7 Best Reels for Fishing with Crankbaits - Buyers Guide

Best Reels for Fishing with Crankbaits
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Crankbaits are one of the most popular lures used by anglers everywhere.

These lures can cover the large bodies of water fast, and trigger a fish to bite.

But, for them to be as effective as they can be, you need to pair them with a proper fishing gear, and most importantly, the proper fishing reel.


Choosing a proper reel for fishing with crankbaits can be hard for beginners, because there are numerous options on the market.

After testing a lot of them, I decided to write this guide with the list of the best reels for crankbaits.

In addition to that, you can find info about what reel features to consider, and answers to some common questions, in the following chapters:

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If you don't have much time use this link below to quickly find the best reels for fishing with crankbaits. You can be assured we only choose the best products and services...

My No. 1: Shimano SLX DC (#ad)

Runner-Up: Abu Garcia Max Black (#ad)

What Should I Look for When Buying Reels for Fishing With Crankbaits?

There is a reason why various reel types exist, and to choose the best reel for crankbaits, you will have to consider some important factors.

And as I always say, when it comes to any piece of fishing gear, always choose reputable manufacturers.


Reel Type

You can choose between baitcasting and spinning reels for crankbaits.

Both have certain advantages and disadvantages. Spinning ones are easier to use for beginners, and suitable for lighter lures. Baitcasting reels are more precise, but these are harder to master. I have included both types on the best reels for crankbaits list.

Spinning ones are going to work great in cold and windy conditions too, and you will not have problems with backlashes and knots.

However, baitcasting reels are necessary for big fish, and if you are targeting really large ones, choose the best ones ...

Some anglers like to have both options and use the one that suits the specific situation (like reels for catfishing).


Gear Ratio

The best reel gear ratio for crankbaits is a bit on the slower side. Slower ones, those up to about 5.0:1 can be great. They will enable you to make deep dives with the lure.

These reels slow the bait down and give you more cranking power. Many experienced anglers use these reels for a specific purpose.

However, if you are a complete beginner and want to use your equipment in numerous situations, including cranking, you can choose a medium gear ratio. Ratio between 6.0 and 6.5:1 is versatile and with a bit of adjustment from the angler, can work well for different crankbaits.


Line recovery is another important feature to consider. It is usually marked as IPT (inches per turn) and it shows how much line length will you retrieve with a single turn.

For crankbaits, you should choose reels that have about 20-25 IPT (50-63cm). This will enable you to dive the crankbait and during retrieve to keep it there.

Reels with higher IPT can cause the lure to dive out, and you will have to turn the handle really slowly to control it. It can be done, but it will be an annoying task.

Lure Size

Lure size depends on a fish specie you are trying to catch, body of water, time of the year and other factors. Some lures are suitable to be used with all kinds of reels, however, if you are using light ones, you should use a spinning reel.

Here you can check best spinning reels Under 100$ ...

Casting light lures with a baitcasting reel can cause backlashes and knots, especially among inexperienced anglers.

Line Capacity

Line capacity is another important factor while choosing the best reel for crankbaits.

When using crankbaits, you are going to cast far away, especially on larger bodies of water and downwind. If you have the opportunity, choose the reel with a higher capacity.

Handle Torque and Reel Weight

Handle torque is something that is definitely a bonus.

Slower reels have more torque applied to the handle and when casting and retrieving for prolonged periods of time, this will be much better for your comfort.

In addition to that, reel weight also has an influence on your comfort. Lighter reels enable you to hold it longer without experiencing any pain in your wrists.

Spinning reels are frequently heavier than baitcasting ones.

Best Reels for Fishing Crankbaits:

Now when you know what to look for, here is the list of the best reels for crankbaits. All of these are chosen in accordance with the previously mentioned features.

In addition to product description, I included the pros and cons I have noticed.

#1: Shimano SLX DC

Shimano SLX DC (#ad) is one of the most popular crankbait reels on the market, and it is the first of the two Shimano reels on this list.

This reel is available in a few different versions, and the most suitable for crankbaits is the SLX DC 150.

This baitcasting reel has a 6.3:1 gear ratio with 26 inches IPT (66cm), which is a bit on a faster side. That makes it suitable for all kinds of crankbaits and versatile use.

