Buyer's Guides

Best Baitcasters of 2023

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Best Baitcasters of 2023

It can be pretty darn tough to choose the best baitcaster, regardless of your skill level. With all of the wild marketing claims out there and endless online opinions and reviews, it’s not always easy to be confident when you’re buying a baitcaster for fishing. We’ve been thinking of a way to make an easy-to-read and quick, comprehensive guide to cover down on all of the newest baitcasters for 2023 and this is our final product. Before you drop the money on a new reel, consider our personal experiences with these particular models.

We have tested hundreds upon hundreds of bass fishing baitcasters throughout our careers and have developed an excellent feel for important features.

It’s important to note that not everyone needs the same type of baitcaster; beginners need require different features than advanced anglers and occasional anglers probably prefer different price points than everyday anglers. This guide will cover each of these potential buyers.

When you’re making a decision before finally buying a baitcaster, we believe it’s especially important to consider the following factors:

Smoothness of retrieve: This is the easiest factor to investigate when you put a baitcaster into your hands at the store. Assuming you’re not buying online, the first thing you’ll do is crank the handle and consider its smoothness and feel. You’ll find some of the lesser reels to feel or sound like a coffee grinder at times and obviously, those are the ones you’ll want to avoid. We look for butter-smooth and silent operation throughout the entire retrieve, even when the reel is under a load and fighting a fish. This represents tight tolerances and high-quality components which, in turn, will result in maximum longevity and a bigger return on your investment.

Castability: Obviously this is nearly impossible to test in a store but don’t worry—that’s why we tested the new baitcasters for you. We look for both distance and accuracy when testing the castability of a new baitcaster. Some may skip a jig really well but not throw a lightweight crankbait well, so again, it’s important to consider your preferred application before making your final purchase. We have considered all of that in this piece for your convenience.

Line management: A baitcaster with poor line management might as well be a paperweight and, if we’re being honest, there are some on the market that have really disappointed us in this regard. It’s imperative that a good, quality baitcaster can handle lines of both small and big diameters and different materials.

Comfort: This is an often-overlooked quality when it comes to baitcasters. Some folks like the ultra low-profile reels as that seems to be the trend these days and others like the beefier, more classic-style frames as it gives them more to grip throughout both the retrieve and fight.

Frame durability: This has become a really big deal in the past five or six years. With such an emphasis on weightlessness among manufacturers, frame durability has largely been ignored. A reel can be as light as a feather but it doesn’t matter if you accidentally step on it in the boat and it cracks. It’s incredibly important to have a frame that can stand up to the rigors of hardcore bass fishing.

Price: This might be the most obvious factor to consider but it’s still worth mentioning. If you’re new to fishing or even baitcasters, there’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a high-end baitcaster. In that situation, you’ll be better off spending $80 to $100 on an introductory-level reel until you get totally comfortable with the concept. If you’re a big-time baitcaster guy, however, you may prefer saving your money for a few extra weeks in order to buy that big-ticket baitcaster.

With the aforementioned considerations in mind, here are the best baitcasters we’ve tested for 2023. Make sure to keep checking back on this article as there are several brands we haven’t had our hands on yet and as a result, didn’t make the list. We make a concerted effort to thoroughly test everything we post in these guides so once we’re able to put ‘em through the wringer and if they pass the test, we’ll immediately add them to this piece. So this might be a really good one to bookmark on your phone or computer.

(1 of 10)

Best overall baitcaster: Daiwa Zillion SV TW G

Best Baitcasters of 2023

Make no mistake, this particular reel is made for the baitcaster enthusiasts throughout the world and if you find yourself in that particular demographic, you will be thoroughly impressed by this piece of equipment. As earlier mentioned, we have fished with all kinds of reels throughout our careers and this is one of the best we’ve had the good fortune of using. It’s super lightweight at 6.7 ounces but it also has the rare characteristic of having a strong and tough aluminum frame and sideplates. You can put this reel through just about anything and it will come through it unscathed.

This reel features the SV Booster System which is a two-stage electromagnetic induction braking system that allows for two very important things: insane casting distance and precision braking performance. With all of the fancy talk aside, this reel will allow you to cast a lightweight lure and skip a 1/2-ounce jig all the way under a dock with minimal, if any, adjustments.

While fighting fish, I’ve also noticed that you can actually hear the UTD drag clicking throughout the fight. Personally speaking, this audible assistance can help you monitor how much line is being dispensed which will help you stay ahead of the fight.

Let’s also not forget the popular T-Wing System (TWS) that’s featured in this reel. This greatly reduces line resistance which helps for even better casting and line management.

