8 Best Baitcaster Combos: Compared & Reviewed

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A baitcaster combo is a rod and reel that have been designed to pair with one another. Getting both together this way can prevent many small hiccups down the road and save you some cash too. If you want to give baitcasters a try or update your arsenal, check out some of the best baitcaster combos in our review below.

Preview

Product

Reel Material

Power

Check Price

KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod and Reel Combo,...

KastKing Crixus

Graphite

Light-medium heavy

LEW'S FISHING Mach Crush Speed Spool SLP...

LEW’S FISHING

Mach Crush

Graphite

Medium-heavy

Ugly Stik GX2 Baitcast Combo

Ugly Stik GX2

Graphite

Medium

Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile Baitcast...

Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile

Brass & aluminum

Medium-heavy

Cadence BC5 Baitcasting Combo, Lightweight 24...

Cadence BC5

Brass, aluminum, carbon fiber, graphite

Medium-

Medium heavy

Lews Fishing LSG1HMG66MH Laser MG Baitcast...

Lew’s Fishing

Laser MG

Graphite

Medium-heavy

Tailored Tackle Bass Fishing Baitcasting...

Tailored

Tackle Bass

Graphite

Medium-Heavy

Abu Garcia Pro Max Combo

Abu Garcia

Pro Max

Graphite

Medium-

medium heavy


Why Choose a Baitcaster Rod & Reel Combo

Baitcasters are best used when you need to fish a heavier test line or cast longer and with greater accuracy. The thicker line won't work as well on spinning reels since they usually have smaller spools.

The ability to slow the spool by placing a thumb over the wound line is what makes many anglers of varying experience levels prefer baitcasters to spinning reels once they have the hang of them. Baitcasters are great for fishing larger bass as well as heavier fish like catfish and pike.


Choosing the Right Baitcaster Combo for You

Type of Fish and Environment

It’s critical to consider where you’re going fishing and what type of fish you plan to catch there before you decide what kind of baitcaster is best suited to your purpose. Spinning reels are good for casting light rigs and bait long distances in flats and windy conditions, especially when target fish are only a few pounds. Any type of fish that requires a test line above about 10 pounds should be fished with a baitcaster. That means bass, catfish, muskie, and even large pike, in addition to many others.

Frame Material

The vast majority of baitcasters on the less expensive end of the market are going to be made of graphite. Almost all saltwater casters are made of graphite to keep them from corroding, while many cheaper freshwater models are made of graphite because it's cheaper and has an excellent strength to weight ratio. Magnesium is even better in that regard. However, in the higher-end models, baitcaster reel frames are often made of aluminum because it's more rigid, meaning it doesn’t flex under a heavy load or lots of tension.

Drag System

The drag on most baitcasters is controlled with a star-shaped spinner on the inside of the handle that compresses washers inside the reel to increase or decrease tension on the spool. You can fish above your test line’s weight and get a quick and hard hook set to pull a fish out of cover.

Brands like Shimano have a front or rear drag. The front works smoother because of larger discs while the rear is for quick drag adjustment, especially when using braided line, and changing spools quickly. Both operate according to the same general principle.

Left vs. Right-Handed

A left-handed baitcaster combo is just a right-handed baitcaster combo with the handle swapped to the opposite side. Usually, right-handed anglers will cast with their right hand and then switch the rod to their left hand so that they can operate the reel handle with their right hand.

In recent decades, left-handed retrieve baitcasters have become more popular not only so that left-handed anglers could use the same switch-off method, but also so that right-handed folks could avoid switching hands. With a left-retrieve caster, right-handers can cast right-handed and then simply reel in with the left.

Line Capacity & Gear Ratio

A 12/120 line capacity means 120 yards of 12-pound test fit onto the reel. The manufacturer’s ratio is for mono test and not always spot on so you can usually get more line on there, especially braided line. Just remember to use a few yards of mono backing to keep that braid from slipping! Gear ratio tells you how many times the spool will complete a turn with one crank of the handle. A 6.4:1 spool turns 6.4 times, etc. 7:1 or 7.4:1 are both heavily favored for the power they give anglers.

Ball Bearings

Ball bearings keep a reel operating smoothly. Many brands hype the number of bearings, but there are only 3 to 5 that are really critical. If a reel has more than ten bearings, lots of them are usually found in the handle. For less expensive reels, fewer bearings are the way to go and often have comparable performance.

