When it comes to saltwater fishing, preparing the right kind of reels can make the difference between failure and success. However, for amateur anglers, picking out what works for them can be confusing, especially when facing tons of options available on the market.
This is why a comprehensive review of the best saltwater baitcasting reels is necessary.
Should you have yet to complete your tackle box, keep reading to find out the missing piece!
Product image Product name Editor' review Editor' rating Price
SHIMANO Curado K Baitcast Reel Best Choice Overall 4.8 See last price
Abu Garcia Pro Max & Max Pro Best For Budget 4.7 See last price
Abu Garcia Black Max & Max Best For Recreational Fishing 4.9 See last price
Daiwa Coastal TW Casting Reel Best For Casting Distance 4.6 See last price
KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Reels Best For Professional Use 4.8 See last price
KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel Best For Value 4.5 See last price
Piscifun Alijoz Baitcasting Reels Best For Innovation 4.7 See last price
7 Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels (A Complete List)
- 1. SHIMANO Curado K Baitcast Reel – Choice Overall
- 2. Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcast Reel – Best For Budget
- 3. Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Reel – For Recreational Fishing
- 4. Daiwa Coastal TW Casting Reel – For Casting Distance
- 5. KastKing Royale Baitcasting Reel – For Professional Use
- 6. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel – For Value
- 7. Piscifun Alijoz Baitcasting Reel – Best For Innovation
- Buying Guide For The Saltwater Baitcasting Reels
- Budget Baitcasting reels
- Strength and durability
- Corrosion resistance
- Saltwater fish target and fighting characteristics
- Experience and skills
- Types of best baitcasting reels for saltwater
- Drag maximum
- Line capacity fishing reel
- Construction and materials
- How to spool a baitcasting reel
- Line retrieve
- Gear ratio
- How to cast a saltwater fishing reel without backlash
1. SHIMANO Curado K Baitcast Reel – Choice Overall
At the top of the list, today is the baitcaster reel from SHIMANO Curado, a brand name that goes back for decades. If you enjoy the comfort of using a product that stands the test of time, suffice it to say that this model from SHIMANO will not let you down.
With the incorporation of the MicroModule Gearing, a Curado reel prides itself on a high level of efficiency and smoothness. Even better, the SVS Infinity braking system will spare you the worry of not being able to control the spool.
Feel free to cast, reel in, and adjust the baits and lures whenever necessary with its heavy brake force. Personally speaking, the feature that catches my attention the most is the X-Ship technology.
By applying bearings to the pinion gear on both ends, a Curado reel can remain sturdy even under the heaviest loads, which helps minimize the friction between the gear and the spool shaft.
This way, rest assured that your reel can last up to years, balancing out the initial amount of investment. Still, there have been complaints about the weight of this product.
SHIMANO Curado can be a bit hefty to swing around, so you might get worn out after using it after a long fishing day.
- Trustworthy brand.
- MicroModule Gearing and SVS Infinity braking system.
- Long-lasting with X-Ship technology.
2. Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcast Reel – Best For Budget
Economical, high-performance, and visually pleasant are the three adjectives that I would use to describe the Pro Max baitcasting reel from Abu Garcia. At first glance, this model stands out with an external coating of black and white. The classic color combination makes Pro Max an ideal choice for even the pickiest angler.
As for the material, this reel’s body is made from aluminum, which ensures both stability and lifespan.
Coupled with 7 stainless steel ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, you can expect to have a flawless saltwater fishing experience with its line capacity and the ability to cast at a great distance.
Given this acceptable performance, some would be surprised to find out that the Pro Max reel is rather lightweight, which means you do not need to worry about getting sore hands.
And the best part? This model does not cost you more than $80.
Compared to other saltwater reels, this price tag is definitely a plus. You cannot find something as cheap but still capable of working this well.
That being said, bear in mind that the Pro Max baitcasting reel can get loud sometimes. If you wish to have a peaceful fishing trip, then Pro Max might not be your best company.
