How to Pick a Baitcasting Reel

How to Pick a Baitcasting Reel

Bait casters are designed for experienced anglers who have specific goals. They are going after trophy catches, fishing mostly on saltwater. Hence, they do need a heavy-duty reel. That’s where the baitcasting reels come into play. Baitcasting reels are way more advanced than spinning reels; they can handle certain species that a spinning reel can only dream about. 

However, for that reason, a lot of fishermen hesitate when making the switch from spinning reels to baitcast reels. They are mostly afraid of the complexity of baitcast reels and of the fact that they may not be able to understand the new parts and mechanisms and won’t be able to work with them.

Nonetheless, if you take it step-by-step and understand how it works, you’ll find that it’s not that hard. You shouldn’t deny yourself the enjoyment of a baitcasting reel and what you can do with it for fear of failure. 

That’s why throughout this article, we will show you the basics of a baitcast reel and how you can choose one that is ideally suitable for you.

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Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Baitcasting Reel:

1. Construction

Now, you do know that although baitcasting reels can be used on any waterfront, they are designed for saltwater exposure. So, you will find that they are made out of robust materials such as anodized aluminum, titanium, ceramic, and manganese. 

You will not find a lot of graphite or carbon composite reels when digging for a good baitcaster because you need a lot of strength when using a baitcasting reel. For this reason, aluminum, titanium, manganese, and ceramic became the stars of the show here.

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2. Type

There are two types of baitcast reels; the low profile reel and the round reel.

Low Profile

This reel will allow you to palm it in your hand and leave your index finger on the line in order for you to feel anything that’s happening with your line. They are, of course, more ergonomically designed as they take a lot of pressure off your wrists.

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Round Reel

Round reels, on the other hand, are heavy-duty pieces. They hold a much higher line capacity, and that line is a lot heavier. They are to be used when you are aiming for a finicky trophy catch that is going to put up a significant fight.

3. Ball Bearings

Typically, with ball bearings, the more, the merrier. However, as with this reel, as with any other reel, quality rules over quantity. A lower number of sealed/shielded stainless steel or ceramic ball bearings is ten times better than a large number of low-quality ball bearings or bushes, which will definitely break on you and ruin your fishing adventure.

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4. Gear Ratio

Gear ratio is the speed at which you retrieve your line. The numbers stand for the number of whole spins that your spool makes per one full crank of the handle. The diameter of the spool has its own input as well.

A lower gear ratio such as 4.0.x  would reel your line slower, yet, it will give you a lot more torque, which can be useful when you are reeling-in large fish. A higher gear ratio will reel in your line a lot faster, which can be quite valuable if you are scanning a wide area, so you are casting and reeling continuously.

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5. Spool

You would definitely want a high capacity spool that can take significant length of line. Additionally, the spool has to be made out of the same premium-quality material as the rest of the reel in order to withstand the damage salt water will bring to its door. Forged and anodized aluminum are both excellent and affordable options. One more thing is that you ought to make sure that your spool is braid-ready as braided line will be your best friend when using baitcasting reels.

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6. Ergonomic Design 

You’ll be holding your reel plus the weight of your rod in your hand for long periods of time; you have to be completely sure that you are comfortable with every aspect of your reel. Furthermore, baitcasting reels do not come ambidextrous, so you have to choose a reel that is suited for your orientation.

Make sure that the handle is a decent length from the rod so you can be able to use it without difficulty. The handle itself could be made out of cork, rubber, or EVA. Needless to say, EVA is our top choice as it is a lot more comfortable for anglers.

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7. Brakes

Brakes are essential for controlling the rotation of your spool; they are that first line of defense against backlash. If you are unfamiliar with the term backlash, it is when the spool keeps on turning even though the line is not moving forward anymore. An excellent brake system will have the spool stop the moment your thread touches the water.

There are two types of braking systems; centrifugal and magnetic. Some companies actually put both systems in one reel for extra efficiency.

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This one operates through having the breaking pins inside the reel either turn on or off by the action of the centrifugal force that was generated during the cast. So the moment the cast has ended and your line has reached the water surface, it will work and therefore stop the spool from turning.


This system works by increasing and decreasing the distance between the spool and the two sets of magnets on each side of it.

8. Level wind System

Level wind systems are one of the best options that you can have in a baitcasting reel. It is the small bar that keeps going back and forth over your spool as you reel your line in. What it does is that it allows the line to be arranged evenly around the spool and therefore maintaining efficiency. If the line collects in one spot, the spool will stop abruptly.

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9. Anti Reverse

What this system does is that it allows the line to come out of the reel; however, it prevents it from coming back in, protecting your spool from malfunctioning. It is a ratchet and dog combination that stops the handle from going backward and therefore taking your focus off one thing so that you can put it in another more deserving area.

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10. Drag

Most baitcasting reels have a star drag system, which can be awkward to adjust when you are in the act. Hence, the first order of business when setting up your gear is to adjust your drag according to your target fish prior to casting. 

Your drag should be set to 20/30% of the breaking strength of the line in order to strike that balance between tiring out your fish and not snapping your line and even perhaps your rod in the process. A decent drag system on a baitcasting reel would mostly be a carbon fiber one with oversized oiled felt washers, which work remarkably well in dissipating the heat and pressure from all the friction.

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11. Pricing

The first thing that you need to know before heading out into the market is how much money you are willing to spend. Baitcasters are quite expensive for an excellent reason, which is the fact that they last few ages. 

They are a heavy-duty piece of equipment that will not fail you. Still, you should know how much you can put out and keep in mind the main features that you absolutely need in your bait caster so that you can focus on them. Then try and look for other extra options that will make your hobby a lot easier to practice.

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Final Thoughts

To wrap up everything that we have said, a baitcasting reel is a significant switch from spinning reels. You will not be going after small lake fish anymore; you are chasing trophy saltwater catches. Your baitcasting reel needs to be reliable, made out of premium materials, and exceptionally comfortable. That might be pricey; still, you will get your money value back each and every time you take it out on the water.

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