Best Baitcasting Reels Reviewed

Here’s a quick look at the top baitcasting reels available today:

  • Lew’s Tournament Pro LFS-TP1SHA
  • Daiwa Tatula CT Type-R TACT-R100
  • Shimano Curado K CU200HGK
  • 13 Fishing Concept A A8.1 RH
  • Abu Garcia Revo SX REVO4 SX-HS

Best Baitcasting Reels Reviewed

Lew’s Tournament Pro LFS-TP1SHA

Lew's Tournament Pro LFS Speed Spool 6.8:1 Right Hand Baitcast Reel

Weight: 6.4 oz.
Bearings11
MaterialAluminium body with C45 carbon sideplates
Maximum drag20 lb
Capacity12/120
Gear ratio:31″

Lew’s Tournament Pro LFS has won fans on the water for a while now. Just a few minutes of your time will go a long way in explaining why.

The LFS reel is extremely light and low profile, almost disappearing from your rod. It’s not the most comfortable reel, but it is a good size for anglers who need to use it all day.

This reel is simply amazing for casting. It’s rated higher than the Tatula CT Type-R by Shimano and Daiwa, and even better than Shimano’s Curado K by anglers. The reel also comes in a fraction of the cost. Smooth performance can be attributed to 11 bearings and a well-engineered levelwind.

This reel excels where others fail: with light lures and wind casting. This reel is a great all-rounder, as it can throw light lures and neither causes the dreaded backlashing. Lew’s 27-point adjustable brake system is truly remarkable.

LFS has a carbon drag system which can carry up to 20 lbs. It’s smooth, precise, strong, and affordable. You have plenty of pull for hooksets no matter how far you cast. Although 20 pounds might seem excessive, it is useful to have the extra torque of a large truck engine.

The solid brass gears keep their smoothness season after season.

Pros

  • Amazing casting even in the wind with light lures
  • Excellent drag
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Incredible durability

Cons

  • It gives up some capacity for its competitors

Daiwa Tatula CT Type-R TACT-R100

Daiwa Tatula CT Type-R 100HSL 7.3:1 High Speed Left Hand Baitcast - TACT-R100HSL

Weight:7.2 oz.
Bearings8
MaterialAluminium
Maximum drag13.2 lbs.
Capacity14/120; 16/100
Gear ratio:7.3:1; 30,.5″

The Tatula CT Type R by Daiwa is a significant improvement on the Tatula CT. This is great news, as the Tatula CT of old was truly amazing. The reel’s performance has been improved and weight lost.

The Type-R is a slim 7.2 ounces. It has comfortable curves and a small size that will make casting easier. It is a solid ounce heavier and more beefy than the LFS.

The Type-R’s casting performance is amazing. It also allows for very long throws. The company’s “T-wing” design reduces friction. Daiwa magnetic brake system minimizes overrun and its associated backlash. This gives me more confidence when casting long casts and I rate the performance as excellent. However, I would give the Lew’s LFS the edge here, especially on windy day, but not much.

Casting with light lures is a great option, and I would not hesitate to use this reel to cast the little stuff.

This reel features a carbon fiber drag system by Daiwa that delivers smooth performance at low speeds and a maximum drag of 13.2 pounds. Its performance is described as “flawless”. Most anglers will agree that this is more than enough to win a hard fight or muscle a monster.

The Type-R is a very low-profile reel that packs a lot of line. It easily beats the LFS.

It’s possible to find anglers fishing the same Daiwa reel over many years.

Pros

  • Amazing casting
  • Excellent drag
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Excellent capacity
  • Incredible durability

Cons

  • Perhaps not as effective on windy days than the Lew’s LFS

Shimano Curado K CU200HGK

Shimano Curado 200K HG Lowprofile Freshwater Fishing Reel

Weight:7.6 oz.
Bearings7
MaterialGraphite
Maximum drag11 lb
Capacity8/180, 10/155 and 14/110
Gear ratio:7.4:1; 31

The reels of Shimano are legendary. The Curado K Series is one of the most popular. There are many anglers I know who have ditched Chronarchs in favor of the Curado K Series – it’s that good!

The buttery smooth reels that Shimano makes are a major reason for their reputation on the water. The Curado K, however, is a significant improvement in this area. It has fine-grained adjustments to the spool control knob and is in a class of its own. Its performance is impressive, and I don’t exaggerate.