- Highly affordable for most customers.
- Elegant appearance.
- Durable material.
- Lightweight performance.
- Can be noisy.
3. Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Reel – For Recreational Fishing
Another model from Abu Garcia that you might want to consider is the Black Max baitcasting reel. As far as the price range is concerned, Black Max remains within the affordable range of $50 to $80, making it a beginner-friendly choice for those who do not want to invest too much in a functional reel.
Black Max is best suited for small fingers with a one-piece design consisting of a graphite frame for lightweight and durability.
In addition, the ergonomic bent handle offers anglers a pleasant grip, removing any discomfort even after fishing continuously.
And do not forget about the Power Drag system, which ensures the drag smoothness to win over any aggressive catch. “What about the casting range and accuracy?” you may ask.
Well, that leads us to my favorite feature of this model – the MagTrax brake system that furthers each cast with great precision. Given how Black Max is not manufactured for professional fishing, one should find its performance exceeding any expectations. On the other hand, this reel only has 4 ball bearings.
The limited number renders this model ineffective if you want to have a serious fight with big fish games. Pros:
- Affordable for most people.
- Best for fishing hobbyists.
- Smooth drag and powerful grip.
- MagTrax brake for better casting.
- 4 ball bearings are available.
4. Daiwa Coastal TW Casting Reel – For Casting Distance
For those of you who are more than willing to spend extra money for an excellent reel, I recommend purchasing a Daiwa Coastal model. The product prides itself on magnetic cast control, which is compatible with both heavy and light lures.
By using a deeper spool, Daiwa Coastal increases the line capacity substantially, which means you have a better success rate when it comes to inshore fishing.
Moreover, the manufacturers shape this model based on a T-wing design, essentially reducing the friction should the weather turn windy.
No more worries about external factors affecting the quality of your cast. You should also notice the carbon strain drag system, which is both corrosion-resistant and lightweight.
This way, you will not feel stiff or uncomfortable holding the reel for a long time. Unfortunately, the benefits of Daiwa Coastal do not come without a price.
Such a baitcasting reel can cost up to $200, which is a big deal for amateur fishermen. Also, the aluminum frame and side plates are not scratch-free, meaning their appearance will get rusty with time.
- Magnetic cast control.
- Impressive line capacity.
- T-wing design and drag system for a pleasant experience.
- Costly for the average angler.
- Gets scratches easily.
5. KastKing Royale Baitcasting Reel – For Professional Use
Finding a tournament-ready baitcasting reel that fits the palm of your hand is no easy task. But luckily, here comes the Royale reel from KastKing – a brand name well known for its high-quality collection of heavy-duty reels.
The most noticeable feature of this product is probably its size, which is ergonomically designed, so the entire reel remains neat and compact. When attached to the rod, the swing-wing side cover will open up, securing the Royale reel in no time.
Even better, KastKing incorporates 10 double-shield stainless steel bearings that enhance the drag smoothness.
When combined with the instant anti-reverse, rest assured that you can swing, cast, and reel in effortlessly.
And that is not to mention the 10 adjustments and 5-element magnetic brakes to minimize backlash. If you are about to engage in a serious fishing game, KastKing Royale will not let you down with its outstanding attributes.
That being said, the reel can get difficult to clean up after using it for up to 12 months. Since the layer is not corrosion-resistant, rust will start to gather around intricate details if exposed to saltwater.
- Swing-wing side for better attachment.
- Reliable bearings.
- Virtually no backlash.
- Rusty after extended usage.
6. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel – For Value
The Rover Round baitcasting reel offers a balance between quality and money for anglers who want a moderately priced, highly functional product.
At first glance, you will immediately be drawn to its mechanical appearance thanks to the anodized aluminum side plates, stainless steel worm gear, patented metal idle gear, and brass gears.
Not only does the material give KastKing’s reel a sturdy and intimidating look, but it also strengthens its durability and sturdiness.
