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Top 7 Best Baitcaster Combos (Reviewed for 2020)

I rarely do this, but I’m going to make a pretty brutal confession here. Ready? Brace yourself…

I used to hate baitcaster setups a lot. It’s true. I ranted about how bad they sucked and even sprinkled in some choice cuss words. 

But all that changed when I went to Lake Lanier with my buddy and watched him catch bass like crazy using a baitcasting setup. He inspired me to give it another try, and also pointed out two big mistakes I was making —

Turns out I’d been using mismatched setups, plus I never truly learned how to cast a baitcaster. Once I fixed those two things, they quickly became my favorite for bass fishing. 

Over the years I’ve discovered some of the best baitcaster combos out there. So it’s only fair to share them with you, right? 

Okay, you don’t have to tell me twice. It’s time to spotlight my favorites and reveal the good, the bad and the ugly of each —

Top Three Picks Summary

Best All-Rounder

Lew’s Fishing Laser MG Baitcast Combo

All-in-all it’s a well-made reel with precision-cut brass gears and a quality line-guide. You have a nice ratio of 7.1:1 and a magnetic control system for more accurate casts off the spool

Lew’s Fishing Laser MG Baitcast Combo

When it comes to having strength in all categories this setup comes to mind right away. Some may find it a bit lack-luster, but it checks all the boxes — 

This is a solid choice if you want a tandem built for bass and inshore saltwater use. You get an IM6 graphite rod with medium-heavy power and a reel with 8 double-shielded ball bearings.

a solid choice if you want a tandem built for bass and inshore saltwater use…

Translation? It will work for a fairly broad range of lures and fish, plus deliver smooth performance. The rod is fast-action as well, so it’s fairly sensitive to nibbles and vibrations. 

It has stainless steel guides/inserts and measures in at 6’10. It’s a one-piece rod so there are fewer vulnerable points along the length.

Drag

The Laser MG baitcaster brings 15 pounds of drag power to the table. That’s enough to handle a hefty load, but isn’t ideal for monster stripers or marlins —if you get my drift. 

The cool thing about the MG’s drag system is that it has a star-shaped graphite piece that makes it easy to adjust while fighting a lunker. Anglers say it helps catch more fish and reduce line breaks.

has a star-shaped graphite piece that makes it easy to adjust while fighting a lunker…

It’s a well-built reel with an anodized spool, precision-cut brass gears and a quality line-guide. Couple that with a high gear ratio of 7.1:1 and you get impressive technology for the price. 

My one gripe is I wish there was a wider variety of models. There’s only 1 model and it’s of medium power and average length, which strikes a good balance—but you’re kind of SOL if you prefer a longer rod with more bend in it. 

Best on a Budget

Shakespeare Agility Low Profile Baitcast Rod and Reel Combo

Made of graphite composite so it’s lightweight and tough. It works for freshwater and saltwater fishing and performs better than expected for a less expensive option.

Shakespeare Agility Low Profile Baitcast Rod and Reel Combo

It’s a myth that all baitcasters are too expensive. This next one gets high praise from a lot of anglers and is a budget-friendly option —

I guess the fishing gods wanted to give anglers on a budget something decent to work with. This setup performs pretty well for the money and works for freshwater and saltwater fishing.

performs pretty well for the money and works for freshwater and saltwater fishing…

You get a medium-power graphite composite rod that’s 6 1/2 feet long. It’s light enough to take kayak fishing but has enough backbone to handle big bass. This is an ideal duo to choose if you’re hunting the best beginner baitcasters. 

Ball Bearing

The biggest turnoff is that the reel’s ball bearing system has just 3 ball bearings —but it still casts and retrieves smoothly.

It has quality pinion gears with a ratio of 6.2:1, and magnetic cast control. That means fast retrieves and precise casting that rolls off the spool, once you master it. 

One complaint is that it takes a little while to get the hang of the reel. It can be a little tricky and the thumb-action takes practice —but once you nail it, you can whip lures around with accuracy. 

There’s a multi-disc drag system to help you haul in big fish…

There’s a multi-disc drag system to help you haul in big fish. You get a max drag of about 10 pounds, but if you’re going after monster catfish or 30-pound reds then you may want to roll with a heavier setup.

