Smallest Baitcasting Reel: 5 Ultralight Models Reviewed in 2022

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Baitcaster fans will always comment on whether a baitcaster is ‘palmable’. To the uninitiated, palmable means that the reel sits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

While the great majority of low-profile baitcasters are highly palmable, the 5 baitcasters featured below might even get lost in the palm of your hand. 

If not, they’ll certainly fit in your pocket.

I’m not quite sure a palmable designation has any value whatsoever as a metric for judging reel performance. 

Nonetheless, it has become a measure in which manufacturers take some sort of pride. By and large, spin reels do the ultralight finesse thing better. 

Baitcasters of all sizes and models already require a deft touch to cast confidently while avoiding instances of backlash. 

And the lighter you rig, the more difficult it can become. Add a decent breeze and it becomes a magic show…or torture.

However, once you are competent with casting and rigging techniques, fishing ultralight with baitcasters is a heap of fun, with its own set of benefits and rewards.

Let’s have a look at 5 of the best small baitcasters that are worthy of your hard-earned dollars. 

Generally speaking, what makes a baitcaster “best” is highly subjective. And the list below is no different. 

However, I can say with certainty, that all reels listed below are highly worthy of your consideration. 

This is not a review, as such. Think of it more as an introduction.

Smallest Baitcaster Reels Reviewed

1. Abu Garcia Revo MG Xtreme – Editors Choice

It doesn’t get any better than this, only different. While the Abu Garcia Revo will put some serious pain in your pocket, this is one heck of an advanced ultralight baitcaster.

At 4 and a half ounces, it is more likely to blow away in the wind than cause fatigue after relentless hours of casting.

Abu Garcia Revo MG Xtreme Low Profile Reel, Right

The specs demonstrate that the intention was to make, not only a high-performance reel but a ridiculously light reel, without compromising on strength and rigidity.

This reel will suit the cashed-up bass angler who’s rough on their kit yet demands precision and top-shelf engineering.

Things are kept light, yet rigid via the SLC spool, 8 hybrid-ceramic bearings, and one-piece X-Mag alloy frame. The main gear is aircraft-grade aluminum, and the side plates are C6 carbon.

If that’s not extravagant enough, the titanium-coated line guide and the recessed reel foot, combined with the ladder, add an extra level of comfort. 

These are fine additions demonstrating the attention to detail.

It’s a speedy crank at 8.0:1, which will suit those anglers keen on rapid-fire casting while on the drift. It’ll be a little awkward working cranks, but still achievable.

The Infinitely Variable Centrifugal Brake (IVCB) is super-easy to set and adjust without deconstructing your reel. 

The Carbon Matrix Star Drag offers 12 pounds of very smooth fish stopping power and the spool will fit 145 yards of 10-pound mono.

A brilliant finesse baitcaster option for the angler who wants exceptional performance with the lot.

Pros

  • Top-shelf materials and construction
  • Ultra-smooth crank and drag
  • A smooth ultralight baitcasting reel
  • Huge list of ABU’s most advanced features

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not a huge list of applications

Features

  • 8 stainless steel HPCR™ bearings + 1 roller bearing
  • 2 additional CeramiLite Spool Bearings
  • One-piece X-Mag™ alloy frame
  • Carbon Matrix™ drag system
  • C6 carbon sideplates
  • IVCB-4™ braking system
  • Infini II™ spool design
  • Compact bent carbon handle
  • Round cork knobs
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum main gear
  • Ti coated line guide reduces friction and improves durability
  • Recessed reel foot
  • Lube port
  • Super lightweight concept (SLC™) spool design
  • Custom lightweight handle design
  • Carbon star drag design
  • Full Specs Here

2. Shimano Curado MGL 70 – Best In Class

Top shelf performance needn’t cost the earth, and the MGL is an example of serious quality that’s accessible to most angler’s budgets.

Affordable, high performance, and Shimano are words you often hear in the same sentence, and the MGL is true to its pedigree and honest in its pricing.

Shimano CUMGL70HGK Curado MGL 70 HG Low Profile RH, Baitcast Reel Box

You’ve no doubt heard of the Curado, know somebody who owns one, or you own one yourself. 

