Top 7 Best Baitrunner Reels Reviews (2020 Buyer’s Guide)

If you’re a bait fisherman, and most of us are on some days, then you’ll know that having a fishing reel with a baitrunner or baitfeeder mode is a key feature to being successful on the water.

After considering all the options our top picks were…

They give you the ability to feed the bait and get a solid hookset without the hassles of playing around with your drag. 

In this article, we have rounded up some of the best baitrunner reels on the market and compared them against each other, so you can find the best one for your fishing needs.

Our Best Three

These are our favorite reels from the review.

Best All-Rounder

Penn Fierce III Baitrunner Reel

The combination of the full metal body, side plate, and multi-disc carbon fiber drag system comes together to create a durable, quality, and robust saltwater reel.

Penn Fierce III Baitrunner Reel

The best all-rounder reel is about being as good as a reel can be but for a good price.

It should do everything well, be durable, have good features but not make you wince when you see the price tag. 

The best allrounder reel from the reviews is the Penn Fierce III Baitrunner Reel.

It’s the ideal balance between quality and price with an awesome set of fishing tools, a solid baitfeeder mode, and the promise of lasting durability. 

Best on a Budget

Yoshikawa Baitfeeder Spinning Reel

A great value piece of equipment that does the job but not as reliably as the more expensive options.

Yoshikawa Baitfeeder Spinning Reel

This spinning reel does the basics well.

It’ll last, be durable, have all the tech you need, and have the lowest price possible. 

The best on a budget from the reel reviews is the Yoshikawa Baitfeeder Spinning Reel.

It’s durable, well-made, comes with the specs of more expensive options, and the baitfeeder mode is awesome.

You can’t ask for much more at this price. 

Editor’s Choice

Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel

Made with a high max drag, large line capacity and the spool is made for heavy-duty line/braid. If you love your inshore and light offshore fishing, this is one of the best baitrunner reels to consider.

Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel

After considering the reviews online as well as my own experience, the Shimano Baitrunner D spinning Reel is my favorite choice of reels. 

The price is a bit high but this along with the respected brand denotes quality and reliability. Whilst being a dream to use it is also built with durability in mind.

All the features added to this model really do pay off in terms of casting and line management, plus the basics such as the retrieve, bait feeder mode, and drag system are all top class. 

A Buyers Guide To Baitrunner Reels 

When it comes to buying a new baitfeeder reel, there are a few important questions to ask yourself.

Here we have put together everything you need to know about baitrunner or baitfeeder reels (they are the same) to help make sure you’ll find the best one for you. 

When To Use A Baitrunner Reel

The key is in the name here and the best time to use a baitrunner reel is when fishing with bait.

Bait describes quite a broad category and it can be a whole dead fish, chunks of meat, or something else and live bait. 

When you’re bait fishing, you want to give the fish time to taste the bait before setting the hook.

This means allowing the fish to run with the bait without feeling any resistance.

Once you think the fish has had enough time to take the bait into its mouth, you can disengage and set the hook.

This is what the baitfeeder feature allows you to do.

Fishing Rod on A Dock

What Is A Baitrunner Reel? 

A baitrunner reel is a spinning reel with an added baitfeeder feature.

This feature allows your fishing reel to go from free spool or minimal pressure to your chosen pressure setting, at the flick of a switch or button.

So what you’re getting is a spinning reel with all the normal features plus a bait-running/feeding system on top.

How To Use A Baitrunner Reel 

Using a baitfeeder is easy…

You simply attach your bait, set your drag, and then cast your bait to where you think a fish is lurking, just like you would with any normal spinning reel.

Then you engage the baitfeeder mode.

TIP

How you do this may differ with each model but it’s usually done by flicking a switch or button.

Baitfeeder Mode

When the baitfeeder mode is engaged, the line and bait will run off the reel freely or with very low resistance. 

When a fish eats your bait, you’re going to wait for 3-5 seconds or more and allow it to take the line in baitfeeder mode.

This gives the fish time to taste the bait and hold it in its mouth.

Once you’re satisfied that the fish has it, you flick the switch taking the reel out of baitfeeder mode to engage the drag and set the hook.

You can now fight with your normal settings that you preset at the beginning. 

Why Are Baitrunner Reels Useful? 

It can be a bit of a nightmare trying to manually take your spinning reel from zero to the correct drag setting in a matter of seconds whilst also trying to hookup.

