A top of the line fishing reel in today’s market can run you over $500, which does very little to fight the perception that bass fishing is becoming a rich man’s sport. However, like boats, fishfinders, and lots of other fishing products, there is still quality to be found amongst the “cheap” options if you know where to look.
There are lots of articles out there with some variation of the title “Ten Best Fishing Reels Under $100,” and while options are nice, that doesn’t do a lot to help you decide. Most market-leading reel companies don’t sell that many reels under $100, so a big list of them doesn’t narrow anything down. I’m here to narrow it down, with one recommendation for a baitcaster and a spinning reel of the budget variety.
Baitcaster: Abu Garcia Max series
The Abu Garcia Max series of reels recently got an overhaul, and while I haven’t had the chance to try the newest models, the older models set the bar for what a bargain reel should be. As someone who has owned almost every Abu Garcia baitcasting reel, I love almost everything I’ve bought from them, but the products that have impressed me the most are the Max series reels, mostly because of how far above their weight class they punch and for how long. They cast extremely well, and I’ve caught more 5+ pound bass on a Pro Max than any other reel. They’re also incredibly resilient for “cheap” equipment. My SilverMax is now six years old and has outlived some of the REVOs I’ve owned. You won’t get the buttery smooth feel out of the box or the fancy EVA foam handle that you might with more expensive baitcasters, but these reels have it where it counts.
See the full line of Abu Garcia Max Series reels here
- 5 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
- Machined aluminum spool
- Power Disk drag system
- Duragear brass gear
- MagTrax brake system
Spinning Reel: Penn Fierce
At only $70, you will not find a spinning reel that offers more value than the Penn Fierce. It is indestructible. You can drive over it with a small tank and it would probably still work. It’s technically a saltwater reel, but is more of an inshore smaller tackle reel, meaning it’s well-suited for bass fishing too. It’s a little heavy and it doesn’t have an anti-reverse, but those are the only real downsides, neither of which should matter that much. Its drag system is smooth, which is incredibly important for a spinning reel, and it’s a high-performance reel that will last an eternity for a very affordable price.
- Full metal body and sideplate keep precise gear alignment under heavy loads
- Techno balanced rotor gives smooth retrieves.
- 4 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
- Instant anti reverse bearing. Eliminates rotor backplay for instant hook sets.
- HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers provide smooth drag under heavy loads