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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Marshall Kasinger
2 months 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 months 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 !

5 months 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
6 months ago

13 fishing concept z 20 pound power pro super 8

William DeWeese
6 months 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.

T Ford
6 months 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.

William DeWeese
6 months 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
6 months ago

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

William DeWeese
6 months 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
6 months ago

Thank you sir

James Woodmansee
5 months ago

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
5 months ago
Reply to  T Ford

the DC is specifically not recommended for saltwater

Michael E Clark
6 months 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.

William DeWeese
6 months 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.

6 months 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

Tony Tartaglio
6 months ago

Very good podcast with a lot of information and different perspectives. I now live in the northeast and use both spinning and baitcasting for both fresh and salt water.
I lived on the west coast for 15 years and found that baitcasters are good for fishing live bait such as anchovies and sardines for calicos and sand bass especially in kelp beds.
High quality reels with good free spool is important to allow for the bait to swim unrestricted and allows them to be lively for longer period with less drag on the bait.
So Shimano Tranx and Curado along with Daiwa Lexa are very popular there. There were also times I used a 400 series for smaller yellowtail as they held a lot of line and had good drag to help land them. Both brands held up pretty well as long as you took care of them and washed them down and kept them lubricated.
I know most of your discussions were around lures but I thought I would pass on another regional perspective where baitacaster works better for live bait than a spinning reel.

Marc Wisniewski
6 months ago

Bill had some great analogies. I have been baitcasting for 45 years and I even learned a ton of information. So if I am understanding this correctly about fresh vs saltwater baitcasters, if I clean my freshwater ones well after using them I should be ok in saltwater? Internally, they are the same? I’m from the midwest and I’m down there for 4-7 days once a year and I don’t want to purchase special baitcasters if I can use the ones I have and just clean them well. Thanks. Great episode.

Dexter Early
6 months ago

This is the best explanation of the dynamics of a bait caster I’ve ever heard. Great job fellows!

William DeWeese
6 months ago
Reply to  Dexter Early

Hey, it’s not everyday that you get to bring a knife to a podcast! ;o)

I learned a lot as well such as Luke reporting that he didn’t see any casting/pitching distance degradation between 20 lb and 30 lb braid. At the moment mine are all 20 lb and the SpiderWire line on my older Lew’s is actually pretty old. I think in short order I’ll move the 20 lb off of the accurist onto that Lew’s and then respool the Quantum Accurist with 30 lb. The accurist with 30 lb braid line would be a real Snook stopper around docks like he mentioned.

Thank you for your feedback on the podcast. It was a great conversation and a lot of fun too.

Last edited 6 months ago by William DeWeese
6 months ago

Bill, you did an excellent job and I definitely learned and if you have any social media accounts I would follow you for certain. Thanks for being an amazing guest.


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