If you like working heavy lures, chasing big game fish, or throwing heavy lines, then adding a baitcasting reel to your collection is totally worth it.
It may have acquired the reputation of being a hard-to-master reel. However, you don’t want to throw all that away for fear of bird nests and the hardship of dealing with advanced technology.
The problem is, unlike spinning reels, baitcasting reels are known to be at the high end of the fishing reels market. Nevertheless, don’t shy away! While a budget of 100 bucks leaves you with a few options on the table, that doesn’t mean you won’t find a quality baitcasting reel within this price range.
Whether you’re a beginner, a professional, a freshwater fisherman, or a surf angler, we’ve got your back. We’ve gathered the best baitcasting reels under $100 on the market, taking into consideration the different skill levels and fishing types.
Table of Contents
At a Glance:
- Kastking Royale Legend Elite Low Profile – Best Overall
- Abu Garcia Silver Max Low Profile – Best Trolling/Saltwater Baitcasting Reel
- Piscifun Torrent – Best Durability
- Kastking Speed Demon Pro – Fastest Baitcasting Reel
- KastKing New Assassin – Lightest Baitcasting Reel
- Daiwa Fuego CT – Best Baitcasting Reel for Beginners
Budget Baitcasting Reels Comparison Table:
|Reel||Gear Ratio||Weight||Maximum Drag|
|Kastking Royale Legend Elite||5.3:16.6:17.3:18.1:1||7.2 ounces||17.6 lbs.|
|Abu Garcia Silver Max Low Profile||6.4:1||37 ounces||18 lbs.|
|Piscifun Torrent||5.3:17.1:1||8 ounces||18 lbs.|
|Kastking Speed Demon Pro||9.3:1||6.5 ounces||13.2 lbs.|
|Kastking New Assassin||6.3:1||5.71 ounces||16.5 lbs.|
|Daiwa Fuego CT||6.3:17.3:18.1 :1||7.6 ounces||13.2 lbs.|
The 6 Best Baitcasting Reels Under $100
1. Kastking Royale Legend Elite Low Profile – Best Overall
This legendary compact reel has earned its place on the throne of budget baitcasters. For less than $50, you can purchase a high-performance reel that stands out in every possible aspect. Its low-profile frame makes it palm-size and extremely comfortable for extended usage without causing wrist strain or injuries.
With a robust carbon fiber drag system and 11+1 shielded MaxiDur corrosion-resistant ball bearings, it can cast and retrieve like a dream. Adding this to the stainless steel kick levers and main shaft, you’ll have a reel that’s perfectly suitable for saltwater fishing as well as freshwater.
Its aluminum forged multi-ported spool reduced its weight to 7.5 ounces, besides being big enough to hold 12/130 pounds/yd of monofilament line and 50/130 pounds/yd of braid line. This way, you won’t have to worry about landing fish from long distances.
Royale Legend gained its popularity as a tournament reel thanks to its reliable magnetic brakes that feature ten levels of control. They reversed the whole concept of abundant bird nests and hard-to-learn braking systems.
Moreover, it’s an all-purpose reel since it comes in four designs that offer different gear ratios in different ranges. They’re even color-coded for ease of identification. The ratios are: 5.3:1 (white), 6.6:1 (blue), 7.3:1 (black), and 8.1:1 (red). With this variety, you can choose whatever fits you better and launch any kind of bait you want.
- Compact low-profile design
- Many gear ratio options
- Reliable magnetic brakes
- Pocket-friendly price
- Ergonomic EVA handle
- Corrosion-resistant ball bearings
- Some complaints about grinding noises
With these splendid features, one would expect to pay more! It deserves to be top-rated at this price range. Thanks to its lightweight, small frame and comfortable rubber handle knobs, you can cast all day long without breaking a sweat.
2. Abu Garcia Silver Max Low Profile – Best Trolling/Saltwater Baitcasting Reel
Coming from a quality brand, Abu Garcia Silver Max stands out for having a rocket clutch mechanism that gives you the ability to engage and disengage the spool with one hand. Its capacity to flip and pitch offers a great advantage for walleye anglers who like back trolling.
