Purchasing a bass fishing reel is difficult. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different reels to choose from. Not to mention the different factors that go into choosing a bass fishing reel.
As I said, it’s difficult and complicated. And that’s where this article will help. I will review the 10 best bass fishing reels for just about every type of fisherman. I have also included a short buying guide to help you understand everything about bass fishing reels.
- 1 Lews Fishing, Pro-Ti Speed Spool SLP Casting Reel – Best Overall
- 2 Lews Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel – Best Midrange Bass Fishing Reel
- 3 Abu Garcia Revo SX – Best Budget Bass Fishing Reel with Dual Braking
- 4 Abu Garcia Pro Max – Best Budget Bass Fishing Reel
- 5 Daiwa Tatula – Best Bass Fishing Reel for Casting
- 6 Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel – Most Affordable Bass Fishing Reel (Baitcaster)
- 7 Daiwa Tatula CT – Best Compact Bass Fishing Reel
- 8 Penn Battle II 3000 – Best Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing
- 9 Pflueger President P40 – Best Budget Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing
- 10 Shimano Stradic Ci4+ STCI42500XGFB – Best Lightweight Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing
- 11 Bass Fishing Reels Buying Guide
- 12 Bass Fishing Reels – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- 13 Final Thoughts
Lews Fishing, Pro-Ti Speed Spool SLP Casting Reel – Best Overall
The best overall bass fishing reel is the Lews Fishing Pro-Ti SLP casting reel. It has pretty much everything you want in a bass fishing reel.
First, it’s a strong reel thanks to the aluminum frame and titanium coating. More importantly, it has very smooth aluminum gears that don’t get stuck (that can cost you a fish). Those gears also make it somewhat quiet, which is generally preferable.
The most interesting feature on this reel is the Speed Dial. This dial actually indicates the weight and type of line that you have on the reel. I know this feature might sound a little pointless, but it’s extremely useful if you haven’t used your reel in a long time. All you have to do is look down at the dial.
I also like the 95mm carbon handle. It’s light and strong, which isn’t usually a combination that you see in fishing reel handles. And the Winn Dri-Tac knobs make it easy to grip when it inevitably gets wet.
Finally, the actual mechanics of this fishing reel are great. It can hold 110 yards of 12-pound mono, which is more than enough line. It’s also quite light at only 6.3 ounces. I’ll also mention that it has a drag system made of carbon fiber and has 20 pounds of stopping power. For those that don’t know, 20 pounds of stopping power is plenty for bass fishing.
What I like
- It has very smooth Speed Gears. You won’t ever lose a fish with smooth gears.
- 11 ABEC 7 bearings make this reel extremely smooth.
- The carbon fiber handle is light and it’s easy to grip while wet.
- The carbon fiber drag has 20 pounds of stopping power.
What I dislike
- This reel is expensive. I find the extra cost worth it for the quality and extra features.
I really like this reel for bass fishing. The aluminum frame, carbon fiber parts, and titanium finish make it a very high-quality reel. And it has some really good internal mechanics such as 11 bearings, Speed Gears, and a 7.5:1 gear ratio.
This is the best bass fishing reel available for purchase. However, the higher cost makes it a better choice for more experienced bass fishermen than a beginner. Don’t worry, I’ll cover bass fishing reels for beginners.
Lews Fishing Tournament MB Baitcast Reel – Best Midrange Bass Fishing Reel
Just like the Pro-Ti, the Tournament MB has a very durable one-piece aluminum frame. It has other nice features, too.
First, the reel has 10 APEC 7 bearings (9+1), so it’s smooth. The four internal magnetic brakes (controlled via external click dial) do a good job, but there is a little bit of a learning curve with them. I also like the line capacity of the reel – 120 yards of 12-pound mono is perfect for bass fishing. The 14-pound star drag system is a little light for bigger bass. However, the slightly lower gear ratio 6.8:1 makes up for the slightly lower drag. That gear ratio results in a nice 28” per turn.
The handle on this reel is aluminum, and that is expected at this price point. This reel is still light at only 6.7 ounces. Lews Fishing also has a few varieties of this reel. Those varieties include a 23”, 28”, 31” per turn reel and a right and left-hand reel.