It has only one model, but the good news is that it’s a one-piece pole with a fast-action tip. That means it’s less likely to have snapping issues, and you can feel a fish on the line better.

On the downside, its lack of models is a bit disappointing. You’re stuck with a one-size-fits-all type of setup, which is convenient but unideal for ultralight or heavy fishing. 

Editor’s Choice

Quantum Accurist S3 PT Baitcast Rod and Reel

A bait caster with a quality build and technology plus a nice-size IMB graphite pole. The rod is 7 feet 2 inches in length with medium-heavy power, which allows it to handle bigger fish and help you cast a little further.

Quantum Accurist S3 PT Baitcast Rod and Reel

I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t have a sweet spot in my heart for this next baitcaster setup. When I fished Lake Marion in South Carolina last year, it helped me hook the third-biggest largemouth I’ve ever caught, plus a monster crappie —

This rod and reel makes me feel like Luke Skywalker wielding his lightsaber —it’s light and powerful. No, it doesn’t make that cool noise when you sling it, but it does give you long accurate casts when needed. 

It’s a tad on the pricey side, but the build and technology make it well worth it…

It’s a tad on the pricey side, but the build and technology make it well worth it. The aluminum reel packs precision-cut PT gears and a 7.0:1 gear ratio, along with a “flippin switch” that helps you achieve pinpoint accuracy. 

That translates into better lure placement, and a fast/smooth retrieves —which is why I love it for deepwater lake fishing.

It also comes with corrosion-resistant Saltguard Protection, so you can go to battle with it in saltwater as well. And no worries —with a max drag of 18 pounds plus continuous anti-reverse, reds and stripers aren’t off-limits.

Build

The rod is 7’2 in length and made of IMB graphite with medium-heavy power, which allows it to handle bigger fish and help you cast a little further.

Like the others, it’s a one-piece —so there are not as many weak links along the rod. (By the way, the bass I caught weighed 7 1/2 pounds and the crappie was 2 1/2 pounds)

Okay, now you know my top baitcaster combos and why I like them. I have 4 more tandems worth talking about —including one you can travel with. But first I need to dive into what you need to know about baitcasters and how to choose the best baitcaster combos —

What Are the Advantages of Baitcaster Reels?

Master Every Cast 

Baitcasters give you better control over your casts because your thumb acts as a secondary brake. That means you can quickly cut bad casts short if you see the lure headed for a limb or moss bed. 

This is especially nice if you’re fishing for bass, because you can sneak your worm or spinner into nooks and crevasses where lunkers hide.

It could also keep you from losing lures in trees —I know I’ve lost more lures over the years using spinning reels, but not so much with baitcasters. 

Fishing Bait on Water
Fishing Bait on Water

Put the Lure Right Where You Want

Bait caster reels offer more refined casting and allow you to be one with the reel. Coming from an experienced angler —when you get good at wielding one you feel every cast, and accuracy comes easy. 

Bait caster reels offer more refined casting…

The line also flows straight off the spool, which is different from a spinning reel. This allows you to avoid line twists and cast with more precision.

On the flip-side, spinners are said to get rid of the “pendulum effect” that can make your lure drift towards you as it sinks. But as far as lure placement, baitcasters provide better precision. 

Heavy Favorite for Heavy Line

Baitcasting reels are ideal if you need a stronger drag system that can handle big fish. Most have an aluminum spool that’s better suited to work with braided fishing line made for high max drag systems and heavier lures.

This may be why baitcasters are a favorite for bass tournaments. They handle heavier jigs, worms and crankbaits with more efficiency and ease. 

Higher Gear Ratios 

Reeling in heavy spinnerbaits or artificial minnows requires a fast, smooth retrieve. You want a reel with a high gear ratio that cranks in line at a fast rate. 

What’s a gear ratio? It’s basically how fast the reel takes in line —it’s measured by how many times the spool turns per one full crank of the reel handle. 

What’s a gear ratio? It’s basically how fast the reel takes in line…

This is a big advantage if you’re looking to fish deep water. It saves a lot of time when reeling your bait or lure back to the boat or dock. 

Also, when you want your crankbait or broken-back minnow to have a high- action presentation, baitcasters are your bread and butter. With a higher retrieve rate, your lure can look the part and seem more wounded and spastic. 

