Best Musky Reels

Fishing or angling as it is known halfway across the world is as old a recreational sport and livelihood as the modern civilized world itself. All across the globe, fishing is enjoyed as a recreational sport. 

Anglers, as they like to call themselves, finding the laze in freshwater bodies as calming. On the other hand, catching game fishes, be it the trout species or much rarer and more robust to catch species like the muskellunge (musky) and the pike as a boost to their ego and as a means of gloating in front of fellow anglers.

Best Musky Reels

Today there are different types of equipment for catching different kinds of fishes if you've got the eye for it. For amateur anglers, any fishing rod with any kind of reel can catch the big game fishes and the small, easy catches. 

However, the experienced ones know that to catch big fishes who won't go down without a fight, the correct equipment is required to catch fishes like the musky.

The musky is correctly called the fish of a thousand casts because this apical predatory fish is so unpredictable and tough to catch that any Tom, Dick, and Harry will not be able to find it. On the other hand, even the most experienced anglers will not be able to catch the fish with standard equipment.

The essential equipment to catch a musky is the fishing reel. The reel should be durable enough to bear the fishes' load, which average at 17 kilograms and above. The coils should also pack enough power and drag to be able to subdue this particular species of fish as it likes to fight. 

Continue reading this article to discover more about the best reels for musky-fishing and a buying guide to decide otherwise.

Top 5 Best Musky Reels

OUR TOP PICK

Penn 1338215 Battle II 1000 Spinning Fishing Reel

Summary

What if we told you that, out there is a reel that can be your single-most critical equipment to subdue the musky without much effort?

Well, the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel is the spinning reel that we are talking about. Coming from the house of Penn, which is one of the most reputed companies in the fishing equipment industry, the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel is another classy product that is liked by anglers worldwide.

The most important feature of this reel is its durability and the drag that it packs. The reel comes with a full metal body and side-plate. The metallic rotor and the heavy-duty aluminum bail wire offer maximum durability. Once bought, anglers can expect its service for years.

It also comes with its HT 100 carbon drag system, which provides a more-than-ideal range of drag. However, with its five sealed stainless steel ball bearings and inner gear, this product continues to be as smooth as new even after repeated use.

This product comes in 8 different size ranges starting from the 1000 product style right up till its 8000 styles. All in all, this reel is a reliable companion for catching the musky.

Pros

  • This reel comes with a full metal body, making it reliable.
  • Sealed ball-bearing prevents rusting, hence allowing smooth fishing.
  • HT carbon fiber technology provides a good enough drag.
  • It comes in 7 different sizes to suit your likings.

Cons

  • The metallic body makes the product a bit heavy.
Penn 1338215 Battle II 1000 Spinning Fishing Reel
  • Durable, high range spinning reel ideal for conquering big saltwater game fish
  • Full metal body, sideplate, and rotor and heavy duty aluminum bail wire offer exceptional durability
  • HT 100 carbon fiber drag system provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness
  • Fluid cranking with 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti reverse bearing
  • Superline spool requires no backing, is braid ready, and has line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity

EDITORS CHOICE

KastKing Royale Legend/Whitemax Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel – 11 +1 Shielded Bearings, 17.5 Lb Carbon Fiber Drag (A: Left-Black)

Summary

Are you looking for a reel suitable for your first-ever trip to the Musky waters? Do you not have much practical experience at angling for the muskies? What if we told you that there's a reel that is just the right fit for this lack of deficiency?

Well, the KastKing Royale Legend is just the perfect choice for amateur anglers looking to net big game fishes like muskies and pikes. For amateurs, the single most tempting feature of the KastKing Royale Legend reel is its automatic centrifugal and magnetic braking system. 

With this feature, beginners need not worry about rookie mistakes like backlashes and casting the line further than you'd want.

However, it is equally useful for experienced anglers as well. It’s anodized aluminum forged spool makes it smooth for casting and quick recovery. It has a gear ratio of 7:1. This means that for everyone complete rotation that the reel's handle completes, the spool will turn seven times. This feature makes the spool extremely efficient for the agile musky fish.

