Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels Under $200 in 2019
If you've been fishing saltwater for a while now and want to add a baitcasting reel to your arsenal, this article will give you the rundown on the three best saltwater baitcasting reels for under $200.
Why Fish a Baitcasting Reel for Saltwater?
So, you've decided it's time to set the spinning reel aside and try out a baitcaster.
While baitcasting reels can take some time to get used to, they offer saltwater anglers several benefits:
1. Bigger line capacity
2. More efficient line payout (no bail wire to pass through)
3. Less line twist
4. Fewer moving parts that can break
5. More accuracy and line control when mastered
Baitcasting reels are great for saltwater fishing of all kinds. The classic round-style baitcasting reels (the first two on our list) are generally considered "heavy tackle" and are ideal for chasing bigger inshore and nearshore species like redfish, amberjack, striped bass, and sharks.
While round baitcasting reels work well for lure fishing, many anglers favor them for live bait fishing, especially for methods that call for lots of extra line such as trolling or bottom fishing in deep passes.
Low-profile baitcasting reels (the last one on our list) are usually seen in the hands of bass pros, but they make great tools for lure fishing in the salt, especially for inshore species like speckled trout and flounder.
So, whether you spend your time fishing back marshes for tailing redfish or surf fishing for big blues and stripers, a good baitcasting reel will prove to be one of the most effective fish catching tools you own.
The good news is, for under $200, you can get a high-quality baitcasting reel that will keep cranking for many seasons to come. Here are our top three picks...
3 Best Saltwater Baitcasting Reels Under $200
One of the most popular reels ever created by Shimano is the Calcutta B. This reel has been around for over two decades and has proven itself to be one of the best over and over again.
As far as traditional level-wind baitcasting reels go, the Calcutta B is relatively small and lightweight.
It comes in six sizes, but if you plan on chasing larger fish, it's recommended you choose one of the larger sizes — either the 400 or the 700 size.
The smaller sizes, however, are great for any light-duty inshore fishing you have in mind.
With corrosion-resistant cold-forged aluminum body, side plates, and spool, plus four anti-rust ball bearings that supposedly offer 10 times the corrosion resistance of standard stainless steel ball bearings, the Calcutta B is made for saltwater fishing inside and out.
Shimano has recently made some big improvements to the classic Calcutta series reels, with the most noteworthy being the casting brake system. On older Calcutta reels, you had to remove the spool to make adjustments to the braking system.
Now, the knobs that adjust the brakes are conveniently located on the side plate of the reel so you can dial in the reel on the fly for backlash-free casting.
If you're wanting to invest in a quality baitcasting reel rather than buying something cheap that will end up rusting away, the Shimano Calcutta is a clear winner.
If you want to get your hands on a saltwater baitcasting reel and save some money without sacrificing quality, the Daiwa Millionaire-S is for you.
The Millionaire-S is only available in two sizes, but they are the perfect size for any of your inshore, pier, or jetty outings. A solid one-piece aluminum frame gives the reel a great backbone that resists flexing for fighting hard-pulling fish, and the entire reel is anodized to resist corrosion.
The reel's casting brake system is adjusted by removing the side plate that screws off by twisting without any additional tools. While this isn't as convenient to adjust as on a reel like the Calcutta, keeping the brake adjustment under the side plate minimizes the amount of saltwater that can enter the reel.
A seven-element drag system provides 11 pounds of max drag. This isn't the strongest drag system, but it will easily handle most saltwater fish up to 30 pounds.
Closing out our list of best saltwater baitcasting reel recommendations, we have our only low-profile baitcaster, the Piscifun Thunder High-Speed.
The Piscifun Thunder's low-profile design fits nicely in the palm of your hand and weighs only 8.4 ounces. This reel would make the perfect inshore or flats rig for long days of casting.
With the more compact design, you do lose some line capacity that the round baitcasters have, but the Thunder still holds 185 yards of 30-pound braid which should easily get you through the day.
The integrated star drag dial gives you convenient control over the carbon fiber drag system that packs in 18 pounds of drag pressure to slow down those wily reds and specks.
The Piscifun Thunder is designed for use in both freshwater and saltwater and features corrosion-resistant components throughout including an aluminum frame, graphite side plates, and eight stainless steel Japanese NMB ball bearings.
The "high speed" in the Thunder's name comes from the ultra-fast 7.1:1 retrieve rate. The extra speed you get from this reel is great for burning lures across the surface when fishing for fast fish like Spanish mackerel, and can come in handy if you need to quickly steer fish away from structure that could break you off.
Anglers all over the place are discovering the benefits of using a low-profile baitcasting reel for saltwater fishing, and if you want to get in on the action, the Piscifun Thunder High Speed is a great reel to get started.
Even if you don't want to give up the spinning reel completely, adding one of the 3 best saltwater baitcasting reels to your boat will make you a more complete angler and provide some welcome variety.
If you like fishing bait from bridges and jetties, consider one of the classic round baitcasting reels, and if you fish inshore marshes or flats, go with the low-profile Piscifun Thunder. Plus, these reels can easily double as backup bass reels!