula CT Type-R

Another maker of the best baitcasting reels is Daiwa. Their Tatula CT is available in a right and a left-hand model. Always double check before you purchase any baitcasting reel…

The Tatula CT has a new, compact, ergonomic design. It’s lighter than the previous model and is packed with features. One such feature is the TWS (T-Wing System). This greatly reduces friction and harsh line angles when casting.

How does this work?

When you are casting, the line flows freely from the wider top section. When you’re reeling in a catch (or an unfortunately empty lure), the line drops to the lower channel. You end up with even distribution across the spool and further casting.

How many bearings does it have?

There is an 8+1 bearing system (2CRBB+5BB+1RB). We found it smooth and refined, especially for this price point. The Tatula CT also has the Magforce Z Cast Control System. This helps the reel to work well with a wider range of lures, and in almost any conditions.

We also like the large, durable drive gear. It’s great for those bigger fish. The Ultimate Tournament Drag System tops things off by providing 13.2l pounds of max drag. This is a good baitcasting reel for just about everyone.

Daiwa Tatula CT Type-R
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • 9+1 bearing system.
  • T-Wing System.
  • Magforce Z Cast Control System.
  • Ultimate Tournament Drag System.
  • Lightweight, ergonomic design.

Cons

  • There are more durable options at this price point.

6 Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile Reel

If you are looking for an entry-level baitcasting reel, then look no further than the Black Max. Made by Abu Garcia, this is by far the least expensive baitcasting reel we reviewed. It’s so cheap, in fact, you may have some change left for a new lure.

Save some money with the Black Max baitcasting reel…

As you would expect, you won’t get the same quality or features with this reel — especially not when compared with our first item. But for the price, this is a great option for beginner anglers.

It’s lightweight by design…

Constructed from a single piece graphite frame with side plates for durability. It also employs the MagTrax Brake System. This helps you to boost the range and precision of your casts.

We like the compact bent handle. It provides an ergonomic grip with the recessed reel. There is also a Power Disk Drag System and a Machines aluminum spool.

It runs on four stainless steel ball bearings.

Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile Reel
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • Four stainless steel ball bearings.
  • MagTrax Brake System.
  • Power Disk Drag System.
  • Low profile, lightweight design.
  • Easily the least expensive baitcasting reel on our list.

Cons

  • The reel has a more limited range than nicer, more expensive options provide.

7 13 Fishing Concept A3 Reel

13 Fishing seems like a lucky kind of brand name. Their Concept A3 baitcasting reel was designed as a big, low-profile reel. Big on features, without getting in your way. It is priced competitively with a number of the other options on this list.

Built to handle saltwater fishing…

This reel has seven anti-corrosion bearings that won’t let you down even after exposure to salt water. It also has oversized, hardened brass gearing. It’s durable, no matter your fishing conditions.

In fact, they call it the H.A.M Gearing System (Hard as a Mother).

This gear system is up to 37% larger than on other reels. It provides a wider, more stable connection to the line. Thus, even in high drag, you might encounter on a trophy fish you maintain control.

Too many features…

The Concept A3 has a high-density aluminum frame along with Airfoil carbon palm gear sideplate. It handles 30 pounds plus of drag and is equipped with a 6-way centrifugal braking system.

13 Fishing Concept A3 Reel
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Seven anti-corrosion bearings.
  • H.A.M Gearing System.
  • Handles 30 pounds plus of drag.
  • 6-way centrifugal braking system.
  • Designed for saltwater angling.

Cons

  • It can be a bit tricky to change the brake settings.

8 Lews Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel

Lew’s makes a wonderful reel in the Fishing Tournament MB baitcasting reel. This baby is lightweight, coming in under 8 ounces. It’s still loaded with features and made from durable materials.

In fact, this, along with the Abu Garcia SX, is one of the best baitcasting reels for under $200…

Not only is it lightweight, but it has a ten ball bearing system. This includes the zero-reverse, one-way clutch bearing. Together these give you some silky smooth action.

The whole thing is wrapped in a carbon composite frame. This is where the weight savings came strongly into play. It’s still incredibly strong and feels nice and solid in your hand.

What other features does it sport?

This reel has a multi-setting brake, Zirconia line guide, and a double anodized aluminum spool that is U-shaped. There is also a carbon composite drag system for up to 14 pounds of drag. The bowed aluminum reel handle feels good in the hand. We aren’t sold on the handle knobs, but that’s a point of personal preference.

