10 Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels in 2021

Looking for the perfect baitcasting reel with the corrosion-resistance to handle heavy-duty saltwater use? We've gathered the top 10 best models in 2021 in this buying guide along with an in-depth FAQ that'll ensure you make the right purchase.

Best Overall
Concept Z
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Best value
KastKing Rover
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Best Premium
Shimano Curado
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Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated February 16, 2021
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Whether you're a complete novice or a seasoned angler on any fishing expedition, you'll want to ensure that you have the best equipment on hand to make your next fishing adventure as fruitful as possible. 

And while it’s important to know what type of fish you’re going after, as well as the best places to look for them, having the right baitcasting rod and reel is just as important as anything else. 

Top 10 Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels

While you don’t need to put as much thought into freshwater fishing, fishing on saltwater requires you to pay particular attention to the equipment you use because saltwater conditions can easily erode and damage your fishing gear over time. 

Below, we’ll go over 10 of the best baitcasting reels for saltwater fishing currently available on the market, as well as a simple buying guide to help you make the best decision!

1. Concept Z Saltwater Baitcasting Fishing Reel

Best Overall
13 Fishing Concept Z 7 3 1 Gear Ratio

If you're looking for a high performance real with a sleek, modern design, Concept Z is one of the best overall choices on the market. 

This model's unique aspect and the main feature is the polymer technology used in place of traditional ball bearings, which can improve your retrieval speed while also limiting friction.

With the Concept Z, the zero bearing technology increases the circular motion's speed, which, in turn, greatly improves reel casting and reeling performance. 

Another main selling feature of this product is its aluminum structure, which makes it both lightweight and sturdy enough to handle even the largest fish. Furthermore, this reel is built using the Ocean Armor 2 Saltwater Protection Process, preventing erosion from saltwater exposure.

Using this new and groundbreaking technology, Concept Z will get you casting further than ever before, and, with any luck, it’ll have you reeling in the big ones too!

2. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

Best value
KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

Kastking products are designed for long-lasting durability at an affordable price, so purchasing a Rover Round Reel is both a long-term and worthwhile investment. 

This model is built for strength above all, with thick anodized aluminum side plates and a stainless steel shaft, keeping it protected from corrosion and damage, while providing the robustness needed to help you land those big trophy fish. 

The steel ball bearings also allow for smooth reel operation so you can retrieve those heavy catches without a problem. 

It also comes with a few additional features, like a line out clicker alarm, a thumb bar spool release and EVA grips. Plus it boasts a classic look, with a smooth metallic exterior design, which is something any angler can get into!

But above all else, the very reasonable price makes the Rover Round an excellent choice, especially in conjunction with its durability and strength.

3. Shimano Curado K Baitcast Reel

Best premium
SHIMANO Curado K Baitcast Reel

Shimano is a trusted and respected brand that's been manufacturing reels for decades. 

In fact, many generations of anglers have looked to Shimano as their reel of choice due to its renowned reliability and proven durability. 

The Curado K model has updated technology, allowing for smooth, efficient, and highly durable micro module gearing, as well as an SVS infinity braking system, which enhances your spool control and braking force. 

Furthermore, it also uses Shimano’s X-ship technology, which improves longevity and performance while providing a smoother, more powerful line retrieval. 

This meeting of industry-leading know-how and brand new technology makes for an ingenious product tailored to every angler who is seeking to step up his or her game!

4. Abu Garcia Revo Inshore

Abu Garcia REVO Inshore Low Profile

The Revo Inshore might be on the higher end of the price spectrum, but with that elevated price comes a low-profile sleek design and several performance-enhancing features, making it an ideal investment. 

The Revo Inshore has corrosion-resistant bearings that can withstand harsh conditions and a stainless steel shaft and aluminum gears that combine to form smooth and durable performance. The casting experience is also made all the more smooth by its sophisticated drag system which allows for easy adjustments on the fly. 

Revo Inshore comes in 4 different model sizes; the largest, the Revo Inshore 60, is for catching large fish species, while the smaller options can be used when going after smaller species. In other words, you can choose your style according to the kind of fish you plan on catching.

If you want to deliver a confident, polished performance on your fishing trip, then this low profile number will satisfy your expectations, and its durable design will last you for seasons to come.