It’s been highly sought after for light application for years because it casts brilliantly when rigged with lighter lures.

Its casting manners make it ideal for flipping and pitching or any application that requires relentless or rapid casting at close quarters. 

Having said that, the Curado is suited to any number of fishing applications, as the high-tech MGL spool supports short, or long casting where accuracy is paramount.

The MGL is one of the heavier baitcasting reels on this list, however, at 6.9 ounces, you’re not going to break your wrist over a furious casting session.

In addition to excellent ergonomics, the standard layout feels custom made to you while offering universal suitability.

There are 12 pounds of Shimano’s cross carbon drag, that’s as smooth as it is reliable. 

The spool doesn’t hold much in the way of fishing line. You’ll only get 115 yards of 20-pound braid on the spool and considerably less mono.

That shouldn’t be an issue, however, as the reason you’re getting such a reel is for finesse work, so you’ll no doubt be spooling the lightest, finest lines possible for your application.

The build quality coupled with its affordability and durability makes it an excellent go-to workhorse that will respond well to daily deployment.

I like it for just about any inshore close quarters application saltwater or freshwater, however, the small spool size hampers versatility.

Pros

  • Brilliant for casting
  • Exceptional build and materials
  • Quality at an affordable price
  • The ideal finesse baitcaster

Cons

  • Small spool capacity diminishes versatility

Features

  • S3D Spool
  • Super Free Spool
  • MGL Spool
  • Micro Module
  • Hagane Body
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • S-ARB (Bearings)
  • X-Ship
  • SVS Infinity
  • Full Specs Here

3. Shimano SLX MGL 70 – Best Budget Small Baitcaster

Many will point out the obvious similarities between the SLX and its Curado stablemate. And they’d be right to point it out, there are plenty of similarities.

There is one exceptional difference, however, and that’s the price tag. Depending on where you purchase you can save a hundred dollars or more by going for the SLX over the Curado.

Shimano SLXMGL70 SLX MGL 70 Low Profile RH Baitcast Reel Box

With that sort of a price difference obviously, there has to be a difference in performance. While true, the features that make the Curado such a great casting reel are present in the SLX.

The SLX features S3D Spool, Super Free Spool, and MGL Spool. And this is the platform on which the brilliant casting manners are built. 

This is important to note because when it comes to ultralightweight, finesse fishing, casting is everything.

There are 4 fewer bearings in the SLX compared to the Curado, and there’s nearly 100 dollars in that alone. 

If you were blindfolded, I think you’d still have trouble feeling which one had more bearings.

The downside of fewer bearings is more wear on moving internals. If it turns, and it’s supported by bearings, it’ll last a heck of a lot longer. 

So there is definitely a compromise on crank and durability owing to a modest bearings count.

The spool capacity is also pretty light on, so you’ll be limited to the same applications as you would be with the Curado. 

However, you’ll be doing it for a whole lot less of an outlay.

And this is important. The accessible pricing shouldn’t be underestimated, and it would appear a very deliberate strategy from Shimano.

There are plenty of anglers who would like to get involved in finesse baitcasting work yet are turned off by the often inaccessible pricing of quality gear. 

The SLX goes a long way to addressing this, and in many ways is a core strength of the series.

I feel there’s a strong expectation that the SLX will have an impact on Curado sales, as it offers such great value for money, that customers will be happy to forego the micromodule feature and an extra 4 bearings for the sake of 100 odd bucks.

Remember, with finesse, it’s all about casting predictability and reliability, and the SLX has everything the outstanding Curado has in terms of casting manners.

I’ve no doubt that the SLX will encourage a host of hesitant anglers to take the plunge in lightweight baitcaster joy, as the outlay roadblock simply isn’t there with the SLX.

It might not have 8 bearings, but it has an aluminum frame, brass gearing, and the cross carbon drag and SVS infinity. And that’s with all the casting features as well.

The SLX should be high on the list for every budget-driven angler looking for high-quality performance-based finesse baitcasters.