This translates to some of my best casting experiences. It was amazing, from ultra-long distances to extremely light lures. It is simply unbeatable at this price, and many anglers are considering swapping higher-priced reels for the moderately priced Curado K!

Even with a graphite frame, the Curado is not as light as Lew or Daiwa in terms of weight. If you are looking for a reel that disappears instantly, then you might consider another option. Of all the options on our list, the Abu Garcia is the heaviest, but the Curado packs a lot of line.

Curado K’s drag is also excellent. It makes full use of SVS Infinity, which allows for precise micro-adjustments. For anglers with heavy superlines and stout rods, I would like to see more power in the drag system. However, 11 pounds isn’t something I would dismiss. If you follow the 1/3 rule, 33-pound braid could be run without sweat and still have enough muscle to fight.

It is no surprise that the Curado K reel will last for many years.

Pros

  • Amazing casting
  • Excellent drag
  • Excellent capacity
  • Incredible durability

Cons

  • Not especially light

13 Fishing Concept A A8.1 RH

Concept A7.3 7BB Aluminum Frame/Carbon Side Plates Reel

Weight:6.8 oz.
Bearings6
MaterialAluminium
Maximum drag22 lbs.
Capacity12/110
Gear ratio:7.3:1; 28.1″

13 Fishing is relatively new to the baitcasting industry, but their Concept A reel has already converted anglers from Daiwa/Lew’s/Shimano.

This reel is lighter than all the others we reviewed, except for the Lew’s. It simply disappears from your rod every day. This reel is also a good rival to the LFS in terms of size.

This reel is very smooth, even though it gave up bearings to the competition. A few casts will tell a lot. The Concept A casts well with all lures, wind and light, even though you might expect it to. This is an amazing braking system.

Distance is also amazing.

This size is a sign that something has to give. In this case it’s the capacity. Although the Concept A still has plenty of power for most anglers it isn’t the best. Its drag is outstanding, perhaps even the best. It is my favorite choice for soft plastic fishing, with its smooth performance and non-slip weights of up to 22 pounds. For muscling beasts, there is no better reel.

This reel has a lot of great content, and the Concept A really is giving the big guys a run for their cash!

Pros

  • Amazing casting even in the wind with light lures
  • Perhaps the best drag of all.
  • Lightweight and comfortable

Cons

  • At this time, we don’t know much about the durability of things.
  • This reel has a little less capacity.

Abu Garcia Revo SX REVO4 SX-HS

Abu Garcia REVO4 SX-HS Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel

Weight: 7.83 oz.
Bearings10
MaterialAluminium body with carbon sideplates in C6
Maximum drag24 lbs.
Capacity10/175, 12/145 and 15/100
Gear ratio:7.3:1; 30

Abu Garcia is a household word in my hometown. Whether you fish reds or largemouth, fresh or salt, it’s a well-known name. The AGs may even be made in the same factory that the Lew’s. No matter what the truth, the Revo SX reels offer a great option for serious bass fisherman.

Abu Garcia outfits these reels in its Mag Trax brake magnetic centrifugal system, which works like a charm. This, combined with a smooth spool and virtually frictionless line feeding surface, allows for very long casts without any backlash. Although the Abu Garcia is remarkably smooth, it may be a little behind its competition. Keep in mind how amazing the others are: Many anglers consider this to be among the best they have fished.

Although performance with light lures is great, I would still recommend the Lew’s or Daiwa to anyone who plans on casting small items or throwing into the wind.

Abu Garcia’s Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag has been added to the Revo SX. This amazing system delivers incredible performance and smoothness. You won’t lose a tug-of-war with a brute with the maximum drag setting at 24 pounds.

Solid brass gears have been replaced by the aluminum innards of the older model, which has improved durability and feel.

Abu Garcia’s Revo SX Series is an excellent addition to this list and a solid choice all around.

Pros

  • Amazing casting
  • A great drag with a very high maximum
  • Excellent capacity
  • Incredible durability

Cons

  • Not especially light
  • Although not as smooth as competitors’, the results are still excellent.

Baitcasting vs. Spinning Tackle

There are a variety of methods anglers can use to lure fish to their nets. Drop shot rigs can be used to catch fish, as well as big spinners and crankbaits. Specialized rods that are suited to these applications are often the best.

Baitcasting reels are still the most popular method of bass fishing. With the exception of casting very light lures, with lines weighing less than 10 pounds test, and perhaps on days when you will be casting into strong wind, most baitcasting rods are equipped with a baitcasting reel.

