The Best Fishing Reels for Bass – A Buyers Guide

Image of a fishing reel

It’s easy to get confused when the time comes to buy a fishing reel. The reel’s inner workings may boggle the mind and there is a wide array of specifications that make different reels well suited for different circumstances.

Our aim today is to try and take some of the fear and frustration out of choosing the best fishing reel for bass.

While this is an essential part of your fishing toolkit, it’s key to know what works when. Let’s start by breaking down the two major categories.

Image of the Shimano 200IHG Curado RH Baitcast Reel

Our Top Pick: Shimano 200IHG Curado RH

If you’re into baitcasters, you need to try this Shamino. The reel is well designed and works perfectly for bass fishing

Fishing Reel Types^

There are four main types of fishing reels to choose from, each suited for different fish and scenarios. Each one can lay claim to being one of the best fishing reels for bass.

In this article we focus only on three of them, leaving out the trolling or conventional reel. Let’s go into some of the specifics:

Baitcasting Reels^

Mechanically, with a baitcasting reel, the spool rotates as you cast, turning among multiple gears.

This is as opposed to a spinning reel, where the spool is fixed underneath the rod, and the line is drawn out by the weight of the lure or bait.

This means that when you utilize a baitcasting reel, inertia needs to be strong enough to move the spool. Not too much, though. Doing this will cause a mess that some call a “bird’s nest.” Yes, they can be difficult to use, but there are also many payoffs.

For example, baitcasting reels provide more strength and leverage. So if you want to bring in the bigger bass, this is going to be your best option.

In addition, there is a great deal more accuracy when it comes to your casts.

This can be very important when it comes to bass. After all, some of the larger bass favor living under plants or rocks or other cover.

A baitcasting reel is also capable of using the widest variety of lines, something to consider.

Spinning Reels^

Image of a spinning reel
Spinning reels have a relatively simple function compared to some of the other reels out there.

These reels are mounted below the rod and don’t require wrist strength to hold into position. This is handy for longer fishing sessions.

The line is released in coils or loops from the leading edge of the non-rotating spool.

The major benefits of spinning reels are that they are easier to use than the other two options on this list.

Casting is basically a three-step process:

  1. Flip the bail over
  2. Hold the line with your index finger
  3. Let go once you snap the rod forward in order to cast

In addition, by the nature of their construction, you don’t have to worry about backlash.

They are also considered by many to be the “jack-of-all-trades” of reels.

They’re not necessarily outperforming baitcasting reels but they are more accessible in a lot of different scenarios.

Spincasting Reels^

Like spinning reels, the line on this reel is thrown from a fixed spool, so you can use relatively light lures and baits.

However, the closed spin-pin cast reel eliminates the large wire bail and line roller in favor of one or two simple pickup pins and a metal cup to wind the line on the spool.

In general, they are also fitted with an external nose cone that encloses and protects the fixed spool.

Many give spincasting reels a bad reputation. They say that they are not up to the same quality of the other reels out there or that they fall apart quickly. This is a bit of an exaggeration.

What is true is that they will not cast as far as the other two options on this list. The advantage, though, is convenience, with less backlash and tangles.

Personally, I don’t use spincasting reels much. Granted, they can be a cheap, viable alternative for casual fishermen.

The 4 Best Fishing Reels for Bass^

About Our Selections^

The varying types and features of fishing reels can make it difficult to determine which reels is the best.

To help guide you, we’ve compiled some of the top selling fishing reels, covering different types and price ranges.

Some of these reels have been profiled by us before. We’ve taken the time to revisit them, though because it is important for you to know what your fellow fishermen have been drawn to.

The Best Baitcasting Reel for Bass^

Shimano has always been a common name when it comes to choosing the best products for fishing, reels included.

This Curado provides the strength and quality you’re going to want in a reel when fishing for bass.

Let’s take a moment to break down what it offers.

One thing that Shimano markets for this reel is their X-Ship technology. According to the company, it is designed to improve performance by aligning the pinion gear and drive gear with bearings.

