Best KastKing Reels Reviewed – Can KastKing Compete with the Big-Names?

I don’t need to tell you that fishing is getting more and more expensive. From the cost of tackle and line, to lures and bait, prices are growing fatter than our wallets. And while fishermen have more and better gear options than ever before, plenty feel they’re priced out of the game.

The big names in fishing know this, and from Shimano to Pfleuger, Shakespeare to B’n’M, they’ve made an effort to offer budget-minded anglers a wide range of affordable products.

Among these, KastKing stands out, as their entry-level pricing puts good reels within reach of pretty much anyone. And they haven’t ignored the mid-priced segment, either, developing quite a few reels for mid-market.

So, you may be wondering what are the best KastKing reels? Let’s find out!

Best KastKing Spinning Reels

Best KastKing Baitcasting Reels

Best KastKing Spinning Reel Reviews

KastKing Valiant EagleOur Pick!

KastKing Valiant Eagle Spinning Reel,Bold Eagle Fishing Reel,Size 2000
Amazon 

Drag: 17.6 and 22 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 6.2:1 (31.4”, 33.2”, 35.5”, 38” per turn)
Line capacity: 8/115; 8/150; 8/210; 8/285
Bearings: 10 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 8.3, 8.4, 9.6, 9.8 oz.

KastKing’s Valiant Eagle line-up offers affordable pricing for a substantial upgrade over its other spinning reels, including the Sharky III.

Offered in four sizes, each sports a high gear ratio (6.2:1) and a large spool to provide plenty of capacity, as well as a high retrieval rate per turn. That’s good news, as many of KastKing’s spinning reels just can’t keep up with big fish.

The maximum drag settings are probably higher than you’ll ever need, and at the heart of this system, you’ll find carbon fiber discs that provide smooth release, even at lower settings. Indeed, the drag mechanism on these reels is very good–it’s even water-tight!–and I’d guess that this excellent component is the principal driver of the higher price these reels command.

Each increase in size brings a larger spool and a slight increase in weight, and it’s pretty clear that the Valiant Eagle lineup skips ultralight and goes straight for light to medium-light with the 1000. For anglers who use spinning tackle for bass, walleye, pike, and steelhead, this is a welcome move, but if you’re looking for a light reel for panfish, search elsewhere.

This reel is plenty smooth, and from the crank to the bail, everything functions as it should.

My issue with this reel is that it’s priced pretty near the Penn Battle II, and I’d give the quality and performance nod to the latter.

Why?

The Battle II, in its larger sizes, offers faster retrieval and better capacity–to the extent that it matters. It’s also available in a wider range of sizes, including larger options than the Valiant Eagle. Its maximum drag settings are a bit higher, too, and overall, I’d say the Penn has better build quality, though you may not agree.

Pros:

  • Excellent drag
  • Excellent gear ratio
  • Great capacity at any size
  • Plenty smooth

Cons

  • Casting will suffer with heavier line
  • Probably not competitive with the similarly priced Penn Battle II

KastKing Brutus

KastKing Brutus Spinning Reel,Size 3000 Fishing Reel
Amazon 

Drag: 12, 13, 17.5 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 5.0:1 (21.3”, 22.4”, 23.6” per turn)
Line capacity: 8/300; 8/370; 10/350
Bearings: 4 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 7.6, 9.2, 9.5 oz.

The Brutus series is available in three sizes: 2000, 3000, and 4000. All are relatively heavy spinning reels, with the smallest sporting a max drag of 12 pounds, an 8-pound test capacity of 300 yards, and a hefty weight of 7.6 ounces. As you step up in size, the gear ratio stays at 5.0:1, but the larger spools hold more line and retrieve a bit more per turn.

As you’d expect, you’ll find the drag knob on the end of the spool. And for a very inexpensive reel, you can count me as impressed. The maximum settings are ideal for anglers who can’t stomach a baitcasting reel, allowing you to chase large fish on spinning tackle. And at lighter settings, the drag releases with acceptable smoothness.

Obviously, casting will suffer when you throw heavier line. Expect that, and blame physics rather than KastKing.