In addition to having a powerful drag system that can load up to 18 pounds, its one-piece graphite frame is corrosion-resistant. Thus, it serves surf anglers well as it withstands the harsh conditions around saltwater and the fights of large marine species.
Furthermore, Silver Max comes with five stainless steel ball bearings along with one roller bearing on which you can count on for smooth performance.
We can’t forget to mention that Abu Garcia specializes in their efficient MagTrax braking systems that offer consistent control over backlashes and line twists. We can say the braking system in this reel works as compellingly as its high-end competitors.
If you’re not concerned about the pitching and flipping mechanism, you can switch to the BMAX 3 from the same company. It’s almost the same in all features except it lacks the clutch switch.
One possible drawback in this reel is that it weighs 37 ounces, which may not be very heavy, but it can’t be considered on the light side either.
- Flipping switch
- Smooth performance
- Ergonomic design
- Perfect for fishing from boats or kayaks
- Compact bent handle
- More on the hefty side
- Complaints about long term durability
- Thin paint rubs off
Silver Max and its relative Black Max are thoroughly praised by users for the effortless fishing experience they can give you at this low price. If you’re a surf fisherman and looking for a reel with a middle-ground gear ratio that allows using a variety of baits and lures, then this reel is perfectly designed for you.
If you are going fishing in saltwater, make sure to also check out my guide to the best Saltwater fishing rods here.
3. Piscifun Torrent – Best Durability
We rate this reel as the most heavy-duty all-weather reel. Fortunately, You don’t need to spend hundreds to obtain this monstrous climate-resistant brass drag that’s reinforced with four high-grade carbon fiber washers.
If anything, these robust washers are what make this baitcaster outstanding among its genre. Combine this with the shielded 18pounds drag, and you’ll get a baitcasting reel suitable for both salt and freshwater fishing.
Not only that, but you’ll also be able to tackle any type of lures with it since this reel comes in two designs. One for fast fishing with a gear ratio of 7.1:1 while the other allows the use of weightless plastics at a ratio of 5.3:1.
We absolutely love the idea of the side-plate oil port. It proves to come in handy when it comes to maintaining the reel.
For one thing, you won’t live the agonizing stress that comes with disassembling the reel in fear of destroying it. For another, funnily enough, it actually acts as a constant reminder for you to lubricate and maintain your most precious piece of equipment.
While Torrent provides incredible value for money, it is still criticized for its small number of bearings. Many users claim that 5+1 ball bearings aren’t enough to render this reel the smoothest.
- Climate-resistant reel
- Easy to maintain
- Handle big fish with ease
- Double wind shafts
- Reported common bird nests
- No instruction manual
All in all, it’s the perfect example of a cheap yet high-quality product. With this reel, you can rest assured as you’d be able to reel in all the fighting monsters you’ve been dreaming of catching.
4. Kastking Speed Demon Pro – Fastest Baitcasting Reel
This lightning-fast baitcasting reel is specially designed for anglers who primarily like working the lures with their rods and want to overcome the slack of this technique. A gear ratio of 9.3:1 is exceptionally high, and that’s what Kastking surprised us by in this price range.
Not only is it the fastest on our list, but also it has the highest number of ball bearings with 12+1 bearings made of double-shielded stainless steel. What more can we ask for! This demon, which only weighs 6.7 ounces, provides exceptionally fast casts and retrieves, besides being smooth as silk.
The spool is made of rust-free anodized aluminum, which renders it able to hold 12/160 and 14/140 lines. That makes it a seemly candidate for surf fishing as well, given that it can cover long distances and shield itself against corrosive conditions.
With high speed, comes the problem of nasty backlashes. Nevertheless, kastking supplied the reel with a trilateral magnetic brake system, which is capable of infinite adjustments to keep up with different baits and various conditions.
- The fastest reel
- Golf style grip
- Solid body
- Corrosion-resistant ball bearings
- Some parts are cheaply made
- Braking system requires some learning
Speed Demon Pro is undoubtedly the winner in the category of fast baitcasting reels under $100. You can rely on its reliable gear and drag that can bear up to 13.2 pounds. Pair it with a fast-action rod as well, and then you’re all set up for flipping and pitching in small quarters.