Also, look out for bearing shields, which keep outside dirt and grime from getting into the bearings and dampening their performance. Ceramic bearings are more robust and lighter than the more common stainless steel ones, but they're more expensive, too.

Extra Reel Features

Reels come in varying sizes from 10, or 1000 depending on the brand, to the largest, 300 or 30,000. Lighter line is best suited to smaller reels, heavier to larger. While this article is about baitcasting reel combos, there are also spinning reels, fly reels, and spincast reels. Various styles and brands make reels that are either bulky or slimmed down.

They can also come in different shapes that offer varying degrees of comfort. The best baitcaster combos come with magnetizes brake systems that work like car brakes to regulate rotation and prevent backlash when casting.

Rod Length

The most common rods are between 6 and seven feet long, but they can be up to 12 feet. Rod length affects leverage for a hook set and battling fish. It also affects casting distance and accuracy. Longer rods cast further and have more leverage, but they can also be more unwieldy.

Fishing in tight cover like a dock usually calls for a shorter rod. Since the right baitcaster combo is all about balance, remember to put on a reel with a larger line capacity if you’re going to go with a longer rod.

Rod Material

Rods are constructed of fiberglass, graphite, or a composite of the two. Fiberglass is really flexible but can be quite heavy. A full fiberglass rod will flex in a parabola down its whole length when pressure is applied. Graphite rods generally have faster action than fiberglass ones.

The measurement of graphite in rods is done with an IM graphite system, which describes the pressure it takes to bend the rod. An IM8 graphite rod will be lighter than an IM6 with the same stiffness. Graphite rods are also more sensitive so you can feel fish biting better.

Extra Rod Features

In addition to these standard features, some rods have specialized tips, ergonomic no-slip handles, or special polymers in their construction. Hollow carbon, solid carbon, or plastic tips can provide additional flexibility, which helps keep the rod from snapping.

There are also line guides along the length of a rod that keep the line centered on what you need it to do. The biggest manufacturers are always one-upping each other with the materials used in their line guides. Handles are also getting special attention, providing comfort with designs that mimic golf clubs or run all the way up to the reel.

Price

We’ve already mentioned how fewer ball bearings bring the price of a baitcaster combo down. Smaller reels, lower-modulus graphite, and less control on the drag system or the handle can all lead to a lower price tag as well. Cheap baitcaster combos aren’t built for specific fishing styles the way an expensive bass fishing or crankbait rod would be.

Lots of the smaller manufacturers tend to brag about one feature of their baitcaster combo to prove its superiority—balance function and cost by choosing a combo with a wide variety of features and many possible applications.


8 Best Baitcaster Combos Reviewed

1. KastKing Crixus

Our Top Pick

Reel Material

Graphite

Reel Gear Ratio

 6.5:1

Ball Bearings

5+1

Rod Length

6’0”, 6’6”, 7’0”

Power

Light to medium heavy

Left & Right Handed Casting

Both

The Caster

KastKing offers three great baitcaster rod and reel combos for both left- and right-handed anglers with this Crixus line. They’ve built all the baitcaster reels with 5+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings.  It doesn’t have the 12 or 14 ball bearings more expensive models harp on having but the critical ball bearings are all there: underneath the handle drive to support the main shaft while you crank, on the spool shaft under the spool tension knob, and on both sides of the spool to keep it spinning smoothly.

In addition, the anti-reverse bearing (that’s the ‘+1’) is there to prevent backward motion in the handle. The spool itself is crafted out of CNC machined aluminum that’s really lightweight and agile. Other critical parts like the pinion and main gears are built of heavy-duty brass that’s tough, lightweight, and causes very little noise. 

The drag system comprises 4 carbon discs that can provide up to 17.6 pounds of resistance. A star-shaped drag adjustment knob helps you cast out with heavy drag if you’re dock fishing or loosen it up if you want to cast out further. There’s also an 8-piece magnet system that prevents backlash when you’re casting.

The Rod

The rods in this KastKing baitcaster combo are surprisingly agile and powerful for two-piece rods. They weren't always very popular with fishers, but with new improvements in rod design and construction like KastKing’s Power Transition System, rods that collapse into two parts for easy transport and storage are becoming more common all the time.