To save money, the gears are made from a zinc alloy rather than brass but are, in any case, a definitive improvement from plastic. While they’re neither as smooth nor as durable as those from Shimano, Cadence, or Penn, you’ll pay a lot more for the gearing upgrade those companies offer.

Keep in mind, as well, that a 5.0:1 gear ratio, even with the largest spool, isn’t going to be ideal if you’re fighting a 30” red and it runs straight for you!

That noted, the crank and bail are plenty smooth for the price point, and if your expectations are realistic for such a reasonably priced reel, you’ll be plenty happy with the Brutus line-up.

Is this a Penn Battle II? Not at all–but then you can buy three or four of these for the same price!

Pros:

  • A big spinning reel for anglers who don’t like baitcasters
  • Very affordable!
  • Great capacity
  • Good drag
  • Good gears–plenty smooth for the price

Cons

  • Casting will suffer with heavier line
  • Not as smooth or capable as much more expensive reels
  • Gear ratio is a bit low for big fish

KastKing Sharky III

KastKing Sharky III Spinning Fishing Reel,Size 2000
Amazon 

Drag: 33, 39.5 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 5.2:1 (26.2”, 27.5”, 29.4”, 31.5”, 33.4” per turn)
Line capacity: 8/170; 8/190; 8/220; 10/220; 12/220
Bearings: 10 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 6.9; 9.2; 9.4; 10.5 oz.

KastKing’s Sharky III is another do-it-all spinning lineup that nearly skips the ultralight segment altogether. Instead, it focuses on line weights from 6 to 16 pounds, with all its reels accommodating at least 10-pound test.

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the Sharky III is roughly half the price of a similar Cadence or Penn reel.

So how does it compare in performance?

The smallest of the series, the 1000, offers an incredible 33-pound maximum drag–not that you’ll ever use it since it can’t hold line that can take that setting! The largest are rated to an incredible 39.5 pounds, though why that’s a selling point isn’t clear since you’ll probably never run 120-pound braid or mono on these reels.

The drag system is composed of carbon fiber disks, and as you’d expect from these, it’s very secure and admirably smooth.

Line capacity is generous across the series, besting the Cadence CS8 in every size. And though each model is geared for 5.2:1, larger spools, of course, result in more line retrieval per crank. That said, given that these reels are designed for larger fish, that may not be fast enough to keep up with a big red or steelhead that’s running straight at you!

A bit higher gear ratio would be great, and that’s something these reels give-up to their competitors.

Performance is smooth, and the anti-reverse works well.

Overall, I’d rate this as a good choice for value-minded anglers who find the Cadence and Penn a bit too pricey.

Pros:

  • A big spinning reel for anglers who don’t like baitcasters
  • Nice price
  • Great capacity
  • Excellent drag
  • Plenty smooth

Cons

  • Casting will suffer with heavier line
  • A bit under-geared for big fish, but better than the Brutus

KastKing Summer

KastKing Centron Spinning Reel,Size 500 Fishing Reel
Amazon 

Drag: 11, 12, 13, 17.5 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 5.2:1 / 4.5:1 (19.7”, 24.4”, 25.2”, 28”, 29.1” per turn)
Line capacity: 6/155; 6/310; 8/330; 10/310; 12/330
Bearings: 9 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 7.3, 9.1, 9.5, 12.5, 13.9 oz.

KastKing’s Summer series are entry-level spinning reels that effectively offer an ultralight option in a larger-than-average package for a reel of that size.

The smallest of this lineup, the 500, weighs about an ounce more than a typical ultralight, or about 16% more. It also features a much larger spool than normal, providing lots of capacity.

But since spinning reels don’t cast well once the spool starts to empty, that’s essentially wasted weight and unnecessary size–unless you’re not really using this reel for 4-pound line.

Each step up in size increases spool capacity and the retrieval rate, though the largest two reels in the series, the 4000 and 5000, offer a gear ratio of just 4.5:1. By way of comparison, the 5000-sized Penn Battle II picks up 36” of line per turn, running a gear ratio of 5.6:1. The 5000-sized summer seems positively anemic in comparison with just 29.1” of line for the same crank.

The maximum drag settings for this series are great, and they work as they should–keeping the ultra-low price point of these reels in mind. Relatively smooth releasing, they hold their own when cranked-up.