Close Up Image of a Baitcast Reel
Close Up Image of a Baitcast Reel

What Are the Disadvantages of Using a Baitcaster? 

There’s a Learning Curve —Beginners Beware 

Slinging a baitcaster like a pro takes practice. You have to take the time to become one with the reel. By that, I mean master the timing and feel of it. Also, keep in mind that not every baitcaster feels the same. If you switch up, there could be a slight adjustment period. 

Leave Light Line to Spinning Reels

Like I said, the best baitcaster will have total command over heavier line. So on the flipside, spinners are typically better with lighter line. 

If you’re looking to flip and pitch with ultralight gear, then a spinning reel is the obvious choice. They’re built to handle lighter line and lures, and even help you cast them further. 

Why Buy Baitcaster Combos?

When I first started using a baitcaster I was using slightly mismatched rods and reels. That’s kind of what screwed me up right off the bat —I wasn’t a very good match-maker. So I started using prematched setups to ensure the rod and reel were a nice match.

When you get a reel that’s paired with the perfect rod, you get a balanced setup…

When you get a reel that’s paired with the perfect rod, you get a balanced setup. It’s the only way to make accurate casts and catches, and if you don’t get it quite right there goes your afternoon and sanity. 

To me, it’s the worry-free way to buy a well-balanced setup. Call me simple, but I go this route because there’s no margin of error and it’s always worked for me. 

Man Holding a Fishing Rod
Man Holding a Fishing Rod

Is a Baitcasting Rod Different from a Spinning Rod?

Yes, there is one big difference —

The guides on a baitcaster are on the top part of the rod, but are located on the underside of a spinning rod. For this reason, a baitcasting reel cannot fit onto a spinning rod. The way they mount onto the rod is very different.

Also, baitcaster reels mount to the top of the rod so that the spool is facing up and your thumb can press down on the line.

Spinning reels are mounted to the underside of a spinning rod, and hang upside down like a sleeping bat. 

What is Rod Action? 

In a nutshell, it’s the amount of bend your rod has from tip to base. Fast-action rods are a little stiff at the tip and therefore more sensitive to vibrations. They have more “responsiveness” than medium or slow-action rods. 

it’s the amount of bend your rod has from tip to base…

Many baitcaster rods are fast-action because bass fishermen like to feel every thump and bump on their lure. It helps when jigging and using plastic worms. 

What is Rod Power?

This is pretty much the amount of weight your rod can sustain towards the tip. You can also say it’s the force it takes to bend the rod.

Fast-action rods have slight bend in the tips, but remain stiff enough to pick up subtle vibrations.

What Are the Best “Guides” on a Baitcaster Combo?

The “guide” are the big hoops that the fishing line runs through. They can also be called the “eyes” of the rod. 

It’s important to pick a rod with strong guides. Quality rods come with guides that can withstand repeat use and heavy weight. The main materials used for rod “eyes” are —

  • Stainless steel
  • Chrome
  • Titanium
  • Silicon carbide 

Most rods come with stainless steel guides. Silicon carbide is also extremely strong —but stainless steel is pretty much the standard. It’s durable and affordable, whereas titanium and silicon carbide are tough but more expensive. 

So now you know a bit more about what makes the best baitcaster combo and why anglers talk them up. I think it’s time to drop 4 more setups on you that I really like —

Sougayilang Baitcaster Rod and Reel Combo

The Sougayilang baitcasting combo has all the features you want, including a max drag of 18 pounds and a magnetic braking system.

Sougayilang Baitcaster Rod and Reel Combo

There are a couple of things that make this tandem unique. It’s the only one on my list that’s designed for travel, and it also has the highest ball bearing count. Most people use it for freshwater fishing, but you can roll with it as an inshore setup as well. 

It’s lightweight at just under 14 ounces, so it won’t wear you out. (that’s less than a pound) The reel packs 12 ball bearings, an aluminum spool and a high gear ratio of 7.0:1, so you get a smooth cast and retrieve.

It also boasts a steel reel seat that protects against saltwater corrosion, plus brass pinion CNC gears and spool that resist rust.

It’s lightweight at just under 14 ounces, so it won’t wear you out…

The Sougayilang baitcasting combo has all the features you want, including a max drag of 18 pounds and a magnetic braking system. But when it comes to the rod, things aren’t quite as exciting.

