Why is the best musky reel needed?
Experienced musky anglers are sure to agree that having a reel designed to handle the type of abuse throwing and retrieving 10+oz lures all day and working a 30lb fall fish is paramount to enjoying the sport.
In this article, we will present five reels that are proven workhorses in musky waters. We will outline the performance specs and characteristics that make them an invaluable tool in your musky arsenal.
What is the best Musky Reel?
Here is a quick preview of our top 5 options.
- Abu Garcia Revo T2 BST60-HS Toro Beast
- Daiwa Lexa 400
- Shimano Tranx
- Okuma Convector Star Drag Line Counter Reel
- Abu Garcia Ambassadeur
Features: (60HS model)
- Ball Bearings: 7 + 1 Ball Bearings
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Line Retrieve: 34 inches per crank
- Line Capacity: Mono 14lb/250yards Braid 30lb/285 yards
- Weight: 13.83 ounces
- Maximum Drag: 25 lbs
The first reel we are going to look at in search for the best musky reel is the Abu Garcia Revo T2 BST60-HS Toro Beast. This reel is appropriately named Beast because it is a beast of a reel and it is perfectly designed to catch musky.
We like both the 50 and 60 models for handling muskie. Both of them can dish out upwards of 25lbs of max drag. More importantly, the drag can be finely adjusted, and it has a low start-up inertia which helps reduce line breaks.
These reels are built to handle the abuse of working large lures all day and putting some lifting power on large fish. They are built from aircraft grade aluminum alloy and the X-craftic design and heavy-duty gears can take the pressure and torque that comes from generating lift on powerful fish. This design along with the 7 HPCR bearings provide a smooth running reel under the most stressful conditions.
Both of these low profile casting reels are available in two different gear ratios including a low gear 4.9:1 and high gear 6.2:1. Both reel models can spool a generous amount of high-test braided line and are also able to take up slack line quickly. For the 50 model, the low gear and high gear retrieval rates are 24 and 31 inches respectively while the 60 model has retrieval rates of 27 and 34 inches.
The InfiniMax Braking System used on this reel is a unique design including both magnetic and centrifugal properties which helps provide smooth resistance from the initial cast to the water when handling light or heavy muskie lures.
You will also enjoy the feel of the extended bent handles with two large EVA knobs. Not only is it comfortable, but you can generate a generous amount of cranking power.
Features (HD400HS-P Model)
- Gear Ratio: 7.1:1
- Line Retrieve: 37.7 inches per crank
- Line Capacity: Mono 17lb/245yards Braid 55lb/300 yards
- Weight: 17.2 ounces
- Maximum Drag: 25 lbs
The next reel on our list of the best musky reel is the Daiwa Lexa 400 High Capacity Reel.
This is another heavy-duty, low profile reel option for chasing after trophy musky. These are extremely tough reels with both stainless steel drive and pinion gears that are going to style aligned and rolling when you are in a massive battle. The six high quality and corrosion resistant ball bearings are also key contributors to the smoothness of this reel during retrieval of heavy lures and heavier fish.
There are several models of this reel with varying gear ratios ranging from 5.3:1 to 8.1:1. We like the 7.1:1 as it provides a good balance between throwing lighter and heavier lures without sacrificing your ability to retrieve them properly. Even with such a high gear ratio, you shouldn’t have an issue with handling lures that need a slower and more finesse fishing style.
With a line retrieval rate of 37.7″, you can crank out some speed and pick up a lot of slack line when you need to. It’s also a big spool and can hold 200 yards of 80lb test braided line with no problem.
Diawa has one of the best drag systems available with its Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag System and can dish out up to 25lbs of drag pressure. It is reliable, smooth, and adjustable throughout the entirety of its drag range.
Features (Shimano Tranx TRX500HG Reel Model)
- Ball Bearings: 7+1
- Gear Ratio: 6.6:1
- Line Retrieve: 43 inches per crank
- Line Capacity: Mono 30lb/160 yards, 40lb/120 yards
- Weight: 20 ounces
- Maximum Drag: 25 lbs
If you are looking for a reel that is capable of super fast retrieval speeds with heavier lures, the Shimano Tranx TRX500HG Reel might be the best that is on the market. When you need to pick up speed to entice some aggressiveness from a stalking muskie, both the high gear and power gear can dish out some extra speed. Your choice is going to depend on the type of lures you most often use.