The weight of the reel is 7.6oz (0.2kg) which makes it comfortable to use. It has a good line capacity, 20lb/150 yd for braided line and 10/120 for mono.

The reel operates quite smooth and has 4+1 bearings. Maximum drag for this model is 12lb (5.4kg).

DC stands for digital control, and this reel has excellent casting control. It minimizes backlashes and gives you excellent control over the lure.

Braking system has 4 settings that are easy to use and adjust.

It is quite sturdy to, and HAGANE body makes it very strong and resistant. Spool is well balanced and you will not feel any vibrations.

Overall, I like this reel a lot and Shimano did a great job here, although it comes at a bit higher price.


• Excellent braking system.

• Works well with lighter lures too.

• Durable and dependable.


• If using the lightest braided lines casting is not as good as it should be.

#2: Abu Garcia Max Black

Abu Garcia Max Black (#ad) is another great baitcasting reel.

This one is significantly cheaper than the previously mentioned Shimano model. It is an excellent entry-level baitcasting reel.

The 6.4:1 gear ratio with 26 inches IPT (66cm) makes it very versatile. It has 5 bearings that are decently made and the reel is surprisingly smooth.

Line capacity is more than good, 30lb/140yd for braided lines, and 12/145 for mono. Magnetic braking system works well, and if you are using heavier lures, backlashes are not a problem.

Max drag is 18lb (8kg), which is higher than the previously mentioned reel. This one is suitable for a bit larger fish.

The weight of this reel is 7.3oz (0.2kg). If you are wondering why is this one lighter than the previous, the answer is graphite body and side plates, and plastic components. Unfortunately, it is not as strong and sturdy as some other reels, but considering the price, this reel is actually quite good.


• Low price for good characteristics.

• Tension knob and brake dial are easy to use and adjust.

• Excellent as a learning reel for beginners.


• Lower durability.

• Backlashes with lures on the lighter side.

#3: KastKing Royale Legend GT

Kastking Royale Legend GT (#ad) is another baitcaster on this list. And great thing for those buying on a tight budget, this one is also very cheap, but performs well.

This reel is quite fast for crankbaits, and beginners could have some issues while retrieving. It has 7.2:1 gear ratio, which is not really defined as the best reel ratio for crankbaits.

But this speed is actually quite good for certain crankbaits, such as lipless crankbaits which are frequently used in areas with thick vegetation. Don`t get me wrong, you can use those with medium gear ratio for this purpose too, however, fast reels are much more suitable for the task.

The IPT of this reel is quite high too, and it is 29.8 inches (75cm).

Line capacity is 10lbs/130yd for mono, and 40/130 for braided lines, which is more than enough. This reel is also quite light, and weights 7.2oz (0.2kg).

Magnetic braking performs well, and backlashes shouldn’t be a problem, except with a bit lighter lure.

Maximum drag 17.6lbs (8kg). The 5+1 bearings ensure smooth operation, and the drag system is quite good too, but it is a bit less dependable and less smooth under higher pressure.

Handle of the reel is surprisingly comfortable and lays well in the hand.


• Braking system works well.

• Low price for a decent entry-level reel.

• Comfortable and light.


• Graphite frame is not very sturdy.

• Tension knob becomes a bit flimsy over time.

#4: Piscifun Torrent

Piscifun Torrent (#ad) is the last baitcasting reel on this list. It is available in 2 versions.

For crankbaits, 5.3:1 gear ratio with 22.8 inches IPT (58cm) is the one to choose. Due to slower speed, this reel is good for deep diving crankbaits.

This reel operates really smooth, and has 5+1 bearings, which are well made, when considering the low price of this reel.

Maximum drag is 18lb (8.1kg) which is more than enough, and it works very well. Line capacity is excellent, and it is 10lb/195yd for mono, and 30/145 for braided lines.

This reel is a bit heavier than the previous models, and the it weights 8oz (0.22 kg). However, this is something that you will barely notice, especially as a beginner.

This reel has a 0-10 magnetic braking system and that enables the angler to really make the most precise adjustments for a specific situation.

There is one excellent feature on this reel, and that is a small opening for reel lubrication. This makes the maintenance process easy and beginners will do it with no problem.

