Musky fishing is one of the most exciting hobbies that can be practiced around freshwater, as this specific species inhabits large rivers and lakes. Thus, if you are situated close to such a waterfront, you might want to try your hand at chasing one of those beasts.
Musky is a unique species that can grow to weigh 30 lbs. Consequently, trying to remove one of them from its habitat will definitely prove to be a merry ride.
To emerge victorious from such a pursuit, you will need the correct gear, that’s why we have gathered the seven best musky reels present in the market today so that you can find the perfect fit for you.
List of the Best Musky Reels:
- KastKing Royale Legend – Best Musky Baitcasting Reel
- Shimano Tranx – Runner-Up
- Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 – Best Control
- Okuma Coldwater 350 – Best Value for Money
- Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket – Fastest Retrieval
- Okuma Komodo SS – Best Drag System
- PENN Squall Level Wind – Best Rod and Reel Combo
|Type||Material||Drag||Ball Bearings||Gear Ratio|
|KastKing Royale Legend||Baitcasting||Graphite||17.5 lbs||11+1||
|Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3||Baitcasting||Aluminum||15 lbs||4||
Okuma Coldwater 350
Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocker
Okuma Komodo SS
|Baitcasting||Aluminum- Stainless Steel||30 lbs||7+1||7.1:1|
PENN Squall Level Wind
|Baitcasting||Graphite – Stainless Steel||15 lbs||2+1||
The 7 Best Musky Reels in 2021
1. KastKing Royale Legend – Best Musky Baitcasting Reel
Our top pick is the Royale Legend by KastKing, simply because it is precisely what you need when fishing for musky, no more, no less. Plus, of course, the fact that it comes at a within-budget price is incredibly attractive.
Now, to the basics, this is a baitcasting reel made out of graphite, or corrosion-resistance material, and is lightweight. The spool is braid-ready and large enough to accommodate several lines as it is made out of anodized forged aluminum.
Moreover, it comes in two different colors, with an impressive gear ratio of 7.0:1, and with 11+1 MaxiDur sealed ball bearings that allow for extra-smooth operation. It is also fitted with a ceramic line guide, which keeps your line where it should be at all times without the hassle of tangles or coils.
Not only do the 11+1 ball bearings guarantee you a sleek fishing trip, but they all work on supporting the gear shaft, which is entirely made out of cut brads. The installed handles are made out of stainless steel and wholly coated with foam to secure torque and grip.
Lastly, the drag system installed in the reel is quite impressive as it has a maximum of 17.5 lbs, and it is the centrifugal magnetic dual-level10, dual-brake system, which, although is quite advanced, remains straightforward and simple to use.
All of these features that we have discussed lead to a very attractive result: the elimination of backlash and wind knots while maintaining accurate casts.
One downside to this reel is the faulty thumb release, which means that your line might get stuck.
- Comfortable handles
- 11+1 ball bearings
- 17.5 lbs drag maximum
- Faulty thumb release
This line is our top pick for the best musky reel because it has focused on the important aspects such as the drag, ball bearings, and the comfort of anglers.
2. Shimano Tranx – Runner-Up
Our second baitcasting reel is by Shimano, and although it was designed initially for saltwater fishing, freshwater anglers have decided that it is perfectly suitable for the trophy catches of the river.
It has a fashionable compact design which not only attracts the eye but allows it to be perfectly comfortable in your hand.
Moreover, this reel is constructed out of aluminum, but that alone wasn’t enough as Shimano has supplied it with a technology known as CoreProtect. This technology grants it built-in water-resistance, making it highly durable.
The drag system here has an impressive maximum of 22 lbs; this alone provides superior cranking power, but again that wasn’t enough. Thus, manufacturers have added the HEG and X-Ship technologies, which work cohesively on boosting the torque and strength of this reel.
Furthermore, it has a gear ratio of 5.8:1, which can retrieve up to 40 in per turn. The ball bearings here amount up to a total of five sealed ones with a reverse one.
The only downside to this reel is how expensive it is; not everyone can spare that sort of money to spend on fishing.
- Great compact design
- Great cranking power
If cost isn’t a concern for you and you wish to invest in a reel that will last you ages and withstand different environmental elements, then the Shimano will be the perfect fit for you.
3. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 – Best Control
This baitcasting reel by Abu Garcia is made entirely out of aluminum, which grants it superior strength and longevity. The exterior design has also not been overlooked as it is quite attractive and compact.
The reel has a gear ratio of 5.3:1, three stainless steel ball bearings, plus one rolling bearing. The handles on this reel are uniquely designed as they are quite long and bent in order to offer you maximum comfort.
The drag system here is a six-pin centrifugal carbon matrix, one of which has a maximum of 15 lbs. All of these features and options lead you to the knowledge that this reel is the epitome of precision and accuracy.
All of your casts and retrievals will be on point if you choose this reel. Additionally, the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 is known for its capability to hook your fish for extended periods without letting it escape.
Unfortunately, some of its internal components are plastic, which can be extremely harmful to other components as well.
- Six-pin centrifugal brakes
- Carbon matrix drag system
- Extended bent handles
- Plastic components
This reel oozes accuracy as it has been designed with diligent care. If you are not an avid fisher or just don’t go after those big catches that generate too much internal heat, you might get away with these plastic parts.
4. Okuma Coldwater 350 – Best Value for Money
The Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Reel is one of the best, most famous, and most used reels for salmon, walleye, and, of course, the star of today’s show, musky.
It is a baitcasting line counter reel with a 5.4:1 gear ratio, alongside 3+1 ball bearings.
The reel itself has a corrosion-resistant, lightweight frame made from die-cast aluminum, which can withhold up to 65 lbs of braided line, which makes it perfect for battling those freshwater muskies.
The best thing about this reel is the precision fishing line counter that grants you a near-perfect trolling presentation. The mentioned line counter on this reel can do anything from float fishing to casting, trolling, and even jigging. It really is a jack of all trades.
It fits your hand like a glove due to its ergonomic design, guaranteeing that your hand will never be strained or fatigued, even after multiple hours of using this reel.
Additionally, the power grip and ambidextrous design allow you to enjoy fishing with higher torque and using your dominant hand.
Finally, the drag system here is monstrous, as it boasts a maximum drag output of 25 lbs.
Moreover, it houses an impressive 350 size line spool, which is more than enough for all anglers out there, whether experienced or amateurs.
However, it will require lubrication from time to time, and you might feel some slight friction while casting.
- Used by left-handed and right-handed
- Anti-corrosion frame
- Requires lubrication
- Slight friction when casting
The Okuma Coldwater 350 is an exceptional baitcasting line counter reel for musky with a fantastic drag system and bearings to match. Its powergrip and anti-corrosion frame are a perfect fit for the freshwater that musky inhabit.
5. Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket – Fastest Retrieval
The Revo Toro Rocket is all about speed. True to its name, it is the fastest reel for musky on the market.
It has a 7.6:1 gear ratio, granting it an immense line retrieval speed of 42 ins per turn. Such speed is more than enough for any angler. You will now be able to fish for these tough-to-catch muskies with relative ease.
It is made from X-Craftic AlloyMetal, which makes the reel robust, sturdy, and capable of lasting for long years of usage without showing any signs of slowing down.
Its drag system can easily lift up to 25 lbs, as it is a carbon stack power matrix with a fast response mechanism.
However, on the downside, it might feel heavy in their palm, and it becomes tiresome to use when held for a long time.
- Made from X-Craftic AlloyMetal
- Retrieval speed of 42-in.
The Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket is the fastest reel for musky fishing. It grants you a drag of 25 lbs, alongside a fantastic 42 in per turn retrieval, and a stiff body made out of an X-Craftic AlloyMetal.
6. Okuma Komodo SS – Best Drag System
The Okuma Komodo SS is a baitcasting reel that’s the perfect fit for catching musky fish, with a pool shaft and the drive are constructed from industrial grade steel. They are also corrosion-resistant, which means that they are perfect for any waterfront and will last you ages.
Other components, such as the spool, side plates, and frame, have not been forgotten; they have been constructed out of high-quality machined aluminum.
The carbonite drag system is capable of withstanding up to 30 lbs, alongside the precision-cut metal pinion gear that’ll grant you immense strength.