Guides

It comes with ceramic line guides that are said to produce less line friction. But a lot of anglers feel that stainless steel guides are the best option because they offer more strength. 

It’s made of 24-ton carbon fiber and strikes a nice balance of strength and flexibility. The tip is fast-action, so it does a good job of letting you feel strikes and nibbles.

It’s made of 24-ton carbon fiber and strikes a nice balance of strength and flexibility…

It comes in two lengths —5’9 and 6’9. This gives you a smaller bass rod for kayaks and canoes or a longer one for bigger water and bigger fish. Not a lot of variety —I know— but for a portable baitcaster tandem it sure has a lot of sweet spots. 

Some anglers have complained about the tip breaking when under sudden pressure. This could be due to a random product defect because the vast majority of buyers don’t have that issue.

NOTE

I should also point out its convenience could also be a slight weakness.

What I mean is that it breaks down into 4 pieces for travel, and some anglers don’t totally trust the connection points. They see it as a slight weakness and think they’re more prone to breaking.

Specs

  • Gear ratio: 7.0:1
  • Bearing count: 12
  • Reel weight: 7.6 ounces
  • Rod length: 5’9 – 6’9
  • Rod power: Medium
  • Rod Action: Fast
  • Line weight: 12-25 pounds
  • Reel Handle: Right and Left

Pros

  • Is portable and breaks down for travel
  • Weighs less than 1 pound and is ideal for all-day fishing
  • Has an impressive ball bearing count of 12
  • Strong max drag of 18 pounds
  • High gear ratio of 7.0:1
  • Saltwater guard for reel and CNC gears/spool
  • Magnetic braking system

Cons

  • It’s a 4-piece rod, so it could be prone to breaking
  • There have been a few complaints of tip breakage
  • Has ceramic guides

Lew’s Fishing Mach 1 SLP Baitcasting Combo

It brings nice performance and technology to the table. For starters, you get a gear ratio of 7.5:1. If you plan on fishing deep water then you may be especially pleased with that, because it means a faster, more effortless retrieve.

Lew’s Fishing Mach 1 SLP Baitcasting Combo

This is the crazy cousin of the Laser MG, and it brings nice performance and technology to the table. For starters, you get a gear ratio of 7.5:1, which is slightly higher than the MG. If you plan on fishing deep water then you may be especially pleased with that, because it means a faster, more effortless retrieve. 

it brings nice performance and technology to the table…

Like its cousin, the Mach 1 packs 8 stainless steel bearings plus a “Zero Reverse” one-way clutch. That translates into fluid casting and more winnable battles with big bass —it’s especially handy when they thrash or go under the boat. 

Improved Casting

One sweet feature this newer tandem offers is 4 disc-mounted brake shoes that improve casting accuracy. It’s a dual braking system that relies on magnetic and centrifugal technology —that means easy, smooth control. 

You basically get the same drag system as the earlier model (Laser MG) which has a max of 15 pounds. It can handle inshore fish, big bass or lunker lake trout —you’re not very limited. 

Build

The Mach 1 Speed Stick rod is similar to the Laser Stick rod. It’s medium-fast action and ranges from 6’10 – 7’2 in length — it can handle nice-size fish, but the range is pretty limited. The difference is that this rod is made of IM8 graphite rather than IM6 graphite. 

this rod is made of IM8 graphite…

What does that mean? Basically, the IM8 is slightly lighter and a tad stiffer —nothing jaw-dropping, but something you may like if you’re into all-day bass fishing with plastic worms. 

On the flipside some anglers prefer lower modulus graphite. They think the Mach 1 Speed Stick is a little too crisp and affects their hook-setting and lure presentation.

That complaint could be due to their lure choice because this rod is best suited for medium to heavier weighted lures. 

Specs

Pros

  • Excellent high gear ratio of 7.5:1
  • Good ball bearing count
  • Zero Reverse one way clutch for bigger fish
  • Strong max drag of 15 pounds
  • 4 disc-mounted brake shoes for pinpoint casting
  • IM8 lightweight graphite that’s a touch stiffer

Cons

  • Some anglers say IM8 graphite makes the rod too stiff
  • Lack of model options —only 2 rod lengths

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo

This casting reel has a max drag of 12 pounds, so it’s good enough to go after largemouth, catfish or trout. And if you’re saltwater angling you can target medium-size reds and inshore fish no problem.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo

An Affordable Beast 

It’s not as nicely priced as the other Shakespeare on the list, but here’s another quality duo with a small price tag. Right off the bat, you might be thinking —hey the reel only has 3 bearings.

