best baitcasting reels for beginners

The 5 Best Baitcasting Reels for Beginners | Reviews

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If you’re looking for the best baitcasting reels for beginners, then you’re in the right place.

As a novice, transitioning from a spinning reel to a baitcasting reel can pose some challenges.

One, baitcasting reel takes some getting used to.

Two, finding the right baitcasting reel is a time-consuming task.

Picking the best baitcasters for beginners means you need to consider 3 things: 

  1. Your budget
  2. Ease of use
  3. A good braking system

In this buyer's guide, you'll learn what to look for when choosing your very first bait casting reel.

Plus, our recommendations of the best beginner baitcasting reels on the market today.

Note: If you're buying your very first fishing reel, then I would suggest you start with a good spinning reel.

Quick Peek at the Top 5 Beginner Baitcasting Reels

Best Budget: Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Fishing Reel at Amazon
“The most affordable option in our list with unbeatable quality and performance.”

Best High Speed: KastKing Royale Legend Elite Series at Amazon
“For anglers who fish in situations where quick line and lure retrieval is the key.”

Best High Torque: Abu Garcia REVO Winch Low Profile Reel at Amazon
“For the angler who fishes with heavy lures and like slower presentations.”

Best Overall: Lew's Mach 2 SLP Baitcast Reel at Amazon
“For anglers looking one that fits almost most situations.”

Best Splurge: Shimano Curado DC Baitcast Reel at Amazon
“For more serious anglers looking for a reel to grow with.”

What to Look for in a Beginners Baitcasting Reel?

Every aspect of a baitcasting reel is important to make an accurate cast and reel in your catch.

However, when it comes to a beginner angler, certain things are more important than others.

Here are a few things that are a must when looking for your very first baitcasting reel.

Set a budget

The price of the reel is where many beginners fail to make a proper judgment. Either they go overboard and buy an expensive baitcasting reel or get a cheap one.

A top of the line reel comes with a lot of advanced features that are a waste for new anglers. On the other hand, a cheap inexpensive baitcasting reel will be low quality and may not last you through your learning period.

A price range of $100-$150 will get you a top-rated baitcasting reel for beginners that will perform, be durable, and help you grow.

What are you fishing for?

What fish species you’ll be fishing the most is a crucial factor in determining which reel will be right for a beginner.

If you’re planning to fish small freshwater species like bass, crappie you’ll need a lightweight reel with moderate line capacity and drag pressure.

On the other hand, if you plan to fish inshore saltwater species, you’ll need a sturdy reel with moderate to high drag and line capacity.

As a beginner, you should buy a baitcasting reel you can use to fish in both types of scenarios.

It needs to be light enough to fight bass and sturdy enough to fish inshore saltwater species.

A good braking system is a MUST have

The #1 challenge for any beginner angler is to learn how to cast a baitcasting reel without generating backlash. A backlash happens when the lure slows down in the air during a cast but the spool keeps rotating, resulting in a tangled mess of the fishing line.

A beginner with a baitcasting reel usually will spend most of their time untangling their fishing line instead of fishing. Learning to cast without creating a mess of the fishing line needs practice, experience, and the right reel.

Fortunately, a baitcasting reel equipped with a good braking system can greatly minimize this problem.

Like the brakes of your car, the brakes on a bait caster is designed to regulate the speed of the spool on a cast. The more bake you apply, the more resistance the spool will face during a cast.

Keep in mind: the higher your brake settings, the less backlash or birds nest, and the shorter your casting distance.

It’s a good practice for beginners to use higher brake settings and with experience, they can lower the settings for longer casting distance.

The most common braking systems found on entry-level baitcasting reels are magnetic and centrifugal systems. The advancement in technology introduced “Digital Casting Control Systems” that automatically adjusts the brake according to your cast and is found on expensive models.

However, as you gain experience you will find yourself thumbing the spool to apply the brake on your baitcasting reel. This is the most effective way to slow down the spool for a more accurate and trouble-free cast.

Right vs. left-handed

Unlike spinning reels, a baitcasting reel comes with either a left or a right-hand side cranking system. You can’t interchange the handle.

Therefore, you need to buy a reel that comes with a handle on the side you’re comfortable cranking on. Think about which hand you used to crank a spinning reel and get the same for your baitcasting reel.

The 5 Best Baitcasting Reels for Beginners Reviews

After the sneak peeks of our top 5 beginner baitcasting reels, you went through what to look for in your first baitcasting reel.

