Best Baitcasting Reels Under $200 in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Baitcasting reels are chock-full of options and specs that allow you to chase fish on a much bigger scale. They are experienced anglers’ best friends as they can work on any waterfront. These little machinery pieces are designed to withstand the toll of wear and tear due to heavy-use over and over again. 

Although many fishers hesitate before making the switch from spinning reels to baitcasting reels, the anglers on the other side could not be happier with where they are. You just need to take it easy and practice enough to master your baitcasting reel and be rewarded by it. 

Still, baitcasting reels can range from $50 to $400-$500, and not everyone has the financial capacity to spend such sums on fishing gear. That’s why we’ve created this list of the five best baitcasting reels under $200, which is sure to bring your confusion regarding the incredibly varied market down a few notches. 

We’ve also input a guide that’ll help you navigate this market on your own and make an informed, confident decision.

Comparison Table:

Baitcasting Reel

WeightMaximum DragGear Ratio

Ball Bearings

Pflueger President XT

7.7 oz12 lbs.7.3:19

Abu Garcia Black Max

7.3 oz18 lbs.6.4:14+1

Abu Garcia Pro Max

7.3 oz18 lbs.7.1:17+1

KastKing Royale Legend

7.4 oz17.5 lbs.7.0:111+1

Piscifun Phantom

5.7 oz17 lbs.7.0:1

6+1

The 5 Best Baitcasting Reels Under $200 in 2020

1. Pflueger President XT – Best Overall

Pflueger President XT

The President XT by Pflueger is our top choice for many reasons. It delivers an impressive package of options; great internal and external structures, ease of use, and an affordable price tag. Effortlessly, it can chase anything from steelhead and salmon to musky and bass. Now, let’s get into the details. 

The fact that it is a low profile reel along with the top-notch C45 side-plates makes it as lightweight as possible, weighing only 7.7 oz.  

The magnetic brake system here is designed to be as straightforward as possible, making it a suitable choice for novice bait casters. In contrast, the graphite body makes it ideal for saltwater fishing; therefore, making it an excellent choice for experienced anglers as well. 

The gearing system has 9 ball bearings and 1 instant anti-reverse bearing, all corrosion-resistant stainless steel. These bearings improve cast control immensely and allow for a gear ratio of 7.3:1. 

The supreme drag system that was installed here can put out the strength of 12 lbs without facing any trouble, supporting the brake and gearing systems tremendously. 

Additionally, the oversized aircraft handle is fitted with cork rubber tips that improve your grip and enhance anglers’ comfort. 

Lastly, the downside is that the cork tips tend to reduce the handle’s torque a bit.

Pros:

  • Adjustable magnetic brake system 
  • 9 ball bearings 
  • Air-craft aluminum handle
  • Lightweight 
  • Quiet

Cons:

  • Less handle torque 

Final Verdict

The Pflueger President XT was named president for a reason. It supplies you with everything that you might need in a baitcasting reel while maintaining an easy, nuisance-free, straightforward process.

2. Abu Garcia Black Max – Runner-Up

Abu Garcia Black Max

You’ll always find what you need with Abu Garcia products. This time, we have the Black Max baitcasting reel, which enjoys strength, lightweight, corrosion-resistance, and superior stopping power. 

Its lightweightness of 7.3 oz comes from its graphite frame, which also leads to it being corrosion-resistant, hence its sturdiness and tolerance for saltwater. 

Its strength and smoothness come from the powerful gearing system that has been installed. It has a Duragear Brass gearing system with 4 ball bearings and 1 instant anti-reverse bearing. This all leads to a gear ratio of 6.4:1.

The five bearings, in general, are stainless steel; consequently, they provide a smooth procedure. 

The Abu Garcia Black Max’s stopping power comes from both the brake and drag systems. The brake system is the MagTrax one, a magnetic brake system that works to enhance sensitivity for everything that’s happening underwater. 

When sensitivity rises, it takes accuracy along with it, therefore improving cast-control overall. On the other hand, the drag system is the PowerStrike one, which can efficiently deliver stopping power of 18 lbs. 

We’ve also not forgotten about line capacity; the oversized spool has been designed from machined-aluminum that can take as much line as you desire. 

Finally, the handle is bent, hence providing a much better grip. The only downside here would have to be how noisy this device tends to get under pressure.

Pros:

  • Graphite frame
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • MagTrax brake system 
  • PowerStrike drag system

Cons:

  • Noisy under pressure

Final Verdict

Abu Garcia’s Pro Max is an excellent choice overall. It gives you strength and durability one boosting sensitivity and accuracy greatly

3. Abu Garcia Pro Max – Best Drag System

Abu Garcia Pro Max

This is another reel by Abu Garcia; the Pro Max is comparable to the Black Max. However, it maintains uniqueness by offering different features. 

Firstly, it is lightweight at 7.3 ounces as it comes in a one-piece graphite frame and side plates. When the reel has a one-piece body, there are fewer screws, hinges, and weak spots in general, which adds to the sturdiness and durability of the device. 

The gearing system is also the Durragear brass gear one, yet the Pro Max possesses 7 ball bearings and 1 instant, anti-reverse roller bearing, all made of stainless steel. Consequently, the gear ratio here is 7.0:1. 

