5 Best Baitcasting Reels For Northern Pike Fishing Reviewed

by Andrew

5 Best Baitcasting Reels For Northern Pike Fishing Reviewed

by Andrew

by Andrew

Northern Pike is one of the largest predatory freshwater fish that we have in North America. They are fun to catch and great to eat. Landing one of these toothy fish requires proper equipment, including a durable baitcasting reel. Keep reading to find out just which baitcaster reels are best suited for the job.

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Why Use A Baitcasting Reel For Northern Pike Fishing

With so many fishing reels on the market, it is tough to choose which applications are best and why. For Northern Pike, baitcasters tend to work the best due to their functionality and durability.

Baitcasting reels have a level wind spool that works like a winch pr crane to wind in fish. Baitcasters are more versatile, rather than a spinning reel which only has a drag adjustment. Baitcasters have adjustments for resistance, drag, and even a free spooling clicker for sending the line out without fear of backlash.

These features are important when pike fishing because on any given outing, you could be using a variety of baits and bait sizes. The reel will be adjustable for casting, trolling, or drifting each bait throughout the trip.


How To Choose A Quality Baitcasting Reel For Northern Pike

Fishing Environment & Angling Style

Where you fish depends on where the fish are biting. How you fish will also be dependent on where fish are biting. A baitcaster is the most adaptable reel because you can use it to pitch soft plastics into the shallows or bottom bounce the deepwater along rock edges or weed lines.

Reel Features

Variability is the main benefit of baitcasting reels. They can be customized for bait selection but also personalized for comfort or the environment. These reels can be customized with larger grip handles and cranking arm length to give anglers more torque when fishing for large fish with large baits. The opposite is true for scaling down your reel when fishing for a hammer handle size pike.

Drag & Brake System

Adjustability is the key to a great baitcaster and potentially landing the fish of a lifetime. Baitcasters have an adjustable drag for putting pressure on the fish and a braking system that controls the spooling speed when casting. This makes them strong and smooth on both casting and retrieving baits.

Ball Bearings

Ball bearings are the buzzword when it comes to any reel. Baitcasters will have various ball bearings and configurations of each, both shielded or sealed. This designation is in regards to grease and the ability to re-grease. Bearings provide the smooth operation of a reel. Generally, the higher quality bearings such as stainless steel are more favorable. Note: Buy a reel with as many stainless bearings as you can afford.

Spool Size & Style

Spool size will vary on the size of the reel you choose to purchase. Most casting reels will have a skirted spool; this is to prevent the line from getting behind the spool and also provides a manual thumb drag for anglers. Levelwind baitcasting reels have spools that do not require skirts.

Gear Ratio & Line Capacity

Gear ratio will be dependent on the fishing style. For casting and retrieval of medium size baits and pike fishing, 7.3:1 is best. This provides a fast retrieval for dragging a bait quickly past a hungry pike, giving them less time to decide if they want to eat or not. This forces them to act quickly and attack instinctually.

Ease of Use

Personal preference when it comes to reel orientation is a key buying factor. Buying the best reel in the world will still be an awful experience if it is uncomfortable. Practice with some different styles and decide whether a left-handed or right-handed is more comfortable to you.

Price & Warranty

As with any purchase, you will want to get the best bang for your hard-earned money. Warranty is also important with a fishing reel because they are generally abused and exposed to harsh conditions on an everyday basis.  Check out our buyers guide below for choosing the best reel for the best deal.


6 Best Baitcasting Reels For Northern Pike Reviewed

1. Abu Garcia Revo4 SX-hs

Best Baitcasting Reel for Pike

Weight

7.8oz.

Gear Ratio

7.3:1

Line Capacity

145yds/12lbs.

Max Drag

24 lbs.

Ball Bearings

9 ball +1 roller bearing

Key Feature

Durability

This reel is a low-profile baitcaster that comes in an optimal, 7.3:1 gear ratio for fast and long retrievals, making it perfect for pike fishing. The reel also features a one piece aluminum frame that keeps all of the gearings in alignment. Alignment is key to a durable, smooth winding reel. The Revo4 SX line also has both a centrifugal and magnetic braking system, which provides virtually unlimited customization of the braking setup. This is perfect for throwing heavy baits long distances from a boat or shoreline. The power stack drag system has very thick drag washers, which make it not only durable but provides an extremely high 24 lb maximum drag for stopping any size fish.

The reel also comes with a 90mm handle with oversized knobs for extreme power and control when fighting that big Northern Pike. High-performance stainless steel bearings provide extremely efficient and smooth casts for the lifetime of the reel. Overall, this Revo4 SX-HS is built for durability. It is made to cast and retrieve larger baits than your average baitcaster, making it the perfect tool for Northern Pike. For this reason, the Abu Garcia Revo4 SX-HS is our top pick for the Northern Pike baitcasting reel.

