9 Best Baitcaster Combos Under $100: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

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It can be difficult to pair a great baitcasting rod with the right reel. That’s why many manufacturers have designed combos that offer rods and reels that are designed to work in tandem.

Whether you’re looking to learn how to use a baitcaster or just want to add one to your arsenal, there are many options for baitcasting combos costing anywhere from $50 to $100. Save some time researching and shopping around with this comprehensive guide to the best baitcaster combos under $100.

Preview

Product

Rod Size

Gear Ratio

Check Price

KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod and Reel Combo,...

astKing

Crixus

6’6”

6.5:1

Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo

Ugly Stik Elite

6’6”

Unspecified

Abu Garcia BMAX3/701MH Black Max Fishing Rod...

Abu Garcia

Black Max

7’0”

6.4:1

Tailored Tackle Bass Fishing Baitcasting...

Tailored

Tackle Bass

7’0”

6.3:1

Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile Baitcast...

Abu Garcia

Jordan Lee

7’0”

6.4:1

Lews Fishing LSG1HMG66MH Laser MG Baitcast...

Lews Fishing Laser MG Speed

6’6”, 7’0”

6.4:1

Sougayilang Fishing Baitcaster Combos,...

Sougayilang

6’9”

7.2:1

Ugly Stik GX2 Baitcast Combo

Ugly Stik GX

6’6”

Unspecified

Sougayilang Fishing Reel and Rod...

Sougayilang

24-Ton Combo

5’9”, 6’9”

7.0:1


Why Invest in an Inexpensive Baitcaster Combo?

Baitcasting reels are superior for a more controlled cast over a longer distance. They also have more fighting power against larger targets. Many anglers who began on spinning reels are apprehensive about making the jump to baitcasters, but inexpensive baitcasting combos are the perfect solution.

The ones in this guide perform well enough to be comparable to much costlier models and can save anglers quite a bit of money on their investment. To increase your success rate fishing for larger bass and trickier species like trout, a baitcaster combo does just the trick.


What Makes a Good Budget Baitcaster Combo?

Intended Purpose

Baitcasters aren’t only for casting a long distance. They are also much better at casting with accuracy, meaning they can be used to fish into heavy cover and vegetation. They are generally used in freshwater environments because salt can get inside most of them and cause corrosive damage. But they are versatile across freshwater environments, whether you want to fish for northern pike or big bass.

Drag System

Many reels have drag systems that operate by dials on the front or back of the reel, or both. Front drags usually have larger washers, which makes them more powerful. Rear dials are easier to adjust when there’s a tricky fish on the line. Most of the best baitcasters have star dials next to the reel handles that adjust the drag rather than a front and rear drag adjustment dial.

Line Weight/Capacity & Gear Ratio

Fishing line is labeled by pound test, which is a measure of its strength in pounds. Heavier test, that is, stronger line, is usually thicker in diameter, which means a spool can hold less of it. Braided line, however, is thinner than mono so reels can hold more.

Gear ratio is the number of times the spool turns with one crank of the handle. This can give some idea of how much line comes in per turn, though less precisely than the line retrieval rate. Gear ratio tells more about how fast lures can move on a particular reel.

Ball Bearings

Reels are built with round ball bearings in between their moving parts to keep them moving smoothly. Some reels try to wow buyers with the number of bearings, but a well-placed bearing can make more difference than three poorly placed ones. Bearings are usually made of stainless steel but can be made of ceramic and other materials. They are often shielded or double-shielded to prevent debris from entering and affecting their movement.

Extra Reel Features

There are a couple of different styles of baitcasting reels. Low-profile reels fit in the hand more easily and cause less discomfort over a day of fishing. Larger reels and round-style baitcasting reels have larger spools, which increases line capacity but lowers their retrieval rate.

Handles can be extended or bowed out to create torque and sometimes switch from the left to the right side of the reel. A brake system controlled by magnets can be adjusted to put more or less pressure on the line to control how far it casts.

