Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Baitcasting Reels for Beginners Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best baitcasting reels for beginners. Find a full proof model for your first time baitcast fishing.

by Andrew

Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Baitcasting Reels for Beginners Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best baitcasting reels for beginners. Find a full proof model for your first time baitcast fishing.

by Andrew

by Andrew

Experience the feeling that pro bass anglers feel, and start getting to grips on baitcasting rods and reels. The best baitcasting reels will have a lot of torque and can handle heavier lines better. Heavier lines usually mean pulling in heavier fish, so you’ll be rewarded after all of your research.

This review is perfect for beginner baitcasting anglers who are looking to buy a good-quality entry-level reel and for anglers interested in baitcasting reels after using spinners.

Preview

Product

Weight

Line Capacity

Ball Bearings

Check Price

Pflueger President XT Low Profile Reel

Pflueger

President XT

8.01 oz

145/12, 125/14, 100/17 yds/lbs.

9 BB

Cadence CB8 Baitcasting Reels, 6.7oz Ultra...

Cadence

CB8

6.7 oz

12/120 lb/yds Mono
30/140 lb/yds Braid

9+1

SHIMANO SLX DC 150 Baitcast Fishing Reel...

SHIMANO

SLX DC

7.58 oz

20/150, 30/135, 40/105 Powerpro braid

4+1

Abu Garcia 1365366 Black Max Low Profile...

Abu Garcia

Black Max

7.3 oz.

145/12 mono
140/30 braid

4+1

KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel,5.4:1 Gear...

KastKing

Mega Jaws

7.5 oz

10/125 12/110 14/90 mono
40/125 50/110 65/80 braid

11+1

Piscifun Torrent Right Handed 7.1:1...

Piscifun

Torrent

0.51 Lbs

10 lb/120 mono
30 lb/120 braid

5+1

KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting...

KastKing Royale Legend Elite

7.2 oz

12/130 mono
50/130 braid

10+1

Why First Time Anglers Need A Beginner-Friendly Baitcaster

There are dozens of baitcasting reels on the market today, and some are technique specific or designed for particular fishing environments. It’s important to get a baitcaster that’s easy to learn with, and that’s suitable for your fishing needs.

For example, you wouldn’t want to buy a reel that’s too fast in action and high in gears if you're just hoping to catch small trout in your local stream. A slower gear ratio with a lighter line is perfect for smaller species.

If you’re looking for a reel that's a great all-rounder and multi-purposeful, then a gear ratio that ranges anywhere from 6.2:1-7.0:1 will be perfect.

You can adjust your retrieval speed to suit a wide range of fishing applications. But there’s a lot more than just gears to focus on; below, we talk about some other points to consider so that you can narrow your search even further.


How Do I Choose A Beginner Baitcasting Reel?

Type of Fish & Environment

From bass, northern pike, muskies, and catfishes, baitcasters have been used for freshwater fishing for decades for their line control and fast action. Most large fish species will require a baitcasting reel to pull them in.

Don’t be fooled. Baitcasting can be used to catch smaller species, too. We love using a baitcasting reel for smaller inshore fishes and the biggest offshore game fish. So, from freshwater to saltwater, and a ton of species in between, you’ll have a lot of use for your new beginner baitcasting reel and rod.

Reel Features

  • Reel size
    Smaller baitcasting reels can be very versatile and a great travel companion on fishing adventures.
  • Grip/handle
    If you’re planning on fishing in cold weather as well as hot, be sure you can use the handle on your baitcaster with gloves.
  • Weight
    Baitcasters are incredibly lightweight, with new materials being used in construction. You can find soma as light as 7 oz.
  • Gear ratios
    The gear ratio indicates whether lots of cranking will be needed to get the line moving on retrieval or not. The three main gear ratios to consider are:
  • A slow gear ratio is between 5.1:1 to 5.4:1
  • A medium gear ratio is between 6.1:1 to 6.4:1
  • A high gear ratio is between 7.1:1 to 8.1:1

Profile

It wasn’t so long ago when the only baitcasting reel you could buy was a round profile reel. Over time, baitcasters evolved from conventional round reels to new low profile baitcasting reels. This new evolution of reels tends to be a lot lighter and far more compact than its predecessors.

