SR: When casting sidearm, you have a much wider area through rotation of the cast where you can release the lure. When you cast overhead, that window of when you can release the lure for a proper cast becomes much smaller. And the most common [mistake] is a late release, which means the lure comes crashing down much faster. And that’s when the backlash happens. So, sidearm is a safer cast, but learning how to load your rod up with the energy of the lure is the key to distance.
This is why: the brake is for preventing the spool from ‘overspinning’ at the start of the cast, whereas the spool tension is there to prevent the spool from spinning at the end of the cast (=the moment your bait hits the water). They both serve a specific purpose, namely to ultimately prevent the dreaded backlashes from happening in the beginning, during, and after your cast.
I’ts loaded with performance features bass anglers will love. It’s compact for easy palming, but has a large handle with oversized paddle knobs. The big knobs come in handy wrenching big fish out of cover. The brakes are easy to fine tune, thanks to four pins inside the sideplate and a fine adjustment dial on the outside. Perhaps the best part is being able to choose from 4 different gear ratios, from 5.6:1 all the way up to 8.3:1.
If you are going after the bigger fish and need a reel that can take on heavier loads, this baitcaster is phenomenal. It’s got a sleek, fantastic design that works as good as it looks. It’s got a gear ratio of 5.4:1 and has extra torque, so you can reel in the catch of the day with hardly any struggle at all – and if that fish is a little feisty, the bent carbon handle won’t get uncomfortable for you.

Favored by tournament anglers as well as by serious fishermen going after bigger freshwater species, baitcasting reels are ideal for casting larger lures and baits great distances. They have the substance and smooth drags to stand up to gut-wrenching runs that big fish will make. Although they’re a little harder to master than spinning reels, baitcasting reels have become much easier to use thanks to modern technology. At TackleDirect, you’ll find hundreds of freshwater baitcasting reels from leading manufacturers like Shimano, Abu Garcia and Quantum. Because these reels can toss heavier lures and baits and handle bigger fish, many of them are also appropriate for inshore saltwater fishing. That means you can get even more out of these crossover reels, whether you’re fishing for largemouth in your local lake or for redfish, snook and seatrout in the mangroves.
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The brake system on a baitcast reel is designed to offer a way to control the speed of the spool’s rotation and thus the flow of line at the end of the cast in order to prevent backlash. The braking system on a reel is an important feature to check if you’re to avoid backlash after backlash. Baitcast reels have either a centrifugal or magnetic system. Some have a dual braking system that features both brakes.
The reel's components include a one-piece die-cast aluminum frame, an easy to remove palming graphite side plate, double anodized aluminum U style spool, double anodized aluminum spool tension adjustment with audible click, Lew's dual-braking system, solid brass gearing, double-shielded stainless steel bearings, carbon fiber star drag system, Zirconia line guide, an external lube port for maintenance and a bowed, lightweight, aluminum handle featuring the brand's custom paddle handle knobs.
The next thing to take note of when making a purchase is the spool size of the reel. If you are interested in going for a bigger or stronger fish during your fishing adventure, you will definitely need to get a heavier line. For such heavier lines, you would agree that they would take more space on the spool and hence, you may have to consider buying a reel which has a deeper spool and has enough space to hold the line of your choice completely. Impliedly, the bigger the size of the fish you are aiming at, the larger the size of the spool you will need.
What is the best baitcasting reel? After conducting over 20 hours of research from fellow anglers and getting the chance to fish with some of these reels. I've come up with 5 reels that cover the whole spectrum of needs. I looked at the following categories, to compile this list. Value adding features, braking systems, drag systems, casting distance, smoothness during casting and retrieve, and most importantly price. With reels, you usually get what you pay for. For price, the sweet spot seems to be the midrange reels. This range gives you better bearings and materials than the entry level reels, some features from the premium reels but without the premium price. Editor's choice goes to the Curado K. The best bang for buck goes to Lew's tournament MB. The Daiwa Tatula SV TW gets the award for most reliable.
If you’re well acquainted with baitcaster reels and try the Luna, one of the first things you’ll notice is the ease and extra distance when casting. This is the free floating spool structure that removes the spool pinion from the gear train (reduced friction). This allows the spool to spin quicker and longer for those long bomb casts. Additionally, the casting speed is easily adjusted by pressing and turning the sideplate. Most reels will have a separate knob for this functionality; to me the sideplate adjustment is more intuitive.

Our favorite aspect of this reel is its casting performance, and there is a lot of technology and design that has gone into this reel to give you this tremendous range of casting. The spool tension adjustment is very sensitive and has a wide range of adjustments allowing you to use a wide variety of different sized lures. The only problem we have is that the line capacity is not the best and might limit you if you’re not able to spool high test line. The spool and line guide design also cut down on the friction between the reel and line, providing an extra few yards to a cast you wouldn’t have otherwise.