Rod Length, Action & Power

A rod’s power is how strong it is, which depends on how much backbone it has. The backbone is the central core of the rod, which can be made of graphite, fiberglass, or some combination of the two. "Action" describes the point at which a rod bends.

Fast action rods bend in the top third of the rod, near the tip. Medium-action rods bend toward the middle, and slow rods bend in the bottom third. Longer rods help anglers cast further, and shorter ones help cast more accurately into cover, structure, and in tight spaces.

Extra Rod Features

Some rods have a fast action and build specialized tips out of graphite or other material to make them more flexible at the tip. This also increases sensibility to bites on the line. Other rods have exposed blanks or reel seats that touch the blank to transfer movement into the angler’s hand.

Handles on a fishing rod can be a single piece of foam or rubber, or they can be split into a foregrip and rear grip. Pistol grips are occasionally used as well. Handles have to be comfy for holding in hand and in the gut for extra leverage.

Material Composition and Build Quality

One of the telltale signs of a poorly built rod is line guides that bend or break off under almost no pressure. They are usually constructed of stainless steel with inserts, but sometimes they can be built of one, sturdy piece. Rod blanks are built of fiberglass, which is tough and sensitive, or graphite, which is lighter and more flexible. Some manufacturers use a composite of both materials to get the best of both worlds.

Price & Warranty

As you’ll see from this guide, the price of a baitcaster combo doesn’t necessarily dictate its overall quality. Baitcasting combos over $100 have some additional features that these rods don’t have, but for anglers who just want to get out and fish, the combos on this list are ideal. Most of them have warranties that protect against deficiencies in the original manufacturing process.


9 Best Baitcaster Combos Under $100 Reviewed

1. KastKing Crixus

Our Top Pick

Rod Size

6’6”

Gear Ratio

6.5:1

Line Capacity

Mono: 125/10, 110/12, 90/14

Ball Bearings

5 + 1

Max Drag

17.64 lbs.

Warranty

1-year Limited Reel

Limited Lifetime Rod

The Crixus packs a ton of versatility. With this medium-heavy action rod and reel combo, anglers can confidently go after any light- to mid-range freshwater targets like bass, catfish, or walleye. The durable construction of both the rod and the reel and the overall performance makes just about every method of sport fishing easy and fun.

The Rod

The KastKing Crixus Rod is made out of an IM6 graphite blank. This rod gives IM7 and IM8 graphite rods a run for their money and has a bit more stiffness and added sensitivity. The fast action and additional heaviness in this rod give it excellent stopping power for bass and crappie fishing. A golf-style handle reduces strain over long periods. The rod also disassembles into two pieces for extra portability, but they’re joined with KastKing’s Power Transition System to feel like a single piece. Anglers looking for a longer cast might like the seven-foot Crixus combo.

The Reel

Dazzling white and slim, the KastKing Crixus baitcaster reel has a reliable drag system and durable aluminum spool that pros will love and an 8-button magnet brake system that will help learn how to cast, making it a great beginner baitcaster combo. Carbon in the frame will prevent damage if it's dropped, and it balances well with the rod. The Crixus caster has five ball bearings and one anti-reverse bearing that make the reel operation super smooth and should keep it working a long time.

Pros
  • Great for pros and beginners
  • Smooth operation
  • Powerful drag
  • Durable rod blank
  • Comfortable handle
Cons
  • Few available rod lengths

2. Ugly Stik Elite

Runner-Up

Rod Size

6’6”

Gear Ratio

Unspecified

Line Capacity

Mono: 160/10, 130/12, 110/14

Ball Bearings

2 + 1

Max Drag

10 lbs.

Warranty

7-year Limited Rod

1-year Limited Reel

Ugly Stik is famous for building nearly indestructible rods, and the Elite baitcaster combo has that same durability with an even lighter weight. Add to this the strength of the graphite composite reel frame and the composite fiberglass and graphite rod blank, and you'll have just what you need to get fish into your boat.