They’re designed to fit the contour of the hand with a palm side and a handle side. A round baitcaster doesn’t sit in your hand as comfortably, but they're traditionally designed to handle larger fish. Even though they may be an older reel style, they're still widely available, and lots of anglers still love them for sea bass and northern pike catches.

Drag & Brake System

The drag refers to the resistance of a reel when fishing large species trying to get away. You can adjust the drag through either a front or a rear dial, but for baitcasting reels, you’ll usually adjust this at the rear.  Reels with rear drag are also known as 'Bait Runners' or 'Bait Feeders', and larger baitcasting reels have larger drag systems, which means less resistance and more torque.

The braking system is vital for controlling the spool's speed, especially when it’s "free-spinning."  These braking systems will differ depending on price and performance. You can get a great reel with a basic braking system, and it could be all you need for your needs, or you can get a highly sophisticated system specifically designed by manufacturers.

Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are found within the reel housing, and they help the components operate fully and smoothly. In theory, the more ball bearings, the smoother the reel.

Nowadays, it’s not too essential to have a ton of ball bearings as many good quality reels will run smoothly with as little as 4. Higher priced reels will have better quality bearings, so be sure to check your perfect reel before you buy.

Spool Size & Style

The spool size is important as it indicates the amount of line that will fit on the spool and which line is best suited for it. There are two basic spool styles:

  • Internal Spools
    This is when the spool is enclosed within the reel. They're not as common nowadays as the line often becomes entangled within the reel and creates what anglers now, as a 'birds nest.' 
  • Skirted Spools
    This spool design has helped alleviate the frustration of the birds’ nest. As the name suggests, the spool is shallower in the middle than an internal spool. This helps fight against line friction and increases casting distance for the angler. We recommend sticking with a skirted spool for a novice angler.

Line Capacity

Whether you use fluorocarbon, monofilament, or braided line, you’ll need to know your reel’s line capacity before you spool it on.

Usually, the manufacturers give you an indication of how many yards/pounds for each type of line it’s suitable for. As different lines have thicker and thinner consistencies, these indications may vary, depending on the line.

Anti-Backlash

Anti-backlash controls are great for stopping your line from jerking and getting entangled within the reel. Most of the time, there are two knobs on opposite sides of the reel that control the backlash.

If your spool begins to spin when you start casting, you’ll need to tighten that first knob. This knob is usually numbered and controls the speed of your spool. Increasing the tightness will reduce the speed and the possibility of backlash.

Ease Of Use

There wouldn’t be much of a point buying a new baitcasting reel if it's not easy to use and suitable for your hand orientation. These guarantees hours of comfortability and longevity during use.

There are more and more new reels and models that can be interchangeable, but several models are still only suitable for right-handed users. Make sure your perfect model is suitable for your hand orientation before you buy.

Price & Warranty

As a beginner baitcasting angler, you probably don’t want to spend a lot on your very first reel, and you won't have to. The market is flooded with fantastic baitcasting reels on a budget. All of the reels on our list are covered with at least a 1-year warranty.

Whether you want something affordable to get you to the water quickly, or you’re looking for a reel to last you years, you’ll find the one you’re looking for in our reviews!


7 Best Baitcasting Reels For Beginners Reviewed

1. Pflueger President XT

best baitcast reel for beginners

Weight

8.01 oz

Gear Ratio

7:3:1

Line Capacity

145/12, 125/14, 100/17 yds/lbs.

Max Drag

8-12 lbs

Ball Bearings

9 BB

Key Feature

Smooth 9 BB Operation

The first on our list for the best baitcasting reel for beginners is the President XT by Pflueger. This reel shocked us on its high performance without being too challenging to operate. It’s a low profile baitcasting reel that Pflueger has evolved from the traditional round bait cast reel, and we loved how it performed.