I found the Summer series to be plenty smooth for the price, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you’re not expecting Shimano quality.

But here’s the rub: the larger Summer models–the 3000, 4000, and 5000–just don’t offer the gear ratio and spool size to deliver the kind of performance you’ll want if you’re catching walleye, pike, reds, or anything else of real size.

I like the 500 and 2000, and for anglers on a tight budget, I can recommend either of these small reels.

Pros:

  • Awesome price!
  • Great capacity at any size
  • Excellent drag
  • Plenty smooth

Cons

  • Casting will suffer with heavier line
  • Definitely under-geared for bigger fish–stick to the 500 and 2000!

Best KastKing Baitcasting Reel Reviews

KastKing Speed Demon ProOur Pick!

KastKing Speed Demon Pro Baitcasting Fishing Reel,9.3:1 Gear Ratio,Right Handed Reel
Amazon 

Drag: 13.2 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 9.3:1 (35.2” per turn)
Line capacity: 12/160, 14/140
Bearings: 12 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 6.5 oz

If there’s a general flaw in KastKing’s baitcaster lineup, it’s that retrieval rates and spool capacity tend to suffer. These move hand-in-hand, as the gears can only spin an under-sized spool so fast.

As far as I can tell, that’s a concession to cost: to keep weight down without using super-expensive materials, KastKing cuts spool size to drop ounces. The result is that their reels generally suffer in head-to-head comparisons with the most trusted names in the business.

That’s not the case with the Speed Demon Pro.

Powered by powerful manganese brass gears offering a 9.3:1 ratio, and coupled with a normal-sized spool, the Speed Demon Pro retrieves at a rate that competes with the very top name brands. And while this gearing is probably not the match for the Hagane micro gearing offered by Shimano, you can still expect excellent performance and great durability.

As you’d guess, this reel uses a carbon fiber drag system, offering 13.2 pounds of maximum grip. KastKing’s high-end drag components are excellent, as you’ll see from the other reviews on this list, and this reel is no exception. Expect smooth, consistent release, even in light settings.

The spool on this reel is excellent, too, and it holds far more line than most KastKings. Count me as favorably impressed! With 140 yards of 14-pound mono, you can load-up massive amounts of thin-diameter braid, and I wouldn’t feel undergunned with this spool in any situation.

The Speed Demon Pro uses a very high-quality magnetic brake that’s easy to adjust and dial in for your skill level and lure weight. It’s a nice feature, and probably simpler to use than the more complicated centrifugal systems Shimano prefers.

Casting is excellent, as is weight and size for all-day comfort. You’ll notice that this is the lightest reel in KastKing’s baitcaster lineup, even though it’s also the fastest and most capacious.

Overall, I’d say that this reel is probably the best of the bunch, beating the more expensive Kapstan Elite’s performance for less money and improving on the otherwise very nice MegaJaws.

Pros:

  • Awesome drag
  • Great gear ratio
  • Excellent capacity
  • Very smooth
  • Excellent braking system
  • Great weight and size for all-day comfort

Cons

  • N/A

KastKing Crixus

KastKing Crixus Baitcasting Reels,Dark Star,7.2:1 Gear Raio,Left Handed Fishing Reel
Amazon 

Drag: 17.64 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 6.5:1 (24.2” per turn)
Line capacity: 10/130, 12/110, 14/90
Bearings: 5 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 7.7 oz

KastKing’s Crixus is an attempt to offer anglers a reasonably-priced, high-performance baitcasting reel that can compete with the likes of the awesome Shimano Curado K for far less money.

Does it deliver?

Let’s start with the drag. The Crixus is equipped with a powerful, carbon fiber drag system that’s admirably smooth and strong. Set via the expected star-shaped knob behind the crank, it’s easy to use and simple to set, even on the fly. Offering a heavier maximum than the Shimano, and releasing line with a silky, continuous give on lower settings, I’ve got to say I’m impressed!

The spool is very slick-spinning, though capacity for the reel size and weight suffers some in comparison to more expensive reels. Where the Crixus provides room for 130 yards of 10-pound mono, the Curado K accommodates 155 yards of the same line, about 19% greater capacity. That’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but ounce for ounce, the Shimano’s giving you a lot more line.