The double-shielded MaxiDur ball bearings allow smooth casting and smoother retrieval. The MaxiDur technology is a trademark of KastKing and ensures absolute zero seepage of water into the ball bearings. All-in-all, it is one of the best picks for amateurs and a decent enough pick for the more experienced anglers.

Pros

  • The built-in automatic braking system makes it an excellent pick for amateurs
  • A gear ratio of 7:1 allows high-speed recovery
  • The MaxiDur technology prevents rusting of ball bearings
  • Anodized aluminum forged spools allow smooth casting

Cons

  • The magnetic braking system might prove to be an issue after some time.
KastKing Royale Legend/Whitemax Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel – 11 +1 Shielded Bearings, 17.5 Lb Carbon Fiber Drag (A: Left-Black)
  • GREAT FOR BEGINNERS – The 1st Generation Royal legend baitcasting reel has one of the best dual brake systems with a quick, easy to fine-tune reliable centrifugal and magnetic brake system for superior casting control. If you are new to baitcasters or get frustrated with backlashes, the Royale Legend is the perfect choice.
  • BIGGER LINE CAPACITY – Royale Legend I is a bigger baitcasting reel than the 2nd generation. It’s a good fit when you need to have more lines on your reel.
  • PERFORMANCE - Low profile design bait caster with a super silent high speed 7.0:1 line retrieve. Two color anodized aluminum forged multi-ported whiffle-style spool offers maximum strength while reducing weight.
  • UNMATCHED – Precision cut brass gear structure and carbon fiber drag system delivering 17.5 LBs of drag offer the ultimate in a high performance low maintenance baitcasting reel package.
  • PROVEN - 11 + 1 double shielded MaxiDur ball bearings for super smooth casting, retrieve, and long life.

BEST VALUE

KastKing Centron Spinning Reel,Size 500 Fishing Reel

Summary

Are you one of those anglers for whom, angling or fishing is a year-round sport? Are you one of those anglers who love baitcasting in the summers and the winters? Are you one of those anglers who are tired of using different reels for different seasons?

Then, the KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels are the perfect solutions for all seasons. This reel is built in such a way that you can use it for fishing in the hot summer waters, the cold winter waters, and even for ice fishing.

The premium feature of this reel is that it is made of graphite and metal. This is a diversion from traditional all-metal reels. However, this diversion allows flexibility and a light-weighted fishing reel.

However, don't mistake this attractively designed graphite reel to be weak. Its superior drag systems offer a drag and stopping power up to 17.5 pounds. Its hardened metal shaft and mesh drive gear packs enough power to subdue dominant fishes like the musky.

If that's not enough, the reel has nine ball bearings and a gear ratio of 5.2:1. This feature allows a balance between smoothness, balance, and power.

Pros

  • It is ideal for all-weather use.
  • Its graphite build makes its lightweight.
  • A perfect balance between power and smoothness.

Cons

  • The graphite build makes the reel brittle over time.
KastKing Centron Spinning Reel,Size 500 Fishing Reel
  • GREAT VALUE - Loaded with features yet low on price. KastKing Summer/Centron offers the best value...at any level. The KastKing Summer Fishing Reel turns any angler into a PRO.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT - narrow graphite frame design and computer balancing system combine high performance in a compact Spinning Reel. KastKing Summer/Centron makes an awesome gift for anybody who loves fishing, the 500 size reels match perfectly ice rods and make a perfect ice combo.
  • HIGH POWERED - KastKing Summer/Centron spinning reel's Superior Drag System offers incredible stopping power up to 17.5LBs. It has a hardened metal main shaft, perfect mesh drive gear and precision machined pinion gear for fish fighting power.
  • SMOOTH PERFORMANCE - Summer/Centron's nine quality ball bearings and one instant stop one-way anti-reverse bearing give it ultra-smooth performance.
  • DURABLE/ATTRACTIVE FINISH - Summer/Centron's attractive, brilliant finish and its high strength two color anodized aluminum spool, with a power launch lip for longer casts and holds more line than competitor's models that sell for much more.