Pros
  • Single-piece aluminum frame
  • Oversized cranking handle
  • Fast retrieval gear ratio
Cons
  • Single color option
  • 1-year warranty

2. SHIMANO Curado K

Runner Up

Weight

7.6oz

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Line Capacity

180yds/8lbs.

Max Drag

11 lbs.

Ball Bearings

6

Key Feature

Large spool

One of the hottest selling reels over the past five years, the Curado K has a micromodule gearing setup. This means it has smaller gear teeth in a much higher quantity. This provides greater contact and smoother performance. This was once a feature reserved for higher price point reels but has finally made its way down to the Curado K. The braking system on this reel is accessible through a hinged side plate. The brake is referred to as the infinity braking system and has been regarded as requiring less maintenance with higher durability.

The oversized handle is the next noticeable upgrade from previous models. This looks great and provides more power for cranking in large baits and large fish. A steel body provides a solid and durable platform for this reel and all of its internals.

A matte black finish on the Shimano Curado K provides a sleek-looking finish that will not show minor scratches or imperfections as clearly as some competing reel finishes. This adds to the visual longevity of the reel. The new version of the Curado K is also significantly smaller than the older versions. Not a major benefit for Pike fishing; I would prefer a larger body reel when fighting a larger fish. It does make for less hand fatigue when casting all day, though.

Pros
  • Sleek design
  • Great for general use
  • Steel housing
Cons
  • Small size
  • Heavy for size

3. Pflueger President XT

Best Low Profile Reel for Northern Pike

Weight

7.4oz.

Gear Ratio

7.3:1

Line Capacity

145 yds/12lbs.

Max Drag

12lb.

Ball Bearings

9

Key Feature

Great handles

The President XT gives a great first impression right out of the box. The reel has an industry-leading 7.3:1 gear ratio, meaning that for every revolution of the handle, the spool winds 7.3 times. To break that down even further, for every one revolution, the reel takes in 31ft of line. This is great for casting large baits a long way and retrieving them quickly. It works great when ripping Rapalas along weed lines or swimbaits over rocks while fishing for Northern Pike.

The standard star-style drag adjustment is familiar to most anglers and is ergonomically located between the reel handle and the housing. That drag has a max drag weight of 12 pounds. The magnetic braking system is also industry-standard for small-size bait casting reels.

The reel itself weighs 7.4 ounces. This is about the middle of the road as far as reel weight goes on our list. This reel would go great on a 6-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy casting rod. A rod and reel combo this size will be very durable and versatile. It will give you the option to run braid or monofilament line ranging from 10-pound to 50-pound tests.

Pros
  • Rubber cork handle
  • Carbon side plate
  • Fast gearing
Cons
  • Basic finish
  • Small cranking handle

4. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C4-6600

Best Round Pike Baitcaster Reel 

Weight

.58lbs.

Gear Ratio

6.3:1

Line Capacity

320yds/12lbs.

Max Drag

15lbs.

Ball Bearings

4 Stainless Steel 1 Roller

Key Feature

Trolling Clicker

I have caught more pike on this specific baitcaster than probably any other reel I own. The C4 is a fantastic real for the money. They did make a few color options as well as size models for this model. Some were targeted for Musky or Walleye, and some were targeted to Catfish anglers. The C4-6600 is perfect for Northern Pike.

This reel has a star drag control and a very comfortable cranking handle. I removed the thumb rest on my reel so that I could better gauge the braking system when trolling. That just speaks to the versatility and customization this reel has.

With 3 removable thumb screws, you can take the entire housing apart for cleaning, greasing, and maintenance. Abu Garcia designed this C4 line of reels with the idea that anglers need to be able to service these reels on an annual basis because they do last so long.

I do have one complaint about this baitcaster. The mechanism which controls the clicker function is made from a plastic wedge. The piece on my reel broke about two years into ownership while fighting a fish that may have been too large for the reel. I was not able to find a replacement part to fix it. The reel is still working properly other than that after about 5 years of torture.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Multi-species
  • Trolling or casting
  • Customizable
Cons
  • Plastic internals
  • Needs regular maintaining service

5. KastKing Royale

Best Pike Baitcaster Reel For Beginners

Weight

7.2oz.

Gear Ratio

5.3:1

Line Capacity

yds/lbs.

Max Drag

17.5lbs

Ball Bearings

11 ball + 1 Roller

Key Feature

-

For a young angler, fishing for toothy Northern Pike can be intimidating at first. Casting large baits and reeling in large fish takes the right equipment. That equipment usually costs more than traditional crappie or bluegill rigs. This is where the Kastking Royale comes into its element.

