Baitcaster rods and reels are the tool of choice for any experienced angler who needs greater accuracy, control and fighting power for big fish.
That power doesn't have to come at a high price, either. This review is for any fisherman in the market for a quality baitcaster combo under $200 ($100-$200 budget range).
Why Invest in A Mid-Range Baitcaster Combo?
Compared to other reels and rods, baitcasters are optimized for greater line capacity, heavier lures and lines, better line control to slow bait, and generally just more cranking power. Simply put, you get more bang for your buck.
Baitcaster combos can be found at very cheap and very expensive price points. It helps to know precisely what you are looking for. If you buy too cheap, then you will get what you pay for but, from the $100 price point, the quality starts to level out.
Higher price tags will often get you better-constructed equipment that is lighter weight and more durable, but the difference between a $400 combo and a $200 combo isn't the same as the massive quality gap between a $75 combo and a $200 one. A mid-range baitcaster combo is ideal for most anglers because it gives you all the benefits of a baitcaster system without breaking the bank.
What Makes a Quality Baitcaster Combo Under $200?
The type of fish you intend to catch and the environment you will be fishing in should always be your first considerations before buying any new fishing equipment. These factors have a top-down influence on the rest of the decision-making process.
For example, if you’ll be flipping baits into cover, using high-drag baits like spinnerbaits and crankbaits, or just generally battling a behemoth at sea, then a baitcaster is probably what you need. However, if you are less experienced or only intend to go for smaller to medium-sized fish, then maybe another set-up would be better.
Unlike spinning reels that use either a front or rear drag system, most baitcaster reels use what is called a star drag system. This name refers to the star-shaped drag adjustment wheel on the side of the reel. It can be turned to tighten or loosen the drag on the line as needed.
Other reels use what is called a lever drag, which is moved back and forth to tighten or loosen the drag. The star drag is more common, but some anglers prefer the lever drag because it is easier to see exactly how much drag you have set.
Line Weight/Capacity & Gear Ratio
The line weight, line capacity, and gear ratio are all related features of your baitcaster system. In general, a baitcaster combo can handle higher line weights and has more line capacity. This means you can cast further, let fish run longer, and keep more substantial fish on the line.
The gear ratio then tells you how quickly you can reel your line in on the retrieve and with how much torque. For example, a gear ratio of 6.4:1 tells you that for one turn of the reel handle, the spool turns 6.4 times. Higher gear ratios let you reel line in more quickly but with less power while lower ratios are slower but more powerful.
A common myth about ball bearings is that the more you have, the better. The truth is it is better to have a few high-quality bearings than several cheap ones. The best ball bearings are usually made of stainless steel, and the best systems are either shielded or, best of all, double-shielded. The shielded bearings have a metal casing that helps protect them from salt water and sand.
Extra Reel Features
You should always check what extra features a baitcaster combo has. One common feature to take note of is whether the reel is low profile or round. These each look the way you would expect with the round version holding more line and generally being more heavy-duty while the low-profile ones are more ergonomic.
Other features to consider include the spool size and style, left vs. right-handed features, and the quality of the handle. This all impacts the overall usability and effectiveness of your baitcaster combo.
Rod Length, Action & Power
The length, action, and power of a rod all influence how it will perform under pressure. Longer rods generally offer greater casting distance while the action of a rod determines where it will bend with a heavy fish on the line. A low action rod bends close to the handle while extra-fast rods bend close to the tip.
A fast, or medium-heavy action is often best for a baitcaster. The power of a rod refers to how much pressure it actually takes to make the rod bend at all. A heavier action rod is better for bigger fish. Deep-sea fishing, for example, usually calls for an extra heavy rod.
Extra Rod Features
Just as you would check the extra features of the reel in a baitcaster combo, you also need to check the extra features of the rod. Check how it is constructed, try out the handles to assess for grip and comfort, evaluate the line guides to make sure they are straight and strong, and look for any additional innovations that might give the upper hand.
Price & Warranty
Any baitcaster combo you look at should be a good value for the money. Most high-quality mid-range combos fit the bill. With fishing equipment, it isn’t always necessary to pay high prices to get good gear, although it is sometimes worth paying a little extra to get the right kit.
You should also study any warranty options that are included because this can make or break a deal. Many combos offer a limited one year warranty.
5 Best Baitcaster Combos Under $200 Reviewed
1. Lew's Fishing Mach Crush
Our Top Pick
Line Capacity (yds/lbs)
9 + 1
Lew’s fishing mach crush baitcaster combo is our top pick from what's available on the market right now. From end to end, this rod and reel are sleek, beautiful, strong, well built, and dangerous for any fish you have in your sights. The rod itself is made of a one-piece IM8 graphite blank and is constructed using Lew's proprietary nanotechnology.
