A baitcaster can be an important tool in your fishing arsenal for catching big fish. In this article, we’re going to talk about the best baitcasting reels under 100.
We’ve sorted through the hype and picked eight beautiful reels that stood out to us. We also read what the users are saying about each model and tried to lay out for you a clear list of specific pros and cons.
Whether you’re looking for speed or drag, fine-tuned controls or user-friendliness, comfort or performance, there’s something for everyone. Here are our top eight budget baitcasting reels.
8 Best Baitcasting Reels Under 100 on the Market:
The LEW Speed Spool is one of just two baitcasters on our list with both the frame and spool made from aluminum. This means it should last longer at the expense of a few ounces more in weight.
The braking system is magnetic with five easily adjustable magnets to help you avoid backlash. The tension knob is a bit bigger than usual. This can be helpful if you fish with gloves and usually have difficulty getting your gloved thumb into small cut-outs.
If you’re a beginner, this is the best baitcasting reel under $100. All the knobs and adjustments are easy to find and master.
A number of users mentioned the smooth action and that the reel feels like it could spin forever. Reviewers also loved the magnetic braking system, saying it both works well and feels comfortable to wrap your hand around.
Abu Garcia’s Black Max reel has a single-piece frame and sideplates made from graphite. The one-piece design makes this a solid reel with no flex even in high-stress situations.
The Black Max has plenty of winding power whether you’re fishing in shallow or deep waters. This isn’t the smoothest of the baitcaster reel brands, but there isn’t any grinding in the winding like we’ve heard and felt in similarly-priced reels.
We also loved the grip on the handles. It’s sticky enough to give you plenty of traction even when your hands are covered in slime.
A lot of reviews we saw raved about the Black Max’s great value for its price. Even though it comes with a learning curve, they loved the many fine adjustments you can make to this model’s drag settings.
A few people commented that the braking system isn’t very forgiving, especially if you’re a beginner. They recommended starting with the brakes at their tightest setting until you get used to the friction.
The Concept Z has top-quality insides and comes loaded with features. Somehow it’s still the lightest reel on our list. Don’t be fooled by the weight, though, the Z is incredibly strong. It also has the most drag on our list.
Instead of ball bearings, the Z uses CZB bushings. This allows you to cast a little bit farther than most bass baitcaster reels even with a lot of wind or when using a light bait.
This reel was designed to minimize the nasty corrosive effects of fishing in saltwater. Everything from the polymer bushings to the armored encasement helps protect the gears and guts from saltwater wear and tear.
Many people couldn’t believe how much drag this reel gets for its light weight. They say it doesn’t bog down even when retrieving heavy fish through thick cover.
A couple reviewers also loved that the side plate comes attached to the reel, so you can’t lose it.
The Crixus is a low-cost baitcaster reel by KastKing. It comes with a newly-designed U-Spool shape that gives you more line capacity. It also has a built-in tie-off, so you don’t have to worry about your braid slipping.
The funnel line guide is wider than usual to allow for a more even line release. The gearbox is designed to put the reel as close as possible to the rod, which is a lot more comfortable especially if your hands are on the small side.
This is another reel designed for saltwater with shielded bearings that can both stand up to saltwater corrosion and perform great in freshwater. We also love the tension knob that clicks every time you make an adjustment.
A number of consumers talked about how comfortable the new design feels in their hands. The only exception to this was the thumb switch, which a few people said is a little too high set and bulky for their liking.
Piscifun’s Torrent is a sturdy reel with double-wind shafts, industrial-strength brass gears and a four-washer drag system. Together, these features make it the best budget baitcasting reel if you want to go after big fish.
This is the heaviest reel on our list with the lowest retrieve rate. It has amazing torque for reeling in monsters but may tire out your arms quickly.
One feature that stood out to us is the sideplate’s oil hole. It lets you grease the reel regularly without having to open and close it, which can extend its life.
We heard a lot of enthusiasm about the Torrent. Various consumers insisted that it’s the best baitcaster under $50.
There were also a few complaints about its ability to work with light baits or heavy wind. It seems this reel works best with baits over 3/8ths of an ounce.
KastKing’s MegaJaws is a compact reel with a massive spool that lets you load up more line than ever. The frame, spool and handle are all made from aluminum, which makes this one of the best baitcasting reels for the money.
This reel has both magnetic and centrifugal brakes, which allows you to delicately fine-tune your spool’s speed. This comes in especially handy when working with light lures.
It also has a magnetic casting control system, which you can tweak to help cut out any backlashing. The magnetic casting control plus its 12 bearings, the most on our list, make the MegaJaws one of the smoothest baitcasters we’ve seen.
Many commentators raved about the MegaJaws’ fine-tuning controls. They loved the adaptive spool tension and the high lure speeds you can achieve.
A few people also commented that the weight is just right. It’s light enough without feeling cheap.
The REMIEL by RUNCL is another great affordable baitcaster with a wide spool and lots of bearings. It has the highest retrieve rate on our list, which makes it ideal for lures that need to fly at high speeds to trigger a bite. If you want to go after fish with a lot of energy like jacks and wahoo, the quickness will come in handy.
One unique thing about the REMIEL is its extra-long hollow handle. Not only does it fit better if you have big hands, but its length makes for more efficient reeling without adding much weight.
If you like to tweak, both the brake control and the drag star click with every adjustment. This lets you fine-tune things more precisely by ear.
The majority of users we heard from loved the long, comfortable handle. Many said the extended grip combined with the light weight is great for tournaments and other situations where you need to cast all day long.
The Tempo Vertix LP comes with a sealed frame, which makes it water-resistant and more durable. It also has a newly-designed spool lip that increases casting distance by minimizing line twists.
