The best baitcasting reels for salmon are the ones that are tested and proven to be good by actual anglers and fishing guides who fish hard for salmon. These Baitcast reels are the ones that are highly recommended by many anglers and guides and the ones in this article.
As a bonus, I’ve done the research for you and included six baitcasting reels for salmon that are being recommended on other websites.
This way, you get all the best baitcasting reels for salmon all on one page.
Baitcasting Reels For Salmon Fishing
There are many advantages to using baitcasting reels for salmon fishing. There are three types of baitcasting reels that I and other guides use when guiding for salmon, which I’ll discuss below.
Other than fly fishing, all sport fishing methods used to catch salmon can be done effectively with a baitcasting reel. Make sure you have the right size, and type suitable for the methods that you use.
Also, stick with reels that are proven to be effective for salmon fishing.
Here’s a quick list of the best salmon baitcasting reels used and recommended by salmon guides and anglers.
Our Quick-Pick List
1. Curado K 200 or 300 – Best Overall Low Profile Baitcasting Reel
2. Daiwa Tatula 200– Angler Recommended
3. Revo SX – Most Popular Low Profile
4. Daiwa Lexa 300 – Best Saltwater Low Profile Baitcasting Reel
5. Shimano Calcutta 300 and 400 – Best Round Baitcaster
6. Okuma Convector Line Counter Reel – Most Popular Trolling Reel For Salmon
7. Shimano Tranx – Best Heavy-Duty Low Profile for King Salmon
8. Shimano Tekota – Best Trolling Reel
9. Shimano Cardiff – Best Budget Round Baitcasting Reel
10. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Line Counter Round Casting Reel – Best Budget Line Counter Trolling Reel
11. OKUMA Coldwater SS 350 Low Profile Line Counter Reel – Best Low Profile Line Counter for Salmon
4 Best Low Profile Baitcasting Reels
1. Curado K 200 or 300 – Best Overall Low Profile Baitcasting Reel
The Curado K 200 and K300 fishing reels are low-profile salmon baitcasting reels with a right-hand retrieve and longer handles with rubber-coated paddle grips for superior comfort and grip.
The baitcaster fishing reels are available with your choice of gear ratio that goes as high as 8.5:1. The K200 has six ball bearings and one roller bearing while the K300 has five plus one bearings for smooth reeling.
Either fishing reel is terrific for salmon fishing and has plenty of line capacity. The K300 holds up to 125 yards of 65-pound test braided line and up to 150 yards of 17-pound test monofilament.
The drag system is good for between 17 and 22 pounds of max drag. A magnetic braking system prevents backlash and helps to make the Curado reels the best overall for salmon fishing.
2. Daiwa Tatula 200 – Angler Recommended
The Tatula 200 has an aluminum frame and side plate paired with reinforced brass gearing to help you battle a big salmon.
Seven stainless steel ball bearings plus a roller bearing ensure smooth reeling, and a magnetic brake system prevents line tangles.
A long handle and fast gear ratio help to land bigger fish. A line capacity of up to 150 yards of 20-pound-test monofilament and up to 40-pound-test braided lines. You also can switch between right- and left-hand retrieve.
3. Revo SX – Most Popular Low Profile Baitcasting Reel
Abu Garcia’s latest Revo SX is the popular low-profile baitcasting reel’s fifth generation and the best one yet.
An alloy frame and an asymmetrical body give you plenty of strength in a well-balanced reel that is available in either right- or left-hand retrieval.
Ten stainless steel ball bearings make reeling very smooth and effortless, while your choice of a 6.7:1 or 7.3:1 gear ratio takes up line quickly. A centrifugal braking system controls the spool’s speed while a star drag gives you up to 25 pounds of max drag resistance to tire out a big salmon.
Line capacity ranges from 160 yards of 10-pound test up to 90 yards of either 17-pound-test monofilament or 50-pound-test braided line.
4. Shimano Tranx – Best X-Large Low Profile for King Salmon
If you want a low-profile fishing reel with lots of line capacity compared to other reels, the Shimano Tranx is a great choice.
You can buy either a Tranx 300 or a slightly larger 400 with a lefthand retrieve, 7.6:1 gear ratio, and six ball bearings for fast and smooth line retrieval.
A power handle with a single oversized knob for greater comfort gives you plenty of cranking power when landing a big salmon.
The Tranx gives you up to 18 pounds of drag, six stainless steel ball bearings, and up to 180 yards of 14-pound-test monofilament or 190 yards of 50-pound-test braided line.