This makes for a very strong and very sensitive rod. The rod guides utilize American Tackle's innovative Airwave system, and the rod handle is a Winn Dri-Tac split grip. Every inch of this combo is cutting edge.
The reel is made with a super low profile (SLP) graphite frame and side plates sporting a machined and double anodized aluminum U-shape 32mm spool. The main gear and crankshaft are made from a high strength solid brass too.
The reel has some reliable stopping power with its zero reverse one-way clutch multi-setting brake. Any fish on your line only gets as far as you want it to. The reel also features a double-anodized aluminum spool tension adjustment with an audible click and a rugged carbon fiber drag system, which provides up to 20 lbs. of drag power. This baitcaster combo is built for battle.
2. Lews Fishing Inshore
Best Lightweight Baitcasting Combo
Line Capacity (yds/lbs)
6 + 1
Lew's Fishing Mach Inshore baitcasting combo is actually a close second for best pick, and it sports much of the same innovative technology present in Lew's Mach Crush. The rod is made of a one-piece IM8 graphite blank built on Lew's very own nanotechnology.
Lew's has also mastered an exclusive graphite skeletal reel seat that securely holds the reel. Altogether, the rod is very strong and very lightweight. American Tackle Saltwater MicroWave line guides with Nanolite inserts are fitted to the rod, as well as Winn Dri-Tac split grips. As an added bonus, the rod then includes Lew's patented "No Foul" hook keeper. This rod is not to be trifled with.
The reel is formidable too. It is composed of a one-piece lightweight, super low profile (SLP_ graphite frame with drain ports and side plates. A zero reverse one-way clutch bearing, multi-setting brake (MSB), and centrifugal brake system all create tremendous stopping power when needed.
Your fishing line is smoothly fed from a machine forged, double anodized, large capacity aluminum spool, and the drag is set by the double anodized, aluminum star drag with an audible click. This durable carbon fiber drag system provides up to 20 lbs. of drag power. The reel is also fitted with a 95mm bowed, anodized aluminum handle with Winn Dri-Tac knobs. Every inch of this combo is cutting edge.
3. Abu Garcia Revo X
Best For Beginner Baitcasters
Line Capacity (yds/lbs)
7 + 1
The Abu Garcia Revo X baitcaster combo is the perfect choice for anglers new to baitcasting. More often than not, a novice baitcaster is still an experienced fisherman, but even someone just diving in the deep end of fishing can get a handle on this combo with some practice. The reel is built as an ergonomic low profile X2 Craftic alloy frame with increased corrosion resistance.
A carbon matrix hybrid drag system offers super smooth, reliable drag performance, including a dragger brass gear that lasts longer than most others. Overall the D2 Gear Design provides a more efficient gear system with improved gear durability as well. This all comes together in a rod and reel combination that is strong, lightweight, and easy to handle.
Anglers who have bought and used the combo say it is an “Awesome beginner baitcaster combo,” and that it “Doesn’t get better than Abu Garcia #ForLife.”
This is a rod and reel that performs as needed again and again under almost any conditions. For anglers new to baitcasting, the casting, retrieve, and drag setting are easy as can be. There is a learning curve, but it is nowhere near as steep as it can be with other systems. For beginners, this is the way to go.
4. Lew's Fishing Mach 1
Value For Money
6’10” - 7’2”
Line Capacity (yds/lbs)
7 + 1
Lew's makes our list again with the fishing Mach 1-speed spool baitcasting rod and reel combo, which offers excellent value for the money.
The rod is a well constructed one-piece IM8 graphite blank with nanotechnology fitted with a Winn Dri-Tac Handle, Lew’s proprietary graphite reel seat, and line guides constructed from durable stainless steel frames and aluminum oxide inserts. Lew’s patented “No Foul” hook keeper is also included. The rod is optimally designed for comfort strength and sensitivity and rivals many pricier options in the market.
The reel completes the package as a strong and streamlined piece of fish catching equipment. The baitcasting reel is made of a one-piece lightweight SLP graphite frame and side plates with 3 drain ports to reduce the wear and tear from saltwater buildup. The reel features a premium 8 bearing system with stainless steel double shielded bearings and a zero reverse one-way clutch.
Inside the reel, there are high strength solid brass speed gears made to exacting standards that keep things moving even under heavy loads. The multi-setting brake and double anodized aluminum drag star with an audible click and a durable Rulon drag system all work together to help you land even the most obstinate fish. With this rod and reel combo, you get a high priced quality at a mid-range price.