The Rod

Sensitive enough for trout fishing but built with plenty of backbone for bass, the Ugly Stik Elite Combo rod is effective in many types of fishing. It is one of the only big name, popular rods under $100 that uses fiberglass in the blank. It also has a cork handle and one-piece stainless steel guides that make for easy casting and won’t pop out like they do on some other cheap rods. The clear tip on this rod is pure graphite, giving it a snap on both casting and fighting fish that helps set the hook cleanly.

The Reel

Machined aluminum in the spool of the reel helps support the line when you have a big fish on. It also helps bolster the reel's slightly better-than-average line capacity. It seems pretty apparent that the company was concentrating more on the rod than the reel in this combo, but this reel can still perform reasonably well. The magnet drag can be hard to triangulate, so if you like to switch lures often, you might prefer a more capable baitcaster.

Pros
  • Full-graphite rod trip
  • Strong & sensitive backbone
  • Cork handles
  • One-piece line guides
  •  Lightweight
Cons
  • Difficult magnet drag

3. Abu Garcia Black Max

Best Medium-Heavy Action Combo Under $100

Rod Size

7’0”

Gear Ratio

6.4:1

Line Capacity

Mono: 145/12

 Braid: 140/30

Ball Bearings

5

Max Drag

15 lbs.

Warranty

3-year Limited Rod

1-year Limited Reel

This is a strong and well-rounded baitcaster combo that looks as good as it fishes. It’s clear a lot of thought went into the design of the low-profile baitcasting reel and the 24-ton graphite rod to make them so effective at fishing for smallmouth, largemouths, or muskies.

The Rod

Abu Garcia has built this medium-heavy action rod with added sensitivity by building the reel seat close to the blank so the angler can feel every bite on the line. The EVA handle is comfortable and easy to grip, even when it’s wet. Seven guides up the length of the rod help improve castability. For bass anglers looking for that perfect fast action rod, this could well be the one.

The Reel

It's effortless to keep this reel in the palm of your hand and keep a thumb on the line thanks to the conveniently-placed rest on the back. The brake system is easy to adjust and keeps the line from backlashing when used properly. There's some extra power in the handle thanks to the double-grips and a drag system that will hold any large fish. Best of all, this reel is both freshwater and saltwater-friendly, provided you rinse it thoroughly after each saltwater excursion.

Pros
  • Perfect length for casting
  • Low-profile reel
  • Strong drag
  • Added sensitivity
  • Saltwater-friendly
Cons
  • Weaker line guides

4. Tailored Tackle Bass

Best Beginner Baitcaster Combo Under $100

Rod Size

7’0”

Gear Ratio

6.3:1

Line Capacity

Mono: 200/10, 165/12, 120/14

Braid: 185/20, 140/30, 100/50

Ball Bearings

6 + 1

Max Drag

17.5 lbs.

Warranty

None

Extra ball bearings meet line and lure ratings that are right where they need to be to throw spoons, blades, swimmers, and crankbaits long distances and a reel fast enough to pull them back through the water column at the right speed for fishing bass. This is not only one of the most well-known good baitcaster combos but also the best baitcasting rod and reel combo for beginners.

The Rod

Learning how to baitcast is much more comfortable with this rod. The longer length helps with casting, while the fast action will set the hook cleanly enough to put the medium-heavy power to good use dragging in fish. The included "How to Baitcast” guide has tips on how to flip and pitch that are specifically geared toward this rod.

The Reel

Reeling in with a 6.3:1 ratio is pretty optimal because new anglers can get a feel for fast reeling without getting used to really fast ratios that won't develop their skills using slower lures. This reel gives the opportunity to learn both with plenty of ball bearings to make cranking the handle easily. There's also a pop-out spool to deal quickly with backlash and tangles. Plus, there's a magnet system that can be set to let out minimal line in the earliest stages of learning how to use a baitcaster.

