Tiger Muskie Fishing | Musky Lures | Rods and Reels

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Video best musky spinning reels

Last updated on March 7th, 2023 at 05:23 am

best musky reel 2019Are you looking for the best musky reel?

Over our many years of muskie fishing, we have had the opportunity to use many of the best musky reels. Below we discuss what we feel is the best musky reel for 2023 that we recommend to all musky fishermen, both new and experienced.

Investing in a high quality reel is one of the smartest things any musky angler can do. The musky reel that you use are at the heart of your musky tackle, and can be the difference between an enjoyable musky fishing experience and a day full of knotted line, rats nests, and aggravations.

A lot of fishermen want to know what is the best musky reel for beginners, or the best musky reel for trolling, or the best musky reel for casting, or even the best musky reel for the money.

Some anglers prefer baitcasters, while others can’t stand them and prefer spinning reels. Some like traditional round reels, while others like the newer, more compact designs. Whatever your preference, below you will find the best selling muskie reels on the market today, and learn how to choose the best one to suit you.

Our Favorites

  1. Best Overall For 2023: Shimano Tranx LowProfile Baitcasting Fishing Reel
  2. Best For Bucktails: Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel
  3. Best For The Money: Daiwa LEXA-WN300HS-P Lexa Type WN Casting Reel
  4. Fastest: Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket Low Profile Reel
  5. Best Round Reel: Shimano Calcutta D Reel
  6. Best Under $150: Shimano Corvalus, Round Baitcating Freshwater Fishing Reel
  7. Best Linecounter: Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Reel
  8. Cheapest: KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

Best Musky Reel 2023

1. Shimano Tranx – Best Musky Reel 2023

best musky reel for the money - shimano tranxComing in at #1 on our list of the best musky reel for the money is the Shimano Tranx. This is arguably the best musky reel in 2023, and for good reason.

There are times while musky fishing where finesse is rewarded, but there are also those times muskie fishing where brute force does the job. Consider Shimano Tranx musky reels as your partner in the latter. Because of it’s power, this is the best musky reel for bulldawgs and other large musky baits.

Putting it’s impressively good looks aside, the Shimano Tranx is for fishermen who wish to take charge of the fight.

The Tranx can handle anything that bites in saltwater or freshwater. It features HEG & X-Ship technologies which amount to near effortless retrieves and incredibly massive cranking power, which is perfect for casting big muskie lures and landing trophy muskies. In addition, the Tranx has built in water resistance with it’s new CoreProtect technology that Shimano claims provides long-lasting durability.

There are quite a few different Shimano Tranx models to suit each individual’s needs. They include the 200, 300, 400, and 500. We recommend taking a look at the chart below to help determine which Shimano Tranx model is best for you.

Do you need help choosing a new musky rod?

2. Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel – Best Musky Reel For Bucktails

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel - Best Musky Reel For Bucktails

No top muskie reel list would be complete without our #2 pick, the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel, the best musky reel for bucktails.

This reel is so hot right now, that you can’t even order from the Abu website at the time of us writing this. They are completely out of stock. Luckily, you can still find this muskie reel at a great price on Amazon.

Few other muskie reels offer the ease of use combined with the raw power of the appropriately named Toro Beast. If you are looking for the best musky reel for bucktails, the Revo Toro Beast is what you want. This musky reel is highly recommended in most muskie Facebook groups and also most muskie forums.

We have many pro musky guides telling us that this is the best musky reel for burning bucktails. We agree. The Revo Toro Beast is so easy to cast and retrieve, operates so smoothly, that in the summer we loving using this best musky reel for burning bucktails to catch huge muskies!

It comes in both left and right hand retrieve options, is easy to maintain, and while not the cheapest reel of the bunch, is still competitively priced. This reels smoothness, ease of use, and raw power make it the best musky reel for bucktails.

3. Daiwa Lexa High Capacity Baitcast Muskie Reels – Best Musky Reel For The Money Under $200

Best Musky Reel For The Money Under $200 - Daiwa Lexa High Capacity Baitcast Muskie ReelsComing in at third place in our list of best muskie reels for sale is the Daiwa Lexa High Capacity Baitcast Reel. Given it’s relatively low price, many consider this to be the best musky reel for the money. It is definitely the best musky reel under $200.

Daiwa has recently rounded out their fishing reel offerings with the introduction of their new Lexa Series fishing reels which are designed to handle everything from bass to bringing up trophy Muskie. These fishing reels offer a low profile design coupled with a high line capacity, and Daiwa for the first time now has a low profile musky fishing reel that can go toe to toe against the Shimano Curado 300.

