Experienced saltwater anglers often prefer baitcast reels. Baitcasting is an outstanding fishing method for smaller inshore fish up to the largest offshore game fish. Baitcasters provide superior line capacity for typically heavyweight saltwater fishing line. Baitcasting reels are typically designed with higher gear ratios that are designed for handling extended line lengths in deep water and effectively landing larger fish.
Baitcast reels have comparatively heavier duty construction than spinning reels and have precisely engineered drag and braking systems to preserve line and prevent backlash and tangling.
What is the best saltwater baitcasting reels? Here are our picks in five different categories.
Top 5 Best Baitcasting Reel For Saltwater
Best For Inshore
|SHIMANO Curado K|
Best For Beginners
|Daiwa Coastal TWS|
|KastKing Royale Legend|
|Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile|
|Lews Fishing Tournament MB|
1. SHIMANO Curado K — Best Inshore Saltwater Baitcasting Reel
The Curado features modern high tech design throughout the reel’s components. The Hagane metal composite construction provides strength and reduces vibration and wear during retrieval.
The Curado is designed with Shimano’s “Super Free” spool, which allows for close to zero friction from the spool when casting line. The spool’s pinion gear has a single bearing that keeps the gear and spool aligned throughout the length of the cast.
This is well suited for all inshore methods and lures. It allows for consistent and hassle-free casting even with lighter inshore tackle. It also works well with pier fishing and all sorts of saltwater jigging.
This is typical of the high quality that Shimano is known for. The reel is designed with modern technology that provides for a very smooth retrieving reel. The low profile design of this reel works very well for inshore jigging techniques requiring consistent line retrieval and lure control.
- The Curado’s drag system is smooth and quickly adjustable.
- This is durable and will last for years of saltwater fishing with proper cleaning and maintenance.
- The drag system of this reel has had some consistency issues, especially in deep water when water is retrieved along the line back onto the spool.
2. Daiwa Coastal TWS — Best Saltwater Baitcast Reel for Beginners
This Daiwa reel is specifically designed for inshore saltwater fishing. The Coastal’s aluminum frame construction is well suited to resist saltwater corrosion, and the aluminum construction provides greater line capacity than many low profile designs.
Daiwa’s TWS T-Wing system assists casting consistency, especially for anglers who do not have extensive experience working with baitcasting reels.
This is a great reel for kayak fishing and all sorts of other inshore fishing. This is also suitable for virtually all freshwater fishing types as well, and with practice most anglers will want to experience the quality and feel of baitcasting on all of their fishing trips.
Daiwa TWS is an excellent choice for inshore saltwater anglers who are looking for their first saltwater baitcasting reel. The design and functionality of this reel make practice easy and high performance comes quickly with some experience with the reel’s functions and adjustments. This is a great choice for all-around inshore fishing for anglers who are looking into learning baitcasting.
- This makes advanced baitcasting adjustments, casting, and jigging techniques accessible to new baitcasters.
- This casts well enough for efficient surf fishing as well as inshore fishing.
- This low profile reel is not well suited for offshore fishing.
3. Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile — Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reel for Kayak Fishing
The Black Max provides classic Abu Garcia quality at a reasonable price. The reel’s graphite construction allows for a lower price than other Garcias, but design and durability are not sacrificed. Graphite is highly resistant to corrosion. With most saltwater baitcasting techniques from kayaks and smaller boats, graphite construction means comfortable casting and fishing.
The reel’s graphite construction is lightweight and is easy on a kayak angler during a long day on the water rowing, casting, retrieving, and landing fish. The reel’s magnetic braking system promotes smooth and consistent casting from a small boat without worries about backlash or line trouble.
Abu Garcia’s tension knob design helps anglers of all experience levels cast consistently from small craft without constant attention. This reel has a nice drag system that makes for safe and exciting fights even with larger fish from a small boat.
The Black Max offers the quality and versatility that Abu Garcia is well known for. This fine baitcaster is well suited for a wide variety of saltwater fishing methods and is especially effective at inshore jigging and pier fishing for small to medium sized species from kayaks and other small boats.
- This is lightweight and very useful onboard a kayak or other small boat.