Moreover, the brake system is also the MagTrax one, but it is supported by a powered disk-drive drag system that is easily capable of lifting 18 lbs out of any waterfront. 

Additionally, the handle here is ergonomically designed as it is made out of EVA. This provides a lot of comfort for anglers who’ll spend prolonged periods holding their reels. 

Unfortunately, just like the Black Max, any pressure causes loud noises that eventually lead to a not-so-smooth performance.

Pros:

  • Super drag system
  • MagTrax brake system
  • 7+1 ball bearings
  • Duragear brass gearing system
  • Affordable 

Cons:

  • Noisy under pressure 
  • Not so smooth

Final Verdict

If what you desire in a reel is for it to be lightweight, in possession of a superb drag system, along with an excellent internal structure, then the Abu Garcia Pro Max is a superior choice in all its aspects.

4. KastKing Royale Legend – Best Brake System

KastKing Royale Legend

The Royale Legend reel by Kastking is an impressive device; it gives you so much for an affordable price tag. From the brake system to the drag system, all the way to the comfort of the handle, every detail has been taken care of diligently.

Firstly, let’s talk about the star of the show, the brake system. It’s a 10-level dual brake system, which means that the reel’s body houses both a centrifugal and a magnetic brake system for superior casting control and accuracy.

Although some people might think that it will be hard to adjust such a brake system, the truth is the exact opposite; it has been designed to be simple and straightforward to provide anglers with a hassle-free experience. 

The reel’s body is made from graphite, which guarantees saltwater tolerance while maintaining a lightweight status at just 7.4 oz. 

Moreover, the spool can take impressive line capacity as it is made of CNC, Computer Numerically Controlled, machined cross-drilled anodized aluminum, which works on relieving a lot of weight off your wrists and forearms while maintaining strength and durability. 

It’s also been designed with the ceramic line guide, which keeps the line, whether monofilament or braided, where it should be at all times. 

Furthermore, the gearing system is as impressive as it gets, with 11 ball bearings, 1 anti-reverse bearing, precision-cut brass gears, and a gear ratio of 7.0:1. Your casts and retrievals will be extra smooth with a cherry on top. 

Additionally, the drag system here is a carbon fiber one that can deliver the power of 17.5 lbs without any trouble. 

Lastly, we have an oversized handle made of stainless steel and adorned with non-slip EVA powdered foam grips to increase torque and stability while keeping moisture-damage at bay. 

The downsides that can come with this reel is that it can get a little bit noisy with heavy use and that the thump-release gets stuck occasionally.

Pros:

  • 10-level dual brake system
  • 11+1 ball bearings
  • Large spool
  • Corrosion-resistant 
  • Oversized handle

Cons:

  • Thumb release gets stuck
  • Noisy

Final Verdict

KastKing Royale Legend is an amazing device. When you combine it’s internal structure, drag, brake, and gearing systems, with its lightweight graphite external structure, you get a reel that can help you chase trophy catches with relative ease.

5. Piscifun Phantom – Best Ultralight Baitcasting Reel

Piscifun Phantom

Ultralight reels are always impressive; they give you so many options and specs within such a small, lightweight body. 

The main reason why the Piscifun Phantom weighs only 5.7 oz will have to be its premium carbon-fiber structure, which includes the whole frame, the handle, and the side plates. Carbon-fiber is known to give reels an incredible lightweight, while still maintaining sturdiness and strength. 

Additionally, this reel is a possession of an impressive dual-brake system: the Dynamic 6-Pin Centrifugal brake, plus a magnetic brake. This combination works towards an incredibly smooth performance that is free of wind-knots, tangles, and backlashes. 

Another contributing factor to the smoothness of the Piscifun Phantom fishing process will have to be it’s gearing system. It’s made out of double hard, anodized aircraft aluminum, along with 6+1 ball bearings. Accordingly, it can provide a gear ratio of 7.0:1. 

Last but certainly not least, the drag system here is a supreme carbon fiber washer one as it has the power of 17 lbs. 

One last thing is that it has an extended carbon crank handle, 105 mm to be exact, which provides comfort. 

Unfortunately, every reel has its deficits, and the problem with this one is that it comes with flimsy screws that you will have to tighten and maintain frequently.

Pros:

  • Ultralight 
  • Comfortable 
  • Dual 6-Pin brake system 

Cons:

  • Flimsy screws 

Final Verdict

If what you’re looking for is an ultralight baitcasting reel with an impressive strength level and a dual brake system, then the Piscifun Phantom is the reel for you.

How to Pick a Baitcasting Reel

Type

Although all baitcasting reels are designed for heavy use, they are divided into round reels and low profile reels. We’ll discuss them both momentarily.

Round Reel

A round reel is a work-horse; it is designed to withstand a lot of pressure, have a sturdier structure, and hold high line capacities. That is all because its main use is to go after trophy, pride-inspiring catches.

Low Profile

Low profile reels are the more delicate versions; they can easily fit into your palm and focus more on boosting your sensitivity. You utilize them through keeping your thumb on the thread; hence, you feel all that is happening under you.

