Without an iota of doubt, fishing is one of the prominent activities of people – either as a hobby for passing time or profession. However, the vast majority of anglers are limited by the cost and the type of reels they employ.
Of all types of reels, baitcasting reels have been known to be the best in terms of performance and efficiency. Hence, it’s the go-to reel type for beginner and seasoned anglers.
However, the baitcasting reels were deemed expensive and as such, not available to every willing angler. Thankfully, with the advancement in technology, there are now lots of top quality baitcasting reels available under $200.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing, five of the best baitcasting reel under $200 and factors we consider in choosing them.
Top 5 The Best Baitcasting Reels Under 200 – Review
- SHIMANO SLX XT Series Casting Reel – Best for a Smooth Fishing Experience
- Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel – Best for All Bait Style
- Lew’s Mach Crush – Best for Great Casting Distance
- KastKing Bassinator Elite Baitcasting Reels – Best for Fishing Tournaments
- 13 Fishing Concept Z Freshwater/Saltwater Baitcasting Fishing Reel – Best for Smooth Casting
Best for a Smooth Fishing Experience
SHIMANO SLX XT Series Casting Reel
Best for All Bait Style
Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel
Best for Great Casting Distance
Lew's Mach Crush
Best for Fishing Tournaments
KastKing Bassinator Elite Baitcasting Reels
Best for Smooth Casting
13 Fishing Concept Z Freshwater/Saltwater Baitcasting Fishing Reel
SHIMANO SLX XT Series Casting Reel – Best for a Smooth Fishing Experience
When it comes to having a smooth fishing experience, the Shimano SLX XT casting reel will meet your expectations. This reel features S3D spool technologies which eliminate spool vibration and creates a smooth feeling when casting and retrieving baits.
As of the design, it’s built with a metal body with high rigidity to eliminate body flexing, making it resistant to corrosion. Also, the SF spool was constructed to remove friction on the spool shaft during casting. This makes it the go-to reel for anglers who want a reliable and durable reel.
With a weight of 7.2 ounces, it’s lightweight, easy to transport and use all-day. Besides, it features a powerful drag system, which allows a smooth and strength across the entire drag span of the reel.
- Metal reel body with high rigidity
- Left hand
- S3D spool technology
- SVS infinity
- Can be used for boating and other outdoor activities.
- Versatile and durable to use
- Reduces friction and comfortable to use
- Corrosion resistance and eliminates body flexing
- Quite expensive
Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel – Best for All Bait Style
The Abu Garcia Gear Design, paired with a brass main gear, provides maximum durability and efficiency, ensuring less effort and more power. This reel features a keyed Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag System and is available in two gear ratios; the 6.6:1 gear ratio and the 7.3:1 model.
It comes with nine stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing for smooth casting and retrieval and C6 carbon side plates for a noticeable lightweight feel without forfeiting strength and durability. To ensure it serve you for a long time, the manufacturer incorporates a Duragear brass gear.
This impressive reel also spotlights the X2-Cräftic alloy frame, which provides a strong yet comfortable frame, with a firm base for high drag tensions, and also features corrosion resistance. Besides, its dual braking system offers a wide range of adjustments to fit with any style of bait.
- Nine stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
- C6 carbon side plates
- Duragear brass gear
- Dual braking system
- Lightweight and comfortable to hold.
- Smooth casting and retrieval.
- Unique braking system and pocket-friendly
- Available in both right-handed and left-handed models
- The lock for the side plate may not work securely and effectively.
Lew’s Mach Crush – Best for Great Casting Distance
The Lew’s Mach Crush is one of the best baitcasting reels featuring an automatic controlled brake system. This makes it the perfect tool to use for anglers of all skill levels as it requires less thumbing. It has an adjustable dual cast control system for setting the external click-dial and the magnetic brake makes it a reel appreciated by different types of fishermen.
Considering the construction, the reel is designed with a durable graphite frame and side plates to make it lightweight and sensitive. The main gear and crankshaft are made of solid brass, and the 95mm bowed aluminum handle emphasizes the oversized Winn Dri-Tac knobs to ensure a non-slip grip in all situations.
The reel is equipped with a 10-bearing system with double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings and Zero Reverse one-way clutch bearing for unparalleled fluidity. Also, it features four removable disk-mounted internal brake shoes that perform on centrifugal force.