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(2 of 10)

Fastest baitcaster: Abu Garcia Revo Rocket LP

Best Baitcasters of 2023

With a blazing-fast 10.1:1 gear ratio, you’re going to be blown away by how much line this particular baitcaster can retrieve with just a single crank of the handle. An 11-bearing system partners with this best-in-class speed to offer a smooth and lightning-fast retrieve for a myriad of techniques. 

Throughout our testings, we’ve found this high-gear ratio to be especially useful when fishing with bottom-contact techniques such as Texas rigs, Carolina rigs and punching. This crazy speed is a big deal when you’re fishing around heavy cover. When the bass bites, it’s important to eat up all the slack you possibly can in order to move the bass towards you and away from any snag-inducing cover. 

This is a big-boy reel meant for close-combat situations, so the 95mm handle and oversized knobs are well suited to help you winch fish away from the thick stuff. I don’t think you’ll want to wind treble-hooked lures with this reel due to its speed but if you like to pitch and flip around the nastiest stuff you can find, you’re in business with this one. 

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(3 of 10)

Most versatile baitcaster: 13 Fishing Concept C2

Best Baitcasters of 2023

Although it still tilts towards the pricier end of the spectrum, don’t make the mistake of sleeping on this baitcaster. This is a very lightweight reel at just 5.8 ounces but we’ve found it to be a super-solid option for both light- and heavy-duty applications. A lot of reels in the 5-ounce range tend to be quite flimsy and will flex when under a load. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the issue at all while we’ve been testing this reel. 

It’s lightweight but man, it has some serious shoulders that allow you to use it for all kinds of applications. With a 22-pound drag system, a 6-way braking system and a reinforced clutch cam, this is a reel you can buy and use for just about anything you can think of. We can see it being a solid addition to the collections of both tournament and pond anglers alike. 

Read our full 13 Fishing Concept C2 review.

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(4 of 10)

Most Durable Baitcaster: Shimano Bantam MGL A

Best Baitcasters of 2023

The original rework of the Bantam reel quickly became one of my favorite bait casting reels. You can read my previous review of the Bantam MGL. The new reel is the same platform, but with new technological advances also incorporated to make this an even more sturdy, powerful and significant casting reel in a slightly improved form factor. This will make it a lot more attractive to enthusiast anglers. 

I love the Bantam line and love how “tankish” these reels feel in the hand. I think a little extra oomph when you set the hook gives you the confirmation of strength and durability. I like knowing my reels are going to last a decade if I take care of them. And a I have a lot of Shimano reels that have. 

Read our full previous Shimano Bantam MGL review.

Price $349 | 6.2:1 – 8.1:1 | 7.6 ounces | 12 lbs / 110 yards | 9 bearings

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(5 of 10)

Best value baitcaster: Abu Garcia Max STX

Best Baitcasters of 2023

This one truly surprised me throughout our testing. I’m actually really glad I didn’t look at the price tag before I started my testing process because to be honest, this reel feels better than a lot of the $200 reels I’ve tested in my career. Maybe I’m crazy but I highly doubt it; it feels absolutely wonderful in your hands, its retrieve is smooth and quiet and it balances wonderfully with any rod I’ve put it on.

I kind of feel weird liking this reel so much because of the price point; I could have a front deck-full of these reels and feel totally confident to fish in any situation imaginable. Maybe I’m old school but I like to feel like my reels have a little bit of “shoulders” to them, so the 7.4-ounce weight feels very comfortable to me. With large, co-molded soft-touch knobs and a one-piece graphite frame, it’s awfully tough to go wrong with this reel. 

If you’re someone who might be getting into tournament fishing and looking to get a few more rod and reel combos under your belt, I’d strongly suggest this reel. Throughout this testing process, this is the reel that surprised me most and I’m willing to stake my reputation on this one. It doesn’t feel like a cheap piece of equipment and it’s super quiet and smooth. If you give it a shot, you’ll agree with us. 

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(6 of 10)

Best Workhorse Baitcaster: Daiwa Tatula SV TWS

Best Baitcasters of 2023

We had two that tied for best workhorses.

You really can’t go wrong with this baitcaster and whether you like to fish lighter fluorocarbon or heavy braided fishing line, you’re going to absolutely fall in love with this reel. Featuring a Super Duralumin SV Spool and corrosion-resistant ball bearings, you can yank on any fish in just about any type of situation with the utmost confidence. 

Priced at $209.99, I’m actually surprised it’s not a little more expensive. Having tested so many reels over the years, you could have blindfolded me and put this reel into my hands and I would have guessed it to be in the $300 range. Go ahead and get your heavy braid ready, gunk up the reel with a bunch of matted lake scum and get to fishing; you’re going to have a really tough time breaking this bad boy. 

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(7 of 10)

Best Workhorse Baitcaster: Shimano Curado 150 MGL

Best Baitcasters of 2023

The lightest Shimano Curado reel ever made, the Curado MGL features the feather light MagnumLight (MGL) spool in a larger size to increase efficiency and extended casting distance and accuracy. Engineered with a rigid aluminum Hagane body and tough 13 pounds of Cross-Carbon drag, this reel feels light while also feeling very tough.

