Saltwater fishing encompasses a very wide range of techniques and fish species. You can chase large, deep running fish in the open water, on the flats, or in inshore water systems.
Baitcasters offer the power and range needed for saltwater fishing, and we have five models that will withstand the rigors of saltwater and the fish that inhabit them.
What is the best saltwater baitcasting reel?
Here is a preview of what’s to come:
- Shimano Calcutta
- Abu Garcia Revo Inshore
- Luna 300 Casting Reel
- Piscifun Thunder
- Penn Gold Label Series International V Two Speed Reel
- 13 Fishing Concept Z
What is the best saltwater baitcasting reel?
Let’s take a closer look at each one of these reels.
Specs: (700b model)
- Ball Bearing: 3+1
- Gear Ratio: 4.7:1
- Line Retrieve: 28 inches
- Line Capacity: 20/310 yards, 30/200 yards
- Maximum Drag: 16.5 lb
- Weight: 18.2 ounces
This is a gold anodized aluminum reel that is made for extreme power, high line capacity, and corrosion resistance. The weight comes in at 18.2oz
The Calcutta uses the Shimano Super Stopper anti-reverse technology which utilizes a stainless steel roller bearing along with an assisted stopper mechanism to eliminate spool back play.
The Dartanium drag system featured in this reel is one of the best available and can pump out up to 16.5lbs of pressure.
The Calcutta also uses a VBS centrifugal braking systems that keeps the pressure on the spool throughout the entire cast. One of the major improvements made to this model was the much easier access to the braking system for quicker adjustment.
The Calcutta 700B can spool an incredible amount of line. It can be spooled with up to 200yds of 30lb monofilament and 375yds or 65lb test braided line.
The Calcutta 700B has a 4.7:1 retrieval rate with a 28” line retrieval rate. It also features an audible line clicker for line being pulled from the spool.
It utilizes a large two septon grip handle that provides excellent handling and gripping power in all situations.
- Ball Bearing: 7
- Gear Ratio:7.1:1
- Line Capacity: Mono, 10/225 yards, 12/180 yards 15/130 yards
- Line Capacity: Braid, 20/235 yards, 30/180 yards, 50/125 yards.
- Retrieve Rate: 29 inches
- Maximum Drag: 20 lbs
- Weight: 7.7 ounces
The Revo Inshore features a 7.7:1 gear ratio with a 29″ line retrieval rate. The gear design on this reel has been improved and provide excellent gear alignment even when you have a heavy fish applying a lot of pressure.
It also features excellent line capacity and can be spooled with up to 130 yards of 15lb test monofilament and 180 yards of 30lb test braid.
The Inshore uses a centrifugal braking system that does well at applying pressure throughout the entirety of the cast.
Six HPCR bearings provide incredible reel smoothness and also help stabilize the gears withing the reel.
While this is a durable and powerful reel, it is extremely light only weighing 7.7oz. The carbon composite side plates help reduce the weight while the X2 crafted alloy frame adds increased strength as well as corrosion resistance.
The carbon matrix drag system is incredibly smooth and can put drag pressure up to 20lbs on speckled trout or redfish you might be going after inshore. The drag can be easily and finely adjusted using the star adjustment mechanism located on the handle/body interface. It is also a sealed drag system which is needed in corrosive saltwater environments.
The extended handle provides extra room for more cranking power, and it also features a large EVA foam handle knob that provides excellent grip and handling.
- Ball Bearing: 5+1
- Gear Ratio: 5.1:1
- Line Retreive: 23.6 inches
- Maximum Drag: 15.4 lbs
- Weight: 12.9 ounces
The Luna 300 Casting Reel model is another traditional baitcaster with a long history of saltwater action. Does it have what it takes to be the best saltwater baitcasting reel? We think so and here is why…
This reel has a very solid look and feel and was built for catching the predators of the ocean. Both the frames and the side plates are built from solid aluminum bar stock and have been hard anodized and weighs in at 12.9oz. This provides a reel with enough power to deal with the fish that requires some muscle.
The Luna has a 5.5:1 gear ratio and can retrieve line at a rate of 23.6” per handle crank.
On top of the incredible power of this reel, it’s also incredibly smooth. This can be contributed to the five corrosion resistant ball bearings. Further contributing to the power and smoothness of this reel is the superior drive and pinion gear alignment that has a 6 point drive train support to keep the reel rolling even under extreme fishing duress.
The Luna 300 uses a fiber composite and stainless steel washer drag system that can lay up to 15.4lbs of max pressure on fish. As Diawa drag systems go, this one also provides constant pressure and fine adjustments.
The Luna also its Centrafix centrifugal braking system on the 300 model to provide excellent pressure on casts that have a lot of power behind them.
For larger fish, you need a lot of line capacity, and the Luna delivers on this as well and can spool 190 yards of 20lb monofilament.
Two other useful saltwater applications include a large easy to grip handle knob as well as an audible spool click mechanism.
