Baitcasting Reels (Multipliers)

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 are mounted above the rod, instead of suspended below, which is why, in New Zealand and Australia, they are sometimes called ‘overhead reels’.

Due to this overhead mounting position, some wrist strength is required to sustain the rod during fishing and line retrieval. Hence, modern baitcasting rigs are made to be as user friendly as possible utilising lightweight materials such as aluminium, carbon fibre or composite materials, with stainless steel used only when necessary for bearings and other moving mechanisms that are prone to wear.

Choosing a Baitcasting Reel

These reels can be used for all sorts of fishing, and depending on how you plan to use it, 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, which we believe 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, that can be used 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 also nice, with anodized aluminum red side plates; however, it is about more than just good looks – the RXA has quality components. The spool is made from aircraft-grade aluminium, while the guts feature all-metal construction and stainless steel components for superior corrosion protection. This could be 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.

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Recommended Baitcasting Reel for Lure Fishing

Our Choice: Best Baitcasting Reel for Lure Fishing

Daiwa Tatula

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 are contained 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. If you’re undecided about what to buy – this is among the safest recommendations we could make. Treat yourself.

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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.

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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. Using a baitcaster requires finesse and a great deal of practice.

How to Cast a Baitcasting Reel

Before casting, a baitcasting reel must be set to ‘free-spool’, which is usually engaged 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. It is this conflict that can cause a birds nest. It is a skill that can take time to perfect!

Features

  • Star drag. Boasting one of the most efficient and dependable drag mechanisms available, baitcasting reels are a favorite among fresh and saltwater fisherman who prefer trolling, because it is able to handle long, hard runs. 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. It is possible to buy baitcasting reels without the level wind feature. However, many anglers prefer the level wind because it makes smooth, orderly line retrieval a “no-brainer”. With the level wind system you will have to train your thumb to guide the line so that it re-spools evenly when reeling in. Not impossible, but also not necessary if you opt for this feature.
  • Spool cap. This feature can apply adjustable tension to the spool, restricting how freely your fishing line will unspool. It also is designed to make the spool stop once the bait hits the water. It would be nice if it worked perfectly every time – it does not – but it is a welcome aid to newbie anglers trying to master baitcasting.
  • Anti-reverse (anti-backlash). Ultimately it is the individual anglers’ skill at applying thumb pressure that determines how many fouled lines you get while baitcasting. However, the anti-reverse magnets, built-in to slow the spool during the cast, certainly make “thumb control” a bit more forgiving.

Disadvantages

  • Handle position is 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.