Featuring their mastered technologies like X-Ship, MicroModule Gearing, Silent Tune, Ci4+, SVS and Super Free Spool.

This is a super palm-able, comfortable baitcaster. An absolute workhorse. I’ve fished everything from jerkbaits to jigs. Spinnerbaits to crankbaits and it delivers on everything you would want in a long lasting reel. Powerful drag, line capacity, smooth performance, rigidity, and a middle price point.

Price $199 | 6.2:1 – 8.1:1 | 6.5 ounces | 12 lbs / 110 yards | 7 bearings

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(8 of 10)

Best New Innovation: Ark Gravity G7

Best Baitcasters of 2023

The Gravity line of bait casters stands as Ark’s first entry into manufacturing baitcasting fishing reels, but this reel has been under development for more than 3 years. And they were able to blaze their own path with a patented internal adjustable magnetic control to create a maximum casting distance flagship reel. Let’s take a look at the finer points of this reel to see how it set itself apart as a new entry into the baitcaster market.

Ark developed a new cast control system called their Gravity Control System. This patented system incorporates an adjustable mechanism on the spool that moves the magnetic surface closer or further to alter the amount of resistance on the spool. Plus you can fine tune even more precisely with external magnetic controls and your tension knob. Read the full review.

Price: $239 | 5.4:1 – 8.1:1 | 7 ounces | 12 lbs / 100 yards | 11 bearings 

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(9 of 10)

Best introductory baitcaster: ProFishiency KRAZY

Best Baitcasters of 2023

Yea, it’s a loud-looking baitcaster and it’s not going to be for everyone. But when it comes to the guts of this reel, I think it’s a really nice introductory model for folks who might be just getting into the baitcaster game. I say that because its 10-bearing system and externally adjustable magnetic brakes make this a very non-temperamental option which is a really big deal when you’re looking for a new baitcaster. You’re not going to have to constantly adjust the settings and backlashes will be at a minimum. 

I don’t know if the loud color scheme will help or hurt this reel in regards to appeal because I don’t want the colors to make folks think it’s a cheapo. But if you put it in your hands, you’ll find a lightweight, graphite fram and 10-bearing system that casts really well regardless of your line diameter and material choice.

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(10 of 10)

Smoothest baitcaster out of the box: Favorite Fishing Soleus XCS

Best Baitcasters of 2023

I included “out of the box” in this title because I haven’t been able to test it as long as the rest of the reels in this piece, so I just can’t attest to its longevity yet. In my opinion, however, it has passed the preliminary tests and seems like an outstanding reel for the price point. When I took it out of the box and spun the handle, it didn’t seem to want to stop turning which is always a good thing. While fishing, it has been quiet and the casting distance has been totally impressive in every way. 

I’m happy to see this because this is my first experience with Favorite Fishing reels and so far, I don’t think I could ask for much more. Weighing in a 6.4 ounces and featuring a 10 ball-bearing system and a lightweight aluminum frame, I think folks will be happy with this particular baitcaster. Although it casts very well, I’ve also noticed it has been very easy to cast in regards to line management. Backlashes are not a worry and if you put a heavier lure on it, such as a walking topwater, don’t be surprised if you cast to your backing each and every time. This is a solid first impression for Favorite Fishing’s reel lineup, for sure.

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BAITCASTER COMPARISON CHART

Reel

Ball Bearings

Weight (oz)

Gear Ratios

Line Cap (lb/yd)

Price

Link

Abu Garcia Revo X LP

7

7.3

6.7:1 – 7.3:1

12/110

$119.95

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Abu Garcia Revo Max STX

5

7.4

6.4:1

12/120

$79.99

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Abu Garcia Revo Rocket

10

7.6

10.1:1

12/130

$329.95

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Daiwa Zillion SV TW G

8

6.7

6.3:1 – 8.5:1

14/100

$369.99

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Daiwa Tatula SV TWS

7

7.2

6.3:1 – 8.1:1

14/100

$209.99

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13 Fishing Concept C2

8

5.8

5.6:1- 8.3:1

12/125

$229.99

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Profishiency Krazy

9

null

6.6:1 – 7.3:1

12/135

$99.99

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Favorite Soleus XCS

10

6.4

7.3:1 – 8.1:1

12/120

$179.99

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Shimano Curado 150 MGL

6

6.5

6.2:1 – 8.1:1

12/110

$199.99

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Shimano Bantam MGL A

9

7.6

6.2:1 – 8.1:1

12/110

$349.99

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Ark Gravity G7

11

7

5.4:1 – 8.1:1

12/100

$239.99

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