14 Best Baitcasting Reel for Steelhead Fishing Reviewed

Best Baitcasting Reel for Steelhead Fishing

Best Baitcasting Reel for Steelhead Fishing: Looking for a new baitcasting reel for catching steelhead? Baitcasting reels are very popular for catching steelhead. But it’s not easy to choose the right option So we have reviewed some of the top reels on the market to find you the Best Baitcasting Reels for Steelhead Fishing.

If you are in a hurry:

Shimano Curado K is the Best Baitcasting Reel for Steelhead.

Shimano Curado K
  • Built tournament tough, this low-profile baitcasting reel is...
  • Featuring Shimano’s latest technology such as the super...
  • Employs SVS Infinity braking system providing easy-to-manage...

Last update on 2024-07-11 / Paid links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Here is our pick of the top 14 steelhead baitcasting reels…

Our Top 14 Picks

  1. Shimano Curado K Baitcasting Reel
  2. Daiwa Tatula SV TW Baitcast Reel
  3. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C4 Round Reel
  4. Shimano Cardiff Baitcasting Reel
  5. Daiwa Fuego CT Baitcasting Reel
  6. Okuma Komodo SS Low Profile Baitcaster
  7. Shimano SLX XT Series Casting Reel
  8. KastKing Kapstan Elite Fishing Reel
  9. Abu Garcia Revo X Low Profile Reel
  10. Pflueger President XT Fishing Reel
  11. Shimano Caius Baitcasting Reel
  12. Piscifun Torrent Baitcast Reel
  13. Abu Garcia Max Pro Low Profile Reel
  14. KastKing Royale Legend Fishing Reel

Best Baitcasting Reel for Steelhead Fishing Reviews

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

1. Shimano Curado K Baitcasting Reel

Shimano Curado 200K Lowprofile...

We tested Shimano Curado 200K during our fishing trip to the Skagit River in Washington. We spooled it with a 15lb braided line and paired it with a medium rod for throwing salmon roe and shrimp as bait.

The first thing that impressed us was the max drag of 11 lbs. Shimano Curado K is quite powerful for its size. During our tests, we caught several large steelheads over 8 lbs. without worrying about the line breaking.

The first steelhead we hooked weighed over 10 lbs. But we were able to reel it in smoothly without any jerks. As the drag is easy to adjust, we were able to land the fish even as it made strong runs.

Throughout the day, we caught several more steelhead in the 5-10 lbs range. The Shimano Curado K performed flawlessly each time. The reel handled the diving runs of steelhead so well that we even landed a large 12-pounder.

What we appreciated most about the Shimano Curado K was its versatility. We tested a mix of bait and lures, and the reel handled everything equally well. The brake system was easy to adjust, which helped us fine-tune the casts depending on the bait we were using.

Overall, we are happy to conclude that Shimano Curado 200K is the best steelhead baitcasting reel on the market. It is an excellent pick for steelhead anglers who want a high-speed baitcaster with a large line capacity. We were able to land several steelheads thanks to its high-speed retrieve.

2. Daiwa Tatula SV TW Baitcast Reel

*Tatula Baitcasting Fishing Reel

The Daiwa Tatula SV TW is a top-tier baitcaster for any steelhead fisherman. We have extensively tested this reel to help you find out if it could be the perfect match for your needs.

First, we tested this reel during our steelhead fishing trip to the Skykomish River in Washington. We filled the reel with a 10lb fluorocarbon line for throwing pink jigs and baits. The reel performed incredibly well, even with a 12-pounder on the line.

Next, we took this reel to Trinity River, Northern California for more testing in the field. The river here is fast and powerful, and the steelheads are notoriously hard to catch. So we decided to use a 12lb mono line and throw rooster tail spinners.

We found the reel’s smooth drag invaluable. It helped us keep control of the steelhead as large as 14 lbs. High-speed retrieval is also extremely useful. First, it helped us cover more water and identify where the steelhead was biting. Then, it allowed us to retrieve even the fast and jumpy steelhead with ease.

