The Best Crankbait Reels of 2021 (Top Picks)

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best All-Around: Abu Garcia Black Max
“If it’s extreme durability you’re after, the Abu Garcia Black Max is the ideal crankbait reel for you. Its rugged design allows ease of maintenance, making it one of the longer-lasting crankbait reels on the market.”

Best Budget Reel: Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel
“High-quality reels don’t have to be expensive. With the Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel’s rugged and durable built, you sure can get the biggest bang for your buck.”

Most Comfortable: KastKing Royale Legend GT
“Fishing for long hours has never been this easy. The KastKing Royale Legend GT’s conveniently lightweight and robust design brings all-day comfort and takes away the fatigue serious anglers often feel after fishing all day.”

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Many anglers prefer using crankbaits as they allow them to catch larger fish.

However, utilizing a crankbait to an optimal degree of success depends on the quality of its construction.

In the vast majority of cases, a crankbait reel will be of the baitcasting variety.

The best of these reels will possess a moderate gear ratio, which equally matches speed and strength, and will feature a premium braking system, in order to minimize the occurrence of time consumptive backlash.

Additionally, the highest quality crankbait reels also operate in a smooth, seamless fashion, and are extremely comfortable while in use, even during the most lengthy of days on the water.

Sources researched
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Hours spent testing
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Hours spent testing
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5
Products tested
Product Name
Most Comfortable
Best All-Around
Our Ranking
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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KastKing Royale Legend GT Baitcasting Reels,Left Handed Fishing Reel,7.2:1 Gear Ratio
Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel 5.3:1 Left Handed Bass Fishing Reel Low Profile Baitcaster
Abu Garcia 1365366 Black Max Low Profile Reel, 6.4: 1 Gear Ratio, 5 Bearings, 26" Retrieve Rate, 18Lb Max Drag, RH, Boxed
Our Grade
Our Rating 93/100
Our Rating 90/100
Our Rating 89/100
Feature 1
Lightweight 7.2 ounce construction for all-day comfort
5.3:1 gear ratio for ultimate versatility
Power Disk Drag System for potent fighting power
Feature 2
Synthetic soft-grip handles for an ergonomic feel
Low-profile design for enhanced portability and comfort
MagTrax brake system for enhanced line control
Most Comfortable
Our Ranking
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
KastKing Royale Legend GT Baitcasting Reels,Left Handed Fishing Reel,7.2:1 Gear Ratio
Our Grade
Our Rating 93/100
Feature 1
Lightweight 7.2 ounce construction for all-day comfort
Feature 2
Synthetic soft-grip handles for an ergonomic feel
Best Budget Reel
Our Ranking
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel 5.3:1 Left Handed Bass Fishing Reel Low Profile Baitcaster
Our Grade
Our Rating 90/100
Feature 1
5.3:1 gear ratio for ultimate versatility
Feature 2
Low-profile design for enhanced portability and comfort
Best All-Around
Product Name
Our Ranking
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Abu Garcia 1365366 Black Max Low Profile Reel, 6.4: 1 Gear Ratio, 5 Bearings, 26" Retrieve Rate, 18Lb Max Drag, RH, Boxed
Our Grade
Our Rating 89/100
Feature 1
Power Disk Drag System for potent fighting power
Feature 2
MagTrax brake system for enhanced line control

Best Crankbait Reels of 2021

Abu Garcia Black Max

Best All-Around: A reliable choice for those who rely heavily upon their gear’s integrity

Abu Garcia 1365366 Black Max Low Profile Reel, 6.4: 1 Gear Ratio, 5 Bearings, 26' Retrieve Rate, 18Lb Max Drag, RH, Boxed
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KEY FEATURES

  • MagTrax brake system for enhanced line control
  • Lightweight graphite frame for all-day comfort
  • Power Disk Drag System for potent fighting power

The Abu Garcia Black Max should make a wonderful choice for those that are seeking an excellent all-around baitcaster, especially when new to this particular genre of reel. This reel features an easy-to-use brake system which allows anglers better line control, thereby minimizing the occurrence of aggravating backlash.

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The Black Max also features a firm handle and recessed spool, which should aid in one’s ability to fish without falling victim to hand and arm fatigue. This reel also includes a Power Disk Drag System that allows the drag to be set in an instant, without ever removing your hand from its handle. This is yet another feature that should be appreciated by anglers who spend a significant amount of time on the water.