Stainless steel guides run the length of the rod and contain smaller zirconium oxide rings to keep any kind of line straight for accurate casting. The golf-style handle and the reel grips are made of a super polymer that remains slip-free even when wet. Blanks are made of IM6 graphite and come in 6’0”, 6’6”, and 7’0” lengths so you can move more line on a longer rod or take a smaller length if you tend to chase after smaller fish.

Who Should Use It?

These fast-action KastKings are among the best baitcaster combos under $100 for the vast majority of anglers chasing freshwater fish in average-sized lakes. For example, if you're fishing swimbait in the grass, you might want a lighter rod and rig that will lag a half-second before it makes the swimbait jump.

Fish like bass that hide in the grass will attack as soon as that lure jerks. A stiff, heavy rod will make it jerk immediately, which is not the action you want because it doesn't truly mimic the movements of the baitfish bass like to eat. 

Pros
  • Bearing shields
  • Adjustable drag
  • Two-part rod
  • Comfortable handle & grips
  • Mag system prevents overruns
Cons
  •  Designed for freshwater

2. LEW’S FISHING Mach Crush

Best Baitcaster Combo Under $200

Reel Material

Graphite

Reel Gear Ratio

7.5:1

Ball Bearings

9+1

Rod Length

7’0”, 7’3”

Power

Medium-heavy

Left & Right Handed Casting

Both

The Caster

Like the KastKing Crixus, this Lew’s baitcast combo has useful features like brass in the reel's main gear and crankshaft, an anti-reverse bearing, and a magnetic brake system. The difference won't be noticeable to novice anglers, but it can make a difference in certain situations. There are 10 bearings in the reel, and they're double-shielded, where other models have one layer of shielding or none at all. There are some definite improvements for the extra cash, but they won't be necessary for everybody. 

One nice design point is the audible spool tension adjustment. But just like the brake system with its 4 disks that can be individually engaged or disengaged, many of these improvements are overkill for anyone who isn’t a big-time sport angler.

Other improvements are obvious, though. The drag system gives up to 20 pounds of resistance, which can certainly help when you’re battling larger fish. Make sure you get a heavier test line if you plan to do so, though. This reel also comes with an external lube port for quick maintenance. Add a drop of oil through this port after every third or fourth fishing trip.

The Rod

This rod is made of IM8 graphite, which means it has more strength but may also be more susceptible to impact fractures. It will undoubtedly prove to have a higher sensitivity so you can feel moving lures and react if a fish attacks on the line. The polymer in the Winn split-grips on the handle can help with a clean hook set, and the handles themselves are oversized to help anglers keep a steady hand if a fish should make a run for it.

Who Should Use It?

These combos are designed to fit together seamlessly with a super low profile, which is great for anglers of every experience level. The smaller 32mm spool on the reel makes it great for casting lighter test lines and lures. The magnet brake system and the drag system give a clean enough cast and enough resistance to go after larger targets, too, as long as you have a heavier line or use a leader.

The improved gear ratio will let you get a hook set fast and fight more erratic fish. It’s a great combo for fishing Texas rigs but not so great for crankbaits and the like. In short, there aren’t many anglers who won’t benefit from the improvements in this Lew’s baitcaster combo, but there are plenty who just plain won’t need the extra features for everyday fishing.

Pros
  • Double-shielded bearings
  • Audible spool tension adjustment
  • Increased drag
  • External lube port
  • Low profile reel
Cons
  • Overkill for novices
  • Rod may impact-fracture

3. Ugly Stik GX2

Best Budget Baitcaster Combo

Reel Material

Graphite

Reel Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Ball Bearings

1

Rod Length

6’6”

Power

Medium

Left & Right Handed Casting

Right

The Caster

If you had any trouble imagining how the number of ball bearings can affect the cost of a baitcaster combo, look no further than this Ugly Stik. It smashes the stereotype with its single ball bearing, pre-spooled 12 lb test, and comparable performance. This is not only the best budget baitcaster combo, but it might just be one of the best intro baitcasters for newcomers transitioning from spinning reels.

It's easy to use, and the reel still comes with an adjustable magnetic cast control that will get anglers used to the more complicated features of more robust baitcaster combos. For the price, there’s hardly a better way to learn how to cast with a reduced risk of backlash.

