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Looking at the Best Bass Fishing Reels for 2021
I think we can all agree that 2020 will be remembered as one of the oddest and most frustrating years in recent memory. But, on the bright side, a lot of people still caught a lot of really nice fish! In fact, fishing was one of the few activities that promoted safe, social distancing while allowing millions of Americans to reconnect with nature.
In 2021, we anticipate that roughly 50 million Americans will go fishing at least once. If you’re doing the math, that’s more than 1-in-7!
Seeing as bass are, by far, the most popular species for recreational fishing, we decided to put together a helpful guide that will help everyone from experienced anglers to the absolute novice be prepared when they hit the water.
As such, we have compiled a list that looks at some of the best bass fishing reels for 2021.
For your convenience, we have broken our list into several categories:
Economy Bass Fishing Reels: These reels are excellent for beginners or casual anglers on a budget. They aren’t cheap, but they also won’t break the bank.
Mid-Range Bass Fishing Reels: For experienced and active anglers looking to add a quality reel to their arsenal. Check with your spouse or significant other before putting down the money on these, though.
High-End Bass Fishing Reels: For active anglers who are likely to hitting the water every week. These are some of the best bass fishing reels that money can buy.
Economy Bass Fishing Reels: Great Bass Fishing Gear at an Affordable Price
As a durable-but-affordable baitcasting reel, the Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special is a great option for the anglers who are just getting started with bass fishing.
For experienced anglers looking for a handy, cost-effective back-up reel, the Tourney Special should also be on your radar.
While it might not be the most sophisticated reel in the world, its graphite frame, 5-bearing system, and Powerlock™ instant anti-reverse mechanism are all excellent features for an economy reel.
We recommend pairing this reel with the Bass Pro Shops Graphite Series Casting Rod. This tandem makes for an affordable combination that will ultimately serve its purpose — catching fish!
A popular baitcasting reel from one of the most recognizable names in the fishing world, the Abu Garcia Silver Max Baitcast Reel falls right on the cusp between economy and mid-range.
While this reel is more expensive that the popular Black Max, it is still more affordable than some of Abu Gracia’s higher-end reels.
With a solid graphite frame, 5+1 ball bearing system, and Smooth Power Disk™ drag system, don’t let the affordability of this reel fool you — it is perfectly capable of handling decent-sized bass.
Try pairing this reel with the Berkley Lightning Rod Shock Casting Rod.
While the Abu Garcia Revo SX Baitcast Reel could technically classify as an economy reel given its reasonable price tag, this is the type of reel that will generally be used by bass anglers who are hitting the water on a regular basis.
As a great primary reel for the weekends warriors, the Revo SX Baitcaster is also durable and versatile enough to make for a fine secondary reel for tournament anglers.
With a 9+1 ball bearing system, alloy frame, MagTrax brake system, and Carbon Matrix drag system, Abu Garcia packs some fine features into this affordable reel.
We have found that anglers who are big on brand loyalty often pair the Revo SX with Abu Garcia’s Vendetta Casting Rod.
Mid-Range Bass Fishing Reels: Upgrade Your Bass Fishing Game
Over the past few years, the Lew’s brand has become increasingly popular with its products available at a variety of big-box retailers.
Unfortunately, when brands sell affordable rod/reel combos en masse, they often get stigmatized for having inferior quality. As such, many experienced anglers tend to write off Lew’s-brand products.
The Lew’s Speed Spool LFS Baitcast Reel is the type of product that could potentially change some minds, though.
This lightweight reel combines a solid aluminum frame with graphite sideplates, a 9+1 bearing system, magnetic braking, and fifteen pounds of drag pressure. For its price, it is definitely worth consideration.
Sticking with the theme of brand loyalty, the Speed Spool LFS Baitcaster pairs nicely with the Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Crankbait Speed Stick Casting Rod.
While many people love Shimano’s spinning reels, the company’s baitcaster catalog is also impressive.
In the Shimano SLX Baitcast Reel, you will find a modern, versatile product with performance in mind. Branded by the company as a “tournament reel,” you will find many of the features available in higher-end reels at a price that many will consider reasonable.
With 11-12 pounds of drag. a tight 3+1 bearing system, and “extra cranking power” via its extended handle, the SLX Baitcast Reel is designed to handle some fierce fighting bass.
For a solid and affordable bass fishing combination, consider pairing the Shimano SLX Baitcast Reel with the Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier 2 Spinning Rod.
With a 9+1 bearing system and 11 lb. max drag, the Cerros is designed for both comfort and ease of use.
To ensure you are able to nail your hookset, the Cerros also comes equipped with a Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing.
It might seem like a case of strange bedfellows — especially in the bass fishing world — but you may want to consider pairing the Okuma Cerros Casting Reel with the Duckett Fishing Silverado Casting Rod for a unique, versatile, and affordable mid-range combo.