The Lexa 300 Series features an ergonomic and low profile form factor, yet it can store up to 240 yards of 40lb fishing line. Built from the ground up, this completely new musky fishing reel makes use of an all aluminum frame and side gear sideplate, a A7075 aluminum spool, and Magforce cast control. These reels utilize a 7 bearing system and you will find that the Daiwa Lexa reels feel surprisingly smooth for a reel of their size.

The Daiwa Lexa 300 comes equipped with an over-sized swept handle which features massive weight reducing cutouts. Even though these fishing reels are so large, they still weigh in at only 10.5-11.3oz. depending on which model you select. One of the more exciting features about these new Lexa reels is the inclusion of the “Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag” which was designed to provide up to 22lbs. of drag pressure, which is well more than ample for most big fish applications, like muskie fishing.

These Daiwa reels are offered in both right and left hand retrieve in 7.1:1 and 6.3:1 Hyper Speed gear ratios. The Hyper Speed 300 Lexa reels have a counter balanced power handle for some extra leverage. These are features that you normally find in more expensive reels. That’s what makes the Lexa the best musky reel under $200.

Daiwa’s new reels are aggressive with their new designs and they are priced competitively. However, it isn’t just about having big capacity with the new Lexa series and so Daiwa has also introduced the Lexa 100 size reels that are designed specifically to handle the majority of light saltwater and freshwater applications.

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The Daiwa Lexa 100 reflects the same basic design of the Lexa 300, only a bit smaller, and the all aluminum construction and the bearing count is also the same. The Lexa reels are available in three models, Standard Speed (6.3:1), High Speed (7.1:1), and High Power (4.9:1) and they all come either left or right hand retrieve. These muskie fishing reels feel comfortable in your hand and they weigh in at a respectable 7.9oz. each.

The Daiwa Lexa 100 reels measure up nicely versus the competition, and they feature an aluminum performance and feel. The Daiwa Lexa muskie reels look are a good choice for large freshwater fish like tiger muskie, and are a solid choice among anglers who enjoy tossing big baits. The Lexa is a top pick if you not only want big line capacity, but also desire the stopping power to press down the brakes on huge fish. Be sure to read our full Daiwa Lexa 300 Review, the best musky reel for the money.

4. Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket Low Profile Reel – Fastest Musky Reel For Glidebaits & Jerkbaits

abu garcia revo toro rocket - fastest musky reel for glidebaits _ crankbaitsIf you are looking for the best musky reel for glidebaits & jerkbaits, the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket Low Profile Reel is it. This is the absolutely the fastest musky reel on the market today.

The Revo Toro Rocket produces blazing speed and powerful performance enabling you to fish large musky baits at incredible speeds, and it can stand up to the biggest muskies.

This reel outputs 25lbs of drag and is extremely smooth when retrieving big fish. It has a lightweight, yet rigid X-Craftic alloy sideplate and frame ensuring years of durability.

The most amazing thing about this reel is the speed at which you can crank: 42 inches per turn. Think about that. This reel is extremely efficient when you need the fastest musky reel for retrieving glidebaits and jerkbaits. It also has a highly effective braking system, making it the best musky reel for glidebaits.

If you need power and blazing speed, the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket is for you.

5. Shimano Calcutta D Series Musky Reels – Best Round Musky Reel

Shimano Calcutta D Series Musky Reels - Best Round Musky ReelComing in at #5 on our list of the best musky reels for sale is the Shimano Calcutta D Series. For us, this is the best round musky reel.

The Shimano Calcutta D is a significant departure from the previous generation of tiger muskie fishing reels both in terms of features and refinement. Of special note, the S-Concept design of the reel gives this baby ergonomics that are a far from the ordinary. When we saw the pictures of the design from the factory our desire to try out this muskie fishing reel was piqued. With the new sloped design of the reel, it makes the non-handle side about 15% smaller in diameter, and it also has a brand new drag system that replaces the old, traditional star drag that you may be used to with a low profile knob which is positioned outside of the crank handle.

Even though this new tiger muskie fishing reel is designated as a 200 size reel, it has the form factor of a much smaller reel. In comparison to the previous generation reels, the Calcutta B models, these new D series reels are 15% lower in height and they also sit lower on traditional reel seats. Furthermore, they are 11% narrower, and are even over 10% lighter.

