With Baitcasting reels we come to the first in the line of ‘multipliers’. This means that each crank of the handle will spin the spool as many as 3 or 4 times, allowing for faster line retrieval (some newer bait casters can even reach ratios of 7:1). In most European countries they are called simply, multiplier reels. They differ from most other reels in that they sit mounted above the rod, instead of suspended below. This is why New Zealanders and Australians sometimes call them ‘overhead reels’.
Due to this overhead mounting position, some wrist strength is required. It can be surprisingly tiring to sustain the rod during prolonged fishing and line retrieval. Modern baitcasting rigs are made to be as user friendly as possible. Reel makers use lightweight materials such as aluminium, carbon fibre or composite materials, reverting to stainless steel only when necessary, such as for bearings and other moving mechanisms that are prone to wear.
- 1 Choosing a Baitcasting Reel
- 1.1 Recommended Baitcasting Reel for Fishing Bait
- 1.2 Recommended Baitcasting Reel for Lure Fishing
- 1.3 Our Choice: Best Baitcasting Reel for Lure Fishing
- 1.4 Recommended Left-Handed Baitcasting Reel
- 2 Using a Baitcasting Reel
- 3 How to Cast a Baitcasting Reel
- 4 Features
Choosing a Baitcasting Reel
These reels are ideal for all sorts of fishing. Depending on your intended use, you’ll probably want a different style. For example, if you want a baitcasting reel for throwing out a fixed bait, or for trolling, you could do a lot worse than a traditional, star-drag style reel. If you’re throwing lures, you’ll want something lighter and more pliable. Here are some recommended baitcasting reels. We believe they offer a good combination of quality, practicality and value for money.
Recommended Baitcasting Reel for Fishing Bait
KastKing Rover RXA
The Rover RXA by KastKing is a conventional star drag baitcasting reel. It is suitable for pretty much anything but lure fishing (you could even use it for that, if you had to, but we wouldn’t recommend it). Don’t let the word ‘conventional’ fool you. This baby is powerful, with up to 20lbs (9kg) of smooth drag. Plus, the level-wind feature is complimented by oversized nonslip grips to help reduce fatigue when retrieving. All this means you can squeeze a lot of performance out of this reel.
The appearance is nice, with anodized aluminum red side plates; however, it is about more than just good looks – the RXA has quality components. The spool is aircraft-grade aluminium, while the guts feature all-metal construction and stainless steel components. All of this equals superior corrosion protection. This is a great reel for a variety of fishing conditions: fresh water, saltwater, inshore, offshore, trolling, bottom-fishing – you name it! Sure, these features can be found on other baitcasters but not at the same price point. If you’re looking for a dependable yet affordable levelwind baitcaster, you could do a lot worse.
Recommended Baitcasting Reel for Lure Fishing
Abu Garcia Revo 3 Baitcasting Reel
In case you weren’t aware, Abu Garcia started out making precision Swiss timepieces. Suffice it to say, quality craftsmanship and precision manufacturing is in their blood. The company switched to manufacturing fishing reels in 1941 and never looked back.
The most recent iteration of their Revo series is far and away their best. Whether you opt for the Revo 3 SXHS or SXHSL, it still boasts all of their time tested, hallmark features and technologies: ‘Craftic’ alloy frame, ‘Duragear’ gear system, ‘MagTrax’ magnetic brake (they love a good brand name), Carbon matrix drag, wide spool, ergonomic design and balance… All of this while reducing the weight by 25%, most of which comes via the use of C6 carbon fibre for the body and handle side-plate. This reel is lighter than its predecessor, yet stronger and more durable.
One feature of this reel that bears highlighting is the magnetic drag system. The ‘MagTrax’ brake system provides consistent drag pressure throughout the entire range of the cast, reducing tangles significantly. For more control, simply turn the MagTrax dial. Very simple, but very effective.
At the end of the day, with such an affordable price point, you can’t go wrong with this quality baitcaster from one of the best manufacturers in the world.
