Best Musky Reel For The Money: Reviews & Buying Guide

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

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Goture Ares-Max (click to see)
“With a class-leading line capacity, a super-robust drag system, and 11 premium ball bearings, the Goture Ares-Max is what every musky angler wants to upgrade their passion to the next level.

Best Budget Reel: KastKing Royale Legend (click to see)
“The Royal Legend features 5+1 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings and hardware, a brass pinion gear, and a Hamai precision-cut brass 37 mm main gear all at an affordable price!”

Most Powerful: KastKing Rover Round (click to see)
“The Rover Round offers a first in class 30-pound centrifugal drag system, specialty spool, and a 2-pin centrifugal brake system. Ideal for an unparalleled fighting power to catch a trophy-class musky.”

Musky are among the most ferocious freshwater fish species and present a fight that anglers do not soon forget.

An angler must have nothing but the best gear at their disposal to catch these behemoths, including a reel of significant strength.

The best musky reel is designed with power and durability in mind, which typically features a robust drag system, precision ball bearing arrangements, and heavy-duty internal components specifically designed to take a beating.

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Best Musky Reels For The Money

Top 8 Picks

Best OVERALL

Goture Ares-Max Baitcasting Fishing Reel 22LB Carbon Fiber Drag, 6.3:1 Low Profile Baitcaster Reel with Magnetic Brake System10+1 Shielded Bearings Saltwater Freshwater ( Right Handle with Cork Knob)

Goture Ares-Max

Best Overall Musky Reel

22-pound drag system for abundant fighting power

Designed to be a musky’s worst nightmare

Best budget

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

KastKing Royale Legend

Best Budget Musky Reel

Cross-Fire magnetic drag system for enhanced line control

Comfort to keep you fishing longer

most powerful

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, Right Handed Fishing Reel,Rover40

KastKing Rover Round

Most Powerful Musky Reel

30-pound drag system for unparalleled fighting power

Enough power to do quick work out of even the most sizable musky

Best for trolling

Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Reel CW354D, Right Hand

Okuma Coldwater

Best Musky Reel For Trolling

Multi-disc carbonite drag system for enhanced power

Specifically designed to provide unparalleled trolling efficiency

smoothest operation

SHIMANO Tranx 400A HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Reel

Shimano TranX

Smoothest Operation Musky Reel

X-Ship technology for a higher degree of gear mesh and smooth operation

Silky smooth operation that keeps you fishing at your best

best high end

SHIMANO Calcutta 700B; Round Baitcating Freshwater Reel

Shimano Calcutta

Best High-End Musky Reel

VBS brake system for enhanced line metering

A premium reel with limitless top-tier features

most durable

Okuma Komodo SS Large Capacity Low Profile Baitcaster, KDS-364LX (Left Hand), 150 yds-20LB, Power Handle

Okuma Komodo SS

Most Durable Musky Reel

Stainless steel gear and drive components for unparalleled durability

Nearly indestructible in every sense of the word

best For casting

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel Black, 60

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast

Best Musky Reel For Casting

Infini Spool for enhanced castability

A reel that can be cast with laser precision

Best Reel For Musky Fishing 2021

  1. Best Overall: Goture Ares-Max
  2. Best Budget: KastKing Royale Legend
  3. Most Powerful: KastKing Rover Round
  4. Best Trolling: Okuma Coldwater
  5. Smoothest Operation: Shimano TranX
  6. Best High End: Shimano Calcutta
  7. Most Durable: Okuma Komodo SS
  8. Best Casting: Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast

Goture Ares-Max Baitcasting Reel

Best Overall Musky Reel: A reel that is designed to be a musky’s worst nightmare

Goture Ares-Max Baitcasting Fishing Reel 22LB Carbon Fiber Drag, 6.3:1 Low Profile Baitcaster Reel with Magnetic Brake System10+1 Shielded Bearings Saltwater Freshwater ( Right Handle with Cork Knob)

KEY FEATURES

  • 11 ball bearings for noticeably smooth operation
  • High line capacity for enhanced trolling and casting capabilities
  • 22-pound drag system for abundant fighting power

If you spend every waking moment thinking about musky fishing and are looking for a fishing reel capable of taking your passion to the next level, then the Goture Ares-Max is likely to be exactly what you have been searching for. This musky fishing reel features a class-leading line capacity, a super-robust drag system, and 11 premium ball bearings. When it comes to musky fishing, the Goture Ares-Max means business.

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The Goture Ares-Max features a 35mm spool capable of holding 210 yards of the 10-pound test line. This is of significant value in both trolling and casting situations. Musky fight relentlessly and are more than capable of stripping 100-yards of the line from a reel in just a few seconds.