5. Quantum Pulse
Good Saltwater Option
Line Capacity (yds/lbs)
4 + 1
The Quantum Pulse baitcaster combo is an especially great choice for any anglers who fish in saltwater conditions a lot. This combo includes a lightweight and durable graphite rod fitted with corrosion-resistant Dynaflow aluminum-oxide guides and a ComfortGrip rod handle.
This is a rod that feels good in the hand, holds up against tough fish, and can withstand harsh saltwater conditions. The reel is similarly well equipped. It is made from a lightweight corrosion-resistant graphite frame with side covers and holds an aluminum skeletal spool that keeps rolling smoothly no matter what.
The reel incorporates some great Quantum technology as well. An externally adjustable magnetic braking system known as Dynamag Cast control helps you to dial in the exact casting settings you need to place your lure or bait right where you need it. Other systems, like the zero friction pinion and the continuous anti-reverse clutch, maintain a smooth fishing experience from the moment you cast to the moment you reel in a fish.
Anglers that use this combo comment that they are “Slayin bass with the PULSE!!” and that they “would recommend this to a friend,”
because of the success they have had landing fish. For saltwater baitcasters, this rod and reel are the way to go.
Comparison Guide: Spinning vs. Baitcaster Combos
Spinning combos are fitted with fixed upright spools on reels equipped for light tackle and catching small to medium fish. They are suited for anglers with some fishing experience, while seasoned fishers will often resort to baitcasters.
This is because baitcaster combos have strong inline reels that can handle heavy tackle and land some of the biggest fish out there. There is a higher risk of backlash with these rods and reels, so experience and caution go a long way.
Baitcasting Rod & Reel Size Guide
Rods come in various lengths, but most baitcaster rods will be about 7' long. The reels, on the other hand, are much more varied. Sizes might be listed in tens, hundreds, and thousands, such as 10, 100, and 1000 all indicating the same size. From low profile reels to larger round reels, the sizes vary from 1000 to 7000 and up. A rough rule of thumb is that bigger fish take a bigger reel.
A size 200 low profile reel can hold up to about 170 yards of 12 lb monofilament and works great for bass, walleye, and other medium-sized fish. A higher ranged 500 sized round profile reel, on the other hand, could hold up to 230 yards of 14 lb monofilament and would better be suited for tackling large bass and even doing some light trolling.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What should I do to prevent backlash when throwing a baitcasting reel?
Backlash is one of the unfortunate side effects of using baitcasters. Sticking to monofilament and heavier lures can help reduce the chance of this happening, though. It is also essential to properly set the brake system and spool tension. Test casting really helps here.
Practicing with your settings and experimenting with trial and error will help you hone in on the ideal combination. When you do cast, make sure to cast with the wind if you can and above all, practice, practice, practice. Good tutorials can really help you get a sense of the technique you should use.
What gear ratio is recommended for a beginner?
It is best to start with a gear ratio of 6.4:1. This allows beginners to fish both fast and slow by using a middle-speed reel. It takes experience to present baits the way they should be while using higher speed reels. For beginners using a higher speed reel can just lead to frustration and a lack of fish.
Are there any special care and maintenance steps for baitcasters?
The great enemies of fishing gear are saltwater and sand. After every fishing outing, you should rinse down your rod and reel with fresh water and wipe them down with a soft clean towel, then lightly oil any moving parts.
When storing them, make sure they are securely held in a rack and that there is no bend in the rod or major tension in the line. If you are storing your gear for a long time, you should disassemble it and place the parts in a cool, dry place.
What kind of line should I use with a baitcasting combo?
Most people use mono or braid, but many anglers seem to have the most success using a heavier monofilament line with baitcasters. Many sources say that baitcasters were meant to be used with braided line, but experience has proven that monofilament performs better for some and nets you far less backlash and wadded birds nests. Still, if the mono just doesn't seem to work for you, try switching to a 30 lbs braid and see how that feels.
Where can I buy good baitcaster combos for less than $200?
Amazon is the best place to buy good baitcaster combos for less than $200. Through Amazon, you can easily comparison shop across all the major brands, find products that aren't available through their manufacturers, and see countless reviews from actual customers. This provides the most unbiased and accurate assessment you can make when selecting fishing equipment.
Since there are so many baitcaster combos available today, we did the leg work for you and picked out the top selections.
The best baitcaster combo you can get for less than $200 is our top pick, Lew’s fishing mach crush. It checks all our boxes in what you need and want in a baitcaster. The other baitcasters we feature here are all close contenders too; now it's up to you to find that one that suits you best.