Learn more in the following video:
- Ball Bearing: 8+1
- Gear Ratio: 7.1:1
- Line Capacity: Mono, 10/240 yards, Braid: 30/185 yards
- Retrieve Rate: 29.1 inches
- Maximum Drag: 18 lbs
- Weight: 8.4 ounces
The Piscifun Thunder is constructed with a corrosion resistant, high strength aluminum frame for saltwater excursions. The side plates are constructed from aircraft grade graphite and provide structural integrity while keeping the weight down. It weighs only 8.4oz and offers a 7.1:1 gear ratio with a 29.1″ line retrieval rate.
The Thunder offers incredible line capacities by utilizing a wide spool design. The spool is made from anodized aluminum and can be spooled with 240 yards of 10lb monofilament and 184 yards of 30lb braided line.
This reel can generate up to 18lbs of drag that is generated through the consistent aluminum and carbon fiber drag system. The reel utilizes a star drag adjustment mechanism and provides excellent range throughout its range.
The Thunder also utilizes a magnetic breaking system that is easy to access and adjust. The reel uses an extended bent handle with a rounded EVA foam knobs.
Specs: 80vs Model
- Gear Ratio: 3.1:1 High/ 1.4:1 Low
- Line Retrieve Rate: 43 inches High/ 19 inches Low
- Line Capacity: Mono: 80/950 yards, 200/1550 yards
- Weight: 111 ounces
The Penn Gold Label Series International V Two Speed Reel is the ultimate large saltwater game reel. If your landing marlin, shark, or swordfish, this is the reel that put them in the boat.
This reel has a full metal body making this an extremely rugged reel and provides a case that will keep gears aligned under intense reel stress. While it weighs 111oz, it is a pretty lightweight reel given its strength and big fish fighting capabilities.
It also features a Quick-Shift two-speed system where you can switch from a high to low gear setting. This is a great function for fishing large species in the ocean as they can turn and make runs towards the boat and quicker retrieval speeds are handy.
The low gear setting has a gear ratio of 1.4:1 with 19″ retrieval rate while the high gear setting has a gear ratio of 3.0:1 with a 43″ line retrieval rate.
The Dura drag washers eliminate most hesitation in drag engagement and provides a smooth drag across the entire range. Including the 51lb max drag setting. The drag is adjusted with a ratcheted drag lever easy accessible on top of the reel. It is sturdy enough to resist any changes in drag during trolling of fish fighting scenarios.
This reel is built for the saltwater with stainless steel gears and six shielded stainless steel ball bearings.
This reel is designed to hold huge line capacities and can be spooled with 700yds of 130lb mono and 2,125 yards of 200lb braided line.
- Ball Bearings: 0
- Gear Ratio: 8.1:1
- Drag: 22 pounds
- Line Capacity: 12 lbs/135 yards
- Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Ocean Armor – No More Corrosion
The last one on our list of the best inshore baitcasting reel is probably the most shocking. When you hear the word shocking you probably are assuming that I am referring to the color. I am not talking about the color, the truth is I really like the color. I am actually talking what is on the inside of this reel. Let’s just say you are going to be pleasantly surprise as was I. So, let’s hop to it and take a look at 13 Fishing Concept Z.
At this point in the post, we have taken a closer look at several of the best inshore baitcasters. One thing many of these reels have in common is that they have shielded stainless steel ball bearings.
This is important because if you don’t have shielded ball bearings it is only a matter of time before the ball bearings are going to be affected by the saltwater and then corrosion starts to set it. As we know, the ball bearings are the guts of a good reel. If they begin to corrode you might as well kiss the reel good-bye.
With that being said I am happy to say that the 13 Fishing Concept Z doesn’t have shielded ball bearings.
What? How can it not have shielded ball bearings and be on the list of the best baitcasting reel for saltwater? That is because it doesn’t have any stainless steel ball bearings, but rather it has a unique bearing made from polymer.
Yes, 13 fishing has created something new that is going to change inshore reels forever. But think about it, this goes way beyond saltwater fishing, without ball bearings the reel is going to be lighter, cast further and overall last longer.
It fact, it only weighs 6.4 ounces and those that have tried it already are thoroughly impressed by the distance they can get with this thing. (More on that in my review post.)
As far as saltwater fishing goes, no ball bearings is a major plus, but let’s look at some other great features. It is also equipped with what 13 Fishing likes to call its Ocean Armor 2 Saltwater Protection Process designed to protect your investment from the harsh elements.
It is available in 3 different gear ratio options: 8.1:1 (pictured above), 6.6:1 and 7.3:1. It hold a good amount of line, 135 yards of 12 pound test. Lastly, even though it is lightweight it delivers 22 pounds of drag. This little unit can do some damage out on the seas.
Take a closer look in the following video:
When looking for the best saltwater baitcasting reel consider a baitcaster that provides the distance, strength, and line capacity needed for saltwater angling. We have provided models that excel in all aspects of saltwater fishing and will benefit you for years.