You’d have to set your reel to free spool and then turn it up again once you’re trying to hook a fish.

Getting this done in terms of timing and finding the exact setting amongst all the excitement is almost impossible.

With a baitfeeder, all you have to do is flick a switch at the correct time and the rest is done for you.

It lowers the likelihood of mistakes, lost fish, and lost tackle.

Man Fishing on a Lake

What Makes The Best Baitrunner Reel? 

Now that we know what a baitrunner reel is plus when and how to operate one, here are the key features to look out for. 

A Reliable Baitfeeder Mode

Baitrunner features on a spinning reel range across reel brands.

The most important quality you’ll need is the ability for it to engage smoothly.

This will take your reel from zero drag to your set drag without any hang-ups so you can feed the bait, hookup and fight immediately.

If the baitrunner was to stick, turn on and off, or simply fail, you would risk losing a lot of bites, bait, and possibly a lot of tackle. 

Durability 

Durability is one of the most important attributes of any baitrunner reel.

The last thing you want is for a reel to fail after a short term.

This is especially important with a baitrunner as you’ll most likely want to take it out in both salt and freshwater. 

Seawater is unkind to reels and it’s important to ensure the baitrunner reel you choose can handle being rocked around a salty environment.

RECOMMENDATION

Make sure the spinning reel you choose is made from quality durable materials like graphite, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, or carbon fiber.

A good sea fishing reel will be sealed or come with a kind of protection system to stop sand, dirt, water, and salt getting into the inner workings. 

Features 

Every baitrunner reel comes with its own set of features to differentiate it from others in the market place.

There are some key things to look out for in the reel you choose and the most important ones are line capacity, the drag system and drag power. 

Drag System

The drag system will define how smooth the drag is and how long-lasting it is. 

Both the line capacity and drag power of your reel need to correspond to the size of the species you’re looking to catch.

Line Capacity

The bigger the fish, the more line you’ll need on your reel, and the more drag power you’ll need to stop it with. 

Every type of reel comes in a range of sizes.

The larger the size, the more line you can fit on the spool, and the more powerful the drag.

TIP

Make sure to pick the best baitrunner that suits the size of the species you plan on targeting.

Our Baitrunner Reels Of Choice

Best All-Rounder

Penn Fierce III Baitrunner Reel

The combination of the full metal body, side plate, and multi-disc carbon fiber drag system comes together to create a durable, quality, and robust saltwater reel.

Penn Fierce III Baitrunner Reel

The Penn Fierce III is one of the best baitrunner reels around.

Sizes

It comes in a range of sizes from 2000 to 8000, covering most fishing situations from freshwater species to most near-shore species.

However, the smallest model isn’t quite small enough for ultralight enthusiasts. 

The combination of the full metal body, side plate, and multi-disc carbon fiber drag system comes together to create a durable, quality, and robust saltwater reel.

Drag

The drag is smooth as silk and when combined with the Live Liner mode, is guaranteed to ensure you don’t miss a bite. 

The Live Liner mode is adjustable, so you can preset the tension while in free-spool. Allowing you to feel even the most sensitive bites while fishing, also disengaging as soon as you turn the handle.

This means you’re automatically in fight mode when hooking up and there is no need to move your hands around during the fight. 

Retrieve

The retrieve is quick and smooth thanks to the 4 stainless-steel ball bearings and the excellent gear ratio.

It also features a high line capacity, a super line spool to aid with line management, and a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire. 

Overall it’s an excellent fishing reel, made of durable materials with top features. 

Specs

  • Reel Size- 2500 Reel
  • Mono Capacity Yd/Lb – 255/6 175/8 140/10
  • Braid Capacity Yd/Lb – 240/10 220/15 160/20
  • Bearing Count – 5
  • Max Drag – 12lb | 5.4kg
  • Gear Ratio – 6.2:1
  • Retrieve Rate- 33" | 84cm
  • Weight- 12.30 Oz
  • Handle Position- Right/Left
  • Anti-reverse Feature – Instant Anti-Reverse

Pros

  • Easy to engage the drag from the live line mode with a turn of the handle
  • You can adjust the tension in live liner mode
  • Made from quality and durable materials that will last
  • Comes in a range of sizes to suit most species

Cons

  • The smallest size is a bit heavy for super light fishing

Best on a Budget

Yoshikawa Baitfeeder Spinning Reel

A great value piece of equipment that does the job but not as reliably as the more expensive options.