- Graphite frame and side plates.
- Machined and double anodized aluminum U-shape 32-millimeter spool
- Rigid and stable brass main gear and crankshaft.
- 10-bearing system with double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings
- Zero Reverse one-way clutch bearing.
- Smooth cast and easy retrieval.
- Perfect for anglers of all skill levels
- Can cast a great distance
- The palming plate falls off easily.
13 Fishing Concept Z Freshwater/Saltwater Baitcasting Fishing Reel – Best for Smooth Casting
This fantastic reel is the first-ever high-performance casting reel designed with zero ball bearings. Not only does this reel cover more distance than the average reel, but it features CZB Technology, which replaces all ball bearings with a high-quality polymer material.
It is made of a polymer material to make it durable and corrosion-resistant. The handle offers greater comfort even in the case of a long fishing trip. Besides, the reel is smooth, powerful and light, able to satisfy all fishing enthusiasts in freshwater and the sea.
With comfort and ease in mind, this reel was designed to work with all sorts of anglers and is smooth to touch. Thus, allowing you to quickly adapt your fishing action to the needs of the moment.
- Anti-rust polymer material
- CZB technology
- Zero ball bearing
- Gear side plates
- Casts greater distance than a reel with traditional ball bearings.
- Constructed using Ocean Armor 2 Saltwater Protection Process to resist corrosion.
- Can be used for all types of fishes.
- The line may get tangled.
KastKing Bassinator Elite Baitcasting Reels – Best for Fishing Tournaments
The King of the tournament-ready baitcasting reel is none other than KastKing Bassinator Elite Baitcasting Reel. This reel is designed with an aluminum frame with carbon covers for a light and durable feel.
The aluminum helps to keep the weight of the reel light and is heat-treated to increase the strength and durability to the maximum. It uses ten double-shielded, stainless-steel bearings, including two free-spin super speed spool bearings that empower you with remarkable ultra-smooth performance.
Also, the aluminum composition allows you to mount and manage the wire without difficulty and hitches, thanks to its click adjustments for precise control, thus demonstrating good smoothness and undoubted constructive care.
Its smallest zero-flex aluminum frame casting reel is designed to fit perfectly and comfortably in your hand.
- Zero-flex aluminum frame
- High-quality carbon fiber side plates
- Extra-long casts and an instant stop anti-reverse bearing for a total of 10+1 BB.
- Carbon fiber handle and cork grips are excellent.
- Click feedback helps to adjust the spool for different baits easily.
- Brakes are easy to turn on and off.
- Not comfortable to use for beginners
How to Choose the Best Baitcasting Reel under $200
There are many baitcasting reels under $200 but unfortunately, they do not all have the same performance efficiency. Besides, some are easier to use than others. That’s why you need to put the following factors into consideration before settling for one.
This is a very significant factor to consider as it determines your comfort while fishing. If you purchase a reel that doesn’t feel comfortable on your hands, you might rue your fishing experience.
A firm, comfortable, and well-balanced handling of your reel will boost your fishing sureness and make you always look forward to fishing trips.
A reel that is not heavy on your hands will make you more comfortable and help you cast with improved confidence. Also, a lightweight baitcasting reel helps you improve your catch as it gives you the needed flexibility, maneuverability and great fishing angles.
Here is a tip: before paying for a reel, request to test it, because the weight written on the pack could be false at times.
When it comes to the gear ratio, two things matter;
- User’s level of expertise: Reel users are either professionals (experts) or beginners(novice)
- Purpose: This refers to the purpose you want the reel to serve. It deals with planning to fish for small fishes or big fishes.
The function of the gear ratio in your reel determines the speed with which your reel will engage a line. For example, if your reel has a gear ratio of 7:3:1, it simply means the spool on the reel will rotate 7.3 times before picking a line.
One advantage the baitcasting reels have over other types of reels is the vast range of gear ratio they feature. There are reels of gear ratio within the ranges of 5:0:1 to 9:1:1 and the one you would choose depends on your level of expertise. Most professionals use reels within the range 7:1:1 – 9:1:1 because they’re easy to maneuver.
