We hope you love the products we recommend. Just so you know, OnTrack Fishing may earn an affiliate commission from the links on this page, at no extra cost to you.
Thinking about doing some bass fishing? If so, you’re going to need one of the best swimbait reels.
These reels are designed specifically for bass but can be used for other kinds of fish too. They are meant to sit on lightweight, adaptable rods with plenty of action at the end.
While the other equipment you use when fishing for bass also matters – for example, it’s important to have a rod with lots of flexibility – finding the best swimbait reel can take your day of fishing from so-so to great.
Best Swimbait Reels for the money: The Quick Guide
Last update on 2023-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What is a Swimbait Reel?
Swimbait reels sit atop casting rods and are meant to hold and spool out your fishing line.
They are set up in a pretty basic fashion, a handle meant to retrieve fishing line, a bracket to secure the rod and reel, and a brake to help slow down the fish you’re after.
Swimbait reels can be designed both for left- and right-handed people.
These kinds of reels can work well for just about anyone but are particularly effective for those who wish to fish with larger lures and bait.
These reels are named as such because they are designed to be used with swimbaits.
Swimbaits are lures, typically designed for bass, that are made out of molded plastic. They have a life-like appearance, usually meant to move from side to side when they glide through the water.
Here’s a quick video below that will show you how to set up and use a swimbait reel.
Why You Need A Swimbait Reel
There are several reasons why you should consider investing in a swimbait reel.
Most importantly, when you’re going after large bass and other similar fish, you need plenty of power to get the fish to the boat along with a high line capacity and a slow speed retrieve.
For this kind of fishing, a swimbait reel is the best for the job.
Swimbait reels aren’t just for freshwater fishing. Although they are ideal for bass, they can also be used in saltwater.
That’s why investing in a durable, effective swimbait reel is essential – because when you’re fishing for saltwater species, you’re going to be using large baits!
Swimbaits are unique lures because it takes a bit of practice to get them to imitate the swimming action of the baitfish they’re supposed to look like.
They have to be retrieved at a very specific speed. Too low or too fast, and they’ll just look like bits of plastic.
If you plan on fishing with swimbaits, you need a reel that will help you bring life to your swimbaits. Retrieval speed is important, as is gear ratio – but there are other characteristics you will want to keep in mind, too.
Buying Guide for a Swimbait Reel
Size and Shape
There are several different sizes and shapes when it comes to swimbait reels, but most are 300 or 400 sizes. You can also find 200s, but these tend to have reduced line capacity.
If you’re a beginner, you will want to consider a reel with a size of 300 or so. It will be easy to handle and lightweight – but will still help you get the job done.
Further Reading: Most Reliable Spinning Reels for the Money
You’ll find your line capacity indicated on your spool. Ideally, the line capacity needs to match up with the pound test. Make sure yours matches up!
Ideally, you should look for a swimbait reel that will be able to handle heavy lines. Typically, line weight can vary from 10 to 20 lbs on average.
Gear ratio refers to how many rotations the spool will make for one complete turn on a reel handle. For example, a reel with a 7L1 ratio will rotate seven times each turn.
High-speed gear ratios are generally recommended for beginners and professional anglers alike. They are easier to slow down, whilst a low-speed cranks more quickly.
Lower gear ratios, though, can help prevent you from reeling in a fish too quickly. Reel too fast, and you risk pulling the hook from the soft mouth of a bass or other kind of fish.
Reeling too quickly can also drag the fish on the surface of the water – it can easily wiggle itself free from the hook.
The higher the gear ratio on your fishing reel, the lower the cranking power will be. This kind of reel is best for using light, fast-moving baits.
A lower gear ratio, on the other hand, will have more cranking power and be best for larger fish.
Where you fish has an impact on the best gear ratio for your needs, too. For example, if you’re fishing on land, you can get away with a lower gear ratio.
But when you’re fishing from a boat, you will need a higher gear ratio to accommodate for the movement of the boat.
This will help you keep the bait moving at the same speed even when the boat moves or drifts.
Drag rating is closely related to the size of a reel, but even when you’re looking at reels of all the same size, you may find a difference in their stopping power.
When you want to go after larger species of fish, you should opt for a large reel with a drag rating of around 25 lbs.