The 6.5:1 gear ratio is a nice feature, letting you run topwater and crankbaits well, while also helping you keep a tight line in a hard fight. That said, the smaller spool on the Crixus won’t pick up as much line as the comparably sized Curado K, which offers a minimum RPT of 26” and a maximum of 36”.

Is that a deal-breaker? I’d say no, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Finally, the Crixus relies on a magnetic braking system adjustable via a knob on the opposite side from the crank. This system works well, is very easy to use, and provides plenty of setting options. Casting is very good with this reel, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Anti-reverse is instantaneous, helping you drive your hooks home.

The bottom line: the Crixus offers excellent overall performance for the price point, and if you’re new to baitcasting or just can’t afford to shell out the money Shimano demands, you could do a lot worse than this reel.

Pros:

  • Awesome drag
  • Excellent gear ratio
  • Acceptable capacity
  • Very smooth
  • Excellent braking system

Cons

  • Given smaller spool sizes, expect slightly less capacity than more expensive competitors
  • Retrieval per turn is a bit anemic

KastKing Kapstan Elite

KastKing Kapstan Elite Baitcasting Fishing Reel,Size 300,Right Handed Reel
Amazon 

Drag: 35 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 5.4:1 (25.31” per turn)
Line capacity: 14/230
Bearings: 8 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 10.8 oz

KastKing’s Kapstan Elite is a no-holds-barred baitcaster designed to take on reels like the Curado K. Priced very much the same, this is a true head-to-head battle for supremacy.

How does the Kapstan Elite stack-up?

KastKing equips this reel with an excellent carbon fiber drag system with a powerful max and the kind of controlled release you want at lower settings.

Is its drag a true rival for the Curado K? I’d say yes!

The Kapstan Elite’s spool is enormous, dwarfing the Curado’s capacity by about 200%! That’s not something to sneer at, for sure, but it comes at the cost of a substantial weight gain: 3 ounces, or about 50% more than the Shimano.

So if you’re looking for a reel that simply disappears on your rod and in your hand, the Curado K has the Kapstan Elite beat.

Driven by a gear ratio of just 5.4:1–albeit with a solid-brass main gear–that larger spool struggles to keep up with the Shimano. Only the smallest Curado K is within striking distance, and the higher gear-ratio models simply pull away with no hope of the KastKing keeping up.

For larger fish, especially in-shore, the Curado has the KastKing beat.

Finally, the braking system on the KastKing Kapstan Elite uses brake shoes like the Shimano. Its performance is excellent, and for beginners and pros alike, casting is great.

I’m impressed by this reel, but I think it falls a bit short of its competition.

Pros:

  • Awesome drag
  • Good gear ratio
  • Awesome capacity
  • Very smooth
  • Excellent braking system

Cons

  • This isn’t an entry-level reel, and it’s up against stiff competition at this price-point
  • Retrieval per turn is a bit slow when compared to its rivals
  • Heavy for size due to the large spool

KastKing MegaJaws

KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel,7.2:1 Gear Ratio,Right Handed Fishing Reel,Blacktip
Amazon 

Drag: 17.6 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 5.4:1; 6.5:1; 7.2:1; 9.1:1 (20.2”; 24.2”; 26.8”; 33.9” per turn)
Line capacity: 10/128, 12/110, 14/91
Bearings: 11 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 7.5 and 7.6 oz

KastKing’s MegaJaws, available in four color-coded models named the Great White, Pelagic, Black Tip, and Predator, is another entry-priced baitcaster reel that’s a great choice for beginners or more experienced anglers who are constrained by a tight budget.

Overall, I think this reel is a winner, and you can count me as impressed!

Let’s start with the drag. All four models come with a 17.6-pound maximum setting, and the carbon fiber discs driving this vital component provide plenty of holding power as well as a slick release at lower settings. KastKing knows what they’re doing here, and you’re getting an excellent drag for the money.

The spools on these reels are a bit small, surrendering some line capacity to reduce the weight and size of this reel. That said, capacity is pretty good, and these are much more palm-friendly than the larger and heavier Kapstan Elite.