The Royale is a small, compact, durable reel that any size hands can operate. Weighing 7.2 ounces, with a 5.3:1 gear ratio, you can see why it is a bit less expensive than some other reels on our list. It has middle-of-the-road characteristics for a bait caster but may end up being a bit light for large pike. This baitcasting real would be optimal for less than a 30-inch pike.

For a sleek-looking, low-profile reel, The Kastking Royale looks more like a few hundred dollar reel rather than a sub-one hundred dollar reel. Special features are 17.5lb max drag, 11+1 bearing combination, and a 7 pin centrifugal braking system hidden behind a hinged side plate.

The magnetic braking is the key to this reel being great for beginners. An easy-adjust wheel style knob makes it super easy for inexperienced anglers to adjust their braking.

Pros
  • Small
  • Easy brake adjust
  • Great price
Cons
  • Slow gearing
  • Low max drag

6. Akataka 4000

Best Spinning Real For Pike

Weight

13.1oz.

Gear Ratio

5.0:1

Line Capacity

240yds/16lbs.

Max Drag

29lbs.

Ball Bearings

10 ball + 1 Roller

Key Feature

Looks Great

How does a spinning reel make the list or top baitcasting reels? Well, This is a great alternative for someone who may be a little intimidated by all of the intricacies that are associated with a baitcasting reel. Spinning reels are more familiar to both new and old anglers that come from either saltwater or fisheries that hold giant fish, where flipping lures are less common.

If you wanted to pick up a spinning reel for Northern Pike, you would want an Akataka 4000. This spinning reel is super inexpensive and very good-looking. It has a skirted spool that does have relief cutouts for cleaning ease.

Other than the style of the reel, the weight is vastly different than any other reel on our list. The Akataka 4000 comes in at a whopping 13.1 ounces! It does have a 10+1 ball and roller bearing setup for smooth casting and retrieval. You will be cranking in that big Northern Pike for a while with the extremely slow 5.0:1 gear ratio.

Spinning reels come in various styles and sizes. This particular one is for the consumer that is looking for an inexpensive alternative to a baitcaster. Someone who may be new to Northern Pike fishing or going on a one-time outing. This reel will get the job done, maybe just not as efficiently.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Ambidextrous
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Slow Gear Ratio

Tips On How To Angle Northern Pike

Pike are predators. To catch a pike, you need to think like one. The most effective way I have found to catch Northern Pike is to skirt weed lines and edges of structures. I position my baits just far enough outside that a lurking pike can pounce from their weedy ambush location.

I also like to move quickly when retrieving. I referenced this earlier when it can to gear ratios on reels. To catch a pike, you need to decide for them as to whether or not the bait is worth attacking. When a pike does not have time to analyze a bait, they strike instinctually.

Ice fishing is different. Under these circumstances, you want to lure a pike in with size rather than speed. If a pike thinks that a large meal is possible without using too much energy, they are bound to try for one.

Fly fishing for pike is rare, but the same enticement strategies that work for conventional casting apply here. Make that pike hit the bait out of curiosity rather than giving them the chance to analyze your fake presentation.


People also Ask (FAQs)

What kind of line do you use for northern pike? Is braided line better for baitcasters?

Line choice is important when fishing for pike. You will want to use a braided line with a minimum of a 10-pound test. Also, using a steel leader will prevent pike from cutting your line with their sharp teeth.

What lures and baits are recommended for northern pike?

Pike love to hit anything that looks remotely like a baitfish. Using a shiny spoon or bright collared lure works well. You could also use a baitfish color lure like a perch swimbait or Rapala.

What are the best baitcaster brands?

For baitcasting reels, I prefer a Daiwa or Shimano. Kastking and Penn reels are also great brands that have solid reputations and warranties. Check out our selection here.

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

Backlash is a real problem for beginners looking at using baitcaster reels for the first time. The trick to preventing backlash could be an article all on its own. In short, once you bait your line, hold the rod tip up and release the drag with your thumb on the spool. Set the brake so that the bait or lure falls a slowly as possible toward the ground. Also, when casting, stop the spool from spinning the moment the bait hits the water.

Where can I buy good baitcasting reels for pike fishing?

Buying the right baitcaster is easy. Do some research, consult this buyer’s guide,  and find the baitcaster in your budget. Head to the amazon link, and you can have the perfect reel delivered in just a few days.


Conclusion

Northern pike fishing is one of my personal favorites. A baitcaster is the perfect tool for reeling in these beautiful, great-tasting fish. Our top choice for Northern Pike baitcaster is the Abu Garcia Revo4 SX-hs. Once you land a pike, shoot over to our section all about filleting, so you can share your fishing story over a fish dinner! 

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