Pros
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Fast action
  • Pop-out spool
  • Starter guide included
  • Adjustable magnet brakes
Cons
  • Right-handed only

5. Abu Garcia Jordan Lee

Best Low-Profile Baitcaster Combo Under $100

Rod Size

7’0”

Gear Ratio

6.4:1

Line Capacity

Mono: 145/12

 Braid: 140/30

Ball Bearings

5 + 1

Max Drag

18 lbs.

Warranty

3-year Limited Rod

1-year Limited Reel

There aren’t very many baitcaster combos that make their users feel capable the way the Jordan Lee does. It’s not just the palmability of the low-profile reel but also the success it has with bass and even saltwater targets.

The Rod

A full graphite blank that’s rated to handle 10-20 pound test and between ⅜ and ¾ lures like this one can't miss when it's used strategically. It's a single-piece rod with lots of hook-setting power thanks to the fast action tip and the strong backbone. The rod bends a little like a slower-action rod without sacrificing any of the power in the tip.

The Reel

Build features that guarantee toughness and durability like single-piece graphite construction, and a machined aluminum spool makes the Abu Garcia Jordan Lee baitcaster a standout in the under $100 category. This reel was also specifically built to handle braided line, so anglers who want that additional strength in their line are in luck.

It might not be the most straightforward baitcasting reel to learn on, but if you’re comfortable with baitcasters, this one will do you just fine. The brass main gear and the powerful drag system will certainly win some fans amongst anglers trying to fight personal bests and get them onto the boat.

Pros
  • Built for braided line
  • Strong drag
  • Sturdy construction
  • Comfortable low-profile reel
  • Fast action with some flexibility
Cons
  • Not great for learning

6. Lews Fishing Laser MG Speed

Best Ultralight Baitcasting Combo Under $100

Rod Size

6’6”, 7’0”

Gear Ratio

6.4:1

Line Capacity

Mono 120/12

Ball Bearings

7 + 1

Max Drag

15 lbs.

Warranty

1-year Limited Combo

If you want to send light lures a long distance, then this rod and reel from Lews are perfect. It may not be as effective on really large targets, but anything up to 6 pounds will reel in on this combo.

The Rod

IM6 graphite blanks make these Lews rods lightweight. Further weight has been cut out of the handle by making it a split grip. EVA handles make it easy to keep a grip, and finding the right-hand placement is natural and easy.

Lews touts the reel seat on this rod, which is also made of graphite to make sure movement at the end of the line is transferred into the angler’s hands. The only problem with the reel seat is the screw-in tightening mechanism, which can occasionally slip, although not enough to make the reel come off.

The Reel

A one-piece graphite frame and low profile keep this reel ultralight and help it balance with the lightness of the rod. There are way more ball bearings in this reel than almost any other competing reel under $100, and it shows in the smoothness of the reeling action.

It has a surprisingly strong drag for such a light setup and a Magnetic Control System that makes casting without backlash really easy. Brass interior gears and extra torque in the bowed handle give the angler the upper hand when fighting fish.

Pros
  • Ultralightweight
  • Great casting
  • Strong drag system
  •  Smooth reeling
  • Easy to adjust
Cons
  • Reel seat can slip
  • Not ideal for huge targets

7. Sougayilang

Best Budget Rod and Reel Combo Kit

Rod Size

6’9”

Gear Ratio

7.2:1

Line Capacity

Mono: 230/8, 200/9, 150/10

Ball Bearings

17 + 1

Max Drag

17 lbs.

Warranty

None

This is a one-stop-shop package with everything an angler needs to start fishing except water and a boat. It's also one of the most portable rods you can find that doesn’t sacrifice strength or durability. The included lures, swivels, weights, hooks, tackle box, and carry case make this baitcaster combo a great deal.

The Rod

A carbon fiber blank gives this rod the lightness of graphite and some extra toughness too. The split cork handle is comfortable, and there are ways to hold onto it comfortably, but the foregrip is a little small. It's one of the very few fishing rods that packs away small enough to fit in the trunk of a car easily. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better one for last-minute fishing trips. Keep in mind that it's a medium-light action rod, so it has much more bend lower in the blank than heavier rods.

