Baitcasting reels are the workhorses of saltwater fishing. These devices are known for their ability to cast and recast easily, which is why they’re perfect for targeting fast-moving predators where you might only get one shot at setting your trap.
For that reason, baitcasting reels are especially useful in the world of saltwater fishing. The constant casting and recasting required to catch a fish in a smaller area like a reef means that anything other than a baitcaster would leave you exhausted after only a few minutes of fishing. That’s why if you want to get into saltwater fishing, investing in the right gear from the start is crucial.
But with so many different models out there, it can be difficult to know which baitcaster is right for you. To help, we’ve put together this list to find the best baitcasting reel under $100 that you can find on the market today.

Popular Choice

Fuego Reel DAIWA


DAIWA Fuego Lightweight frame and Anti-reverse technology best baitcasting reel under 100 dollars with Hybrid braking system

Top PickMost Popular

Royale Legend II KASTKING


KASTKING Royale Legend II best baitcasting reel under 100 dollars with Comfortable EVA handle knobs

Best Value



SHIMANO SLX best baitcasting reel under 100 dollars with High-quality variable braking system


KASTKING Royale Legend II


KASTKING Royale Legend II best baitcasting reel under 100 dollars with Comfortable EVA handle knobs

General Impression

It’s almost hard to believe that the KastKing Royale Legende II could be sold for under $50 dollars, as the model is truly spectacular in more ways than one.

The Royale Legende II is comprised of a graphite frame which is complemented by a CNC cut aluminum spool. Due to the efficiency of CNC machines, the spool is significantly lighter than comparable models, as it contains far less material than traditional spools. The intelligent engineering doesn’t stop there though, as there is also a ceramic line guide, 5+1 double-shielded stainless steel bearing system, and an 8-piece magnet braking system.

What that all essentially translates into is a reel that is capable of nearly any type of freshwater fishing. It has an incredibly smooth action from the ball bearings, an effective brake system, and comfortable EVA handle knobs for long days on the water. All in all, there isn’t anything else that could contest the Royale Legende II as being the best baitcasting reel under $100.


BRAND: KastKing
WEIGHT: 7.2 ounces
DRAG: 17.6 lbs.
BEARINGS: 5+1 double-shielded stainless-steel
GEAR RATIO: 5.4:1 and 7.2:1


  • 5+1 double-shielded stainless steel bearings
  • Comfortable EVA handle knobs
  • Lightweight design
  • Smooth action


  • Line release button is slightly uncomfortable



SHIMANO SLX best baitcasting reel under 100 dollars with High-quality variable braking system

General Impression

Shimano is in the business of gears, so it is no surprise that the brand has managed to create a product that viciously fights for a chance to be the best baitcasting reel under 100 dollars.

The Shimano SLX is more than just a beautiful piece of equipment, as its interior components are just as impressive as its exterior design. At first glance, onlookers just see the Hagane metal body, but not the 3+1 bearing system, or the variable brake adjustment system. Both interior aspects allow the reel to cast and retrieve flawlessly, without ever creating a backlash. While a bird’s nest can still occur, it would be entirely the fault of the angler, rather than the reel.

Yet, when it comes to performance, the SLX shines brightest in its class. The action is as smooth as can be, with little to no friction. It retrieves without any hesitation, and it lets line fly off at a perfect pace. All in all, the product is no doubt Shimano’s best casting reel under 100 dollars.


BRAND: Shimano
WEIGHT: 7 ounces
DRAG: 12 lbs.
BEARINGS: 3+1 double-shielded stainless-steel
GEAR RATIO: 6.3:1, 7.2:1, 8.2:1


  • High-quality variable braking system
  • Multiple gear ratios available
  • High-quality rubber handle knobs
  • Backlash-resistant


  • Drag strength is fairly light


General Impression

The Fuego CT stands as Daiwa’s sole model to make an appearance on this list, which by default makes it the brand’s best baitcaster for under $100. But that’s not to say that the reel isn’t still phenomenal, as it possesses enough quality engineering to compete with reels double its price point.

Like the Shimano SLX, the Fuego CT is an absolutely gorgeous reel to look at. Its matte black aluminum frame with red trim make the reel simply shine with craftmanship. Those who are busy checking out its exterior certainly shouldn’t neglect to check out the internal aspects, as those too are extremely well-designed. The noteworthy internal specs include its Magforce-Z brake system, air rotation spool, and carbon drag brakes. All of these features combine to provide anglers with a well-designed reel that casts, retrieves, and brakes exactly when needed.