The Rod

The frame of this composite fiberglass and graphite blank is still very lightweight. It has a reputation for being very strong; in fact, you'd be hard-pressed to break one if you use it properly. You can feel what's happening at the end of the line through the soft plastic tip, and the full-length double-padded aluminum handle is both very comfortable and easy to grip.

Who Should Use It?

This Ugly Stik GX2 baitcast combo is great for slower-moving baits such as crankbaits, jigs, and frog lures. The jury is out on spinnerbait; some folks don't bother with it on the GX2, and others swear it’s more than doable. For faster lures like buzz baits and swimmers, you’re likely to need a heavier-rated rod. But for simple fishing, this is a great combo.

Kick it Up a Notch

If you are interested in fishing buzz baits and swimmers, Shakespeare also makes the Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo, which has the additional strength you'll need to get those lures moving. There's an extra ball bearing in the reel and an anti-reverse bearing as well. There's a limit to what pound test you can use. This combo maxes out at about 20 lb. test, but that's enough for plenty of good-sized bass. Any of these Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo reviews will give you a good idea of what kind of situations might call for this more robust model.

Pros
  • Great introductory baitcaster combo
  • Magnetic cast control
  • Strong blank
  • Pre-spooled 12 lb. test
  • Ideal for slow-moving baits
Cons
  • Plastic reel
  • Basic budget baitcaster

4. Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile

Best Abu Garcia Combo

Reel Material

Brass & aluminum

Reel Gear Ratio

6.4:1

Ball Bearings

5+1

Rod Length

7 Ft.

Power

Medium-heavy

Left & Right Handed Casting

Both

The Caster

Abu Garcia is famous for its meticulous design and prowess with finesse-friendly combos. This pro design from Jordan Lee is no exception. The reel is fairly unobtrusive and has handy features like a power disk drag system with a star-shaped adjustment knob and a strong machined aluminum spool.

The brake system on this reel is dependable and hard to lock up with backlash when you cast out. 5+1 stainless steel ball bearings inside the reel provide a smooth function without driving up the price with superfluous bearings where bushings would do just fine.

You can fit a bit more line on the reel, which has a capacity of 12/145 mono, or 30/140 braided. 18 pounds of drag is certainly sizeable to get some pretty big fish on the boat. Unlike some of its competitors, the cast control on this rod is straightforward, likely stemming from Jordan Lee's past experience working reels under pressure at a tournament.

The Rod

Medium-heavy and a bit longer than some other models, this rod is great for supporting heavier test to go after larger fish. The handle grips match what's on the reel. Both are covered in a Winn polymer that'll let you hold on to it for long stretches at a time. It's also a compact handle that helps prevent your hands from slipping up toward the reel.

Rather than being rated on the IM scale, this rod is rated 24-ton graphite. There's not really a direct conversion, but 24-ton is a good mid-range level of graphite that will be stiff enough to put up a fight and sensitive enough to feel a bite on the line.

Who Should Use It?

Fishing with a medium-heavy rod is useful when you need more power than topwater lures take but not as much as drop-shot or bottom-trawling styles. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits work great with medium-heavy rods with fast action tips that can help mimic the jerky movement of baitfish. If there isn’t a ton of vegetation, you can also fish creature baits and soft plastics on a Texas rig. Anglers chasing bass, perch, and walleye can do wonders with a baitcaster combo like this one.

Pros
  • Longer rod
  • Solid brake system
  • Good line capacity
  • Stellar cast control
  • 24-ton graphite
Cons
  •  May not suit shorter anglers

5. Cadence BC5

Best Lightweight Baitcaster Combo

Reel Material

Brass, aluminum, carbon fiber, graphite

Reel Gear Ratio

6.6:1

Ball Bearings

7+1

Rod Length

6’6”, 7’0”

Power

Medium/Medium-heavy

Left & Right Handed Casting

Both

The Caster

The CB5 baitcast reel on this Cadence combo performs excellent and is super lightweight. It uses a variety of construction materials to make sure it can deliver everything you need in a baitcaster combo without weighing you down.

The crankshaft is made of aluminum, much lighter than the usual brass on other models. The machined aluminum spool is lightweight but strong enough to maintain its shape under pressure. The carbon fiber drag system is smooth to match the 7 corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings and the one anti-reverse bearing. The side plates and the frame are made out of graphite to lend it durability and style.

