A lot of newbie anglers looking to upgrade their rig wonder if the best baitcasting reel under 100 will cut the mustard in a challenging scenario.
Is $100 a decent amount of cash for a reliable baitcaster?
Or will you end up with a gimcrack that backlashes and bird nests the first time you let the line flow off?
The fact is that there are lots of good quality baitcasting reels south of $100.
Of course, if you have the cake, you can always go for pricier models.
But $100 is a sweet spot.
We will help you navigate through the minefield. Here are our picks for the best baitcasting reels under 100.
#1 – Shimano Casitas
The Casitas is one of Shimano’s most underrated reels that’s often overshadowed by the higher priced Curado.
It’s a given that it might not rival the Curado in terms of performance in some scenarios.
But its lighter in weight (6.07 oz.) and comes at nearly half the price.
If that’s not motivating enough, then the Casitas have a laundry list of features that might quip your interest.
This is a low-profile reel with a composite body made of plastic and graphite in a metallic finish. We know what you’re thinking.
Well, we don’t care a hoot about the material as far as there’s no tradeoff in performance.
This reel feels sturdy and has an extremely smooth cast and retrieve. There are 4 ball bearings in the Casitas in addition to 1 Super Stopper-II anti-reverse roller bearing.
The knobs are sturdy with zero wiggle on them. There’s a hint of back play in the handles. But that’s present even in the Curado to an extent.
Despite being rated at 12 pounds for maximum drag performance, it consistently supersedes this number.
The infinity brakes are a treat to use. Senior users might find the numbers a tad difficult to read though.
Verdict: The Casitas is a workhorse and you’d be hard pressed to find a better reel at this price point. And hey, it’s a Shimano. How can you go wrong with it?
#2 - Lews MG
During a tourney, we happened to talk to some old timers about the best baitcasting reel under 100 and one of them swore by the performance of the Lews MG.
He even added that it was Lews that taught Shimano how to make reels.
We nearly choked on that one.
Meanwhile, here’s the MG, one of the best budget-priced reels in the market currently.
It boasts of an aerodynamic profile in a one piece, graphite composite frame. At 7.2 oz. it weighs a wee bit more than the Casitas. But you can easily tag this along for dawn-to-dusk expeditions without getting worn out.
If you love to bomb deep crankbaits, then you’d love the paddle grips and the power crank on the Lews MG (5.4:1 gear ratio model only). Gives you a solid grip with zero fatigue setting in.
Performance wise, the MG might just surprise you with its smooth casting and retrieves. There is no squeal or creaking voice as you cast or during the retrieve.
By the way, that 10lb max drag rating is grossly misleading. We tell ya.
It features the new Lews Magnetic Control System that allows you to adjust the casting to the T, on-the-go depending on lure weight and wind conditions.
Braking is extremely precise courtesy Lews adjustable magnetic brakes.
Verdict: Looking to spend even lesser than the Casitas? Here’s the Lews MG for you. Tried and tested in different scenarios and emerged a winner in all of them.
#3 – Abu Garcia Revo4 X
An upgrade to Abu Garcia’s Revo Line-up of reels was long due. It finally came in 2018, after five long years. But the wait was completely worth it.
This is the Abu Garcia Revo4 X and it is a very versatile, low-profile baitcasting reel that can stand its own against much higher priced competition.
The Revo4X features a lightweight aluminum alloy frame called ‘X2-Cräftic’. The overall profile looks sleeker and we can’t stop drooling at the all-new matt black finish.
Its durability is legendary and it offers boat corrosion resistance like none other. Like they say, ‘It can take a kicking and keep on licking’, that too with zero scars to show for it.
Under the frame, lie 7 stainless-steel ball bearings and one roller bearing which when clubbed with the carbon matrix drag system, delivers an extremely smooth performance.
The Revo4 X weighs 7.5 oz. and you can rely on it for an all-day expedition.
It’s during the casting and the retrieves that one begins to notice the difference bought on by the upgrades.
Seemingly innocuous details, like the oversized handle, the rubberized knobs and of course, the brass gear system kick-in to make life comfortable on the water.
Last but not the least, the MagTrax™ brake system on the Revo makes it a cinch to cast a variety of baits.