The 7 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing not only keep the reel smooth but also help in keeping line twisting to a minimum. You will find this very useful, as steelheads are famous for making sudden turns and jerks.

3. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C4 Round Reel

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C4 Conventional...

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C4 Round Reel is one of the most popular baitcasting reels on the market. So, we were thrilled to test the C4-5600 model. We have experienced that Abu Garcia reels tend to perform better on rivers. So we picked Ambassadeur C4 to test it out during our fishing trip to the Clearwater River, Idaho.

The toughest fish we caught using this reel was a big, strong, and fast 15-pound steelhead. But the drag system is powerful enough to land even such large fish with ease. During our trip, we caught many more steelheads over 10 lbs using Ambassadeur C4.

The 6.3:1 gear ratio helps the reel provide a smooth and fast retrieve. It allows you to quickly reel in the line when you hook a fish or if you just want to reposition your cast. It helped us catch several fast and diving steelheads on our trip.

Another reason we loved this unique reel is the total absence of backlash. Backlashes can be a nightmare with braided lines. But we never had to worry about tangles or bird nests. It proved to be invaluable in locations where the fish were hiding behind rocks or structures.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C4, with its powerful drag, fast retrieval, and absence of backlash, delivers exceptional performance when dealing with large and fast steelheads.

4. Shimano Cardiff Baitcasting Reel

Shimano Cardiff 300A, Round Baitcast...

Caching steelhead can be challenging if you don’t have the right gear. So we wanted to test the Shimano Cardiff Baitcasting Reel to see how it fares against the rigors of steelhead fishing.

We tested Shimano Cardiff during our trip to the Klamath River, where the water is fast-moving and has a moderate depth. As Cardiff is a lightweight baitcasting reel, we paired it with an 8’6″ rod for fishing the steelhead runs.

After extensively testing it in the field, we can confirm that the Cardiff is a remarkable baitcaster. It helped us throw long casts to reach distant water where steelhead lurked. This reel really casts smoothly and accurately.

We also found the reel drag flawless and impressive. It had plenty of reserves, allowing us to reel in fish to the boat with ease. Fine-tuning the drag helped us control the fish even in the fast and heavy currents.

To make the most of the Shimano Cardiff, we suggest you spool it with a high-quality braided line. We opted for the SpiderWire Invisibraid, which allowed us to feel even slight nibbles from the fish. We tested a variety of lures, including the Mepps Trophy spinners and the Blue Fox Vibrax Spinners. Both of which worked well with Cardiff.

5. Daiwa Fuego CT Baitcasting Reel

Daiwa Fuego Left Hand- CT Baitcasting...

The Fuego CT features an incredibly lightweight design. Weighing only 7.2 ounces, it is one of the lightest baitcasting reels on the market. So we decided to test Fuego CT’s performance when it comes to steelhead fishing.

The reel has a gear ratio of 8.1:1, which means you can retrieve your bait at an expedited pace. It is advantageous when bringing in steelhead due to these fish’s tendency to make quick runs.

We tested the Daiwa Fuego CT during our trip to the Sacramento River for steelhead fishing. We spooled the reel with Power Pro braided line for a responsive and sensitive setup.

The Sacramento River has a varied water flow so the current alternates between gentle and rapid. So fishing here requires high-quality fishing gear that is reliable and flexible.

But Fuego CT made our whole experience catching steelhead quite effortless. We were able to use a broad range of lures, including the Luhr-Jensen Kwikfish. This reel is so flexible, you can use it to throw different kinds of steelhead baits and lures.

So overall, Fuego CT is an excellent baitcasting reel for steelhead fishing. We feel it is one of the top baitcasters on the market for catching steelhead, especially in fast-moving rivers.

6. Okuma Komodo SS Low Profile Baitcaster

Okuma Komodo SS Large Capacity Low...