The 12/120 line cap on this reel is pretty standard. With 20 pounds of drag, this reel can help you rip those fish right out of the water. Just remember to increase your test weight if you decide to try and chase bigger fish. Casting is a breeze with the CB5 thanks to the magnetic braking system, which is refreshingly adjustable from the exterior of the reel. It's convenient to be able to prevent backlash with the brakes and also be able to adjust their hold on the spool as needed to avoid a break. 

The Rod

The handle on this rod is really comfortable to match the smooth function of the reel. There's a cork in it for those many of you who adore the grip that provides. Anglers can choose between medium and medium-heavy action, which makes this combo great for going into deeper water.

You can also go with the longer seven-foot rod or a shorter 6'6" one depending on your height and how much leverage you like to have. The firm reel seat ensures your reel will have some backup when you get into a fight. Stainless steel guides that have been built to be corrosion-resistant also do a great job keeping your line directed where you want it to go without slipping around.

Who Should Use It?

You can undoubtedly cast some topwater lures with this combo, but the rod power enables you to go deeper into the water. Since you can cast out so far with the 7'0" rod if you choose to get it, try fishing moving lures like lipless crankbaits or blade baits.

Use the fast action to bounce crankbaits off rocks and other cover if you really want to lure the fish out into open water. This baitcaster combo may seem a bit midrange, but it’s actually well-designed to cover all the bases when it comes to straightforward freshwater fishing.

Pros
  • Lightweight construction
  • Adjustable braking system
  • Good rod power
  • Cork handle
  • 7+1 ball bearings
Cons
  • Standard line cap

6. Lew’s Fishing Laser MG

Popular Lew’s Baitcaster Combo

Reel Material

Graphite

Reel Gear Ratio

6.4:1 (7.1:1 on the 6’10” rod)

Ball Bearings

7:1

Rod Length

6’6”, 6’10”, 7’0”

Power

Medium-heavy

Left & Right Handed Casting

Left, right or both

The Caster

Anglers fishing with this baitcast combo always love the slipless oversized EVA grip on the power handle. While the 15-pound drag is a bit less than what you’ll find with competing baitcaster rod and reel combos, the power handle and the power on the rod blank can help daring anglers work around the lost drag to catch fish a bit above grade.

The magnetic brake system is also adjustable and can be used to let off some pressure if you hook a mighty fish, so there's less risk of snapping the line and so less risk trying your hand with larger fish.  The body on this Lew's reel is slightly slimmer and looks sleeker than similar reels from other brands. It's got a narrower profile, and there's also quick access to the spool via the side plate. 

There’s no grip on the spool release, which would have made the reel a  little more comfortable. A 12/120 line capacity matches the industry standard. The line guides keep everything where it should be, and the feel of the line is pretty smooth. 

One of the only drawbacks to this combo is that, despite having eight stainless steel bearings, there is still a slight grinding feeling on the retrieve. It’s unusual to have such an issue on a reel with so many bearings inside, but it’s really not enough to negate the advantages of this combo. It’s still an incredibly castable, reliable rod and reel that can get the job done.

The Rod

Enjoy the sensitivity and medium-heavy strength of the one-piece IM6 graphite rod. The reel seat is also made out of graphite, which bodes well for maintenance and gives the entire contraption a uniform sturdiness. Stainless steel guides run the length of the rod. Split-grip EVA handles make it easy to keep your hands where they should be for maximum torque and smooth casting.

Who Should Use It?

The Laser MG is probably the best cheap Lew’s combo for learning how to fish with a baitcaster, but it also has some advantages that are appealing for experienced anglers as well. The medium-heavy power and the availability of the seven-foot rod make it great for casting soft plastics, shaky heads, and crankbait.

It may not be robust enough for avid anglers, but if you just like a bit of fishing on the weekend, this baitcast combo is likely to suit you fine. The best thing about this combo is it’s going to let you cast two or three times as far as a regular spinner does, so if you like to fish off the bank or a dock, or if you just like moving jigs, then you'll love it.

Pros
  • One-piece graphite rod
  • Oversized EVA grip
  • Adjustable magnetic brake system
  • Casts far and smooth
  • Slim reel design
Cons
  • Slight grind on retrieve
  • Less drag available

7. Tailored Tackle Bass

Best Beginner Baitcaster Combo

Reel Material

Graphite

Reel Gear Ratio

 6.3:1

Ball Bearings

6+1

Rod Length

7’0”

Power

Medium-heavy

Left & Right Handed Casting

Right-handed

The Caster

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better way to begin teaching a newcomer how to use a baitcaster. This reel is designed to introduce all the basic concepts without babying anyone. It's not a dummy model; all the most essential features are fully operational on this rod and reel combo.