Let’s start with its exterior. The reel is housed in aluminum for extreme durability. It also has an aluminum handle that's 'aircraft graded.' It has a magnetic braking system with adjustable brake controls, and you can adjust your spool rotation to avoid backlashes. We found the braking system to be great for easy and accurate casting.

With 9 corrosion-resistant ball bearings, you can use this reel in fresh or saltwater fishing destinations. We loved pairing this reel with a 20 lb braid, and it worked a treat when offshore fishing.

The one thing to note, if you’re hoping to catch really big fish, then the max drag may disappoint you a little. But if you’re not pulling in massive fish and you’re looking for a good one to start, then there's plenty of power in the President XT baitcasting reel for you.

Pros
  • Beautiful low-profile design
  • Backlash-resistant levelwind
  • Great braking system for easy casting.
  • 1-Year limited warranty
Cons
  • Only available for right-handed anglers
  • Drag is a little less compared to its competitors

2. Cadence CB8

runner up

Weight

6.7 oz

Gear Ratio

7:3:1

Line Capacity

12/120 lb/yds Mono

30/140 lb/yds Braid

Max Drag

20 lbs

Ball Bearings

9+1

Key Feature

Powerful 20lbs Carbon fiber drag system

Our runner-up baitcasting reel for beginners is by Cadence. The CB8 has a ton of features in a compact design.  It fits in the palm of your hand so you will feel, so you’ll feel as comfortable as possible when fishing or if you’re traveling a long distance to your preferred fishing destination. The frame is a durable carbon fiber frame while also being composed of aviation class aluminum for the main gear and crankshaft. This brings the weight down, making it a light 6.7 ounces.

The ball bearing system on the CB8 is quite impressive. It features 9 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings and 1 instant anti-reverse bearing. The braking system will help beginners learn how to cast without countless backlashes. And, with just a spool tension knob, brake dial, and drag star to adjust for your fishing method, you won’t feel too overwhelmed with the operation of this reel.

 The CB8 baitcasting reel has one of the best dag systems on our list. It has a smooth and powerful carbon fiber drag system with a max drag of 20lbs. Big fish like sea bass and northern pike and brown trout could be reeled in easily with this unique drag system. Using a variety of baits, like crankbaits, topwater baits, or stick baits, are a perfect match, too.

Before you buy this model, you should know that Cadence has released a left and right-handed model in different gear ratios. The model we found the best for beginners was the 7.3:1 (which is available in both left and right-handed models. Other sizes are available, but we found them to be a bit too slow.

Pros
  • Precision hard brass pinion gear system
  • Smooth ball bearing system
  • Oversized ergonomic EVA handle knob
  • Small, compact, and lightweight
Cons
  • Gears can grind and make an unpleasant sound

3. SHIMANO SLX DC

best anti-backlash beginner baitcast reel

Weight

7.58 oz

Gear Ratio

6.3:1

Line Capacity

20/150, 30/135, 40/105 Powerpro braid

Max Drag

12 lbs

Ball Bearings

4+1

Key Feature

S3D technology has reduced spool vibration and backlash

Backlash is one of the biggest turn-offs for anglers that are making the switch to a baitcasting reel. Anyone who has used a baitcaster before probably experienced the horrible feeling of a bird’s nest.

The SLX DC by Shimano has a ton of features to keep backlashes to a minimum. For starters, each setting on the reel is so easily adjustable. We hardly had to change the settings when changing location or lure weights, and backlashes never came.

Shimano consistently improves its features and technology to keep up and not be forgotten, and it works. Their newest innovation in brake system technology, SVS Infinity, worked wonders at keeping the spool under control and while still breaking easily.

You’ll also notice how accurate casting can be, especially with small lures with the aid of SVS Infinity controls. Another great feature of the SLX DC reel is the super free spool that eliminates line friction on the spool shaft during every cast.

