Best Baitcasting Reel Under $100 [Reviewed 2019]

My love for baitcasting first surfaced a few months ago when a deadly battle between me and a big trout ignited a passion for fishing inside me. Soon after this self-discovery, I logged into my browser to look for the best cheap baitcasting reel available online.

To my surprise, the internet seemed to be flooded with cheap pieces of plastic wrongly labeled as quality products. I was further frustrated when my precious Okuma, for which I paid $400, snapped in two during my fifth fishing trip. I decided to write this review to show fellow anglers that there are affordable options—to find the best baitcasting reel under $100.

 

 

Our Top Pick

I picked the famous Garcia Black Max baitcasting fishing reel as the best baitcasting reel for anglers on a budget. Let’s dive in to learn a little more about the world of affordable baitcasting.

 

 

The Best Cheap Baitcasting Reels Reviewed

Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel

The Abu Garcia Black Max low profile baitcasting fishing reel is a fascinating work of professional craftsmanship. Aside from its stellar design, this baitcasting reel has exclusive features favored by beginner and professional baitcasting anglers alike.

 

Key Features

  • Single-piece graphite frame and graphite side plates
  • Stainless-steel system of four ball bearings
  • Exclusive power disk drag
  • MagTrack for accurate casting
  • Compact handle featuring an ergonomic grip

 

What I like about this product

I have always been fascinated by Abu Garcia’s utmost focus on making baitcasting smoother, and easier for everyone and my liking for this brand has only increased after trying out the Black Max. I must say the reel has plenty of drag to offer.

 

What I don’t like about this product

The reel has a considerably small size which limits its functionality for adult anglers with wide hands. I noticed some significant issues with spool break adjustments, which resulted in backlashes.

 

 

Pros

  • Machined-aluminum spool for maximum durability
  • One-piece, lightweight body for smooth casting
  • Exceptional drag power
  • Unique braking system
  • Incredible grip on the reclined reel

 

Cons

  • Limited casting distance

 

The Abu Garcia Black Max low profile baitcasting fishing reel is a great purchase considering its exclusive braking system and durable graphite frame. There are some issues with size and casting distance. If you are okay with shorter range casting, this reel is undoubtedly a reliable choice.

 

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Penn Defiance Star Drag Conventional Baitcast Reel

The Penn Defiance Star Drag Conventional baitcast reel is another fantastic addition to our best budget baitcasting reel review. Professional baitcasters all over the world favor this reel for a plethora of reasons.

 

Key Features

  • High-quality frame
  • Impressive line capacity of 290 yards
  • Star Drag baitcasting reel
  • Durable, corrosion-resistant parts

 

What I like about this product

I was not expecting such a high gear ratio in this reel, which stands as a rival for its penn112h competitor. This reel makes baitcasting a breeze because of the built-in eyelets located on the reel clamp. Moreover, the spool rim is wide enough to assist you in thumbing action for smoother casting.

 

What I don’t like about this product

At first, I believed that this baitcasting reel featured a level-wind casting system, but I was greatly disappointed as there is no such mechanism present in it. You will have to struggle with the weight of the frame as well.

 

Pros

  • Suitable for saltwater fishing
  • Professional design and grip
  • Hassle-free casting for long ranges
  • Powerful drag going as high as 30 pounds
  • Reel clamp features built-in eyelets for line casting

 

Cons

  • A bit too big and heavy for prolonged fishing ventures

 

The Penn Defiance Star Drag Conventional baitcast reel might have a heavy body, but the rest of the features pay for themselves at such a low price mark. Get this reel if you want to experience hassle-free saltwater baitcasting.

 

Overall Rating – 4.3/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Tica SeaSpirit SA Baitcasting Reel Series

The Tica SeaSpirit SA Baitcasting Reel Series is definitely a sweet treat for budget-minded anglers. The reel is focused on boosting drag power while maintaining a lightweight frame. You can expect powerful casting with this reel.

 

Key Features

  • 5+1 ball bearing and roller bearing system
  • Graphite frame and removable side plate
  • Micro-click drag system
  • Aluminum forged spool
  • Padded handling on the power knob

 

What I like about this product

I am fascinated by the five-bearing system, which is simply perfect for deep water fishing. This fishing reel is as versatile as it gets considering its suitability for trolling as well as bottom fishing.