The Shimano Calcutta D Series is made from all aluminum construction, making this reel quite impressive. The new Calcutta D not only looks and feels extremely refined, it is also noticeably smoother operating than the Calcutta B. With the handle moved slightly closer to the reel body, cranking under pressure of a heavy tiger muskie exhibits a fluid and powerful retrieve that completely eliminates any wobble or play whatsoever.

The X-Drag crank knob on this great muskie fishing reel is a lot easier to operate than you might expect, and it is very easy to simply use your index finger or thumb to adjust the drag pressure. We found the knob easy to operate and adjust at both ends of the spectrum. A micro-click is a reassurance and helps provide a positive feedback when making the proper adjustments, which we found we were easily able to make even fine adjustments on the fly.

In addition to feeling more solid, this tiger musky reel appears more compact than the previous generation Calcutta reel. One of the main reasons that this muskie reel feels so solid is because there is no non-handle sideplate. When we closely examined the side of the muskie reel we found that it was completely solid and a direct part of the frame.

Again, we feel that this is the best round musky reel, due to it’s classic design and solid construction.

If you are looking for the best musky lures or braided line, then these posts are perfect for you.

6. Shimano Corvalus Round Casting Musky Reels – Best Musky Reel Under $150

Best Musky Reel Under $150 - Shimano Corvalus Round Casting Musky ReelsFor the budget conscious angler, there is the best musky reel under $150, the Shimano Corvalus Round Casting Musky Reels.

Superseding Shimano’s excellent Catala and Corsair tiger musky reels, the Corvalus has included much of the superb features and all of the vast experience and knowledge gained from years of tiger musky reel making into one affordably-priced, sturdy and durable round musky reel.

The Shimano Corvalus is built from a cast aluminum frame and this baitcasting reel also features aluminum sideplates for smoother, longer lifespan and greatly increased bait casting efficiency. Assist Stopper and Super Stopper help to ensure that there is almost no back play in the spool for rock solid hook sets. The Shimano Corvalus baitcasting tiger musky reel also features Shimano’s Variable Brake System (aka VBS), so you can virtually eliminate line backlashes.

The Shimano Corvalus Casting Muskie Reels are super quality round reels at at very reasonable price. In fact, we rank them as the best musky reel under $150.

7. Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Musky Reels – Best Linecounter Musky Reel

Best Linecounter Musky Reel - Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Musky ReelsAnd last, but not least, there is the best linecounter musky reel, the Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Musky Reels.

The Okuma Coldwater 350 is quite possibly the most significant walleye and salmon fishing reel ever created, while also adding exceptional function to striper and musky anglers as well. The Okuma Cold Water 350 Low-Profile Line Counter merges together three main features to form the ultimate fishing reel.

First up is it’s compact ergonomic body which perfectly fits your hand with exceptional comfort and feel while also housing a high-capacity 350 size line spool. Second is the reel’s powerful drag system that features 25-pounds of impressive max drag output. The third core element is a precision fishing line-counter for near exact trolling presentations. Trolling, jigging, casting, back-bouncing, or float fishing, the Okuma Cold Water 350 Low-Profile Line counter reel is one great fishing reel that can do it all.

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What is even more special about the Okuma Coldwater 350 musky reels is that they offer both a left-handed and right-handed version. This is our pick for the best linecounter musky reel.

8. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel – Best Cheap Musky Reel For Beginners

Best Cheap Musky Reel For BeginnersIf you are a new to the sport of musky fishing and are not yet ready to make a serious financial commitment in top of the line gear, then consider getting the KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, the best cheap musky reel for beginners.

This reel isn’t the smoothest or fastest available, nor is it made with the same quality parts that a $400 reel is made from. However, for a musky reel under $100, the KastKing Rover is pretty darn good. In fact, it has plenty of good reviews on Amazon.

This cheap musky reel should serve you well for a least a couple of seasons, as you learn the sport and figure out your preferred fishing style. We recommend this as the best musky reel for beginners and for those on a super tight budget.

Musky Reel Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to musky fishing it takes skill and the right equipment to come away with a successful catch. Probably the most essential piece of muskie fishing equipment is the musky reel. Muskies are known to be some of the largest freshwater fish, with records of muskies being close to a whopping 70 lbs having been caught before. It is for this reason that ensuring you only use a high-quality, premium musky reel is important. Because of the large size of the musky, the reels tend to endure a lot of wear and tear, so investing in a reel that can withstand the pressures of musky fishing is vital. Here are some tips to learn how to pick the best musky reel best suited for your needs.