The construction and materials used in the reel are impeccable, with a HAGANE Body made of metal, so it virtually eliminates body flexing. This allows you to crank and cast with efficiency and strength. Marry this construction with its features and technologies, and you’ve found yourself a reel worthy for any beginner or intermediate angler.

Pros
  • Smooth reel with great braking options
  • lightweight and durable Hagane body
  • EVA foam knobs for easy line retrieval
Cons
  • Stick with freshwater with this reel, not very durable in saltwater

4. Abu Garcia Black Max

popular brand 

Weight

7.3 oz.

Gear Ratio

6.4:1

Line Capacity

145/12 mono

140/30 braid

Max Drag

18 lbs

Ball Bearings

4+1

Key Feature

MagTrax braking system is quiet and runs smoothly

Abu Garcia products are time and time again popping on our reviews, and it’s because they spend a ton of time researching and developing new technologies to suit anglers.

Buying from a popular brand usually guarantees some sort of warranty, and Abu Garcia does simply that. The Black Max baitcasting reel has a lot of Garcia’s beloved features, has a one-year warranty, and it won’t bust your bank account.

The Black Max low profile baitcasting reel by Garcia has a lightweight frame constructed of graphite and has graphite side plates. Not only is the reel compact, but so is the bent handle with an ergonomic grip. The design is sleek and effortless, and so is the braking system.

Abu Garcia used their MagTrax Magnetic Braking System on this reel to help control the line from backlashing or overrunning. It also makes the Max reels free from noise during casting and above all, the braking system is free from wear and tear, making the reel long-lasting and durable.

With a 4+1 ball bearing system and a power disk drag system, you’ll have all the tools so you can catch gamefish up to 18 lbs. It is an overachiever when it comes to the price point and performance, all with a little more peace of mind, thanks to Abu Garcia.

Pros
  • Sleek and sporty design
  • Great performing reel
  • Incredibly affordable
  • 1-Year warranty
Cons
  • The controls for the drag will need some getting used to.

5. KastKing Mega Jaws

value for money beginner option

Weight

7.5 oz

Gear Ratio

5.4:1

Line Capacity

10/125 12/110 14/90 mono

40/125 50/110 65/80 braid

Max Drag

17.6 lbs

Ball Bearings

11+1

Key Feature

Super long-cast system with a new funnel-shaped line guide

Getting the best value for money as a beginner is vital, it means you’re spending money on what’s truly important. The Mega Jaws casting reel by KastKing conveys essential 'shark' elements representing the power and strength you need in a reel. It has a long-cast system and a sleek design, and it’s all at a realistic price. 

There are some powerful components that are housed in this low profile reel. For starters, the 11+1 double-shielded stainless steel bearings are some of the best we’ve seen. The brass pinion and main gears are perfect for smooth rotations. Lastly, the ultra-smooth carbon fiber drag system uses multiple carbon discs, so you get a max drag of 17.6 lbs.

With water draining holes and easy access lubrication, you can clean and maintain this graphite reel in a matter of minutes. If you do decide on this reel and you’re using it in saltwater regularly, then maintenance is strongly recommended, so wear and tear will be kept to a minimum.

You might want to consider a faster gear ratio if it’s specifically for saltwater use. Kastking uses a simple color-coded system, so the color we recommend for rivers, streams, or lakes is 5.4:1 (Great White color). The model that’s great for saltwater applications is 7.2:1 (Blacktip color).