 

What I don’t like about this product

This reel features some technicalities to achieve its versatile performance that may take beginners a bit of trial and error to get the hang of. If you don’t know much about using baitcasting reels, this reel will probably disappoint you.

 

Pros

  • Shielded, corrosion resistant bearing system
  • Lightweight and durable graphite frame and side plate
  • Precision powered drag for fighting big targets
  • Strong and lightweight aluminum spool
  • Easily changeable spool

 

Cons

  • For this size offered by this reel, the gear ratio may be too much for some anglers to handle

 

The Tica SeaSpirit SA Baitcasting Reel Series provides a range of useful features in affordable pricing. I wouldn’t state that it is the perfect baitcasting reel out there, but it certainly qualifies among the best.

 

Overall Rating – 4.4/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Shimano TR Star Drag Reel

The Shimano TR Star Drag Reel is a simplistic baitcasting reel that will still please experienced anglers used to lots of bells and whistles. The reel boasts some stunning features for an equally astounding low price.

 

Key Features

  • Single-piece Graphite frame
  • Level-wind baitcasting reel
  • Has an impressive gear ratio of 4.31
  • Modern ball bearing system
  • Right-handed baitcasting reel

 

What I like about this product

I love the single-piece, lightweight graphite body which provides for a wider drag surface by virtue of a star drag system. Another plus point is that it is suitable for saltwater fishing owing to its anti-rust gearing system.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Baitcasting is a lot more fun with extensive yard capacity. I was disappointed to see that this baitcasting reel has a limited line capacity of only 390 yards.

 

Pros

  • Good for saltwater fishing
  • Allows for easy and quick clearing of lines
  • Corrosion resistant steel ball bearings
  • Star drag system for catching fish as big as 14 pounds

 

Cons

  • Drag is poorly functional when catching bigger targets

 

The Shimano TR Star Drag Reel is the epitome of convenience and simplicity featuring a hassle-free star drag system. You can easily use it for saltwater baitcasting with your mates. Corrosion resistant ball bearings are appreciable. Aside from limited line capacity, the reel offers excellent value for the money.

 

Overall Rating – 4.2/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Daiwa Sealine SG-3B Freshwater/Saltwater Line Counter Reels

How could I possibly write a budget baitcasting reel review without including at least one Daiwa model? The Daiwa Sealine SG-3B baitcasting reel holds a superior position in our review because of its unique design and interesting tweaks in performance.

 

Key Features

  • Built-in line counter
  • Automatic three-bearing system
  • Machined-aluminum spool
  • Single-piece composite frame
  • Ultimate Tournament carbon drag
  • Right-handed baitcasting reel

 

What I like about this product

Soon after the smooth performance impressed my wits, the awesome windup offered by this reel won my heart. It is effortless to view and reset line readings and on the counter. Anglers who want to try their fish finder at great depth will absolutely love this baitcasting reel.

 

What I don’t like about this product

This reel is designed to adjust on lighter currents. If you are planning to fish in a heavy current, making reel adjustments can be quite challenging.

 

Pros

  • Has a durable, helical cut gear system
  • Dual-paddle handle or counterbalanced handle model
  • Spool click for angler’s ease
  • Direct drive line counter calibrated in feet
  • Lightweight and durable body

 

Cons

  • Not suitable for fishing in heavy currents

 

The Daiwa Sealine SG-3B baitcasting reel is an excellent pick for fishing in freshwater as well as saltwater bodies. The unique line counter on the paddled handle adds to the convenience of baitcasting. Overall, this reel is durable and offers smooth performance.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Lew’s Custom Speed Spool Left Handed Baitcasting Reel

The Lew’s Custom Speed Spool lefthanded baitcasting reel is a striking combination of smooth performance and lightweight baitcasting. The manufacturer has introduced a couple of attention-grabbing innovations in this baitcasting reel.