RUNNER UP

Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel CW-303DLX

Summary

Reels with metallic bodies are heavy; those with graphite fiber bodies are brittle. However, what if we told you that there is a particular brand of a reel that seeks to find the correct balance between strength and convenience?

The Okuma Cold Water Lightweight Graphite Frame Line Counter Trolling Reel seeks to strike a sound balance between strength and convenience. This product is designed with a sound ideology. 

Areas that need reinforcing are reinforced with metal, and graphite is used wherever weight can be reduced. This makes the reel resistant and yet light in weight.

The side plates and the frame are corrosion resistant. The ball bearings are made of 2BB + 1RB stainless steel preventing any kind of water seepage. This ensures smooth movement and usage of the reel.

Okuma has also employed its mechanical stabilizing system by using state of the art gears and machinery. This provides long-term durability and stable alignment of the apparatus and shafts.

The reel also has self-lubricating reels. Maintenance, as a result, becomes easy. It also comes equipped with a pinion-geared speed lock system allowing the angler to gain complete control over the spool movement. 

The reel also has an average gear ratio of 5.1:1, which is just enough to maintain the drag force and the speed of the reel.

Pros

  • Lightweight and yet strong
  • It is corrosion-resistant and water-resistant.
  • The lock system allows complete control over the reel.
  • Its mechanical stabilizing system grants its durability and smoothness in use.

Cons

  • The built of the reel and its usage are a bit complicated.
Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel CW-303DLX
  • Made using the highest quality materials
  • Tested for reliability and quality
  • Used by professionals worldwide
  • DLX represent left hand crank line counter models
  • Lightweight corrosion resistant frame and side plates

RUNNER UP

Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Reel CW354D, Right Hand

Summary

A lot of anglers prefer a smart reel over a reel that they have full control of. 

If you are one of those anglers that want your coil to move and stop with the slightest of movements in water, then the Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Line Counter Reel is the perfect pick for you.

This product from the house of Okuma is perfect for musky fishing if you don't trust your instincts enough. This product has intuitive gears in place, ready for the musky or any other fish for that matter, to backflip, to troll, to counter-troll, and back-bounce. 

This means that, when aided with your guidance, this reel can start spinning, stop spinning, and retrieve quickly when there a lure is baited.

Another innovative feature of the Okuma Coldwater is its advanced line counter technology. The line counter is a counter that is installed atop the reel and measures the depth at which the line has reached when you start baiting. 

The line counter comes equipped with precise vision technology, which prevents fogging of the display glass.

Having said that, the product also comes equipped with corrosion-resistant and stainless steel ball bearings along with a gear ratio of 5.4:1, which packs enough drag and speed.

Pros

  • It allows for automatic spinning.
  • Line counter technology allows pinpoint angling.
  • It is corrosion-resistant.
  • The gear ratio of 5.4:1 packs enough drag and speed at spinning.

Cons

  • It's not preferred by anglers who like complete control over their reel.
Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Reel CW354D, Right Hand
  • Lightweight, corrosion-resistant frame & sideplates
  • Multi-disc, carbonite drag System
  • Aluminum handle arm with Ergo grip handle knobs
  • ALC: Rigid diecast aluminum frame and handle side plate
  • Multi-disc, Carbonite drag system

Best Musky Reels Buying Guide

Found in a relatively smaller geographical area, the musky fish is highly unpredictable. It is also an apex predator. It is also known as the fish of a thousand catch, emphasizing on how tough it is to catch them.

If catching it is tough, trying to find it without proper equipment is impossible, and catching it without a suitable reel is foolery. A reel is one of the essential pieces of equipment that comes into play while musky baiting.

Musky baiting requires a steady and robust reel as the fish won't come to you without a fight. On the other hand, the strength of the reel cannot be enhanced by compromising on speed, as speed is essential in catching these apex predators. 

There are many more features that come into play while musky baiting. 

Durability

Durability is the single most crucial feature of a reel that you should be targeting for in a reel if you are looking to bait muskies for the years to come. Muskies are robust fishes with an average weight of seventeen to eighteen kilograms.