Four gear ratios are on offer, but due to the relatively small spools, they fall a bit behind pricier competitors. As a result, you’ll need to work harder in nasty fights, and may have a bit of trouble keeping up with a big fish that decides to torpedo your boat. But the main gear is manganese brass alloy, promising season-after-season durability and plenty of teeth to provide the muscle you need.

An eight-magnet braking system provides ten setting options, and it works well, providing nice casting. Is it as good as the Shimano? Probably not–but then, it’s a lot less expensive!

Overall, I’d count this as among the best of KastKing’s baitcasters, especially for the money. In my opinion, it scares similarly-priced competition out of the water.

Pros:

  • Great value for the money!
  • Awesome drag
  • Great gear ratios
  • Good capacity
  • Very smooth
  • Nice braking system
  • Great weight and size for all-day comfort

Cons

  • Retrieval per turn is a bit slow due to the small spool
  • Heavy for size due to the large spool

KastKing Royale Legend II

KastKing Royale Legend II Baitcasting Reels, Gear Ratio 7.2:1, Right Handed Fishing Reel
Amazon 

Drag: 17.64 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 7.2:1 and 5.4:1 (26.8” and 20.2” per turn)
Line capacity: 10/130, 12/110, 14/90
Bearings: 5 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 7.2 oz

KastKing’s Royale Legend II is an entry-level baitcaster that’s offered at an incredibly affordable price. Available in two gear ratios, 7.2:1 and 5.4:1, it offers the features you’d expect for a lot less than you might think.

But how does it perform?

Like many of the reels from KastKing, expect carbon fiber discs, a high maximum setting, and reasonable smoothness for the price-point. I don’t think any angler comes in thinking that a bargain-priced reel is going to be the most refined, but there’s no question that this baitcaster’s drag will work effectively.

The Royale Legend II’s spool isn’t very large, a concession to shave weight and size from earlier generations of this reel. As a result, expect less-than-average capacity, and retrieval rates that are a tad sluggish for the gear ratio.

A magnetic braking system, controlled with a dial on the side plate, helps to manage over-runs and backlash. This system has proven itself more than capable, and if you come in with realistic expectations, you won’t be disappointed.

Overall, I’d recommend this inexpensive reel. It’s a great option for beginners and for anyone just taking the dip into the baitcasting pool. And since the Royale Legend II is really bargain-priced, you get a lot of reel for the money.

I’d go so far as to say that this is the best budget baitcaster out there.

Pros:

  • Awesomely low price!
  • Good drag
  • Nice gear ratios
  • Good capacity
  • Very smooth for the price
  • Nice braking system
  • Great weight and size for all-day comfort

Cons

  • Retrieval per turn is a bit slow due to the small spool

KastKing Spartacus

KastKing Spartacus Plus Baitcasting Fishing Reel,Rubber Cork Version,Right Handed Reel
Amazon 

Drag: 17.64 lbs. maximum
Gear ratio: 6.3:1 (25.5” per turn)
Line capacity: 10/125, 12/100, 15/85, 18/65
Bearings: 11 + 1 roller bearing
Weight: 7.4 oz

KastKing’s Spartacus series is a step-up from the Royale Legend II, offering what I think is the same drag system paired with a slightly smaller spool, brass gearing, more bearings, and both a magnetic and centrifugal brake.

Is it worth spending a few dollars more to move up?

I’d say yes!

The drag system on the Spartacus is–if not identical–essentially the same as on the Royale Legend II. Strong, smooth for the money, and capable: it’s not flashy, but then you’re not paying for that!

The spool on these reels is aluminum to reduce weight, but it’s a bit undersized. For instance, at 7.4 ounces, this reel holds much less line than the lighter Curado K: 10/125 compared to the Shimano’s 10/155. The good news is that the slightly higher gear ratio helps keep pace with it’s more expensive competitors–at least in their lowest gear ratios.

Is it a speed demon? No. But will you feel truly outgunned? I’d say no to that, too.

Casting is excellent once you set the magnetic and centrifugal brakes properly and adjust the spool tension properly.

Overall, I think the Spartacus does a good job filling the niche between entry-level and mid-range. But the MegaJaws is a better reel overall, and it’s not much more expensive.

Still, the Spartacus outperforms reels at its price point, helping to explain its popularity with anglers.