Once you have determined which musky rod best fits your needs, then it is important to find a reel that fits cohesively with the parameters of your chosen muskie rod. A muskie reel that does not fit could lead to tangled lines, broken reels, and a whole heap of frustration. When buying a musky reel, there are a few important components to consider.

Musky Reel Types

There are typically two type of reels that anglers choose to use when musky fishing: Baitcasting reels and Spinning reels. Both reels have their particular uses, so choosing between the two depends on various factors, such as skill level, weight of fish, and preferred mechanisms.

Baitcasting Reels

When dealing with tackle or lures that are heavy in weight, baitcasting musky reels are generally the go-to reel. Baitcasting reels tend to be used by the more experienced anglers because it requires the knowledge of exerting just enough inertia to move the spool of the reel, but not so much that it results in a mass of tangles. Baitcasting reels are typically preferred over spinning reels for musky fishing.

Spinning Reels

Spinning musky reels are the most commonly used reels and are a favorite among novice anglers because of how easy they are to use and maneuver. Constructed by a fixed spool placed underneath the fishing rod, the spinning reel works by the weight of the tackle, bait, or lure bringing out the fishing line. Spinning reels are often used by anglers who are looking to catch small or medium sized fish. Most muskie anglers do not use spinning reels for muskie fishing.

Line Capacity

best fishing line for musky Sufix Performance BraidLine capacity of a musky reel is important in ensuring that you can promote peak performance when engaging in a Muskie fishing excursion. A line weight of under 25 pounds could result in breakage or fraying. Considering the average weight of a Muskie fluctuates from 15-36 pounds, it is better to be safe than sorry when buying a muskie reel. When it comes to muskie fishing the preferred line capacity for the musky reel should be at least 150 yards of at least 80 pound test line.

Left or Right-Handed

Most baitcasting musky reels are configured so the handle is placed on the right side. This means the rod will be switched to the left-side after a right handed cast, then will be used by the right hand to crank the reel. Although right-handed reels are still the most common reels seen, left-handed reels are being used more often, even by right-handed people. When using a left-handed reel, a right-handed person would cast with their right hand, and reel in the line with their left. This means that a right-handed caster would not have to switch hands during the process, making it more streamlined.

Spinning reels tend to be more versatile with the ability to switch the handle from either side, but anglers tend to use their left hand with spinning reels. This is because less power is needed for the lighter lures that are typically used on spinning reels, the less dominant hand can be used when reeling in the fish.

All in all, for musky fishing it is all about choosing which hand works best for the personal methods you employ when casting and reeling.

Gear Ratio

Gear ratio helps in determining how fast you want to move your bait. When determining what gear ratio works for you, it is important to analyze the characteristics of the fish that the angler is trying to catch. In this case since muskies are the intended catch, it means that they are going to be heavier and larger, and muskies are also known to pull more than the average fish, which means the ideal gear ratios for the best muskie reels would be in the mid to lower end of the gear ratio spectrum. You want a gear ratio that has a high amount of torque that allows you to put less effort in getting the bait back and more effort in finding a rare muskie.

Fishing reels which have a gear ratio of 5.5:1 to 6.3:1 are faster retrieving reels. If an angler needed more cranking power, they would select a reel with a lower gear ratio, such as 3.1:1 to 4.1:1. These numbers may seem confusing at first, but they are really simple to understand. The first two numbers you see are the gear ratio while the last number indicates the number of turns of the fishing reel handle. So, the spool of a fishing reel with a 7.1:1 ratio will turn around 7.1 times for every rotation of the reel’s handle. Some of the best musky reels for the money have gear ratios in the 5.1:1 to 5.7:1 range.

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Gear Materials

The gears of musky reels are mostly constructed from brass materials, which is way less durable than stainless steel. However because they require far less usage than bearings, the lesser durability in gears is not as detrimental as it would be in bearings. Therefore ensuring the bearings are of high-quality is of the utmost importance when choosing a good musky reel.

Bearing Materials

Spinning and baitcasting musky reels typically feature ball bearings or bushings, which are used to increase the smoothness and reliability of the reel. Since bearings are used to reduce the friction between moving parts, the materials of the ball bearings used in the musky reel play a big part in the performance and speed of the reel. The materials used in the creation of bearings are usually stainless steel or ceramic.