The high gear model has a gear ratio of 6.6:1 with a line retrieval rate of an incredible 43”. The power gear model has a gear ratio of 4.6:1 with a line retrieval rate of 30”. Both have a quality drag system that is smooth throughout the entirety of its range, including up to the 25lb max drag setting.
We like the centrifugal braking system used on the TRANX 500. It puts consistent resistance from the start to the end of the cast and really gives you a lot of versatility with the sizes of lures you can throw.
This is an extremely durable reel with it’s all aluminum construction. It uses Shimano’s X-ship and HEG technology that greatly reduces the amount of torque and flex that occurs in the body of the reel and the gears. What this means on the water is that you can generate a lot of lifting power without sacrificing functionality. All power is going to be delivered right to the gear system rather than lost to reel distortion.
Both models can be spooled with over 200 yards of 80lb line, so you have no concerns over that when it comes to heading out to the water to work over muskie. The reel feels great in your hands, all adjustments are easy to make, and the swept power handle is fantastic for cranking down on heavy loads.
Features CV-45D Model
- Ball Bearings: 2+1
- Gear Ratio: 4.0:1
- Line Retrieve: 20 inches per crank
- Line Capacity: 20/580 yards, 25lb/430 yards
- Weight: 21.5 ounces
- Maximum Drag: 20 lbs
There are many muskie anglers that employ trolling and we felt it necessary to include an excellent reel choice for musky that utilizes a line counter. The Okuma Convector Series of reels utilize a highly accurate line counter with a lever line release that is incredibly easy to use. For muskie, we recommend the 45D model.
The Convector has a gear ratio of 4.0:1 and can dish out up to 20lbs of drag pressure. Though the gear ratio might appear a bit low to some anglers, the large spool gives it a retrieval speed of 20” which is more than enough to get a slack line in quickly.
It’s not as durable a reel as others on the list, but the others are some of the best on the market. The graphite frame and side plates are reinforced with steel rings, so it has more than enough potential to land big muskie without question. We do like the oversized brass main and pinion gears and think that they perform well under high amounts of stress. The trophy musky might give the reel a workout, but it is more than capable of getting the job done.
This reel uses a multi-disc carbon fiber drag system that provides little to no start-up inertia when you hook up. On the higher end of the drag range, fine adjustments tend to be a little jumpy, but overall, this drag system can handle just about any muskie in the water.
The Convector features one of the best anti-reverse systems on any muskie reel and provides instant hook setting power which is important for all types of muskie fishing, but especially for trolling. You will also enjoy the feel of the reel when in a long fight. It palms easily for a round model and the extended power handle and knob give you fantastic leverage.
Features (C4 5600 Model)
- Ball Bearings: 5
- Gear Ratio: 6.3:1
- Line Retrieve: 30 inches per crank
- Line Capacity: Mono 12lb/240 yards, 30lb/235 yards
- Maximum Drag: 15 lbs
We are going to conclude this search for the best musky reel by taking a closer look at the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Round Reel.
For Musky, I like both the 4600 and 5600 models. Both of them feature high gear ratios and line retrieval speeds at 6.3:1 and 30” respectively. The larger 5600 model is going to be able to spool a significantly more amount of line than the 4600 model, but that is really the only significant difference between the two models.
While not as heavy-duty as other baitcasting reels we have discussed so far, they have more than enough drag and power to handle the majority of muskie you are likely to come across. Both feature a smooth carbon fiber drag system that can dish out up to 15lbs of max drag.
This round profile reel is compact and extremely easy to handle on the water. We enjoy the bent handle, but you can easily replace it with a larger power handle if it suits you. Both models have a 6.3:1 gear ratio and a line retrieval rate of 30” so you don’t have to worry about getting fish in quickly or picking up slack line.
These are one of the smoothest casting reels on the list. The 6-pin centrifugal braking system and the large level wind really improve the smoothness and achievable distance on these reels. Not only is the casting smooth, but the Duragear system and five bearings provide a reel that can work under pressure and you can get a lot of leverage out of these smaller reels.
While anyone can catch musky, it does require a bit more patience, dedication, and equipment geared towards the sport. For the fish of 10,000 casts, the reel is your workhorse and you need something that provides top performance under large amounts of stress. These five reels are going to give you what you need when chasing these elusive and near-legendary predators.