2 Best Low Profile Line Counter Baitcasting Reel for Salmon
1. OKUMA Coldwater SS 350 Low Profile Line Counter Reel – Best Budget Line Counter Trolling Reel
The Okuma Coldwater is a low-profile reel with an aluminum frame, stainless steel gears, four ball bearings, and a right-handed retrieve.
A magnetic braking system, 5.4:1 gear ratio, and a smooth drag make the Coldwater SS great for salmon fishing methods like trolling.
The reel also is available with a left-hand retrieve and holds up to 150 yards of 20-pound-test monofilament.
2. Daiwa Lexa 300 – Best Saltwater Low Profile Baitcasting Reel
The Lexa 300 is one honey of a reel that is available in either left- or right-hand retrieve and has a 7.1:1 gear ratio. Seven quality ball bearings include two corrosion-resistant bearings to hold up against the corrosive effects of saltwater.
If you are targeting chinook salmon out on the open water, or in freshwater, the Lexa 300 outperforms most reels.
The reel comes with Daiwa’s Magforce braking system and an infinite anti-reverse that controls the aluminum spool speed for reliable casting with few or no tangles. It has a double handle and Daiwa’s ultimate tournament drag system for fighting fish.
The Lexa 300 holds up to 180 yards of 40-pound-test braid or 190 yards of 14-pound-test monofilament fishing lines.
2 Best Round Baitcasting Reel For Salmon
1. Shimano Calcutta 400 – Best Round Baitcaster
The Calcutta 400 is the kind of reel that you want to catch big fish in deep waters.
Its classic design looks great and includes an aluminum spool with a line capacity of up to 330 yards of 12-pound-test monofilament or 305 yards of 50-pound-test braid.
An oversized double handle, 5.0:1 gear ratio, and 18 pounds of max drag help you to land bigger salmon. It’s equipped with four anti-rust bearings and a durable pinion gear for a long service life.
2. Shimano Cardiff – Best Budget Round Casting Reel
The Cardiff is another classically designed reel and is available for a relatively affordable price. It features four anti-rust bearings, a centrifugal brake, and a recessed reel foot for smooth casting.
Aluminum construction, a large double handle, and anti-reverse ensure smooth casting and retrieval with a 5.8:1 gear ratio. The Cardiff has a 10-pound drag and a line capacity of up to 180 yards of 14-pound-test monofilament.
3 Best Baitcasting Reels for Trolling and Back Trolling
1. Shimano Tekota Line Counter- Best Trolling Reel
The Tekota has a line capacity of up to 390 yards of 40-pound-test braid that makes it ideal for trolling. The compact reel has four ball bearings, a 6.3:1 gear ratio, and 24 pounds of drag.
Shimano’s coreprotect design keeps water and dirt out of the reel’s gears and bearings. It comes with a right-hand retrieve and is available in three sizes, from 500 to 800, and has an all-metal Hagane body.
This is the Shimano Tekota, without the line counter.
It is still one of the best trolling reels for salmon fishing for those anglers who do not want a line counter reel.
The line counter reels are also the best to use when Mooching For Salmon.
2. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Line Counter Round Casting Reel – Best Budget Line Counter Trolling Reel
The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur includes an integrated line counter that is especially handy while trolling deep waters and includes a line-out alarm.
The round reel holds up to 630 yards of 30-pound-test braid or 245 yards of 12-pound-test monofilament line that reels in quickly thanks to a fast gear ratio.
Three shielded stainless steel bearings, an oversized handle, and a large paddle help you reel in big salmon. A carbon matrix drag system gives you a smooth and powerful drag.
3. Okuma Convector Line Counter Reel – Most Popular Trolling Reel for Salmon
The Convector is one of the most popular casting reels for trolling. It comes with a corrosion-resistant metal frame and sideplates, an aluminum spool, and three ball bearings for smooth line retrieval.
An oversized handle with a single knob and extra-large self-lubricated gearing give it a fast gear ratio for reeling in your catch. The line capacity is up to 240 yards of 14-pound-test monofilament, and an analog line counter tells you how many feet of line are out.
6 Other Notable and Recommended Reels
After researching reels for salmon fishing, I came across other websites and anglers recommending reels that I wasn’t very familiar with, meaning, i don’t have firsthand knowledge of these reels.
But, I know how people like to look around to see what others have to say, so I’ve included some other reels for you to consider.
- Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Low-Profile Baitcasting Reel
- Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel
- KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel
- Okuma Tesoro star drag reel
- Penn Fathom Low Profile Reel
- Quantum Tour S3 Baitcasting Reel
You may find better pricing on all of these reels at:
Differences Between a Low Profile and Round Baitcasting Reels
The two general options for baitcasting reels are the low-profile reel and the round reel. Both baitcaster reels generally have fast gear ratios that enable you to retrieve line quickly. A magnetic braking system prevents line tangles while casting.