What I like
- It’s a relatively affordable fishing reel.
- 7 ounces is pretty light for a bass fishing reel.
- The 6.8:1 gear ratio is comfortable for less experienced anglers.
- The reel can hold 120 yards of 12-pound mono, so you don’t have to worry about running out of line.
- Available in a few different varieties.
What I dislike
- The 14-pound drag is a little light, but will work fine for bass.
- It can take some practice to cast this without getting a huge rat’s nest.
The Tournament MB is another great reel from Lews Fishing. I recommend this reel to anyone that has a smaller budget or wants to upgrade their reel. It doesn’t have many of the carbon fiber components that the Pro-Ti has, but it does cost significantly less money.
The 10 bearings, star drag system, and dual cast control system are all nice features. Don’t let the centrifugal brake scare you off – this is a great bass fishing reel.
Read our full Tournament MB Review here.
Abu Garcia Revo SX – Best Budget Bass Fishing Reel with Dual Braking
Abu Garcia is an American (originally Swedish) fishing equipment company that has a reputation for making excellent reels. They are especially famous for the many innovations they introduced to the baitcasting reel.
Anyway, the Abu Garcia Revo SX has many excellent features that make it great for bass fishing. I’ll start with an important feature – the braking system. The Revo SX has six centrifugal pins and a magnetic brake, which means it can accommodate just about any casting style and rig weight. You shouldn’t have any overruns with the proper tuning, either.
This reel has a drag with 24 pounds of stopping power – that’s a lot for bass fishing. The 90mm aluminum handle is also comfortable for all-day use because it has a large, ergonomic PVC knob. That knob also provides some extra leverage when fighting fish, which is quite nice. The spool is large with the ability to hold 145 yards of 12-pound mono. However, this reel does weigh a little more at 7.8 ounces.
Finally, the reel has two different gear ratios available: 6.7:1 (27” retrieve rate) and 7.3:1 (30” retrieve rate) that come in both left-hand and right-hand varieties.
What I like
- Very affordable while still being an excellent reel.
- Six centrifugal pins can accommodate just about any type of casting style.
- 24-pound drag is more than enough for bass fishing.
- Available in 6.7:1 and 7.3:1 gear ratios.
- It’s still lightweight at 7.8 ounces.
- Not as finesse as more expensive reels, but that’s expected at this price.
I really like the Abu Garcia Revo SX. It’s fairly affordable, and still provides all the features that you would expect in a bass fishing reel. I especially like that it comes in two different gear ratios for extra flexibility. The six centrifugal pins are also very convenient when it comes to casting.
Abu Garcia Pro Max – Best Budget Bass Fishing Reel
Abu Garcia makes fish reels that cover all price ranges. The Pro Max falls in the budget category. However, it still has the same reliability of the more expensive Abu Garcia products, just not as many of the features.
Anyway, the Pro Max is a standard low-profile bass fishing reel with no frills. It has the MagTrax (magnetic) brake for casting, which should provide enough control. The 7+1 ball bearings are enough for a smooth retrieve. And the brass gears should last a decent amount of time.
The reel is surprisingly light, too. It only weighs 7.3 ounces, and it will feel even smaller since it’s a low profile reel. It does have a fairly strong 18-pound drag and a high gear ratio (7.1:1). As with most bass fishing reels, it can hold 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
- A very affordable, reliable bass fishing reel.
- MagTrax drag is easy to use and cast.
- Relatively light, especially for the price, at 7.3 ounces.
- 18-pound drag and 7.1:1 gear ratio makes it a fairly flexible fishing reel.
- 7+1 ball bearing is not a lot, but it’s still very smooth.
- Not many extra features. However, fewer features means less stuff that can break.
I really like this reel as a good choice for beginners or those on a tight budget. The lack of features actually makes it great if you’re learning to use a baitcasting. Don’t worry, you can still catch bass with this reel. The only thing I don’t like is that it has 7+1 ball bearings, but you shouldn’t expect many ball bearings at such a good price.
Daiwa Tatula – Best Bass Fishing Reel for Casting
My favorite feature on the Tatula is the T-wing for casting. Basically, this mechanism opens up while you cast, which allows the line to travel further. After casting, the line will drop into a slot, so you don’t have to worry about the line going back and forth.
