Having a proper fishing reel for a specific fishing situation can make your fishing experience a whole lot better.
There is a lot of models available on the market, and choosing the right one can be a nightmare, especially for a bit less experienced angler.
Complete fishing beginners usually start their fishing adventures with spinning reels, but at some point, you may want to upgrade a bit, and learn how to use a baitcasting reel.
I wouldn’t recommend you to do so if you have no previous fishing experience, however, if you feel like you can manage, don’t let anyone stop you.
I tested a lot of baitcasting reels and decided to write this guide, to help you narrow down your choices, and choose the best baitcasting reel for beginners.
Also, I will tell you basic info about what to consider when buying a baitcasting reel and answer some common questions, in the following chapters:
9 Best Baitcasting Reels for Beginners
Now when you know what to look for when choosing the best baitcasting reels for beginners, I will make a list of the reels, including basic info about them, and all the pros and cons I have notice when I used them.
All of these have good anti backlashes properties, and will give you a lot of control over the lure and casting.
When you figure out how to use them, you are going to see how much better these are, when compared with spinning reels, when used in the same situations.
Before you move onto the more detailed descriptions, here is a quick overview chart …
#1: KastKing Royale Legend II (GT)
So, the first reel on the best baitcasting reels for beginners list is KastKing Royale Legend II (GT).
First of all, if you are buying on a budget, this reel comes at a great price. Of course, it is not as durable as some more expensive models, but it still has some great features.
Dual, magnetic and centrifugal, braking system controls the backlashes well, and while you are still in a learning process, you won’t have to untangle a huge mess.
The newer model has a greater line capacity, and the reel is quite fast. Anodized aluminum spool and a low-profile design are well made. The reel is strong and performs well, however, I don’t think it will last as long as some other reels.
The reel has 5+1 bearings that ensure smooth operation. Of course, at this price, their quality is not the same as in high-end reels, but it still works very well.
Maximum drag is 8kg/17.6 lbs.
Overall, this is a great and well-made beginner’s baitcasting reel.
#2: PisciFun Torrent
Another great option for beginners is PisciFun Torrent.
It is available in two options. Faster one, with 7.1:1 gear ratio, and slower one, with 5.3:1 gear ratio. Both are very well made.
Drag system is very dependable and the max drag is 8.1kg/18lbs, which is more than enough. The reel is made mostly from aluminum, including the handle, with carbon fiber drag washers, and it has brass drive gear.
There is a useful feature for maintenance on this reel. There is an opening on a side plate that is used for lubricating the reel.
Both options have 5+1 bearings and are really smooth. Line retrieve varies of course, and for the slower model it is 58cm/22.8 inches, while on the faster one it is 76cm/30 inches.
This low-profile baitcasting reel comes at a great price too, costing only a few dollars more than the previously mentioned reel.
Magnetic braking system operates well, although there is a slightly greater chance of backlashes here, than in the previous one. However, there is a 0-10 setting, which is very useful. It is also slightly heavier, and it weighs 0,22kg/8 ounces.
Altogether, it is a very good choice for a beginner.
#3: Abu Garcia Black Max
Abu Garcia is a classic when it comes to baitcasting reels.
I have included two on this list of the best baitcasting reels for beginners. The first one is Abu Garcia Black Max model
This low-profile reel comes with a 6.4:1 gear ratio with 66cm/26inches inches per turn, which positions it in the middle. This is great for beginners, as it can be used in various situations.
Magnetic braking system operates well, and backlashes are not a problem, if you get the settings right. It has 4+1 bearings, and those are very well made. The reel feels very smooth.
Maximum drag is 8.1kg/18lb.
Graphite frame and sideplates make it quite light. The reel weights 0.206kg/7.3 oz, which makes it just slightly harder than the first model on the list, hoverer the difference is small enough not to feel it.
Spool is made from aluminum. Price of this reel is in the same range as the previously mentioned models.
This reel really feels well. Due to the materials used in construction I don’t think it will last as some high-end models, of course, but for a beginner, it is an excellent reel to start. This reel is also a good back-up reel option.
#4: Abu Garcia Silver Max
Baitcasting Reel Abu Garcia Silver Max is another reel made by Abu Garcia (reputable manufacturer). At first sight, this reel has some similar features as the Bmax 3 model.
