Casting on of the best saltwater baitcasting reels

Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels of 2023 Leave a comment

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Revealed Jun 26, 2023 6:43 PM

Whereas I’m positive loads of our West Coast saltwater anglers will disagree, the fact is that baitcasters have been made and marketed primarily for the freshwater world for fairly a while. Positive, you’d discover the occasional angler devoted to utilizing them, however most inshore guides and anglers had a quiver filled with spinning gear and never a lot else. 

Immediately a renaissance of types is going on within the inshore angling world. New supplies and high-end machining strategies have paved the way in which for low-profile baitcasters that aren’t solely constructed for heavy saltwater use however excel in it. Slowly however absolutely, low-profile baitcasters have discovered their manner into the common rotation of many inshore anglers. Trendy inshore gurus like Captain C.A. Richardson have embraced them to the purpose the place they not often use spinning gear. 

With this new age of inshore baitcasters has come a bevy of reel choices in the marketplace. Discovering the suitable low-profile baitcaster may be difficult, and making the unsuitable alternative may result in a disastrous day on the water. That can assist you make that call, I examined most of the prime low-profile saltwater baitcasters in the marketplace and sat down with guides and anglers who use them each day. By way of this course of, I’ve compiled an inventory of the perfect saltwater baitcasting reels for each sort of salty state of affairs you would possibly encounter. 

How I Selected the Greatest Saltwater Baitcasting Reels

Scott Einsmann

Having spent most of my life fishing saltwater from Texas up by Virginia and every thing in between, I’ve seen firsthand what occurs when reels get uncovered to salt over time. This expertise helped me higher consider the reels we examined, in search of key qualities and specs that made them appropriate for the duty. Elements similar to drag materials, gearing, and body materials had been crucial. Performance like drag stress, brakes, and retrieve ratio had been additionally key components for consideration. 

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The creator fished from Virginia to Florida whereas testing saltwater baitcasting reels. Kevin Hughes

In fact, specs solely take you to this point, so I additionally put these reels by the paces with real-world testing. Over a number of months, these reels received utilized in a wide range of inshore environments, from the marshes of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, the flats of Biscayne Bay and the Everglades in Florida, and the oyster-filled backwaters of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. We caught every thing from speckled trout and redfish to snook, tarpon, and striper. By way of this course of, gear editor Scott Einsmann and I had been in a position to dial in simply what makes these reels tick and what they’re every finest suited to throughout a day on the water. Utilizing that data and interviews with inshore baitcaster consultants like Captain C.A. Richardson of “Flats Class TV,” I compiled this breakdown that will help you perceive what to search for when selecting a low-profile reel. 

Greatest Saltwater Baitcasting Reels: Critiques and Suggestions

Greatest Total: Shimano Tranx 

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Key Options (150HG measurement):

Weight: 6.7 ounces

Line Capability: 150 yards of 20-pound braid

Bearings: 3+1

Max Drag: 13 kilos

Gear Ratio: 7.2:1

MSRP: $219.99


Extraordinarily sturdy

Excessive-end gearing and seal



Giant vary of sizes (150-500)


Restricted drag energy

Restricted tuning potential

The Tranx lineup from Shimano has gained a well-earned popularity for withstanding something thrown at them. The smallest reel within the sequence, the 150, is not any exception. Regardless of its light-weight and smaller measurement, this reel nonetheless feels rock strong in your hand. It’s designed to forged and struggle fish within the salt all day, day by day. 

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The reel is massive, however nonetheless palmable. Scott Einsmann

The Tranx 150 is a reel for anglers pushing their gear to the bounds. It lacks a few of the smoothness and featherlight really feel of the Chronarch G, but it surely greater than makes up for its sturdiness. The fragile inside elements are housed inside a inflexible steel body that stops flex and warping, making this reel ideally suited for intense fights and lengthy days on the water. It additionally makes use of Shimano’s CoreProtect expertise, which is a protecting coating that stops corrosion and provides additional energy to the core elements of the reel. 

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The Shimano TranX 150 is ideal for casting lures for reds.