BRAND: Daiwa
WEIGHT: 7.6 ounces
DRAG: 13.2 lbs.
BEARINGS: 5+1 stainless-steel
GEAR RATIO: 6.3:1, 7.3:1, 8.1:1


  • Hybrid braking system
  • Lightweight frame
  • Anti-reverse technology
  • Stainless steel bearings


  • No slow gear ratios


General Impression

The Abu Garcia Rexo X is a sharp contender for the best baitcaster under 100 dollars, as it is offers plenty of quality features in a compact set up.

Abu Garcia gets a bit fancy with the Revo X, as the model is manufactured with their signature X2 Craftic alloy. The unique material is both lightweight and durable, allowing the reel to take a serious beating before its functionality is affected.

However, the interior pieces of the reel are really what give it a fighting chance to be the best baitcast reel under $100. High-quality Mag Trax brakes are joined by a carbon matrix drag system, duragear brass components, and stainless steel ball bearings. Once all pieces are brought together, the reel becomes something that simply performs flawlessly day in and day out.


BRAND: Abu Garcia
WEIGHT: 7.94 ounces
DRAG: 18 lbs.
BEARINGS: 7+1 stainless-steel
GEAR RATIO: 5.4:1, 6.6:1, 7.3:1


  • Carbon matrix hybrid drag for smooth release
  • 7+1 stainless steel bearings
  • Durable brass gears
  • Excellent braking system


  • Side plate prone to falling off


General Impression

Pflueger certainly showcases an impressive product with the President XT, as the low profile model offers a spectacular performance for a baitcasting reel under $75.

Although the President XT may have just one gear ratio and a handful of plastic components, it is still a reel that proves you don’t need entirely metal components to be great. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of shine with the 9 corrosion resistant stainless steel bearings, steel side panels, and aircraft grade aluminum handle.

When it comes to functionality, the reel does exactly what it’s intended to do – cast well. The magnetic brake system does a great job slowing the spool down so that it doesn’t create internal birds nest with the line. Additionally – the reel offers a smooth-action, which is mainly due to the functionality of the quality bearings within. While the President XT may have some imperfections, it is, by all means, a great piece that can satisfy any novice or experienced angler.


BRAND: Pflueger
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Aircraft grade aluminum and steel
WEIGHT: 6.8 ounces
DRAG: 12 lbs.
BEARINGS: 9 corrosion-resistant stainless-steel


  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel bearings
  • Comfortable handle knobs
  • Responsive magnetic brakes
  • Smooth and reliable action


  • Max drag strength is low
  • Multiple plastic components


General Impression

There’s no doubt that the Abu Garcia Silver Max is the white knight included in this list, as the entirely silver reel is a great solution for any new angler entering the sport.

Abu Garcia makes a variety of quality reels, but it’s incredibly obvious that the Silver Max is the best baitcaster under $75 – compliments of this powerhouse brand. The silver max includes all of the critical elements that more expensive reels have, such as stainless steel bearings, a one-piece graphite frame, and advanced rocket clutch mechanism that allows anglers to flip, jig, and pitch with ease. Like the Revo X, the Silver Max also includes a MagTrax magnetic brake system and power disc drag system.

The overall quality and value of the reel make it ideal for just about everyone on the market. And due to its fair price, the model very well may be the best affordable baitcasting reel for those looking to get into the sport.


BRAND: Abu Garcia
WEIGHT: 7.37 ounces
DRAG: 18 lbs.
BEARINGS: 5+1 stainless-steel


  • Rocket clutch mechanism
  • Durable EVA handles
  • Beautiful aesthetics
  • Great for flipping and jigging


  • Shows scratches and damage


General Impression

Piscifiun’s only model to the make the list is the Torrent. Notably, even landing on a baitcasting reels under $100 review is evidence enough that the piece is great.

In an effort to keep up with some of the older brands, Piscifun has implemented some pretty high-end technology into their products. One such feature is the exterior lubrication chamber, which can be opened with a flathead screwdriver or credit card. Once opened, oil can be poured directly into the gears to keep the internal mechanisms running smoothly. Not that the gears need constant maintenance though, as they are CNC cut for incredible precision and smoothness.

The smoothness of the reel is further augmented by the anti-corrosive stainless-steel bearings, which allow all of the interior components to rotate without trouble. The quality components all come together to form a reel which is easy to cast, smooth to handle, and simple to maintain.


BRAND: Piscifun
WEIGHT: 8 ounces
DRAG: 18 lbs.
BEARINGS: 5+1 shielded stainless-steel
GEAR RATIO: 5.3:1 and 7.1:1


  • Durable carbon fiber drag washers
  • Oil hole for easy maintenance
  • Anti-corrosive stainless steel bearings
  • CNC cut precision gears


  • Spool tension becomes loose


General Impression

The Shimano Caenan is a well-built baitcasting reel that lasts for years when well maintained.