I really like the T-wing for casting, and it really does make the cast further. Daiwa claims an extra 5% on casting, which sounds accurate. Also, the MagForce brake combines centrifugal braking with magnetic braking, which greatly reduces the chances of backlash. Some say it even improves the distance of the cast, but that probably depends on your casting style.
The other specs aren’t bad, either. It has 7+1 stainless steel ball bearings and 6.3, 7.3, and 8.1 gear ratios available. It doesn’t weigh much – only 7.4 ounces. I will say that the drag is a little light at 13.2 pounds, but you can still easily catch bass with that drag. Some fishermen even use this reel for walleye and pike.
What I like
- The T-wing allows you to cast a little further.
- It only weighs 7.4 ounces.
- Available in 6.3, 7.3, and 8.1 gear ratios.
- Daiwa has a reputation for making excellent fishing reels.
- Aluminum frame for extra durability.
What I don’t like
- Not all the gear ratios are available in left and right-hand versions.
- No centrifugal braking. However, the T-wing aperture does make up for that.
- 7+1 bearings is not a lot at this price point. Fortunately, the reel is still smooth.
This is another excellent reel that I recommend. I personally recommend this reel if you want to get the furthest possible cast – the T-wing aperture really does help that much. The 8.1 gear ratio is also the upper limit for fishing reels. If you need a fast fishing reel, then this is definitely the best choice.
Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel – Most Affordable Bass Fishing Reel (Baitcaster)
First, this reel has an impressive 18-pound carbon fiber drag system, which will definitely help when reeling in a big bass. The drag is also easy to adjust (star adjustment). Next, it comes in a 5.3 and 7.1 gear ratio and each is available in a left-hand and right-hand configuration, so you do have some flexibility there.
The most interesting feature, in my opinion, is the oil port. All you have to do is remove the screw, and put some oil in the hole. It definitely makes maintenance easy. This reel also has a double line winding shaft – a feature normally found on pricier reels. The shaft adds a little extra stability and power. It’s a nice feature for such an inexpensive reel.
The only downside with this reel is that it has 5+1 bearings, which isn’t a lot. However, it’s still a smooth and quiet reel, so I don’t have any complaints. The proper engineering can usually overcome a lack of bearings. I’ll also add that it weighs 8 ounces, which is only heavy on paper. You probably won’t notice the extra half ounce.
What I like
- Very affordable bass fishing reel.
- Carbon fiber drag with 18 pounds of stopping power.
- Available in two gear ratios (5.3 and 7.1) and left-hand and right-hand configurations.
- The oil port makes maintenance extremely easy.
- Double line winding shaft for extra stability and power.
- Individual click on the tension adjuster – a feature normally found in expensive reels.
What I don’t like
- It doesn’t have many bearings (5+1), but it’s still smooth.
The Piscifun Torrent is possibly the best fishing reel in this price range. In fact, I’d even compare it to some of the more expensive reels. Now, it doesn’t have all the extra features of those expensive reels (centrifugal pins, T-wing, etc.), but it does a great job of getting your line to the bass without any major problems.
I recommend this reel to someone that can’t spend money on a more expensive reel. It’s also a great first baitcasting reel because of the price. If you don’t enjoy using a baitcaster, then you will not have spent much money to figure that out. That’s a win in my book.
Daiwa Tatula CT – Best Compact Bass Fishing Reel
The Daiwa Tatula CT is another great bass fishing reel. It’s actually very similar to the Daiwa Tatula. In fact, the only real difference is that the Tatula CT has a much smaller aluminum frame that makes it easier for someone with smaller hands to palm. You still might prefer this reel if you have big hands, though.
The CT comes in a 5.5, 6.3, and 7.3 gear ratio, so you do have the option of purchasing a low gear bass fishing reel. My favorite feature on the Tatula CT is the T-frame aperture – it still allows further casting on the smaller frame.
The other specs are also the same. It has a 13.2 pound drag, a spool that can hold 120 yards of 14 pound mono, MagForce brakes, weighs 7.4 ounces, and has 7+1 bearings. It’s just a smaller frame.
What I like
- The frame is a little smaller, so it’s much easier for those with smaller hands to palm.
- The T-wing system is great for casting far distances.