Stainless Steel Bearings – Stainless steel bearings are the most common materials used for bearings. Stainless steel bearings are often durable and sturdy, but due to the heat treatment required to strengthen them, they also can fall victim to corrosion, more so than other materials that are used to make bearings, such as ceramic. This is especially true with salt water.

Ceramic Bearings – Solid ceramic is much lighter than stainless steel resulting in a much lighter musky reel, increasing the comfort aspects of the reel. A higher life expectancy than stainless steel is attributed to the characteristics of ceramic and how the material is less susceptible to corrosion or wear. However, these bearings usually result in a much more expensive musky reel because of the cost of producing ceramic bearings.

Reel Housing, Frames, and Spools

The housing, frames, and spools of a musky reel work together in ensuring that the handling and enactment of your musky reel are as high-quality as possible. Aspects such as the material used in the construction and sizing can make all the difference in the way the Muskie reel works.

Housing – The entire housing of the reel are generally made from either aluminum or graphite. Reels that are made from aluminum are stronger than the graphite, but graphite is more corrosion-resistant than aluminum.

Frames – Frames are available in both aluminum and graphite. Graphite frames tend to be less expensive, than their aluminum counterparts, however they are not nearly as durable or sturdy as aluminum frames. Because muskies tend to cause more abuse to reels, aluminum frames are generally the better option that will last you a lot longer and be a wiser investment in your muskie fishing endeavors.

Spools – Spools are mostly always constructed from aluminum, but differ in the manufacturing process depending on the quality of the spool. Higher quality spools are created from forged aluminum, which involves the pressing or pounding of the metal. Forged aluminum means that the spool will be lighter-weight, allowing it to move faster and more efficiently than the less expensive spool options. Spools that are less expensive are die-cast, which involves the aluminum being heated until it is molten enough to be forced into a casting mold. The higher quality forged spools serve a better purpose for musky fishing because of the physicality involved.

Warranty

There are many fishing equipment companies that offer various warranties that can cover manufacturing damages for a year and or more. For instance, Shimano offers a one year warranty starting from the date of the purchase that covers repairs to reels if there is damage that occurs to it due to “non-conformity in material or workmanship.” Shakespeare Fishing and Penn Fishing offer similar one-year warranties under the condition that damages are from manufacturing and not due to normal wear and tear. Overall, warranties on musky reels are pretty much on par with most other consumer products, with 1 year being the most typical warranty time frame.

Price

As with most things, price is always an important factor when making a purchase. Keep in mind, however, that when buying a musky reel under $200 or over $400, you are making an investment. Getting a cheaper musky reel could cost time and money due to fraying of the line, damage to the reel, and the loss of possible catches that happen due to the low-quality of the reel. Opting for premium reels made from premium materials means that the best musky reel will last a lot longer and will result in spending less money in replacement reels. Anglers will find that reels on the higher end of the price point will be made of high-grade aluminum that can last a lifetime with the right care.

For a good quality musky reel that will last you many years, you should expect to spend between $200-$400. You can still find a decent musky reel under $150, and if you only fish a couple of times a year or are just starting out muskie hunting, you would probably do OK with a musky reel under $200.

Where to Buy

There are a lot of different places to buy musky reels for sale, both brick and mortar stores and online retailers. Both of these options have their pros and cons that go along with it.

In-Store – Shopping in-store allows the reel to be looked at thoroughly and touched, which permits the buyer to see what they are getting. Shopping in department stores where sales can often happen could sometimes save a lot of money. Proper research and looking at multiple store options can help in making a smart reel purchase.

Online – Shopping online opens up the possibility of having many more options to choose from or even receiving a customized reel that has all of the components of the absolute best musky reel. Online shopping also opens up the possibility of saving hundreds of dollars on one of the more expensive musky reels by purchasing a lightly used reel from an online marketplace.

Conclusion

As you can see, the market for musky reels is strong. Thankfully, we have a lot of really good reels to choose from in different budget ranges. There are even some decent choices under $200, even under $100. Given that each angler is different, it’s hard to say which is the best musky reel for the money. Any one of the reels mentioned above should serve you well, so long as you know how to properly use and maintain it. Whichever muskie reel you choose, unless you are an advanced muskie fisherman, we advise hiring the services of one of the many great muskie guides out there. They can help you get your need musky reel setup properly, and help you catch more fish. You can search our Muskie Guide Directory now.

Best Musky Reel For The Money

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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 >>