This reel comes with 7+1 ball bearings ensuring great flow for your fishing trip. The stainless steel gears that we have spoken about before include in their structure zirconium guide inserts, which work on giving you a straight tangle-free hassle-free line at all times.
Moreover, the gear ratio here is 7.1:1, which is one of the fastest that you’ll find on this list. It gives you 31 in. line retrieval per one turn. Hence, you will definitely be able to get that fish out in time.
Lastly, the reel is designed to be held comfortably and securely in your hand in order to provide you with more torque at no cost whatsoever to your comfort.
The downsides of this reel include its quite heavyweight, hefty price, loud cranking noise, and the fact that one model won’t do it for all. Every model is suited for specific fish only.
- 30 lbs drag maximum
- Forged aluminum/stainless steel build
- 7+1 sealed ball bearings
- Zirconium guide inserts
- Trolling on/off clicker
- Every model is suited for specific fish only
This reel is a true beast. You can easily bring back a significant number of muskies when you use it, due to its incredible strength and impressive drag system.
7. PENN Squall Level Wind – Best Rod and Reel Combo
This one-piece rod and reel combo by PENN is designed to make your life a lot easier. You don’t need to go through the tedious process of pairing-up your rod with a suitable reel if you choose to go for this product. Plus, an attractive pro that’ll definitely improve your mode is that it comes for an affordable price.
This baitcasting reel is attached to a 6.6 in medium-heavy duty rod. It is made out of a combination of graphite for the frame and side plates, while the internal components, including the main gears and the ball bearings, are made out of stainless steel.
Speaking of ball bearings, this piece of machinery comes with two ball bearings plus a reverse one, which of course adds to the smoothness of your fishing trip as a whole. Still, the advantages don’t stop here.
The drag system installed here is an HT-100 carbon fiber one which can, without trouble, lift all the way up to 15 lbs. Another feature that also contributes to the mellowness of the process is its adequate gear ratio of 4.9:1.
Furthermore, the sturdy rod was designed using a tubular glass blank construction in order to boost its sensitivity. Although this combo is not made out of the most luxurious materials, it is the perfect fit for the job. It is strong yet smooth enough for you to tire-out your prey, and reel it in without any problems.
Unfortunately, just like any other product, it has its downsides, mostly quality control problems. The products tend to arrive with frayed packaging, damaged themselves, or assembled in the wrong way. Thus, we would advise you to check your product thoroughly upon receiving it.
- One piece
- Sturdy gears
- Quality control problems
This is a strong, smooth, and sturdy combo that will save you a lot of effort and time, all for an affordable price. It is the perfect win-win situation that is guaranteed to maximize your gain significantly.
How to Pick a Reel For Musky Fishing
A baitcasting reel is, mostly, a choice for experienced anglers who know precisely what they are doing. Although that might seem like a turn-off for a lot of people who are making their way into the sport, it really shouldn’t be.
Just like anything else, using a baitcasting reel has a learning curve, and with time and practice, it won’t be as taxing as it once was.
Baitcasting reels can take a significant beating, as they’re made out of tougher materials, have more robust drag systems, and can handle heavy weights and lines much better.
Such features make them the perfect choice for musky, which is known to be quite aggressive freshwater fish.
A trolling reel is just like a baitcasting one with only one difference; that is, they come with a pre-installed counter. What that counter does is that it tells you how far down your line is.
This can be exceptionally useful when you go after many different species that live at various water depths. With a counter, you’ll know exactly where you are, and what you can find at that specific water-level.
Spinning reels are by far the most common choice in today’s markets. Everyone has used a spinning reel at a particular time in their fishing journey, and many anglers keep on using it as it is straightforward, affordable, versatile, and readily available.
Yet, when you are going after quarrelsome musky, a spinning reel simply will not do, as it cannot handle their strength. It is not designed for such fights, and if it’s components include plastic or any relatively cheaper material, the heat generated from the inside of the reel will cause its downfall.
The core structure of your reel is crucial to the success of your fishing trip. Typically, reels are made out of aluminum or graphite. Some companies go towards more luxurious options such as titanium, ceramic, and manganese. However, the first two remain the most common basics.
The housing of a reel means external coverage, which can be made out of aluminum or graphite. Aluminum is a lot stronger and sturdier than graphite.