 

Key Features

  • Single-piece aluminum frame and Graphite side plates
  • Aluminum-anodized U-style spool
  • Magnetic and centrifugal braking system
  • Lew’s patent speed dial line indicator
  • 9+1 powerful bearing system

 

What I like about this product

I used this reel for low-profile baitcasting, which was a great decision. I like the external click dial and speed dial line indicator which contributes to making fishing hassle-free.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Despite the external dial line indicator, the drag fails to deliver the smooth power which should be expected from this reel. I wasn’t expecting such a rough performance.

 

 

Pros

  • Has a lightweight frame and easily detachable side plates
  • Durable brass bearings for improving reel longevity
  • Robust carbon fiber drag with a capacity of 14 pounds
  • Dual-braking system
  • Titanium coated line guide and MSB drag control

 

Cons

  • Poor assembly of parts does not do justice with the concept

 

The Lew’s Custom Speed Spool lefthanded baitcasting reel is a good pick for low-profile baitcasting. Some issues with limited drag and poor assembly of parts may be a problem for some anglers. Overall, the range of features in such a low price is an indicator that you can’t possibly waste money on this reel.

 

Overall Rating – 4.2/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Eagle Claw Skeet Reese Victory II Casting Reel 7.0

The Eagle Claw Skeet Reese Victory II casting reel is genuinely a reel for the winners considering its feature lineup and impressive performance. At a glance, you may think that this comparatively new brand may not hit up to the benchmarks of quality and performance as offered by bigger brands—but let me show you how this reel is here to break the stereotypes.

 

Key Features

  • High-quality aluminum frame
  • Unlimited rapid anti-reverse for no backlashing
  • Impressive 9+1 stainless steel ball bearing system for smooth casting
  • Corrosion-resistant body and spool
  • Suitable for different kinds of baits

 

What I like about this product

The feel of this reel is to die for. I believe that this reel’s smooth casting and consistent drag force is good enough to win the trust of any angler. I really like how this reel just refuses to show any backlash even when I used cheap, plastic baits. Definitely worth your money!

 

What I don’t like about this product

I noticed a significant shortcoming with this reel’s line performance. The spool is a bit compact which results in frequent tangling of the line during casting.

 

Pros

  • Lightweight, durable body for smooth performance
  • Anti-rust ten-bearing system
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Consistent drag power
  • Minimum backlashing

 

Cons

  • Side plate attachments and swappable handle are absent

 

Whether you are a professional angler or a beginner, the Eagle Claw Skeet Reese Victory II casting reel is undoubtedly going to help you master your baitcasting skills. Once you have managed to keep up with the learning curve, you are very likely to get addicted to this reel.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Pflueger Supreme Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel

The Pflueger Supreme Low Profile baitcast fishing reel will rarely ever disappoint you if you are looking for a unique yet promising baitcasting reel on a budget. This reel boasts some fantastic adjustments in performance and design to fascinate any angler.

 

Key Features

  • Powerful nine-bearing system
  • Durable aluminum frame
  • Magnetic braking system
  • Durable aluminum grip handle

 

What I like about this product

Baitcasting requires a lot of focus and patience, which are two things made easier by using this baitcasting reel. The aluminum frame and aircraft-grade handle make casting a breeze.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Although I am utterly amazed by this reel’s smooth performance, I must admit that this reel is not designed for beginners. You will need to watch several videos to learn how to cast with it.

 

Pros

  • Stainless-steel ball bearings are corrosion resistant
  • Precise gear alignment assured by an aluminum frame
  • External adjustments for spool rotation and brake controls
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum handle

 

Cons

  • Faulty tuning of line with the reel

 

The Pflueger Supreme Low Profile baitcast fishing reel is an economical option for anglers with fixed budgets. You can enjoy its smooth performance by making minimal adjustments. Overall, the reel is great for low-profile baitcasting.

 

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Zebco Right Hand 6.31 Gear Ratio Quantum Team KVD Reel

The Zebco Right Hand 6.31 gear ratio reel is full of surprises, literally! You may not be able to recognize the various nuances at first glance, but this reel has got a lot in store for every angler on a budget. Zebco usually does not come up with innovation, but when it does, the brand makes sure that the world knows about it—and that is precisely what this reel is all about.