Feel free to maneuver this reel without fearing nicks and scratches. But the charms of the Rover Round reel go beyond its frame.
The product includes a carbon fiber drag system, supported by the Cymbal Washer system. This way, you can expect at least 30lbs of smooth drag – an impressive number for any saltwater fishing gear.
And that is not to mention the MaxiDur, double-shielded ball bearings of up to 7 ones, enabling an effortless line retrieval. No more worries about getting backlash when using heavy lines, which is a big bonus when you get into a fight with belligerent fish.
But still, Rover Round needs frequent lubrication and maintenance should you want it to last while remaining in top conditions. This requires more aftercare from the users, so watch out after you are done with each fishing trip.
- High-quality, durable material.
- Smooth drag that goes with heavy lines.
- 7 ball bearings system.
- Affordable price range.
- High maintenance.
7. Piscifun Alijoz Baitcasting Reel – Best For Innovation
Sometimes, a pre-assembled baitcasting reel can fail to provide decent performance that goes with your needs. This is when customizable reels like the Alijoz from Piscifun come into the picture.
When purchasing this product, you can pick out between the 8.1:1 or the 5.9:1 gear ratios, the color of the reel, as well as the side of the handle (single left, single right, or double.) Adjusting the reel based on your preferences gives you more control, which is undoubtedly an advantage for all anglers.
As far as the technical details are concerned, the model is made from premium aluminum and brass, creating a sturdy and reliable frame that can withstand even the heaviest saltwater fish.
With a drag system of 33lbs, you can match the reel with heavy fishing lines for better outcomes. And do not forget about the 8 double shielded bearings and the combo of pinion and main gear.
These items maintain flawless functions and ensure the longevity of the product.
What else could you ask for out of such an economical choice?
However, the Piscifun Alijoz reel still has some drawbacks. The brake knob and thumb bar are both plastics, which appear cheap and poorly made compared with the rest of the product.
- Sturdy frame design and material.
- 8 ball bearings system.
- Some low-quality details.
Buying Guide For The Saltwater Baitcasting Reels
To purchase the best saltwater baitcasting reel, you cannot simply walk into a store and make a decision on the spot. It takes research and getting to know the product before realizing what works best for each angler. If you are confused as to what to look for in a reel, the buying guide below might be helpful.
Budget Baitcasting reels
Determining how much you are ready to spend on a reel plays an irreplaceable role in the outcome. There are products that cost around $80, while other more expensive models come at no less than $200.
While the former seems to be more economical, it can charge you more in the long run, as the quality of cheaply made reels is not that impressive, and frequent replacements are bound to happen.
Vice versa, investing in a high-end reel means more money is required upfront, but you are less likely to buy another one anytime soon. If the circumstances allow, you are advised to go for the most expensive reel within your budget.
Strength and durability
In most cases, how strong a reel is will depend on its price tag. Of course, you can still come across a reasonably priced reel that lasts for years, but it is not very common.
A costly reel tends to last longer than a cheap counterpart, given the material used and the build quality.
Therefore, look closely at the reel and make sure it is made from aluminum and/or industry-first stainless steel – the two most popular substances in reel-making. Ask previous buyers and manufacturers for the estimated lifespan of your product so that you know what to expect.
If the product seems flimsy and feeble, opt for another option that speaks of sturdiness.
When you engage in saltwater fishing, your reel will be exposed to a high content of salt, causing rust on the surface.
Hence, make sure to check out if the external layers of your reel are properly coated with corrosion-resistant paint.
While the impact of saline solution is not visible within a few days, it certainly can end up being a disaster if the reel is left untreated for too long. If this is the case, then the reel will soon deteriorate in quality.
Saltwater fish target and fighting characteristics
Understanding the species you set your eyes on will narrow down the types of reels suitable for your fishing trip. For example, going up against fully-grown catfish or sea bass requires a heavy-duty baitcasting reel that can stand their weight. But if you aim at smaller fish only, there is no need to use a tournament-ready reel.
