Fishing hacks 7

TOP 12 Best Musky Reels Reviewed 2019 for Landing Serious Fish

Muskies, or Esox masquinongy, are beasts. They’ll grow into 30lb monsters and will give you one heck of a fight.

They also require patience. There’s a reason muskies are known as the fish of 10,000 casts.

When I started going after muskies, I wanted to give myself the best chance of hauling in and landing one of the big ones without breaking my reel or my bank account

Here’s the best of the best that I could find out there.

TOP 12 Best Musky Reels of 2019

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast Reel

Review: With 7 stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing, a carbon drag system, an active response drag mechanism, and aluminum spool, the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast is a nice and smooth, heavy-duty reel for chasing big game.

It has a lot of cranking power with either a 4.9:1 or 6.2:1 gear ratio depending on the model, and good line capacity. Its aluminum spool makes it light while keeping it strong.

Its well designed for hard pulling muskies and, if you’re willing to pay for more than the basics, the Revo Toro Beast would make a great addition to any musky fisher’s arsenal.

Pros

  • Heavy-duty, smooth and powerful.
  • Comes with 3 different handles – power handle, paddle handle and power handle with a counterweight.
  • High line capacity – good for the big game.
  • Comes in left- and right-handed models.

Cons

  • There’s no clicker.
  • Price.

Takeaway

A great, heavy duty reel that’s perfect for pulling in big muskies.

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

Review: The KastKing Rover is a great musky reel for beginners. Its got six stainless steel ball bearings, carbon fiber drag washers and an anodized aluminum spool, so its durable yet light.

An oversized T handle makes it comfortable and easy to grip. It has 30lbs of drag and a 5.3:1 gear ratio so it’ll stand up to some serious fights.

Its one of the cheapest reels on this list, but if you’re looking to start fishing for musky, this would be a great place to start.

Pros

  • Great value for money.
  • Good introductory reel.
  • Good all-round performance.
  • Comes in left- and right-handed models.

Cons

  • Wouldn’t add much to an advanced angler’s arsenal.

Takeaway

With its great price, the KastKing Rover is a great introductory musky reel.

Shimano Calcutta CT700B Reel

Review: The Shimano Calcutta is well designed and a real pleasure to use. Its frame, side plates and spool are all made out of aluminum, making them strong and light. Its three ball bearing system is smooth and efficient.

The CT700B model has the biggest drag capacity of the line and still only has 16.5 lbs which, compared to some of the other reels on this list, might not stand up to the biggest muskies.

Pros

  • Fast and smooth.
  • Strong but light.
  • Well designed and feels well built.

Cons

  • Max drag only 16.5lb.
  • The CT700B only comes in right-handed models.

Takeaway

The Shimano Calcutta B is a good reel for musky fishing, well-designed and lightweight.

Daiwa Lexa WN400H Reel

Review: The Daiwa Lexa WN400H has a carbon drag with 25lbs max drag, custom grips and cutouts in the handle to reduce weight. It’s got a huge line capacity of 300 yards so there should be no problem with overruns.

Its gear ratio is 6.3:1 so it’s one of the quicker reels on the list. The only trouble with fast reels is they have less torque, i.e. pulling power, and may struggle with some of the bigger muskies.

Pros

  • Great cast and drag.
  • Huge line capacity.
  • Left- and right-handed models.

Cons

  • Relatively large and bulky.
  • Price.

Takeaway

The Daiwa Lexa WN400H is one of the best musky reels for burning bucktails.

Zebco Big Cat BX3 Reel

Review: With two bearings, an aluminum frame, a bait clicker, the Zebo Big Cat BX3 has everything a beginner needs to start going after a musky.

It has 30lbs max drag and a 4.2:1 gear ratio, so it will stand up to a battle, though some plastic parts might struggle with the monsters. Its competitive price makes it a perfect starter reel for any angler.

Pros

  • Great value for money.
  • Good intro reel.
  • Decent all-round performance.

Cons

  • Some plastic parts.
  • Only comes in a right-handed model.

Takeaway

The Zebco Big Cat BX3 is a heavy-duty but affordable musky reel, definitely one of the best musky reels for the money.

Shimano Corvalus Reel

Review: With three shielded stainless steel bearings and a die-cast aluminum frame and spool, the Shimano Corvalus is a smooth and sturdy, affordable musky reel.