Tailored tackle seems to be trying to give new baitcasters the most common specs to get their feet wet. 6 ball bearings and one anti-reverse give a smooth retrieve without inducting them into the 10+ club too early on in the learning process.

17.5 pounds of drag are available, a respectable amount of drag that leaves plenty of room for the beginner to work their way up to while they learn how best to manipulate the drag system to prevent line snaps and get fish up out of the water.

The brake system also allows new adherents to learn how to cast with as few bird’s nests as possible. And for those unavoidable times when there is some backlash on a cast, the spool pops right out so the new angler can correct the mistake easily without getting too discouraged to try again.

One smart design idea was giving this reel a more substantial line capacity than some other reels. There's bound to be a learning curve and some line wasted while beginners get the hang of the process, so it makes sense that they would give this reel a 12/165 capacity. The 6.3:1 gear ratio provides enough retrieval with power without overdoing it.

The Rod

Just like the reel, the rod has some features that stop just short of being completely optimal. Like batting with a doughnut, having the perfect baitcaster with all the tricks as your first experience with one could well ruin your taste for them later on. The rod is medium-heavy, so you can use it to learn how to do a wide variety of fishing styles. It's seven feet long so you can have plenty of casting power and it can handle test between 10 and 25 pounds, essential test weights to learn your way around. 

Who Should Use It?

Beginners will love how quickly they can get the hang of the basics of baitcasting, and the included instruction book will also help out a lot. But even anglers who already know a fair bit about baitcasting might find it helpful to have this one around so they can continue to exercise their fundamentals from time to time.

It also makes a fine loaner rod to have on hand, and for the comparatively low price, there are not many reasons to say no to this bass baitcasting combo. Just remember that it’s been specifically tailored to bass fishing so it may not suit for learning how to use a baitcaster to catch other kinds of fish.

Pros
  • 7’0” long
  • Great castability
  • Suits many fishing styles
  • Included instruction booklet
  • Increased line capacity
Cons
  • Tailored to bass fishing

8. Abu Garcia Pro Max

Great Value for Money

Reel Material

Graphite

Reel Gear Ratio

 7.1:1

Ball Bearings

7+1

Rod Length

6’6”, 7’0”

Power

Medium, medium-heavy

Left & Right Handed Casting

6’6” RH, 7’0” Both

The Caster

This Abu Garcia baitcaster combo has everything you need without costing too much. The reel has an aluminum spool to keep the weight light and tough brass gears that should last a long time without wearing down.

The drag system operates with power disks and is fully adjustable. The baitcaster in this combo is really fast and really smooth, due in part to the 8 total ball bearings inside. The brake system works in tandem with the drag to give superb cast control and prevents backlash in all but the worst situations, human error notwithstanding.

Graphite side plates lend a bit of style to the reel, which is otherwise round and even a bit bulky by some standards. Everything in the reel is a bit faster than your standard combo except the drag, which maxes out at a standard 15 pounds. Overall, it’s one of the most versatile baitcast reels you can find.

The Rod

Fast action and medium or medium-heavy power also help make this combo handy for just about any kind of fishing. The split handle gives a nice grip, and the single-piece graphite blank holds enough power and enough flexibility to fight with a sizable fish. It can handle a good amount of line, and there are seven guides up the length of the thing to make sure that line doesn't go crazy on you. The 7-foot option is also really great for anglers who want a little extra oomph on their casting.

Who Should Use It?

I can’t think of anyone who couldn’t find some way to use this Abu Garcia baitcaster combo. It's excellent for fishing topwater, jigs, and crankbait. It can cast out from a bank, dock, or boat. The action is good enough to pull in some big fish if you get the right line on first, and all the control it gives you over casting and the line, in general, will provide you with the edge versus oversized fish and make it much more fun for you as an angler. 

For anyone who can’t find a way to use this combo, don’t have quite enough cash on hand to buy it, or don’t have the requisite skills to put it to good use just yet, I highly recommend taking a look at a similar model from Abu Garcia, the Black Max.

