Best Baitcaster For Beginners - 2021 Buyer's Guide

UPDATED 29 JANUARY 2021

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by Robert Ceran

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If you’re a novice angler looking for your first baitcaster, it’s essential to choose the best baitcasting reel for beginners, as choosing the wrong model can result in a lot of unnecessary frustration.

As a beginner, it’s essential to choose a model with the following key characteristics:

  • It should be affordable
  • It should be easy to use
  • It should have effective anti-backlash technology

 

Traditionally, baitcasting reels have been very challenging to master, due to the fact that their spool rotates rapidly while you cast. This often results in backlash and birds nest formation, if you don’t know how to control spool rotation correctly.

However, in recent years, several manufacturers have developed advanced spool braking technology that minimizes, or even eliminates this problem. This makes these models an ideal choice for beginners.

In this article we review the best baitcasting reels for beginners that are affordable, easy to use, and have effective anti-backlash technology.

 

5 best baitcasting reels for beginners reviewed

Model nameImagePriceBall bearingsGear ratioRetrieve rate Max drag (lb)Weight (oz)Our verdict
1. Abu Garcia Revo SX106.6:1 to 7.3:127″ to 30″247.8Best overall performance
2. Piscifun Perseus66.3:126.8″18.58.0Best budget option
3. Kastking SpartacusKastKing Spartacus Maximus116.3:128.3″259.4Most durable model
4. Piscifun Phantom77.0:130.3″175.7Best lightweight option
5. KastKing Speed DemonKastking Speed Demon139.3:139.1″13.26.5Best high speed model

 

The table above compares the most important features of the top 5 models side by side. 

All of the reels listed above have a dual brake system, which helps beginners to avoid backlash formation completely, even if you’ve never used a baitcaster before.

Now let’s look at each of the models in more detail.

 

1. Abu Garcia Revo SX

Abu Garcia Revo SX

This reel continues to be one of the most popular models used by many bass anglers. It’s a very sleek and elegant low-profile baitcaster, and due to the Abu Garcia Infini dual brake system, it’s easy to cast without generating backlash.

The Infini dual braking system of this reel combines centrifugal and magnetic brakes, which allows any beginner to start casting without generating the dreaded baitcaster birds nest. The best part is that you don’t need to use your thumb to control spool rotation, since the reel takes care of that. Most beginners don’t know how to use thumb pressure to control spool rotation, and so spend most of their early fishing trips trying to untangle a nasty birds nest or two.

The reel body consists of an alloy frame plus graphite side plates, which helps to make it more lightweight than many other models. Indeed, if this is your first baitcaster, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how light it is compared to spinning reels. The lightness and ergonomic design of the Revo SX as it sits nestled on top of your rod handle make it a pure joy to cast with all day long, without becoming tired or getting arm fatigue.

Its ability to cast without backlash makes this model a top choice for beginners, and combined with its overall high performance, reliability, and ease of use it’s also one of the most popular baitcasters among experienced anglers as well, which is why we included it in our review of the best Abu Garcia baitcaster reel.

Features:

  • Left or right handed
  • Infini anti-backlash braking technology
  • DuraClutch design
  • 9 plus 1 ball bearings
  • Powerful carbon matrix drag

 

2. Piscifun Perseus

Piscifun Perseus

The Piscifun Perseus is the best budget option when it comes to baitcasters that have a dual brake system. At around $50, it still enables beginners to cast without backlash due to the combined action of centrifugal and magnetic brakes.

And while it doesn’t offer all the high end features of the Revo SX, it still delivers a strong performance, including a powerful 18 lb high grade drag system, plus a relatively low speed gear ratio of 6.3:1. This is ideal for casting large lures and rigs in the pursuit of big bass.

The extra large 4.33 inch aluminum handle is great for winching big fish to the boat, and combined with the powerful drag, makes it a good choice when fishing close to cover. In those situations you need a powerful reel to help you haul big fish away from structure before they can get the line snagged on it.

It has an overall very smooth performance, plus a solid build that relies on anti-corrosion ball bearings and pinion shaft.

Features:

  • Left or right handed
  • 3-layer carbon fiber drag
  • Adjustable magnetic and centrifugal brakes
  • Easy access for maintenance

 

3. Kastking Spartacus

Photo of KastKing Spartacus Maximus

This is a phenomenal baitcaster that allows beginners to cast easily without generating backlash, and without having to use your thumb to slow down the spool, which is why we included it in our review of the best baitcaster under 100.

The superior casting performance is due to its dual centrifugal and magnetic brakes that can be individually adjusted to provide exactly the right amount of resistance to slow down spool rotation.

In addition to its superior casting performance, it also has incredibly smooth retrieval action due to a whopping 12 ball bearings. And while the Spartacus is a little on the heavy side with 9.4 ounces, this is due to its 100% metal build, making it the most durable model reviewed here.

The metal construction makes it tough enough to withstand the punishing environment of the ocean, which makes it an ideal choice for saltwater fishing, such as casting from a kayak for redfish or snook.

Finally, the 25 lb carbon fiber drag makes this the most powerful reel on our list, which means it’s a great choice if you’re expecting to battle big fish.

Features:

  • Left or right handed
  • Machined aluminum frame and spool
  • Precision matched brass gears
  • Ceramic line guide
  • 11 corrosion resistant ball bearings

 

4. Piscifun Phantom

Photo of Piscifun Phantom

With a weight of 5.7 ounces, this is the lightest model in this list, which makes it an ideal choice for casting lightweight lures in ponds and creeks. And in spite of its lightweight build, it has enough power to handle strong fish with an 18 lb carbon fiber drag. 

