Top Fishing Reels for Bass
Bass fishing reels come in all shapes and sizes. From finesse spinning reels to heavy-duty baitcasting reels, there are seemingly endless possibilities to choose from. In this guide, we break down the best bass fishing reels of 2021 to help you get out on the water and start catching fish.
Whether you’re an advanced angler looking for the most recent innovation, or a beginner searching for basic reel guidance, we’ve got you covered.
Our team at Bass Tackle Lures specializes in testing, trials, and research to bring you honest and comprehensive content. For additional setup advice, check out our guide to the best bass fishing rods 2021.
First, we break down the eight best products and the qualities of each that make them stand out. At the bottom of this page, we’ve put together a bass fishing reel buyer’s guide. This is intended to help beginners learn the terminology and basics of the equipment.
We’re confident we’ll help you find what you’re looking for, and you’ll be out catching monster largemouth in no time!
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Shimano Curado DC – Best Baitcaster
4.8 Stars | 574 Customer Reviews
The Shimano Curado DC is the best baitcasting reel of 2021. This reel model features Shimano’s brand new digital control braking system, which is far more effective and efficient than previous designs.
A high-tech microcomputer insider the reel takes spool data 1000x per second to eliminate backlash and increase casting distances. In the right hands, the Curado DC casts farther than any other reel in the world.
Even though this is a powerful, professional-level reel, beginners can enjoy it as well. The Curado DC reduces the baitcaster learning curve by nearly eliminating backlash and failed casts. Check out our guide to the best rods for Shimano Curado DC.
We love how smooth the handle cranks and how satisfying the casts are. This beast is offered in standard, high gear, and extra-high gear designs with both left and right-handed options. The gear ratio is 6.2:1, and the DC has a maximum drag strength of 11 pounds.
Daiwa Tatula LT – Best Spinning Reel
4.7 Stars | 197 Customer Reviews
Our favorite bass fishing spinning reel of the year is Daiwa’s Tatula LT Reel. This product is powerful enough to reel in any trophy-sized bass and is designed to cast well in all conditions.
Daiwa designed a unique high-density carbon fiber shell specifically for the Tatula LT Spinning Reel. You’ll be amazed by how much weight is reduced through this component upgrade. The lightweight design can also be attributed to the reel’s innovative air rotor, which is 15% lighter than we’ve seen.
You can tell that the handle delivers power directly to the rotor. There’s not an ounce of “play” or side-to-side shifting. Daiwa incorporated seven ball bearings into the Tatula LT, which keeps parts gliding smoothly past one another.
Overall, the Tatula LT is a great value bass fishing spinning reel that’s ahead of its time.
13 Fishing Concept A – Best Value Baitcaster
4.8 Stars | 214 Customer Reviews
If you’re searching for an affordable baitcaster, the 13 Fishing Concept A is an excellent value for the money. There are plenty of models available, including 6:6:1 to 8:1:1 gear ratio models. We love the Concept A’s balance between top-notch performance and a comfortable feel in your hand.
With a sleek and low-profile design, this is one of the coolest looking reels ever made. Images don’t do this reel justice because it’s simply stunning in person. You can tell it’s high-quality and constructed from premium components.
13 Fishing incorporated a 6-way centrifugal braking system for precise handling. The seven ball-bearings are resistant to corrosion and make cranking as smooth as butter. A 22lb Bulldog Drag System and aluminum chassis give this reel the strength to tackle bass of all sizes.
Penn Pursuit III – Best Budget Spinning Reel
4.7 Stars | 2,878 Customer Reviews
The Penn Pursuit II is an exceptional bargain for a high-quality product. Most cheap spinning reels are constructed using flimsy components and won’t stand up to big largemouth bass. This reel has a lightweight, corrosion-resistant shell and stays lubricated for years of smooth reeling. For under $50, this is the best spinning reel for bass fishing.
This model has a well-designed “line-lay” that prevents annoying tangles or loops from forming. The Pursuit II is Penn’s entry-level reel, which says great things about the brand itself. You’ll also notice the reviews of this product are exceptionally high for a product that costs so little.
Lew’s Mach Crush SLP – Coolest Bass Reel
4.8 Stars | 378 Customer Reviews
We nominate Lew’s Mach Crush SLP as the bass reel with the year’s best styling. Its futuristic patterning and graphite frame and side-plates make it worthy of a spotlight in the FLW Tour. This reel also has top-notch performance, and many anglers will double their casting distance when compared back-to-back with other equipment in the same price range.
