As an angler, choosing the best conventional reels for bottom fishing can significantly enhance your success in catching larger fish species. These versatile reels are engineered to provide superior line capacity and strength, making them ideal for battling bottom feeders like sea bass, fluke, flounder, catfish, or other sizable gamefish.
In our guide, we’ll get into some of the top-rated conventional bottom fishing reel options on the market today. From great all-around picks like the Penn Squall Star Drag to premium choices like Daiwa Seagate, we’ll explore why these models stand out among their peers.
Top 3 Comparison Table
Our Top 5 Best Conventional Reels for Bottom Fishing
1. Penn Squall II Star Drag Conventional Reel
It features a robust construction, a Versa-Drag system with HT-100 washers, 5+1stainless steel ball bearings and a 6.0:1 high gear ratio.
The Squall II reel is designed to withstand the rigors of saltwater fishing. Its robust construction with a durable graphite frame and side plates provides strength and corrosion resistance.
The reel is equipped with a Versa-Drag system with HT-100 washers, allowing easy and precise adjustments to control the amount of pressure applied to the fish. This feature is particularly useful when fighting strong, bottom-dwelling fish.
This reel has a high gear ratio of 6.0:1, which enables quick line retrieval. The higher gear ratio is beneficial when reeling in fish from the depths or when you need to reel in line quickly.
The Squall II reel features 5+1 stainless steel ball bearings that provide smooth operation and reduce friction during retrieves. The number of bearings may vary depending on the model.
- Durable and corrosion-resistant frame
- Precision-machined brass main gear and a stainless steel pinion gear
- PENN’s proprietary Versa-Drag system, which utilizes a series of carbon fiber washers to deliver smooth and consistent drag pressure
- Features a total of 5+1 stainless steel ball bearings
- Line capacity rings on the spool
- The star drag allows you to easily adjust the drag pressure
- Smooth and consistent drag
- Excellent torque and smooth operation, allowing you to handle large fish with ease
- The reel is designed with user comfort in mind
- If you opt for a model with a levelwind system, there is a possibility of occasional line tangling or issues with the levelwind mechanism
2. Daiwa Saltist Star Drag High-Speed Reel
The Saltist reel is constructed with an aluminum frame and side plates. The Saltist reel typically comes with 4 corrosion-resistant ball bearings plus a roller bearing. These bearings provide smooth operation and enhance the reel’s overall performance.
The Saltist High-Speed model offers a fast retrieve ratio, allowing for quick line retrieval. This is advantageous when targeting fast-moving saltwater species or when you need to quickly reel in your line to make another cast.
The star drag system provides a comfortable grip and allows you to quickly increase or decrease the drag tension as needed.
The line capacity is 14/270, 20/150 for mono, and 30/330, 40/260 for braid.
The Daiwa Saltist reel is suitable for a wide range of saltwater fishing techniques, including casting, trolling, jigging, and more.
- Designed to handle a wide range of line sizes, both monofilament and braided lines (12- to 50-pound mono and up to 100-pound braid)
- Fast retrieve ratio
- The drag system can apply as much as 25-pounds of pressure to the spool
- Comfortable and ergonomic handle design
- 4+1 bearings
- 6.4:1 gear ratio
- Excellent corrosion resistance
- Great for targeting fast-moving saltwater species or when you need to reel in your line rapidly
- It can accommodate both monofilament and braided lines.
- Suitable for a wide range of saltwater fishing techniques, including casting, trolling, and jigging
- Some anglers may find the reel slightly heavier compared to other reels in its class
3. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
The reel is constructed with a strong and corrosion-resistant stainless steel frame, while the side plates are made from aluminum. The Rover reel features a precision-cut brass gear system, which offers smooth and reliable performance. The gears are designed to handle heavy loads and provide excellent power for fighting fish.
It comes with 6+1 premium MaxiDur double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings and a 3.6:1 gear ratio. The reel features a dual brake system, which combines centrifugal and magnetic brakes. This allows for precise and adjustable casting control to prevent backlash and improve casting distance.
As a great all-around reel, it is also available in both right- and left-hand models. If you buy this reel for bottom fishing only, there is no reason to be concerned with its limited casting. For this price, no other reel can compare to the carbon fiber star drag with incredible power and trolling ability.
- Stainless steel frame
- Up to 30 lb. of smooth carbon fiber drag
- Precision-cut brass gear system
- Dual brake system
- 6+1 stainless steel ball bearings
- 3.6:1 gear ratio
- Effortless casting and retrieving
- The Rover reel is versatile – can be used for freshwater fishing, such as bass fishing, as well as light saltwater applications
- The reel is designed with a comfortable and ergonomic handle, featuring EVA foam grips or rubberized knobs
- Some users complain about the drag being unpredictable and weak
4. Daiwa SGT50H Seagate Star Drag Saltwater Conventional Reel
It comes with a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame, a powerful carbon drag system, an anti-reverse mechanism, 4+1 corrosion-resistant ball bearings and a gear ratio of 6.4:1.