Good for medium to heavy game, its got a variable brake system that keeps overruns to a minimum. With only 11lbs max drag, the Corvalus might have trouble with the bigger muskies, though its gear ration of 5.2:1 should give pretty good pulling power.

Its price point is suitable for those looking to not spend a fortune on their reel.

Pros

  • Good value for money.
  • Smooth and sturdy.
  • Good all rounder.

Cons

  • Max drag is only 11lbs.

Takeaway

The Shimano Corvalus is a good affordable all-rounder.

Daiwa Saltist Levelwind Reel

Review: With its all-metal construction and rigid, one-piece aluminum frame, the Daiwa Saltist Levelwind feels like a solid reel. Its got four shielded ball bearings and a roller bearing which help keep it nice and smooth.

Its got 22lbs max drag and high-strength alloy gears, so it can definitely go after the big ones.

Pros

  • Fast retrieve.
  • Smooth drag.
  • Solid construction.

Cons

  • Might be too advanced for beginners.
  • Relatively heavy.

Takeaway

The Daiwa Saltist Levelwind is a good, mid-range musky reel.

Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Reel

Review: With a die-cast aluminum frame, handle and side plate, the Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile is a nice lightweight but sturdy reel. Its design makes it fit in the hand nicely and its oversized handle feels great.

It would make a great reel for a beginner who has some experience and wants to try taking it to the next level. It has a 5.4:1 gear ratio and 25lbs max drag, so it can stand up to a good, heavy battle.

Pros

  • Lightweight but powerful.
  • Fast retrieve.
  • Looks awesome.
  • Comes in left- and right-handed models.

Cons

  • 4:1 gear ratio might not provide enough torque for the heaviest muskies.

Takeaway

The Okuma Coldwater 350 is one of the best spinning reels for musky fishing, perfect for a beginner who wants something more than just the basics.

Shimano Tranx PG Reel

Review: The design of the Shimano Tranx makes it awesome to look at. Then you get to use it and the awesome continues. Its low profile makes it look tiny and sleek but it has all the capacity of a conventional reel (100-160 yards).

It has a massive cranking power with a 4.6:1 gear ratio and a smooth and effortless retrieve. With 25 lbs max drag, you can aim for the trophy musky with the Tranx.

Pros

  • Silky smooth.
  • Massive cranking power and max drag.
  • Looks and feels amazing.

Cons

  • Pricey.

Takeaway

The Shimano Tranx PG is the best reel for muskie fishing on this list, but you’ve got to be willing to pay for it.

KastKing Royale Legend Reel

Review: The KastKing Royale Legend is a good introductory musky reel. It’s got a great entry-level price and decent performance. It’s got 17.5lbs of drag, so you’d be able to give a musky a good run.

It has 11 corrosion-resistant ball bearings and a ceramic line guide which makes it a nice quiet, smooth reel.

Pros

  • Low profile design is nice and compact.
  • Great value for money.
  • Great for beginners.

Cons

  • Some plastic parts.
  • Won’t be enough for intermediate or advanced anglers.

Takeaway

The KastKing Royale legend is a quality musky reel at an affordable price.

Okuma Komodo SS Baitcaster Reel

Review: The SS in the name stands for stainless steel and the Okuma Komodo is pretty much entirely made out of the metal.

Its main gear, pinion gear, drive shaft and spool are all stainless steel. This makes it an exceptionally strong reel with a massive 30lbs max drag while maintaining a fast retrieve with a 6.4:1 gear ratio.

If you’re after the big ones, the Okuma Komodo will stand up to any challenge.

Pros

  • Super strong.
  • Totally corrosion resistant.
  • Comes with an option of paddle handle or power handle.
  • Looks awesome.

Cons

  • Heavier than aluminum reels.
  • Price.

Takeaway

The Okuma Komodo is a beast that’ll bring in the big muskies.

Goture Ares Max Baitcasting Reel

Review: With a carbon fiber magnetic brake system, 11 bearings, and 22lbs max drag, the Goture Ares Max is a nice entry-level reel for beginners going after muskies.

Its aluminum spool has a huge line capacity, allowing you to keep up with the long runs muskies often make. It also has a pretty quick retrieve with a 6.3:1 gear ratio, which will make it easier bringing in all that line.

Pros

  • Big spool with lots of line capacity.
  • Affordable price.
  • 20-disc carbon fiber magnetic brake system.
  • Comes in left- and right-handed models.