This means that any average reel that you could use to bait much smaller fishes don't stand a chance against the musky.

Features like stainless steel ball bearings, metallic bodies, stabilizing technology, and the efficacy of the spool are vital factors that you would want to look for in a reel.

Metallic reels last long but are heavy, graphite-made reels are light but get damaged over time.

Gear Ratio

This is one aspect of reels that not many anglers understand, but it is supremely important.

Gear Ratio is a ratio in which the first number of the rate denotes the number of turns the spool takes for every single turn of the handle. For example, if the gear ratio is 7:1, then it implies that for every time you spin the handle of the reel once, the spool will spin seven times.

Now, why does the gear ratio matter so much?

You see, that lower the gear ratio, lower is the speed of spinning and retrieval and higher the gear ratio, higher is the speed. However, with lower rates, the reel can then pack a considerable amount of torque and drag and vice versa.

However, no reel which favors speed or drags unilaterally will perform abysmally against the vicious musky. Hence, a perfect balance between both is essential. Therefore, reels with a gear ratio in the 5:1 to 5.7:1 range are ideal for musky baiting.

Drag

Though gear ratio is an essential aspect of the reel, it is not the only thing that brings drag or torque to the reel.

Several other aspects contribute to the drag, including the build and design of the reel, the stability, strength of the ball bearing, etc.

An ideal real should have the capacity to provide a drag force in the range of 15 to 25 lbs range. A drag capacity below 15 lbs. will not be able to sustain the weight of the fish and the resistance that it will put up when it is hooked.

Right-handed or left-handed

This is another rookie-mistake that amateur anglers make. All reels come in the right-handed or the left-handed format. Depending on your hand of preference, you should buy the reel of that format.

Right-handed reels have the handle on the right side of the reel, and left-handed reels have the handles on the left-hand side of the reel.

Experience

Anglers should also look to purchase their reels based on their experience at musky baiting.

If you are an experienced angler, you might prefer traditional reels with manual braking systems and entirely under your control.

However, if you are an amateur angler, you might want to consider reels with automatic magnetic braking systems and add-ons like depth counters to aid you in musky baiting. Amateurs should opt for intuitive reels that help them against any kind of backlash from the musky.

Best Reels for Musky Baiting - FAQ's

What is the gear ratio?

Gear Ratio is the ratio that denotes the number of the turns the spool of a reel takes place for every one spin that the handle makes.

So, for example, if the gear ratio of a particular reel is 5:1, it means that when you turn the handle once, the spool of the reel will become five times.

What should be the ideal gear ratio for a musky reel?

The ideal gear ratio of a suitable reel for musky baiting should be in the range of 5:1 to 5.7:1. Gear ratios in this range allow the reel to have a perfect balance between stability, drag force, and speed of retrieval.

Reels with gear ratios lower than this range will have more than enough drag force, but the retrieval will be very slow as the spool's speed will take a hit. Reels with gear ratios higher than this range will have a lot of speed but will not be able to put up with the weight of the fish and the force of the resistance that it might put up.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a metallic reel?

A lot of reels come with all-metal bodies. The metal used is aluminum or stainless steel. This makes the reel durable and one that will last for years at a go. Metallic reels can be used in any weather and are less susceptible to wear and there.

However, this durability comes at the cost of flexibility. These all-metal reels are very heavy and make the fishing rod highly inflexible.

Are graphite reels a good option?

Graphite reels are majorly made of graphite, and small parts of it are reinforced with metal. Graphite reels are wonderfully right and flexible. Its short term results are the same as metallic reels.

However, since they are made of graphite, these reels are not that durable and will get worn and torn with time.

Conclusion

Musky baiting is tricky and tough. Even the most experienced anglers cannot boast that they are adept at musky baiting. However, the correct equipment is necessary if you plan to bait a muskellunge fish.

The reels play a crucial role when it comes to musky baiting. For the same, we've provided you with a list of reels that work well for different people. You can opt for other options as well, just make sure that you keep essential points such as those mentioned in the buying guide.