So, you’re looking for the best baitcasting reel for bass. Maybe you’re just stepping into the world of baitcasters this season. Or maybe you’ve already used baitcasters in the past and are looking to see what a newer reel might bring to the table.
Either way, if you’re interested in baitcasting reels, you know a thing or two about presenting a lure and are looking for the best machine to get the job done right.
Your reel is your most important asset when presenting and creating action on your lure, and there is a reason professional anglers always have a baitcasting reel on board.
If you need to customize your lure presentation, while simultaneously ensuring enough torque to reel in the big bass, you’re in the right place.
My best baitcasting reel for bass is the Shimano SLX DC. It’s got coveted one-piece aluminum construction, several ratio options, and innovative computerized braking to keep you out of trouble (and at a very reasonable price point).
Table of Contents
- Baitcasting Reels vs Spinning Reels
- Why I Prefer Baitcasting Reels for Bass
- TOP 9 Best Baitcaster Reels for Bass
- Bass, Baitcasters, and Beyond
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Baitcasting Reels vs Spinning Reels
There is a misconception that there is some experience hierarchy between spinning reels and baitcaster reels.
Some anglers hold the belief that spinning reels are not for advanced anglers. Baitcasters are slightly more complicated to use than spinning reels, but in this case, the investment in learning a new tool has a huge payoff.
While it may be true that spincasters (the closed reel with a button on top to cast) are for beginning fishers, spinning reels and baitcasters are used by all experience-level anglers. The main difference between the reels will be the circumstances you use them in.
This does not take away from the fact that baitcasting reels have more of a learning curve than spinning reels, and it is probably where the misconception comes from.
A spinning reel sits below the rod, with a bail to control whether the line can be released from the reel. A baitcasting reel sits on top of the rod; the propulsion of the lure pulls line out of the reel.
The bail assists the angler in a spinning rod, and tangles are easier to avoid and unfurl. Line may twist in a spinning rod, but this is usually easily remedied by dragging out line behind your boat, or even with a very long cast.
What makes a baitcaster more complicated to learn is its ability to “bird nest”. Because lure propulsion is required to keep the line tight, if there is ever a lack of drag from the lure the reel may continue to spin. This action piles line up inside the reel, creating a huge headache to untangle.
Recently manufactured, quality baitcaster reels now have “brakes” to help mitigate this action some, though nothing can compensate for good, learned technique and fishing your cover and structures at the best time to fish for bass.
Because the baitcaster needs more line tension to work well, the general rule is to use baitcasting reels with large lures (10lb line and up).
Large lures and large bass require large line, and in turn, a baitcasting reel.
This is fortunate because large line works best in a baitcasting reel. Smaller line tends to tangle more easily inside the reel. This characteristic combined with a lighter lure can lead to constant tangles. It’s better to use a spinning reel with lighter tackle set ups while bass fishing.
Why I Prefer Baitcasting Reels for Bass
These differences aside, there is one major reason I like using baitcasting reels for bass fishing: customization.
Their design allows you to more easily control your cast by using your thumb to slow down the line. In addition, choosing your reel ratio customizes how quickly it reels and how much torque you will have to reel in a big fish.
Trying to get a top water lure at the right retrieval speed, or trying to cast a crankbait into the correct spot with wind and other variables, is incrementally easier with a baitcasting reel. This advantage makes learning how to use a baitcaster for bass at the top of every beginner angler’s list.
Speaking of: A Short Word on Ratios
Some of the baitcasting reels on this list have several ratio options, so it’s important that you have a basic understanding before picking one out. The gist is the higher the first number in the ratio, the faster your line will reel per turn.
The ratios aren’t set, but rather come in a range from around 5.1:1 to 9.1:1. It is difficult to reel a lure slowly on a higher ratio, but not so terrible the other way around, so it is recommended beginners to baitcasters should look in the 6ish ratio range.
High ratio baitcasting reels are great for bass once you get the hang of them. Not only do they generally provide more torque for hunting bigger bass, but they absolutely rip topwater lures in the appropriate fashion. Topwater fishing for huge bass is top angling in my book.
TOP 9 Best Baitcaster Reels for Bass
So now that you know the advantages of a baitcaster, it’s time to take a look at the best baitcasting reels for bass fishing this year. There are reels meant for every situation you may find yourself in, and some that work well as an all-around tool.