 

Key Features

  • Strong 7+1 stainless-steel bearing and clutch system
  • Graphite frame and side plates
  • Innovative DynaMag cast control
  • Frictionless pinion gears
  • Features a consistent and rapid anti-reverse clutch system

 

What I like about this product

Zebco has undoubtedly made a great attempt at introducing a versatile baitcasting reel. I appreciate the minimalist, hassle-free skeletal design of the spool. The drag power is also good, and the reel casts like a dream.

 

What I don’t like about this product

The reel has an improperly developed handle which is making me much concerned about maintaining grip when fighting big catches. Slight improvements in spool brake design are also needed, and the reel is suitable for right-handed baitcasters only.

 

Pros

  • Lightweight graphite body and precision-balanced side covers
  • Seamless gear performance featuring a 6.61 gear ratio
  • Durable aluminum spool featuring skeletal design
  • Minimum backlashes due to DynaMag cast control
  • Right-handed baitcasting real
  • Powerful drag going as high as 17 pounds

 

Cons

  • Spool brakes are little too complicated for beginners

 

The Zebco Right Hand 6.31 gear ratio reel is a reasonable reel in terms of performance and pricing. Right-handed baitcasters can easily enjoy this reel during their baitcasting ventures.

 

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Budget Baitcasting Reel Buying Guide

Now that you have an idea what’s on the market under $100, the next thing you need to know is what makes a good baitcasting reel. I’ll do my best to answer some of the most common questions asked by beginners or even just those trying to get the best value for their money. You can also check out other affordable types of reels for anglers who seek for high performance without paying big money.

 

What Are the Different Types of Baitcasting Reels?

As a beginner, it can be hard to understand the complex world of baitcasting reels. Here is a quick guide to walk you through the various types available.

 

  • Low-profile baitcasting reels Lighter in weight, these reels feature a combination of graphite and aluminum. They usually have ergonomic designs to make casting easier and are only suitable for freshwater fishing for targeting smaller fish due to their limited line capacity.

 

  • Round baitcasting reels These reels are heavier and feature larger spools for greater line capacities. Most of them are corrosion resistant, which makes them suitable for saltwater fishing for catching bigger fish.

 

  • Star Drag Reels Star drag reels are the most suitable for beginners as they are the easiest to operate. A drag knob is placed between handle and reel so that you can use it for inshore fishing, jigging, and catching fish as heavy as 40 pounds.

 

  • Lever Drag reels Lever drag reels are a bit technical in operation as the lever drag is installed on the top of reel. The main advantage is that this reel offers precision and control over the drag setting and presets the minimum drag. Lever drag reels are suitable for large offshore fishing of fish greater than 40 pounds as well as trolling.

 

What Is the Best Way to Set a Budget for a New Baitcasting Reel?

Setting a budget for buying a new baitcasting reel is quite a challenge, especially if you are running low on funds. Here is how you can set a suitable budget for a baitcasting reel:

 

  • Determine your needs and try not to exceed them at any cost, no matter what anyone tells you

 

  • Refrain from buying cheap, plastic crap which will break on the first cast

 

  • Go for a greater number of bearings as it will help you in getting greater drag

 

  • Prefer durability over a cheap price tag—it’s cheaper to buy one durable reel at a slightly higher price than two cheap reels

 

  • Choose a low-maintenance reel to minimize the hassle and expenditure on cleaning and oiling parts

 

  • Look for reels with a dual-braking system as it will prevent backlashes and offer the best value for the money

 

How Will I Know Which Handle Material Is the Best for Me?

The handles of baitcasting reels determine the ease of use of any fishing rod. A poorly made handle will increase the chances of slipping and in turn increase the chances that you’ll lose a nice catch! The following materials are usually used in the manufacturing of reel handles

 

  • Aluminum/alloy This handle type tends to be lighter and better for travel. Machine-crafted handles are quite common, but for budget reels, you will probably get cast handles.

 

  • Graphite/carbon fiber These handles are known for their strength, durability, lightweight, and ruggedness. These are the best for prolonged baitcasting.

 

What Are the Different Types of Grips in Baitcasting Reels?