We also like the fact that you can easily remove the paling graphite sideplate. There is even an external lube port to keep things running smoothly.

Lews Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel
Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • 9+1 bearing system.
  • Zirconia line guide.
  • Offers up to 14 pounds of drag.
  • Multiple gear ratio settings.
  • Lightweight design.

Cons

  • Not the strongest reel in this price range.

9 Ardent Apex Elite Baitcasting Reel – Best Baitcasting Reels for under 150 Dollars

One of the best baitcasting reels for under 150 USD is made by Ardent. Their Apex Elite baitcasting reel is one of the most affordable baitcasting reels we looked at. It’s also a top-quality reel, especially for the price.

Need a baitcasting reel that weighs under 6 ounces?

Well, the Apex Elite just scrapes by at 5.9 ounces. This makes the day so much more comfortable, with reduced arm ache. There is even still a 12+1 ball bearing system for smooth operation.

The 270-degree magnetic brake is externally adjustable. This is a nice feature that any experienced angler will agree is almost a must-have. We also like the swept-back carbon fiber handle. The EVA grip knobs are comfortable and offer solid control.

What about the drag?

This reel has a forged aluminum star drag. It maxes out at 11 pounds, making a great lightweight baitcasting reel for small and medium catches. There is an aluminum spool for peak performance, even with regular, long-term use.

We aren’t sold completely on the reel’s durability. There was certainly a bit of balancing cost and weight savings by using some cheaper materials. Compared with some other options on our list, it’s good for the price, but not the best baitcasting reel.

Ardent Apex Elite Baitcasting Reel
Our rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Pros

  • 12+1 ball bearing system.
  • Adjustable 270-degree magnetic brake.
  • Weighs just 5.9 ounces.
  • Very affordable option.
  • Carbon fiber handle and EVA grips.

Cons

  • We didn’t experience any issues, but the reel feels a bit cheap in the hand. That’s likely due in part to the weight, but it also feels less durable than other options.

10 Piscifun Alijos Size 300 Baitcasting Reels – Best Baitcasting Reel for under 100 Bucks

The last item on our list of the best baitcasting reels comes from Piscifun. The Alijos 300 looks sleek, is made with some top quality materials, and is cheaper than you’d expect. If you’re looking for a good baitcasting reel at a reasonable price, this is it.

We would even say it’s the best baitcasting reel for under 100 bucks!

The reel has a premium aluminum frame. The gear sideplate provides increased durability, making it a great option for those larger freshwater fish. It even offers an astounding 33 pounds of drag.

We all know Japanese manufacturing is top-notch. Piscifun knows this as well. They used the Huge Hamai cut hardened brass gearing and pinion in this reel. It can handle those larger fish we all want to hook. It also runs with little noise. Something that’s easy to appreciate on those quiet mornings on the water.

Choose your gear ratio…

For those that know what they want, this is a great option. You can select left or right-handed models in gear ratios of 5.9:1 or 8.1:1. The reel also sports eight double-shielded stainless steel bearings, along with the instant anti-reverse bearing.

We also like the thumb bar engagement button. It’s on the gear side plate and easy to access. You can knock back the thumb bar without needing to crank the handle.

Greater stability and durability with double shaft support line guide system.

Piscifun Alijos Size 300 Baitcasting Reels
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • 8+1 bearing system.
  • Available in a choice of gear ratios.
  • Huge Hamai brass gearing and pinion.
  • Offers up to 33 pounds of drag.
  • One of the few options under $100.

Cons

  • It may not be as precise as some baitcasting reels, but for the price…

More Rel And Rod Options

Are you looking to upgrade your tackle or take up a new fishing style, if so, please check out our Best Ultralight Spinning Reel reviews, our Best Bass Fishing Rod reviews, the Best Catfish Rods reviews, and our Best Fish Finders reviews.

So, What Are The Best Baitcasting Reels?

That completes our list of the best baitcasting reel reviews. We have now walked you through the advantages of this style of reels. We have also laid out a wide range of our favorite options.

 SHIMANO Curado K Baitcast Reel

Now you just need to pick one, so we can come to the fish fry…

If you still can’t decide where to start, then we would suggest striking off the first two options. If you’re a professional angler, start at the top. However, if you’re just looking to enjoy some time on the water, we’d suggest the…

Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel

The quality you get for the price is unmatched, making it highly recommended!

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