- It comes in a low gear (5.5) and high gear (7.3).
- The MagForce braking system prevents most overruns.
- Smooth because of the 7+1 bearings.
What I don’t like
- If you have massive hands, then you probably won’t like the smaller frame.
- 2 pound drag isn’t a lot, but it works fine for bass.
I like the Daiwa Tatula CT for people that have bigger hands. It’s a Daiwa Tatula, so you know it will be a good reel. Also, most modern bass fishing reels don’t come with a gear ratio under 6:1, so 5.5:1 is fairly low even though it’s considered a medium gear ratio. That low gear ratio is great for crankbaits or other heavy baits.
Anyway, I recommend this if you have smaller hands and really like Daiwa reels. The price isn’t bad, either.
Penn Battle II 3000 – Best Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing
You probably think of a baitcasting reel when you think of bass fishing. They’re just the most common reel. However, some fishermen don’t like using baitcasters. Other fishermen prefer the extra finesse that you get from a spinning reel. No matter the reason, the Penn Battle II 3000 is my top spinning reel for bass fishing. Here are some of the features on it:
The Battle II 3000 works basically the same as a baitcasting reel. It has a 6.2:1 gear ratio and a 15 pound drag that make it great for bass. And it has 5+1 bearings, which aren’t really many bearings. It’s a Penn, so it’s still a very smooth reel. And you can easily change the side of the handle if you want to share it with someone that reels with the opposite hand.
Also, the entire body is aluminum for extra durability and less flex. Remember, this reel is made for catching bigger saltwater fish – it can handle freshwater perfectly fine. It even has rings on the spool to indicate the line capacity. You can even put the braid right on the spool without a mono backing. I really like that.
What I like
- Penn has a great reputation in the fishing reel industry, and the Penn Battle II is a great line of reels.
- Spinning reels allow you to use a lighter bait like worms while fishing for bass.
- Rings that indicate the line capacity (full capacity, ⅔, ⅓).
- 2:1 gear ratio is good for bass fishing.
What I don’t like
- It doesn’t have many bearings (5+1). As I’ve mentioned before, the amount of bearings isn’t a huge factor in the smoothness of the reel.
- It’s a little expensive, but the brand and features make up for the price.
- Heavy at 12.7 ounces.
In terms of spinning reels – it doesn’t get much better than the Penn Battle II. I recommend this reel for those of you that don’t want to use a baitcasting reel.
Trust me, you won’t have any problem catching bass with this reel. If you want a slightly more affordable spinning reel, then I recommend a different reel.
You can read our full Penn Battle II review here.
Pflueger President P40 – Best Budget Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing
If you want an affordable spinning reel for bass fishing, then I recommend the Pflueger President P40. It has most of the same features and specs of the Penn Battle II, but at a more affordable price.
The one major difference is that the P40 is made of graphite instead of aluminum. Aluminum is obviously more durable. However, graphite fishing reels still work perfectly fine.
Some of the other specs on the P40 include 10 bearings (9+1), a spool that can hold 195 yards of 12 pound mono, a 14-pound drag, and a low gear ratio of 5.2:1. If you like braided line, then you can tie that directly to the spool without any extra mono, which is nice.
The only issue with the President P40 is that it weighs 11.5 ounces, which is standard for a spinning reel. It might get a little annoying if you do a lot of casting, though.
What I like
- Affordable price for a spinning reel.
- 9+1 bearings makes this a very smooth reel.
- Large capacity spool (195 yards of 12 pound mono).
- You can tie mono directly to the spool.
- Available in a few different sizes, but the P40 is the best for bass fishing.
What I dislike
- The gear ratio is a little low for bass fishing.
- It weighs 11.5 ounces.
The Pflueger President P40 is an affordable spinning reel for bass fishing. It’s fairly smooth, lightweight, and has a large capacity spool. I still recommend the Penn Battle II if you have the room in your budget because I like the Battle’s aluminum frame and higher gear ratio. But the President P40 is still a great option at this price point.
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ STCI42500XGFB – Best Lightweight Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing
Spinning reels have a reputation as heavy fishing reels. Most of the ones suitable for bass fishing tend to weigh over 10 ounces. Fortunately, the Shimano Ci4+ 4250 is not one of those reels as it only weighs 6.7 ounces. And yes, it still has all the same features and specs you would expect from a spinning reel. If you’re looking for an ultralight spinning reel, check out this article.
