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Fishing Gear Review Rewind: Look Back at Best Baitcasters of '20

With Tackle Test 2021 baitcasting reviews coming soon (May 7), we review last year's winners.

Tackle Test 2021, the latest version of our annual reviews of new fishing rods and reels, is coming soon to with an in-depth look at brand-new baitcasting rods and reels.

Our Tackle Test team ranked 30 new-for-2021 baitcasting rods and reels according to their performance on the water.

Tackle Test 2021/Baitcasting posts on the Game & Fish homepage May 7. Tackle Test 2021/Spinning posts in June.

Here’s a look back at the Editor’s Choice and Great Buy baitcast winners from TackleTest 2020, compiled at Lake Picachos, Mexico.

Best Baitcast Reels of 2020

Editors’ Choice: Shimano SLX DC 150XG

The Shimano SLX DC 150XG was the unanimous pick of testers for the Editors’ Choice award. It’s one of the most feature-rich reels we tested, yet it’s offered at an attractive price.

On the cast, this waterproof, self-energizing system monitors the spool’s rotation and automatically applies the braking force. The result: smooth casts that are virtually backlash-free no matter the bait or line weight.

  • Bottom Line: The SLX DC will win the hearts of any bass fisherman searching for a great backlash-free caster at a very delectable price point.

Great Buy: Okuma Cerros

The new Cerros provides several notable attributes that will be appreciated by anglers on a budget. At about $100, the reel has 10 bearings and a quality twin casting-control set.

The test team liked the dual casting controls—a surprise feature on a value-priced reel. The friction knob lets users dial up gross casting control, while the opposing magnetic brake system allows fine tuning with a 24-point adjustment gradation.

  • Bottom Line: The Cerros is an excellent choice for anglers in search of an entry-level-priced baitcaster and is well-suited to fish a wide variety of techniques.

Best Baitcast Rods of 2020

Editors’ Choice: G.Loomis IMX-Pro

G.Loomis has built a solid reputation for performance with discerning anglers via its top-shelf rods. Attention to design detail and exceptional quality are evident in every G.Loomis rod, and retail pricing reflects the company’s quest for perfection. G.Loomis carries this quality mantra forward with the introduction of the IMX-Pro series of rods.

At first blush, the IMX-Pro is quite non-descript; it’s a rod devoid of anything glitzy or gaudy. However, the sublime beauty and design genius of this rod are quickly discovered on the first cast.

  • Bottom Line: The IMX-Pro is built for anglers reluctant to compromise on performance and willing to pay for that luxury.

Great Buy: Daiwa Tatula Shallow Crank/Jerkbait/Light Topwater

Tackle Test Great Buy winners must possess two things: outstanding performance and a competitive retail price. The Daiwa Tatula delivers both.


Our 7-foot test rod was billed as the Shallow Crank/Jerkbait/Light Topwater model; however, we found it to be considerably more versatile than that. In fact, the Tatula is capable of throwing any number of baits, including worms, medium-size swimbaits, jigs and spinnerbaits.

  • Bottom Line: With an MSRP of $150, the versatile Tatula is capable of throwing a wide range of bait styles on a variety of line weights, making it a viable option for those on a limited budget.

Click here to read the entire Tackle Test 2020 Baitcast report

Tackle Test 2021 baitcaster reviews is coming to on May 7. (Photo by Brian Carlson)

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