The primary differences are round baitcasters hold more line and often have lower gear ratios than low-profile reels. The round reels generally are the best fishing reels for trolling in deep water. The lighter low-profile reels are more popular with experienced anglers who like to target bass as well as salmon while wading, trolling, or drift fishing.
How to Choose the Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon Fishing
Choosing the best baitcasting reel purchase for salmon starts with your budgetary limits for your fishing gear. Then you start the search for the best baitcaster reel that fits within your budget and works with your fishing rod.
You should check the number and type of ball bearings, gear ratio, and braking system when casting. Sealed stainless steel ball bearings and a high gear ratio are preferred along with a power disk drag system that will help you to land big fish.
Fishing techniques also matter. A lighter reel is better for casting while a heavier round one might be better if you are going trolling.
Check Spool Size and Line Capacity
Most baitcasting reels have more line capacity than spinning reels — especially round ones with larger spools. Bigger spools also affect the gear ratio as you retrieve more line.
A baitcasting reel that is round could hold hundreds of yards of high-test line for fishing in deep waters. When fishing a river or stream, a low-profile and lighter baitcasting reel with a lightweight aluminum frame can outperform a comparable spinning reel while giving you more line capacity.
Look for a Smooth and Powerful Drag System
A smooth and durable drag system that enables you to hook and land large fish helps to set the best baitcasting reels from the competition. I like a max drag that is rated for slightly less weight than the fishing line’s test limit so that the drag will help me tire out the fish and bring it to the net or boat.
Baitcasting Reel Gear Ratio
A baitcasting reel is terrific for catching salmon and other larger fish thanks to its sturdy construction and gear ratios that enable fast retrievals. A gear ratio of 6.2:1 or more makes it a lot easier to haul in big fish when using a quality drag system. The gear ratios should enable quick line retrieval while a braking system minimizes tangles when casting.
Check the Material and Construction
There are many variations of baitcasting reels that give you lots of options for choosing the ideal fishing reel. A sturdy metal reel body with an anodized aluminum spool, sealed stainless steel ball bearings, and one roller bearing works great for rivers, lakes, or saltwater fishing.
A good baitcasting reel made from strong and light metal and that has a smooth drag system with a max drag of about 12 pounds or more should do well for river fishing.
Pick a Baitcasting Reel with Anti-Backlash Features
The greatest deterrence to using a baitcasting reel is the potential for creating a huge bird’s nest out of the fishing line. An uncontrolled spool will cause the fishing line to tangle badly on the fishing reel. Then you have to switch spools on the fishing reel or use another fishing setup.
That’s why the anti-backlash braking system was made for baitcaster reels. An anti-backlash feature stops the spool from spinning too fast. It often uses a magnetic braking system and makes the spool match the speed of the outgoing line for perfect casting.
Do You Need a Line Counter Reel?
If you are on the Great Lakes or saltwater fishing, you might have to fish very deep to reach the salmon. A line counter reel tells you how deep you are fishing and how much line you have out. Another option is to use a line that has a different color about every 10 yards.
Are Baitcasters Good for Salmon Fishing?
Salmon can weigh up to 100 pounds and test the quality of spinning reels and baitcasting reels. Baitcasters are ideal for salmon fishing due to their durability, typically fast gear ratio, excellent drag system, and stainless steel ball bearings. They also are great for bass fishing.
What size baitcasting reel is best for salmon?
The best baitcasting reel for salmon generally depends on whether you are fishing deep waters where the salmon can grow very large or in a river or stream where they generally are smaller. Just about any reel that is size 200 or larger will work well as an all-purpose reel.
About Baitcasting Reels For Salmon Fishing
Baitcasting reels have been around since the early 1800s when it was referred to as the “Kentucky reel.” Watchmaker George Snyder of Paris, Kentucky, is credited with inventing the baitcasting reel sometime around 1830.
If you watch a lot of fishing shows, you have likely noticed the popularity of the baitcasting reel. Well-made baitcasting reels are very durable and capable of fighting and landing large fish in all types of waters.
I love a good spinning reel, but I greatly prefer baitcasting reels and rods for salmon fishing, especially for certain methods like trolling, back trolling, and back bouncing for salmon. Baitcasting reels can hold more line than a spinning reel, and annual salmon runs make baitcasting reels an ideal choice for landing big salmon.
Best Baitcasting Reels For Salmon Fishing Q&A
If you have a question or a comment regarding the best baitcasting reel for salmon for salmon, let us know in the comments section below.