Pros

  • Top-shelf materials and construction
  • Brilliant finesse casting
  • Awesome quality on a budget

Cons

  • The low bearing count may reduce peak operation lifespan
  • Poor spool capacity

Features

  • S3D Spool
  • Super Free Spool
  • MGL Spool
  • Hagane Body
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • S-ARB (Bearings)
  • SVS Infinity
  • Full Specs Here

4. Daiwa Steez A TW Series – Best All-Rounder

The Beauty of the Daiwa Steez is that it will suit the angler wanting a baitcaster with genuine all-rounder capacity that will work brilliantly with finesse applications.

The problem with the Steez is that most of us will have to take out a second mortgage to buy one. It ain’t cheap!

Daiwa Steez A TW Series 7.1:1 Right Hand Baitcast Fishing Reel - STEEZATW1016SH
  • TWS (LONG CAST WITH MINIMAL BACKLASH)
  • Magforce Z, AIR ROTATION
  • Precision Cut Aluminum Housing, Cut-Away 90mm Swept Handle
  • Bearings - 8(1MBB+7CRBB), Weight 6.7 oz

Last update on 2022-05-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

While its price tag will take your breath away, it is a flawless piece, created with the industry benchmark engineering, the best of components, and just about all of Daiwa’s flagship technologies.

The highlight of the Steez, above all its bells and whistles, is its versatility. 

It is easily the most versatile reel listed here yet loses nothing in terms of its credentials as a refined finesse baitcaster.

It’s not on this list because it’s a finesse reel, it’s on this list because it is highly suited to finesse applications.

If I had a pocket full of cash and could only select one reel, this would have to be it. 

I would have my desires for finesse work fully covered, but I also have a range of other applications, saltwater and freshwater, covered very nicely.

Casting is the critical metric for lightweight work, and the Steez works very well indeed.

The much-hailed T-wing guide system, while probably overrated, does deliver what it promises, by reducing friction, therefore allowing for longer, more accurate casts, and far less line wear.

This is one heck of a strong reel, and well suited for the tough stuff – a rare feature in finesse style reels. 

The alloy frame is very light yet rigid and houses internals that enhance stability under load.

The worm gear has bearing support, and the pinion has the support of two bearings. 

While this delivers a strong crank, it also delivers excellent endurance, ensuring your Steez will operate at peak over many seasons, and under tough conditions.

Magsealed bearings add to the longevity, and are the foundation of the Steez saltwater credentials, along with the alloy frame.

3 pounds of ultra-smooth drag provides firepower and confidence.

The spool will hold 100 yards of 40-pound braid giving tremendous fighting power when coupled with the substantial drag capacity. 

You can spool up with the lightest of lines and target a pretty large class of fish.

The strength of the Steez makes it a first choice for tossing lures into deep structure, It will keep its integrity as you drag your hapless lure through thick weeds.

It also gives you the confidence to cast into unforgiving structure with the confidence you’ll get your lure back or drag the fish free of its gnarly protection.

The Daiwa Steez might be expensive, but in many ways, it’s on another level compared to its competitors. 

In fairness to its competitors, however, it doesn’t pretend to be a finesse-only baitcasting reel.

Pros

  • Exceptional versatility
  • Excellent spool capacity
  • Outstanding build quality

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • As a genuine allrounder, it doesn’t excel at particular applications, but it’s very good at a whole host of applications, which isn’t really a con.

Features

  • 90mm oversize handle
  • Aluminum Body
  • Automatic Tournament Drag (ATD)
  • G1 Spool
  • Magforce Z Casting control
  • T-Wing System
  • Zero Adjuster
  • Free Floating Spool
  • Full Specs Here

5. Shimano Aldebaran MGL – Best Small Baitcaster

The Aldebaran is well known for its pedigree and class. The most telling performance feature is its casting manners, which are flawless in every way.

From standard applications to the smallest, lightest of weights you can impart any technique with confidence and outstanding results.

Shimano Aldebaran Mgl Low Profile Reels, ALDMGL51

It’s an incredibly lightweight reel at only 4.7ounces. 

Considering there are 9+1 bearings, Daiwa has done extremely well to keep the weight so low without completely compromising strength and rigidity.

It’s difficult to describe the lightweight feel when casting. 