Many anglers are also likely to be appreciative of the Goture Ares-Max’s robust drag system. This system features six individual drag sections, with a total of 20 carbon drag discs total. As a result, the Goture Ares-Max should provide ample power to make the most out of every next fight.

KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Reel

Best Budget Musky Reel: Comfort to keep you fishing longer

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

KEY FEATURES

  • Cross-Fire magnetic drag system for enhanced line control
  • Synthetic soft-grip handles for all-day comfort
  • Lightweight 7.2-ounce construction for minimization of hand and arm fatigue

The KastKing Royale Legend GT should be the best musky reel for those who spend every available moment chasing the fish of their dreams, as it is engineered to provide a significant degree of angler comfort. The Royale Legend GT weighs only 7.2 ounces and features synthetic soft-grip handles, which allow an angler to fish relentlessly without becoming tired or uncomfortable.

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Many anglers should also favor the KastKing Royale Legend GT’s specialized brake system, which includes 8 Cross-Fire magnets for enhanced braking capacity. This is a feature that should be popular among those attempting to make the most out of each day on the water. This high-quality braking system should prevent backlash, thereby saving time and maximizing angler efficiency.

The KastKing Royale Legend GT baitcasting reel is also constructed with extreme durability in mind. It features 5 + 1 Double Shielded Stainless Steel ball bearings, nickel-plated brass worm shaft, brass pinion gear, brass main shaft, stainless steel hardware, and a Hamai precision-cut brass 37 mm main gear. These components should provide an angler with years of reliable, trouble-free service, making it the best musky reel for the money.

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

Most Powerful Musky Reel: Enough power to do quick work out of even the most sizable musky

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, Right Handed Fishing Reel,Rover40

KEY FEATURES

  • 30 lb. drag system for unparalleled fighting power
  • High-quality internal components for extreme durability
  • 2-pin centrifugal brake for greater casting efficiency

If you fish solely for musky and make a habit out of catching trophy-class fish, then the KastKing Rover Round baitcasting reel should be exactly what you are looking for. This fishing reel features a first-in-class 30-pound centrifugal drag system, which should make it easier than ever to match wits with even the largest of musky. The KastKing Rover Round also features a specialty spool, which holds a significant amount of line. This is a feature that should be appreciated by anglers who regularly troll.

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The KastKing Rover Round baitcasting reel is constructed far heavier than most any other reel in its class. In addition, it utilizes premium shielded stainless steel bearings, brass precision gears, stainless steel components, and an oversized non-slip handle. This level of grit should be just what the avid musky angler is in search of.

Many anglers should also find favor in the KastKing Rover Round’s 2-pin centrifugal brake system, which meters the speed of line output during casting. This should reduce the chance of backlash and make it easier to cast with a high degree of efficiency.

Okuma Coldwater Line Counter Reel

Best Musky Reel For Trolling: Specifically designed to provide unparalleled trolling efficiency

Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Reel CW354D, Right Hand

KEY FEATURES

  • Line counter for accurate, easy depth replication
  • Multi-disc carbonite drag system for enhanced power
  • Oversized drive and pinion gears for improved durability

If you prefer to troll while in search of musky rather than casting at a structure, then you should find immense favor in the Okuma Coldwater Line Counter Reel. Its design makes it simple to replicate line depth from one cast to the next. This ensures that your bait is placed within the strike zone at all times.

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The Okuma Coldwater Line Counter Reel features a max drag system which should be more than capable of slowing down even the most ferocious of musky. This system is of a multi-disc carbonite design, renowned for excellent heat dissipation and smooth, even performance under a wide range of conditions.

Many anglers should also find favor in the Okuma Coldwater low-profile musky reel’s sturdy gear train design. This musky reel features oversized machine-cut XL drive and pinion gears, which can transfer a significant amount of force without slippage, binding, or shearing.

Shimano TranX Baitcast Reel

Smoothest Operation Musky Reel: Silky smooth operation that keeps you fishing at your best

SHIMANO Tranx 400A HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • X-Ship technology for a higher degree of gear mesh and smooth operation
  • Hagane body for tremendous durability
  • CoreProtect Technology for enhanced corrosion resistance

If you are a fan of throwing and retrieving plugs when searching for predatory musky, then the Shimano TranX should be the best musky reel to meet your needs. It is designed to provide ultra-smooth performance, both when casting and retrieving. In addition, the TranX features Shimano’s proprietary X-Ship technology for pronounced gear engagement.

