A good baitcaster is going to cost more than many people expect. Baitcasters come in lower-priced models, however, they will be a nightmare trying to use them. A good baitcaster will have cast controls to reduce backlash. Backlash problems cannot be eliminated. The best you can do is choose a bait cast reel that reduces the problem significantly. The low end of the price range is around 125 dollars. It is not uncommon for anglers to spend $250-$400 on a good baitcaster reel. A baitcaster will cost more, so unless you can spend the money, buy a good spinning reel instead.
What Do I Need to Know about Baitcaster Reels
The target species determines size even though the sizes seem to differ between some between manufacturers, so looking at the line capacity is a good place to start. Line capacity is important. A bass reel will have a 120-160 yard spool and use a 10-20 pound line. Whereas going after larger fish will need a reel capable of handling 20-80 lb. line with a spooling capacity of 160 – 220 yards. Although, some anglers will seek a compromise in these parameters.
The drag on the reel needs to be strong and smooth. A small reel should have a 12-15 lbs of drag or even 18lbs in some cases. The larger reels are for bigger fish so 18lb. drags are the bare minimum, look for 20 lb. or higher in my opinion. A poorly operating or adjusted drag accounts for many fish lost while fighting them. Do not ignore the drag when purchasing a reel of any kind.
The availability of numerous gear ratios adds more decisions to the choice. Do you need a high ratio, low ratio, or an in-between ratio based on fishing style? The low ratios work well with live bait and some lures like crankbaits. Similarly, the higher ratios work with spinner type baits, buzzbaits, or other fast-moving presented lures. If you only are buying one reel and do all of the previous look at a middle of the road ratio 5.5;1 up to 6.5;1 range and adjust the retrieve by reeling faster or slower. The ratio will go from 4.6;1 to over 8;1 leaving a wide range of options.
The reels come in two styles. The classic round reel is primarily used by catfishing anglers, and the low profile is the common style used by bass anglers. There are anglers using both to serve different purposes. You likely know which style is desirable to your style of fishing.
Quality of Baitcaster Reels
A few items in a good baitcaster reel make all the difference in quality. Above all, the plastic gears some companies use are an indicator to stay away. The metal gears are the way to go on bait cast reels. For example, these reels will see heavier use and often heavier loads reeling in lures, and lunker fish. The use of braid and other super-strong lines adds to the stress on these reels. As well, you will be pulling fish out of heavy cover at a minimum.
What type of cast control the reel have? The baitcaster reel may have a magnetic, pins (centrifugal), or computerized cast control. These work with the tension adjustment to reduce backlash or overrunning the spool. The better models will have 2 of the cast control features, typically pins and magnetic systems together. The pins regulate the spool speed at the beginning of the cast and the magnetic control helps towards the end of the cast when the spool starts slowing down.
Is the handle big enough for the reel and ratio? A short handle reduces your leverage when cranking. The better reels will have or offer a larger handle, a must-have for musky and pike fishing. The repeated casting and retrieve of large lures will create fatigue. A power handle will help reduce fatigue. This is overlooked by anglers too often making them regret a purchase.
Baitcasters are made from lightweight strong materials. The frames and spool will last made out of aluminum where other materials add weight or are weaker. The weight of baitcasting reels is higher so this is a factor. Do you want a reel weighing over a pound?
Who Makes the Best Baitcast Reel
This is where anglers will argue and swear by a brand and in some cases, it is justified. A bass angler will find a lot of good choices, musky fishermen are limited to 3-4, and overall anglers have it the easiest with almost any serving their purpose. Baitcast reels tend to be more specific purpose-designed, hence the gear ratios and other features manufacturers offer.
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When buying a good baitcaster reel there is no one to do it all reel. They have various ratios, line capacities, and other features to improve performance with different styles of fishing. Therefore, look at a few and buy what is best for you.
Keeping fishing simple for tight lines and bragging rights