Anglers also prefer Black Max’s lightweight design. This reel comes in graphite frame and side plates which keeps its operational weight to a bare minimum, maximizing all-day comfort. This is extremely important for serious anglers who usually go for the most comfortable reels to use.

Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel

Best Budget Reel: Hard on fish, not on your wallet

Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel 5.3:1 Left Handed Bass Fishing Reel Low Profile Baitcaster
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KEY FEATURES

  • 18 lb. carbon fiber drag for ample fighting power
  • Low-profile design for enhanced portability and comfort
  • 5.3:1 gear ratio for ultimate versatility

The Piscifun Torrent should be the ideal option for anglers who take their time on the water extremely seriously, but do not wish to mortgage their house in a bid to finance their next reel purchase. This reel features a 5.3:1 gear ratio, which provides optimal retrieval speed for tactics such as slow rolling, while also providing a substantial amount of fortitude and torque when such a need arises.

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The Torrent also features one of the most robust drag systems of any reel in its class. This reel utilizes an 18-pound drag system made of high quality carbon fiber to provide efficient line metering, even under the most strenuous of circumstances. This attribute should be well received by those who regularly pursue the largest of bass on any given body of water.

Many anglers are also likely to find favor in the Torrent’s rugged construction. This reel features shielded bearings made of stainless steel, brass CNC machines gears, and highly-durable carbon fiber frame. The Piscifun Torrent is also equipped with a side-mounted oiling port for ease of maintenance and enhanced longevity.

KastKing Royale Legend GT

Most Comfortable: So comfortable, you will not want to put it down

KastKing Royale Legend GT Baitcasting Reels,Left Handed Fishing Reel,7.2:1 Gear Ratio
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KEY FEATURES

  • 8 Cross-Fire magnets for enhanced braking capabilities
  • Synthetic soft-grip handles for an ergonomic feel
  • Lightweight 7.2 ounce construction for all-day comfort

If you are tired of fishing with large, bulky or cumbersome reels, and are in search of a new reel that will provide all day comfort, then the KastKing Royale Legend should be worthy of your consideration. The Royale Legend GT has a lightweight construction with a total weight of only 7.2 ounces. It features synthetic soft-grip handles, making it easy to fish from sun up to sun down without becoming fatigued.

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The KastKing Royale Legend also features a premium magnetic drag system, which includes a total of 8 Cross-Fire magnets for excellent braking capacity. This should find favor among serious anglers, who do not wish to be burdened with repeated cases of backlash. In theory, the presence of this high-quality braking system should minimize angler downtime, and maximize efficiency when on the water.

Most anglers are also likely to find immense favor in the KastKing Royale Legend’s highly durable construction. This reel features a Hamai precision cut 37 mm main gear, pinion gear, main shaft, and worm shaft made of brass. The rest of its hardware is made of high quality stainless steel. This makes the KastKing Royale Legend one of the most robust products on our list.

KastKing Spartacus

Smoothest Retrieve: Where old school reliability, meets new age innovation

KastKing Spartacus Plus Baitcasting Fishing Reel,Rubber Cork Version,Left Handed Reel
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KEY FEATURES

  • Shielded 11 + 1 corrosion resistant ball bearings for seamless casts and retrieves
  • Micro-cast dual centrifugal and magnetic brakes for the minimization of backlash
  • 6.3:1 gear ratio for excellent all-around performance

The KastKing Spartacus should make the perfect option for those who prefer a reel that is equal parts form and function. This reel performs in a flawless manner, thanks to a state of the art drag system, and premium ball bearing arrangement, while also maintaining a significant amount of eye appeal, due in large part to its use of premium cork grips. 

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Many anglers are also likely to find favor in the KastKing Spartacus’ shielded 11 + 1 corrosion resistant ball bearing system. This system allows an ultra smooth operation during casting and retrieval. This is extremely ideal for bass anglers who prefer covering water at a rapid pace.

The KastKing Spartacus also features a well-rounded 6.3:1 gear ratio, which tends to be within the preferred range for regular crankbait use. This “middle ground” ratio should be fast enough for crankbait use of every type, while remaining versatile enough for use in alternative tactics.