The Reel

Though the aluminum alloy may put some off at first, especially those used to a graphite reel, this reel performs well enough to win you over after a few casts. A 9-magnet brake system helps make casting easy for anglers with all levels of experience. There are tons of shielded ball bearings in this reel that make it work smoothly, although not necessarily better than a reel with 7 equally well-placed bearings.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Super portable
  • Tons of extras
  • Easy to use magnet brakes
  • Flexible rod
Cons
  •  Small foregrip

8. Ugly Stik GX

Best-Rated Inexpensive Baitcast Combo

Rod Size

6’6”

Gear Ratio

Unspecified

Line Capacity

Mono: 150/10, 120/12, 105/14

Ball Bearings

1

Max Drag

0 lbs.

Warranty

7-year Limited Rod

1-year Limited Reel

This rod and reel combo can do plenty, but there are some drawbacks, especially in the reel. Most of the reel's shortcomings have to do with plastic parts, but that's no surprise with a combo at this price point. Despite plastic parts, there are still plenty of ways to use this combo effectively.

The Rod

Like other Ugly Stik rods, the GX2 is incredibly strong and a great asset to have when fighting a fish that’s trying to pull away. It’s built with a composite graphite and fiberglass material to get its strength without losing the lightness of graphite. One-piece guides allow for stronger pulling without worrying about worrying about any inserts that can pop out suddenly. The tip is pure graphite to give it additional flexibility and sensitivity.

The Reel

Lightweight graphite makes up the body of this reel, which also has a nice pair of aluminum handles with comfortable grips. There's only one ball bearing, but the reel is still pretty smooth. It's not a silent reel, and the spool tension control is made of plastic, which could result in it breaking.

Still, if you can get used to adjusting to fishing without drag, then you can get the most out of the GX2, which despite some flaws, is still the best cheap baitcaster combo for just getting out on the water when you need to.

Pros
  • Super strong rod
  • Graphite rod tip
  • One-piece inserts
  • Comfortable reel grips
  • Magnetic cast control
Cons
  • Plastic parts

9. Sougayilang 24-Ton Combo

Best Baitcaster Combo for Travel

Rod Size

5’9”, 6’9”

Gear Ratio

7.0:1

Line Capacity

150/8, 120/10, 110/12

Ball Bearings

11 + 1

Max Drag

17 lbs.

Warranty

1-year Limited

This four-piece fishing rod and matching reel are flexible and powerful enough to catch some pretty big fish. It packs up light and is easy to assemble and disassemble. Anglers might be surprised how much stopping power is built into this portable rod and reel combo. For anglers who travel to different fishing spots but aren’t exactly tournament fishers, this may be the ideal combo.

The Rod

Three layers of carbon fiber make this lightweight rod tough. It has a nice medium action, bending about halfway down, but maintains enough strength throughout to set the hook cleanly. Eight line guides along the length of the rod help anglers cast with ease and help keep the line from slipping when trying to pull in a fish.

The Reel

The left- and right-hand reels available with this combo have both a cast control knob and a magnetic braking system that allow the user to zero in on exactly the kind of cast desired with whatever particular lure.

The spool is CNC-ed aluminum, which is both durable and relatively lightweight, while the main gear is brass. The sizable drag system and anti-reverse lock make reeling in stronger fish much easier. 11 stainless steel bearings, in addition to the anti-reverse bearing, give the reel a near-silent, smooth operation.

Pros
  • Super portable
  • Powerful drag
  • Fast gear ratio
  • Tough internal pieces
  • Great casting
Cons
  • Fragile line guides

Spinning vs. Baitcaster Combos

Spinning reels are usually much better to use for trolling and for saltwater and inshore fishing, although some baitcasters work great in saltwater.

Baitcasters are meant to be used for accuracy and distance when casting out lures like crankbaits and swimbaits. 