5. Piscifun Alijoz 300

Piscifun Alijoz Size 300 Baitcasting Reels

Like many of the other baitcasting reels featured in this guide, the Alijoz 300 focuses on strength and durability. 

The reel's design is fortified with a premium aluminum frame and side plates. It features a whole 33Lbs of drag and solid brass gearing, which all combine to provide the sturdiness and power capable of handling even the biggest saltwater fish.

Alijoz 300 also comes with some customizable design features. 

You can choose whether you want 5.9:1 or 8.1:1 gear ratios; you can select from a range of colours; and you can choose whether you want a double reel handle or a single handle for even more reeling power. 

Customizing your reel to your needs and preferences is a big plus for this reel, which helps make your reel feel more like your own personal fishing companion. 

Additionally, Alijoz is a firm contender for most ergonomics on the list, with an inner-wrapped-for-comfort thumb bar engagement button on the gear plate's side, a robust line wrap spool, which helps to prevent line backlash.

If you're looking for an innovative, customizable baitcasting reel with extra strength and durability, then this might be the product for you.

6. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur S

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Round Baitcast Fishing Reel

This is the second Abu Garcia product on the list, and while it’s still a highly rated, top quality reel, it comes in at a much lower price. 

The Ambassadeur S is available for both right-handed and left-handed anglers, and boasts a four pin centrifugal brake system, allowing for an unwaveringly consistent brake pressure throughout the casting and retrieval process. 

It also features a noise-free multi-disk drag system and a connected level winding mechanism for even smoother line lay. 

The product also has two stainless steel ball bearings to provide a smooth operative system and 12.5Lbs of drag pressure, which provides you with the ability to fine-tune its performance on the go. 

In the end, this baitcasting reel offers many excellent features, all at an affordable price, and is sure to help guarantee a fruitful and enjoyable fishing trip.

7. Daiwa Coastal Baitcasting Reel

Daiwa CLTW200HS Coastal TWS Reel

This baitcaster boasts a new, streamlined design ideal for light-tackle fishing inshore and in saltwater. 

This reel is compact, small and fits well in the palm of your hand, making it comfortable and not too wearisome to hold for long periods of time. The spool's strength allows for the elevated pressure of braided lines, and its T-Wing permits the line to pass smoothly and without friction even on a long cast. 

Like many of the baitcasters in this list, the Daiwa has an aluminum frame and side plate, making it strong and sturdy, not to mention, safe to use in saltwater conditions. 

In contrast, high-density carbon strain material Zaion Star Drag makes it even stronger yet lighter than conventional aluminum models. 

If you're looking for a small, light and easily manageable bait caster, the Daiwa Reel is a great option that won't weigh you down and cause arm-ache.

8. Abu Garcia Pro Max

Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel

As the third Abu Garcia product on this list, you can be sure this is a trustworthy, innovative brand. This particular model, while being low-profile, delivers superb performance for pro anglers. 

However, the most impressive aspect of this model is the way the reel offers precise and accurate casting. This is due to an ingenious brake system that is designed to provide consistent brake pressure. 

Furthermore, the sophisticated drag system allows for a smooth drag, which is usually required for handling hard-pulling catches. The subtle, sleek design, meanwhile, gives off an ergonomic feel. 

You can be sure this reel will last long term due to the high-quality graphite frame and double-anodized aluminum spool. Plus, despite its efficient, low-profile aesthetic, it can withstand even the toughest catches.

9. Shimano Corvalus Round Casting Reel

SHIMANO CORVALUS Round Casting REELS

Shimano, as previously mentioned, is a reputable, highly esteemed brand. 

In the corvalus model, the company returned to basics, designing a one-piece stout aluminum frame that can withstand serious operations. With sturdy hook sets and a Variable Braking System, this reel is designed to facilitate smooth casts and is even praised as being akin to a “piece of armour.”

The truth is that you simply can't go wrong with a Shimano product. 

If you have a reasonable budget, this is a brand worth looking into, and the Corvalus model is one of the finest this company has to offer.

10. Okuma Classic Pro Graphite

Okuma Fishing CL-302L-CL Classic Pro Graphite Trolling Reel

This classic design comes with some modern and sophisticated features. 