Anything streamlined and designed for inshore fishing would suffice. Furthermore, fishing species also affect your use of lures and baits. To trap fast-acting fish, fast lures are the best company for your reel. Getting hold of these lures calls for the use of a gear ratio of 7.1:1 and beyond.
At the same time, should you use typical baits, a mid-range gear ratio of around 5.1:1 to 6.1:2 will do the job.
Experience and skills
Some reels are more straightforward and easier to use, as they only incorporate the most functional features. Others are on the complicated side, with extra attributes that may confuse people with little experience using a reel.
For beginners, it is best that you stick to standard reels, which allow you to fish comfortably.
Once you have harnessed enough aptitude for fishing, gradually upgrade your fishing gear to the next level with advanced reels. Do not try to look sophisticated by using a professional reel unless you are fully prepared,
Types of best baitcasting reels for saltwater
Saltwater baitcasting reels have two variants: low profile and traditional reels. The former is more flexible and has a compact design, making it a popular choice for those new to the game.
However, low-profile reels are not as capable of handling big fish as their traditional counterparts.
Their small size ends up preventing them from having a bigger drag maximum and line capacity, so low-profile reels are mostly suitable for inshore fishing only. At the same time, traditional baitcasting reels are not proud of their enormous spool and frame.
At first glance, these items are bulky and cumbersome, making them less than ideal. But if you intend on catching serious fish in the sea, nothing beats the good old reels.
With a much more powerful drag, line capacity, and durability, you will be surprised at how efficient these reels are despite their unappealing appearance.
Between these two options, many anglers believe low-profile reels are much better than traditional reels due to their accuracy and ease of usage. They are also beginner-friendly and highly versatile.
However, it is not always the truth. Suppose you want a reel that fits your needs and reflects your fishing intentions. This way, you can go with something that actually works in your favor.
Drag maximum refers to how much stopping power a reel can produce when put into use. Unlike freshwater fishing – which does well with a drag maximum of up to 12lbs – saltwater fishing needs at least 20lbs to work properly. If the drag maximum is too lightweight, you cannot expect to reel in aggressive fish. Sometimes, you even have to rely on a 30lbs drag power for a particularly combative catch.
Line capacity fishing reel
Line capacity means the maximal amount of fishing line that goes into your spool.
The higher the line capacity is, the longer line you have available for casting at great distances.
When looking at the line capacity, it is important to also look at the type of fishing line implied. For instance, “20lbs monofilament 200 yards” is not the same as “20lbs braided 200 yards.”
Thus, be sure to double-check the type of fishing line you are going to use and how much of them will be spooled. Generally speaking, anglers recommend a 20-25lbs braided line for shallow fishing and a 50lbs braided line if you want to go deeper.
Construction and materials
Saltwater baitcasting reels are mostly made using aluminum. Plastics and graphite are also two common choices, albeit less welcomed among experienced anglers. This is because aluminum provides the highest level of robustness and longevity, ensuring a performance that lasts for years.
That being said, aluminum can be a bit rigid and heavy, so you have to spend quite some time familiarizing yourself with its mechanism. On the other hand, graphite and plastics are much more agile and lightweight. They are less likely to crack and can easily bend without snapping in half.
Nevertheless, they are mostly found in cheaply made products only.
While you can tolerate a graphite reel, it is best to stay away from anything plastic.
If you browse hard enough, you might also spot reels made from stainless steel and brass. Both of them are corrosion-resistant and sturdy but not as reliable as aluminum.
Therefore, most manufacturers prefer using the material for small components, not the entire frame.
Bearings are included in all reels to reduce friction, stabilize each cast, and support the overall performance. Both the crank arms and the spools have a bearing system so that all moving parts can coordinate smoothly.
When it comes to saltwater baitcasting reels, you are sure to come across double shielded, stainless steel ball bearings. While the form and material are identical, the number of bearings available in each reel varies significantly.
