10 Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon Fishing Reviewed

Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon Fishing

Welcome to our Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon Fishing reviews!

Baitcasting reels are very popular for catching salmon. But it’s not easy to pick the right baitcasting reel. You need a strong reel that can handle salmon and offers enough line capacity. So we have hands-on reviewed some of the top baitcasters on the market to find you the Best Salmon Baitcasting Reels.

If you are in a hurry:

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 is the Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3
  • LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTION: The spool of the Abu Garcia...
  • RECOVERY RATE: Recover 26” | 66cm of line for every turn...
  • SYNCHRONIZED LEVEL WIND SYSTEM: Provides even line lay and a...

Last update on 2024-05-16 / Paid links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Here is our pick of the top 10 salmon baitcasting reels…

Our Top 10 Picks

  1. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Round Reel
  2. Shimano Tranx 400 Baitcasting Reel
  3. Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter
  4. Daiwa Coastal TW 200 Inshore Baitcaster
  5. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
  6. Lew’s SuperDuty 300 Baitcast Reel
  7. KastKing Kapstan Elite 300 Fishing Reel
  8. Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Reel
  9. KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel
  10. Abu Garcia Pro Max Baitcast Reel

Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon Fishing Reviews

Now, let us move to our in-depth review.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Round Reel

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Conventional...

You must consider Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 6500 when looking for a salmon fishing reel. It offers strength, smoothness, and precision, making it an ideal pick for salmon anglers.

Let us share our hands-on experience with this reel. We took it out on a fishing trip to the Alaskan Kenai River for catching Silver Salmon. So, we matched it with a 7′ medium-heavy Daiwa baitcasting rod, and the pair seemed well balanced.

To extensively test this reel, we worked it hard through the rough conditions of the river. But it performed extremely well and held up to our expectations. We caught dozens of fish using this reel, including an 18-pound Silver Salmon.

The three stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing make the reel very smooth. Furthermore, the carbon matrix drag system delivers a consistent and smooth drag of up to 15 lb. The extended bent cranking handles and power knob provide extra torque for landing bigger fish.

Overall, we are happy to recommend Ambassadeur C3 6500. It is a great pick for any anglers looking for a solid and reliable baitcaster. With this baitcaster, you can control even the hardest fighting trout, salmon, or steelhead.

Shimano Tranx 400 Baitcasting Reel

Shimano Inc. TRANX 400A B/C Reel Box

Shimano Tranx is an excellent baitcaster for salmon anglers who need top performance from their fishing gear. We’ve been using this reel for a while now, and let us tell you, it’s the best low profile baitcasting reel for salmon.

First, the Hagane construction makes the reel strong and resilient. The CoreProtect feature protects the parts from water damage. So it functions well in both saltwater and freshwater conditions. Rest assured the reel is so durable to will stay operational for a long time.

Next, it uses a very capable drag system with advanced Heg and X-ship technologies. The max drag of 22 lbs allows you to land the heftiest of salmon. Even with such durability and power, this reel weighs only 11.6 oz.

We tested the 400 series for pitching in areas with a heavy cover. We paired it with a heavy/moderate 9’6″ rod for throwing a 30lb braid with very good results. Using this setup, we landed several king and pink salmon in the 10lbs to 30lbs range.

The 5.8:1 gear ratio is perfect for smooth retrievals and efficient castings. The 5 corrosion-resistant ball bearings and one roller bearing make it comfortable and smooth. You can use Shimano Tranx 400 for making long casts even with large-sized baits. If you are fishing in clean water, then the 300 series will more than suffice.

Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter

Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile...

When it comes to finding the perfect salmon reel, the Okuma Coldwater 350 should be at the top of your list. This versatile reel has a lot to offer and won’t disappoint you on your next salmon trip.

We extensively tested this baitcaster on consecutive days during our recent river fishing trip, and it worked great on both days.

On the first day, we used this reel to troll for Coho and Chinook Salmon. The 5.4:1 gear ratio provided the perfect balance of strength for large fish and line return speed for retrieving long lines. It helped us land quite a few large salmon.

The spool can hold more than 150 yards of 65-pound braided line. It is more than enough for any salmon, allowing you to catch even fighting fish. We found the line counter technology very handy. While we were trolling, we just had to glance to know the exact amount of line that was out.

On the second day, we tested this reel for throwing casts. The lightweight and low profile design makes the reel so easy to use, we were able to cast for hours. The multi-disc, carbonite drag system provided enough resistance to help us land a big 20 lb salmon.