We had the opportunity to test the Okuma Komodo SS while fishing on the Skeena River in British Columbia. The Skeena River is known for its strong runs of steelhead, so we knew we needed a reliable reel.

Steelhead fishing requires a sensitive line. So to get the most out of the Okuma Komodo SS, you should pair it with a braided line. Sufix 832 performs well for us, so we loaded 300 yards of 50lb braid. It is plenty of line for float fishing, drifting, or casting.

We paired the reel with a 9ft medium action rod and used a variety of lures. The setup worked great as expected, allowing us to detect almost every steelhead bite. We were able to reel in the fish and pull them toward our landing net without any problems.

We also tested different lures including spoons, spinners, and jigs. Most if not all worked quite well with the Okuma Komodo SS. In fact, the reel is so smooth, we were able to throw the lures farther into the water. It helped us place the lures directly in the steelhead’s path.

The Komodo SS exceeded our expectations, helping us to catch several large steelheads. The 7HPB + 1RB stainless steel bearings helped us smoothly retrieve every catch.

7. Shimano SLX XT Series Casting Reel

Shimano Inc. SLX XT 150 SLX

Steelhead fishing is exhilarating but choosing the right gear is vital to success. So we explore how the Shimano SLX XT Series Reels perform in steelhead fishing.

We tested the Shimano SLX XT Series Casting Reel in the Merced River in California. The Merced River is a popular spot for steelhead. It is known for its moderately swift but shallow waters.

The SLX XT Series features Shimano’s SVS Infinity Brake System which makes it easy to adjust the brakes. So once we adjusted the brakes to the river, we had excellent control over casting and retrieving.

We loaded the reel with PowerPro Spectra Braid and matched it with a moderate action rod. The PowerPro Spectra offers the right amount of sensitivity to detect steelhead bites.

But if you prefer using a monofilament line, you can go with Berkley Trilene XL. It is fantastic in detecting bites and holds tight against the pull of steelhead.

We were throwing Rooster Tail Spinners and Rapala X-Rap Jointed Lures – and using our rig, we caught several steelheads ranging from 5 lbs to 15 lbs.

Overall, this reel provides a comfortable and enjoyable experience when fishing for steelhead. It is one of the best steelhead casting reels that can help you land a big one.

8. KastKing Kapstan Elite Fishing Reel

KastKing Kapstan Elite Baitcasting...

We have used many KastKing baitcasters over the years in the $50-$100 price range. But this time we wanted to test one of their baitcasting reels in the $100-$150 range to see if it’s worth the extra money.

So after some research, we decided to pick KastKing Kapstan Elite for this endeavor. Then, we extensively tested it during our different trips to catch steelhead, salmon, and even a few saltwater fish such as redfish. During our tests, the reel performed very well in different fishing conditions.

KastKing Kapstan Elite is a low-profile reel that weighs only 7 oz. We feel this lightweight design helps anglers in making long and accurate casts. While the triple-disc carbon fiber drag system provides enough power that we caught a 10 lbs steelhead in a thickly covered area.

So, as per our field tests, we find KastKing Kapstan Elite smoother and more powerful than many reels in its price range. You will find it a great baitcaster for catching various fish the rivers, lakes, or inshore waters.

KastKing Kapstan Elite is a great choice for steelhead anglers looking to up their game. You can use it not just for targeting steelhead but also salmon. But if are looking for more options, then you can read our Best Baitcasting Reel for Salmon Fishing reviews.

9. Abu Garcia Revo X Low Profile Reel

Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Baitcast...

Abu Garcia Revo SX baitcasting reel is a popular choice among anglers due to its excellent performance, power, and durability.

This lightweight reel weighs only 6.65 ounces and has a gear ratio of 7.1:1, providing 29 inches per turn. The maximum drag power of 20 pounds makes it easy to reel in a big catch.