Although Shimano makes a handful of other good models, the Caenan is a great piece which can fulfill any anglers needs. The graphite frame reel is equipped with a high-efficiency gear system and stable spool design to reduce vibrations and issues when retrieving. Due to Shimano’s strong reputation in the gear industry, it is no surprise that the precision cut components function with pure simplicity and reliability.

While the model may not include some of the features of the upper-end Shimano reels, it still offers the same variable brake system to prevent backlashes and bird’s nests.


BRAND: Shimano
WEIGHT: 7.2 ounces
DRAG: 11 lbs.
BEARINGS: 5+1 shielded stainless-steel
GEAR RATIO: 6.3:1 and 7.2:1


  • High-efficiency gear system
  • Incredible smooth action
  • Stable spool design
  • Durable exterior frame


  • Brake system is difficult to adjust


General Impression

The KastKing Crixus is a cheap baitcasting reel that performs like an expensive one, due to its cutting-edge technology and new-age features.

The Crixus offers unique features such as implementing a wide funnel line guide to ensure that line zips off the spool without any hesitation. This smooth action is further supplemented by the shielded stainless-steel bearings that ensure all rotating parts maintain balance.

However, handling the reel and casting it is truly what indicates its quality. The golf grip handle knobs, smooth brake system, and well balanced 7.2:1 gear ratio make it easy to spend long days on the water without experiencing fatigue and exhaustion. Overall, the reel is a reliable piece which can satisfy the needs of any angler for many seasons.


BRAND: KastKing
WEIGHT: 7.3 ounces
DRAG: 17.6 lbs.
BEARINGS: 7+1 shielded stainless-steel
GEAR RATIO: 6.5:1 and 7.2:1


  • Smooth carbon disc drag system
  • Lightweight carbon infused nylon frame
  • Comfortable polymer grips
  • Wide line guide for stability


  • Bulky thumb switch

Buyer's Guide

Gear Ratio

One of the most essential points to consider when choosing a model from the best baitcasting reels under $100 is the gear ratio.

Gear ratio is defined as the number of times a spool rotates with one full turn of the lever. To give an example, a reel that has a 7.1:1 gear ratio will fully rotate the spool 7.1 times with just one full turn of a lever.

For this reason, gear ratio is often classified with speed metrics. Fast gear ratios, such as 7.1:1 quickly retrieve line back around a spool. Slower gear ratios, such as 5.4:1, gradually return the line around the spool at a much slower pace. While these numbers may not sound like much to novice anglers, they are critical when choosing a reel, especially when taking into account the type of angling that will be done.

Topwater angling requires handlers to quickly skim the bait across the water, otherwise it may sink. Consequently, anglers are better off with a fast gear ratio such as 7.1:1 to meet the need for speed. Fast gear ratios are also ideal when a strike zone is very small, forcing anglers to cast and retrieve many times.

Deep water angling on the other hand, often requires a slower gear ratio, such as 5.1:1 or 5.4:1. When fish are skeptic of quick motions in cold water, the last thing an angler wants to do is zip by a crankbait or spinnerbait. So by gradually working a lure with a lower ratio such as 5.1:1, anglers can keep the bait in the strike zone much longer, and not scare off the curious fish.

Hence why most of the best casting reels under $100 come in both slow and fast gear ratios, to give anglers the choice.

Brake Systems

If it weren’t for the brake system on a casting reel, there would likely be a massive bird’s nest in every experienced anglers’ spool.

A bird’s nest, or backlash, occurs when the line flies off a spool quicker than a lure can carry it. With nowhere to go, that line simply builds up into a nasty knot inside of a spool, resembling what looks like a bird’s nest. This unfortunate event can happen to even the most experienced of anglers, but the frequency and severity of it is dramatically reduced by a quality brake system.

Not even the best baitcast reels under 100 dollars will totally stop the spool from spinning when a lure hits the water, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still useful. Brake systems serve a simple purpose, which is to stop the spool from over rotating. This can be accomplished with a variety of designs, but the most common are magnetic, centrifugal, and mechanical.


Magnetic brakes work by gradually slowing down a spool by applying magnetic force to it. Small magnets inside of a reel can either be moved closer or further away from a spool, to adjust the speed at which the line comes off. Adjusting the magnets to be further away from the spool lets it spin more freely, whereas adjusting them to be closer to the spool dramatically slows it down.