Overall, the Okuma Coldwater 350 is an outstanding option for salmon fishing. It is so versatile you can use it for trolling, back-trolling, bouncing, and casting. We are happy to recommend it to anyone looking for a reliable baitcaster for salmon.

Daiwa Coastal TW 200 Inshore Baitcaster

Daiwa CLTW200HSL Coastal TWS Reel, 7.3:...

Are you looking for a high-quality baitcasting reel with exceptional performance? So we suggest you must check out Daiwa Coastal TW 200. It comes packed with features that can enhance your fishing experience.

We recently tested the Daiwa Coastal TW 200 on a salmon fishing trip to the Great Lakes. The reel comes with a large capacity and heavy drag, so we wanted to use it for targeting bigger fish. Accordingly, we spooled the reel with a 20 lb braid and a 15 lb fluorocarbon leader and matched it with an 8-ft MH rod.

Using this rig, we were able to catch several chinook and coho salmon. Thanks to the eight-bearing system, we did not experience any backlashes while casting. The 7.3:1 gear ratio makes line retrieval fast and efficient. The ultimate tournament drag system offers a max drag of 15.4 lbs making the reel ideal for catching big fish.

Overall, Daiwa Coastal TW 200 is an all-around baitcaster that can handle even saltwater conditions. It is a strong and durable baitcaster that you can use for catching bass, salmon, or steelhead. And, with a weight of just 8.1 oz, you will find this reel easy to use or carry around.

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel,...

The KastKing Rover is a fantastic option if you are looking for a high-quality baitcaster. We recently got our hands on this saltwater reel and were impressed by what it had to offer.

The reel arrived in a beautiful box, complete with a schematic and part list. This is superb as parts often wear out so the schematic makes getting replacement parts easy.

First, we noticed that the reel was larger and sturdier than we had expected. The spool can hold around 250 yards of 15lb mono. The large spool release button is also very useful.

We inspected the reel to find that the level wind assembly was a sturdy all-metal construction. Even most of the drive gears and bearings were metal and appeared strong. So overall the reel appeared quite well-built and durable. We won’t hesitate to use it for catching a 25 lb salmon!

So we decided to test this reel during our salmon fishing trip to the Puget Sound region in the Pacific Northwest. We spooled the reel with a 15 lb mono line and mounted it on a 9ft Salmon/Steelhead medium action rod.

Next, let’s talk about the casting performance. The KastKing Rover 60 comes with two spool tension knobs that help you cast better and farther. So we were not surprised when we were able to cast 1 oz. pyramid sinker over 70 yards.

Using this rig, we were able to land a large number of coho salmon in the 7-10 lb range and a few king salmon in the 10-20 lb range. The 6+1 bearings and a 20 lbs max drag helped us land all the fish smoothly and quickly. So far the reel has held up really well and shows no signs of wear even after saltwater fishing.

Overall, we are happy to recommend the KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel for durability and performance. You can use it for catching salmon, spotted sea trout, redfish, or any other nearshore species.

Lew’s SuperDuty 300 Baitcast Reel

Lew's SuperDuty 300 Speed Spool 6.5:1...

We recently tested Lew’s SuperDuty Speed Spool to troll for salmon. We spooled it with a #50 Power Pro braid and paired it with a 9′ Lamiglas X-11 Graphite Rod.

The reel was easy to set up and it didn’t take us much time either to tune it. So far the reel has performed great and we have found the 6.5:1 ratio very helpful. It shows no signs of wear even after days of trolling for salmon.

All the materials used in the construction are durable, strong, and light in weight. This well-built structure is a testament to its excellent quality.

The Multi-Setting Brake System allows you to adjust the reel as per changing conditions. It gives you full control over your casts and lets you reel in the toughest fish with ease. The magnetic brake works very well and the knob that engages the brake is large enough to easily get to.

The lightweight materials ensure that you don’t feel any fatigue while casting. The wide handles do not slip even when they are wet. The big cutout around the spool allows you to get your thumb on the spool even when you are fishing with your gloves on.

KastKing Kapstan Elite 300 Fishing Reel

KastKing Kapstan Elite Baitcasting...

KastKing Kapstan Elite is an excellent baitcaster for new and experienced bass anglers. It weighs about 7 oz so it is neither heavy nor super light. This balance between strength and weight makes it ideal for targeting salmon in different conditions.