A lighter reel will generally have a reel rated between 12 and 15 lbs instead.
When you are shopping for a swimbait reel, it’s important that you select one that is made from materials that are both lightweight and durable. T
hose made out of graphite tend to work well in this regard, as are those made out of aluminum.
Material matters for a couple of reasons. Not only does it determine how heavy your reel will be – and a reel that is lightweight is incredibly valuable – but how durable it is, too.
Look for a swimbait reel that is equipped with corrosion-resistant bearings, ideally those made out of stainless steel.
You’ll want to look for other features, too, like brass gears, drag washers, and an aluminum spool.
In the past, most reels were only designed for right-handed people. Today, though, you can find both right – and left-handed reels.
It’s important that you choose a reel that matches up with your dominant hand so you don’t have to keep switching back and forth.
This can cause you to have an awkward, clumsy technique that won’t help you land lots of fish.
10 Top Swimbait Reel Recommendations
Here are the top-rated swimbait reel recommendations on the market today
1. Shimano Curado DC
There are lots of reasons to consider the Shimano Curado DC when you’re shopping for a new swimbait reel. Shimano is one of the top brands in the fishing industry
Case in point – our list of the best swimbait reels includes several different products from this brand.
The Curado DC is well worth the investment. It’s easy to adjust your brake settings and you won’t need to reset for every bait.
There are minimum backlashes on this reel, which has unique C14 technology to make it lightweight and user-friendly.
Despite its lightweight feel, it is remarkably strong. The body of the reel is made out of hagane, which increases its strength and eliminates body flexing.
The reel also comes with dynamic x-ship technology, which eliminates the friction between your gear and spool shaft. It’s easy to use for both experts and beginners.
Its automatic technology will help you master it in no time – while you can employ more advanced techniques if you are an expert.
- Minimal flexing
- Gears stay in position under heavy loads
- Comes with an intelligent digital control braking system
- Can be a bit noisy while in use
2. Lew’s Fishing Super Duty Wide Speed Spool
This reel by Lew’s operates in a silky smooth fashion, letting you handle small fish with ease, but also has enough gusto to target large fish, too.
You can use all kinds of baits and lures with this reel – even frogs! – and it will hold up well to the challenge.
It comes with magnetic control technology so you can easily control your adjustments depending on your lure, baits, and circumstances.
It has ten premium stainless-steel bearings that are double-shielded along with a one-way clutch bearing.
You’ll be able to cast and retrieve smoothly and efficiently each and every time. It’s comfortable to use, too, as it’s equipped with a state-of-the-art “Soft Touch” finishing system.
It’s ergonomic and requires minimal effort to keep it in tip-top shape.
- Excellent line capacity and power
- Good for all kinds of fish species, including bass
- Solidly built and guaranteed to last
- No automated braking system
3. KastKing Royale Legend Elite Baitcasting Reel
The KastKing Royale is another one of the top reels for you to consider.
It has a unique design that is geared specifically toward competitors – but you don’t have to be one of the country’s leading anglers in order to appreciate what this reel has to offer.
It has a compact design that allows it to fit comfortably in your hands. It is durable and smooth, with eleven double-shielded stainless steel bearings for efficient casting.
- Has color-coded alternative gear ratios
- Smooth and reliable to use
- Designed for tournament use
- Magnetic brake only
4. Daiwa Luna
One of many reels offered by the fishing giant Daiwa, this reel is simple, sturdy, and incredibly durable.
Built out of solid aluminum, it has rugged side plates and frames. It has five corrosion-resistant ball bearings and an anti-reverse.
It can hold up to 320 yards of 14 lbs monofilament fishing line with an impressive gear ratio of 5.1:1.
- Has five stainless steel bearings
- The spool is free-floating and made out of aircraft-grade aluminum
- Has a multi-disc drag
- One of the pricier options
5. Shimano Tranx
Another excellent swimbait reel for you to consider is the Shimano Tranx. This reel is one of the best offered by Shimano and will help you catch all kinds of large fish.
This stylish reel not only feels good – it looks good, too. It also has a hagane construction to enhance its rigidity.
There are options for people who are both left- and right-handed. It is water-resistant to add to its durability, too.