Yoshikawa Baitfeeder Spinning Reel

Yoshikawa is a lesser-known brand but they still design and make quality fishing products and this baitrunner reel is no exception.

It comes in 4 different sizes to suit light freshwater and inshore fishing.

It can also withstand being used in the sea. 

This spinning reel features a front and a rear drag system with a baitfeeder.

Baitfeeder Mode

To use the baitfeeder, you simply flip the lever at the base.

You can then adjust the tension using the rear drag. 

To turn off baitfeeder mode, just wind once and your pre-set top drag will be engaged. This system is very easy and the adjustability is ideal for getting the correct setting for sensitive or powerful bites.

Once fighting the fish, you can also move the bottom drag for adjustments to save your fingers from getting in amongst the line. 

Gear Ratio and Ball Bearings

It also comes with a high gear ratio and a high number of ball bearings, 10+1 to be exact, giving you a smooth and fast retrieve. This is ideal for when every crank matters and a fish is trying to dash for snags. The only downside is there is some give in the handle. 

Spool

The spool is made from machined CNC aluminum and comes braid ready

This is ideal for filling your line and the aluminum means it’s guaranteed to last life in the salt. They’ve also designed it well to ensure the line rolls off smoothing for long easy casting. 

It’s a great value piece of equipment that does the job but not as reliably as the more expensive options. 

Specs

  • Reel Size – 2500
  • Weigh:15.0 Oz
  • Max Drag: 28lb
  • Line Cap.(Lbs/Yds):8/220,10/165,12/130
  • Anti Reverse System
  • Handle – Right/Left
  • Gear Ratio: 5.5:1

Pros

  • Excellent baitfeeder mode for easy hookups
  • Dual drag system makes it easy to adjust mid-fight
  • Comes in a good range of sizes to suit most species
  • Made of durable materials and built for the sea

Cons

  • There is some give in the body when winding
  • Not as robust as more expensive reels

Editor’s Choice

Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel

Made with a high max drag, large line capacity and the spool is made for heavy-duty line/braid. If you love your inshore and light offshore fishing, this is one of the best baitrunner reels to consider.

Shimano Baitrunner D Spinning Reel

Shimano fishing reels are known to be legendary.

You might have to spend a bit more but it’s worth it for what you’re getting.

After all, fishing time these days is hard to come by and the last thing you want is your fishing reel to fail while you’re out there. 

This Shimano baitrunner reel is made for sea fishing as you can see by the specs below.

Each Shimano Baitrunner reel is made with a high max drag, large line capacity and the spool is made for heavy-duty line/braid.

If you love your inshore and light offshore fishing, this is one of the best baitrunner reels to consider.

Build and Features

The materials used are all excellent and are made to survive life in the salt. 

Being Shimano, it also comes with a bunch of extra features.

They have built-in Dyba-Balance technology to remove any wobbling while fishing and to add some extra smoothness to your retrieve.

Oval Oscillation & Propulsion Line Management

There is an Oval Oscillation gear that ensures a consistent spool speed to give you even line lay, and a Propulsion Line Management system to reduce backlashes and assist with casting. 

Baitrunner Mode

The baitrunner mode is simple, just flick a switch to engage and disengage free spool. It works well but over time the switch can stiffen up a bit.

Being a sea fishing reel, the models have a high weight and are heavy to cast with, plus you won’t find one for ultralight fishing. 

Specs

  • Reel Size – 4000 Reel
  • Mono Capacity Lb/Yd – 8/240, 10/200, 12/160
  • Braid Capacity Lb/Yd – 15/270, 20/190, 40/145
  • Bearing Count – 4
  • Max Drag – 15lb
  • Gear Ratio – 4.8:1
  • Retrieve Rate- 28”
  • Weight-13.5 Oz
  • Handle Position- Right/Left

Pros

  • Ideal for targeting large species and sea fishing
  • Excellent max drag and line capacity
  • High quality and smooth baitrunner mode

Cons

  • Made for larger species, no ultralight fishing model
  • Heavy to cast with all-day
  • The baitrunner switch can stick after a long while

Okuma Avenger ABF B Baitrunner Reel

one of Okuma’s best baitrunner reels and it features a dual drag, one normal, and one for the baitfeeder so you can adjust the tension to suit you

Okuma Avenger ABF B Baitrunner Reel

Okuma is a well-known brand that makes a great fishing reel.

