If you’re looking for one of the best fights you’ll ever have on the water, musky are the fish you should be going after.
These gargantuan fish easily tip the scales at 30 lbs or more and put up a great fight for anglers, too.
They require some patience and technique to go after, though – you are going to need some practice to land your first musky.
You also need the right gear. You can give yourself the best chance at landing tons of musky by investing in one of the best musky reels money can buy.
Best Musky Reels For The Money 2021: A Quick Guide
If you’re in a rush to find the right musky reel – have a big trip coming up soon? – you might want to consider skipping the full read.
Here are the best musky reels on the market today:
Last update on 2021-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
8 Top Musky Reels on The Market
Here are the top musky reels on the market today
Shimano Corvalus Round Baitcasting Freshwater Fishing Reel
Shimano is one of the leading companies when it comes to baitcasting gear and this reel is one of the best freshwater fishing reels you can buy.
It can be used in both freshwater and saltwater as it has excellent corrosion resistance. Made out of one-piece diecast aluminum, this reel is solidly built and can withstand a pull from the heaviest, most rugged fish out there.
With a Super Stopper anti-reverse feature, this reel allows for solid hooksets each and every time. It has a variable braking system that makes it easy to cast without back play and offers instant setting power.
There are four different models available, each of which has the same 5.2:1 gear ratio and 11 lbs max drag along with 3BB + 1 RB.
These features are the same, but they vary in terms of their handedness, weight, monoline cap, and power cap. This reel’s line capacity is great for use in trolling as well as in various saltwater applications.
It’s one of the few baitcasters out there that offers exceptional value with minimal expense to you. It’s made out of high-quality materials and is sure to last for quite some time.
- Made out of solid one-piece diecast aluminum
- Variable braking assists with reeling and eliminates backlash
- Four different models available to suit your needs
- Only available with 11 lb drag
Daiwa Lexa High Capacity Low-Profile 7.1:1 Baitcast Reel
The Daiwa Lexa is one of the most comfortable musky reels you can buy. With a high-strength profile and an excellent feel, you will not only love using this reel, but you’ll love the results it produces for you, too.
It comes with a hyper-speed power handle, allowing you to reel quickly and efficiently, along with seven bearings. You’ll enjoy excellent control of this reel each and every time.
These bearings are corrosion-resistant, too, so you don’t have to worry about changing things up and using this reel on other species besides musky in saltwater, too.
It also comes with a robust five-point drive train system. You’ll enjoy hassle-free operation, along with a free-floating aluminum spool and compatibility with most kinds of rods.
The Daiwa Lexa has cutouts that offer some of the best performance and control during casting.
As for reeling, you’ll get superior strength, as the reel has a max drag capacity of 22 lbs. You can use up to 80 lbs braided line with this rugged reel!
It also has a separate adjustable backlash control system and standard pool tension adjustment, too.
- Swept handle has weight-reducing cutouts
- Can be used with all kinds of rods
- Excellent corrosion and rust resistance
- Does not have a paddle handle option
KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
The KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel is one of the best musky reels you can buy if you are new to musky fishing.
It’s not equipped with all the bells and whistles you might find on other musky reels, so it’s a good choice to help you master the basics of the sport.
It is made with decent parts and will last for quite a few seasons. It has thick side plates made out of hard anodized-aluminum. Its brass gears are precision cut and the spool is made out of CNC machine aluminum.
The gear is stronger and more powerful than previous models by KastKing, equipped with a superior carbon fiber drag system.
It offers 30 lbs of smooth drag and has unparalleled durability with its shielded stainless steel ball bearings.
Great for trolling, bottom fishing, and a myriad of other techniques, this reel can be used for both saltwater and freshwater fishing.
It’s even equipped with a two-pin centrifugal brake that makes it easy to cast, especially if you don’t have a ton of experience.
It also has oversized EVA foam grips that are non-slip. It has an easy access thumb bar spool release, too, all rolled into a reel with a classic look and feel that will make you feel invincible when you’re going after musky.
- Comfortable and easy to use
- Minimal backlash and easy to catch
- Stylish appearance
- Not the best for more experienced anglers
Shimano Calcutta D Round Reel
The Shimano Calcutta is the best all round musky reel you will find. It has a ton of features that set it apart from previous models. It has a unique S-Concept design that gives it a smooth look and feel.
The reel has a unique sloped design that makes it easier to use, with a size that’s about 15% smaller than other reels. It has a brand-new drag, too, with a convenient low-profile knob.
It is lighter than previous reels and sits lower on traditional reel seats for an unparalleled look and feel.
It has aluminum construction, too, which lends not only to its lightweight nature but also makes the reel much more attractive, too.
The Shimano Calcutta has an excellent retrieval rate and a solid feel. It’s uniquely built without a non-handle side plate and will be a top contender in your hunt for the right musky reel.
- Made out of cold-forged single piece aluminum
- Has a smooth, easy operation
- Stylish design
- Unique design may not be the right choice for all anglers
Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket Low Profile Reel
The Abu Garcia Revo Toro is one of the top musky reels you can buy if you are looking for speed and precision.