Verdict: The Abu Garcia RevoX 4 is a revelation at this price point. It’s perfect for both beginners as well as intermediate anglers. And for the seasoned guys looking for a go-to reel for abuse, here’s one you can’t miss out on.
#4 - Shimano Caenen
The Caenen is one of the lowest priced Shimanos that you can get your hands on.
If you are a weekend warrior or hobbyist who’s been making do with cheap spinners or store baitcasters, then this is a great choice to experience the difference that a quality baitcasting reel will bring to your skills.
The Caenen features the graphite composite body that is common across Shimano’s low and mid-priced models now.
It weighs an even 7.2 oz. and has a slightly aggressive profile as compared to some of the earlier models in this list of best baitcasting reels under 100. But it fits smoothly in the hands and looks great on the rod.
In the water, the Caenen almost manages to stand up to the performance of the Casitas. That’s a tall order folks for the Casitas happens to be one of our personal favorites.
The casting is smooth and you can dial it in in the blink of an eye. We spoke to anglers who’d pitched with this, used fluorocarbons, braided lines, heavy jigs, feather light baits, bombed deep crankbaits and whatnot.
The Caenen just stood up to the test every time.
The standout feature though has to be the VBS centrifugal brake system. It makes it so easy to make adjustments.
The only possible quibble that we could find with it is that it features only 4 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing. Is that a deal breaker? Certainly not for us.
Verdict: Gran a Shimano at an entry level price while you can. The bass is waiting.
#5 - Daiwa Feugo CT
With the Feugo CT, Daiwa manages to bring many ‘best in-classes’ to the table.
For starters, it boasts of a max drag rating of 13.2 lbs. which trumps every other reel in this list of best baitcasting reels under 100.
Secondly, it has an aluminum frame, which to a lot of anglers is an indicator of better build quality as compared to a graphite one. (Not to us though)
But what sets the Feugo CT apart from the rest is the performance.
This is a near-flawless reel that draws inspiration from many high-end, classic Daiwas and repackages it in a budget-priced offering.
The lightweight frame is borrowed from the Tatula CT. But looks more aggressive with the red spool popping out against the pitch black.
There’s one ball bearing less under the hood and we missed the T-Wing. But that doesn’t take anything away from the performance.
The casting is extremely smooth and precise across a range of applications. The difference that the missing ball bearings make is only slight and will certainly not be noticeable to the hobbyist or weekend angler.
The drag is more powerful than what you’d expect for a reel at this price point. It is extremely smooth even under heavy load and Daiwa’s Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag really works.
Its silent as a mouse and backlashes are almost unheard of.
Verdict: The Daiwa Feugo CT is a quality reel in the sub-100 market. Don’t be fooled by the price tag. You’d be might impressed with the performance.
#6 - KastKing Royale Legend – Best budget priced baitcasting reel
The KastKing Royale Legend is the surprise addition to this list of best baitcasting reels under 100.
And to think of it, we almost missed out on this gem because of the unbelievably low price tag.
But despite being the cheapest in this list, it is crammed to the brim with features.
The Royale has a plastic/graphite composite body in matte black with silver trims. To be honest, it looks a little funky. So do most other models in their lineup. Well, design doesn’t seem to be their forte.
But we’ll live with it.
Because it performs way better than what the appearance suggests.
Under the hood, there are 11 anti-corrosion shielded ball bearings and 1 instant anti-reverse bearing that make operation butter smooth. In fact, you’d have to exercise some caution to prevent overcasting.
Thankfully, there are two braking systems that allow you to tame the beast and prevent a backlash. One is a centrifugal braking system and the other is a magnetic one.
The centrifugal one takes some time to figure out, especially if you are using the reel for the first time. The magnetic one though is pretty straight forward and needs to be dialed in.
This gives you great control and precision over casting and landing of the bait.
The precision brass gears kick-in during retrieval and the 4 plates of carbon fiber in the drag system give it an unbelievable max drag load of 17.5 lbs.
Verdict: The KastKing Royale Legend deserves to be in every serious angler’s arsenal. Only then can you appreciate the quality of this fine reel. Make no mistake, this one’s as good as the other ones in this list.
That sums up our list.
Did you find the best baitcasting reel under 100 that fits your requirements?
We sure hope you did.
Thoughts? Feedback? Additions to the list? Give us a holler.