Similar to the Perseus, the Phantom also has an easily accessible oil port helping to make maintenance a breeze, even if you don’t know anything about baitcasters. And like all the other reels on this list, it boasts a dual centrifugal and magnetic brake system which can be precisely fine tuned, which enables novice anglers to cast effortlessly without dreaded birds nest formation.

Overall, this is the best option for lightweight applications – it’s a great beginner’s baitcaster for summer pond and creek fishing. The ease of the casting performance means you can focus on enjoying the fishing experience, without having to constantly struggle with your equipment.

Features:

  • Right and left handed
  • Ergonomic grip on thumb bar
  • Titanium line guide
  • Anodized aluminum main gear and spool

 

5. KastKing Speed Demon

Photo of Kastking New Speed Demon

With 39 inches retrieve rate for each turn of its handle, the KastKing Speed Demon is the fastest reel on this list. The high speed is partially due to the high gear ratio of 9.3:1, which makes it ideal for high speed lure retrieval (for example, when you’re skipping a lure across the surface of the water). It also helps to take in slack as fast as possible when you need to crank a big fish away from cover.

Taken together, this makes it a great choice for flipping, pitching, or jigging for bass. And at 6.5 ounces, it’s relatively lightweight, which is ideal if you’re going to be casting all day long. Also, with 12 plus one bearings, it has the highest ball bearing count of any model on this list, which help to make its retrieval action incredibly smooth.

The star drag is very easy to adjust, and has a clicking mechanism that allows you to hear how many notches you turn it. Because of this, it can be easily adjusted even while fighting a fish.

Features:

  • Left or right handed
  • Lightweight carbon frame and side plates
  • Double shielded ball bearings
  • Oversized handle ideal for fast retrieval
  • Ergonomic thick polymer grips

 

How to choose the best baitcasting reel for beginners

As already mentioned, the biggest challenge that beginners face with baitcaster fishing reels is learning how to cast effectively without generating backlash.  It used to be that every beginner would spend most of their time on the first few fishing trips untangling tangled birds nests, while doing very little actual fishing. This has made them much harder to master than other types of fishing reels.

Fortunately, technology has improved significantly over the past years, and modern reels now enable novice anglers to learn how to cast easily, due to advanced braking technology that slows down the spool while casting.

So now, in order to avoid frustration on your first fishing trips, it’s highly recommended to choose a baitcaster with dual braking technology, which will allow you to cast readily without getting any backlash.

Look for effective anti-backlash technology

The most important feature of a baitcasting reel for beginners is a dual brake system that combines centrifugal and magnetic brakes, which can be adjusted individually. In addition, every reel also has a spool tension control, which also helps to control spool rotation.

 

How to adjust the braking system as a beginner

As a beginner it’s best to start by setting both brakes to their maximum before you try to cast. That way you won’t be able to cast very far, but you’ll also avoid getting backlash. Once you start to feel comfortable with these settings, you can then slowly reduce the settings, which will allow the spool to rotate faster.

Make sure you do this gradually, so you can avoid generating a line tangle due to backlash. As you get more and more proficient at casting, you can start experimenting with releasing the brakes even more, and instead using thumb pressure to control spool rotation. 

Spool tension knob

The spool tension knob is located next to the reel handle, and can be adjusted to allow the spool to rotate freely, or to apply pressure to it, causing it to rotate much more slowly. This is the first thing you need to adjust, and as a beginner try to start by tightening it, which will prevent the spool from rotating too fast on your first cast.

Magnetic braking system

Depending on the model, this is a system that relies on 6 to 10 magnets that slow down the spool. It can be adjusted by pulling the magnets in or out, thus placing them closer to the spool, or further away from it.

The magnets slow down the spool during the casting process. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to slide all magnets in to get a maxim slowing down of the spool rotation. This system is usually adjusted externally, with a dial on the side of the reel opposite to the handle, that has settings ranging from 1 to 10.

Centrifugal braking system

This system uses centrifugal force to slow down the spool during rotation, and can be adjusted to apply more or less resistance to spool. While the magnetic system acts more during the late phase of the cast, the centrifugal system has its greatest effect during the early part of the cast.

In order to adjust this system, you usually need to open the side plate of the reel, and then adjust the gauge.

Many anglers like to argue about which one of these braking systems is more effective and better to use. But in recent years this debate has been made unnecessary by the production of baitcasters that have both systems.

Thumb pressure

Most experienced anglers rely much more on thumb pressure to slow down spool rotation while casting with a baitcaster. The reason for this is that it allows you to modulate pressure during the casting process, which results in much higher casting accuracy.

However, this is not advisable for beginners, since it’s almost impossible to get it right at first, which means you’ll end up very frustrated on your first few fishing trips. Instead we recommend relying on the braking system of the models discussed here, until you’re proficient enough to switch to thumb control.

 

Final remarks

This concludes our review on the best baitcasting reel for beginners. So which model should you buy? All of the models on this list are very high quality, and so you can’t go wrong with any of them.

If you want the best possible experience with your first baitcasting reel, then the Abu Garcia Revo SX is the best choice, since it’s not only easy to use for a beginner, but also continues to deliver high end performance as you become more adept at fishing with it.

If you’re on a budget, however, then the Piscifun Perseus offers great performance at a lower price. And if you want a high speed reel, then the KastKing Speed Demon is the ideal choice for you.

Whichever model you choose, I wish you tight lines and see you on the water!

 

Additional resources:

Robert Ceran

Robert Ceran

Robert grew up fishing for crappie and bluegill as a young boy, and later graduated to the pursuit of bigger game. He loves participating at bass tournaments all over the country, whenever he’s not on one of his fly fishing trips to Canada. Robert started writing when he was just 17, and is now our chief wordsmith at Sport Fishing Buddy.

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