The most critical situation to have technique-specific equipment is when you're fishing swimbaits. These baits are much larger and heavier than any other type of lure and can't be fished on standard bass fishing gear.
In this guide, we'll discuss the best swimbait reels of the year and why they stand out to our team of competitive anglers. Other information on swimbait equipment can be found in our recently published guide to the best swimbait rods.
Reels Reviewed (clickable)
Swimbait Reel Sizes
A traditional 50 to 150-size baitcaster just won't cut it when throwing bigger swimbaits.
One reason for this is these smaller reels don't have the line capacity to hold the thicker line you'll want for swimbait fishing. Whether you're targeting northern pike, saltwater species, or casting around unforgiving obstacles, a larger reel will hold more 20lb to 30lb monofilament fishing line.
Another reason is these reels have gears designed for 1/8-ounce to 1-ounce lures. Most swimbaits weigh between 1.5-ounces and 8 ounces, so your 150-size bass reel doesn't have the torque and rigidity for the job.
The best swimbait reel is a 200 to 400-size baitcasting reel with a 5.1:1 to 6.4:1 gear ratio
While you might get away with using a standard reel for a few outings, eventually, you'll damage your equipment. If you're using a reel that's not designed for swimbaits, prepare for it to break unexpectedly and ruin your day out on the water.
For swimbaits, stick to size 200, 300, and 400 baitcasting reels.
1. Daiwa LX 400HD - Best Swimbait Reel Overall
4.9 Stars | 14 Angler Reviews
The best swimbait reel overall is the Daiwa LX 400HD Baitcaster. This is a monster casting reel with no limits whatsoever. While the 300-size will handle some swimbaits and would be more versatile, it's worth upgrading to the 400HD model for the additional power.
With a seven-bearing system, full-metal housing, and heavy-duty freshwater and saltwater rating, this reel is an absolute tank. If you've never used a size 400 heavy-duty reel, the best way to understand its value is to try it for yourself.
From monster largemouth and northern pike to casting for 50lb stripers on the east coast, the Daiwa LX should be your go-to option. Nobody makes high-performance reels quite like Daiwa, and after years of uncompromised use, these products pay for themselves.
2. KastKing Kapstan Elite 300 - Best Budget Swimbait Reel
4.6 Stars | 499 Angler Reviews
The KastKing Kapstan Elite 300 reel is the best value swimbait reel on the market. This beefy low-profile baitcaster has exceptional line capacity, holding 230 yards of 50lb braid. A triple-disk drag system makes this reel max out at 35lb of drag.
Whether you’re fishing big swimbaits for winter bass or casting for saltwater striped bass, the Kapstan Elite can handle it all. This reel was designed for freshwater and saltwater use, and it has sealed corrosion-resistant components. The casting is ultra-smooth, with 8+1 ball bearings, and both right and left-hand designs are available.
Another great feature is the braid-ready aluminum spool. Many entry-level baitcasters require you to spool on a base level of monofilament line before you tie on braid. However, the Kapstan Elite is braid-ready and even has a line indicator to help you remember the weight of your line.
This reel was designed to throw large, heavy baits. If you’re looking for a small-swimbait baitcaster, the KastKing Crixus model would be a better alternative.
3. Shimano Tranx - Best Low Profile Reel
4.7 Stars | 284 Angler Reviews
Some anglers don't want the bulky dimensions that come with other swimbait reels. The Shimano Tranx Low Profile Reel is an absolute beast that handles even the largest lures with ease. You'll have no problem reeling in the largest 8oz swimbaits, and it's sensitive enough to perform well with 1oz to 1.5oz baits as well.
Shimano makes incredibly smooth, high-quality reels. This is one of the best size 400 swimbait reels because it remains manageable and doesn't feel bulky or off-balanced in your hand.
We recommend fishing the Tranx on a long, extra-heavy rod. If possible, your swimbait rod should be at least 8' in length. The resulting setup's versatility means you can target monster bass and saltwater fish with the same setup.
4. Abu Garcia Big Shooter - Most Versatile Swimbait Reel
4.4 Stars | 28 Angler Reviews
The most versatile and high-end reel on the market is the Abu Garcia Big Shooter. It has similar properties to the popular Revo SX, but it's offered in a 300 reel size. This unit comes in a faster 7.3:1 gear ratio, allowing you to work baits faster, cover more water, and keep your line tight.
Japanese reels such as the Big Shooter always have the best build quality. You can think of this as the samurai sword of swimbait reels, both in performance and aesthetics.
This reel pairs best with longer extra-heavy power rods. It's the perfect tool for casting large rainbow trout swimbaits and other heavy jointed lures.
5. Shimano Calcutta Conquest - Best Soft Swimbait Reel
5 Stars | 14 Angler Reviews
Our favorite fishing reel for casting soft swimbaits is the Shimano Calcutta Conquest. This is a "round" baitcasting reel known for its durability and resistance to backlashes. While it's incredibly lightweight, the Hagane body prevents it from ever warping or bending.
This model holds the most line and has a super smooth cranking action. The slower gear ratio helps you drag soft baits along the bottom and retain the desired "swaying" action that fish love.
Both 300 and 400 sizes are available, and the 13-bearing system is nearly indestructible. We also love the braking system, as it's twice as strong as other models and never bottoms out.
6. Daiwa Steez TW Baitcast Reel - Best Glide Bait Reel
5 Stars | 3 Angler Reviews
If you're a passionate glide bait fisherman, the best swimbait reel for the job is the Daiwa Steez TW Baitcast Reel. This model reels incredibly fast, which is ideal for keeping your lure moving quickly and picking up any slack line. You'll always have constant contact with your swimbait.
The high-quality components Daiwa uses are even stronger than the ones featured in the Big Shooter. While the price tag is too high for most anglers, the common expression "you get what you pay for" is applicable here. If you're looking for the industry's best technology, look no further than the Daiwa Steez A TW Baitcast Reel.
This updated model features Daiwa’s new patented T-Wing System, which improves line management by reducing line angles when retrieving and casting. Daiwa also added a new all-aluminum housing, a Magsealed pinion gear ball bearing to improve durability, and a Zaion side plate. Even will all these new features for improved handling and control, the Steez TW is still lightweight.