Now it's time to look at the detailed reviews of our top picks.

01. Best Budget: Abu Garcia Black Max

Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel
Pros
  • Magnetic braking system reduces backlashes
  • Sturdy construction and powerful drag provides ease of mind
  • Perfect balance between power and speed
Cons
  • Ball bearings are not shielded

The Abu Garcia Black Max is a reel for anglers looking for a bargain without compromising quality.

The reels magnetic braking system enables amateur anglers to cast without worrying about backlashes. The smooth, consistent brake pressure helps improve casting accuracy and distance.

The reels graphite construction and a machined aluminum spool make it sturdy. This makes the reel ideal for a variety of fresh and inshore saltwater fishing applications.

The reels' star drag is easy to adjust and produces over up to 18 lbs of smooth stopping power, enough to hold on to most small-medium sized fish species.

The moderate gear ratio (6.4:1) offers the perfect balance between speed and power, allowing you to cast most types of fishing lures. The reel comes with both a right or left-handed version so you can choose one that fits your preference.

Overall, the Abu Garcia Black Max low-profile reel is an excellent baitcasting reel for anglers looking for quality at an affordable price tag.

Top Features:

4 +1 stainless steel ball bearings
Machined aluminum spool
Power Disk drag system
MagTrax brake system
Graphite side plates and frame

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02. Best High Speed: KastKing Royale Legend Baitcaster - Elite Series

KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Reels - Elite Series Fishing Reel
Pros
  • High speed reel that can bring in line at lightning speed
  • Extremely smooth cast and retrieval
  • Ready for both fresh and saltwater
Cons
  • Dual braking system is expected at this price point

With a gear ratio of 8.1:1 and a retrieval rate of 34.06 inches per turn (IPT) of the handle, the Kastking baitcasting reel is the fastest on our list.

High-speed reels are especially important for retrieving your lure at a lightning speed. Plus, they’re ideal for hauling fish from near the cover and to reel in slack line when the fish is swimming towards you.

The hardened aluminum main gear makes it extremely durable and lightweight. While the brass pinion gears coupled with the 11+1 corrosion resistant ball bearings makes your casting and retrievals smooth in both freshwater and saltwater conditions.

At 12/130(lb/yds) of mono, you can expect to reach yards into the water and let the fish run wild without running out of your fishing line. The reel can produce 17.65 lbs of stopping power but weighs only 7.2 ounces.

The reels magnetic braking system helps eliminate overrun and backlash which can be easily accessed from outside. The 10 levels of pressure ensure you have to power to fine-tune your cast for any type of lure and fishing condition.

The reel's comfortable rubber handle knobs and the availability of both left and right side handles make it ideal for all types of anglers.

Overall, the Royale Legend Elite baitcasting reel is a tournament-ready bass fishing reel that is loved by pros and recommended for beginners alike.

Top Features:

A high gear ratio of 8.1:1 to retrieve 34.06 IPT
11+1 double-shielded ball bearing make it smooth
Geat line capacity
17.65 lbs of drag in a 7.2 oz housing
Magnetic brakes with 10 level adjustment

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03. Best High Torque: Abu Garcia Revo Winch

Abu Garcia REVO Winch Low Profile
Pros
  • Power house of cranking power
  • Dual braking system ensures accuracy and casting distance
  • Can turn big heads with minimum effort
Cons
  • The price is not beginner friendly

The Abu Garcia Revo Winch is a top-rated baitcasting reel for beginners that hands exceptional cranking power, courtesy of the low 5.4:1 gear ratio, and extended bent handle.

Ideal for fishing with deep diving crankbaits, large spinnerbaits, and other larger baits. The low gear ratio transfers a huge amount of power from the handle to the spool to turn large heads towards your boat.

The Infini brake system provides fine-tuning of the spool during a cast, so beginner anglers can focus on the fish and worry less about bird nests. The Carbon Matrix drag system provides excellent fighting power (up to 24 lbs) to keep those big guns pinned down.

With brass gear, corrosion-resistant frame, and stainless steel ball bearings, the reel is built to last a long time. The ergonomic design along with the use of various materials helps reduce the overall weight without sacrificing strength.

The large EVA handle knobs provide comfort and prevent slippage while fighting large fish. The reel comes in both left and right-hand side configuration.