Casting reels are easier to control because the thumb can be kept on the line much more comfortably. Spinning reels are easier to use overall because there is no thumb action required.


Baitcasting Rod & Reel Size Guide

The size of the rod and reel you use should more or less correspond to the size of the fish you want to catch. There’s no direct conversion, but larger fish need a heavier line, which means a stronger rod and larger reel.

The environment should also be taken into consideration. A longer rod will help cast further in open spaces, but pitching and flipping into cover and vegetation will call for a shorter rod. Ultralight lures and finesse fishing will also call for a smaller, more lightweight rod and reel combo.


Tips & Techniques: Using an Affordable Baitcaster Combo

If you’re just starting out, learning how to cast a baitcaster can seem like one of the most challenging things to do. It's not that difficult once you get the hang of it. Follow these steps:

  1. 1
    Let the bait hang about 6 inches from the tip of the rod.
  2. 2
    With the handle facing up, press the spool release.
  3. 3
    Pull the rod tip back to 12 o'clock and then release it to about three o'clock.
  4. 4
    Leave your thumb lightly on the line during casting. Put your thumb back on the line when the lure hits the water.

Completing this properly with different lures will take time and practice. For best results, try it out on dry land before heading to the water. Make sure to bring plenty of extra hooks and lures, especially when fishing into cover and vegetation.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are baitcasters hard to use?

Many beginners find baitcasters hard to use, but that’s usually due to user error. Using a baitcaster will become second nature with enough time and practice. Remember, they’re called casters because they are meant to be cast and reeled back in tons of times in order to get a fish to bite.

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

The brake system on a baitcaster reel controls the amount of pressure on the line during casting. If you engage the braking system completely, the line will barely move at all. Disengaging it will let the line go out freely, likely causing backlash. Learning the right thumb movements and using the brake system the right way is the most surefire way of preventing backlash.

Who makes the best baitcasting rod & reels?

Some of the top name brands of baitcasting rods and reels are Abu Garcia, KastKing, and Lews. Shakespeare is famous for its Ugly Stik baitcasting rods, and Penn and Shimano are well known for their baitcasting reels. The best combos of both rods and reels are most likely to come from KastKing and Abu Garcia.

What gear ratio is recommended for a beginner?

Lower gear ratios are better for heavier lures, which is most likely where beginners will start out. Finesse lures weigh less and are harder to cast precisely, so the faster gear ratios that move lures through the water column quickly are likely too much for those just starting out. A gear ratio around 6.0:1 is probably the best for a beginner.

Are there any special care and maintenance steps for baitcasters?

Always rinse baitcasters and line off after each use, especially if it's in saltwater. Every so often, perhaps a few times a season, if possible, take the side plates off and clean out all the debris. Add a drop or two of oil or lubricant at the beginning of each season to keep everything moving smoothly. If you can find a line holder or some other method of keeping the line still during storage, then it’s very possible to store a baitcasting reel without taking the line off.

What’s the difference between an ultralight and a medium-heavy action combo?

The action of a rod describes the place in the rod where it bends when weight is on the line. Fast action bends in the top third near the tip. Medium action rods bend beginning near the middle, and slow action rods bend starting in the lower third by the handle.

Medium-heavy would describe the power of the rod, which is the strength depending on the backbone of the rod, so an ultralight baitcasting combo will be very lightweight and likely have a slower action, while a medium-heavy powered rod will be thicker and more powerful and most likely have a fast action.

Where can I buy good baitcaster combos for less than $100?

Depending on the inventory of a brick and mortar shop to get the full range of available baitcaster rod and reel combos can be difficult. For that reason, Amazon is your best bet to find reviews of products and all the information you need to know that sales associates may not be aware of on the spot. Baitcaster combos under $100 are wide and varied on Amazon, but that’s where the best ones are sold.


Conclusion

To learn how to use a baitcaster or just to find a great one without spending too much, baitcaster combos are the way to go. There’s none better than the KastKing Crixus for its power, versatility, and style, which is what makes it the best baitcaster combo under $100.