Some have 4 ball bearings, while others include up to 8 ones. Contrary to popular belief, more bearings do not always equal better quality. Instead, you should pay more attention to the material and quality of the bearings.
How to spool a baitcasting reel
- Step 1: Put the reel on your fishing rod, so it stays firm. Slowly put the fishing line through the rod’s eyelet, starting from the one furthest away. Slowly guide the line through all the eyelets until it reaches the reel spool.
- Step 2: Hold the rod with one hand and start wrapping the fishing line around the spool using the other hand. Place an overhand knot on the main fishing line, then proceed to tie another one at the tag end. Remember to pull the main fishing line so that both knots are secured.
- Step 3: Trim the excess line at the tag end and place a pencil through the filler spool. The pencil will ensure your fishing line stays vertical throughout the entire spooling process.
- Step 4: Place a thumb on the fishing line to minimize any chance of twists. Start reeling the line in and let it fill up the spool. There is no need to rush things here. Spool slowly until the fishing line is nearly finished.
- Step 5: Leave a small length of fishing line at the end, preferably around 1/8’’. Experienced anglers believe this helps to cast much easier.
- Step 6: Cut the spooled line and the line from the package. If there is any remaining line, thread it through the rod’s eyelets.
Line retrieve refers to the amount of fishing line you manage to get back on the spool for every complete turn of the handle. Usually, the line retrieve is closely tied with the spool’s size, as how many inches of the line fit on a spool will depend on how big it is.
While many anglers enjoy a high line retrieve speed, it is not necessarily better than a low-speed one. You need to evaluate the target species and examine their weight and fighting characteristics before concluding the best line retrieve.
Simply put, gear ratios illustrate how many times the spool revolves for a complete turn of a reel’s handle. For instance, a baitcasting reel with a gear ratio of 7.1:1 means the spool turns 7.1 times for each cycle. The higher your reel’s gear ratio is, the faster it is capable of retrieving the fishing line.
Due to this reason, the line retrieves and the gear ratio is always taken into account together, as they both have a say in the speed of your line retrieval.
If you are about to land aggressive fish, using a reel with a high gear ratio enables the chance of success.
But if you intend on small-sized fish only, a mid-range gear ratio will suffice.
That being said, most baitcasting reels function best when they have at least a 6:1 gear ratio, so do not use anything lower than this threshold.
How to cast a saltwater fishing reel without backlash
Backlash happens when your lure touches the water and slows down, but the line keeps spinning and coming out of the spool.
As the spool’s speed is higher than that of the lure, the fishing line gets entangled and creates a mess.
Baitcasting reels are much more inclined to form backlash, so below are a few tips to avoid this unpleasant scenario.
- Use heavy lures and baits: Heavy lures help the fishing line to travel faster. Hence, it will catch up with the spool’s speed, reducing the backlash rate.
- Choose the right timing for casting: The windy weather can affect the speed of your lure, but not the speed of your reel. Due to this difference, you are more likely to get a bird’s nest when casting against the winds.
- Go for a shorter rod: Casting with a long rod limits your control and leaves room for a backlash. If you are not confident in your skills, practice casting with a medium-length rod only.
In short, if you want to buy the best saltwater baitcasting reels, it is essential that you learn about their characteristics first. Make sure to note down the information above before hunting down the product that best suits your needs! Further reading:
If you are a beginner at using Baitcasting reels, check out our recommendations for top baitcaster in here as well as a top baitcaster reels suitable for the budget of fewer than 100 dollars
Born in Lakeland, Florida, Daniel has started fishing since he was just a tiny little kid. His father was a real good fisherman, as he taught Daniel tricks and tips to catch the fish better. From those childhood memories, Daniel has built up his love for fishing. Until now, he has been participating in several bass tournaments and currently serves as the Chief Editor of fishingonsunday.com to share his precious knowledge and experiences with many more people.