Gear ratio is the same, 6.4:1, and the main material is graphite, while the spool is aluminum. Breaking system is also magnetic, and operates quite well.
This reel comes with a “rocket clutch” feature, that gives the angler an opportunity to single handedly disengage or engage the spool.
It also has 5+1 bearings, which is one ball bearing more than the Bmax 3. Max drag is 8.1kg/18lb, and line retrieve is 66cm/26inches per turn.
Weight of this reel is 7.4oz, which is unnoticeably higher than the previous.
So, these two may seem the same, so what is the difference?
Well, the difference is that Smax has a rocket clutch which is a great feature for those who flip and pitch often.
For compete beginners, this feature will not be so important, so they can go with the previous model.
#5: KastKing Spartacus I & II
Spartacus is another great KastKing model. This reel exists in 2 versions, where II is a bit more advanced.
Spartacus II is among the faster reels on this list.
It has 7.1:1 gear ratio with 71cm/28 inches per turn. The 7+1 bearings ensure smooth operation. Version I has 11+1 ball bearings.
It is also very light, and weights only0.17kg/ 6oz. This is excellent for loner use and it doesn’t put a lot of pressure on your wrist.
Maximum drag is similar to other reels, and it is 8kg/17.6lbs.
Both Spartacus I and II are low profile, but the II version has it 10% lower.
Magnetic brakes go from 1 to 5 and work really well.
Spool and handle are made from aluminum, which makes them quite sturdy. Unfortunately, it has a few plastic parts too, and the main material is reinforced nylon, which I personally do not like, especially when you combine them with a relatively good spool.
I don’t think it can last very long, however; it comes at a great price. Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent beginner option.
Spartacus I is also slower, with a gear ratio 6.4:1, with 66cm/26inches per turn if you need a slower reel. Maximum drag is the same, but this one is a bit heavier, and weights 0.2 kg/7.4oz. It also has dual braking system.
#6: KastKing MegaJaws
The first thing that amazed me on this reel is a casting distance. For a baitcaser in this price range, casting abilities are excellent. Line guide is funnel shaped and has very low friction.
It comes in a few different variations, so that you can choose among various gear ratios. Slowest one is 5.4:1, while the fastest is 9.1:1. This range cover almost all fishing techniques. These reels come with a cool feature, and that is different color for every reel speed.
Carbon fiber drag is incredibly smooth, as well as the whole reel, due to 11+1 stainless steel ball bearings. Ball bearings are double shielded to prevent damage and corrosion.
The 17.6 lbs. of drag is more than enough for beginner anglers.
Reel maintenance is also well made and simplified. There are easily accessible reel parts for lubrication.
Magnetic brake system works very well and prevents backlashes. Tension knob is adjusted by simple clicks and offers an outstanding level of control. The reel is lightweight, and it is easy to use it all day long.
It seems quite sturdy and dependable even for rough use.
#7: Shimano SLX
Shimano SLX looks absolutely excellent at first sight, and it really is. It is a bit more expensive than some cheaper models on this list, but it is worth it.
HAGANE body is used, and that is one of the best innovations from Shimano. Brass gears give smoothness and enable excellent cranking power.
This low-profile reel is very compact but despite its lightweight and small size it has incredible line capacity. SLX 150 can hold 150yards of 20 lbs. braided line.
It is available in three different gear ratios, and those are 6.3:1, 7.2:1, and 8.2:1. First two are very versatile and excellent for beginners who are still learning how to handle a baitcaster.
All models have 3+1 ball bearings but those are so well made that they are more than enough to deliver excellent smoothness.
Drag is smooth and dependable, going from 11 to 12 lbs., depending on a specific model.
Casting, reeling in, and handling the reel in general works without any flaws. You can easily cast very light lures without backlashes which is extremely important for beginners.
And one important info, lube this reel before first use.
#8: KastKing Crixus
When you look at this reel it looks similar to Shimano SLX, at least when it comes to color.
Brass pinion gears, as well as the main gear, ensure longevity and you can rest assured that the reel will last for a long time.
It is available in two gear ratios, 6.5:1 and 7.2:1, which is good enough for any beginner. Carbon infused nylon frame was used to reduce weight, and although you may think that plastic components are bad, the truth is, this one is quite good. As a beginner, you don’t need high-end reels for learning purposes.