It is safe for beginners to use reels with gear ratio within the range of 5:0:1 – 7:1:1 as it will allow them to fish both slow and fast moving baits. Also, it’ll make it easy for them to wind and unwind the reel without putting much pressure on the lure.
Deep spool size
If your target is to make big catches – I mean if you plan to catch big and stronger fishes, you will need a reel that has a stronger line and this will take huge space on the spool. This means you have to fish with a reel featuring a deep spool.
The deeper the spool, the more line will be contained on the reel. And the more line contained on the reel, the higher your chances of catching bigger and stronger fishes. To make it more convenient, you could get an extra line, which will give room for larger fish to make runs before pulling them out.
The only time it is advisable to get a spool with a smaller line is if you’re planning bass fishing. Bass are smaller types of fish that do not need large spools to capture them.
The type of baitcasting reel
There are two major types of baitcasting reels, the low profile reels and the round reels. This is also an essential factor to consider because both types of reels perform different functions. The low profile reels are designed to allow anglers palm the reel conveniently during retrieve. It is suitable for bass anglers.
On the other hand, the round reels are designed to hold more lines than the low profile reels. In summary, if your targets are the small fishes that can be retrieved easily you should consider the low profile baitcasting reel. The round reels are suitable if your targets are the big fishes.
Brake and drag system
Imagine a scenario where a fish is fighting, struggling real hard to free itself from the reel; it is the brake system that keeps the line from breaking. A typical reel has a front and rear brake system. The drag system is the part that determines the amount of pressure exerted on the line during retrieve. A perfectly working drag system should let you battle any fish with no fear of line spillage.
If you considered 100 factors without considering comfort, it’s the same as not having considered any factor at all. The comfort level of a baitcasting reel will determine how well you operate it, your skills, and catch.
Consider settling for a reel that can be gripped easily so you don’t miss balance with your rod or mar your angling accuracy.
As an added plus you should purchase a drill that can work effectively across different spectrums. For example, it should be able to work in situations that require a low gear ratio and high gear ratio. It should also come with a large spanning speed adjustment option.
How to Cast a Baitcasting Reel
Handling baitcasting reels requires a lot of practice beforehand but there is no going back once you master the art of using it. The following few steps could assist you in becoming the next baitcasting reel expert.
- Set up your rod
- Adjust the brakes
- Tighten the spool tension
- Push the spool release button
- Release tension on the spool slowly by turning the spool tension knob.
Master these five and you are good to go.
Maintaining your Baitcasting Reel
By default, all the baitcasting reels listed here are reliable and capable of serving you long-term. Largely, it also depends on how well you take care of it. Proper maintenance is necessary. Below are ways you can go about it.
- Disassemble the whole reel to its last part.
- Wipe with a soft and clean piece of clothing that have previously been soaked in a stain remover.
- Oil/grease the tip of the spool, brake, lines, housing and other parts of the fishing reel
- Reassemble the whole reel.
Frequently Asked Questions
In case you don’t know, a tiny piece of dirt or particle could clog your reel and prevent it from functioning effectively. If it is regularly in use, weekly cleaning is compulsory but a regular monthly cleansing session is recommended if used once a while.
Yes, this is possible but don’t freak out yet. Baitcasting reels making noise happens only when there’s a lack of maintenance. If such happens, check the spool bearing to ensure there is no object obstructing it. If there is, remove it. Another reason for this is when the bearings are rusted. Hence it is advisable to change the bearings once they are rusted.
That depends on the manufacturer of the reel. Some support it and some do not. If your baitcasting reel supports a VBS, that means you are free to use it, otherwise, don’t.
When line loads to either the right or left side of the spool, it is simply because of the direction the rod is pointed. When your rod is pointed upwards, the line will load at the left side and vice versa. This can be prevented by always ensuring that the rod and line are kept parallel to each other.
We have come to the end of this guide and reviewed 5 of the best baitcasting reel under $200. Also, we have discussed the deciding features of the best baitcasting reel should you decide to go for a product not listed in this guide. Hence, you most probably have all that is needed to select the best baitcasting reel that meets your needs.
Lastly, you should get your baitcasting reel directly from the manufacturer or their trusted retailers to avoid purchasing a clone or a product without a satisfying warranty.