Pros:

  • Great price!
  • Good drag
  • Nice gear ratios
  • Good capacity
  • Very smooth for the price
  • Great braking system
  • Great weight and size for all-day comfort

Cons

  • Retrieval per turn is a bit slow due to the small spool

Our Picks — The KastKing Valiant Eagle and the KastKing Speed Demon Pro!

As it turns out, there are some real winners–especially in the baitcasting category–for KastKing.

I think that, overall, the Valiant Eagle is the best of KastKing’s spinning reels. Probably the closest in quality to name brand competitors like Penn and Cadence, you’ll get plenty of capacity, an excellent drag, and retrieval rates and smoothness that are pretty impressive for the price.

That said, I really do think reels like Penn’s Battle II are better buys.

But on the baitcasting front, KastKing really surprises. Their excellent MegaJaws and Speed Demon Pro deliver a ton of reel for the money, and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy and fish either of them.

Ultimately, I gave the top spot to the Speed Demon Pro. An excellent, smooth drag paired with a high gear ratio and a capacious spool combines the best KastKing has to offer in one reel, providing an almost unbeatable combination of performance and price.

KastKing Spinning Reel Basics

kastking spinning reels

It pays to know a bit about spinning reels before you pull the trigger on one.

Designed for lines of less than 10-pound monofilament diameter, spinning reels are a great choice for catching panfish, trout, bass, specks, and redfish–pretty much anything but the largest species.

Their mechanism is deceptively simple: a fixed spool and a spinning bail capture and release line. All but fool-proof, this combination makes them very easy to use, and they’re a great choice for novice anglers.

To cast, you grab the line with your index finger, open the bail, and toss your lure, releasing your finger in time with the cast. To retrieve, you close the bail with your hand (doing so with the crank will wear the mechanism) and begin retrieving.

That simplicity offers real advantages in poor conditions: gusting winds really don’t affect the performance of a spinning reel, and wind-blown knots are not a problem. Moreover, unlike the more complicated baitcasting reel, they cast well into the wind and with light lures, and they don’t require re-adjustment when you change lure weights.

That’s a solid reason to choose a big spinning reel for in-shore fishing, where conditions are often breezy.

They do have a disadvantage, though.

That fixed spool retains line with a large forward lip. If you try to cast heavy-diameter line, or if you don’t have enough line on the spool, that’ll create quite a bit of friction as the line tries to slip past. In both cases, expect casting distance to suffer.

That’s why it’s important to obey two rules with a spinning reel:

  • Always try to run line that’s less than 10-pound monofilament diameter.
  • Always keep your line within ⅛ of an inch or closer to the lip of the spool. You want your spool to be full.

What We Consider When Buying a KastKing Spinning Reel

Drag

The first thing I look at on any reel is the drag.

First, I assess where it is. The best drag systems are located directly over where they’ll be working, and as a result, the drag knobs are usually located on the end of the spool.

Some spinning reels have dials positioned elsewhere, but these rely on a more complicated mechanism and tend not to work as well or last as long.

Second, I take a hard look at the maximum setting and assess whether or not it slips at that weight. For spinning reels, I’m looking for a maximum setting that matches the size and weight of the species I’m after, and by stringing some strong line on and testing the drag with a weight, I can get a sense of whether the drag can hold.

This is more about assessing the quality of the drag than testing that maximum: I’m never going to set the drag that high!

Finally, I like to spool-up some medium-weight line for that reel, set the drag to roughly a third of that, and then see how smoothly it allows me to take line. What I want to feel is a constant, smooth release–no jerking, catching, or slipping.

Gear ratio

A reel’s gear ratio describes the relationship between the crank and the spool: how many turns of the spool does one revolution of the crank create? For instance, a gear ratio of 5.2:1 means that one turn of the crank spins the spool 5.2 times.

This matters for two reasons.

For some lures, a slow, medium, or fast retrieve is ideal, and matching a reel’s gear ratio to its intended use can improve action. For instance, shallow crankbaits and topwater lures tend to work best with a fast reel, defined by a gear ratio higher than 5.2:1.

The second reason you care about gear ratio is that it tells you how quickly it picks up line. And whether you’re jigging deep or casting far to cover water, you’ll appreciate a medium to fast gear ratio.