It combines two exclusive technologies for the most durable, water-resistant reel you will find. The HEG technology and x-ship technology work together for an effortless and smooth retrieve along with phenomenal cranking power.
- Excellent for a low-profile feel
- Durable and long-lasting
- Has great impact resistance
- Narrow spool
6. Abu Garcia Toro S
The Abu Garcia Toro S is another one of the top swimbait reels. It’s a large reel that fastens easily to a swimbait rod.
There are four different models available depending on what size and handedness you need. They have awesome handling power and decent line capacity, too.
Regardless of the size you choose, each of these reels has a low 5.3:1 gear ratio along with four HPCR bearings. You’ll love the drag on this swimbait reel, too – it tops out at 25 lbs.
This reel can accommodate 210 yards of 14 lb mono and has an impressive retrieve rate of 26 inches per crank (though this can vary depending on the size you select).
- Heavy duty
- Comes with durable side plaits and alloy frame
- Multiple sizes and features available
- Maybe a bit pricey
7. Okuma Citrix 350 Size Low Profile Baitcaster
The Okuma Citrix is a large reel that’s meant specifically for targeting large fish. Designed for comfort it has a ton of features you’re sure to love.
It’s equipped with a corrosion-resistant finish both inside and out – it’s both safe and easy to use in saltwater.
Plus, this reel is constructed with die-cast aluminum. It has an anodized spool to add to its durability as well.
With eight stainless steel ball bearings, this reel is efficient and comfortable. It has a 6.4:1 gear ratio and a 25-lb drag system.
You’ll be able to go after just about any kind of fish with this reel, including salmon, catfish, and more.
- Has a superb multi-disc carbonite drag system
- The ergonomic handle is easy to crank
- Comes with an adjustable centrifugal cast control system
- Somewhat heavy to use
8. Goture Ares-Max Baitcasting Reel
Another top reel for you to consider is the Goture Ares-Max. This reel is incredibly heavy-duty. It offers 22 lbs of maximum drag and has superior line capacity. These vary from 10 to 16 yards.
It also has a fantastic braking system. You’ll love the eleven stainless steel bearings it has, which allow for smoother, more efficient casts.
It has a brass driver to add to its durability as well.
Approved for use in saltwater, this reel won’t present any problems at all if you’re heard out for some deep-sea fishing.
- Comes with a heavy-duty drag system
- Has eleven stainless steel ball bearings
- Best for large fish species
- Causes line to tangle easily
9. KastKing Spartacus Fishing Reel
If the name of this reel alone doesn’t sell you on its benefits, we don’t know what will!
This second option by KastKing is strong and powerful – as the name might imply. It has a spectacular carbon fiber drag system that will enable you to cast up to 17.5 lbs.
Not only that, but it has a 6.3:1 gear ratio with 11+1 ball bearings. These bearings are corrosion-resistant and incredibly durable.
The reel is also equipped with powerful brass gears and machined aluminum spools.
- Excellent power and carbon fiber drag
- Corrosion-resistant ball bearings
- Casts with no delays or snags
- Brake needs to be readjusted frequently
10. Shimano Calcutta
The Shimano Calcutta is another excellent reel if you are looking for a product that is durable as well as efficient.
It has a sturdy aluminum body and spool that add strength and durability. It can be used in saltwater, although most users report that it needs to be rinsed after every use to prevent corrosion.
Another benefit of its aluminum frame is that it helps to ensure all parts stay signed at all times.
It comes with additional super stopper technology to prevent back-play. With this technology, a steel roller bearing is used to eliminate unnecessary backlash.
It also has a VBS equipped with centrifugal force to help control your cast.
- Made out of strong forged aluminum frame
- Has a smooth dartanium drag
- Good overall value
- Not the best for using in saltwater
Why the Right Swimbait Reel Should Be A Fixture In Your Tackle Box
No fully-stocked tackle box is complete without one of the best swimbait reels.
It can be tough to find the right reel for your preferences and money, especially when you consider that the market is loaded with different prices ranging from 300, to under 200, all the way to under 100.
However, having a good swimbait reel isn’t just a luxury – it’s an absolute necessity.
It will make it easier for you to control the distance and speed of your cast, helping you master the art so you can land bigger, craftier fish.