On the other end of the spectrum, baitcasting reels allow for casting lures like jigs, spinner baits and crankbaits with pinpoint accuracy, but there is a dialed in drag resistance and require a higher skill set to be able to thumb the spool as line flows off. If you can’t find that sweet spot of thumb pressure, you’ll experience a backlash bird’s nest of tangled line.
   The sophisticated braking systems and anti-backlash mechanisms on today’s baitcasters make it easy for anyone to learn how to cast these reels without worrying about line overruns. Some reels have a brake dial for adjusting the centrifugal brake system while others, such as the Ardent baitcasters Ponds uses, have internal centrifugal brake pins that need to be pulled out to engage the brakes. With plenty of practice in the right settings, any beginner can head out on the water with the confidence of having a backlash-free day.
Now, let’s take a look at what you need to look for when shopping for a new baitcasting reel. If you found the perfect baitcaster reel for you among the best baitcasters reviewed above and have a great baitcasting rod to create a well-balanced baitcaster combo, you’re all set up to catch some trophy fish. If you’re finding it hard to decide which one you should spend your money on, here’s a guide to help you select the best for you. 
If you want to go after the big fish, you will need one of the best baitcasting reels equipped for the hard fights you’ll be in for. It will be a contest between you and the fish and the quality of your reel will play a major role in determining who comes out on top. With a great baitcaster, you can be confident that no matter what you land, you’re set up for success.
The Abu Garcia Classic round baitcaster comes in a few reel models: C3, C4 & C. Each of these models has a handful of sizes so there is no shortage of options for any fishing application. The Abu Garcia C3-6500 was the first baitcaster I ever owned. I’ve fished this reel hard for many years and I still use it today! That said, I dissemble the reel, clean and grease it each winter which has kept it like new. The price point and specs for this reel have made it mandatory for my list.
A great spool is lightweight for speed but can handle the elements as well. Typical material for spools is aluminum because it’s so light. A forged aluminum spool is best as it’s a tougher metal and doesn’t get damaged or scratched as easily. Manufacturers are drilling holes into their spools for that lighter weight and quicker spin (air dynamics & weight).
The Shimano Caenan is a beautiful reel that offers outstanding performance. It is clearly a very aesthetically pleasing baitcaster, but it also is a great value as a reel itself. With a retrieve ratio of 6.5:1, it is a fairly quick reeling reel, though not the quickest. This makes it ideal for lures that shouldn’t be reeled too quickly and actually make it an ideal option for the vast majority of fisherman.
A great braking system is important with baitcasters as this will help prevent the brutal backlashes or “birds nest”. A backlash is when the spool over rotates after the lure has hit the water and these additional rotations cause the fishing line to bunch up on the reel. A good braking system will slow the spool down just before the end of the cast to ensure these additional rotations do not occur.
The Dartanium II drag washers provide one of the smoothest drag systems around. You can simply adjust it with a flick of your finger while fighting a fish. The SVS Infinity breaking system is one of the best out there. There is an external dial as well as 4 internal brakes that are adjusted by opening the side plate and engaging 1 to 4 of the brakes.
Where I see the biggest advantage is when using the flipping or pitching technique. This is when we are fishing at close range and putting the lure into the thickest, heaviest shoreline cover. I like to use 25 lb. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon when flipping. You may think this is too heavy of a line, but when you hook a big bass in real heavy grass or in the middle of a tree, you need that strength to be able to pull that fish out. Otherwise, the fish can wrap around the cover and break you off.

Hey Brett, thanks for the note! I’m assuming you’re looking for a starter setup for fishing rivers for Steelhead/Salmon? That said, I’d recommend the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur reel I’ve recommended on this page. Typically for Steelhead/Salmon you’ll want a larger baitcaster for long drifts and big runs. The low profile baitcasters are better suited for Bass and smaller trout/salmon (so really depends on what you’re using it for). The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur is the lowest priced reel on this guide, with high quality components that will last many years (over the past 4 years I’ve used this reel in all my Salmon/Steelhead videos on YouTube).

Baitcasters have become most popular through the tournament bass industry where bass anglers have found them to be indispensable tools for their pursuits. Baitcasting reels handle larger line diameters far better than spinning reels and heavy lines are often needed to wrestle large fish out of weed beds. These reels also have a completely different drive gear system from spinning reels that provides a lot more power for the angler. This makes the retrieval of many lure types much easier on the angler, especially after long hours of constant casting and cranking.

Like all of the Low Profile reels offered by Abu Garcia, the smoothness doesn’t end with the reel action. It’s ergonomic handles and easy to access star drag system will make it veritably jump into your hands, and once you’re familiar with it you’ll be fishing like a pro. If you’re left handed, you’ll also be pleased to know that you can score one of these configured for your dominant hand as well. For those fresh to the baitcasting world, there’s simply no reason to get started with this quality reel.
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