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As mentioned, the Shimano TranX baitcasting reel features the company’s renowned X-Ship gear train system. This system eliminates excess internal free-play by placing bearings at each end of the unit’s pinion shaft. This promotes a higher degree of gear mesh and offers smooth operation, even under a significant load.

The TranX also utilizes Shimano’s new CoreProtect Technology. This water-resistant technology centers around using a specialty surface treatment, which effectively sheds water and protects the TranX’s metal composition. As a result, one should experience little in the way of corrosion, as water is not allowed to permeate the TranX’s vital structural components.

Shimano Calcutta B Round Baitcast Reel

Best High-End Musky Reel: A premium reel with limitless top-tier features

SHIMANO Calcutta 700B; Round Baitcating Freshwater Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • VBS brake system for enhanced line metering
  • Dartainium Drag system for ultimate stopping power
  • Sure Stopper anti-reverse bearing for improved hook sets

If you are currently looking to upgrade your musky reel to a robust yet highly advanced model in every regard, then the Shimano Calcutta is likely your best choice. This baitcasting reel features a variable brake system, Super Stopper anti-reverse bearing, Dartainium Drag system, and three anti-rust bearings.

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The Shimano Calcutta’s Sure Stopper anti-reverse bearing is likely to find immense favor among musky anglers. This feature prevents the line from free spooling in reverse, making more powerful hook sets possible. This is of great value, as the opportunity is rare enough when musky fishing that a lost fish can be heartbreaking.

Most anglers should also be fond of the Shimano Calcutta’s VBS brake system. This system uses centrifugal weights instead of magnets to meter line dispersal, preventing backlash with a high degree of efficiency. As a result, more time can be spent fishing instead of sorting out the tangled line.

Okuma Komodo SS Baitcaster

Most Durable Musky Reel: Nearly indestructible in every sense of the word

Okuma Komodo SS Large Capacity Low Profile Baitcaster, KDS-364LX (Left Hand), 150 yds-20LB, Power Handle

KEY FEATURES

  • Stainless steel gear and drive components for unparalleled durability
  • 30-pound Carbonite drag system for substantial fighting power
  • Micro-click drag adjustment for ample drag control

The Okuma Komodo SS should be the perfect option for those forced to deal with untimely reel failures in the past. It is designed with durability in mind and looks capable of handling anything that can be thrown its way. The Okuma Komodo SS features a Stainless Steel Main Gear, Precision Cut Machine Cut Stainless Steel Pinion Gear, and Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Drive and Spool Shafts.

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Many anglers should appreciate Komodo’s specialized Drag System. This system features multiple carbonite drag discs, which carry a total working weight rating of 30-pounds. This should be plenty enough force to stop the run of even the hardest fighting musky.

The Okuma Komodo SS baitcasting reel also features a micro-click drag star which allows an angler to make precise adjustments to the reel’s drag pressure to manage the fight at hand better. This capability is essential because drag control is of the essence when fighting sizable fish such as musky.

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Casting Reel

Best Musky Reel For Casting: A reel that can be cast with laser precision

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel Black, 60

KEY FEATURES

  • Infini Spool for enhanced castability
  • Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag System for improved fighting power
  • Duragear internal component design for increased strength and durability

If you love nothing more than to watch as a musky smashes a topwater plug, then the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast should be deserving of your attention. This baitcasting reel features Abu Garcia’s proprietary Infini Spool, which provides the enhanced casting capabilities you need to reach reclusive mature musky.

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The Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low Profile baitcasting reel features a Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag System, which places immense fighting power in the palm of an angler’s hand. This system uses a series of carbon fiber washers to slow down hard-running musky, allowing anglers to gain ground and boat the fish of their dreams. The Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast also features micro-drag adjustments, making it easier than ever to fine-tune every aspect of the reel’s performance.

Many anglers should also be fond of the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast’s Duragear internal gear train system. This system promotes precise gear mesh and greater strength while also extending the Beast’s durability.

What Should I Look For When Buying The Best Musky Reel

Musky Reel Types

Musky reels come in many different forms. Baitcasting reels are by far the most popular type of reel among musky anglers, mainly because of their sheer fighting power and performance capabilities. However, some anglers, especially those who prefer to troll for musky, use line counter reels. Reels of this type allow anglers to quickly calculate the line length extended from the rear of their boat.

Spinning reels are also used for musky fishing, although much less frequently than other reel types. These fishing reels are primarily used in precision casting scenarios, where baitcasters often fall short in precision accuracy.

Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting reels are top-rated among musky anglers due mainly to their powerful drag systems and robust internal gearing. These are attributes of significant value when musky fishing, as musky present a ferocious fight whenever hooked, a must often be fought for lengthy periods, until tiring. 

Musky anglers also appreciate baitcasting reels for their fast rate of retrieve. Because musky are somewhat more scarce on many bodies of water than other species of fish, they are often labeled as “the fish of a thousand casts.” Anglers can cover a significant amount of water in rapid succession when using high-speed baitcasters, increasing their odds of enticing a strike.

Spinning Reels

Spinning reels are relatively obscure in the world of musky fishing, though they are used on occasion. Reels of this design are often looked over due to the perceived notion that they are of inadequate size and strength for battling musky. In many cases, a spinning reel’s drag system tends to be less robust than that of a baitcasting reel and can therefore lead to difficulty when attempting to land a fish of epic size.

If an angler were to use a spinning reel when musky fishing, it would be vital to have the reel’s drag set optimally. On-the-fly adjustments would likely be necessary for the heat of a fight to counteract repeated runs. However, if experienced in spinning reel use and armed with plenty of lines, an angler can find musky fishing success with a reel of this type. 

Line Capacity

When musky fishing, it is crucial to take a reel’s line capacity in the count. Musky fight with a level of intensity that few fish can match and are fully capable of rapidly stripping line from a reel. If your reel’s line capacity is not sufficient to withstand these runs, you will lose the fish of a lifetime before you ever realize what happened.

Additionally, many anglers prefer to troll for a musky to cover a substantial amount of ground as quickly as possible. In these situations, significant line length is a must. Without plenty of line at your disposal, you will be forced to begin a fight with a nearly empty reel. 

Left or Right-Handed

When speaking of baitcasters used for musky fishing, confusion is common regarding which hand is to be used for reeling and which is to be used for casting. For example, right-handed baitcasting reels feature a handle on the right side of the reel, while left-handed baitcasting reels have a handle on their left side. Therefore, for right-handed individuals, a right-handed reel will be cast with the right hand and switched to the left after the cast. 

Alternatively, a left-handed reel can be purchased, allowing for both casting and holding to be done with the right hand, though reeling would then be done with an angler’s left hand. The decision of which style reel to use is essentially a matter of personal preference and comes down to what makes an angler feel the most comfortable.

Speed

The speed at which the best musky reel operates directly reflects the unit’s gear ratio. The higher the ratio, the faster a lure, or fish, can be retrieved. While it might seem as if a high gear ratio would be the most obvious choice, a lower gear ratio also has its merit. When using a reel with a high gear ratio, it can often be difficult to retrieve a lure in a slow, methodical fashion. This places importance on planning and having an understanding of how you intend to fish.

Musky reels with a higher gear ratio are perfect for burning up topwater baits or quickly winding a swimbait. However, lower gear ratios are of significant value when crawling a spinnerbait through vegetation or working a soft plastic bait. One must also keep in mind that a lower gear ratio provides additional torque when fighting fish.

Durability

In the world of musky fishing, if your reel is not designed with durability in mind, it simply will not last. Musky are among the most brutal fighting of all freshwater fish species and can destroy lesser reels in no time at all. Therefore a musky angler is wise to choose their reel carefully. A poor selection can leave an angler shaking their head in aggravation.

To be durable, the best musky reel must feature a robust drag system, a premium grade bearing assembly, and ultra-durable gear train components. Most reels of this nature are also constructed to offer superior corrosion resistance.

Line Weight

When purchasing a musky reel, it is vital to select a model capable of using your preferred weight of the line. This information will usually be stamped or printed on a reel’s frame and is critical to efficient use. While most musky-specific reels are capable of using heavy lines, exact sizing options typically vary.

For musky fishing applications, most anglers prefer using a line that ranges from 60-120 pounds in an operational capacity. Because of this wide range of inline sizes, one must often decide which end of the spectrum they favor when selecting their reel.

Gear Ratio

Selecting the right gear ratio for musky fishing can be somewhat of a balancing act. While an angler might wish to use a higher gear ratio to entice reactionary strikes from musky, they also need the pure torque that only a lower geared reel can provide. Thus, in the world of musky fishing, a compromise must take place that often favors fighting power.

Most musky anglers prefer the use of reels with gear ratios in the 5.1:1 to 5.7:1 range. However, when needing additional cranking power, you can select reels of a 3.1:1 to 4.1:1 range. These designations denote the number of rotations a reel’s spool makes for every revolution of the reel’s handle.