Whereas the reel does boast a {smooth} carbon dag, the stopping energy is considerably missing at 13 kilos. That’s not horrible, however it’s a little lower than one would count on for a reel designed with such heavy-duty use in thoughts. That mentioned, this reel can have greater than sufficient energy for many inshore functions. Moreover, the Tranx is available in a number of sizes, from 150 all the way in which as much as 500. The 150 is good for inshore casting functions, the 300 is ideal for bucktailing fluke and throwing massive topwaters for stripers, and the 400 measurement with the ability deal with is the perfect saltwater baitcasting reel for deep jigging. The bigger sizes present considerably extra drag and are an important possibility for increasing past mild inshore use. 

Learn Subsequent: Greatest Saltwater Fishing Rods

Greatest for Jigging: Penn Fathom 

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Key Options (300 measurement):

Weight: 9.2 ounces

Line Capability: 310 yards of 20-pound braid or 240 yards of 12-pound mono

Bearings: 6+1

Max Drag: 30 kilos

Gear Ratio: 7.3:1 or 9.2:1

MSRP: $269.95


Extraordinarily sturdy drag

Spectacular gear ratios and retrieve price

Unimaginable line capability

Giant vary of sizes/specs


Penn has lengthy been a staple within the saltwater world, with its line of spinning and standard reels setting the usual for balancing value with efficiency. Regardless of this, they’re comparatively new to the low-profile baitcaster scene, however you’d by no means realize it after utilizing the Fathom. This reel is filled with all of the quintessential Penn traits that make it really feel like a real saltwater instrument whereas nonetheless sustaining a powerful steadiness and luxury which are important to low-profile reels. It’s a robust, snug reel ideally suited for cranking on massive fish at depth.

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The Fathom has nice ergonomics and a snug deal with. Scott Einsmann

With a full steel physique and beefy body, the Fathom appears like a workhorse. This saltwater baitcasting reel boasts 30 kilos of drag energy, it’s simply the highest of this record in relation to pulling potential. With the 9.2:1 ratio mannequin additionally reeling in a ridiculous 43 inches of line per crank, this reel is tailored for jigging and backside fishing. Add to that the large line capability, and you’ve got a reel that may winch up highly effective fish at depth. 

All that energy and energy does come at a price, sadly. This reel is way heavier than different reels within the class, making it powerful to think about casting all day lengthy. It additionally lacks the sleek really feel and finesse qualities of the opposite inshore low-profile reels on this record. In the end, this reel is designed with jigging in thoughts, and that’s the place it would excel. 

A singular mixture of energy, torque, and luxury, the Fathom is a flexible possibility for anglers seeking to fish inshore to nearshore wrecks and reefs. 

Learn Subsequent: Greatest Saltwater Spinning Reels

Greatest Finesse Inshore Reel: Shimano Chronarch G

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Key Options (150HG mannequin):

Weight: 6.5 ounces

Line Capability: 150 yards of 20-pound braid, 120 yards of 10-pound mono

Bearings: 8+1

Max Drag: 11 kilos

Gear Ratio: 7.1:1

MSRP: $299.99


Extraordinarily light-weight

Sturdy salt-resistant Ci4+ carbon body

Exceptionally {smooth}


Restricted drag capability

Restricted measurement vary


Merely put, this saltwater baitcasting reel is a pleasure to fish. Its light-weight design and ultra-smooth really feel make it probably the most snug reels I’ve ever used inshore. It’s loaded with superior fashionable reel expertise and has confirmed fairly able to dealing with lengthy days on the salt. It’s the perfect reel for casting lighter lures and finesse fishing inshore. 

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The creator with a pleasant pink caught throughout testing. Kevin Hughes

The Chronarch G is fabricated from ultra-light but sturdy carbon materials and options MicroModule gearing, which makes this reel as {smooth} because it will get. It additionally has a buttery tender really feel on the forged. I’ve forged every thing from mild swimbaits to heavy topwaters on this reel, and the braking system was simple to tune to maintain the spool backlash-free. Regardless of its light-weight really feel and complicated gearing, this reel is sealed and sturdy, designed to face up to inshore saltwater use. 