That’s a mediocre number but if you’re fishing on a budget this one is the way to go. 

It has some high-end features like adjustable magnetic cast control for smooth, accurate casting.

It also has a ported spool and a gear ratio of 6.2:1, which isn’t as high of a ratio as some of the others but it still works for deepwater jigging. 

It has some high-end features like adjustable magnetic cast control for smooth, accurate casting…

This casting reel has a max drag of 12 pounds, so it’s good enough to go after largemouth, catfish or trout. And if you’re saltwater angling you can target medium-size reds and inshore fish no problem —but don’t go after anything too big. 

Build

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite rod is stronger than its predecessor —the GX2. It’s fast-action and reinforced with 35% more graphite, that’s why it’s a formidable option for hunting trophy bass on the lake.

It also has Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides that are tough to crack or break. 

One thing that kind of sucks is that the only rod option is 6 1/2 feet long with medium-heavy power.

That’s a nice mid-range length and power, but if you want a longer rod for a mightier hook-set or to go after bigger fish like pike then you’re kind of at a dead end. 

constructed of graphite/fiberglass composite that gives it strength and keeps it light…

The casting rod is constructed of graphite/fiberglass composite that gives it strength and keeps it light. It has a strong backbone that holds up to big fish yet remains easy on the arms and wrists.

Maintenance

As mentioned, it can be used for freshwater and saltwater but not all of the components are anti-corrosive. It’s important to wash the reel with regular water during and after each use. 

Another thing that rubs me the wrong way is that there’s an Ugly Stik Clear Tip that’s supposed to give the rod more sensitivity, but some people say it’s hard to detect bumps and bites. That could also be attributed to the rod’s medium-heavy power. 

Overall it’s great for running spinners alongside weed lines, deepwater jigging, and popper baits. It’s an affordable baitcasting option for bass if you’re on a budget. 

Specs

Pros

  • Upgraded strength —35% more graphite
  • Medium-heavy power for bigger fish and solid hook-sets
  • Adjustable magnetic cast control
  • Light and tough composite graphite blank
  • Ugly Tech Construction for Sensitivity
  • One-piece stainless steel guides
  • Nice gear ratio of 6.2:1

Cons

  • Reel lacks in anti-corrosive components
  • Ugly Stik Clear Tip may promise more sensitivity than it delivers
  • No options for rod length, power or action

Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcaster Combos

The Black Max reel has a smooth graphite frame that’s compact and lightweight which makes it perfect for targeting a range of fish —from smallmouth to drumfish.

Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcaster Combos

First of all, I have loads of respect for Abu Garcia fishing gear. This particular combo is a really good mix of quality construction and expert fishing technology so I don’t understand why more fishermen don’t roll with it. 

This particular combo is a really good mix of quality construction and expert fishing technology…

Okay, the bearing count isn’t leaping off the charts. It comes with just 5 steel bearings, but they provide an exceptionally smooth performance according to fishing fanatics who use this tandem. 

Build

The Black Max reel has a smooth graphite frame that’s compact and lightweight which makes it perfect for targeting a range of fish —from smallmouth to drumfish. It’s built to sling worms, spinners, and crankbaits in freshwater, plus handle inshore fishing with a jerk bait or plastic minnow. 

The Black Max reel has a smooth graphite frame that’s compact and lightweight…

The gear ratio is a solid 6.4:1 and it’s made with brass Duragear technology so you get your lure back to the boat pretty darn quick, plus it’s made to last for years.

However, some of the other options on my list have a slightly higher gear ratio, so keep that in mind if you’re looking to fish the ocean floor for flounder or use heavy crankbaits in a deep lake.

Drag

It uses power disk technology and has a max drag of 15 pounds –that’s pretty stout but some people say it lacks smoothness.

There might be a time or two when you’ll have to pull a little line out to keep the drag system sharp and flowing. 

The handle gives this reel a slight edge as well, with a compact “bent-handle” design. The easy access 5-star drag adjuster is within finger-flipping distance, so it’s also easy-access while you’re battling a bass. 

