Best Musky Reel: Buying Guide & Reviews

One of the most fun types of fishing is musky fishing. Although muskies are a delicious fish, it’s just as enjoyable to reel them in. Fishing them can be frustrating if you don’t have the right tools.

The most important factor in your success on the water is choosing the right bait, rod, and line. A musky fishing reel is the most important piece of equipment for your experience.

We’ve compiled a complete list of the top musky reels that we believe could be ideal for both novice and seasoned musky anglers.

ImageReelGear RatioLine Retrieve per CrankMax DragWeight
Shimano Tranx TRX500PG4.6:130 in.25 lb20oz
Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel, REVO T2 BST50Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast T2 BST504.9:124 in.25 lbs13.58oz
SHIMANO Calcutta 400D Round Fishing ReelShimano Calcutta D CT400D5.1:127 in.15 lbs11.8oz
Daiwa LEXA-WN400PWR-P Lexa Type WN Casting Reel, 400, 5.1: Gear Ratio, 27.10' Retrieve Rate, 25 lb Max Drag, Right Hand, ClamDaiwa LEXA-WN400PWR-P5.1:127 in.25 lb16.2oz
Zebco Big Cat Conventional Fishing Reel, 2 Bearings, Instant Anti-Reverse with Smooth, Precisely-Aligned Gears, Size 100, Multicolor (BCXT30C,BX3)Zebco Big Cat XT4.2:129 in.17 lbs18.4 oz
KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, Left Handed Fishing Reel,Rover80KastKing Rover 704.2:123.2 in.15.5 lbs19.01oz

 

Review of the Best Musky Reel

Shimano Tranx TRX500PG – Our Pick!

SHIMANO Tranx 500 PG Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Reel

Gear Ratio4.6:1

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Line Retrieve Per Crank30 in.

Max Drag:25 lb

ConstructionMetal

Weight: 20oz

We were completely blown away when we saw the Shimano Tranx, a stunning and functional reel. It is extremely useful for musky fishing, with a low gear ratio of 4.6:1. It is the ideal musky reel because it has a low gear ratio and a fast speed.

The Tranx is smooth fishing. The reel is effortless to cast and quiet to retrieve, and it performs flawlessly.

The 20-ounce weight is a bit heavier than the average reel, but this is due to the solid build quality. This reel is attractively made of metal and has CoreProtect water-resistant technology so you won’t worry about it wearing down.

From the moment you take the Tranx in your hand, you can feel the innovation and quality Shimano has put into it. This reel is our favorite for musky fishing and it outperforms all others.

Pros

  • Premium metal construction
  • The gear ratio can be quickly retrieved
  • Water-resistant technology at the highest level
  • Smooth casting and retrieving

Cons

  • The heavier side

Length5’6″Materialgraphite
Action/Powerultralight/moderate-fast
The lure’s size:1/32 to 1/8 oz
Line weight:2-6
Handle: Cork 12 inches, EVA foam/spinning
Guides5 + 1stainless Steel With SiC Inserts
Pieces2

Cadence Fishing offers serious rods at great rates. If you’re looking for a panfish rod, this is the right choice. We love the 5’6″, which has moderately fast action.

The CR5 is a great rod to cast accurately because it combined power, action, and length. Like all the other short rods, this rod would be my first choice when trout fishing in small streams.

This moderately fast action can make larger fish fight you, but it also allows for light lines to be used under high stress. The rod bends along its length to absorb any force that would otherwise be transferred onto the line.

The CR5 ultralight rod has a strong construction and will catch largemouth and walleye wherever the line takes it. This rod isn’t ideal for controlling brutes but it’s one that I would love to have.

The guide is of exceptional quality and the handle is perfect in length.

This rod is a great choice for panfish fishing and it holds our top spot.

Pros

  • Amazing sense of touch
  • Management of qualitative quality
  • Amazing guides
  • Soft hooksets are almost guaranteed
  • Affordable

Cons

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G. Loomis Classic Panfish and Trout 102241-01

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Length7
MaterialIMX graphite
Power/actionUltralight/Fast
Size of the lure: 1/32 oz. 1/32 oz. to 3/16 oz.
Line weight:2-6
Handle: continuous cork/spinning
Guide material8 + 1
Pieces2

Loomis is synonymous with quality. You can expect to pay a premium if you want these American-made rods. But I have never met anyone who regretted spending the money on Loomis rods. Their performance is unmatched.