Overall, the Abu Garcia Revo Winch is a top of the line baitcaster for beginners that provides the level of cranking power none of the reels on this list can compete.

Top Features:

8+1 stainless steel ball bearings
Low gear ratio allows for a slower presentation
Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag System
Duragear brass gear
Infini brake system
Extended bent handle
Large EVA knobs

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04. Best Overall: Lew's Mach 2 SLP Baitcast Reel

Lew's Mach 2 SLP Baitcast Reel
Pros
  • Beginners can cast without any problem
  • Extremely adjustable cast control to reduce bird nests
  • Double shielded bearings makes it corrosion resistant
Cons
  • Price may be a bit high for some

With unparalleled performance and ease of use, the Lew’s Mach 2 SLP baitcasting reel is our pick for the best all-round baitcasting reel for beginners.

The Super Low Profile graphite frame and side plates make it strong, at the same time keeping the weight to the minimum. So you can fish longer hours without worrying about fatigue.

The Magnetic Cast Control System is extremely adjustable allowing you to select the appropriate drag pressure with a twist of the knob. Once the right pressure level is selected, you’ll not have to worry about bird nests.

In addition to the braking system, the reels anodized spool tension knob hands you the ability to calibrate the speed of your spool after a cast. The audible click adjustment ensures you reach the right setting even at night.

The cast and retrieval are very smooth thanks to its 10 stainless steel ball bearings. The bearing system is double shielded that prevents debris and saltwater from entering, thus adding to its longevity.

With 15 lbs of drag and 7.5:1 gear ratio, you have enough stopping and cranking power to turn big heads towards your way. The 95mm anodized aluminum handle with enlarged handle grips adds to the power and fun of retrieval.

The machined double anodized aluminum spool is strong and large. At 32mm you have enough space to thumb your spool during a cast to fine-tune your cast.

Finally, the reel comes with both the left and right-hand configuration for you to choose from.

Overall, Lew’s Mach 2 SPL is a great beginner-friendly baitcasting reel that is rated an allrounder reel due to its performance, ease of use, and casting accuracy.

Top Features:

Super Low Profile graphite construction
32mm aluminum U-shaped spool
High strength solid brass Speed Gears
10 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings
Externally adjustable Magnetic Control System
Durable Rulon provides up to 15 lb drag power

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05. Best Splurge: Shimano CURADO DC

Shimano CURADO DC, LowProfile Baitcasting Freshwater Fishing Reel
Pros
  • Automatic braking system which doesn't need adjustment
  • Shielded ball bearings for all water types
  • Smooth dependable drag system
Cons
  • The price isn't beginner friendly

The Shimano Curado DC is a beginner-friendly baitcasting reel for anglers who are serious about the sport and ready to invest some money.

The reel comes packed with all the high-end features ranging from lightweight CI4+ carbon alloy construction to a Cross Carbon drag system. However, the star of the show is the I-DC4 digital brake system.

This digital braking system comes with a Microcomputer that measures spool speed. As you cast, the chip measures the spool speed 1000 times per second to calibrate the brake pressure automatically.

This automatic braking system can greatly enhance the casting distance and accuracy of all level anglers. Now you don't have to adjust your brakes manually every time you change your lure, need to use different techniques, or if the wind picks up.

Just cast and forget about backlashes.

The reel is ready to work like the way we spoke out of the box and the system recharges itself for the subsequent cast automatically when you cast.

Overall, the Shimano Curado DC is the best baitcasting reel for beginners if you have the budget or the mindset to get a high-end reel.

Top Features:

A computerized cast control system
Microcomputer adjusts brake pressure on the fly
Prevents backlashes and maximizes casting distance
Hagane body ensures rigidity
Lightweight CI4+ carbon construction
X-Ship pinion support bearing
6+1 S-ARB shielded stainless steel anti-rust ball bearings
Smooth, dependable Cross Carbon Drag

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Conclusion

With that, we come to the end of our buyer guide of the best baitcasting reels for beginners. All the baitcasters we reviewed on our list are high quality, beginner-friendly, and most importantly have excellent braking systems to prevent overruns.

If you're looking for an overall budget-friendly performer, then Lew's Mach 2 SLP is your best bet. However, if you're serious about fishing and need a reel that has pro features so you can grow with it, then Shimano Curado DC is for you.

Whichever reel you choose from our list, you'll surely get the best value for your money.