Our Choice: Best Baitcasting Reel for Lure Fishing
The Tatula R100 XSL by Daiwa is a rugged reel designed for and used by professional anglers worldwide. Daiwa already has a well-deserved reputation for making quality reels, but this is perhaps among their best ever.
The standout of this reel is the beefy drive train (gears and bearings). It feels every bit as good as the hype, powered by high quality Daiwa components perfected over years of top-end reel manufacturing. Retrieval ratio is 8:1, so this attention to quality is crucial. Just as importantly, the guts sit within a sleek aluminium housing, along with a best-in-class level-wind feature and Daiwa’s signature T-Wing aperture, which together virtually eliminate over-runs and tangles.
This reel is a firm favourite among baitcaster fishermen the world over. Consequently, if you’re undecided about what to buy – this is among the safest recommendations we could make. Treat yourself.
Recommended Left-Handed Baitcasting Reel
Abu Garcia Black Max – Left Hand Retrieve
As much as we love the Abu Garcia Revo series, it doesn’t allow for left handed retrieval. If you prefer a left-handed wind, consider the Black Max Baitcaster. Many of the features are the same or similar to the Revo 3 SXHS – ‘Duragear’, ‘MagTrax’, carbon matrix drag disk, etc. (see above). The main difference being that it is a left hooker. Admittedly, it is not quite as lightweight as its right-handed counterpart, but as long as you don’t mind the extra couple of ounces, it is hard to fault. Probably the best left-hand retrieval reel out there.
Using a Baitcasting Reel
These reels do have a tendency to cause problems, and are prone to what some anglers call ‘backlash’, ‘over-running’ or ‘a bird’s nest’. To help mediate this, most reels incorporate some form of braking mechanism, with the relatively recent application of centrifugal and/or magnetic braking systems. Anglers can also prevent problems themselves when casting with a multiplier, for example by creating drag manually by pressing the thumb to the spool. This can help control unspooling and reduce incidences of backlash (a.k.a. ‘bird-nesting’ or ‘birdies’). Clearly this needs to be done delicately, as the more brake that’s applied, the more casting distance will be inhibited. Needless to say, using a baitcaster requires finesse and a great deal of practice.
How to Cast a Baitcasting Reel
Before casting, it’s important to set a baitcasting reel to ‘free-spool’, which you can usually do with the simple push of a button. The weight of the lure will initiate the unspooling action upon casting, which will continue until the bait stops travelling at speed – i.e. when it hits the water. It is important that the angler stops the reel from unspooling manually moments before this impact. If this is not done, the spool’s momentum will keep it turning, despite the fact that the line is no longer being pulled in the direction of travel. This conflict can cause a birds nest. It is a skill that can take time to perfect, so we recommend some practice!
- Star drag. Boasting one of the most efficient and dependable drag mechanisms available, baitcasting reels are a favorite among fresh and saltwater fisherman alike. They’re particularly good for bottom fishing and trolling, where’s there’s not too much casting, but potentially a lot of winding and fish fighting. Plus, the multi-washer mechanism, along with the star wheel adjustment design allows for easy and precise changes to the drag setting – even after the fish is hooked and fighting!
- Level wind. You can buy baitcasting reels without the level-wind feature, but most people would choose to keep it. Level wind makes smooth, orderly line retrieval a no-brainer. Without the level wind system you need to train your thumb to guide the line so that it re-spools evenly when reeling in. Not impossible, but also not necessary!
- Spool cap. This feature applies adjustable tension to the spool, restricting how freely your fishing line will unspool. It also helps stop the spool once the bait hits the water. It does not work perfectly every time, but it is a welcome aid, especially to newbie anglers trying to master baitcasting, so it’s one we recommend.
- Anti-reverse (anti-backlash). Ultimately an individual anglers’ skill and timing determines the number of tangles he finds himself in. However, anti-reverse magnets, built-in to slow the spool during the cast, definitely make a reel more forgiving.
- Handle position is typically not interchangeable. It is pre-set: right or left.
- The overhead mounting design can hasten fatigue and therefore result in less time on the water and perhaps less enjoyment.