You get the reel in a nice glossy white, with a black finish around the spool. It looks slick and feels strong, sturdy, and well-balanced in your hand. All the knobs are ergonomically located so you can adjust the drag, brakes, and tension easily.

The 5.4:1 gear ratio allows you to retrieve the line fast enough to pull in your catch. The max drag of 35 lbs is enough stopping power for king salmon or striped bass.

We recently tested this reel on a king salmon fishing trip to Alaska. We spooled the reel with Power Pro 50 lb braid and paired it with an 8’6″ medium-heavy rod. Using this setup, we found it effortless to throw heavy sinkers and floats over 75 yards.

We used this rig to catch a few nice size king salmon in the 20-25 lbs range and one around 30 lbs. The reel felt reliable enough and handled all the fish with ease. Compared to many other baitcasters, it has so much less backlash, that we had a pleasant and wonderful day.

Overall, we are happy with the Kapstan Elite fishing reel. It comes with easy-to-use controls and an excellent drag system at a very affordable price.

Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Reel

Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Baitcast...

The Abu Garcia Revo SX is an exceptional pick for any angler looking for a high-performance reel that won’t break the bank. It boasts many features, including a gear ratio of 7.1:1 and a max drag power of 20 lbs. It is 25% lighter than previous models, so it is easy for you to handle even on long fishing trips.

We tested the Revo SX during our salmon fishing trip to Alaska, and it exceeded our expectations. The reel works best when reeling in medium to large-sized fish. We paired it with a 15lb fluorocarbon line to land a 16lb salmon with ease. The bent handle and rubberized knobs provide a comfortable grip that does not slip.

The Carbon Matrix system offers a smooth and effective drag with a lower risk of backlash. The D2 Gear system is one of the most durable gear systems in the market. Furthermore, the MagTrax brake system ensures reliable brake pressure. It saves you time by not having to take apart the side plates for making adjustments.

The reel comes with 9 stainless steel ball bearings and 1 roller bearing for smoothness. The Titanium-coated line guides reduce friction while casting and retrieval. The C6 carbon side plate provides excellent strength and gear alignment. The X2 alloy frame resists corrosion from harsh weather conditions.

In conclusion, we are happy to recommend the Abu Garcia Revo SX to any angler looking for a high-quality baitcaster. We recently found it to be the Best Baitcasting Reel Under $200 during our field tests.

KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel

KastKing MegaJaws Baitcasting Reel,7.2:1...

KastKing MegaJaws offers a game-changing performance for salmon anglers. The state-of-the-art multi-disc carbon fiber drag offers a solid 17.64 lbs of drag power.

In the box, you will the one-piece reel, surrounded by soft bubble wrapping. The reel comes with 11+1 double-shielded ball bearings that resist corrosion. The spool offers a mono capacity of 10/125, 12/110, or 14/90.

We tested the model with a 7.2:1 gear ratio, and it was blazing fast. But, if you want an even faster reel, then you can pick an even faster 9.1:1 model.

It comes with the AutoMad dual braking system that significantly reduces backlash. The EVA handle knobs make it easy for you to get a firm grip. The lightweight aluminum handle adds to comfort. Once you get familiar with the reel, you will find yourself casting out a mile ahead without any backlash.

Overall, KastKing MegaJaws is an easy-to-use baitcasting reel for catching salmon. It weighs a mere 6 oz, making it more lightweight than most competitors. Yet it offers plenty of drag for landing even monster salmon.

Abu Garcia Pro Max Baitcast Reel

Abu Garcia Pro Max & Max Pro Low Profile...

The Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile baitcasting reel is perfect for salmon anglers of all levels.

We recently took it out on a fishing trip to the Kenai River in Alaska for catching red salmon. We spooled the reel with a 20 lb braid and paired it with an 8′ lightweight fishing rod. Using this rig, we were able to land several red salmon in the 8-10 pounds range. The 7.0:1 gear ratio held up well, even when we were trying to reel in a 10-pounder. We were quite impressed by its overall performance.

The Magtrax brake system allowed us to adjust the brake settings to keep the reel even and consistent. It really helped us in controlling the hard-pulling fish. The power disk system delivered a phenomenal 18-pound drag.

The reel has a smooth operation, thanks to its seven stainless steel ball bearings and a roller bearing. The double anodized aluminum spool improves corrosion resistance without adding weight. Additionally, the dura gear brass construction enhances durability.

We can recommend Abu Garcia Pro Max to anyone looking for a reliable baitcaster. It is a great option, especially for those who are just starting out with baitcasting reels as you can easily adjust it to your skill level.