Every baitcaster will need a rod, so check out my rod and reel suggestions to learn how to mix and match your fishing gear.
Let’s get into it!
Shimano SLX DC Baitcast Reel
Let’s get my favorite all-around bass baitcasting reel out first. This thing has got rock-solid reviews at a great price point, and it’s an absolute joy to use. It’s very beginner-friendly, but still has all the features to move up with you in your angler career.
The reel is low profile and completely metal. Not only does this make it comfortable against your palms for all day use, but helps create a stable foundation to reel in a big bass. No body flex means reeling is smooth and reliable.
The feature that makes this reel truly stand out, though, is the innovative DC braking technology. This computerized system automatically brakes the spool to maximize casting distance and decrease backlash. This will keep knots out of your reel and take some of the guesswork out of using a baitcaster.
The reel has a 4:1 ball bearing system that smoothly handles 11-12lbs of torque maximum, and is available in 6.3:1, 7.2:1, and 8.2:1 ratios with both a left- or right-hand set-up.
You can use the 6.3:1 to use lighter smallmouth bass lures, and the 8.2:1 would be perfect for rigging largemouth bass lures that need some speed.
- Durable completely aluminum body.
- Extra smooth reeling and casting.
- Comfortable to hold all day.
- DC computerized braking (to maximize casts and mitigate backlash).
- 4:1 ball bearing system for smooth reeling.
- Available in all popular ratios and left/right hand orientations.
- Still requires some thumb for braking.
- Lower durability than simpler reels.
The DC series by Shimano is a great representation of the brand’s quality and innovation. The DC braking system on this reel will keep beginners out of trouble and save some hassle for experienced anglers.
As one of the best fishing brands in the world, Shimano hasn’t rested on their reputation. This new reel is the best of the best, without the extravagant price tag.
Lew's Classic Pro Speed Spool
If you’re looking for a budget baitcasting reel, look no further than Lew’s Classic Pro. Well, do make sure you look far enough to price check this reel. It is wildly popular and will sometimes have inflated pricing depending on the retailer, and we’ve already established we’re in it for a deal.
Fish aren’t gold-diggers, and they don’t really care what reel is pulling in the lure (if it’s handled by a skilled angler). This reel is just quality enough to work for almost any application and comes in the very popular 7.5:1 ratio for most bass applications.
It has a sturdy one-piece graphite frame for steady reeling and comfortable use that can handle up to 15lbs of drag power. The 4:1 ball bearings help with smooth retrieval and the one-way clutch minimizes back lash.
Lew’s clearly doesn’t want to hear any squawking from anglers once this reel leaves the shop. It’s got an incredibly durable construction, with machine pressed speed gears and either aluminum anodized or graphite parts. Three drain holes and rust-resistant construction keep water out of the equation.
- High-quality budget reel for bass fishing.
- Popular widely applicable 7.5:1 ratio.
- Sturdy one-piece graphite frame.
- 4:1 ball bearing smooth reeling.
- Machine pressed gears.
- One piece graphite construction with anodized aluminum or graphite parts.
- Three drain holes.
- Limited features and ratio options.
Lew’s Classic Pro is a fantastic budget basitcasting reel. It’s solidly constructed and will last bass anglers a long time, making it a huge return on the investment.
Piscifun Spark Pro Baitcasting Reel
Now here’s a baitcaster that will bring some style on your boat. The Piscifun puts the fun into baitcasters, at a great price point and lots of fun color combinations.
It also stands out for its low profile and super compact design. These considerations are a must for individuals with smaller hands, but will also increase comfort for every angler.
The pedals for the reeling handle are positioned closer towards the body of the reel, reducing wobble when reeling in a big fish.
This baitcaster reel is both pretty and durable. It includes a double-shaft supported line wind and an anodized aluminum main gear. An 11:1 ball bearing system makes for smooth retrieval and this Piscifun comes in both a 6.6:1 and an 8.1:1 ratio. I know what they’re thinking here: you’ll want to buy one of each!
The Spark also comes with a magnetic braking system that reduces backlash and assists casting. For the price of this reel, this is a nice feature to keep any level angler out of the “bird’s nest”.
- Beautiful color selection (maybe the bass will notice!).
- Affordable baitcaster with magnetic braking system.
- Low profile and compact design.
- Comfortable and easy to use baitcaster.
- Double shaft supported line wind.
- Smooth retrieval and two ratio options.
- Less durable than full aluminum housing.