The Carbon Matrix system of the Revo SX ensures an effective yet smooth drag with low friction, making it almost backlash-free. The D2 gear provides a strong and durable performance.

The MagTrax brake system offers reliable brake pressure. It allows you to cast the most accurate line possible without any backlash. You can easily adjust the brake system from the outside of the reel with a turn of the dial. It moves the magnetic braking system closer to the spool for more control.

The reel comes with nine stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing. The titanium-coated line guides reduce friction, making casting and retrieving smooth and effortless. The design of the reel is stunning. Fashioned in a sleek combination of black, charcoal grey, and red, giving it an edgy appearance.

The Abu Garcia Revo SX is a lightweight yet durable baitcasting reel. The C6 carbon side plate provides excellent strength and gear alignment. The X2 alloy frame is corrosion-resistant, avoiding rusting from any harsh weather conditions. The line guides are titanium-coated, providing a strong layer of protection.

10. Pflueger President XT Fishing Reel

Pflueger President XT Low Profile...

Pflueger President XT is a reliable and durable reel that can make your fishing trips enjoyable. It is a great pick if you are looking for a quality baitcaster that won’t break the bank.

To test it out, we paired it with a medium-heavy rod for fishing in the Ozark Mountain Region. As it offers a 12lb max drag, we find it suitable for catching rainbow trout and smallmouth bass there.

When we unboxed the reel, its design, and construction caught our attention. The C30 Sideplate and the aluminum handle seem built to last. The soft rubber cork knobs offer a solid grip, while the lightweight design makes it easy to handle.

If we talk about the performance, we must say we are very impressed. When you are casting, the 9 ball bearings and magnetic brakes help you throw lures without backlash. During retrieval, the 7.3:1 gear ratio allows you to reel in the fish quickly and effortlessly. The instant anti-reverse makes it even easier by helping you land the fish without any slack.

Overall, we are happy to recommend Pflueger President XT to anglers looking for an affordable baitcaster. Even if you are a beginner, it will make your fishing experience unforgettable. Not to mention the lightweight design which makes reeling and casting enjoyable.

11. Shimano Caius Baitcasting Reel

Shimano Inc. Caius 150HG B Caius

We recently tested the Shimano Caius on a float fishing trip to the St. Joseph River in Michigan. And, we must say we are thoroughly impressed! It lets you cast further and more accurately than other baitcasters in this price range.

One of the first things you will notice about the Caius is its weight – it’s unbelievably light for a baitcasting reel at only 7.4 oz. This makes it perfect for casting lightweight lures. So whether you’re throwing jigs or light plastics, this reel is up to the task.

We’ve spooled it with a 12-pound mono and paired it with our 8.5ft baitcasting rod. Using this setup, we were able to cast 1/2-1 oz sinkers with ease. We caught everything from an 8-pound steelhead out of murky river waters to a 12-pound steelhead in the clean waters of Lake Michigan.

Every aspect of this reel seems to be designed with lightweight lure casting in mind. It all comes together nicely to deliver a versatile and reliable casting experience. Once you have the breaks dialed in, you’ll enjoy spot-on accuracy and almost zero backlashes. Just combine it with the right rod and bait, and you can catch fish up to 12 pounds with ease.

12. Piscifun Torrent Baitcast Reel

Piscifun Torrent Baitcaster Fishing...

The performance coupled with ease of use makes Piscifun Torrent one of the best baitcasting reels for steelhead fishing.

The stainless steel body of this reel makes it strong along with corrosion-resistant. It can withstand harsh conditions so well that you can use it even in saltwater. Yet the lightweight construction makes it comfortable and easy to use.

The 6 stainless steel ball bearings are resistant to corrosion. They help make the reel smooth and improve control. The 18 lb max drag and 7.1:1 gear ratio help you reliably reel in any fish you hook.

We have extensively tested this reel over many days, and we are extremely impressed. Primarily, we used this reel to target steelhead in the Sacramento River during late fall. We were casting baits from the bank and caught quite a few steelheads in the 8-12 lb range using a 7′ baitcasting rod.