Pros
  • Lightweight and versatile
  • Sleek design with a lot of attention to detail
  • Fits perfectly in your palm
  • One year, peace of mind warranty
Cons
  • Gear ratios are different based on the left or right-hand orientation

6. Piscifun Torrent

best cheap baitcast reel for beginners

Weight

0.51 Lbs

Gear Ratio

7.1:1

Line Capacity

10 lb/120 mono

30 lb/120 braid

Max Drag

18 lbs

Ball Bearings

5+1

Key Feature

Double line winding shafts - great for stability

Choosing the cheapest baitcasting reel on Amazon isn’t always the best option. For just a few extra dollars, you can get a reel that will last you seasons instead of day trips. The Piscifun Torrent is a powerful 7.1:1, low profile baitcaster is one of the cheapest out there, but it certainly doesn’t perform like the others in its price point.

The Piscifun Torrent operates with Japanese Hamai precision-cut gears with stainless steel screws and springs. Not only does this combo make it strong and reliable, but it means that you’ll fish in peace, with no noise during casts.

Practice ice fishing, cranking, or simply improve your casting abilities with the Torrent baitcasting reel. You’ll need to adjust your settings for finesse fishing, but it’s not too difficult with a little practice.

There’s a large foam handle for reeling, and a great drag system designed for fast, smooth retrievals. You can catch up to 18 lbs with this reel, with the help of mono or braided lines.

KastKing uses its knowledge and research to create unique features suited to novice anglers.  They’ve put an oil port on one of the side plates, so maintaining the reel is as easy as possible. They also thought of putting strong, double wind shafts to eliminate backlash.

You can also use the 0-10 magnetic dial-in setting to help fight against the backlash, too. You’ll have a lot of fun improving your skills with the Torrent, and it will give you a good taste at baitcasting without spending a fortune on a reel.

Pros
  • Comes with a right-handed and left-handed variation
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy maintenance
  • Beginner-friendly
  • 1-Year warranty
Cons
  • Use a lighter baitcasting rod with this reel for ultimate performance

7. KastKing Royale Legend Elite

best beginner baitcast reel for saltwater fishing

Weight

7.2 oz

Gear Ratio

6.6:1

Line Capacity

12/130 mono

50/130 braid

Max Drag

17.6 lbs

Ball Bearings

10+1

Key Feature

KastKing’s Side Wind side cover included

Last but certainly not least, our top pick for the best beginner baitcast reel for saltwater fishing is the Rayale Legend by KastKing.

The model we’ve reviewed previously, the Mejajaws, was created based on the original Royale Legend. Well, the Elite Series has some of the same features, with a closer focus on corrosion-resistant properties, making it a better fit for saltwater.

Let’s start with its durable graphite frame that fits perfectly in your palm and has an aluminum main gear that has been heat-treated for additional strength without increasing its weight. 

This reel is one of the most lightweight models, coming in at a mere 7.2 oz. The Royale Legend Elite has a stainless steel kick lever and main shaft, making it extremely resistant to corrosion. 

Just like the Megajaws model by Kastking, different ratios are color-coded, so be sure you know which one you’re looking at before you make any purchase. We've picked the 6.6:1, metallic blue model for saltwater applications, but they've also got options in 7.3:1, 6.6:1, and 5.3:1.

With 10 double-shielded, stainless steel bearings, an instant anti-reverse, and a max drag of 17.6 lbs, it’s the perfect match for beginner anglers looking to bait cast in saltwater.

Pros
  • Brass pinion gears and worm drives
  • Each gear ratio reel has its own color, like a tournament reel collection
  • Lightweight and compact
  • 1-Year warranty
Cons
  • Access to the spool can be a bit tricky

Baitcasters Vs Spinning Reels: which is best for Beginners?

You may or may not have heard that baitcasting reels are more difficult to pick up over spinning reels. Well, this may be true, but it doesn’t mean you should cancel them out of your fishing arsenal.

Both types of reels have their pros and cons, but you need to try both before you make your decision. If you’ve been using spinning reels before, then you’ll need to be aware of a few things about baitcasters to make your transition a little smoother. 

  1. 1
    Be prepared to use larger, heavier lures. Large swimbaits, deep diving crankbaits, or other large lures are great options for baitcasting reels.
  2. 2
    Adjustable braking systems are usually located on the outside of the reel.
  3. 3
    Heavier lines will be better on baitcasting reels, and the line capacity is larger, too
  4. 4
    With practice, expect longer, more accurate casts. This is a big advantage over spinning rods and reels; they tend not to cast as far.