KastKing MegaJaws

Best High End Reel: A reel that outcasts all the rest

KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel,5.4:1 Gear Ratio,Right Handed Fishing Reel,Great White
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KEY FEATURES

  • Funnel-shaped line guide reduces friction and maximizes casting distances
  • 11+1 double shielded stainless steel bearings for stable operation
  • Heavy-duty internals for increased longevity

If you are currently in search of a crankbait reel that will allow you to cast at even the most distant of points, then the KastKing MegaJaws should be for you.. The MegaJaws features a host of features that enhance casting distance, and makes it easier than ever to hit your mark. Additionally, this reel has been designed with angler comfort in mind, and features a number of ergonomic design cues.

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The KastKing MegaJaws features a specialized funnel-shaped line guide that minimizes friction as line departs from the reel’s spool. This reduction in friction should drastically reduce the effort required to reach distant docks, the backs of winding creeks, and any other number of promising locations that can not be accessed as closely as one would like by boat.

Many anglers are also likely to find favor in the KastKing MegaJaws’ robust construction. This reel features a number of highly durable components, including 11+1 double shielded stainless steel bearings, brass pinion and main gears, and a nickel coated brass worm gear. This enhanced durability should be a hit among anglers who regularly pursue trophy size bass.

Things to Consider When Buying the Right Cranking Reel 

Gear Ratio

A reel’s gear ratio directly determines how it will perform when tasked with a specific duty.

A reel’s gear ratio plays a pivotal role in its overall speed and power. However, selecting the perfect gear ratio can be much like walking a tightrope. Higher gear ratio reels possess fast line recovery rates but are limited in available power. On the other hand, low gear ratio reels possess ample power but tend to retrieve line at a much slower rate.

Line Recovery Rate (Inches Per Turn)

A reel’s line recovery rate dictates its ability to keep an angler’s lure in the strike zone.

A reel’s recovery rate is measured in inches per turn and is reflective of a particular unit’s gear ratio and spool size. A reel that possesses a high gear ratio and a rather large spool will naturally recover line at a much faster rate than a reel with a slower gear ratio and a small spool. The faster a reel’s line recovery rate, the better it is able to keep a deep-diving crankbait at the necessary depth for success.

Increased Torque

A reel that possesses ample torque, is capable of wrangling the most relentless of fish, with little issue.

A reel’s available torque comes as a direct product of its gear ratio. A reel that features a low gear ratio will possess more torque, than a similar model that features a higher gear ratio. However, coming to such a decision requires an angler to also determine what effect will be had on a particular unit’s line speed. The lower a reel’s gear ratio. The slower its line recovery rate.

The Quality of the Brake and Drag System

A quality braking system is essential if you wish to spend more time fishing and less time picking apart tangled lines.

A baitcasting reel’s braking system prevents its spool from moving faster than the line coming off of it. As a result, the occurrence of backlash is significantly minimized. This is of immense importance when attempting to make the most out of every available second spent on the water.

Lightweight Crankbaits

Casting a lightweight crankbait is equal parts finesse and skill.

One of the most challenging tasks associated with baitcaster reel use is casting a lightweight crankbait. Since lures of this nature do not possess enough weight to force quick and efficient line dispersal, serious backlash often results. In order to minimize the occurrence of backlash, an angler must cast with moderate force, while using a rod that is flexible enough to whip the lure forward across the water.

The Number of Bearings

Smooth reel operation comes as a byproduct of the ample use of high-quality ball bearings.

Every reel uses ball bearings to reduce rotational friction. However, some reels use a higher number of ball bearings than others. In order for a reel to operate in a smooth, seamless fashion, it must possess a satisfactory number of ball bearings, all of which should be extremely uniform across the board.

Budget

Selecting the perfect reel involves balancing your budget, in a manner that allows you to get the most bang for your buck.

We, as anglers, all live on one type of budget or another. This forces us to meter any purchase we make against the availability of expendable capital. While it is largely realistic for many to purchase the most expensive reel on the market, a number of wonderful reels are available for purchase, at a price that will not leave you in a financial bind.

Types of Crankbait 

Today’s angler is treated to an endless array of crankbait to choose from, all of which are of significant value when employed in a given setting. However, one can easily categorize the bulk of these crankbaits into four main types.

Standard Crankbaits

When most anglers think of a crankbait, they envision one of many lures that fall within the “standard” category. Standard crankbaits feature an integrated diving bill, and a bulb-shaped body, which tapers toward the rear. When retrieved, a standard crankbait presents a wobbling motion that imitates natural baitfish. Standard crankbaits come in floating, neutral, and diving buoyancy ratings.

