7 Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels (2024 Top Picks)

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Video best baitcasting reel for saltwater

When it comes to finding the right baitcaster for saltwater fishing there are a few things you need to be careful about…

When fishing in saltwater, your fishing gear is not only going up against a large fish, but also the harshest environments.

After considering all the options our top picks were…

Your saltwater baitcasting fishing reel needs to be able to handle everything the ocean can throw at it while being able to land some huge fish.

Picking the best saltwater baitcasting reel for your needs on your saltwater fishing adventure isn’t easy and there’s a huge range to choose from.

Luckily we’ve put together a guide for the best saltwater baitcasting reels out there to make your choice a little easier.

The Top Three

These are our favorite best saltwater baitcasting reels from the review…

Our Reels Of Choice

Here are all the top saltwater baitcaster reels we reviewed…

What to Consider When Buying a Saltwater Reel…

What are you fishing for?

This is an important consideration when buying any reel.

What kind of saltwater fishing are you planning on? Are you planning for offshore and inshore fishing or are you going to use it for fishing the surf and maybe you might be thinking if you can use these reels for freshwater fishing?

A good inshore or offshore fishing reel may not be as good as a surf reel when surf fishing and vice versa.

TIP

Bear in mind where you plan to fish and what you’re trying to catch, then make sure the reel you choose can handle it.

Line Capacity

Line capacity affects how far you can cast and how much line you have to land a fish.

If you plan on surf fishing, you’ll need a lot of line on your surf reel to cast far from the beach and land a large fish, like the ones I reviewed here.

If inshore fishing from a boat is your thing, then line capacity is not so much of a worry.

Your casts are more likely to be close and accurate, plus if you hook a giant you can always chase it with the boat.

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Using Braid

Braid is the line of choice these days, especially when baitcasting, as it’ll increase your casting distance and accuracy. You can also read our guide on how to cast farther if you want to know what other factors may affect your casting distance.

Not all reels are made with braid-ready spools and if yours isn’t it’ll cause issues when filling your reel.

RECOMMENDATION

Make sure the reel you buy is made for braid – this will be sure to make your life a little easier. Most reels are braid-ready these days, but it’s still worth checking.

How Heavy Is The Reel

A heavy reel is going to slow you down no matter how you look at it.

Long days of casting are tiring enough, add some extra weight to the equation and it’s just not fun anymore.

RECOMMENDATION

Be sure to pick a lighter reel if you can, this will save your arm muscles and mental state some work on those long summer evenings.

There will also be some cases where weight might not be as pressing a factor. Fishing from a pier often means having a stationary setup where weight might be a non-issue.

Corrosion & Durability

Corrosion and durability are the factors that keep reels alive, especially in saltwater.

Make sure the reel and its components are made from corrosion-resistant materials such as aluminum, graphite, brass, stainless steel and carbon fiber.

TIP

A good saltwater reel will also be sealed or have some kind of intrusion protection system to stop salt, water, and dirt from getting inside.

Drag – Strong and Smooth

You’re going to need your drag when going for a saltwater fishing trip.

Without it, your chances of landing fish are pretty much zero.

Make sure the reel has a smooth drag with a high enough maximum for the type of fish you plan to catch.

The max drag on reels can vary a lot and it’s important to check before buying.

There is nothing worse than being under-gunned when you hook up to a fish of a lifetime or having your drag system stick and slip.

TIP

Try and test the drag if you can, crank it up to near the maximum and pull some line off. If it’s strong and smooth, you’re all good.

Gear Ratio

A high gear ratio is the key to a quick retrieve, the higher the ratio the more turns of the spool per crank you’ll get.

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This’ll let you fish lures quickly and reel in fish with maximum efficiency.

Braking & Backlashes

The brakes on a bait caster allow you to adjust the tension on the spool for casting using the spool tension knob.

Being able to set the tension just right will give you long, accurate casts without any backlashes.

If your brake is hard to set or fails, then you’ll spend most of your time untangling…

It’s essential to have a reel with a good brake system, may it be a magnetic braking system or a centrifugal brake and maybe both.

Some of the best beginner baitcasting reels have a dual brake system so you have a bit of leeway to work with if you’re just starting out.

If your brake is hard to set or fails, then you’ll spend most of your time untangling birds nests instead of fishing!

Right vs Left-handed

You can’t change the side on which you wind with a bait caster like you can with a spinning reel – it comes pre-set.

Be sure to order a reel with the handle on the correct side for you.

TIP

If you’re not sure which side suits you best, try and borrow a reel or go down to a shop and see which side feels most comfortable for you.

Conclusion

It’s hard to pick the best saltwater baitcaster reel for your saltwater fishing trips and as we have seen, price doesn’t always dictate the best.

If you’re still not convinced with the baitcasting reels on the review and looking for another option, check out my KastKing Stealth review for it might be the baitcasting reel for you.

And if you’re still having a hard time picking a reel, this guide can help you pick a baitcaster setup.

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Or have a quick look at our top three best saltwater baitcast reels…

All-Rounder

The all-rounder is the Shimano Tranx LowProfile Baitcasting fishing reel and is one of the few that is fit for use on the surf.

It has an excellent drag system and line capacity that make it one of the top reels in the review to target large fish with.

It’s made to last with proper maintenance, casts like a dream and will have you putting serious pressure on fish.

Best on a Budget

The best on a budget reel is the Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcasting Reel.

This bait casting reel doesn’t feel like the best quality in the hand due to the graphite frame – the graphite frame does make it light and affordable though.

All the other parts are made with quality materials and the reel performs very well while having a good price. If you’re new to baitcasting this is a good reel to consider. In case you’re looking for more budget-friendly reel options, check out this review.

Editor’s Choice

The editor’s choice is the Piscifun Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel.

This is one of the lightest and best-priced saltwater baitcasting reel in the review.

The reel feels and works like a much higher priced model.

It does everything well and is made of some of the best materials out there – what more could you want!

Thanks so much for reading this Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reel review.

I hope you’ve found it helpful and please share this Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reel article around if you think it would be useful to other saltwater anglers you may know.

And also, don’t hesitate to read my other articles from fishing equipment reviews to fishing guides and everything in between. You might learn a thing or two which you can use on your next fishing trip.

If you’re still in doubt if a baitcaster is for you, or should you go with spinning reels, here’s a Baitcaster vs Spinning Reel comparison. Be sure to check it out.

Until next time.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>