Loomis’s Panfish and Trout line is extensive. The 7-foot ultralight is my favorite. The company’s blank technology makes this rod whip-thin, but it is surprisingly strong. G. Loomis uses a series of “micro-tapers” along the length of his rod to strengthen the blank at stressed points and keep it slim elsewhere.

This rod works well and can take any big trout you throw at it! This rod is tough enough to take on largemouths.

The cork handle, which is high-end and offers plenty of space for both two-handed casting or hard fighting, is beautiful. This rod is a great guide quality and shows off its superior pedigree.

The Classic Trout and Panfish are a hard-fighting and great casting choice if you can afford it.

Pros

  • Excellent sensitivity
  • Excellent casting
  • Qualitative handles
  • Amazing guides

Cons

  • Expensive

The Best Light-Power Spinning Rods

St. Croix Premier PS66LF

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Length6’6″
Materialgraphite
Power/action light/fast
Size of the lure:1/16 to 5/16 oz.
Line weight:4-8 #
Handle: Cork
Guides7+1 Fuji stainless steel with aluminum dioxide inserts
Pieces1 or 2

There are many St. Croix rods on our shortlist. If you have ever fished with one of these rods, you will know why. These rods often offer the best value for money and quickly surpass the quality of competitors. The blank can handle all types of fish, including perch, walleye, bass, and blues.

The 6’6″ is a favorite in the Premier series. This rod is very well balanced, sensitive, and strong enough to handle smaller species. This rod is not great for worm fishing.

However, I would still choose this rod if I had a single rod.

It’s small enough to cast in the thick material but long enough to propel a 5/16-ounce lure across the country. It’s not going to catch big bass, hungry walleye, or angry stripers, but it will do its job admirably when you do yours.

Line failure in a fight will not occur due to friction with eight–that’s correct, eight-Fuji stainless or aluminum oxide guides. This makes it more durable than other similar rods, and it can take a lot more fight than rods with lesser guides.

The rod’s long and continuous handle is covered in premium cork. Split grips are not for you?

Pros

  • Amazing sensitivity
  • Excellent casting
  • Qualitative quality management
  • Amazing guides
  • A great all-arounder for smaller species

Cons

  • Expensive

Fenwick HMG HMG66L-MFS-2

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Length6’6″
MaterialComposite graphite/carbon fiber
Power/actioned. Fast
Size of the lure:1/16 to 3/8 oz
Line weight:4-8 #
Handle: continuous cork
Guides6 + 1 Fuji inserts with Alconite
Pieces2

Fenwick’s HMG is a bargain at an affordable price. It delivers top-quality performance in a rod that’s not too expensive.

Zebco Big Cat XT

Zebco Big Cat Conventional Fishing Reel, 2 Bearings, Instant Anti-Reverse with Smooth, Precisely-Aligned Gears, Size 100, Multicolor (BCXT30C,BX3)

Gear Ratio4.2:1

Line Retrieve Per Crank29 in.

Max Drag:17 lb

ConstructionGraphite

Weight: 18.4 oz

It’s more common to find Zebco in connection with beginner fishing rods at your local Walmart. The Big Cat XT reel is capable of catching catfish, which it was named after, but also catching muskies.

The Zebco is a good choice for fishermen as it has a low gear ratio (4.2:1) and a fast retrieve rate (29 inches per crank). Our tests revealed that the maximum drag is 17 pounds. This is about middle-of-the-road.

Although the Big Cat XT isn’t the most elegant reel, it casts a mile! No problem getting back up and taking our lures on a ride. This is one that was a joy to cast.

The reel’s body is made of graphite. It is lighter than the metal construction on the other reels on this list. The Zebco Big Cat XT is 18.4 ounces. This makes it one of the heavier reels that we tested.

Pros

  • Long cast distance
  • Rapid retrieval rate

Cons

  • Construction of graphite

KastKing Rover 70

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Gear Ratio4.2:1

Line Retrieve Per Crank23.2 in.

Max Drag:15.5 lbs

Construction Metal

Weight: 19.01oz

Although KastKing is not a household name in fishing reels, the Rover 70 should be.

With a gear ratio of 4.2:1 and retrieve per crank rate of 23.2 inches, the performance numbers are comparable to those of larger brands. This is the biggest drawback of this reel. It takes a long time to retrieve. The maximum drag is 15.5 pounds. This is sufficient for most applications.