How To Use A Baitcaster Reel: Beginner’s Guide

Once you have your baitcasting rod, reel along with your preferred line, lure, and weight, it's time to start preparing for the water. Here are a few easy-to-follow instructions for beginner anglers.

  • 1. How to Spool a Baitcasting Reel
    Once you've your line located around the spool, tie an arbor knot, and pinch the line to maintain tension. Begin reeling in your line and feed it through the baitcasting rods’ guides. Lastly, tie a lure or hook to the end, along with a weight if you want it to sink, and you’re ready to go.
  • 2. How to Cast a Baitcasting Reel
    Now that your rod and reel is set up, it’s time to cast. First, make sure your spool tension is right for you. Then, turn the rod, so the reel handles point upwards. Next, release the spool by pressing its' button. Sweep the rod forward, and press down on the reel spool. You should have your line in the water. Don’t worry; this process becomes a lot easier with some practice.
  • 3. How to Use a Baitcasting Reel
    Now that your line is in the water, it’s time to keep your casting arm slightly bent. This will help you feel a little tug or a big bite. Then, it’s time to get comfortable. You may have to wait for a bite for minutes or hours. Once it comes, begin to reel in your catch and enjoy the fine feeling of fishing.

People also Ask (FAQs)

Are there any maintenance steps for baitcasting reels?

It’s best to keep on top of cleaning and to maintain all of your fishing arsenal, including your baitcasting reel. After you use your reel, tighten the drag to prevent water contamination at the drag stack. With warm, soapy water, use a sponge to wipe it clean. Once you’ve done this, rinse the whole reel with fresh water, and towel dry before storing it away. This is particularly important after saltwater use. 

What are the best baitcaster brands?

When you think of brands that have created diverse baitcasting, spinning, and fly reels, there are a few that come to mind. KastKing, Penn, Daiwa, and Shimano are just a few worth mentioning. More baitcasting rods and reels are coming onto the market. So keep your eyes peeled, and check out our site for updated reviews.

What should I do to prevent backlash when throwing a baitcasting reel?

Experiencing backlash is bound to happen, especially if you’re entirely new to fishing. If you adjust the brake system and spool tension to your fishing technique, you’ll have a lot more control when you cast. Also, working with difficult weather conditions may come to your advantage. If it’s windy, try to use the wind to your favor and cast with it, not against it. These tips can seriously help your line from backlashing.

What pound test should I put on my baitcaster?

It’s recommended to use a line that’s 10 pounds or above when you’re pairing it with your new baitcasting reel. These reels aren’t designed with light lines in mind, so it’s best to pair it with a line that has a 10, 20, 30, or even 40 lb pound test. Line, depending on your reel of choice.

What is the best line for my baitcasting reel? Should I use a mono or braided line?

We believe a heavy monofilament or braided line works well for a range of fishing applications with a baitcaster. Braided lines may have a higher price point to its alternatives, but it’s also going to last longer, it’s stronger, and it's going to be much more sensitive than monofilament or fluorocarbon.

Where can I buy good baitcasting reels for beginners?

Buying a new beginner baitcasting reel is as easy as ever, with Amazon. You can find new models, customers’ opinions, and your new reel could be delivered to your doorstep in a matter of days. Another alternative is to check your local fish tackle shop. They could give you some tips and personal preferences out of their stock for your new piece of equipment.


Conclusion

Now that you know a baitcasting rod and reel will be needed to catch heavy fishes, you’ve no excuse not to add the right tools to your fishing tackle.

The Pflueger President XT Baitcasting reel will be a real treat on your next fishing excursion. It has all the strength you need while still being easy to use for beginners. Sea bass or northern pike won’t stand a chance once you get to grips with baitcasting.

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