They have a knack for providing quality with a great price and the Avenger baitrunner reels are no different. 

Dual Drag

This is one of their best baitrunner reels and it features a dual drag, one normal, and one for the baitfeeder so you can adjust the tension to suit you, but it can be a bit unpredictable on rare occasions.

To engage the baitfeeder system, simply flick the switch while fishing and disengage with one crank of the reel to hook up.

Easy to Use

It’s simple and easy to operate and is one of the best baitrunner reels Okuma makes and is up there with Shimano. 

The range offers a fishing reel for every occasion, from ultralight freshwater to heavy inshore/light offshore with a high line capacity and max drag.

Gear Ratio & Durability

Each of the Avenger ABF B baitrunner reels comes with a high gear ratio and six ball bearings to give a smooth and fast retrieve, ideal for both bait fishing and normal spinning. 

This Avenger ABF B is also made to be tough and is made from advanced materials that ensure it lasts day after day. 

Specs

  • Reel Size- ABF-20b
  • Line Capacity Lb/Yd/Mm – 190/4 (0.17), 110/6 (0.22), 90/8 (0.25)
  • Bearing Count – 7
  • Max Drag – 8lb
  • Gear Ratio – 5.0:1
  • Retrieve Rate- 25”
  • Weight- 8.9 Oz
  • Handle Position- R/L

Pros

  • A great range from ultralight to heavy inshore
  • Excellent value for money
  • Durable and tough, you can treat it mean

Cons

  • A little heavy for long days of casting
  • Baitfeeder drag system is a bit unpredictable

Shimano Baitrunner Reel OC

One of the top Shimano baitrunners reels around and is a little different from your average Shimano baitrunner as it’s design is purely for sea fishing

Shimano Baitrunner Reel OC

This is one of the top Shimano baitrunners reels around and is a little different from your average Shimano baitrunner as it’s design is purely for sea fishing.

Ball Bearings

The bearings are double shielded to stop anything nasty getting in there and each model comes with high max drag and a large spool to give you a high line capacity while fishing for large ocean species. 

Extra Features

As with any baitrunner Shimano makes, you get a ton of quality features with it too.

The OC comes with Dyna-balance to reduce any wobble during the retrieve, solid Fluid Drive II gears to increase each cranks efficiency, their propulsion line management system, and great anti-reverse.

Overall

All these come together to make a spinning reel that casts exceptionally well, can handle the salt, and put a hurt on large sea species. 

The baitfeeder mode is similar to most using a switch at the bottom to engage and simply crank to disengage.

Specs

  • Reel Size- 4000
  • Line Capacity Lb/Yd – 4/219
  • Braid Capacity Lb/Yd – 15/265
  • Bearing Count – 4
  • Max Drag – 15.4lb
  • Gear Ratio – 4.8:1
  • Retrieve Rate- 28”
  • Weight- 13.4 Oz
  • Handle Position- R/L

Pros

  • Great baitfeeder mode
  • Ideal for sea fishing
  • Well made with some great added tech
  • Super large spool for great line capacity

Cons

  • Not made for light line fishing
  • A bit weighty for heavy casting days

KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III

One of the best baitrunner reels Kastking produces. It comes in 4 sizes from 3000-6000 to cover light freshwater fishing all the way up to heavy inshore. And it’s pretty light on your wallet too.

KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III

This KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder reel is one of the best baitrunner reels Kastking produces. It comes in 4 sizes from 3000-6000 to cover light freshwater fishing all the way up to heavy inshore. And it’s pretty light on your wallet too. 

Build

This Kastking baitrunner reel is made from quality durable materials designed to last a long time in salt or freshwater.

Each of the Kastking Sharky III models comes with a large spool, high line capacity, a smooth and quick retrieve rate, plus a high max drag and solid drag system.

Drag System

The Kastking drag system uses a multi-carbon fiber disc setup that’s tough and super smooth.

This Kastking baitrunner reel is surprisingly light for its power and size which is a huge design benefit while spinning and casting for long hours.

Baitfeeder Mode

To engage the baitfeeder mode you can simply flick a switch at the base and to disengage you can crank the handle once or simply flick the switch again. 

For all it’s positives, there are some negatives about this fishing reel, but only a few. The baitfeeder mode won’t disengage sometimes after a while in the field, but this can probably be fixed with some good maintenance.