- The Black Max maintains Abu Garcia’s reputation for quality fishing gear and baitcasting reels.
- The reel’s graphite construction is light and corrosion resistant; the tradeoff is in long-term durability.
4. KastKing Royale Legend/Whitemax Low Profile — Best Budget Saltwater Baitcasting Reel
This aluminum bodied reel features brass gears and a carbon fiber drag system. It is a versatile reel, and is useful for freshwater as well as most saltwater types of fishing.
KastKing’s reputation for quality equipment at a low price makes this a good reel for anglers who might want to try out baitcasting on a budget. Many angler report satisfaction with this reel’s performance that exceeds reels costing several times more.
This KastKing features a dual braking system and a higher gear ratio to assist with smooth casting and fast retrieval. The ten bearing system is smooth and with some practice, this reel will cast as well as much more expensive reels.
This a great choice for anglers who want to try out saltwater baitcasting with an inexpensive reel to get experience and develop baitcasting skills. It is adequate for most inshore techniques and surf fishing, and with proper maintenance will make for a fine saltwater baitcasting reel for a variety of uses.
- This is great for anglers who want to try out baitcasting with an inexpensive reel.
- The braking system on this reel really works well on preventing line backlash.
- The KastKing bearing system provides for very smooth retrieval.
- The spool tension knob on this reel requires regular attention in order to preserve correct tension adjustment.
- This reel’s construction requires diligent cleaning and attention after saltwater fishing.
5. Lews Fishing Tournament MB — Most Versatile Saltwater Baitfishing Reel
The Lew’s Tournament MB reel is constructed of a lightweight carbon composite that provides great strength and resistance to corrosion. The braking system on this reel has multiple settings that help keep constant fine tuning and adjustments to a minimum.
This is suitable for all inshore, surf, and pier fishing techniques, and will handle itself in some offshore fishing for smaller to medium fish. It casts well enough to handle surf fishing and repeated casting at long distances while being sensitive enough for inshore jigging and trolling.
The drag system of the Lew’s MB is superior to many reels of similar size and design. The MB has Lew’s carbon fiber star drag system that provides 20 pounds of drag weight consistently and is quickly adjustable while landing fish.
This is a good all-around reel offering the quality design and construction that Lew’s is known for. The reel is exceptionally smooth and casts consistently at long range. The line capacity the reel offers makes it a good choice for both inshore fishing and deeper water fishing as well.
- This is lightweight but has the stable feel of a heavy metal reel.
- This rod casts really well and holds enough line for deeper water fishing.
- Some users report noise and some vibration during retrieval.
Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels – Buyer’s Guide
Saltwater fishing is demanding on your equipment, and standard duty gear or improperly maintained reels, rods, and tackle will disappoint anglers dealing with harsh saltwater conditions. All saltwater is corrosive and attacks equipment not designed to withstand the salt, grit, and chemicals that coat and get inside highly engineered reels. Saltwater fishing also requires close attention to cleaning and maintaining all fishing equipment, and especially saltwater fishing reels.
Saltwater anglers usually choose baitcasting or spinning reels. In this guide, we will focus on baitcasting reels. This type of reel matches up well with a wide variety of durable and flexible baitcasting rods, and is well suited for all different types of saltwater fishing, whether surf fishing, pier fishing, or inshore and offshore fishing. Baitcasting reels are considered to be the most heavy duty reel type, and are excellent for casting and deep water fishing. Baitcasting reels require some practice and discipline, but once you develop some expertise with baitcasting you will find it to be the superior choice for all saltwater fishing methods for all sorts of species.
Surf fishing is fishing from the beach or shoreline by long casting out past any breakers and allowing the surf to work the bait. Pier fishing is similar, although depending on the pier structure, an angler is less likely to have to cast as long as from the shoreline.
Saltwater fishing from a boat is considered to be either inshore or offshore, depending on how far out the boat goes to fish. Inshore fishing is closer to shore, usually less than a couple of miles out. Offshore fishing is done in deeper waters usually ten miles or further from shore. Both fishing types can involve jigging or trolling. In all cases, baitcasting reels are great choices for successful saltwater fishing.
Baitcasting reels are designed as low profile or round profile.