First, the maximum drag is 20 pounds, which is actually really powerful for a fishing reel of this size. It’s easy to fish with this reel because of the 6.1:1 gear ratio that allows a 39” per turn line retrieval.
What really makes this reel special is Shimano’s “Hagane gear.” Basically, the gear is made in a special process (cold-forged) that makes it lighter, more durable, and smoother than gears made from hot-forging. You really notice the difference when you first use the reel, and it’s especially convenient when fighting a fish. It also has 6+1 ball bearings that provide a little extra smoothness.
What I like
- The Hagane gear makes this a very smooth reel to use.
- The maximum drag is 20 pounds, which is more than enough for bass.
- Shimano has a reputation for making reels that will last a very long time.
- It looks great.
- Magnumlite Rotor makes turning the handle feel very light.
- It’s an expensive reel. The smoothness, durability, and reliability does make up for it, though.
If you have the room in your budget, purchase this reel. It’s smooth, reliable, durable, and it even looks great. You can even use it for saltwater fishing if that’s something you enjoy.
Also, a reel in this price range will last for years. In fact, this reel may be the last spinning reel you ever purchase if you perform the proper maintenance. And the maintenance is easy if you only use this reel for freshwater fishing.
Bass Fishing Reels Buying Guide
Purchasing a bass fishing reel is somewhat complicated for beginners because of the amount of information. You have baitcasters, spinning reels, magnetic brakes, centrifugal brakes, drag power, gear ratios, and so on. It’s confusing, I know. This section will explain some of the basics to look for in a bass fishing reel.
Baitcaster Reel vs. Spinning Reel for Bass
Baitcasters are the most popular reel for bass fishing since they provide a bit more accuracy and increase your casting range. I recommend using a baitcaster for bass if you plan on using medium to heavy tackle. Baitcasters just do not work very well with light tackle.
If you plan on using light tackle (worms, wacky rigs, etc.), then you should pull out your spinning reel. Use the baitcaster for everything else.
I recommend spending more money on a baitcaster if you have a limited budget. The more expensive baitcasters tend to have more features and better performance than the lower priced ones. And you will use the baitcaster much more often while bass fishing.
Here’s a complete breakdown of baitcasting reels vs spinning reels.
Drag power is the amount of resistance that you can have on your line. It’s measured in pounds.
In my opinion, the drag power really isn’t that important for bass fishing. If you have 8 pounds of drag power, then you will be fine. Just expect more of a fight. A heavier drag means you can just reel in the bass without much of a fight.
Now, a strong drag is useful if you’re fishing a lot of vegetation since that will accumulate on your line. Also, make sure to use a strong rod, such as an Ugly Stick, if you purchase a reel with a strong drag.
Ball bearings are one of the more overrated specs in fishing reels. You obviously want a fishing reel with the most ball bearings as they do a decent job reducing friction. However, you want a fishing reel that has ball bearings with a high ABEC rating. The maximum ABEC rating is 9.
You usually won’t find fishing with ABEC 9 ball bearings. Most of the high quality reels have ABEC 7 ball bearings. More affordable reels will have ABEC 5 ball bearings.
In my experience, most anglers will be fine with the smoothness of most fishing reels, and certainly with the smoothness of all the reels on the list. The engineering involved in fishing reels has just gotten that good.
If you still want the smoothest baitcaster, then I recommend the Lews Fishing Pro-Ti since it has 10 ABEC 7 ball bearings and one ABEC 7 roller bearing.
Magnetic Brake vs. Centrifugal Brake
Almost all baitcaster reels have a magnetic brake or centrifugal brake to aid in casting. A magnetic brake is simply a magnet that applies constant resistance to the line when you cast it. You will usually find magnetic brakes on the more affordable bass fishing reels. A magnetic brake works perfectly fine, though. Your casting distance might be a tad shorter, though.
A centrifugal brake is actually a series of pins that apply pressure to the line during the cast. Basically, the brakes start out loose to allow the line to go faster in the beginning (preventing backlash) and tighten as the line begins to slow down. Most centrifugal brakes have six pins, and the more pins you apply the more brakes will apply during the cast (reducing casting distance).