Cons

  • Won’t add much to an advanced angler’s arsenal.

Takeaway

The Goture Ares Max is a high-quality budget musky reel.

How to Choose the Best Musky Reel

Take a look at these key points to keep in mind when you’re buying a musky reel. Hopefully, they’ll help you make the right decision

Right or Left Handed

Are you right or left handed? This matters because it will determine which side of the reel you have the crank. Most left-handed people like the crank on the left, while right-handed people tend to prefer theirs on the right.

If you’ve never fished before, it’s worth going into a store to try both handed models and see which feels best. Most of the reels on this list come in both left- and right-handed models, just make sure you order the right model if buying your reel online.

musky fishing reel

Gear Ratio

Every musky reel, or any spinning reel for that matter, has a gear ratio. This ratio refers to the number of times the spool rotates per single 360-degree crank of the handle.

The spool is the part of the reel where the line is held. For example, the spool of a reel with a gear ratio of 5:1 rotates five times when the handle is cranked once.

The higher the gear ratio, the faster the line retrieve. The lower, the slower. But with lower gear ratios also comes higher torque. This means bigger game can be retrieved easily, requiring less energy.

Muskies are big, so a good musky reel ratio is somewhere between 4:1 and 6:1.

Speed

The speed of a fishing reel tells you how much line you can retrieve with one single crank of the handle. Higher speeds are good for smaller game.

Because muskies are big, the speed doesn’t matter so much as power. So go for a slower reel with a lower gear ratio. That will bring up the torque and make it easier to reel in the big one.

Durability

You’ll want your musky reel to be able to withstand the elements as well as withstand the weight of heavy lures and a 30lb musky. This means you’ll want a reel that’s made out of stainless steel or aluminum, both of which are durable and resistant to rust and corrosion.

fishing for musky

Line Weight

To go with your musky reel, you’ll need a strong line that can stand up to the powerful runs of the musky. You’ll also want one with good castability because casting distance is also a key factor when it comes to catching musky.

Generally, a good musky will weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. This means you’ll want a line with at least 65lbs test. 80lbs test is even better. 100lbs isn’t out of the question.

Get a braided line instead of mono. Braided lines don’t stretch whereas mono line does.

FAQ

What is Musky Fishing?

Muskies, otherwise known as the fish of ten thousand casts, are a species of large freshwater fish native to lakes and large rivers of North America.

Muskies look a little like pike. They are predators who swiftly bite their prey and swallow it head-first. They’ll eat all the fish in their ecosystem, as well as muskrat, rat, frog, and duck.

What Gear Will I Need for Musky Fishing?

A rod, a reel, line and bait. You’ll also need a release tool for catch and release.

Get a jaw spreader, needlenose pliers, and bolt or hook cutters. You’ll also want gloves to protect your hands from the musky’s sharp teeth. A catch net and a knife come in handy too.

Another really useful piece of kit is a fishing vest. With dozens of useful pockets designed specifically for fishing gear, a fishing vest is a great way to keep organized. Check out this list of the best fishing vests.

What Kind of Rod Should I Use Fishing for Musky?

You’ll want a relatively long rod, 9” or longer. Try to get one that is strong enough to throw large rubber baits but soft enough to work topwater and glide baits.

What Line Capacity do I Need for Musky Reel?

When you’re going for musky, you’ll want 150 yards or more of 65lbs to 100 lbs test line.

Can I Use Other Reels for Catching Musky?

If you’ve already got a surf fishing reel, some of them will be good for going after musky. Some reels aren’t built for the 20-30lbs of drag that muskies run, so make sure your reel is up to the fight before testing them against a musky.

How do I Look After my Musky Fishing Gear?

With proper maintenance, your fishing gear should last for years. There are some actions you can take though to make sure it stays in good shape.

It’s worth getting a rod cover or case to keep your rod in when you’re transporting it. When you’re done fishing, take off the hooks or lures, store them in a fishing tackle box, and break down your rod.

When you get home, rinse off of your rod and wipe your reel clean, oil your reel then let them dry before storing them.

Get Out There and Enjoy

Now you’ve had a look at the best musky reels of 2019, it’s time to make your decision and get out there.

Whether you’re a beginner or expert, fishing for musky is a great way to have fun and enjoy the great outdoors.

It would be great to hear how you do; feel free to leave your comments below.