Brake System

The Black Max brings a Max Trax brake system to the table that gives you better casting accuracy. This will help a ton when you need to ease into cover or skip your topwater lure under a fallen limb.

The Black Max brings a Max Trax brake system to the table that gives you better casting accuracy…

The rod size ranges from 6’6 – 7’0 feet in length and has medium to medium-heavy rod power.

Both models have stainless steel guides with titanium oxide inserts, which means you get more strength and durability compared to ceramic guides.

Action

The rod action ranges from medium-fast to fast, either way it has a sensitive tip. That can only help when you’re relying on vibrations to tell you when to set the hook.

It’s also a one-piece rod, so there’s no reason to question its integrity. The 24 tone graphite Black Max rod is known to endure heavy loads with no cracking or breaking —even with medium power. 

Specs

  • Gear ratio: 6.4:1
  • Bearing count: 5
  • Reel weight: 7.9 ounces
  • Drag Force: 15 pounds
  • Rod length: 6’6 – 7’0
  • Rod power: Medium – medium heavy
  • Rod Action: Medium fast — fast
  • Line Cap: 145/12
  • Handle: Right and Left

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight with power disk
  • Rod guides have titanium oxide inserts
  • Decent gear ratio of 6.4:1
  • Max Track brake system for pinpoint casting
  • Compact bent-handle reel design
  • Duragear technology
  • One-piece —less weak points
  • Graphite side plate
  • Solid rod construction

Cons

  • Has 5 ball bearings, which is pretty mediocre
  • Gear ratio is best for freshwater fishing
  • Drag system hiccups have been reported

Best All-Rounder

Lew’s Laser MG Baitcast Combo

All-in-all it’s a well-made reel with precision-cut brass gears and a quality line-guide. You have a nice ratio of 7.1:1 and a magnetic control system for more accurate casts off the spool

Lew’s Laser MG Baitcast Combo

Like I already said, this is a tandem built for bass and inshore saltwater fishing —that’s why it got my vote for best allrounder. The Laser MG setup comes packing an IM6 graphite rod with medium-heavy power, and a reel with 8 double-shielded bearings.

ideal for a broad range of lures and fish, and ensures smooth performance…

That makes it ideal for a broad range of lures and fish, and ensures smooth performance. The rod comes with a skeletal graphite reel seat that keeps it secure so the fast-action tip can fully sense nibbles and vibrations. 

This model has stainless steel guides/inserts and is 6’10 long. It comes as a solid one-piece, which minimizes weak spots along the rod.

Drag System

The Laser MG baitcast reel boasts a Rulon drag system with 10 pounds of max drag. That’s enough to deal with trophy bass, but this duo isn’t ideal for monster stripers or marlins —if you get my drift. 

The MG’s drag system sports a star-shaped graphite piece that’s easy to adjust during a fish-fight. Anglers say it helps them land more fish and suffer fewer line breaks.

Zero Reverse Technology

It also has Zero Reverse technology that makes it easier to land fish at the boat and avoid spool tangles. But some anglers have a little trouble getting used to that feature —so a bit of patience may be required.

All-in-all it’s a well-made reel with precision-cut brass gears and a quality line-guide…

All-in-all it’s a well-made reel with precision-cut brass gears and a quality line-guide. You have a nice ratio of 7.1:1 and a magnetic control system for more accurate casts off the spool.

The only issue anglers seem to have is with its custom paddle handle knobs —some people love them while others find them awkward. 

If there’s another small complaint, it’s that the variety of models is a little limited. You get a rod with medium-heavy power and average length, which makes for a wide range of applications.

But if you want a longer rod with slower action then you may want to look around a bit more before you commit. 

Specs

Pros

  • Solid IM6 graphite rod
  • Quality Rulon drag system
  • Zero Reverse technology
  • High gear ratio of 7.1:1
  • Magnetic cast control system
  • Easy access drag adjustment
  • Zirconia line guide
  • Skeletal graphite reel seat for protection

Cons

  • Comes in only single rod size —6’10
  • Some anglers don’t like its Zero Reverse feature
  • The custom paddle handle knob can be annoying

Best on a Budget

Shakespeare Agility Low Profile Baitcast Rod and Reel Combo

Made of graphite composite so it’s lightweight and tough. It works for freshwater and saltwater fishing and performs better than expected for a less expensive option.