It has nearly the same construction in its one-piece graphite rod and similar control in the brake system and drag dial. However, there are fewer ball bearings and a smaller gear ratio of 6.4:1, both of which help make it a less expensive model overall. Between this model and the Abu Garcia Pro Max, there’s sure to be something good for every amateur angler.

Pros
  • Fantastic cast control
  • High gear ratio
  • 7+1 BB
  • 7’0” rod
  • Fast, smooth retrieval
Cons
  • Unimpressive max drag
  • Bulky reel shape

Comparing Spinning Reels vs. Baitcasters

The main advantages to a baitcaster are that they can handle heavier line and heavier gear overall, which means they are better for bringing in larger fish. They cast much further than spinning reels. All of this makes them much better for freshwater fishing. Additionally, baitcasters tend to corrode easier in saltwater conditions that the simpler spinning reels do.


How to Use a Baitcaster Combo Successfully

To put line on a baitcaster, make sure you’re turning the original spool counterclockwise. This will make sure it goes on your spool in the same direction as its ‘memory’ from the factory one.

To cast one of these baitcasters, follow these steps:

  • Reel in your bait in until it’s 6 inches to a foot from the tip of your rod.
  • Make sure the reel handles are facing up and put your thumb on the spool.
  • Engage the spool release, so the handles don't spin during your cast.
  • Bend your arm until the rod is slightly past vertical. Cast out in front of you.
  • When the rod reaches about eye level, or at the apex of the cast, as they say, lift your thumb off the spool to let the line out.

Check out this video for more information about how to use a baitcaster!


Fishing Tips for Beginners

The best advice for novice baitcaster anglers is to start out with the drag almost fully engaged to prevent getting backlash in the beginning. Trust me; it's discouraging. Use a heavier line, too, between 10 and 14 pound test. Remember that baitcasters are all about timing.

If you have time for a full day of fishing, go out with a median baitcaster combo like the Abu Garcia Pro Max or Black Max. Set it up with a lighter test and fish a frog lure in the shallows. As the temperature rises and they stop hitting that frog, switch over to some crankbait and some heavier test if you can. 


Frequently Asked Questions

What types of fish can I catch with a baitcaster?

It depends on the baitcaster. Bass anglers love baitcasters, but you can also catch walleye or even trout if you use light enough gear. Some anglers love catfishing with a baitcaster as well. You can scoop up pretty much any freshwater species with a baitcaster, just make sure you research the best gear before you go out.

Are there any special care and maintenance steps for baitcasting rod and reel combos?

Take the baitcaster apart and clean all the hard-to-reach places with a q-tip. Use warm soapy water to get the debris off, then soak the whole reel in warm water. Dry it off, then hit it with a degreaser before you put some reel oil on it.

Let it dry again and then reassemble everything. Do this after every long trip, especially if you try it on saltwater. Store it in a dry place. You can leave the spool and line in, just make sure you tie the line to something to keep it taught, so it doesn't get birdcaged.

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

The best way to prevent backlash is to learn how to use the magnet drag system, spool tension, and the brake system. You’re never going to be 100% free of backlash. Like everything else, it comes with practice.

Should I use mono or braided line on my baitcaster?

Mono test is fine, but you might find that you don't need a heavy line. A braided line is great for its improved strength. I like to mix both; use a mono backing on the spool for a few yards and then put braided on top of that. This keeps the braided line from shifting on the spool. You can also use a leader of a heavier line if you want to get a big fish.

What is the difference between budget, inexpensive models, and high priced combos?

The number of ball bearings, the construction materials, and the strength of the rod all plays a part in cost. There are features of pro baitcasters that average anglers like us will never fully engage in our brief fishing trips. Thankfully, there are budget models that have the bare minimum and inexpensive models that perform quite well for our purposes. 

Where can I buy these baitcasting combos at a good price?

You can check them out at a brick and mortar place, but Amazon remains the best way to compare and purchase these baitcaster combos. Some of these manufacturers’ websites aren’t quite up to snuff. There’s always plenty of information on Amazon.


Conclusion

So, what is the best baitcaster combo? It might be a little different for everyone. For a combo that can be altered and changed to fit the particular needs of different anglers, and for its performance overall, nothing beats the KastKing Crixus. It’s a great way to learn how to baitcast or keep your skills sharp, and lots of fun either way.