For casual and experienced anglers looking to take their bass fishing to the next level, purchasing the Abu Garcia Revo SX Baitcast Reel is a good start.
For starters, this is one of the most attractive low-profile baitcasters in its price range. Since aesthetics don’t catch fish, though, it’s worth noting that the Revo SX also comes loaded with performance-minded features.
With a 9+1 bearing system and 24 lb. max drag, the Revo SX also features excellent castability, durability, and power. If you plan on targeting trophy-sized bass, this is certainly the type of reel you want in your arsenal.
Abu Garcia makes a fine line of bass fishing rods and reels. For a quality mid-range reel like the Revo SX, you will want to equip it with a comparable rod. The Abu Garcia REVO Ike Casting Rod (available in medium and medium-heavy) will pair nicely as a combo capable of handling trophy-sized largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Daiwa is no stranger to producing quality fishing reels. That said, if you’re looking to improve your bass fishing game, the Tatula CT Baitcast Reel might be worth your consideration.
Designed to be intentionally compact and easy to handle, this lightweight reel is also surprisingly durable.
With a 7+1 bearing system (and instant anti-reverse), a 1-piece aluminum frame, and the T-Wing levelwind system that allows for both casting accuracy and distance, the Tatula CT could serve as a great primary reel for the active angler or as a solid primary or secondary reel for those fishing the tournament circuit.
With the Tatula’s 13.2 lb. max drag, pairing it with a quality product like the St. Croix Mojo Bass Casting Rod (in either the medium or medium heavy range) could yield some great results.
A compact, high-performance bass fishing reel for the angler looking to make a reasonable investment in his fishing game, the Quantum PT Smoke S3 Baitcast Reel is absolutely loaded with features.
For starters, this high-capacity reel is ultra compact, providing a “best of both worlds” option for anglers who enjoy particular specifications. With an aluminum X-frame and a 10+1 ball bearing system, the PT smoke also has a 25 lb. max drag.
As a reel right on the cusp of “elite” status, the PT Smoke S3 is a great option for the active angler or even experienced tournament anglers.
For a compact-but-powerful reel like the Quantum PT Smoke S3, you will want a rod that also matches its quality. Consider pairing it with the Daiwa Tatula Elite Casting Rod (in medium heavy) for an excellent mid-range bass fishing combo.
High-End Bass Fishing Reels: Some of the Best Products on the Market Today
When it comes to this reel, the word “elite” is not simply a marketing ploy. This is a serious bass fishing reel for a serious angler!
What the Daiwa Tatula Elite Baitcast Reel offers, aside from a laundry list of features, is the ability to cover incredible distance with each cast. Available in a variety of gear ratios — 6.3:1, 7.1:1, and 8.1:1 — the Tatula Elite also affords savvy anglers a variety of retrieval options.
Lightweight and easy to use, the Tatula Elite is certainly a high-end bass fishing reel worth considering in 2021.
Some pairings are simply meant-to-be. If you’re going to invest in the Daiwa Tatula Elite Casting Reel, you might as well pair it with the Daiwa Tatula Elite Casting Rod for an absolutely top-of-the-line bass fishing combo.
Remember what we were saying above about Lew’s getting a bad rap for some of their lower-end rod and reel combos?
Well, the Lew’s Custom Lite SLP Baitcast Reel can put those criticisms to bed.
Designed for long and active days on the water, the Custom Lite SLP Baitcaster is the lightest in the Lew’s catalog, weighing a mere 4.9 ounces.
Don’t let the light weight fool you, though. This durable reel comes with a 10+1 ball bearing system and an impressive 20 lb. max drag, as well as a plethora of other high-end features.
Much like the Daiwa combo above, Lew’s provides an excellent companion rod. Pairing the Custom Lite SLP Baitcast Reel with the Team Lew’s Custom Pro Series Casting Rod makes for a great combination of light weight and power.
Do you like to burn crankbaits at warp speeds?
Of course you do!
As a moderate-weight reel with an 18 lb. max drag, the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Baitcast Reel comes equipped with a vast array of features. What impresses many about this reel, however, is the incredible 10:1 gear ratio.
Made with fierce and fast bass fishing in mind, the Revo Rocket Baitcaster may not be for everyone. If you prefer a slower, more methodical approach, this is not the reel for you.
That said, if you plan on rippin’ lures and rippin’ lips, then this might be the perfect investment for you.
If you plan on throwing a variety or crankbaits, you will want a rod that is able to handle a variety of weights. Consider that a Strike King KVD Square Bill Crankbait will generally weigh between 1/4 ounce and 5/8 ounce. As such, you may want to consider pairing the Revo Rocket Baitcast Reel with the St. Croix Legend Tournament Bass Casting Rod.