If you are observing this reel as an entry-level option, you are going to be pleasantly surprised, however, at this price range, you shouldn’t expect professional tournament quality.


• Easy gear lubrication.

• Large line capacity.

• Affordable.


• Backlashes are a bit more likely to occur when compared with the previously mentioned models.

#5: Shimano Sedona Fi

I already mentioned that spinning reels can be used for crankbaits, so here is the first spinning model on this list, Shimano Sedona (#ad).

Sedona Fi is available in various sizes, from 500 to 8000.

For lighter crankbaits, many anglers use 2000-2500 size, although if you need a bit of extra power, you could go up to 4000.

The first difference between these two types of reels you are going to notice is the reel weight, which is 8.6oz (0.24kg). This is still very light, but a bit more than the baitcasters. I am going to analyze the 2500 size.

Gear ratio in this size is relatively high, 6.2:1. Line retrieve depends on a size, and for 2500 size it is 35 inches IPT (91cm), which is a lot, and you will have to adjust your retrieving speed a bit by slowly turning the handle.

Line capacity is decent, 15lb/145yd for braided, and 8/140 for mono. Max drag is 9lb (4kg). As you can see from that, it is to be used with lighter lures for smaller fish.

The reel itself is very good, as the majority of reels made by Shimano. It is very smooth, has 3+1 bearings and performs excellent.

This reel is very comfortable to use because the center of the reel is placed closer to the rod. HAGANE gears are extremely durable and strong, and the reel feels and looks very good.

Propulsion line management is an innovation from Shimano, and due to spool design, this reel enables excellent casting distance.

Varispeed system ensures proper alignment of the line on a spool when retrieving, and this feature is great for crankbaits.

I really like Shimano reels, and for a decent price you can get a lot of excellent features.


• Sturdy, durable and dependable.

• Very smooth drag.

• Excellent features for a decent price.

• Lightweight for a spinning reel.


• High IPT.

• Does not have the standard anti-reverse switch.

#6: Abu Garcia Orra S

Another spinning reel on this list is Abu Garcia Orra S (#ad).

When it comes to casting, this reel uses Rocket Line management. This innovation from Abu Garcia enables larger casting distance.

Sizes available are 10-40 (equivalent to 1000-4000), and this is just the perfect range for crankbaits. All have the 5.8:1 gear ratio. The IPT depends on a size, and it is 30.5 inch (76cm) for a 20, which is also quite high. The same reel weights 8.3oz (0.23kg).

Line capacity is decent, 8lb/120yd for mono, and 8/175 for braided. Maximum drag is 12lb(5.4kg).

The reel has 6+1 bearings and operates really smooth.

Carbon body has aluminum reinforcement and it is quite light, but it doesn’t feel too strong. Drag also performs very smooth and the reel really leaves an impression of a good product.

If you ask older anglers, many of them will say that Abu Garcia made better reels in the past, and that today they use cheap materials. It is true that low-end reels are not as sturdy, but you mostly get what you pay for. For those who are aware of that, Abu Garcia is a perfectly good choice.


• Affordable.

• Drag performs well.


• Doesn’t seem sturdy enough.

#7: KastKing Sharky III

And the last reel on the best reels for crankbaits list is KastKing Sharky III (#ad).

It is available in sizes from 1000 to 5000. All of these have 5.2:1 gear ratio.

To compare it with other reels on the list, I used the 2000 size. It is heavier than the other reels with 9.1oz (0.25kg) and you can feel the difference while fishing the whole day.

The IPT on this size is 27.8 inches (70cm), which is, as in every spinning reel, a bit high for crankbait, and you will have to slow it down a bit.

This reel has excellent line capacity, 20lb/200yd for braided, and 8/190 for mono.

Graphite body and rotor are well made, but they don’t seem as durable as some other reels.

It has 10+1 bearings; however, it operates just as smooth as the reels with less bearings. It is quite comfortable to use, and you will get more than enough in this price range.

Maximum drag is 33lb (15kg), which is quite high for such a small reel. And sizes 1000-3000 have the same drag. And the drag works surprisingly well, even under a lot of pressure.