Casting the KastKing Rover70 was difficult. The cast is smooth and feels good, but it struggles to keep up with other reels in casting distance.

This reel’s metal construction feels fantastic. Although it is the second-heaviest option on the list, this feature feels great ergonomically. The weight gain is not noticeable.

This reel isn’t as simple as its name suggests. The KastKing 70 reel is great and can compete with other reels.

Pros

  • Construction in all metal
  • Smooth casting and retrieval

Cons

  • Short casting distance
  • Slow retrieval rate

Our Pick – Shimano Tranx TRX500PG

Many reels can meet our standards for a great musky fishing reel. The Shimano Tranx TRX500PG, however, is our favorite.

We believe all of the reels listed here can be used to enjoy musky fishing trips. However, the Shimano Tranx is the best quality reel. It’s not all about the exterior. You will not be frustrated by the reel’s features.

You won’t be disappointed with any of the reels we tested. There are certain tradeoffs between weight, ergonomics, and features. These tradeoffs were not detrimental to the fishing experience.

Be wise, there are muskies out there just waiting to be captured!

How to Choose a Musky Reel

All fishing reels may not be created equal. A strong fishing reel is the best way to catch aggressive musky fish. A baitcasting reel is the best choice because it can withstand the most difficult fights.

You can land muskies using other reel types, but why hinder your success by using a less effective tool? This will only lead to frustration, anger, heartbreak, and even death.

We will be discussing some other important aspects of choosing a musky fishing reel. These are the key elements we will be looking at when reviewing the top musky reels available.

Durability

Muskies are tough, large fish that requires gear that can withstand the demands of landing them. This reel is the most vulnerable, as it can be very strenuous to fight a muskie.

All reels may not be suitable for this job. You could catch one with an old Zebco from your grandfather but it will likely be destroyed by the sheer force of the fish and the huge lures you’ll be casting.

A reel that is strong and durable can withstand the forces of battle with the trophy musky. There shouldn’t be any concern about hardware failures at that stage. You can just land your prize!

Gear Ratio

The gear ratios can range from 4.6:1 up to over 8.1.1. What does this indicate? What does this mean? A reel that has a gear ratio greater than 5.1:1 will see the spool turn 5.1 times per complete turn of its handle.

The slower the reel can retrieve, the lower the gear ratio’s initial number. This is often associated with a higher torque power which means that you will use less energy retrieving your bait.

Different gear ratios have different uses. You may want a fast, smooth reel for one situation, but a slower, more methodical gear may be needed for another.

A reel that has a gear ratio of 5:1 to 5.7:1 is the best for catching musky. These fish are large and can pack a punch. It is important to be able to drag them in quickly with precision and strength.

Line Retrieve per Crank

This number is in inches and will show you how far your line can be retrieved with one turn of the handle. This number is crucial as it will tell you how hard you’ll need to retrieve your lure or hook a fish.

The retrieval rate for musky fishing will be slower due to the lower gear ratios of the baitcasting reels.

This specification is verified with a full reel. This will ensure that your reel feels consistent, and the number stays constant.

Line Weight

Muskies can range in weight from 15 to 36 pounds. You will need a line weight capable of handling large fish pulling and stressing. Ideally, we recommend that you fish with a line weight of around 80 lb. The line to ensure that your line can handle even the biggest musky.

You can rest assured that 80 lb. The fishing line should be strong enough to withstand the incredibly powerful lures used for catching muskies. The common misconception is that 65 lb. “65 lb. will work,” is a common misconception. In reality, any weight below 80 lb. You can break with a strong enough cast.

The capacity of the Line

The line weight is just as important as the line to catch a musky. However, it is equally important to have enough lines in your reel. At least 140 yards of 80-lb line should be sufficient. Test your line to ensure the best fishing.

You could end up in serious trouble if you don’t have enough line to reel. You could end up losing your line if the musky takes off while you are trying to catch it. Fishing is a stressful activity and no one wants to lose them, especially in such a situation.

You can choose to be right or left-handed

We believe the last important criterion is the reel’s handedness. You’ll want a reel made for you if you are left-handed. Although the options are limited, it will increase your enjoyment of reels that fit your body perfectly.

Last Thoughts

When buying a new musky fishing reel, there are many factors to consider. Although most of the baitcasting rods that we will be discussing are similar, there are some differences worth noting.

The difference between landing a musky or having it swim away could be as simple as choosing the right reel. We’ve reviewed the top musky reels available to help you make an informed decision.

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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.