5. KastKing New Assassin – Lightest Baitcasting Reel
Kastking has earned its third mention on our list with this ultralight spinning reel. They’ve done everything to reduce its weight to 5.7 ounces without compromising its power. Now you can fish all day without experiencing any kind of muscle strains or fatigue.
Built with a four disk carbon fiber system, the new assassin has a powerful stopping drag that can endure 16.5 pounds. Fishing for seawater monsters has never been easier with its 11+1 MaxiDur ball bearings that are shielded and anti-corrosive.
You can thoroughly count on its dual braking system to take advantage of centrifugal brakes at the beginning of the cast and magnet brakes at the end. That’s not to mention the bull’s eye precision you can get from its 6.3:1 gear ratio.
It’s worth mentioning that this reel comes in a posh design that is inlaid with beautiful blue accents. Its ease of assembling leaves space for easy maintenance and cleaning.
- Extremely lightweight and portable
- Classy design
- Reliable stopping power
- Very smooth
- Bulletproof cover
- Squeaking noises
- Brake system is hard for beginners
Honestly, we’re big fans of this all-amazing durable reel that is featherweight and ultrasmooth. With its premium brakes and high casting power, we have no reason to complain. It’s one of the best practical options in this class.
If you are looking for more light options, check out these spectacular ultralight spinning reels here that won’t cost you much.
6. Daiwa Fuego CT – Best Baitcasting Reel for Beginners
Do you want a baitcasting reel to use as you learn? Then, by all means, aim for this gem. Equipped with six models that vary in the handle’s direction and gear ratios (6.3/7.3/8.1:1), the stage is all yours to choose which one is suitable for your type of fishing.
Its palm-sized aluminum frame, along with its tournament carbon drag that holds up to 13.2 pounds, allows maximum fish stopping power. This compact design, together with its low-profile size renders it perfect for the fumbling hands of beginners.
What’s interesting about this reel is its Megaforce-Z cast control. This pretty much allows the user to start spinning the spool with high speed at first to guarantee maximum initial speed. Then the rate retracts gradually by the work of magnetic brakes to prevent the overrun of the line.
It may be short in ball bearing with only 5+1 ball bearings, yet its performance is glass smooth and likely to impress. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the capability of long casts. Nonetheless, it’s not a fatal flaw if you’re not concerned about casting distances.
- Compact design
- Easy braking system
- Short casting distances
- On the high-end of this price range
This reel is capable of making you fall in love with baitcasters. Many customers claim that it’s one of the most user-friendly baitcasting reels, and while using it, they no longer consider adjusting the brakes as a nightmare. If long casts aren’t your priority, then you should give this one a fair shake.
What to Expect From a $100 Baitcasting Reel
To cut to the chase, we’d say don’t expect much in the way of advanced technology and mind-blowing materials. Otherwise, manufacturers have done an excellent job of making some top-notch baitcasting reels concerning all the other aspects.
You’ll find many poor reels on local markets made of cheap plastics or hanging parts. That’s why it’d be better if you stick to the well-known brands in this genre even if there isn’t a big collection on the table.
They may not be in the same league as expensive Shimanos and high-tech Daiwas. However, in the list mentioned above, you can even find reels under $50 that are praised for their decent performance compared to their high-end competitors.
Practically speaking, you won’t actually benefit from the cutting-edge technology if you aren’t used to the basic form of a baitcaster. Hence, starting with a baitcaster in this price range or having it as a backup is the best we can recommend since you’re not compromising much, and you can always upgrade later once you get the hang of it.
What to Look for When Buying a Budget Baitcasting Reel
While choosing a baitcaster that doesn’t leave you in debt, you need to follow specific criteria to know which features you should spot and compare in the reels.
1. Low Profile vs. Round Profile
Baitcasters come in two sizes; low profile and round profile, with the former being the most favored by anglers since they’re palm-size, ergonomic, and on the lighter side.
Some may even weigh less than six ounces, which is more convenient for wrist action and control, mainly because they’re placed on top of the rod instead of beneath it. This position, together with the spool being perpendicular to the rod, makes it generally harder to handle the reel. Hence, anglers prefer hand-size reels so that they can gain better control over them.