#1 Baitcaster for Bass

Shimano 200IHG Curado RH Baitcast Reel

Image of the Shimano 200IHG Curado RH Baitcast Reel

A baitcaster everybody needs to try out. Few reels top this one!

Ultimately, what this leads to is a smoother and more precise cast. This is great when we’re talking about baitcasting reels.

Chances are that a more precise cast is exactly why you chose this type of reel in the first place. I can attest to the improvement firsthand.

Another great aspect to this reel is its size. Not only is it very light, but it is also very small.

As a result, I was able to fish for hours without feeling any added discomfort or fatigue. However, it is still very durable, so you won’t have to worry about any delicate inner workings being thrown off while you fish.

Note that this reel does have multiple internal brakes that you can set. While the variety is great, you’re going to want to spend some time testing to find the settings that work best for you.

This is worth the time, though, especially if you take your fishing seriously.

Overall, I have nothing but good things to say about this reel. While it is on the higher end of the price range, the fact of the matter is that it is worth the money.

Baitcasting reels are generally the domain of a more experienced angler. So, when you are ready to graduate from your starter reel and really invest in your hobby, this one of the reels I’d recommend you to look at.


The Best Spinning Reel for Bass^

This reel, an advancement on their previous Penn Battle Reel, is one of the more popular reels on the market.

We’ve actually covered this reel before, but this higher-end product is one of the best spinning reels on the market so it bears revisiting.

Spinning reels can sometimes be called flimsy compared to their baitcasting counterparts, but this Penn has a very solid construction.

Durability may be something you think about with rods more than reels, but with many delicate internal parts, it’s something you should look out for.

#1 Spinnig Reel for Bass

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

Image of the Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

One of the most prominent spinning reels on the market.

Many people looking for spinning reels do so for the ease of use, and the Penn Battle II delivers in that regard, in both fresh and saltwater, and in a variety of conditions.

Also, in my tests where I focused on bass, I had no problem reeling in the larger catches with this reel.

I mentioned an issue in my last review. To explain the problem again, this reel has an anti-reverse switch, along with your standard roller bearing in a very delicate system.

To be clear, it works fine, but I have my concerns over the system’s longevity. Corrosion or other damage could lose you your anti-reverse capabilities. While you can order replacement parts, this adds more cost on what is not exactly an inexpensive reel.

This is currently one of the top-selling reels on Amazon, and I can easily see why. This truly captures the best benefits of spinning reels, such as easy adjustability without compromising strength.

This leads to a versatile final product, suitable for several different bodies of water and catches, bass included. However, there is a bit of a tradeoff, namely in price.

If you are willing to shoulder the cost, though, this is perfect both for beginners and experienced anglers.


The Best Bass Fishing Reel for the Money^

Of course, many shoppers are on a budget and find themselves looking for gear that has quality, but doesn’t cost a fortune.

This Sougayilang certainly fits this category, performing well for both fresh and saltwater fishing, at a low price.

One great feature, especially for this reel’s price range, is the fact that it can easily switch between a left and right handed grip.

Left handed fishermen sometimes have enough trouble trying to find a reel that matches their needs, let alone a cheap one, so those in the market or those who like to have variety in their grips would be well suited to give this rod a try.

#1 Reel on a Budget

Sougayilang Spinning Reel

Image of the Sougayilang Fishing Reel

An amazing reel at a low price. Perfect for the fisherman on a budget.

As someone who’s done a lot of fishing, one thing I’ve grown to value a lot when it comes to reels is how smooth it is to use them.

This may sound a bit silly, but the more time you spend fiddling with your tools is less time you spend fishing.

I’m happy to say that the Sougayilang is one of the most user-friendly reels that I’ve encountered, especially for the price range.

Everything from setting it up on a rod to the actual operation was very smooth. This means that this reel may also be a good option for beginner fishermen who don’t want to purchase a reel and rod combo.

One thing to note is that the handle on this reel is a bit big. While I didn’t have much of an issue with it, those with smaller hands may find it a bit uncomfortable.