Centrifugal brakes operate with a series of brakes that activate when centrifugal force is applied. Once a lure is cast, centrifugal brakes operate in direct proportion to the amount of force applied. Casting with great force allows the brakes to apply great amounts of pressure. Whereas casting with a small amount of force hardly activates the brakes. So just putting an extra oomph into a cast won’t do much with centrifugal brakes, as they simply act with proportion to force.


The third and final variant of a braking system is termed – mechanical. Mechanical brake systems work by applying a consistent level of pressure to a spool. Unlike magnetic or centrifugal brakes, a mechanical brake will apply the same amount of force from the beginning of a cast to the very end. In order to find the perfect amount of force, an angler simply must tighten the brake to its maximum potential, hold the rod and lure above ground, and back off on the brake system until the lure hits the ground. Once this is done, the mechanical brake continues to apply the same amount of pressure cast after cast.


Bearings can be a tricky factor to deal with, as they are often misunderstood by novice and even experienced anglers. Worse yet, manufacturers trying to make the best cheap baitcaster reel often toss in terminology and numbers that confuse anglers further.

Bearings are specifically designed to reduce the amount of friction that a reel experiences when casting and retrieving. The bearing mechanism functions as a series of rolling balls that spin around an enclosed raceway. This allows for the smooth rotation of the internal components. While the process can be explained more in depth, there is truly no need to know all of the technical jargon.

Nevertheless, choosing a reel with the right ball bearings comes down to a couple things. Many manufacturers try to cram as many bearings into a raceway as possible on a cheap baitcasting reel, hoping that the sheer number will impress anglers. While this may seem like an appealing method, there is no true way of knowing the quality of the balls. So even if there are 18 ball bearings, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the system is worth anything, as the balls may not be made of high-quality material. For this reason, an inexpensive baitcasting reel review may point out just how useless additional bearings are, as many of the ball bearings are of poor quality.

Thus, it is more important to hunt for reels that have high quality bearings, rather than looking for quantity. The types of ball bearings which are most effective are those which are sealed, stainless steel, or shielded. These types of bearings often consist of totally enclosed circuits with high quality balls that resist corrosion and damage from soils.

best baitcasting reel for cheap

Reel Size

The size of a reel can make a critical difference when spending long days on the water. The relentless casting, retrieving, and handling can truly tire out even the fittest angler. Thankfully, the best baitcasting reel under $100 dollars, and many of the runner-ups, are far lighter than similar strength spinning reels.

When choosing a reel, an angler should opt for a size that is directly related to the type of fish they plan to catch. Bass reels are typically sized at 100-200, a size which can hold well over 100 yards of 12 lb. monofilament test.

Those searching for slightly larger fish, such as some inshore species, catfish, walleye, or musky are well suited with a size 300 reel, that holds 13 to 20 lb. test. Many Midwest fisherman look for the best baitcasting reel under 100 dollars in this size, as it extremely versatile for all the native species on their target list.

Finally, there are the large sizes such as 400 and above. These reels can hold nearly 200 yards of 20+ lb. line. Such a size is ideal for many of the inshore species, as well as some larger freshwater species. Though these are all rated according to monofilament, anglers can switch to high-quality braided line to increase their overall capacity and strength.


The drag strength of a reel determines the amount of force needed to reverse a spool and release line back towards a lure. Typically, there is a braking mechanism inside of a reel, that when the amount of force exceeds the strength of the brakes, the line is let loose. However, due to their unique design, baitcasters have far more drag strength than spinners.

Comparing the best baitcasting reel under 100 dollars to a similarly sized spinning reel would indicate that the baitcaster has a considerably stronger drag system. While this may be true for a freshwater model, the same would hold for a saltwater baitcasting reel under $100.

Many of the best baitcasting reels under $100 have a drag setting that is suitable for most types of freshwater species. The drag setting typically is adjusted to be 1/3 of the strength of the line that is on the spool. Thus, 30 lb. test would be fitted with 10 lb. drag setting. As a result, most baitcasters have a max setting close to 20 lbs, which would hypothetically allow anglers to spool 60 lb. test.


1. What is a baitcasting reel?

A baitcasting reel is a common fishing reel variant that is primarily used by experienced and competitive anglers.

Most new anglers simply opt for a spinning reel kit to accompany them on their first few fishing outings. Spinning reels are super easy to handle, as they simply unwind line from a central spool on the top of a reel.

Baitcasting reels, on the other hand, aren’t so simple. Unlike spinning reels, baitcasting reels are structured around a frictionless wheel that rapidly releases line. The reel is somewhat of a flat shape, with the frictionless wheel reaching directly across the middle. Just in front of the spool is a button, which can be pressed, to release a locking mechanism that allows an angler to cast. Additionally – baitcasting reels sit on the top of a rod, and run line through top-mounted rod guides rather than bottom mounted.