Graphite, on the other hand, is more manageable and naturally corrosion-resistant, which makes it a worthy opponent, and a great option when it comes to saltwater fishing.
Spools are made out of either graphite or aluminum. With aluminum, you have two options: die-cast and forged. For several reasons, forged aluminum remains the superior choice as it is pressed metal.
It has not been exposed to as much heat as the die-cast, which is shaped by melting and placing it into a mold. Hence, there’s a lot less tampering with forged aluminum.
Just like the previous two components, the frames can be made from either aluminum or graphite. Nonetheless, we will have to persuade you to go for the aluminum ones as they will give you longevity and sturdiness.
What a drag system does is that it was with the fish and gives out just enough line in order to tire it out. We understand that there will be a lot of friction and, therefore, a high level of heat production.
The drag will intervene here since it’s responsible for heat management and disposal in order to guarantee smooth performance. A sound drag system will be made out of carbon or manganese, or both.
Steer clear from any less adequate materials, especially plastic. Not only will such elements give out under pressure, but they’ll transport this heat to other components of the reel, ruining them in the process and maximizing your loss.
4. Ball Bearings
Ball bearings are the cogs that cohesively guarantee the smoothness of both your casts and retrievals. That’s why it is essential for you to choose good quality ones even if you’re going to splurge a little bit.
They are usually made out of either stainless steel or ceramic. Stainless steel is the most common option as it’s the most affordable. Manufacturers even go the extra mile to seal them completely using different materials, which is a great plus.
The ceramic ones, on the other hand, are more expensive but lighter and smoother. The rule of thumb with ball bearings is that the more, the merrier. Yet, quality will always reign supreme over quantity.
It’s ten-times better to go for a lower number of high-quality bearings than to go for a high number of low-quality bearings, or even worse, brushers.
5. Line Capacity
Musky is a challenging fish to catch up with. That’s why you will need a lot of back-and-forth between you and the fish in order to reel it in, and that’s where significant line capacity comes into play.
You have to be secure in the knowledge that you have more than enough line on your spool to make you completely capable of fighting musky and loading it into your cooler. You can hardly ever say that you’ve packed too much line while packing too little is relatively easy.
This is where all the action takes place. The handles must be exceedingly comfortable through having it covered with rubber or cork. The better covered your handles are, the greater torque they’ll give you.
Another thing that is essential for the handles is their ambidextrous use, as the use of left-handed reels has risen in the past few years. You also need to have a pattern for which hand will be doing what.
You must know that if you choose a right-handed reel, you will be casting with your left hand and retrieving with the right unless you decide to switch hands post-cast.
7. Gear Ratio
This is the speed at which you will be retrieving your line. Here, you need to strike a balance between fast retrievals in order to not leave a huge window for escape, and a steady, sturdy retrieval that’s guaranteed to bring your catch safely. For musky, you might want to go for anything in between 5.1:1 and 6.0:1.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is Musky Hard to Catch?
Yes, as they’re quite aggressive and fussy, which has led to them being known as “the fish of ten thousand casts.”
How Long Should a Musky Rod be?
Anything between 7.5 and 9 ft will serve you well. Yet, if it’s a trolling rod, you can go a few inches shorter, while a few extra inches with a baitcasting rod would be a much better choice.
Can You Catch Muskie From the Shore?
Yes, the majority of known baits can be used either from the shore or from on top of a boat. Yet, shoreline fishing offers you a lot of stability.
We’ve reached the end of this article, and as we have explained before, musky is a fish that is awfully connected to its home. Thus, tearing it from it will be no easy task how; yet, the right gear will definitely put you on the right track.
If you want to go for a reel that is top-notch, strong, durable, lightweight, with an impressive drug system and affordable price tag, then our top pick for the best musky reel is the KastKing Royale Legend, which is always an excellent choice for anyone.
Our runner-up, the Shimano Tranx, is no lesser choice. With its aluminum structure and 22 lbs maximum drag, you will definitely achieve what you set out for.
Lastly, if you wish to spare yourself a lot of time and effort and go for a rod and reel combo, then our pick here would have to be the PENN Squall Level Wind. You will not need anything else when you have this impressive piece of machinery on you.