However, this is only one small drawback to a great bargain reel. This reel is cheap, easy to use, and still has quality comparable to more expensive reels. I highly recommend it to anyone on a budget.


The Best Spincasting Reel for Bass^

The spincasting reel category may sometimes get overlooked in favor of baitcasting and spinning reels, but we want to make sure that a spincaster reel is represented on this list.

Zebco promises that this Omega is the most advanced of their spincasting reel options, being the first seven-bearing reel of its type.

Let’s see if this is really the best spincasting reel for bass out there.

The first thing I want to mention is that this reel is solid. Constructed of aluminum, there is a sense of sturdiness that you get here that helps you feel at ease when you’re giving this reel a try.

Casting was very smooth, though I wasn’t a huge fan of the line that came with it.

#1 Spincaster for Bass

Zebco Omega ZO3PRO

Image of the Zebco Omega ZO3PRO

A spincaster with a really solid construction. If you like spincasters, this reel’s for you!

This isn’t to say that it was poor, but you can buy a better line for a low price, especially if you plan on catching heavier fish.

When it comes to bass, I recommend taking the extra money and buying your own line. But note, that braided fishing lines will not work on this reel, just like it doesn’t work with any spincasting reel.

Another thing to be mindful of when it comes to this reel is the added features that come with it. The reel offers a ceramic line guide, all-metal gears, Auto Bait Alert, and oscillating spool.

Seeing as it is in the medium price range, it’s nice to know you are getting some added value with your purchase.

Overall, I think that this as a base spincasting reel is great, though your opinion may vary on some of the accompaniments that come with it.

With that said, this isn’t an extremely expensive reel. I wouldn’t consider a weak line or a few superfluous features a dealbreaker for something that ultimately does the job.


Choosing Your Best Fishing Reel^

Even with these reels in mind, you may still want to strike out on your own to find fishing reels that match both your preferences and price range.

This is a good idea, but you’re going to want to keep a few things in mind when you’re weighing your options.

What Is The Gear Ratio?^

We’ve mentioned gear ratio in the past, but let’s take a moment to revisit it.

This number describes the speed of the reel. Some of the common gear ratios you will see for spinning reels are 4:1, 5:1, and 6:1. Some common numbers for baitcasting reels are 5.4:1, 6.4:1, and 7.1:1.

The two numbers describe how many times the bail revolves around the spool for each turn of the reel handle. For example, with a 6:1 ratio, you get 6 revolutions for each crank of the reel handle.

There is no one best gear ratio for your reel. Slower reels provide more torque for bringing in larger fish, while faster speeds allow for faster retrieval of fish.

What you need depends on how you fish. If you need to make a decision in a hurry, though, the safest option will be to pick one around the middle.

Does It Go With My Rod?^

Image of some fishing rods
Part of the reason why rod and reel combos are so popular is because not every reel is a good fit for every rod. Just like there are spinning reels and baitcasting reels, there are baitcasting and spinning rods.

Each category is designed to catch certain fish in certain settings.

Always make sure that you have the right reel for your rod. When in doubt, taking the few minutes to ask an expert whether you have the right match could save you a lot of frustration and money.

On your own, the best way to look is to check the spool capacity on the reel. See that your reel is designed for a line with the similar strength that is recommended for your rod.

Bass Fishing Reels In Review^

Hopefully, some of these tips helped you figure out what goes into your ideal picture of the best reels for bass fishing.

There’s a lot to choose from, so let’s revisit a few of the essential points to keep in mind.

  • Make your decision of which of the three types you want, and pick it early on. When it comes to bass, any of the three are viable.

    This means that it’s going to mostly come down to ease of use vs. precision. If you want an easier general option, go with a spinning reel.

  • Make sure that the handle size and position are good fits for your hand. When you’re reeling in that big catch, you want to be as comfortable as possible.

    Having the best handle possible is a major part of this.

These points, along with some of the knowledge and reviews from before, will put you in the best position to find a reel that is the ideal fit for your preferences and style. Happy Fishing!

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