Once an angler casts their bait, the frictionless wheel swiftly spins to release the line. For this very reason, handlers must place their thumb on the top of the line to monitor the speed of its release. And that’s where it gets tricky. Most new anglers struggle to find the exact amount of thumb pressure needed to prevent the line from bundling up inside a reel. Nevertheless, with plenty of practice, nearly any angler can learn the method on a cheap baitcasting reel.

2. What is a baitcaster reel used for?

Baitcasting reels are multi-versatile, as they are strong, durable, and ideal for countless fishing situations.

Experienced anglers love to use baitcasting reels when hunting for big fish. Because the reel is situated on top of a rod blank, so to are the line guides. As a result, when tension is put on the guides, they dig directly down into the blank, rather than pull away from the blank. This allows anglers to put tremendous amounts of pressure on baitcasting rods, that most spinning rods simply can’t compare to. Hence why most of the best surf fishing rods and saltwater rods are bait-casters.

However, many fishermen often turn to angler-reels when they need to cast great distances. The minimal amount of friction in the reels allows for anglers to toss bait far out into the tide, across the river, or into difficult to reach areas.

3. Why use a baitcasting reel?

The best baitcasting reels under $100 dollars are far more convenient, lightweight, and capable compared to spinning reels of a similar price.

First off, baitcasting reels are significantly smaller than spinning reels equipped for the same strength of line. Even the best low-cost baitcaster reel will be more compact and lightweight than a similarly rated spinning reel. The upside to such a feature is that anglers can consistently cast without tiring themselves out from the additional weight of a spinning reel.

Second off, baitcasters generate far more drag than other reel types. Even a decent budget baitcaster can generate almost 20 pounds of drag, meaning that it can hold its own with most freshwater trophy fish. That factor, coupled with placement-location being that baitcasters are placed on top of a rod rather than below, allows the rod and reel combo to be remarkably powerful.

The third and final factor that makes good baitcasting reels under $100 appealing are their sheer line capacities. Baitcaster reels can hold tremendous amounts of line, which subsequently allows them to cast further than spinning reels. Anglers that fish from the ocean shoreline often need as much line as possible, and that is where baitcasting reels stand-out.

4. How far should you be able to cast a baitcaster?

Although baitcasting reels can cast great distances, it is a bit unrealistic to think that they can cast football fields or greater. Even the best baitcaster under $100 dollars won’t be able to reach from goal post to goal post.

Most experienced anglers can cast around 50 to 60 yards when using proper techniques. This sort of distance is enough to get far away from river banks and well into ocean swells. But such a distance doesn’t often come overnight, as it takes some anglers decades to achieve.

The best way for anglers to increase their distance is to practice with a plug on dry land. A plug is a small weighted piece without a hook or lure, that imitates the feel of such objects. Learning the process with a good cheap baitcasting reel is a great way to get a feel for the method, and determine the right time to thumb the line and prevent a birds nest knot.

5. What is a good baitcasting reel for beginners?

Many of the reels present on this list would be good for beginners, as they all possess high-quality brake systems and spool components that remove the extra work that classic reels would require.

However, the Shimano SLX, which is the brands best baitcaster under 100 dollars, has a variable brake system that makes casting far easier than many competitors. The brakes make use of centrifugal force, manually adjusting themselves depending on how hard an angler casts. If the angler casts with a mighty heave, the brakes react with an inverse amount of force. If a cast is very light, the brakes barely even activate.

All in all, the reel makes it wildly easy for a new angler to cast time and time again without ever incurring any bird’s nests.

6. What is the best baitcast reel for bass fishing?

The absolute Bass King of baitcasting reels under $100 is the Abu Garcia Pro Max.

The Pro Max does everything and more that a bass angler would hope for. It’s manufactured with stainless steel bearings, a 7.1:1 gear ratio, and a highly responsive brake system.

With the fast-paced 7.1:1 gear ratio, anglers can skip their topwater baits across the surface or slow down their reel pace to gently float their lures near a hungry fish. Either way, the reel can be used for a variety of purposes to catch bass in nearly any environment.

best baitcasting reel under 100 dollars


As always, we create our content with you, fellow adventurers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next adventure is a great one!

Ryan Hicks

Ryan is a product expert, a degreed international business scholar, and a restless traveler originally from small-town Idaho. Ryan was born into a family of tournament fishermen and equipped with a spincast rod at just 2.5 years old. The love for angling set the hook hard on the young boy, inspiring him to devote the majority of his childhood summers to fish with his father and grandfather. His other key interests include traveling, hiking, reading, and sampling foreign cuisines.

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