Best Baitcasting Reels

What's better to use - A spinning reel or a baitcasting reel? This is an age-old debate in the fishing community that continues today, but the short answer is: It depends. What it depends on are your needs, particular style of casting, what type of fish you're going after, and how much you value distance and accuracy in a cast.

Baitcasting reels are typically known to provide further distance and better accuracy on the cast than their spinning counterparts. Baitcasting reels are also favored by many anglers who are planning to land larger fish, let's say, 20 lbs and up. However, the main drawback to baitcasting reels are the learning curve and susceptibility to backlash (essentially a brutal birds nest).

Like lots of other gear in the fishing industry, and sports in general, these disadvantages that have been constantly noted by anglers are the aspects of the equipment that manufacturers usually improve with time. Baitcasting reels are no different, as the design and manufacturing now allows for improved protection against backlash, as well as ease of learning through simplified "thumbing" ( we will get to this later).

Therefore, if you're someone who fishes somewhat regularly, we would definitely recommend trying out a baitcasting reel if possible. While they aren't necessary in order to be successful on the water, they provide a chance to improve performance and find something that works better for you. Worst case, it doesn't work out, and you focus more of your attention on improving your skills with a spinning reel. In any case, we definitely think it's worth a shot.

Below we will provide some of our recommendations for the best baitcasting reels currently on the market, and we will categorize them in different price points, hopefully alowing you to find something that works not only for your game, but also for your budget.

  • Basic
  • Mid-Range
  • High-End
  • Pro

Shimano Core 50 MG7 Baitcasting Reel

$$$$

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight magnesium frame and side plates (overall weight = 6.1 oz)
  • Magnumlite spool design
  • High efficiency gearing
  • Variable brake system
  • Different versions available with different gear ratios (from 6.2:1 to 7:1).
  • Amazing casting distance combined with supreme accuracy
  • High quality materials of all internal components ensures top-notch durability

Cons

  • Very expensive!

General Consensus

The Shimano Core 50 MG7 is an unbelievable baitcasting reel that feels like a dream. It's casting distance is second to none, especially for lightweight lures, and the smoothness of the retrieval is awesome.

Every component of this reel is constructed with high quality materials, and this ensures that you're getting the best performance and durability combined. The frame is extremely sturdy especially for being so lightweight, the A-RB bearings are shielded, the driving gear is heavy duty brass, and the star-drag system is cold forged aluminum.

The main downside? You guessed it. This reel costs a pretty penny. It's one of the more expensive reels out there, but it's also one of the best both in terms of performance and durability.

Overall, there isn't much else to say about this Shimano baitcasting reel other than it's completely awesome. For the casual angler, those new to baitcasting, or those on a budget, it's completely unnecessary. Therefore, we recommend this reel for anyone looking for a top-notch product regardless of price.

What to Know About Baitcasting Reels

If you're relatively unfamiliar with baitcasting, don't worry, everyone needs to start somewhere. As we briefly mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are pros and cons to baitcasting reels, and they are quite different from spinning reels, but try to not let the unknown intimidate you. Like any other piece of sports equipment, disadvantages associated with certain gear are constantly being improved upon by manufacturers, so often the disadvantages aren't as bad as you're led to believe.

What's the Difference Between a Baitcasting Reel and a Spinning Reel?

If you were to look at two anglers standing side-by-side, one with a baitcasting reel and one with a spinning reel, there would be one obvious difference: the baitcasting reel sits on top of the rod, while the spinning reel hangs below, and therefore, you will want to make sure you have a casting rod if you're planning on using a baitcasting reel. There are a handful of reasons for this setup, but the main reasons are so that you can use your thumb on the spool, and having the reel on top means the line is also on top of the rod, allowing you to gain more leverage and reel in bigger fish.

One of the other major differences is that the spool in a baitcasting reel rotates as the line is being cast, unlike a spinning reel. As your casting the line with a baitcasting reel, you can "thumb" the spool, which allows you to fine tune the casting distance. Generally speaking, you have the ability to cast much further with a baitcasting reel, but just as (if not more) importantly, you have much greater accuracy.

There are many other smaller differences between a baitcasting reel and a spinning reel, but those are the major ones that create the fundamental differences. For more information on how to cast with a baitcasting reel, as well as some additional information about the design of these reels, check out Glenn May's excellent tutorial below:

Why do some baitcasting reels look so different?

There are essentially two different types of baitcasting reels. Fundamentally, they are the same, but performance-wise they can differ quite a bit. You can get round baitcasting reels, which appear to be a more simple design. The main advantage to a round baitcasting reel is the ability to hold more line, and therefore heavier line as well. Subsequently, they are also better for reeling in huge fish that will take you for a run.

The other type of baitcasting reels are "low-profile" baitcasting reels. These are becoming increasingly popular, and not just because they look cool. Simply put, these are much easier to manage, as they tend to be smaller, lighter, and they are easier to use when palming. If you're using lighter lures, let's say something for decent sized bass, then a low profile baticasting reel is most likely ideal for that situation.

One other thing to keep in mind is that most companies incorporate their recent improvements into their low-profile reels first. This is one of the reasons they are becoming more and more popular, and with time, we expect to see the function and durability of low profile reels become even better.

Why do baitcasting reels have braking systems?

It may seem weird or unnecessary to have a braking system incorporated into a reel, but remember, in a baitcasting reel the spool is actively turning as well. If we revist one of the main disadvantages of a baitcaster, which is the backlash, the braking system allows you to prevent this nuisance. 

A backlash will typically occur when the lure stops traveling forward, but the spool keeps spinning. This causes your line to continue to be released, but since it has nowhere to go, it just piles up creating a tremendous mess. By having an easily-controlled braking system in place, the angler can not only provide more control over the placement of the cast, but they can also hit the brakes just before the lure hits the water to prevent this mess from occurring.

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