Spinning or Baitcasting Reel for Salmon?

No other fishing reel compares to a good baitcaster when it comes to power and accuracy. They offer you so much power that you can retrieve the biggest fish in the water.

Also, baitcasting reels allow you to throw smooth and long casts right at the spot you want. Moreover, their superior braking systems reduce the backlash while you are casting.

Some anglers prefer spinning reels as they are easier to use. But, they offer lower performance that baitcasting reels. Also, it is not possible to have as much control while casting with a spinning reel.

The baitcasting reels are also better at heavier lines using carefully placed line guides. Heavy lines are essential for casting heavy lures and aiming at hefty fish. So if you aim to target the biggest fish, nothing will work better than a baitcaster.

How to Choose the Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon Fishing

You would know that a lot of variety exists in baitcasting reels. So one needs to be well aware of all key features to make the right choice. There are several features that influence the quality and performance of your reel.

You need to pay adequate attention to picking the gear ratio suitable for landing salmon. The material and construction of your reel influence its strength and durability. The weight and profile impact your comfort.

So you need to consider these key factors when you are looking for a salmon baitcasting reel.

Right Gear Ratio is Important

Gear ratios play a very important role in the performance of baitcasting reels. Gear ratio refers to the number of times the spool turns in response to a single rotation of the handle. The first digit of the gear ratio defines the speed of retrieval.

A high gear ratio means that the line will be reeled in at a very high speed. Contrary to this, a lower gear ratio would pull in slower but with a higher amount of power.

Low-speed gears work well with heavier baits. While high-speed gears work well with lightweight baits and lures.

For salmon, we suggest you pick a baitcasting reel with low-speed gears and higher power.

Quality Ball Bearings will Make You Reel Smooth

The quality of ball bearings is not defined by number but rather by the type of bearings in the reel. Always look for bearings that are shielded or sealed or built with stainless steel.

High-quality bearings will make your casting and overall operation smooth. Quality bearings also reduce the noise and vibrations emitted by the reel during operation.

So we suggest you always go for double-shielded stainless steel corrosion-resistant ball bearings. They offer enough smoothness that a good quality baitcasting reel needs.

Check the Material and Construction

Baitcasting reels are usually built using either graphite or aluminum. We suggest you go for an aluminum reel if you want better performance and durability.

Graphite is comparatively less strong than aluminum but also relatively cheaper. Aluminum is more expensive than graphite but also more durable, strong, and lightweight.

One should also note the structure of their baitcaster. A low-profile reel is easier to use due to its sleek structure. So if you are a beginner, we suggest you go for a low-profile baitcaster to get started.

But, most round baitcasters offer stronger drag and more power than low-profile reels. So if you are going after bigger fish, then you must get a round baitcaster.

Pick a Baitcasting Reel with Anti-Backlash Features

A seemingly good baitcasting reel could frustrate you with frequent backlashes.

Backlash occurs when the speed of the spool and the line vary during casting, such that the line slows down but the spool keeps going. Such a situation results in a tangled line that is known as backlash.

Frequent backlashes can put off any angler especially if you are new to baitcasting. So it is always better to select a reel where the possibility of backlash is minimum.

Many new baitcasting reels come with magnetic braking systems that virtually eliminate backlashes.

Look for a Smooth and Powerful Drag System

The drag system is the key component that helps you to fight and land the fish. So a smooth and powerful drag system is a must if you want to tire out your catch and reel it in.

Just check a baitcasting reel’s drag rating to find out how much max weight the reel was designed to handle. For salmon – we suggest you pick a baitcaster with a max drag of 20 lbs.

Also, try picking a baitcasting reel with a multi-disc carbon fiber drag system. It is more lightweight, durable, and smoother than other drag systems. Also, choose a reel that lets you adjust or fine-tune the drag to suit different conditions.

Check Spool Size and Line Capacity

Spool size and line capacity refer to the amount of line that the reel can hold. It is an important consideration as you need more line capacity when you are casting for salmon.

If you are casting, then most of the reels we have reviewed offer enough line capacity for salmon fishing. You can pick any of these options without worrying about the spool size or line capacity.

But, if you’re trolling for salmon, then you will need even higher line capacity. So look for a reel with a large spool size that can accommodate heavier lines.

A Quality Braking System is Essential

The braking system ensures that your casts are smooth and accurate. It is also responsible for preventing backlash.

Most modern baitcasting reels come with a magnetic or a centrifugal braking system.