It is not difficult to see why baitcasters have won such a lopsided victory. We fish what we see on YouTube and television, and baitcasters have been around for decades. There are many reasons why they choose these tools and it is worth discussing.

Basics: What makes Baitcasting Reels different?

Baitcasting reels are not as effective as spinning reels.

Fixed vs. spinning SpoolsA fixed spool is used to spin a spinning reel. You open the bail, cast and the line will slip off the end of your spool. It will unfurl as it leaves the reel.

A baitcasting reel, on the other hand, has a spool which spins on bearings. The line spins as you cast and unwinds as it does.

Perpendicular vs. In-Line Spools This may seem odd to those who are new to fishing. However, spinning reels have spools aligned perpendicularly to the line’s motion. Baitcasting reels on the other hand, spool the line in the same direction as it travels.

This small difference is important. This is because the baitcasting reels have an in-line spool that imparts less memory to your line.

Drag systems –A drag knob is located at the end of good spinning reels. This works well with lighter lines. However, the star drag system on baitcasting reels is superior to any other, especially when using heavier line.

Gear ratio –Baitcasting rods have a greater range of gear ratios, particularly at the top end. They are the best choice if you want to measure line lengths in feet per crank.

Different rodsYou may not be familiar with the differences between spinning and baitcasting rods if you are new to fishing. The differences in the reel’s position, from whether it sits above or below it, to the design and size of the blank and guides are obvious once you learn what to look out for.

Are you looking for a dedicated baitcasting tool? You can check out our article on the top baitcasting rods.

Why do the pros prefer baitcasting rods and reels?

Let’s look closely at the reasons why baitcasting tackle works better for certain types and types of fishing.

Heavy line –This is the main reason why the baitcaster is so popular among anglers. The fixed spool limits the performance of spinning reels when their lines reach 10-12 pound test. The line will begin to slip from the spool and cause fouling casts, reducing distance and accuracy. And just as bad, the line retains too much memory–especially with fluorocarbon–further impairing performance.

Baitcasters, on the other hand, love heavy test and in-line spooling reduces memory problems.

Control –A baitcasting reel gives you greater control over your casting in all conditions except windy. Baitcasting reels allow experienced anglers to cast with greater accuracy and finesse because the spool turns freely. Once you have mastered the secrets of the casting reel, your thumb can also help you spot bites.

Drag –Baitcasting reels have superior drag systems. The star-shaped knob provides greater drag, precise settings and better smoothness than even the most powerful spinning reels.

This is true only for heavier lines. With light tackle spinning reels can really shine.

Gear ratio –The high gear ratios on baitcasters are unbeatable for running buzz baits or other fast-moving presentations.

What are the Weaknesses in Baitcasting Tackle

Baitcasters may not be superior in all respects, so it is worth looking at where they are lacking.

Easy-of-useWhile spinning reels are easy to use, there is a learning curve for baitcasters. You should expect to have bird’s nests until you get some serious thumb muscle!

Line Light –Spinners will outperform baitcasters if they are less than 10 pounds in line or its equivalent diameter. This is the sweet spot in their design, and what they are intended to do.

Light luresBaitcasting designs have a spool that spins to release line and retrieve it. This is in contrast to a fixed spool on a spinning rod. However, physics is not a good judge of quality.

This means that no matter how many bearings are used, how viscosity or materials of the lubrication or the materials, friction will be generated by the spool. Casting will be affected by very light lures, which can weigh in at 1/32 of an ounce. This is why most ultralight and light rods have a spinning reel.

Braid –Contrary to popular belief, baitcasting reels can have braid problems, particularly in smaller diameters. Even with superlines as heavy as 10-pound mono, a hard set, a wicked fight or a firm grip can cause a braid problem and bury the first spool-wrapped braid.

Wind –The spinning reel’s fixed spool spins freely while the baitcasting spools turn freely. This can cause problems when you cast a light lure in the wind. The lure will slow down when it encounters resistance in the air. However, the spool continues to spin vigorously.

What happens if the line is coming off of the spool quicker than the lure is moving? You’re in real trouble, that’s what it is!

What we look for in a Baitcasing reel

Durability

Baitcasting reels are often expensive, and it is frustrating to have expensive tackle stop working after just one season.

We recommend reels that are durable and make the most of your money. We don’t have any vested interests in manufacturers, but we tell the truth about all products, good and bad. Three names are worth mentioning: Shimano, Daiwa, and Lews.