Smooth operation

On any quality reel, the bail should close firmly, the crank should spin freely, and the drag knob should reliably adjust the setting. The anti-reverse system, too, should lock-up quickly to encourage solid hooksets.

Capacity

Line capacity matters.

On a properly filled spool, you won’t outcast the line on your reel. But over a day’s fishing, you might need to cut line–whether to mitigate abrasion, recover from a really poor cast, or release a deep snag.

Your reel needs to hold enough line to see you through the day without needing to re-spool.

I’ll be reporting line capacity in monofilament weights. Keep in mind that you can switch to braid and either get far more line on the reel or step-up in weight to a 4- or 6-pound mono equivalent diameter.

I’ve done just that when I decided to use my ultralight for big bass!

KastKing Baitcasting Reel Basics

kastking baitcasitng reels

Baitcasting reels are designed around a

spinning spool. Intended for heavier lines, they struggle to cast typical ultralight and light tests but excel with heavier line. It’s not diameter here that matters, but rather weight.

That’s because the spool is spinning to release line, and no matter how slick its bearings, friction fights this motion. Heavier lines and heavier lures will simply cast better with this design. And a huge difference between a baitcaster and a spinning reel is that the former isn’t affected by less line on the spool. Whether you’re running just a few feet or a full spool, casting will remain the same.

That said, casting is a bit trickier with a baitcaster. Once you get the hang of it, though, many anglers feel it’s both more accurate and more precise.

To cast, you depress the spool release and hold the spool with your thumb (simultaneously). When you want the line to release, you simply lift your thumb from the spool, applying pressure again just as your lure strikes the water.

With practice, this is easy. But when you first give it a try, it’ll be frustratingly difficult.

Baitcasting reels feature brakes to help prevent backlashing, and these must be set properly to match your skill level and the lure and line weight.

Generally speaking, baitcasting reels also feature heavier, more powerful drag systems that are actuated by a star-shaped knob behind the crank.

And while they don’t cast in windy conditions as effortlessly as a spinning reel, they’re designed for larger, more powerful fish. Their cranking power, capacity, and drag are well suited to anything you’d run more than 10-pound test to catch.

What We Consider When Selecting a KastKing Baitcasting Reel

Drag

Just as with spinning reels, the first thing I look at is the drag.

As with any reel, I take a hard look at the maximum setting and assess whether or not it slips at that weight. On baitcasters, these tend to be high, and I’ll test them by attaching the reel to an appropriate rod, spooling-up line, and tying-off to a decently heavy weight.

I’m looking for real stoppage at the high end. That’s because I may run very heavy line, where a near-max setting is appropriate. I’ll then dial it back, looking for a constant, smooth release–no jerking, catching, or slipping.

But generally speaking, very light drag weights just don’t work well on reels designed for higher settings.

Gear ratio

Just as with spinning reels, gear ratio describes the relationship between the crank and the spool: how many turns of the spool does one revolution of the crank create? For instance, a gear ratio of 6.2:1 means that one turn of the crank spins the spool 6.2 times.

And just as with spinning reels, this matters for the same two reasons, and one additional situation.

When you’re fighting a big fish, it may turn directly toward you and run straight for your boat. When this happens, it’s essential that you keep your line tight, and thus, you need to be able to retrieve line quickly.

As a result, high gear ratios and large spools are critical for larger fish.

Smooth operation

On any quality reel, the spool release should depress with a soft pop and reset with just a touch of the crank. The spool should spin as freely as possible, and the drag knob should reliably adjust the setting.

The braking system should be highly adjustable and easy to access, and if the side plate opens, a design that prevents it from falling free is essential.

Capacity

Line capacity matters, especially on a baitcaster, since nearly 100% of it can be used.

By design, baitcasters aren’t affected by how little line is remaining on the spool. As far as casting is concerned, you can have a full spool or just 10% remaining, and you’ll cast just the same.

Like spinning reels, your reel needs to hold enough line to see you through the day without needing to re-spool. But it’s also important that you can allow big fish to run, stripping yard after yard under drag to wear it out.

Generally, I care a lot more about capacity on these reels, and that’ll be reflected in my reviews.

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