Magnetic brakes use magnetic attraction to control the speed of the spool. While the centrifugal brakes use friction to slow down the spool.

For salmon – we suggest you look for a braking system that can handle heavier lines and lures. Also, check that the braking system is easy to adjust and fine-tune.

Pick a Reel with a Comfortable Handle

The handle of a reel can significantly impact your fishing experience.

A quality handle can help you comfortably fish for hours without any discomfort.

We suggest you look for a reel with a non-slip handle. It will offer you a better grip even in wet conditions.

Some reels come with longer handles that can provide additional torque. We have found larger handles very helpful while going after larger salmon.

Look for a Baitcasting Reel Within Your Budget

More expensive reels tend to offer better quality and performance. But you can find many quality options at an affordable price.

In our experience, many baitcasters in the $50-$200 range offer the right balance between price and performance.

You can find most of the reels we have reviewed here in the $100-$200 price range. You need stronger reels with large spools for salmon. And, it is a bit difficult to find such reels at lower price points.

But we have found a few under $100 that work great for salmon fishing – KastKing Rover and Abu Garcia Pro Max.

If you are looking for more budget options, then check out our reviews of the Best Baitcasting Reels Under $50.


We often get questions from our readers or even during our fishing trips. So, we have tried to answer some of the common questions here.

1. Are Baitcasters Good for Salmon Fishing?

Yes, baitcasters are excellent for salmon fishing. But just like anything in fishing, it’s important you do it right!

First, when choosing a baitcasting reel, you must consider the size and weight of the fish you are targeting and the fishing conditions.

For example – if you are going after larger salmon, then pick a reel that can handle a heavier line, lure, and fish.

Next, you need to use the right line, lure, and fishing rod. On our recent fishing trip to Alaska, we filled our baitcasting reel with a 15 lb mono line and paired it with a 9′ med-heavy rod.

We caught multiple coho, chinook, and king salmon using this rig. So, yes, baitcasters are good for catching salmon. They offer the right level of accuracy, control, and drag for landing salmon.

2. Can You Use a Baitcasting Reel for Salmon?

Yes, a baitcasting reel is an excellent choice for salmon fishing. While some use spinning reels, baitcasting reels are more popular among experienced anglers.

Many anglers prefer baitcasters as they offer better accuracy and control. It is especially important when targeting salmon so that you can cast your lure to the exact place it needs to be.

3. What size baitcasting reel is best for salmon?

We suggest you consider a few factors to find out the best size for your baitcasting reel. Keep in mind, the fish you are planning to catch, and the location where you planning to fish.

We hope you find some of these rule-of-thumb tips useful.

  • If you are planning to fish for small-sized salmon, you can go for a low-profile baitcasting reel with a line capacity of at least 100 yards.
  • If you plan to target medium-sized salmon, then we suggest you pick a baitcasting reel with 150-200 yards line capacity.
  • If you are going after larger salmon, then you must pick a reel with at least 250 yards of line capacity.

4. Is it OK to use a Baitcaster in Saltwater?

Yes, it is ok to use a baitcaster in saltwater. But, you must choose the right reel and take proper care of it. Saltwater is corrosive, so you must choose a reel built with corrosion-resistant materials. A baitcasting reel designed for saltwater use will hold up well even in harsh conditions.

Also, you must rinse your reel with freshwater after each outing. It is even better if you also apply a protective lubricant to prevent rust.


While baitcasters are great for salmon fishing, it can be a bit challenging to find the right option. So we hope our reviews and the buying guide can help you pick the right one for your needs.

All the baitcasters we have reviewed have been carefully curated to help you land more salmon. Although Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 is the Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon Fishing as per our reviews, you can pick any of the reels from our list to get the job done.

Shimano Tranx and Okuma Cold Water also offer excellent capabilities when it comes to catching larger fish.  Both these reels are durable enough to last you for many years.

Lew’s SuperDuty is an excellent pick for freshwater salmon, while you can use Daiwa Coastal TW 200 for saltwater fishing as well. Both of them come with enough drag and the right gear ratios for landing big fish with ease.

Abu Garcia Revo X Low Profile has no demerits to its name and is one of the top baitcasting reels on the market. KastKing Rover is an equally excellent choice but even more affordable.

We hope you like our pick of the Best Baitcasting Reels for Salmon Fishing. If you would like to recommend any other baitcaster, then let us know via the comments section. We will include it in our next update.

Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by Victor Mays

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