Saltwater Baitcasting Reels (Everything You Need To Know)


The debate about saltwater spinning reels vs. baitcasting reels has been going on for many years.

Some anglers claim baitcasters are superior, while the spinning reel crew says the opposite.

We’ve compared these two types of reels head to head on podcast episodes before, but today we’re diving in specifically on the pros and cons of baitcasting reels.

Here’s a sneak peek of what we covered:

  • In what situations a baitcaster performs better than a spinning reel
  • What the best brands of baitcasting reels are
  • How to get fewer bird’s nests (this will save you tons of headaches!)
  • Understanding all of the components of baitcasters and how to get the most out of them
  • How to clean and maintain them to make them last longer
  • And much more

You can watch the video version of this podcast below, listen to the audio version by clicking the play button underneath it, or listen to it on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.

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Saltwater Baitcasting Reels [VIDEO]

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Saltwater Baitcasting Reels [PODCAST]

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Here’s a timestamped table of contents from my conversation with two of the Salt Strong Fishing Coaches plus our guest, fellow baitcasting nerd and Salt Strong Insider, Bill DeWeese:

1:45 – Why there’s such a divide between baitcaster and spinning reel fans

3:38 – When to use a baitcaster vs. a spinning reel

6:41 – Which types and sizes of braid work best on baitcasters

10:22 – Why baitcasters cause less fatigue during a long day on the water than spinning reels

16:04 – What the best brands of baitcasters are

23:35 – Pros & cons of baitcasting reels

28:12 – What the best brands of baitcasters are (revisited)

33:20 – How to clean and service your baitcasting reels

39:10 – Understanding all of the components of baitcasting reels

41:30 – How to adjust your reel to get fewer bird’s nests

48:36 – How to get bird’s nests out

54:00 – How to pair a rod with your baitcasting reel


baitcasting reel braided line mistake

Baitcasters and spinning reels each have their time and place, and this was a fun deep dive into the pros, cons and specifics about baitcasters.

Are you on team baitcaster or spinning reel?

Let me know down in the comments!

And a big thank you to Bill DeWeese for joining us on this episode!

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Rob Adams
8 months ago

I fish from a peddle kayak. About 4 years ago I started using bait casters. Before them I only used spinning. For me the bait caster is the only rod for tidal water with a pedal drive. I use my left hand on the rudder and cast with my right. I don’t have to open the bail and I can pay out line with my thumb as I drift. I can cast a very small jig a mile in the wind accurately. Ya gotta have good gear though, especially good reels. I use Shimano Corado DCs exclusively now on Cashion rods and they are an extension of my arm.
If I beach my yak to fish from the shore with live bait I use the 2 spinning outfits I keep in the gunnel. I also like them for jerking spook plugs. Just better action at least for me.
‘I love to use the tide to push me along the grass line. I keep off the bank about 10’, steering the rudder with my left hand. I cast and pay line with the right and drift the tide. This method keeps me in contact with the bottom, I cover a ton of area and save energy on the water. I’m out there all day and at 55 I’ll take all the help I can get. I catch a ton of flounder that way but also reds and trout.
I use 20 lb Suffix131 braid (worth the money, I’ve had it on gear over 4 years and though faded works flawlessly) with a 20 lb florocarbon leader on everything. I live on a freshwater lake and I don’t change anything. It works, it just does.

Tight lines, brothers and sisters!

Leonard Tylenda
1 year ago

Great production, this one. Very entertaining, and spot-on, the commentaries from Bill & Mark.

Brian Tison
1 year ago

I’m new to Salt Strong and just getting back into fishing! First of all, you guys are really good at what you do! My question is this: Being right-handed, am I better off casting a right- handed or a left handed retrieve? It would seem to me I would be more accurate in my casts with a LH retrieve!
Thank you!

Bill DeWeese
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Tison

Hey Brian. I revisited this older podcast and saw this and that no one had answered your question.

I think to a significant degree it is a matter of personal preference.

For instance let me give you a weird tangent analogy. I’m predominantly left handed but I am ambidextrous. When shooting a rifle or a shotgun I just naturally picked it up with my left hand on the fore stock and my right hand on the trigger and that was just how I would naturally shoulder a rifle or a shotgun. I did notice that my shooting accuracy was less accurate for a rifle than it was for a handgun which is kind of weird when you think about it as a rifle should be inherently more accurate. What I found out, with a shooting course and an archery course, lo and behold, I am left eye dominant. So my shouldering needed to change and I had to retrain. This didn’t manifest itself with a handgun because you’ve got both hands out front holding a firearm and your dominant eye naturally would do the aiming.