The drag on this model can be engaged or disengaged by an easily accessible on/off switch, while the levelwind system is made up of stainless steel. 

The handle arms, meanwhile, are aluminum and the drag consists of sturdy Rubidium components. Notable too is the fully anodized aluminum spool, frame and ball-bearing drive system along with brass and stainless steel gearing.

So, if you're in the market for a sleek and contemporary baitcasting reel, the Okuma Classic Pro is certainly worth considering.

Things to Consider When Buying Saltwater Baitcasting Reels

Regardless of if you're buying a baitcasting reel for the first time, looking to purchase an upgrade, or want to add to an existing collection, making sure you get the best product possible will make a big difference to your performance and fishing experience. 

What's Your Budget?

It's an inescapable fact that your budget is going to play a big part in which baitcasting reel you go for. 

But even if you’d prefer to spend less, it's worth considering that quality and durability will likely be directly proportional to price. In other words, opting for a cheaper option may well cost you more in the long run as you'll be obligated to purchase another reel sooner rather than later. 

Spending more initially to ensure you get a high quality, reliable and robust model will actually most likely save you money long term. 

That said, unless you have an unlimited budget, your best bet is to opt for a compromise between price and quality. Fortunately, many mid-range baitcasters will also be equipped for performance and durability. 

For instance, the KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel and the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur S are great examples of this happy medium.

Strength And Durability

The budget question leads naturally to durability, but this is important for more than just saving you money. 

Consider the time and effort involved in replacing a cheap baitcasting reel every time it fails on you, plus the frustration of finding your equipment to be inadequate while using it, and then having to turn back and go home early. 

With this in mind, make sure you pay ample attention to the robustness and longevity of your chosen model before purchasing, especially if you’re planning on doing a lot of fishing, or going after larger fish species.

The Importance of Corrosion Resistance

When it comes to saltwater fishing, corrosion resistance is a necessary attribute to consider when purchasing a baitcasting reel. 

In saltwater, non-specialized equipment will rust, weather and deteriorate rapidly, whereas high-quality equipment specifically designed for saltwater fishing will withstand those harsh, saline conditions. 

All of the top-rated baitcasting reels featured in this list protect from saltwater damage, and are made from corrosion-resistant materials. 

If you're heading out onto salty waters, make sure you check with the manufacturer that your chosen model does indeed come with adequate corrosion resistance, or you'll soon be needing a replacement.

The Type Of Fishing You’ll Be Doing

Make sure you consider what kind of fishing you'll be using your bait caster for, as this will affect which features you want to prioritize. 

For example, the gear ratio has a big effect on the speed of your retrieval. So, let’s say you want to use a particularly fast lure, then you're going to require a gear that rotates quickly. 

Gear Ratio Infographic

For the average angler, a mid-range gear ratio is typically sufficient for most lures and baits.

However, it’s also important to consider whether you'll be fishing from a boat where you'll have greater mobility or whether you're fishing inshore or from a surface elevated above sea level, such as from a peer. 

In the latter case, you'll need to have a good variety of gear ratios and a trustworthy drag system to effectively tackle the fish that you’re going after.

The Species You’ll Be Targeting

It's also worth giving due consideration to the kind of fish you're interested in catching. 

Man with 20lb catfish in his arms caught on a fishing trip

Different fish will be found in different seasons, will be of different sizes and reside among different habitations, so the optimal equipment for catching them will vary accordingly. 

If you want to catch big fish, like sea bass or massive catfish, then you need a baitcasting reel that is going to be solid enough for the job. This means focussing on features like strength and rigidity, which will provide a strong core foundation to your fishing rig. 

If you're mainly interested in smaller, less ambitious catches, then a lighter, more streamlined model would be more appropriate and likely be less tiring for use over long periods of time. 

Your Experience Level

Finally, remember to take into account your experience level and aptitude for fishing. 

If you're just starting out, it might be better to seek out simpler designs with fewer of the fancy additional features so that you can get your head around using the reel without too many headaches. 

On the other hand, if you're a seasoned pro looking to challenge yourself, you will probably get a lot more satisfaction from trying out the new and more sophisticated features offered on some of the more innovative models.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some answers to commonly asked questions on the subject if you've still got reservations about saltwater baitcasting reels.