Naturally, low profiles are more common within this price range since they consume fewer materials. The only downside is that they may not aid in reeling big game fish. They are more preferred if you’re targeting small bass and crappies.
On the other hand, round profile reels are your best choice if you’re after big-game fish like muskies and salmon, since they need hefty lines with larger baits. Also, the fact that they are gripped from behind offers unrivaled torque and control over the reel.
The core decides the robustness and durability of the reel. That’s why you should aim for the best quality you can get.
Mostly, in this price segment, you’ll find reels made of graphite as it’s less expensive. They may not be the most durable, but they’re certainly lighter in weight. However, you should opt for reels made of sturdy materials like aluminum or carbon-fiber to handle the abuse of rough weather and fighting fish. They may be hard to find in reels under $100, but they aren’t rare.
Moreover, bear in mind that regular maintenance for reels is a must. Thus, look for the ones that are easy to disassemble and be rebuilt smoothly.
Unlike spinning reels, baitcasters usually are designed in two identical models, with the only difference being the position of the handle.
The majority tends to choose the right-handed model, due to this being, more often than not, their dominant hand. Choosing either model should be fine. Though keep in mind that when you work the crank with your right hand, you should cast the rod with your left and vice versa.
A comfortable grip is a key factor in handling a fighting fish. It’s not practical to cast with your right, then switch the rod to your left hand to work the handle with your right again. This will be time-consuming and will eventually screw up your casts.
For better judgment, try holding a rod and a reel before your purchase and make up your mind on which model will be most comfortable for you.
4. Gear Ratio
This ratio represents how many revolutions are made by the spool at each crank of the handle. The higher the number, the more line is retrieved per one turn. Hence, it determines the speed of the reel, which, in turn, decides what types of lures you can use.
Ratios within the 5-6:1 range mark the slowest reels. These are suitable in case of working crankbaits or when you want to keep your bait in the strike zone longer.
Intermediate gear ratios (6-7:1) are the perfect middle-ground for both fast and slow techniques. Opt for a gear ratio within this range if you want to be able to use any kind of bait.
Higher gear ratios are more specialized for fast-action fishing when you’re working spinnerbaits or buzz baits. They are the best for areas with small strike zones owing to their ability to take up slack and return quickly.
5. Braking System
The braking system is your line of offense against the dreaded backlashes, as the control you apply on the spool may not be enough to prevent the mess of overrun lines.
Two types of brakes are used to aid in controlling the speed of the spool. You’d either find one of them installed in the reel or the two applied together.
Centrifugal brakes are the basic ones. They utilize pins inside the side plate to apply friction on the spool. On the other hand, magnetic brakes are cheaper, and they rely on magnets to slow down the speed of the spool in a more complicated way.
The main and most influential difference between them would be the initial speed. Since the speed and friction work exponentially in the centrifugal brakes, they don’t leave much space for high initial velocities. Nonetheless, with magnetic brakes, you can start with high speed with no problem at all.
6. Spool and Line Capacity
It may be hard to find forged spools in cost-saving reels, but spools dyed with aluminum should do the job. Other than that, it’d be better if the spool has drilled holes for it to be lighter and easier to manage.
In general, bigger spools have larger line capacity and accommodate heftier leads and lures. Depending on your type of fishing, you should use the line capacity that suits you better. For instance, should you be into surf fishing, you’d need lines that reach 300-400 yards, let alone the strength to handle 50-60 pounds fish.
7. Ball Bearings
The general rule states that the more ball bearings you can get in the reel, the smoother it’ll work. However, two or three bearings with top-notch performance should suffice.
After all, look for shielded or sealed bearings for premium quality and increase the number of bearings if you’re targeting large bass and muskies. This would guarantee a smoother and easy-going fishing experience.
In conclusion, we highly recommend Kastking Royale Legend as the best baitcasting reel under $100 thanks to its feature-loaded design and pocket-friendly price. Also, Daiwa Fuego would absolutely do the job for novice anglers.
Now, all you have to do is choose wisely according to your proficiency level and type of fishing. Then you’re all set to go and start your journey in the world of struggling game fish and advanced tricks and techniques.