So I say all that to say I think there are some rules of thumb but I don’t think there is critical in fishing so that you don’t feel like you need to argue somebody in or out of a certain position.

The rule of thumb for me is to find out your natural casting arm. What is the arm or hand that you’re going to have forward on the rod when you cast and what is the hand that you’re going to put on the butt of the rod for example if you wanted to do a really hard cast. For me that casting arm is my left hand so I want to crank with my right hand. I find it unnatural to cast with your dominant hand and then after the cast is complete switch hands and put the rod in the other hand so that you can crank with the same dominant hand you cast with. So for me I want all of my reels to have the crank on the right hand side of the reel.

I will often hand my spinning rod and reel over to somebody and they find it odd that the crank is on the right hand side. If somebody hands their rod in real to me it’s probably going to be on the left side. It’s not a big deal because again I’m somewhat ambidextrous and I can get over it though I’m still going to cast with the left hand and have to swap hands in order to start cranking.

So again I think you should figure out what hand do you naturally cast with and then try to develop the skill set of cranking with the opposite hand that way you don’t have to swap hands and your power hand is always on the rod so that you can fight a fish.

But as I said before there’s no wrong way to real in a fish if you get it into the net, so I don’t think this is a point in which you would want to argue somebody over to your side or argue somebody away from their own thoughts and the way that works for them. If you’re a right-handed caster and a left-handed reeler, and you’re looking at a spinning reel it’s pretty easy because the spinning reel you can just put the crank on whatever side you prefer. If you are right-handed caster and a left-handed realer and you want a baitcaster or even a conventional round reel you might find it harder to get one. Or somebody may offer you one and you find that the crank is on the right.

I see a lot of people casting with their power hand and then switching hands with the rod and reeling with the same hand that they cast with so it’s perfectly workable.

I hope this helps! And sorry for neglecting your question for so long.


Bill DeWeese

Marshall Kasinger
2 years ago

Haven’t used a bait caster since I stopped bass fishing after watching this pod cast might have to give one a try.

Patrick Devereaux
2 years ago

Great Commentary….Have any of you thrown light artificials with the Shimano 70 MGL ? There are reviews that indicate that its small (70) light weight small spool (MGL) is designed to go down to 1/4 and 3/16 weights. Might it work well for paddle tails or jerk baits on an owner weighted twistlock setup ? Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks !

1 year ago

I have used regular Curado 70 for Crul Academy brand crank which weighs 1/8oz and it’s getting really good distance. I would say about 35 to 40 yards just estimating.

2 years ago

I’m right handed but love my left handed bait caster where I can cast and reel without changing hands. Significantly less fatigue when working tight shorelines.

Jeff Blythe
2 years ago

13 fishing concept z 20 pound power pro super 8

Bill DeWeese
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Blythe

I hear their reels are great. The Z kinda wigs me out a bit, but I hope that promise holds true. A great baitcaster that runs for a long time and needs no bearing maintenance would be a dream come true and you’ll only make advancements like that by breaking out of the status quo.

Let us know how it goes.

Leonard Tylenda
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill DeWeese

<< A great baitcaster that runs for a long time and needs no bearing maintenance would be a dream come true >>
LOL You just said a mouthful! Enjoyed your presentation! And this ol’ bird even learned something from ya. [thumbs-up]

T Ford
2 years ago

You guys are not up to date. You obviously haven’t tried the new
Intelligent Digital Control baitcasters like the Shimano Curado DC and SLX DC. With 10# line and light lures these reels outcast my best spinning reels by 5-10 yards and very seldom backlash if adjusted properly. I can’t say how they hold up to salt water but I have 3 older Curados (10-15 years) I use for red and trout with no corrosion issues.

Bill DeWeese
2 years ago
Reply to  T Ford

I understand your point, but it is not out of ignorance of them. As mentioned I spoke in general terms from specific reels that I use. From my perspective, which I gave in the talk, my goal is to strive for very good reels and that there are some great reels as well. The DC would be one for sure, both for its price range and the casting brake features that are unique to it. Personally, for me, a microprocessor controlled casting brake is not a something that would be of interest. To me it would be a bit like putting an automatic transmission in my motorcycle.
Sure it would be easy, but it would take the fun out of it. I would rather understand the dynamics of baitcasting reels more intimately and learn the techniques for effectively operating them. My goal was to focus on that and then any decent well designed and built reel will be a good candidate for daily use.