Structure

Baitcasting reels are more often than not designed for saltwater use, so you will find the majority to be made out of the graphite or aluminum to guarantee corrosion resistance. Graphite is more on the flexible side, while aluminum provides a lot of strength and torque. 

Some manufactures decide to go with more luxurious, expensive options such as ceramic, titanium, and manganese. They cost a lot more. Still, the experience of fishing with such a reel remains worth it to a lot of people.

Brake System

Brakes are the main component that allow you to control your spool’s rotation. They are your first and most crucial defense line against the backlash. 

Backlash is when the spool keeps turning, and the line is not moving forward an inch, which creates an extra, spare line that’s left to produce trouble. 

The perfect brake system stops the spool as soon as the line touches the water. Currently, on the market, there are two brake systems, centrifugal and magnetic. 

Magnetic

There are two sets of magnets on each side of the reel, which move close to and further from the spool. This movement works to increase and decrease the distance between them, and the magnetic fields created do the rest of the work.

Centrifugal

Two brake pins inside the reel turn on or off due to the centrifugal force generated during the cast itself. Once your cast ends and the line reaches the water surface, the centrifugal brakes will work and prevent your spool from turning.

Drag System

An on-point drag system should have a power of around 20-30% of the used line’s breaking strength. Such a percentage works towards exhausting your catch to be able to reel it in an adequate period. 

Still, the maximum drag power is not the only factor to consider when inspecting a drag system. For instance, a good system would be a carbon fiber one with oversized oiled felt washers. This system can reduce friction and distribute the heat produced from the mentioned friction efficiently. 

Lastly, it ought to be easily adjustable as you don’t want to add any more effort to what you are already doing.

Ball Bearings

Always try to go for high-quality bearings, meaning you should go for MaxiDure ones, or for simply sealed shielded stainless steel ball bearings. 

If you have an extra buck to spend then, ceramic ball bearings have been on the receiving end of raving reviews, as they are top-notch quality. 

Try to go for as many ball bearings as possible. However, do not let that reign supreme over quality. A lower number of high-quality ball bearings is always better than a high number of low-quality ball bearings.

Level Wind

Level wind is an excellent addition to any reel. What does or what it is is a bar that keeps going over to the spool as you reel in your line. It makes sure that your line is stored evenly, hence. It prevents the sudden stoppage of your spool due to tangled lines.

Anti-Reverse

Having an anti-reverse means that there is one less thing that you have to do. It is simply a ratchet and dog system which prevents the handle from going backward. This means that the line goes out but doesn’t come back in unless you reel it in yourself.

Gear Ratio

The numbers of the gear ratio refer to the whole spins done by the spool per one full crank of the handle. In other words, it is the speed at which you retrieve your line. Every target fish will require a different gear ratio depending on its size, speed, and stubbornness. 

If you are going after a finicky fish that will put up quite the fight, then get a ratio of 4.0:x. It will prove handy as it lifts the fish slowly yet firmly. 

On the other hand, if you are scanning large areas, or doing a series of fast casts and retrievals, then a higher gear ratio of 7.0:x will be the better choice.

Design

Fishing is a time-consuming hobby. You can spend an entire day waiting on your bait to catch. Most of the time will be spent holding your reel. That’s why this little piece of machinery has to be perfectly comfortable in your hands.

Try to go for a lightweight one that’ll take as much weight off your wrists, forearms, arms, and shoulders.

Overall

Try to go for a reel that you can easily palm in your hand. Graphite and carbon fiber are significant options that offer lightweight and sturdiness, so bear them in mind when you’re making your choice.

Handle

A bent handle is extremely comfortable as it provides extra strength. The mentioned handle has to be at a proper distance from both the reel and the rod as to not bump into them. Moreover, it should be made out of robust materials as it bears the brunt of your aggressive retrieval every time. Lastly, try to go for EVA handles as they are the most comfortable in the market today.

Spool

The spool is one of the most exposed areas of the fishing reel. Consequently, it ought to be made of the same robust material as the rest of the reel. Graphite, titanium, ceramic, and manganese are all great options. 

Anodized aluminum and forged-aluminum are also excellent sturdy, affordable, and readily available options. So, you’ve got yourself and an impressive array of choices. 

Lastly, always make sure that your spool has a high line capacity as it’s a must in baitcasting. Plus, it ought to be braid-ready as braided line is relatively common with baitcasters.

Final Thoughts

We’ve now reached the end of our article, and we’ll go over the essential points. Baitcasting is an extraordinary rewarding sport; it opens many doors to trophy catches. However, you must always take it step-by-step to avoid danger to yourself or damage to your gear.

Our top pick for the best baitcasting reel under $200 will have to be the Pflueger President XT, as it gives you everything you could need, from strength to lightweight to an amazing gearing system, you will not find it wanting in any aspect.

Moreover, our runner-up, the Abu Garcia Black Max, provides an amazingly smooth performance. With its MagTrax brake system and premium C45 lightweight side plates, it brings lightweight and stopping power to your doorstep. 

Lastly, if you are into ultralight baitcasting reels, then the Piscifun Phantom is always an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced fishers alike.