This is one of the three cheapest reels on our list. The maximum drag comes in at 2nd highest, which makes it one of our top budget baitcasters for landing big, feisty fish.
The users we heard from love the high drag. They told us it stays remarkably consistent under any circumstances.
A few people mentioned that if you learn to use your thumb to control the speed, you can get the Vertix to cast even longer.
Factors to Consider When Buying The Baitcasting Reel Under 100
Here are some important things to think about to make sure you get the best low-priced baitcasting reel.
A frame made from high-quality materials will protect your reel better but may be more expensive. If you’re a beginner baitcaster, you may find it’s better to make your novice mistakes on a cheaper model.
That way, if you eventually have to replace it, you’ll have learned valuable lessons about what not to do. You’ll also be more familiar with your own preferences.
Most budget baitcasting reels have frames made from aluminum or graphite. Aluminum is a harder, more durable material. Graphite is a bit softer, but it’s plenty strong for most beginners. It’s also lighter and cheaper than aluminum.
The gear ratio is how many times your spool rotates for every turn of the handle. The higher the gear ratio, the quicker you’ll be able to reel in your line, and the less energy you’ll use.
Most baitcasters consider 7:1 to be a good average gear ratio. It’s ideal for the average fishing trip. Anything above that is considered fast, and anything below is slow. The right gear ratio for you depends on the kind of lures you want to use and the kind of fish you want to catch.
Slower gear ratios are better for heavier lures and give you a higher torque to reel in slower, heavier fish. Big spinnerbaits and diving crankbaits work better with low gear ratios.
Faster gear ratios are better for lighter lures, speedier fish and fishing locations with a lot of cover and small strike zones. Texas rigs, jigs and small spinnerbaits work well with high gear ratios. If you like using buzz baits or other fast-action lures, get a high gear.
Flipping also works best with a fast gear ratio. When the fish are hiding under cover with only a few small openings, it’s sometimes best to use a swing and a slack line to drop your lure directly into the target. This is called flipping. A high gear ratio lets you wind up all the extra slack quickly so you can set your hook if a fish decides to take the bait right away.
If you want to catch huge fish with a lot of fight in them, you’ll need a lot of drag. The Max Drag setting is how many pounds of pressure your reel can take. The drag mechanism on your reel should be intuitive and have a simple, user-friendly adjustment knob.
A good braking system will help you avoid backlash. Backlash is what happens when your lure stops moving forward but your reel keeps rolling. It can leave you with a nightmarish mess of knotted line.
Baitcasting reels usually come with centrifugal brakes, magnetic brakes or both. They also usually have a spool tension knob you can use to fine-tune your spool rotation.
- A centrifugal braking system is based on friction. It pushes pins just inside the sideplate against a brake ring to slow down your spool. You can adjust it by opening up your reel and moving the pins outward or inward.
- A magnetic braking system slows down the spool using magnets and a steel ring. You should be able to adjust it without having to take your reel apart. Most magnetic brakes use an exterior dial to control the distance between the magnets and the ring.
- The spool tension knob is something you’ll have to learn to use with time. It’s designed to be controlled delicately with your thumb, although this can take hundreds of tries to perfect. You should find the knob on the same side as your reel’s handle. Ideally, it should be tight enough that as soon as you disengage your reel, the lure drops gently down to the water.
Baitcasting Reel – FAQ
There are four major differences between these two types of reels:
1. A baitcasting reel sits above your rod. A spinning reel usually sits below the fishing rod and has a line guide that faces down.
2. The baitcasting spool is oriented parallel to the rod. The spinning reel has its spool oriented perpendicular to the rod.
3. Baitcasters come with revolving spools supported by ball bearings. Spinning reels come with fixed spools. Fixed spools twist the fishing line as you cast. Revolving spools let the line come off cleanly with no twist. This increases the distance you can cast and the precision of your aim.
4. The spool on a baitcaster uses a tension knob to let you slow down your spool’s rotation with your thumb. Spinning reels have no tension knob.
These details make baitcasting reels a bit more expensive and complicated to use than spinning reels. They also tend to be stronger, lighter and more accurate.
Spinning reels are cheaper and excel in catching small fish with light lures. The more high-end baitcaster reels take more experience but can be more rewarding.
You should use a baitcaster when you need to fish with a line heavier than about 10 pounds. A heavier line means bigger fish and heavier lures. If you use a heavy lure with a spinning reel, your casting distance and accuracy will be severely limited. Baitcasters can cast farther and more precisely even with giant lures and bad weather.
If you plan to do a lot of casting, the lighter baitcaster can also save a lot of energy. It can keep you from burning your arms out by the end of the day.
Unlike spinning reels, baitcasters don’t allow you to swap out their handles. This means you need to choose the best fit for you before you buy.
It seems logical that right-handed reels are for right-handed people and vice versa. Counterintuitively, baitcasters tend to switch hands after the cast. Right-handers cast with their right then pass the rod to their left hand to reel with their right. Left-handers do the opposite.
If you prefer to keep the rod in the same hand after casting and reel with the opposite hand, you may need to get a baitcaster with a different hand orientation than you might think.
Right-handed baitcasters have the handle on the right side. Left-handed reels have the handle on the left.
If you want to target thick cover, catch feisty monsters or cast large lures, the good, cheap baitcaster reels on this list are an excellent starting point.
Our favorite is the LEW’S Speed Spool because of its simplicity and top-quality materials. If that one’s a little too pricey for you, the Piscifun Torrent is a sturdy under-$50 option with a lot of torque.
The sooner you land your baitcaster, the sooner you can begin practicing the baitcasting techniques that will land you the big ones you’re after. Try out one of these reels today!