The 11-pound drag energy received’t cease massive fish from heading again into the magroves or round bridge pilings. That mentioned, as a reel aimed primarily at mild inshore use, the drag isn’t as crucial as total efficiency. The slender spool additionally helps the reel with casting accuracy and permits using lighter strains. 

Learn Subsequent: Greatest Saltwater Fly Rods

Lew’s Customized Inshore

best saltwater baitcasting reels

Key Options (CI1SH mannequin):

Weight: 6.9 ounces 

Line Capability: 140 yards of 50-pound braid, 140 yards of 12-pound mono

Bearings: 9+1

Max Drag: 20 kilos

Gear Ratio: 7.5:1

MSRP: $219.99


Sturdy drag

One-piece aluminum body



Not very {smooth}

Restricted measurement vary

Regardless of being often called a primarily freshwater model, Lew’s has ventured into the saltwater world with the Customized Inshore lineup. The Customized Inshore baitcaster is a strong, high quality reel. It’s an important inshore reel for somebody simply dipping their toe into the saltwater baitcaster sport.

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The creator examined reels on all kinds of species. Kevin Hughes

Lew’s has at all times been recognized for offering anglers with high quality gear at lower-than-average costs. The Customized Inshore reel is their try at doing this for the saltwater angling crowd, and it accomplishes that purpose properly sufficient. Made from anodized aluminum with a carbon sideplate on the deal with aspect and graphite sideplate for palming, the body is sturdy sufficient to face up to abuse. The carbon fiber drag system is a spotlight, offering a outstanding 20 kilos of drag. This reel additionally gives a comparatively excessive line capability for a low-profile inshore reel, permitting it for use for a wider vary of functions inshore. 

Whereas the drag is {smooth}, the casting and retrieving really feel barely clunky. Moreover, whereas the reel isn’t technically very heavy, its steadiness and body really feel a bit ungainly within the palm when in comparison with a few of the costlier reels on this record. Regardless of the drawbacks to this reel, the constructive options greater than steadiness it out. Whereas I don’t really useful it for those who plan to forged all day, the Lew’s Customized Inshore is the proper possibility for those who’re in search of a high quality reel for informal use. 

Shimano Curado Ok

Fishing Reels photo

Key Options (200HGK mannequin):

Weight: 7.6 ounces

Line Capability: 190 yards of 30-pound braid, 155 yards of 10-pound mono

Bearings: 6+1

Max Drag: 11 kilos

Gear Ratio: 7.4:1

MSRP: $199.99


Good line capability

Good vary of sizes and kit ratios

Fairly priced



Restricted drag capability

Heavier than comparable fashions at school

The Curado sequence is one among Shimano’s mainstays, constructing a popularity for reliability over time. The lineup is a staple for a lot of anglers, and the latest iterations ought to do nothing to alter that. The Curado is a strong, dependable, and cozy reel at an inexpensive worth level. 

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The Curado Ok is at dwelling in recent and saltwater. Kevin Hughes

The Curado Ok sequence is available in a variety of sizes and kit ratios, making it a flexible possibility for anglers seeking to get into the low-profile saltwater sport. It options most of the similar high-end expertise discovered within the pricier Shimano reels on this record, together with MicroModule gearing, X-Ship, and the SVS Infinity braking system. The Curado Ok can also be barely smaller than earlier variations, making it a really snug reel to fish and permitting for a excessive diploma of management. 

Whereas the extra fashionable choices in Shimano’s lineup, just like the Tranx, have began to steal the present considerably, the Curado’s popularity and high quality will at all times have a spot for a lot of anglers. Merely put, it’s a high quality reel that has little or no draw back at an inexpensive worth. I feel the Curado Ok is the perfect saltwater baitcasting reel for somebody who bass fishes some weekends and fishes inshore fishes on others. 

Find out how to Select a Saltwater Baitcasting Reel

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The proper saltwater baitcasting reel for you will depend on the lures you throw, the species you struggle, and the rod you’ll put it on.