Altogether, this is a decent reel and you can have a lot of fun while fishing with your crankbaits.


• High line capacity.

• Very good anti-reverse.

• Very good drag.


• Line spooling is a bit uneven upon retrieve.

FAQs about Reels for Fishing With Crankbaits:

And finally, I am going to answer some questions about fishing with crankbaits.

Hopefully this will clarify any doubts that you may have ...

Best Reels for Fishing with Crankbaits - Line

What is the Best Reel Gear Ratio for Crankbaits?

As already mentioned, slower to medium reels are the best, because they can be used with all types of crankbaits, including deep diving (slower reels) and squarebill (medium reels, 6-6.5:1).

So, gear ratio up to 6.5:1 is the best option. If you like, you can go for slower options. Consider faster ones only if you need them for a specific purpose.

What Line Should I Use for Crankbaits?

Anglers use different types, and there is no universal rule.

Mono is a bit thicker, and occupies more space on the spool, but less visible. This is a good option for lighter lures and spinning reels.

Mono is stretchy and good for beginners because it is easy to tie knots (and hooks).

Braided is stronger, thinner and you can feel the line and the bites better. Many anglers use it while fishing in weeds with lipless crankbaits because it is less stretchy.

Fluorocarbon is great for deep diving crankbaits and it is almost invisible, and many anglers use it as a leader on braided lines.

Mono is better for topwater and shallow diving.

The choice is up to you and your needs. But, if you are less experienced and want a simple but effective solution, use mono, a low stretch type if you can.

What Rod Should I Use for Crankbaits?

Not every rod is suitable for crankbait use.

Many manufactures make cranking rods specifically for this purpose.

These rods have a “softer” rod action and transfer more energy to the tip when you cast, and as a result your lure can fly further.

Also, not all crankbaits are the same, and some rods are designed for specific types of crankbaits. Most of these cranking rods have medium to medium-heavy power, and moderate-fast action. Medium power is used for shallow and medium diving crankbaits, while medium-heavy is great for deep diving.

Length around 7-8ft is great for many types of crankbaits, and shorter rods are suitable for only the small lures.

But, if you are a complete beginner and have no intention to buy a specialized rod, you can use your spinning rod together with a spinning reel for smaller crankbaits.

Ideally, use the rod with medium-heavy power, moderate action and slower tip.

Can I Use a Spinning Reel for Crankbaits?

As I already mentioned, YES you can!

For those who skipped the best reel for crankbait list, the last three reels were the spinning ones.

This is a great option for beginners, because spinning reels are easy to use and you will be focused more on fishing and less on handling the equipment.

Baitcasting vs Spinning Reels for Crankbaits? Which One is Better?

Obviously, you can use both. And each one has certain advantages.

As already mentioned, baitcasters are great for larger lures, and are more precise, while spinning ones are good for light lures and smaller fish.

If you are inexperienced, you should go for spinning reels.

However, baitcasters usually have one advantage over crankbaits, and that is lower IPT. So, those who know how to use them, should opt for a baitcaster.

This is due to the fact that spools are larger on spinning reels. Slower spinning reels can have larger IPT than faster baitcasters.

If you were choosing the spinning reel according to IPT, to get the smaller number, you should get a really small reel which is not sufficient for this type of use.

Because of this, baitcasting reels have a bit of advantage.

What Fish can I Catch with Crankbaits?

And finally, when you have the necessary equipment, and you have chosen the proper reel, it is time to go fishing.

Crankbaits can be used to catch a lot of fish species, almost all the species that eat smaller fish and crayfish. Fish commonly caught with crankbaits are the following:

• Salmon
• Walleye
• Crappie
• Perch

So, no matter where you are from, there will be at least one of these species available in near-by waters, so that you can practice crankbait fishing.


Crankbaits are extremely versatile lures, and can be used to catch many fish species, in all kinds of conditions.

When it comes to cranking equipment, choosing the proper reel is essential, and by picking one of the reels mentioned here, you will not go wrong.

The best reel for crankbaits is the one you feel comfortable with, and that is why beginners should opt for a spinning type.

Those who prefer baitcasters can find entry-level models that work more than good. Anglers who prefer a bit fancier product, should consider the first Shimano reel on the list.

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