I recommend a fishing reel with a centrifugal brake with two pins applied because a centrifugal braking system allows for further casts and will not backlash as much. If a reel with a centrifugal brake is not in your budget, then I recommend the Daiwa Tatula reels with the MagForce brake. The MagForce does a good job combining centrifugal braking with magnetic braking.
Of course, magnetic braking is not terrible – most bass fishing reels use magnetic braking. And it’s definitely something you should know how to use no matter what type of reel you have.
Note: This section does not apply to spinning reels as they do not have magnet brakes or centrifugal brakes.
Graphite vs. Aluminum Frames
Fishing reels are generally made of either graphite or aluminum. Aluminum is a light, durable metal that will not flex under heavy loads. This makes it perfect for fighting big fish. However, it is expensive, so you can expect to pay more for an aluminum fishing reel.
Graphite, on the other hand, is a carbon crystal. It’s fairly light, but it will flex under heavy loads. Fortunately, bass aren’t very big fish, so you shouldn’t experience much flex when fishing for bass with a graphite reel. Some of the cheaper graphite reels will flex, which is why I don’t recommend a super cheap fishing reel.
All in all, the material that your fishing reel is made of does not really matter that much for bass fishing. I still recommend an aluminum frame if possible since it will last longer. It will also be a much better quality fishing reel.
The gear ratio of your fishing reel determines the torque. A lower gear ratio means the spool spins less per turn of the handle (more torque). For bass fishing, a low gear ratio is generally anything in the 5.x range. The extra torque makes it ideal for reeling in heavy bait such as a crankbait or other high resistance scenarios. Trust me, you’ll get tired if you fish a crankbait with a 7.x ratio reel for an entire day. You’ll also get more movement and bites on your bait.
I recommend a fishing reel with a gear ratio around 6.8. This provides the perfect mix of speed and torque for all scenarios. If you plan on fishing in a lot of low resistance environments or with low resistance lures, then a reel with a ratio above 7 would likely suit you.
Despite all this, the best gear ratio mostly depends on personal preference. Some people prefer a high ratio because they enjoy a speedy retrieval. Other people enjoy a lower gear for extra control. As I said, it’s personal preference, but these days most fishermen go with a higher ratio (6.5+).
Left-handed vs. Right-handed
You cannot change the handle on a baitcasting reel like you can on a spinning reel. A left-handed baitcasting reel will always have the handle on the left side. Keep that fact in mind before making your purchase.
If you’re new to fishing, then I recommend reeling with your non-dominant hand. A right-handed person would use a fishing reel with a handle on the left hand side. It’s simply easier because you won’t have to switch your hand position after the cast.
Bass Fishing Reels – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some commonly asked questions about bass fishing reels.
What direction do I point a bass fishing reel while reeling?
A baitcasting reel should be pointing towards you while you are reeling. This allows you to control the line with your thumb.
A spinning reel should be pointing towards the ground while you are reeling as it allows the line to spool a little better.
What are the benefits of using a baitcaster for bass fishing?
Using a baitcaster for bass fishing has a lot of benefits. They are more accurate, allow for more control of the lure, and have a further casting range than a spinning reel. The only downside is that baitcaster reels do not work very well with light tackle, which is why I included a few spinning reels on the list.
Is a baitcasting reel necessary for bass fishing?
The best reel for bass fishing is based on personal preference and your location. However, most experienced bass fishermen will have a few baitcasters in different gear ratios and one or two spinning reels.
Here’s a complete breakdown of baitcasters vs spinning reels.
I prefer using a baitcaster for bass fishing for a reason. And that’s because they are a tool that is very well suited for catching bass. This is also why most bass fishermen use baitcasters.
That’s pretty much everything you need to know about bass fishing reels. All the reels that made the list are excellent for bass fishing, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. You may even want to purchase a few of them depending on the different types of fishing that you do.
Anyway, I recommend choosing a reel that meets your expectations, which is why I explained the different benefits and uses of each reel. The worst possible scenario is to have a great reel that just doesn’t fit your needs. An example would be having a very high gear ratio while using a crankbait.