If you’re looking for a budget reel with a braking feature (and a little flair), give this Piscifun Spark Pro a shot. The low profile and compact design really add to the overall comfort of this baitcaster.
Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Baitcast Reel
If you like items built to last, with a long running, flawless reputation, the Johnny Morris Signature series might be what you’re looking to add to your rod.
You will need to crack open your pocket book for this purchase (even further if you want the platinum version), but quality comes at a price.
This series has an almost 20-year reputation as the best baitcasting reel for bass fishing. The one-piece body is a titanium-carbon finished, diecast aluminum frame. Talk about a tough reel!
A double-shielded 10:1 ball bearing system ensures smooth reeling, and a double anodized aluminum spool will resist decay. The whole system is anti-reverse, keeping line accidents at bay. The reel comes in 6.8:1 and 7.5:1 reeling ratios, so that you can choose one that fits your style.
Of course, as the cream of the crop, this baitcaster reel comes with assisted braking. Not only does it come with magnetic brakes, but they work in conjunction with a centrifugal braking system. These should work well together to avoid backlash and tangles.
Best of all, the reel has been recently upgraded to have a lower profile and be even lighter. The lower profile makes it more comfortable to palm and easier to manage. The reel is 15% lighter than its predecessors, for longer, more enjoyable days on the water looking for bass.
- Long, flawless history as one of the best baitcasters for bass.
- One piece titanium-carbon finished aluminum body: both solid and durable.
- 10:1 Japanese ball bearings for smooth retrieval.
- Magnetic and centrifugal braking systems.
- Recently upgraded to be lighter and more palmable.
- This is an expensive reel, though arguably still a good deal.
If you’re willing to put the money in, this is a nice reel to start with. Dual braking system will keep you hunting bass longer without tangles than a standard baitcaster, and the quality construction means there should be no reason to replace this reel for a very long time. It a smooth, accurate reel, and my favorite for fishing bass in a river or creek.
Lew's Tournament MP Speed Spool LFS Baitcaster
I really like Lew’s reels, and this one is a great installment for a mid-range (affordable and high-quality) bass fishing reel. You’ll hardly notice that you paid $100 less for this reel instead of a luxury baitcaster.
The one-piece body is all aluminum, with graphite side plates to guard the goods. P2 Super Pinion technology keeps the pinion in line at all times, and an anodized aluminum U spool will keep your line where it’s supposed to be.
Lew’s Speed Spool has a 10:1 ball bearing system with double shielded ball bearings on a zero-reverse clutch. It’s a smooth reeling machine, with enough finesse to work complicated lures and enough torque to bring in the monster bass.
The Speed Spool also comes with two braking systems, and for this price, it’s a steal.
Both the magnetic brakes and the centrifugal brakes work with the spool to prevent backlash. Spool tension can be adjusted rapidly with a tension wheel on the side.
What sets this reel apart is that it’s truly built for speed. It has a large aluminum drag star for easily changing up drag on the fly. Combat grip accents keep this thing in your hands while you’re focused on other tasks and the Speed Keeper hook keeper is a quick and less damaging way to store whatever rod this reel is on quickly.
- High-quality baitcasting reel at an affordable price.
- One-piece aluminum construction for stable action.
- Double shielded 10:1 ball bearings.
- Comes in several ratios so you can customize your experience.
- Magnetic and centrifugal braking systems (unusual for this price range).
- Built for speed: combat grips, hook keeper, and large aluminum drag star.
- None! This reel is an all-around great buy.
I consider this my best baitcaster for bass “deal” on the list. Lew’s is a trusted, popular brand with great reviews. They came out swinging against other manufacturers with this model at such a low price point.
Abu Garcia Revo MGX Baitcast Reel
This reel will take the cake as the most expensive on the list, but no angler will argue its quality. If the best of the best is what you want, and can afford, this baitcasting reel is just right.
The Revo MGX stands out as a precise fishing machine. It’s extremely lightweight, while still able to handle the torque required to reel in a big bass. The magnesium-alloy frame is low profile and single piece construction. This makes it both comfortable to use and stable while reeling.
Carbon side plates protect a 10:1 bearing system and an aircraft-grade aluminum main gear. The infinity spool combined with a Ti-coated line guide makes casting smooth and reliable. The system works with a centrifugal brake, to keep backlash and bird’s nests at bay.