Spinning reels grew to become the usual inshore reel for saltwater for a lot of causes, however simplicity was an enormous issue. Whereas having a great deal of dials and gears permits for baitcasting reels to be fine-tuned, additionally they go away the reels weak to breaking down in ways in which most spinning reels merely aren’t. 

Apparently sufficient, that wasn’t at all times the case. For years, the unique Everglades angling pioneers, legends like Flip Pallot, most well-liked to make use of baitcasters on quick pistol-grip rods. These had been the perfect instruments to dissect the mangroves and wench trophy snook and tarpon from their hiding locations. In some unspecified time in the future, these setups fell out of favor, and the period of low-profile baitcasters inshore gave the impression to be no extra. 

Quick-forward to immediately, and that’s now not the case. Trendy baitcasters have surged in reputation and revolutionized the inshore sport. Nonetheless, selecting one could be a little trickier than buying a spinning setup. Regardless of their complicated nature, the important thing components for selecting a baitcaster are basically the identical as another saltwater reel. 

The proper alternative is often determined by how typically you’ll be utilizing it and what you’ll be utilizing it for. When you’re focusing on hard-fighting fish like snook regularly, issues like drag energy and retrieve ratio are extra necessary. When you’re solely getting out a couple of instances a 12 months after much less formidable species like speckled trout, one thing that’s lighter and extra snug to forged could also be a more sensible choice. 

Then there’s the salt issue. Not like bass fishing, inshore baitcasters want to have the ability to stand up to the weather at a a lot increased degree. Salt corrodes every thing it touches, and a posh little bit of equipment like a baitcaster may be extraordinarily weak to deterioration. Corrosion-resistant supplies and a high quality seal are on the prime of the record of necessary options to contemplate. 


What are the benefits of utilizing a baitcaster versus a spinning reel? 

Captain C.A. Richardson primarily makes use of low-profile reels inshore, and he was in a position to shed some mild on a lot of their advantages. “They provide a a lot better diploma of management over your lure,” Richardson says. “The flexibility to dictate the lure pace and motion is mild years forward of what may be carried out with spinning gear.” He was additionally adamant about casting accuracy being crucial, and a low-profile baitcaster permits him to place lures the place they should go quicker and simpler than a spinning reel would. Lastly, Richardson introduced up the various line-related advantages of utilizing a low-profile baitcaster. He’s an advocate for utilizing fluorocarbon strains on his reels, because it permits for stealthier shows to spooky fish. “You possibly can’t spool a spinning reel with straight fluorocarbon,” he says, “it’ll twist and shoot off the spool, leaving a tangled mess.” He additionally brings up the truth that you’ll be able to spool a baitcaster with a line almost double the energy of what a spinning reel can maintain whereas sustaining casting distance and accuracy. This provides him a a lot increased diploma of confidence if he hooks into bigger fish across the construction. 

How ought to I clear and preserve my reels?

Whereas it’s customary follow to dampen most reels after saltwater use, Richardson says he now not does this together with his baitcasters. “I desire to take a moist rag and easily wipe down the skin of the reels. Spraying them with a hose will push the salt deeper into the elements and permit them to interrupt down quicker.” He additionally extremely recommends utilizing an oil-based lubricant product, similar to Clenzoil, to use to the skin of the reels and assist shield them from the salt. 

What’s the ideally suited rod to pair with a low-profile reel inshore?

In the case of a super all-purpose rod setup for a 150 to 200 measurement low profile reel, Richardson recommends a traditional 7-foot Medium Quick or Further Quick rod. If he’s throwing bigger lures or utilizing a heavier reel, like a 300 or 400 measurement, he’ll step it as much as a Medium Heavy in the identical size vary. A 7-foot rod gives probably the most versatile platform for the widest number of lures and shows and is extraordinarily succesful in relation to dealing with massive fish.

Remaining Ideas on the Greatest Saltwater Baitcasting Reels

Whereas spinning reels stay the most well-liked possibility, all saltwater anglers ought to contemplate making an attempt top-of-the-line saltwater baitcasting reels. When you’ve gotten snug with one, you’ll discover they’re greater than worthy of a spot in your lineup.

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