Although the type of handle used in a reel plays a vital role in determining convenience, the grip type plays a central role in determining your control over the reel. Commonly used grip materials in baitcasting reels include:

 

  • EVA EVA is the most common type of grip material. They are available in a variety of shapes.

 

  • Cork Cork is a lightweight material that enhances grip even during wet weather, but it is hard to find in budget models.

 

  • Performance Performance grips have a tacky tape wrapped around EVA or cork to soften it.

 

Soft Touch Rubber In this option, the handle is coated in soft-touch rubber for additional protection and grip under wet conditions.

 

 

How Are Baitcasting Reels Classified Based on Gear Ratio?

Gear ratio is an indication of the rotation speed of the spool. It is important because it must suit your style of fishing and the size of fish you wish to catch. A poor gear ratio can make or break a reel. Classifications are as follows:

 

  • Slow reels Drag ratio is set at 91 and lower

 

  • Moderate reels Drag ratio ranges from 6.01 to 7.21

 

  • Fast reels Drag ratio ranges from 7.31 and above

 

Bonus tip Choose a baitcasting reel which falls in moderate range to enjoy the most versatile fishing experience.

 

What Is the Role of Star Drag in Baitcasting Reels?

Drag plays a central role in making your baitcasting trip a successful one. Here is what it does for your fishing adventures:

 

  • Controls the fish at the end of line

 

  • Manages lines to prevent the occurrence of any breaking points under stretched, high-pressure conditions

 

  • Heats up and expands depending upon the speed and pressure of the baitcasting reel to prevent the lines from breaking

 

Most baitcasting reels have a star drag adjustment located near the handle. Ceramic, graphite, and carbon are used as common heat dissipation materials in reel drags to minimize any chances of line breakage.

 

What Are the Braking System Types, and What Do They Have to Do with Baitcasting Reels?What Is Meant by Line Capacity? Which Should I Choose?

A braking system helps in tuning your reel with the lure of your choice. The braking technique is quite simple, and all you need to do to tune the reel is crank your lure to the tip of the rod, then loosen the brake until the lure falls a distance of 5 to 10 inches. In most cases, this distance is optimal for minimizing backlashes.

 

The two types of braking systems that are prevalent in baitcasting reels are:

 

  • Centrifugal braking systems deploy centrifugal force and pins which extend out with every increase in spool rotation speed. This braking system is useful in controlling the spool during the initial casting stage when the speed is highest.

 

  • Magnetic braking systems combine a set of magnets which can be adjusted during the whole casting duration. These brakes take over as central braking system at lower spool speeds.

 

What Is Meant by Line Capacity? Which Should I Choose?

Line capacity, by definition, is the ability of a spool to store a certain length of line which can be set loose in case a big catch tries to make a run across water. The rule of thumb for determining the line capacity of any baitcasting reel is to check the size of the spool since both of these are directly dependent on each other. Here is how you can pick a suitable line capacity

 

  • Low profile baitcasting reels have smaller spool sizes by default, indicating that these reels will have limited line capacity. A limited line capacity should not concern you much if you plan on catching small-sized fish such as walleye and bass.

 

  • Round baitcasting reels have the flexibility of bigger spools, which is why they can support greater line capacity. Bigger line capacities are good for catching predatory, large fish such as muskie or salmon. Reels featuring greater line capacities are suitable for freshwater as well as saltwater baitcasting.

 

Final Thoughts

While many of the reels in my review are sure to please and won’t break the bank, finding the best reel for you is going to depend on your individual needs—what’s right for one fisher may be a nightmare for another. Regardless, if I had to point you in the direction of one reel to start your search with, it would be the Abu Garcia Black Max.

The Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile baitcasting fishing reel fits our profile for the best baitcasting reel under $100, owing to its sleek design, durable build, considerable drag, and impressive casting control. This reel is certainly the best bang for your buck as it is a complete package of convenience, performance, and portability.

I wrote this guide with an intention to help fellow anglers to make the most of their baitcasting experience while staying low on expenses. I hope this guide fulfilled its purpose, and you have decided to pick a reel fitting your needs. Don’t forget to share what you’ve learned with your friends!

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