The Seagate Star Drag is a popular choice for those who fish in deeper waters. The reel features a durable and corrosion-resistant aluminum frame. The SGT50H reel is equipped with a high-strength alloy main gear and a stainless steel pinion gear.
It features a powerful carbon drag system to provide sufficient stopping power to handle hard-fighting fish and prevent line breakage. The reel is equipped with 4+1 corrosion-resistant ball bearings and a gear ratio of 6.4:1.
Its anti-reverse mechanism ensures that the handle and spool of the reel do not rotate backward once engaged. This feature helps to prevent any unwanted backward movement or play in the handle, providing a solid and reliable connection between the angler and the fish.
The approximate line capacities for the SGT50H include 20 lb/300 yards, 25 lb/240 yards, 30 lb/200 yards for mono line capacity and 50 lb/570 yards, 65 lb/400 yards, 80 lb/330 yards for braid line capacity.
- Aluminum frame
- High-strength alloy main gear and a stainless steel pinion gear
- Powerful carbon drag system
- 4 corrosion-resistant ball bearings plus a roller bearing
- Equipped with an anti-reverse feature
- High-speed retrieve ratio
- The reel’s high-speed retrieve ratio allows for quick line retrieval, ensuring you can keep up with fast-moving fish and minimize the time spent reeling in your catch
- Allows you to spool ample line for targeting larger saltwater species and handling fish that make long runs
- Versatile reel suitable for various saltwater fishing techniques, including trolling, bottom fishing, and casting
- Not recommended for beginners and even some experts had a hard time getting used to using it
5. SHIMANO SpeedMaster 2 Speed Lever Drag Reel
The SpeedMaster reel features a high-quality and precise gear system with a two-speed mechanism that allows for easy shifting between high and low gear ratios, providing versatility in different fishing situations.
The reel is equipped with a lever drag system, 4+1 ball bearings and a 5.7:1 gear ratio.
The two-speed mechanism allows for a quick shift between high-speed and low-speed retrieval. This feature is particularly useful when targeting fast-moving fish or when needing extra cranking power to bring in larger catches.
If you are looking for a reel loaded with state-of-the-art technology and design, then the SpeedMaster 2 Speed Lever Drag by SHIMANO is the reel for you. This reel is a home run regardless of what fish you are trying to catch.
- Aluminum frame and side plates
- Two-speed mechanism
- Lever drag system
- High-quality 4+1 ball bearings
- 5.7:1 gear ratio
- Known for its smooth and reliable operation
- Quick shifting between high-speed and low-speed retrieval
- Easy adjustment of the drag pressure during battles
- Some users complain the reel is not as smooth as expected
Why Conventional Reels Are Ideal for Bottom Fishing
You’ve probably heard of conventional reels if you’re a saltwater angler. They’re the go-to gear for offshore fishing and catching bigger fish. But why?
The secret lies in their spool size.
Larger Spool Size Equals Greater Line Capacity
Conventional reels have bigger spools than spinning or baitcasting reels. This means they can hold more line, which is crucial when targeting bottom dwellers like groupers or sea bass.
Catching Big Fish Requires More Line
To catch big fish at the seafloor, you need plenty of line. With a conventional reel, you have more line to cast further out into deeper waters where these species congregate. And if a big fish decides to make a run for it, you’ll have enough line to play with.
Control and Sensitivity
Conventional reels offer better control and sensitivity, particularly when fishing in deeper waters or with heavy weights.
The lever drag system found in many conventional reels allows for precise and adjustable drag settings, enabling you to apply the appropriate pressure when battling bottom-dwelling fish.
Increased Cranking Power
The design of conventional reels, including their larger handle knobs and cranking handles, provides increased leverage and cranking power.
This is advantageous when retrieving heavy sinkers and battling strong bottom-dwelling fish that may try to dig into structure or create resistance.
What are conventional reels good for?
Conventional reels are known for their ability to provide precise casting accuracy. The design and mechanics of the reel, including the spool and braking system, allow for better control over casting distance and placement. This makes them ideal for targeting specific spots or structures, such as casting near cover or structure for freshwater bass or saltwater species.
They offer increased power and control, making them suitable for targeting larger and stronger fish species. They can handle heavier lines and lures, making them suitable for techniques requiring heavier tackle setups.
Do conventional reels cast further?
Conventional reels are not known for casting further than spinning reels.
What are the advantages of a conventional reel?
- Conventional reels provide better casting accuracy compared to spinning reels
- Their robust construction, strong drag systems, and sturdy gears provide the strength and cranking power needed to handle hard-fighting fish
- They have larger line capacities compared to spinning reels, allowing anglers to spool more line
- They can handle heavier lines and lures
- The direct connection between the angler’s hand and the line on the spool provides better control and sensitivity compared to spinning reels
So is a conventional reel better than a spinning reel?
In terms of power and control when catching larger fish such as sea bass or other saltwater species, many experienced anglers prefer using conventional reels over spinning ones.
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