Lipless Crankbaits

As one might guess, lipless crankbaits do not feature a lip or bill. Instead, their nose tapers to a wedge shape, which facilitates diving. Lipless crankbaits also tend to be flat-sided, rather than bulbous in shape. Crankbaits of this configuration come in both floating and sinking forms. While floating models tend to run quite shallow, sinking lipless crankbaits can be allowed to sink to the desired depth before being retrieved, therefore aiding in versatility.

Minnow Crankbaits

Minnow-style crankbaits are lengthier than their standard counterparts, and typically feature bills of a far more subdued size. These sounder crankbaits are generally of the shallow diving variety and are often fished in areas of shallow water where bass are feeding heavily upon schools of baitfish. The narrow profile of a minnow crankbait also presents a tighter wobble when being retrieved, than is observed from the vast majority of standard crankbaits.

Jointed Crankbaits

Jointed crankbaits utilize a two-piece body, which is connected with a pivoting eyelet. Crankbaits of this variety swim erratically when retrieved, accurately mimicking the actions of an injured baitfish. Opportunistic game fish seek to capitalize on an easy meal and strike the above-mentioned lure as a result. Jointed crankbaits come in numerous sizes and diving depths.

Questions & Answers

When will I use a crankbait reel?

A crankbait reel will be used in any situation where an angler intends to use a crankbait as their primary lure. While a crankbait reel can be used when fishing lures other than a crankbait, a reel of this type possesses the ideal combination of attributes to optimize one’s success throwing diving baits of any type.

Crankbait reels feature an ideal mix of speed and power that are ideal when attempting to make the most out of diving bait use. Reels of this nature also tend to cast quite well and allow an angler to present their lure in a life-like manner.

How fast should I reel in a crankbait?

The speed at which a crankbait is retrieved is largely dedicated by the weather and water conditions faced during a given outing. In general, fish of most any species respond most favorably to a fast retrieve during periods of warm weather. On the contrary, a slow retrieve tends to be beneficial during the winter, when cold water makes fish far more lethargic.

When selecting the speed of your retrieval, it is also important to consider the depth at which you intend to fish, in relation to the crankbait that is to be used. In most situations, a crankbait will dive deeper, when retrieved at a fast speed. 

When should I throw a crankbait?

The wonderful thing about crankbait use is that it is a year-round tactic. Crankbaits of various types can be used in spring, summer, fall, and winter, to a high degree of success. Many bass anglers find special favor in crankbait use during the post-spawn period of early summer when largemouths suspend over deep water. Fishing in this manner allows an angler to cover large expanses of water in search of cooperative fish.

Many crappie anglers slow roll crankbaits during the winter months, to catch fish that congregate near river channels, and other points of differing depths. Crankbait use can also be effective at any point of the year when implemented while trolling.

What is the best reel ratio for crankbaits?

Most anglers prefer a feel that features a gear ratio of 5:1 or 6:1 as ideal when throwing a crankbait. Reels with a 5:1 gear ratio are ideal for achieving maximum depth out of a crankbait and tend to be responsive enough to allow an angler to detect light bites. On the other hand, a reel that features a 6:1 gear ratio is an excellent choice for those who intend to employ additional tactics, outside of typical crankbait use.

While not as popular as the above-mentioned options, some anglers also find favor in the use of a reel with a 7:1 gear ratio. These reels are primarily used when attempting to cover large expanses of water in rapid succession.

Do crankbaits have to hit bottom?

There is no need for a crankbait to hit bottom in order to find success unless the species of fish that you are pursuing is staging at such depths. Crankbaits can be fished as shallow as six-inches, or run as deep as possible. The depth at which fish are found will serve as an angler’s guide toward how deep they should be fishing.

Many fish suspend off of points at various depths throughout the year. Once fish are located, it is up to an angler to locate the perfect crankbait for the application at hand. A well-prepared angler will keep numerous crankbaits on hand, to respond to any situation.

Conclusion

Armed with the proper crankbait reel, any angler can optimize their efficiency while on the water, and experience more success than they might have ever thought possible. While selecting the perfect reel of this nature presents its own challenges, the information above will have given you the necessary information to make an informed buying decision, thereby allowing you to get the most for your money.

The above mentioned products are all stellar examples of what a crankbait reel can, and should be. Any such purchase should bring you many afternoons’ worth of enjoyment, while pursuing your favorite species of fish, no matter where they are found.