Lew’s features a ten-bearing system that’s usually only seen on reels that cost over $300. You can adjust the magnetic brake with a click-dial, and the handle has a smooth cranking feel. This model is available in a 7:5:1 gear ratio, which allows for efficient and less-tiring retrieves.
Piscifun Torrent – Best Beginner Baitcaster
4.5 Stars | 3,168 Customer Reviews
If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to spend over $100 on a decent bass fishing baitcaster. We’ve tested the Piscifun Torrent Reel and found it offers all the features that beginners need.
With both left-hand and right-hand options and gear ratios between 5:3:1 and 7:1:1, there’s a model for everyone. Piscifun uses an 18lb carbon fiber drag system, which makes the Torrent suited for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, panfish, and even striped bass.
This reel has a long lifespan. An integrated port on the side allows you to add lubricant easily without removing the housing. This feature makes it the smoothest baitcaster for the money.
13 Fishing Concept Boss – Best High-End Baitcaster
5 Stars | 2 Customer Reviews
The 13 Fishing Concept Boss is a professional-level bass fishing reel with Airfoil carbon side plates. You’ll get the benefit of ultra-long casts, the smoothest retrieves, and the most fish-fighting power.
This model has a 22lb titanium Bulldog Drag System enclosed inside of a futuristic outer shell. You can see the carbon fiber patterning on the handle, as well as on some parts of the body.
6:6:1 – 8:8:1 gear ratios are offered, and you can choose between left and right-hand retrieve models. This is simply one of the best baitcaster bass reels ever made.
Shimano Stradic Ci4+ – Best High-End Spinning Reel
4.7 Stars | 800 Customer Reviews
Shimano’s best reel that features their latest technology is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+. Over the past year, Shimano’s design team has managed to eliminate all friction points between the spool shaft and gears. This has given the Ci4+ an incredible amount of casting distance.
You’re unlikely to ever encounter a line tangle or loops forming on the spool. The Ci4+ has the best line management system out of all bass fishing spinning reels on the market. Having reliable equipment is important for serious and competitive anglers.
The gear ratio is 6:1, maximum drag is 20lbs, and the entire reel only weighs 6.7 ounces. You’ll get 35″ of line retrieve from a reel that’s twice as lightweight as other models. See our guide to the best rods for the Shimano Stradic Ci4+.
Bass Fishing Reel Buyer’s Guide
Spinning vs. Baitcasting Reels
If you’re new to bass fishing, you might not know the difference between spinning and baitcasting setups. These two styles may look similar; however, they have unique benefits and drawbacks.
Spinning reels are best for beginner anglers because they’re easier to learn. They’re also known to be more versatile than baitcasting reels, allowing you to fish a wide range of lures and target multiple species. Advanced bass anglers should consider using a spinning reel when sensitivity is a priority.
Baitcasting reels also referred to as “baitcasters” or “casting reels,” are best for intermediate to advanced bass fishermen. You can cast farther, use heavier lures, and fish more efficiently with a baitcasting reel. Beginners should allot more time to learning this type of reel, as backlashes and tangles are common at first.
First, you should know how to read a gear ratio rating. A reel with a 7:1:1 gear ratio will rotate its spool 7.1 times every time the handle makes a full 360-degree turn. This means the higher the gear ratio, the faster you’re retrieval, or the less effort it takes to retrieve a fast-paced lure.
Baitcasting reels offer a wider variety of gear ratios than spinning reels. While this is important for advanced anglers, it’s not something beginners should worry about. There are plenty of versatile options that allow you to fish every type of bass lure.
The most popular gear ratio is 6.4:1, which is a good place for all beginners to start. You’ll have to use more effort to fish fast-paced lures such as crankbaits, but you’ll be able to fish slower finesse baits with the same reel.
Line & Rod Pairing
Your rod length and power rating should change depending on your setup. While 7′ to 7’6″ Medium-Heavy rods usually offer the most versatility for beginners, it depends on what type of angler you are. Check out our complete guide to bass fishing rods to learn more.
Most reel manufacturers will include fishing line recommendations with their products. For instance, some reels are designed for thick braid, while others are best with thin fluorocarbon lines. As a general rule, baitcasting reels should be paired with braided lines. Spinning reels can either use braid, monofilament, or fluorocarbon.