Gear Materials

The gears within the best musky reel generally come in two different compositions, stainless steel, and brass. Of these two types, stainless steel is significantly more durable, though it is also heavier. Stainless steel gears are not as susceptible to wear or damage from shock loading as brass construction. Because of this, most of the best musky reels currently use stainless steel internal components.

However, brass gears remain popular with several manufacturers due to the ease of machining related to their use. Brass can be easily machined for precise fitment, allowing manufacturers to mass-produce brass gear sets to a high degree of quality.

Bearing Materials

Most of the best musky reels feature stainless steel ball bearings. Stainless steel is naturally durable due to its rugged characteristics. This is of immense importance, as bearings are continuously moving as a reel’s handle is actuated. Bearings of a lesser construction would quickly erode, leaving an excessive amount of free-play as a result. This free play would then lead to rapid wear of adjoining points and eventual mechanical failure. Occasionally, ceramic bearings are also used to construct musky reels, though this is far less common.

It is also essential that all bearings in the best musky reel be of the highest degree of uniformity. Unevenly matched bearings cannot operate smoothly and are prone to bending when under a significant load. Misshapen bearings also tend to wear at an accelerated rate due to uneven distribution of force.

Reel Housing, Frames, and Spools

Musky reels are composed of several different materials and differ from one model to the next. Some of the most popular reel housing, frame, and spool materials include graphite and aluminum. Each of these materials has their merit, and are of unique value in specific situations.

Most musky reel housings are made primarily of graphite due to their anti-corrosive nature. However, aluminum housings are known to be a somewhat more robust and more durable alternative.

Likewise, musky reels are offered with both graphite and aluminum frames. Graphite is often used in this situation due to its cost-effectiveness. However, an aluminum frame will always be a significantly stronger choice.

Virtually every musky reel employs an aluminum spool due to the material’s lightweight nature. Aluminum spools come in both forged and die-cast forms, with forged spools being the most rugged.

Warranty

Musky are not docile fish. On the contrary, musky fight tenaciously at the end of a line and are more than capable of finding any reel’s weak points. This is one of the many reasons that a serious warranty can be of immense value. After all, no one wishes to be left with an unusable reel if the fight at hand proves too strong. 

Reel warranties can vary significantly in their length and scope. In the majority of cases, 1-year is the standard warranty which all reels feature. However, many manufacturers have begun offering much longer warranties, some up to 3 years in length. In addition, a few select manufacturers now back their reels with lifetime warranties to compliment their reels.

Price

Musky reels can vary significantly in price. One can pay $50 for a musky reel or $500 for a reel of this nature. As one would expect, a consumer often gets what they pay for. However, one can often find the best musky reel for approximately $100. At this price point, consumers can expect to find reels that operate seamlessly and are every bit as powerful as more expensive alternatives. 

Before purchasing a musky reel, an angler must figure out what their budget is. Once this has been determined, it is wise to buy the best musky reel that you can while still operating inside of your budget.

Where to Buy

You can purchase musky reels of nearly any type from almost any fishing retailer. However, for ease and simplicity, many anglers have begun purchasing their musky reels on the internet. With today’s rapid shipping times, anglers can typically receive their new reel faster than they would have if they had been required to visit multiple storefront locations.

Purchasing the best musky reel over the internet also allows you to browse through an endless array of options without ever leaving the comfort of your house. This can be a game-changer, especially in today’s increasingly busy world. There is no longer a need to fight traffic or waste the gas in your tank to venture into five different stores when you can view a much larger number of reels from the comfort of your couch.

Questions & Answers

What reel should I use for musky?

The Goture Ares-Max is the best reel for musky fishing. It features a 22-pound drag system for abundant fighting power, an extended line for enhanced trolling and casting capabilities, and 11 premium ball bearings for ultra-smooth operation.

What is the best line for musky fishing?

Musky are ferocious fighters and are more than capable of pushing any line to its breaking point. When fishing for musky, there is no substitute for the use of braided line, as it is simply tougher by diameter than any other line on the market. Most avid musky anglers prefer lines in the 60-80 pound weight range.

What are the best musky lures?

Musky is predatory by nature and will therefore strike most any lure that gives off the appearance of a baitfish. Some of the most potent musky lures include spinnerbaits, swimbaits, spoons, buzz baits, and topwater plugs. Sizable soft-plastic baits can also be highly productive at most any point of the year.

How long should a musky rod be?

Most musky rods range between 7-9 feet in length. This range tends to offer excellent casting capabilities while also maintaining enough backbone to fight sizable musky from the depths below. When trolling, some anglers tend to prefer rods that are toward the lower end of this range.