Looking at it this way. If I became reliant on the DC technology, and wanted to run more than four reels, I’d be in for over $1,000 just for the reels.

David Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill DeWeese

Hello Mr DeWeese, I just bought a Quantum Accurist S3. What lenth, action, power, and speed rod would you suggest for inshore casting and jigging swim baits?
Thank you
David Johnson

Bill DeWeese
2 years ago
Reply to  David Johnson

Hey David. Hope all is well.

Some of the decisions come down to personal preference and the setting in which you routinely fish.

As for length, I use to fish primarily on foot or from kayak and in those settings i liked the 7′-6″ and even 8′ as it really gives you an advantage on casting and usually you fish with the rod tip up. Now I principally fish from the deck of a skiff that is only about 1′ off the water surface, so I have moved more to 6′-6″ and 7′ max. I fish lures more with the rod tip down and down like the rod tip hitting the water surface. So 7′ is good for a rod that will be used to work lures.

I prefer a fast action rod for precise lure placement during the cast. They are way more accurate to me. I do have a moderate-fast rod in 7′ that has benefits for hunting larger Snook, but its not as accurate as lure leaves the rod tip later (if that makes sense) and tends to arc around during the cast. Great for open water casting in bays and longer, slower lob style casting, but not as good for close combat casting in creeks, etc.

As for weight, unless you need to stop a big fish or guarantee a hard definitive hook set, I prefer the medium. Most of my inshore rods are Medium and I keep only one Medium-Heavy for when its needed.

So putting all that long-winded information together, my default inshore rod is a 7′ Medium Fast rod. A good example in the $100-$120 price range is the Falcon Coastal Clearwater SWC-7M. The TFO TFG PSC 704-1 is very similar, but its a Moderate-Fast, so a little slower.

One additional I would say, and may have mentioned it in the podcast, I never really cared about the lure weight rating with spinning rods. With baitcasting, I find it more import to align the rod lure weight with your typical terminal tackle weight.

Good luck withyour decision.

David Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill DeWeese

Thank you sir

James Woodmansee
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill DeWeese

i believe the reason the DC is specifically not recommended for saltwater is because the microprocessor would corrode to easily in a salt environment

James Woodmansee
2 years ago
Reply to  T Ford

the DC is specifically not recommended for saltwater

Michael E Clark
2 years ago

Hey Guys,
Great pod cast. As a fisherman who is well aware of using different “tools” to match the fishing experience. Fly, baitcasting, and spinning , have 2 questions to pose.
First, when cast a level-wind baitcasting reel, where do you aline the line guide prior to casting and when not to use a level-wind reel.
Thanks, keep up the good work.

Bill DeWeese
2 years ago

Hello Michael, sorry we missed your question.

So the specific topic was around low profile baitcasting reels. These are products that were adapted from the bass fishing community and in those settings most of line guides simply disengage wherever they currently are on the worm gear. I never pay any attention to the location of the line guide as most use very low friction guide materials and the spools are not that wide.

It would be important to mention that one of the key differentiators of the Daiwa inshore (Coastal) reels is they have the TWS or T-Wing System so that there is less friction during the cast phase as the line has more freedom to flow side to side. I have never seen and truly head-to-head comparisons, but again this has never been a big concern for me.

Now, if you are like me and are still a nut for the classic “round reel” baitcasting reels like Shimano Cardiff and Calcutta, they do not disengage the level wind mechanism in some of their reel models. That does I think compromise casting distances, but those reels are designed to hold a shedload of line, so you benefit from the level wind.

This is similar to conventional reels for bottom fishing or trolling. They come in both styles, level wind and non level wind. I personally prefer the non level wind all metal reels for this as they are more compact and bridges essentially, so are a very capable reel while still being very compact. You just have to manually level the line with your thumb upon retrieve.

If you are bottom fishing in 200′ plus water or trolling with very long lines payed out, there may be a point where having the level wind pays off.

Hope this helps.

2 years ago

What a great podcast and video. I’ve used both for over 60 years in both fresh and salt water, and both Mark,& Bill taught me something new. I’ve had some Quantum reels that didn’t last nearly as long as my Shimano and I have over 2 dozen combos in both spinning and bait casting , I still fish both inshore and freshwater … you guys Rocked this one,Thanks


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