It’s a bit of a learning curve getting used to a reel you can hardly feel, but once you’ve managed to match a rod (tough) it’s a feeling you will become addicted to.

Most of the weight savings are achieved via the magnesium frame construction and the Ci4 side plates. 

The spool, which is the heart of its refined casting manners, weighs in at only 12 grams.

While the Aldebaran MGL is versatile and maintains its integrity under load, It’s not what you’d call a powerful reel. 

It won’t be your first choice for cranking the depths, nor is it the sort of reel I’ll be casting into heavy reeds, pads, and bankside foliage.

Spool capacity is quite limited. You’ll fit 100 yards of 7-pound mono, which is very light-on, making it a genuine finesse reel first.

While the Aldebaran is a lightweight specialist, that doesn’t mean it’s not versatile. You can up the weight and line class and still get great distance and accuracy.

You have a choice of a 6.5 and 7.4 ratio, which to most anglers will seem so close as to be irrelevant. However, when fishing this level of ultralight, the details matter.

It’s interesting that the latest release did not include micro gears. The alloy gears keep things light, and the crank is still very smooth and light. 

But it’s clear, there’s something left for an upgrade in a future release.

The Aldebaran is designed for fishing 10 pounds or less. It’s incredibly compact, lightweight, with refined ergonomics. 

Once you’ve got your head around the extremely lightweight feel, it’s something you’ll appreciate. The shallow spool and the price point might turn off a few people. 

But this is hands down a very classy reel, that will appeal to those looking for the genuine finesse experience, while still maintaining the versatility to cast standard rigs.

Pros

  • Outstanding casting manners
  • Outstanding performance all-round
  • A surprising level of versatility considering its weight and compact design

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Shallow spool

Features

  • x-ship
  • Hagane body
  • ci4+
  • s3d spool 
  • Silent tune
  • SVS infinity
  • s-arb
  • super free spool
  • Saltwater ready
  • Full Specs Here

What is the Best Finesse Baitcasting Reel?

Ultimately, that decision is subjective and relative to your personal preferences and applications. 

If I had to choose the best finesse baitcasting reel, I’d be taking the Daiwa Steez, if budget wasn’t a consideration.

If budget wasn’t a consideration, I’d probably take the Steez and the REVO. But based on my frugal tendency to look for value, I’d probably go with the Curado.

If I’m being true to the spirit of the article, one would have to conclude that the Shimano Aldebaran MGL is the best finesse baitcasting reel with the Revo coming in at a very close second place.

Best is subjective, and no doubt your preferences will be different from mine. 

Whichever reel you choose from the list above, you are assured of quality and fine finesse performance.

What is the Lightest Baitcasting Reel on the Market?

Believe it or not, finding out which baitcaster reel is the lightest isn’t as easy as a quick google search. 

There are plenty of manufacturers vying for this crown, no doubt. Frequently you will hear the Aldebaran mentioned as the lightest. This isn’t the case.

The Abu Garcia Revo is the lightest baitcasting reel on the market, coming in at only 4.5 ounces. A huge .2 of an ounce lighter than the Shimano Aldebaran.

I’m not quite sure what the path to lighter is, or why such competition exists.

I don’t know any angler who can tell the difference between an ounce or two let alone mere fractions of an ounce. 

Nonetheless, the pursuit of lighter will continue.

Which Type of Line should I use on my Baitcasting Reel?

Baitcasters will handle mono, braid, and fluoro. Choosing the best type of line will come down to the application more than the reel type.

For forgiveness, go with mono. 

For strength and capacity, braid is the better choice. 

If you like fluoro, it would be best to select a fluoro that’s proven on baitcasters.

Not all fluoro works well on baitcaster reels. Lighter class, more supple fluoro lines are best on baitcasters reels.

Verdict. What is the Best Ultralight Baitcaster?

The best small baitcaster is the Shimano Aldebaran. The editor’s choice goes to the Revo. 

Best in class goes to the Curado, and the best small baitcaster on a budget goes to the Shimano SLX. 

The best allrounder goes to the Daiwa Steez.

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Sean Ward

Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home, and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.

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