We found the reel comparatively easy to use and there were fewer backlashes compared to other baitcasters. You can use this reel for throwing long and accurate casts even if you are a beginner. The ergonomic handle makes the whole experience very comfortable.

We are happy to recommend Piscifun Torrent. It is well admired by beginners and experienced anglers due to its relative ease of use. Just check any online shop, and you will find many positive reviews from anglers.

Piscifun Torrent is one of the most affordable baitcasting reels on our list. But if you are looking for more budget options, then you can check out our reviews of the Best Baitcasting Reels Under $50.

13. Abu Garcia Max Pro Low Profile Reel

Abu Garcia Max Pro Low Profile Baitcast...

We recently tested the Abu Garcia Max Pro during our river fishing trip targeting Michigan steelhead. We were very impressed with the reel’s smooth operation and powerful drag. The reel was able to handle steelhead running upstream without any line breakage.

When fishing for steelhead, we suggest you use a braided fishing line. We loaded the reel with Power Pro Spectra to use it with an 8′ medium rod, Acme Kastmaster lures, and Gamakatsu Octopus hooks.

The braided line helped us feel every nibble and bite. While the gentle drag allowed us to play the steelhead while landing it in our net with ease. The 7 stainless steel ball bearings plus a roller bearing made the retrieve extremely smooth.

The Magtrax brake system is externally adjustable. You can easily switch your settings even while reeling in your catch. It proves to be very helpful when you are casting in fast-moving river currents. The power disk system provided a phenomenal drag so that the hook never slipped.

The Abu Garcia Max Pro is a low-profile reel designed with ergonomics in mind. The low-profile design allows you to fish all day without feeling tired. The double anodized aluminum spool adds corrosion resistance without making the reel heavy.

14. KastKing Royale Legend Fishing Reel

KastKing Royale Legend GT Baitcasting...

KastKing Royale Legend GT is the right pick for you if you are looking for your first baitcaster. It is an easy-to-use reel with minimal backlash allowing even beginners to make long casts. If you are just getting started, you can get this reel and even save some money!

You will receive a nicely packaged black box with the KastKing Royale Legend GT inside. The reel comes fully assembled and ready to use out of the box. You can’t swap the handles, so you must choose the left-hand or right-hand version when buying.

The reel is a bit bigger and heavier, but also more robust and durable. It feels sturdy and solid in your hand. You can easily grab the Grand Touch handles and crank the reel without losing your grip.

You can adjust the tension and drag by rotating the knobs located next to the handle. On the other side of the reel, there is a brake adjustment knob. The drag is smooth and consistent, once you have the settings locked down.

You can use this reel for throwing chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, or Texas rigs. We tested this reel with a 20 lb braid and caught a 10lb catfish and an 8lb steelhead on a medium-heavy rod. So yeah we are very pleased with its performance!


It is not easy to find the perfect baitcasting reel for steelhead fishing. Although Shimano Curado 200K is the best baitcasting reel for steelhead fishing as per our reviews, one reel can not be suitable for all anglers.

The performance of a reel varies with different techniques and conditions. But any one of the reels on our list above can help you land the steelhead on the day.

Shimano Curado K offers superior performance in most situations. Daiwa Tatula SV and Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C4 significantly reduce backlash.

Shimano Cardiff and Daiwa Fuego CT are quite affordable for their features. Okuma Komodo SS offers line capacity large enough for most fishing conditions. Shimano SLX XT series reels are extremely efficient in casting and retrieving.

Feel free to contact us if you need more help picking the right reel as per your specific needs. We have been reviewing fishing gear for years, so can use our expertise to help you make the right choice.

Let us know if you have any questions or feedback about our reviews of the Best Baitcasting Reels for Steelhead Fishing. We are happy to answer all the queries we get.

Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by Victor Mays

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