It has 7+1 ball bearings made of stainless steel and performs very smooth. Aluminum handle and polymer grips work excellent even if the reel is wet, so you will not have slippery handles and problems while reeling in.
Drag is made with 4 carbon discs, and it delivers 17.6 lbs. of drag. Magnetic breaking can be easily adjusted and has 10 different levels of breaking.
This reel comes at an excellent price, and considering all the features, it is one of the best on the market if you are looking for your first baitcaster.
#9: KastKing Rover
And the last among the best baitcasting reels for beginners is another KastKing model, the Rover.
First of all, this reel is available in various versions, from 40 to 80.
Versions 40, 50, and 60 have a gear ratio 5.3:1, version 70 has 4.2:1 and versions 80 and 80 have 3.6:1, which is very slow, but for some users this may be necessary.
Max drags go from 6.8kg/15lbs for smaller models up to 13.6kg/30lbs for larger ones.
Aluminum sideplates and brass gears make it really sturdy. Components are very well made for a reel in this lower price range, and I think that this one can last a long time.
This is a round reel, unlike the rest of those on this list. Smaller sizes have 6+1 ball bearings, while larger ones have 4+1.
These reels are quite powerful, and the drag performs great. Braking system is centrifugal, and it can take a while for a beginner to get used to it, however, when you master it, this reel will fulfill all of your needs.
Due to increased side plates, these reels are a bit heavier than the previous models, however, this is something to expect from a more powerful reel. The smallest one weights 0.32kg/11.6oz, and the largest one weights 0.64kg/22.6oz.
Those who are in a search for a larger and more powerful reel, should consider this option. However, it would be great if you had at least some experience with smaller low-profile models first.
Most Common FAQs about Baitcasting Reels:
Beginners have a lot of questions, and that is understandable. It is better to be well informed before buying a certain product.
Here I am going to answer some of those questions. Some things have already been mentioned, but I will sum it up here, in case you missed it.
What Should I Look for When Buying Baitcasting Reel?
The first thing I always mention when someone is asking about any kind of reel is to buy equipment made by reputable manufacturers.
By doing so, you know exactly what you are getting, even if you buy their low-end product.
You should also know what kind of fish do you want to catch and what lures and baits you will use, and based on that, consider the following features:
Rounded vs. Low profile
Low profile baitcasting reels are more popular, and many beginners choose this type.
It is mostly used for fish species like bass. It is easier to palm and gives you more control when you are casting.
Rounded baitcasting reels can hold more line and they are a common choice of anglers who use heavier lines. These go well with larger baits, but are harder to control.
This is a bit complicated subject, and I will try to explain it in simple words.
You can choose between aluminum and graphite, and depending on it, the price can vary.
As a beginner, you may want to start with the cheaper ones, because the first baitcaster you buy will be used for practice and learning.
Aluminum is sturdier, and can handle rough use. A lot of anglers go for this option. Graphite is lighter but prone to damage. It is also cheaper.
When it comes to spool, they are mostly made from aluminum, however, high-end models use forged aluminum. Spools are frequently drilled to reduce weight.
Line guide can be ceramic, aluminum or titanium. The first ones are the cheapest, while titanium is the most expensive. Quality of course, follows the price.
When choosing the best gear ratio, think about lures and fishing techniques.
Those using spinnerbaits should go for 7.1:1. Slower presentation usually done with crankbaits requires gear ratio around 5.4:1, which is on a slower side.
Medium option is 6.4:1, and that can be used in numerous situations.
Quality comes before quantity.
Smaller number of well-made ball bearings is much better than a larger number of poorly done. Of course, if quality is the same, then you should go for a higher number.
Backlashes are the biggest problem of baitcasting reels, and that is the reason why beginners avoid using them.
However, the technology is developing, and modern baitcasting reels are constructed in a way to reduce that.
Breaking system is there to slow down the spool while casting. Otherwise, the lure would slow down and the spool would keep turning.
There are different types of braking systems.
Magnetic ones use magnets to slow down the spool. You can make adjustments yourself.
Centrifugal ones use friction. To adjust it, use the pins by pushing them outwards.