Shakespeare Agility Low Profile Baitcast Rod and Reel Combo

Like I said earlier, the fishing gods were smiling down on anglers working on a budget when this combo was created. It performs better than expected for a less expensive option, and yes —it works for freshwater and saltwater fishing. 

It performs better than expected for a less expensive option, and yes —it works for freshwater and saltwater fishing… 

The reel comes nuzzled on a medium power, graphite composite rod that’s perfect for kayak fishing. It’s 6 1/2 feet long and lightweight, but has enough backbone to handle big bass and catfish. 

Ball Bearing Count

A lot of people might lose interest when they find out it has just 3 ball bearings. But despite that semi-low number, it still casts and retrieves smoothly. 

It has brass pinion gears with a pretty decent ratio of 6.2:1, plus magnetic cast control. That means pretty fast retrieves and precision casting —after you get a feel for the setup. 

A chief complaint is that the reel takes some getting used to because the thumb-action is tricky. But everyone agrees that when they master it they get longer more accurate casts.

Drag System

It boasts a multi-disc drag system with instant anti-reverse to help anglers handle big fish. You get a max drag of about 10 pounds, so no 30-pound reds or marlin. Stick with bass, trout and inshore ocean fish —or maybe roll with a heavier setup.

This is a medium power, one-piece pole with a fast-action tip. That means it’s less likely to have snapping issues and you can sense when a fish is on the line better. This is the kind of pole I like to use during the summer when I run spinnerbaits by lily pads. 

Build

It’s made of graphite composite so it’s lightweight and tough. An added bonus is the Hybrid Tech grips on the base of the rod that help sturdy weight distribution. 

Its main let-down is the lack of models —you get a one-size-fits all setup, and isn’t the best choice for ultralight or heavy gear. It’s a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, so If you’re wanting to do some finesse fishing with ultralight gear or go heavy, this isn’t your huckleberry.

Specs

Pros

  • An affordable baitcasting duo
  • Ideal for spinnerbaits and topwater plugs
  • Aluminum spool
  • Multidisc drag with instant anti-reverse feature
  • Hybrid Tech grips for better casting
  • Nice gear ratio for the price —6.2:1
  • Magnetic cast control

Cons

  • Has only 3 ball bearings
  • Rod comes in single length —6 1/2 feet
  • Max drag is decent, but not as strong as some —10 pounds
  • Needs rinsing during and after saltwater use

Editor’s Choice

Quantum Accurist S3 PT Baitcast Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

A bait caster with a quality build and technology plus a nice-size IMB graphite pole. The rod is 7 feet 2 inches in length with medium-heavy power, which allows it to handle bigger fish and help you cast a little further.

Quantum Accurist S3 PT Baitcast Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

This is my top pick of all the options. Because like I said —any tandem that makes me feel like I’m wielding some kind of precision weapon with badass technology will earn the top spot.

Seriously, I feel like Luke Skywalker when I use this setup —I guess that makes my fishing buddy Obi-Wan Kenobi. 

Seriously though, it’s light and powerful like a lightsaber. I can say from personal experience that it delivers long accurate casts when needed —that’s why it’s my alltime lake favorites. 

a bait caster with a quality build and technology…

It may not be the best on a budget, but if you have any room to splurge then you’ll get a bait caster with a quality build and technology plus a nice-size IMB graphite pole. 

The reel is aluminum and comes packing precision-cut, zero fiction PT gears along with a fairly high 7.0:1 gear ratio.

Another bright spot is the fact that it has 9 bearings, which makes most anglers smile. 

Improved Accuracy

There’s also a sweet feature called the “flippin switch” that helps you achieve pinpoint accuracy. Coupled with its ACS cast control you get a heaping helping of new technology.

But that is also why it can take some getting used to —so be prepared for a slight adjustment period. 

There’s also a sweet feature called the “flippin switch” that helps you achieve pinpoint accuracy…

All that basically means better lure placement, plus fast/smooth retrieves. Those attributes make it a solid option for targeting deepwater fish. It also comes with corrosion-resistant Saltguard Protection so it’s for saltwater use as well. 

If you want to hit up some big redfish or maybe a striper, its max drag of 18 pounds with continuous anti-reverse will help secure the catch.

