Speed Thrills: 5 High-Speed Baitcasters for 2017

Speed Thrills: 5 High-Speed Baitcasters for 2017
Photo by Ron Sinfelt

There's wild variation among the new high-speed baitcasters now on the market.

We found high-speed reels to be a great addition to the decks of our bass boats. (Photos by Ron Sinfelt)

You might as well have your reel help you catch fish, right?

Well, that's the idea behind the new craze toward high-speed baitcasters. If the reel is doing some more of the work, then you'll be able to catch more fish, quicker. When you use a high-speed reel for certain techniques, the reel will help you take up line quicker to make a snap strike, let you reel up a bait faster to get it back into a feeding zone, or rip that buzzbait that much quicker.

Here are some of the top new high-speed baitcasters, the slowest of which is 7.3:1, or 7.3 revolutions of the spool for every revolution of the handle. The fastest is a crazy 9:1 ratio.

We found high-speed reels to be a great addition to the decks of our bass boats.  — John Geiger

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

Abu Garcia/Revo Rocket

The Revo Rocket by Abu Garcia is not only one of the fastest-retrieve reels on the market with a 9.0:1 gear ratio, but it is also one of the lightest at 6.8 ounces. Its low profile and size make it fit perfectly in the palm of my hand, while its extended handle gives the extra cranking torque needed for the heftiest bass. With both centrifugal and magnetic brakes it can cast a 1/8-ounce lure as well as one much heavier.

CASTABILITY:  Not only does it cast far, but more importantly it casts very smooth, which is extremely important with certain techniques, like skipping. The Rocket performed this task with ease and perfection. There was no "loose line" on the cast as with other reels that may not be as smooth. So we noticed that there were fewer backlashes even when casting the lightest lures into the wind.

FEEL: Overall size of the reel is great for palming, and the extended handle gives the needed power when fighting a fish. The soft-touch reel-handle grips are also a nice touch for all day comfort. The thumb bar was easy to engage and disengage. — Tim Carini

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

Lew's/Custom Speed Spool MSB

Lew's has made some good inroads with freshwater bass anglers the past few years, and it's easy to see why. This model contains some innovative intricacies not found with other reels. On the front side of the reel is a hook keeper that folds under the reel when not in use to avoid snagging the line. Also, the tension knob features a dial indicator to mark what pound test line is on the reel, very helpful to those with bad memories. And at 8.3:1 gear ratio, it's fast!

CASTABILITY:  While the Lew's wasn't the smoothest reel we tested, it certainly performed the needed duties. The magnetic adjustments allowed for precise control for a variety of different weighted lures and allowed for maximum distance.

FEEL: The Lew's sits lower than most baitcasters, which made for a nice feel and less side to side torque of the rod-reel combo when fighting a big fish. The handle knobs are wrapped in Winn Dri-Tec, similar material to that of a golf club, which allowed for superior gripping even when wet. — Tim Carini

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

Pflueger/Patriarch

Pflueger recently classed up the Patriarch, and it's a very good reel for the price. The form and size are very similar to Abu Garcia's Revos because both are owned by the same parent company and share some technology, like the drags and main gear systems. But the Patriarch has a few other features that make it stand out. We really like the C-Lock system that lets you access the reel and the centrifugal brake while the sideplate stays attached to the reel. However, the Patriarch did not do as well as most others in our independent inches-per-turn test.

CASTABILITY:  It casted heavier baits well, and the two brakes, centrifugal and magnetic, helped keep distance to the max and backlashes to a minimum.

FEEL: The Patriarch has an aluminum frame and carbon-fiber sideplates, which account for its solid feel. The reel is not as long as most others, and has a compact feel to it. — John Geiger

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

Shimano/Metanium

THERE'S certainly a "wow" element to this reel. Maybe it's the simple chrome finish, or the easy casting. It's hard to pinpoint just one highlight of the Metanium. The whole thing is a superstar. Of course, it's pricetag reflects that as well. A high-speed baitcaster should have the ability to move a bait through the water quicker or to pick up line slack on a fish that's hooked and headed toward the boat. With the 7.4:1 gear ratio on the Metanium MGL HG, you can perform both of those tasks and then some. Interestingly, the Metanium did not do as well as the others in our independent inches-per-turn testing, and scored an average of just over 28 inches of line.

CASTABILITY:  There's no "ziiinnnggg" noise that you get from other baitcasters - —  it's just buttery smooth and quiet. And you barely hear the line being put back on the spool.

FEEL: It's ultra comfortable and easily fits in the palm during retrieves. Soft tack paddles on the handle are the perfect size and help you stay on top of fish during the fight.

Todd Ceisner

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

Quantum/Smoke HD

The "HD" is not for "high definition" but for "heavy duty." This reel ups Quantum's game. It's a more robust reel compared to past models. The HD only comes in 200 size, and it looks like Quantum is trying to attract the saltwater crowd as well as the bassers. The Smoke has an aluminum frame and sideplates. The 200 size makes it good for swimbaits and A-rigs. Since we wanted to check the high-speed aspect of the reels, we threw buzzbaits and worm rigs, and the size did not hinder our fishing or seem overbearing for these techniques. And the reel is still only 6.8 ounces. The handles are longer at 95mm and are aluminum. The reel has a 6-bearing system and a stainless-ceramic drag system.

CASTABILITY:  It took me awhile to get the brakes adjusted just right for me. It cast heavier baits and pitched well. The latest iteration of this reel has a deeper spool. The line guide is titanium-nitride coated.

FEEL: That extra-long handle seemed to give the high-speed reel more torque. The Smoke HD is a strong reel, but only time will tell how the internal gears will hold up season after season. — John Geiger

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