Low profile reels are ergonomically designed for anglers who like to hold the reel in their palm while controlling bait and for jigging. Larger low profile baitcasting reels are excellent choices for inshore fishing and pier fishing for smaller species.
Round profile baitcasting reels are more suited to most offshore applications and heavyweight fishing for larger saltwater species. Round baitcasters tend to be reserved for larger game fish and trolling methods. Instead of palming the reel, the angler holds the rod above the reel while retrieving line, giving the advantage of additional leverage over larger fish. Round profile baitcasting reels also usually have greater line capacity, which is an advantage in deeper water.
A reel’s drag allows larger fish to take line off of the reel without placing stress on the line, the reel, and the rod. A properly set drag system will allow you to catch fish that far exceed the test weight of the line you are using. Quality reels are designed with drag systems that are easily adjusted while a fish is on the line. This allows for quick decisions about the size of the fish, the depth of the water, and where the fish is heading. Pay close attention to the quality of a reel’s drag system when comparing different saltwater baitcasting reels.
Most saltwater fishing techniques require long lines. Offshore fishing in deep water especially puts a premium on sufficient line capacity to catch and land larger fish. Saltwater fishing usually calls for heavier line, and larger capacity baitcasting reels allow for more of the heavier line to be used.
Line capacity is a more important consideration for saltwater fishing than in freshwater fishing as well. In the event of breakage or other line loss, extended line capacity allows for faster re-rigging on the open water. Larger line capacity is one of the major factors placing round profile reels above low profile reels with most offshore anglers.
Baitcasting reels are designed with braking systems. The reel’s braking system controls the speed of the spool’s rotation when releasing line when casting or when the spool is freely turning. The reel’s braking system works to prevent line backlashes and “bird nests.” These horrific tangles occur when a spool continues spinning after line stops stripping off of the reel. An effective braking system keeps the spool from turning faster than the line still wrapped on the spool, and makes casting more efficient and accurate.
The baitcasting reel’s braking system is controlled by the reel’s spool tension knob. Proper adjustment and use of the tension knob requires practice, experience, and patience. Experience and training of the casting hand’s thumb on the spool, in conjunction with a well designed and adjusted braking system, will allow for smooth line control and casting.
The saltwater baitcasting reel’s gear ratio relates to how much line is retrieved with each full turn of the reel handle. Higher gear ratio reels bring more line in with each turn, and lower ratio reels bring in less.
When fighting large fish in deep water, high ratio line retrieval allows for getting line in quickly when the fish is retreating or resting, and is the key to landing large fish effectively.
Low gear ratio range from around 3:1, and high gear ratios can reach up to 8:1. Most saltwater baitcasting reels are in the 6:1 range, which can work well for offshore and inshore fishing, as well as pier and surf fishing.
Baitcasters can handle heavier line and allow for longer casts than spinning reels in the same size range. Small baitcasters can handle these lines and provide greater casting distance. A small spinning reel has a smaller, more narrow spool, which has a hard time with large diameter lines.
Advantages of baitcasting reels are control and accuracy. Baitcasters can handle much heavier, much stronger forms of line. This is necessary when you fish thick cover or are targeting monster fish.
You can put a Baitcaster on a Spinning Rod, but it isn’t recommended. Casting rods have smaller guides than spinning rods. If spinning reel were put on a casting rod, the line coming off the reel would interfere with the guides. Here are two saltwater rods.
Lure fishing for trout, whether in streams or lakes, calls for light lines and light lures. Most guys don’t even think of using a baitcasting reels for trout, but you should, particularly if you are fishing in streams.
For beginners, Monofilament is a great option to put on your baitcaster. It is much easier to cast a baitcaster with a monofilament than a braid or fluorocarbon. This is because a casting reel requires you to control the cast with your thumb.
Mono holds knots better and costs less than braid. It also works better on smaller bait-casting reels because light braid can dig into itself.
Saltwater fishing demands close attention to detail when selecting the right equipment. Baitcasting reels are excellent for most types of saltwater fishing, and finding the right reel in your price range that meets your technical requirements will produce years of service. We hope this guide has been of use to choose the best saltwater baitcasting reels. Let us know of any questions or comments below.