Are baitcasters suitable for saltwater fishing?

Baitcaster reels built and fortified with corrosion-resistant materials are suitable for saltwater conditions, and they won't suffer deterioration and damage due to the saltwater environment. 

If you specifically want to use your reel on saltwater, make sure you thoroughly check the manufacturer's product description to be certain that your chosen model has this protection and corrosion resistance built-in. 

Additionally, be sure to do your research, so you know exactly what to look for in terms of materials. 

With that said, all of the baitcasting reels featured in this article are suitable for saltwater fishing.

Why choose a baitcaster over a spinning reel?

The angling community is largely torn on whether baitcasting reels or spinning reels are better, and most tend to defend their camp firmly. But ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, and it's worth trying out both to see what feels right for you. 

To learn more, check out our guide on the best saltwater spinning reels. 
Bait-casting reels were designed in the 19th century and have since been refined to be used specifically for surf-casting, so they are a popular choice for saltwater fishing, especially from shore. 

Baitcaster reels also have fewer mobile parts than spinning reels, which means they require a bit less maintenance than a spinning reel.
On the other hand, baitcasters are a bit more difficult to get your head around using

With bait-casting reels, it is an inconvenient truth that you need to alter the tension of the spool every time you adjust the weight of the bait or the type of lure that you're using. Still, it's a fairly straightforward alteration, and once you've got the hang of it, it should feel like second nature to use. 

Baitcasting reels also have a reputation for being clunkier and heavier than spinning reels, and their gears are often thought of as too hefty.

However, the fishing industry is constantly remastering and innovating its technology, and baitcaster designs are always getting lighter, smaller and easier to use.

Which type of line should I use on my baitcasting reel?

You can use any of the four main kinds of lines with your baitcasting reel: monofilament, braided fluorocarbon, and hybrid

Monofilament rarely causes a backlash, which is advantageous when using a baitcaster, but it is not very resistant to corrosion and therefore not usually suitable for saltwater fishing. 

Braided lines, however, are strong, durable and resistant to corrosion, but they have the disadvantage of being highly visible in the water and susceptible to suffering UV damage. This is a problem as fish will see the line, and your line will likely need to be changed more often.

Fluorocarbon lines are invisible underwater and highly durable; however, they are partial to backlashes. 

Finally, hybrid lines combine all the best features: low visibility, strength and durability and ease of use, and best-suited to catching large fish.

Hybrid lines, therefore, are seemingly the best option for a baitcasting reel, but that’s not to say that you won’t have any luck when using other types of line. 

Are low-profile baitcasting reels good for saltwater fishing?

Despite being smaller than their round baitcasting peers, low-profile models are certainly still effective for saltwater fishing. 

Most anglers who use low profile reels prefer it as they usually fit a bit more comfortably in their hands. On the other hand, round baitcasters can often feel too bulky. 

Many low-profile reels can support just as much weight as their round counterparts as well, but cause less fatigue in the hands and arms after a long day fishing. That said, the larger size of the round baitcasters is pleasing to some, and they feel that it provides them with more strength and power in casting and retrieving their catch.

Conclusion

Close-up of saltwater baitcasting reels

Fishing is an activity we often associate with solitude, patience and tranquillity, but that doesn't mean the equipment you use isn't important. 

If you decide to purchase a baitcasting reel to use in saltwater conditions, make sure you consider getting yourself the best possible model within your budget and looking out for the features that will work optimally for you and your style of fishing. 

This means being aware of the components of a baitcasting reel, how they work, and which features, in particular, will advantage you in your fishing career.

Saltwater fishing especially requires that you pay attention to your baitcasting reel's features and design, as it is a requirement that it comes with adequate corrosion resistance. It also needs to be sturdy, strong and durable enough to withstand slightly harsher saltwater conditions compared to freshwater.

Whether you're looking for a low-profile model, a reasonably priced design, or a state-of-the-art premium reel, doing your research and knowing exactly what you're looking for in a reel will ensure you get the best possible product for your money.

In turn, this will ensure you can enjoy using your baitcasting reel for all of the years to come.

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