The only question mark is how durable the ceramic-carbon drag system is. Ceramic material handles heat extremely well, but lacks in the durability. 

Build

The rod is 7 feet 2 inches in length with medium-heavy power, which allows it to handle bigger fish and help you cast a little further.

As mentioned, it’s made of IMB graphite so it can handle some serious resistance.

Oh, and FYI It’s a one-piece —so again, there are not as many weak links along the rod. I stand by this choice because like I said earlier, I caught my third biggest largemouth using it.

Specs

Pros

  • Zero friction, precision-cut gears
  • Saltguard protection for ocean anglers
  • Light and powerful IMB graphite pole
  • 9 ball bearings
  • ACS cast control
  • Flippin Switch for extra control
  • 18-pound max drag for bigger fish
  • High gear ratio —7.0:1

Cons

  • Not very pocket-friendly
  • Questionable ceramic carbon drag system
  • Questionable ceramic carbon drag system

So there we have it. Those 7 are my absolute favorite baitcasting combos on the entire planet. But just as a reminder, here are my top 3 picks from the bunch —

Best All-Rounder 

Lew’s Fishing Laser MG Baitcast Combo

This setup probably has the best balance. From the gears to the drag technology, it’s a combo that works in perfect harmony. 

Buy it for bass and inshore saltwater fish —its IM6 graphite construction, medium-heavy power, and 8 double-shielded bearings check all the boxes.

ideal for jigging with plastic worms because its fast-action tip is sensitive to vibrations…

It’s ideal for jigging with plastic worms because its fast-action tip is sensitive to vibrations. And if you snag a biggin’ look to its Zero Reverse technology to help secure the catch. But remember, with a 10-pound max drag it’s not built for monster stripers or marlins. 

Some people have a little trouble getting used to its drag features, but it’s 7.1:1 and a magnetic control system makes up for it. One small complaint is that the variety of models is limited.

Best on a Budget 

Shakespeare Agility Low Profile Baitcast Combo

Remember, not all baitcasters are too expensive. You get a medium power graphite composite rod that’s light enough to take kayak fishing but still has plenty of backbone for big bass. 

light enough to take kayak fishing but still has plenty of backbone for big bass… 

Its mere 3 bearings scares some anglers away but in reality it casts and retrieves pretty smoothly. It has quality pinion gears with a ratio of 6.2:1, and magnetic cast control.

Might Require Some Practice

Some anglers complain that it takes too long to master casting this rod and reel. But once they get used to it, they like the combination of its features and fast-tip rod. 

It has a drag of about 10 pounds, so it’s pretty much perfect for bass and trout. But don’t go bananas and target trophy tarpon or anything —if that’s your MO then look to with a heavier setup.

Editor’s Choice 

Quantum Accurist S3 PT Baitcast Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

This one is my golden goose. It’s light, powerful and delivers accurate casts —short and long. It’s pricey, but its technology makes it well worth it. 

light, powerful and delivers accurate casts —short and long…

The reel is has aluminum housing with an aluminum spool and packs precision-cut PT gears with a 7.0:1 gear ratio. You also get a “flippin switch” that helps you achieve pinpoint accuracy and is great for targeting fish on the bed.

It delivers better lure placement and fast/smooth retrieves so it’s great for saltwater. It comes with corrosion-resistant Saltguard Protection and max drag of 18 pounds.

Build

The rod is 7 feet 2 inches in length with IMB graphite construction. It’s medium-heavy power, so it can handle bigger fish. I used this exact setup to land a trophy bass, and can say it’s one of the best baitcaster tandems I’ve ever used. 

Wrapping Things Up

Okay everyone still reading? —it’s that time of the journey where I walk off into the sunset…well..more like walk off to the sofa to eat a sandwich and daydream about my fishing trip next week. 

I hope I helped you see why baitcasters are a fun and professional direction to go with your fishing tackle. They have lots of advantages over spinning options, and anglers really do need to know what they bring to the table. 

In my opinion —when it comes to largemouth bass, baitcasters rule the day. I love the control and power you get. And that power and control translates into further, more accurate casting —which ultimately means catching more fish!

So if you’re looking for the best baitcaster then take my choices into consideration. And if you fall in love with one and buy it, then send a pic of your catch and we’ll make you internet famous. 

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