These reels are some of my favorite reels. If you have a good conversation with other anglers, there’s a chance you’ll spot these reels on their rods.

Great drag

An awesome drag can is your best friend when you are fighting a monster. Smooth and strong are your best friends, whether you’re running crankbaits or helping to catch fish.

You might want to keep your drag weight at 3-4 pounds when crankbaiting. Smooth performance is important, with just enough give to keep you from breaking treble hooks, especially if your rod is not made of glass.

You will need to increase your drag setting if you want to ensure long-distance hooksets or dragging fish from heavy cover. In these cases, slippage is not an option. However, opinions differ on how much drag should be used.

Many anglers recommend that you set your drag at 1/3 of the breaking strength. This gives you enough power to turn big fish and protects your rod and line.

Others disagree. They claim that they purchased superlines for their maximum capacity and will increase the drag when fishing heavy cover. They rely on the rod, line, knot and rod to hold the fish together.

Who is right?

Both camps have good reasons to do what they are doing. You won’t need more drag than 6-10 pounds.

Do you really need all the torque that your truck can provide?

Amazing casting

A good baitcasting reel should have a spool that defies physics. The spool should spin as easily as possible and have slick surfaces that allow the line to pass through. To make long casts, it is important to have a proper levelwind design (the piece that guides line on the spool).

The smooth operation of the “T-wing” by Daiwa is well-known in fishing circles. However, other top manufacturers also have their own designs.

Long casts can be dangerous if they result in bird nesting backlash. Many rods with higher ends have magnetic brake systems. They apply more pressure to the spool as it slows down, preventing the reel from feeding too much line.

These systems, when designed and implemented by the best, can help you cast light lures and work in the wind to launch your crankbaits to the next county.

Ratio of gears

The gear ratio is the number of revolutions that one crank of a handle produces on the spool. A gear ratio of 7.5 to 1 means that one turn of your handle spins the spool 75% of the time. The faster the retrieve, the higher the ratio. This speed can also be represented by the number IPT (inches per turn), which is 31. This would mean that each turn of the handle picks-up 31 inches of line.

Although speed isn’t always more efficient than slow, it can offer more flexibility. It is easier to slow down than speed up your retrieve. With a little practice you can adjust your natural cadence to meet the requirements of slower presentations.

There are many ratios available for the reels we chose, but we have chosen to highlight what we believe is the best 7-speed speed. Although it is not the best choice for deep divers and crankbaits, it allows you to pick up a lot more slack quickly and makes it ideal for soft plastics or jigs.

Capacity

Capacity is not something to be proud of, especially if it’s necessary to strip and cut lines while you fish.

We haven’t found any standout reels, but the selections are pretty even. There are tradeoffs, however, as a bigger spool will usually translate into a larger reel.

We list capacities such as 12/120 in mono-diameter equivalents and feet.

Weight and “Palmability”.

A good reel should be lightweight and comfortable. Ideal reels should be lightweight enough to disappear on your rod and in the palm of your hand.

In each review, we’ll discuss comfort and weight.

Bearings

Baitcasting reels have a bearing count that is important, but the standard is only one roller bearing per spool. Retrieving is as easy as climbing icy stairs because the rest of the bearings are hidden in the internals.

Although it is not a rule of thumb, it is better to have more than one. There are exceptions to the rule, but more is better. The 13 Fishing Concept A illustrates that less can be greater.

Price

Let’s face it, a quality baitcasting reel will cost you more than a comparable spinning model. It’s a fact.

However, beyond a moderate price point, every dollar you spend doesn’t buy you any extra performance.

We have compiled a list mid-range reels to save you money and still amaze you with their performance.

Last Thoughts

These reels are so great, and so uniformly outstanding that it is difficult to pick the “best” product.

Each one is a winner, from smooth casting to comfort and backlash control to high-quality drag. They have the strength, speed and casting that performance anglers need, and I would fish them all.

For light lures and windy days, the Lew’s is the best. But the Daiwa comes close. The Shimano and the 13 Fishing Concept A are my top choices for casting distance. The Revo SX and the Daiwa are your best choices for capacity and drag.

What would you choose?

I would wait for a discount or sale, then look for a great deal and grab a few from this list. I would put them all on one rod and feel how they feel in my hands. Then, I would pick the one that I liked the most.

It’s as easy as that.

We’d love to have your feedback!

Lewis
Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.