The recessed reel foot makes palming even easier, and the bent carbon handle assists when the bass has plenty of fight. There’s even a lube port for easy maintenance.
- Every piece of this baitcasting reel is of the highest quality.
- Precise, lightweight and low profile.
- Comfortable to use and keep using.
- One-piece magnesium-alloy construction.
- Carbon side plates.
- Centrifugal brake system.
- Smart design: recessed reel foot, bent carbon handles, and lube port.
- This is an expensive baitcasting reel.
No doubt about it, you get what you pay for. If you enjoy having a quality reel on while fishing for bass, then this baitcaster will fit the bill.
It’s filled out with features made from the highest quality materials and processes. When you’re fishing bass lures that require great placement (like a frog lure or finesse softbait lure), a quality reel really pays off.
KastKing Spartacus II Baitcasting Reel
If you don’t think fish care about some fancy reel and you’re just looking to get out on the water with some decent gear, may I suggest taking a look at KastKing? KastKing manufactures “next generation” baitcasters at an incredibly affordable price.
I chose the Spartacus II because they’ve put some nice features on this reel without blowing it out of a budget price range. This reel will still land you ahead of most fishers out on your waterway, without pulling the rug out from under your bank account.
This baitcaster is a low-profile, lightweight machine. At only 6oz, it really sets itself apart from other reels in this price range. The machine-hardened gears and aluminum main gear mean this reel is durable and ready for both fresh and saltwater.
Craziest of all, the 7:1 ball bearings come with a magnet braking system! That’s right, KastKing has managed to add braking to this budget reel. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to upgrade your old baitcaster, this reel might be the one.
- Quality budget baitcaster, least expensive reel on this list.
- Only 6oz with a low profile.
- 2:1 general workhorse ratio.
- Several fun colors to match up your rod.
- Magnetic braking system!
- Not a very durable reel.
- Not as smooth as other, more expensive baitcasters on the list.
This one would be a serious consideration for me if I was looking for a budget baitcasting reel. KastKing’s Sparticus II is a great tool for the investment, with features that fetch a much higher price from other manufacturers.
13 Fishing Concept A2 Baitcasting Reel
For the old-school baitcaster, it doesn’t get much better than the concept A2. This is a quality reel with quality features, without breaking out of a mid-category price range.
It’s difficult to find a bad review on this reel for a reason. The build is long running and well tested by 13 Fishing, making it one of the most durable baitcasters on the list. The drive train uses precision-cut brass gears with a 7 ball bearing system.
The one-piece rigid aluminum frame keeps reeling a sturdy endeavor, and as added protection, an Ocean Armor 2 treatment is applied for maximum water-shedding capabilities. The Concept A2 comes in four different ratios, all with left- or right-hand orientation.
What makes this baitcasting reel different from the rest on the list is it’s braking system. Instead of using magnets, 13 fishing has kept it classic with 6-way adjustable brakes.
- Solid, simple construction for a very durable rod.
- Precision cut brass gears.
- One-piece, rigid aluminum frame.
- Ocean Armor 2 exterior water shedding treatment.
- The most ratio options on the list.
- Well-built hand tuned brakes.
- Some anglers prefer magnetic or computerized brakes in this price range.
13 Fishing makes a simple, quality reel with durable features. This baitcaster is easy to maintain and use, and once you get the hang of it, it may be the smoothest reel you own.
Bass, Baitcasters, and Beyond
There’s a huge world of baitcasters for bass fishing out there, and it’s exciting you’ve started your journey to pick one out. When you decide to use a baitcasting reel over a spinning reel, it can seem like you’ve made a lot of work for yourself.
What’s important to remember is the variety a baitcaster will bring to the table, and a bass angler would ideally have both types on the boat.
There are a range of baitcasting reels for bass on this list, but of course, you’ll also be able to use them to fish for similarly sized species of fish.
Some of these baitcasters may even be used in saltwater, if they are a tough enough reel. A quality baitcaster can last a decade or more, in all sorts of conditions, with proper care.
If you get one off this list, you won’t be disappointed in your investment. Each one fits a different purpose well, and they are all a pleasure to use. Make sure you let us know which baitcasting reel you end up with!
Let me know in the comment section below which baitcaster you’ll end up with. Do you prefer baitcasting reels over spinning reels for bass? Do you have several baitcasting reels in different ratios or one “workhorse”? Have you tried the newer braking systems? How did they help with backlash and “bird nests”?