Some reels even have two types of braking system. Magnetic one is great for beginners because it does not rely so much on an angler to operate.
Are Baitcasting Reels Good for Beginners?
Well, this depends. Anglers usually start with spincasting or spinning reels, to gain experience, learn different fishing techniques and learn how to handle the equipment.
Of course, at some point, you will “upgrade” to baitcasting reels. Even if you had a lot of experience before, you will still be a beginner when it comes to baitcasting reels.
However, if you know a lot about fishing, you will have just one task, and that is to practice with the reel.
If you have no fishing experience, learning about all the aspects of fishing, together with a baitcasting reel, may not be the best ide, because it is a bit too much. You will be frustrated and ruin the experience. However, if you are willing to take this step, don’t let my opinion stop you, although, I do not recommend it.
What’s the Best Gear Ratio for Baitcasting Reels?
All of the gear ratios have their advantages and disadvantages.
However, very fast and slow reels are made to be used in specific situations.
As a beginner, you should go for a medium speed, around 6.4:1.
Those reels can be used for both slower and faster presentations if you slightly adjust your technique, and can be used in numerous situations.
As a beginner, you should go for a medium option, to explore all the possibilities. Later on, you can always buy slower and faster ones, to use them when necessary.
What Lures Should I Use With Baitcasting Reels?
What lures to use depends on a reel gear ratio, fish species you are trying to catch, reel size and other factors, like your fishing rod too. However, I will give you a brief explanation.
You can use a variety of lures, including swimbaits, cranks, bigger worms, a bit larger jigs, crankbaits and many topwater lures too.
The problem is that if you are using very light lures, you may have some troubles with casting as a beginner. These reels are made to be used with heavier fishing lines and lures too.
For some presentations you will need slower reels, like when using crankbaits. Faster reels work great with jigs.
Medium gear ration enables you to use the majority of lures.
What Type of Rod Should I Use With a Baitcasting Reel?
You can’t combine just any rod with a baitcasting reel. Spinning rods are not an option.
Pair your baitcasting reel with a casting rod.
It has a reel seat made for a baitcaster, above the rod. Line guides are also on the upper side, and when fighting a fish, when the rod bends, force is applied down on the guides. If it was the other way around, like on spinning rods, large and powerful fish could break off the guides.
These rods have sturdier guides, and are made in a way to withstand larger fish, heavier lines and rough use.
For What Fish are Baitcasting Reels Used For?
Baitcasting reels are usually used for heavier and powerful fish species. Of course, you can use smaller models for smaller fish, but handling these reels and rods with light lures and lines is complicated. If you are fishing for species like panfish, use a spinning reel instead.
Baitcasters are mostly used for large catfish, large bass, muskies, Northern pike, salmon, and similar species.
Which Brand is Best in Baitcasting Reels?
As I already mentioned, and as I always say when it comes to any kind of fishing gear, buy from reputable manufacturers.
The rest is up to you and your personal needs. You may prefer one brand over another; however, all of these mentioned are known for their quality product.
Of course, how good a reel will be, depends on a price too. You can’t expect that an entry level, $40 reel, will last as long as a high-end, couple of hundred-dollar worth reel.
I think that many anglers, including me, would agree that Abu Garcia and KastKing makes really great baitcasting reels.
What are the Other Benefits of Baitcasting Reels?
Besides being able to handle large and powerful fish, baitcasters are extremely precise.
When you learn how to use them, you can cast very accurate, due to better control of the line.
You can also control how the lure falls into the water, so that you do not make a big splash and scare off the fish.
You have a better feeling of the line too, and can detect bites more easily. It also offers cranking power needed for lures with high drag.
And of course, casting of heavier lines and rules can be done much better with a baitcaster.
When choosing the best baitcasting reel for beginners, you should be aware of the fact that …
… it will take some time to learn how to use it, and you should choose models from a lower price range, with medium gear ratio, to gain some experience.
All of the reels mentioned here are quite good, and you will not go wrong with them.
Also, keep in mind that low-profile models are easier to use, and although backlashes will happen, it won’t be as bad as it could be with a round baitcaster.
Dual braking system is also a good feature, and you should consider all of this, and the features mentioned in the article, to choose the best reel for your needs.