So what does a reel do really? At a basic
level, a reel does three things. It lets line out during a cast, it
retrieves line when you turn the handle and it pays out drag under
pressure. Reels do other things but those are the key features in any
reel. Swimbaits are heavy lures, much heavier than was ever intended
to be cast and retrieved with a standard bass reel. Standard low
profile type bass reels are stressed by casting and retrieving lures
that weigh half a pound, and the drag systems are not typically
designed to perform smoothly when set near the breaking point of 25lb
Because of the limitations of standard bass reels
, almost everyone has gravitated toward round, saltwater style reels.
Saltwater reels cast, retrieve, and let out drag much more reliably and
effectively than the standard bass reel on heavy lures. You will hear
from time to time about guys using low profile bass reels for
swimbaits, usually with 17 or 20lb test and small/medium swimbaits.
Does it work? Can you catch a fish on it? Sure you can, but it is not
ideal. The only low profile reel I would consider for swimbaits right
now is the Shimano Calais 200 series because they have the gears and
the drag systems to handle it. You can throw a big bait on a Curado
but it will cause you little problems, little problems that will sooner
or later cost you a good fish. Bottom line, stick with round reels
with large drags and high line capacities.
Among the round reels, are only two reel sizes I would
consider for swimbaits, Shimano 400/Okuma 400/Abu 6500/Penn 965 size or
the Shimano 300/Okuma 250/Abu 5500 size. I would not ever recommend a
Shimano 250 sized reel or an Abu 4600 sized reel. The reason you don't
want a smaller reel is because toward the end of a long cast, the spool
has to spin faster and faster to let out line. This will cost you
distance and probably burn your thumb or even screw up your line from
the friction. Most of the smaller reels have equivalently smaller drag
washers which is also a limiting factor.
My straightforward advice regarding your reel purchasing decision is this:
If you can get a Shimano Conquest 300 or 400 (Japan version of the Calcutta TE), it is simply the best swimbait reel made. The next best is a Shimano Calcutta TE (CTE) 300 or 400. After that, the regular Shimano Calcutta 400. After that, the Cardiff Series A
300 or 400. All of these reels have awesome drag systems, cast well
and have good quality gears espcially the TE reels which have
If you can't afford the above reels, options to consider would be:
Abu Garcia 6500 and 5500's
Diawa Millionaire series
Penn 965 series
Okuma Induron 250 and 400 series
Shimano's Corvalus 300 or 400.
I'm not sponsored by any reel company, I'm just detailing exactly what
I think about reel quality and quite frankly Shimano makes the best
swimbait reels on the market.
The Shimano Cardiff A Series casting reels have all the great features
of a round reel without sacrificing the benefits of a low profile
design. The recessed reel foot allows the reel to sit close to the rod,
allowing you to palm like a low profile reel. The only difference is
that the spool still has the high line capacity you would expect from a
round reel. You get the best of both worlds. The Shimano Cardiff pairs
perfectly with a big bait rod. You'll have enough capacity for lots of
heavy line, the power to crank big swimbaits and fight big fish. Not to
mention the larger spool diameter that is necessary for casting big
baits a long way. The Super Stopper instant anti-reverse, the VBS
anti-backlash system, the solid one-piece aluminum frame and deep
anodized sideplates make the Shimano Cardiff reel a winner!
Northeast Bass Fishing For Trophy Bass