The other drawback is that the body can flex a lot when fighting a heavy load, especially in a strong current. This will affect your fight and crank efficiency quite a lot. 

Specs

  • Reel Size- 3000
  • Line Capacity Lb/Yd – 6/305, 8/210, 10/180
  • Braid Capacity Mm/Yd – 0.30/140, 0.25/200, 0.20/330
  • Bearing Count – 11
  • Max Drag – 17.64 Lb
  • Gear Ratio – 5.1:1
  • Retrieve Rate- 29.9”
  • Handle Position- Right/Left

Pros

  • Relatively lightweight for long days of constant casting
  • Good gear ratios for a smooth, fast retrieve
  • Comes with and extra spool for quick changeovers
  • Simple and easy baitfeeder system
  • Made from durable materials

Cons

  • The body flexes a lot under pressure
  • Baitfeeder mode doesn’t disengage sometimes

Okuma Ceymar Baitfeeder

I.deal for those on a budget looking for a quality fishing reel at a good price. It’s light, easy to manage, and full of handy features.

Okuma Ceymar Baitfeeder

Review

The Okuma Ceymar Baitfeeder is probably the best baitrunner reel Okuma makes for freshwater fishing. It’s light, easy to manage, and full of handy features.

It’s also ideal for those on a budget looking for a quality fishing reel at a good price. 

Build

The body of this fishing reel is made from graphite, the spool and handle are aluminum and the drag consists of a multi-disc oil felt drag system which is smooth as butter. These are all very durable materials that will stand the test of time. 

Elliptical Gear System

It also comes with a precision elliptical gear system to reduce friction while casting, This is in order to help improve both casting distance and accuracy, which we all want that extra help with. 

Gear

The gears are housed in a rotor equalizing system to remove any wobble and to keep the gears aligned as well as smooth.

This ensures you get maximum efficiency out of every crank, which comes in handy when fighting a stubborn fish. 

Line Capacity, Retrieve Rate, & Baitfeeder Mode

The line capacity and retrieve rate are high enough on every model of this spinning reel thanks to the large spool.

The baitfeeder mode is simple and can be engaged/disengaged with the flick of a switch and a crank.

There are some negatives to these baitrunner reels, but they are minor. The grip on the handle isn’t very solid, which can become a problem when fighting a big fish.

Also, the clicker in baitfeeder mode is a little quiet so be sure to look out for it, or you might miss a bite or two. 

Specs

  • Reel Size- 330
  • Line Capacity Mm/Yd – 0.20/240, 0.25/155, 0.30/110
  • Bearing Count – 3
  • Max Drag – 6.6 Lb
  • Gear Ratio – 5.0:1
  • Retrieve Rate- 25”
  • Weight- 8.18 Oz
  • Handle Position- Right/Left

Pros

  • Very lightweight, ideal for long days and light freshwater fishing
  • Sensitive and well functioning baitfeeder mode
  • Comes with an extra spool for changing mono/braid sizes on the water
  • Includes a water and dirt intrusion protection system
  • Has a smooth retrieve and solid max drag

Cons

  • The handle grip is a little small and flimsy
  • The clicker in baitfeeder mode is a bit quiet
  • Not made for use in the ocean

Conclusion

After considering all the options our top picks were…

Best on a Budget

I think the best fishing reel on a budget is the Yoshikawa Baitfeeder Spinning Reel.

It’s the least expensive of all in the review but still comes with excellent features, a solid range for a variety of fishing types, and a good baitfeeder system.

Plus it’s pretty durable too.

There are some drawbacks as mentioned in the review, but this is always the case when on a budget. 

Best All-Rounder

For an allrounder reel, the Penn Fierce III fishing reel is a fantastic choice. It’s the combination of durable materials, trusted Penn features, saltwater protection, and the awesome live liner mode that make it such a tough contender.

It’s perfect for freshwater and semi-heavy ocean fishing and comes in at a very reasonable price too. 

In my opinion, the best fishing reel has to be the Shimano Baitrunner D.

Editor’s Choice

If you’re not on a budget and looking for the best option out there, this is it.

Made with the Shimano quality that we all know and trust, this is the model you go for when you know you’re up against big fish.

It comes packed full of additions from the high max drag, large spool, and high line capacity, to the adjustable baitfeeder mode to make your days on the water easier and more enjoyable.

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