It lets you fish musky baits at incredible speeds while also holding up to the strongest, most powerful musky. It has 25 lbs of drag and a buttery smoother retrieval.
Not only that, but this reel is made out of rigid materials. It has an X-Craftic alloy side plate and frame so you’ll be guaranteed exceptional durability.
What expert anglers love most about this reel is that it offers exceptional cranking speed.
It will retrieve jerk baits and glide baits quicker than any other reel – plus, it has an effective braking system so you won’t have to worry about snags or broken lines, either.
- One of the fastest musky reels you will find
- Made out of durable materials
- Smooth retrieval
- A bit heavier than many of the other musky reels on the market
Okuma Komodo SS Large Capacity Low Profile Baitcaster
The Okuma Komodo is a versatile reel that can suit anglers with a variety of fishing preferences.
A low-profile baitcaster, it comes with several different models, each of which has varying reel length and drag capacity. This reel is made out of stainless steel, which is highly corrosion-resistant and industrial-grade.
You’re sure to get the results you want while also taking comfort in knowing that your reel will last for many years to come.
The reel has a high output carbonite drag system with drag capacity up to 30 lbs. It has a precision-cut metal pinion gear, too, which can help you out when it comes to free spilling.
The reel has a rigid spool and side plates (both of which are made out of aluminum).
It also has a unique velocity control system so you don’t have to worry about any hiccups while you’re out there on the water.
The reel has a synchronized-level wind system – it doesn’t disengage for casting. It always stays aligned and the line comes off the spool easily, especially when you are fishing braided lines.
There are several different models of the Okuma Komodo for you to choose from, all of which can be used with braided lines since they are reinforced with Zirconia line guide inserts.
All of the models vary in terms of their gear ratios, max drag, line capacity, and weight, but you’ll get dual anti-reverse and a quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing in all of the options available.
- A large variety of models available for different needs
- Excellent corrosion resistance
- Comes with Zirconium line guide inserts
- Can be a bit noisy while in use
DAIWA Saltist 20 Levelwind Casting Reel
As you might expect already from reading the brand names on this list, Daiwa is one of the best reel manufacturers in the country, if not the entire world.
This reel, the Saltist, is a great choice for fishing musky. These reels are precision-balanced and perfect for fishing in freshwater, saltwater, and even in mixed environments off the coast.
The Daiwa Saltist has a tournament carbon drag with 20 lbs max drag capacity. Made out of one-piece aluminum, the reel is solid and durable.
It has a beautiful anodized finish to offer a premium look and feel without adding to its weight or overall cost.
Not only that, but the H-C gears of the reel enable you to spool with exceptional power and minimal snags.
All of the ball bearings are corrosion resistant, while the power handle and soft-touch knob are balanced and offer superior leverage.
The Saltist has a gear ratio of 6.1:1, offering all the rigidity you need to haul in large fish from saltwater and freshwater alike.
At just 18.3 oz, it’s lightweight enough to carry with you in most backwoods settings yet also durable enough that you don’t have to worry about damaging it in the process.
- Has an automatic clutch engagement
- 20 lbs drag capacity
- Durable and lightweight one-piece aluminum frame
- Some users report that the spool can be noisy
Okuma Coldwater 350 Low Profile Linecounter Reel
The Okuma Coldwater 350 is a low-profile reel that is not only easy to use, but it’s also elegant and comfortable to use, too. You’ll love how this reel feels resting in your hand!
It has an impressive 350-line spool that can extend up to 150 yards. Not only that, but it has a die-casted aluminum frame that can be centered and holds braided lines of up to 65 lbs.
This should be more than enough to help you catch muskies of all sizes, along with fish of other species, too. In fact, this reel is a favorite among salmon fishermen.
It has a bar spool that makes casting easy, helping to reduce drift. It also has a mechanical line counter and a gear ratio of 5.4:1.
With a 25 lb drag, it will help you troll for fish no matter what the water and weather conditions might be. There are both right- and left-handed versions of this reel. With a multi-disc carbonated drag system, this reel is easy for anybody to use.
It’s made out of rigid aluminum, with everything from the handle plate, pinion gears, and handle made out of this rigid, durable material.
It has excellent corrosion resistance, too – and both of these features are offered without compromising on weight or functionality.
The reel remains lightweight despite its rugged nature.
- Lightweight and corrosion-resistant
- Can be used by both right- and left-handed people
- Has 3BB + 1 RB stainless steel ball bearings
- Needs some extra lubrication between uses
Tips for Choosing the Right Musky Reel
There are several types of reels you can buy for musky fishing, but the best kind you can buy will be a baitcasting reel.
All of these reels share a few common attributes and most have the same kind of drag mechanism. However, they differ greatly in their ideal usages.
If you’re an experienced angler, you can probably skip this section – but if you’re new to the hobby, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with these three types of reels.
First, the spincast reel. Spincast reels are the most commonly used reels among young children because they are simple to operate. It’s difficult to mess up when you are using a spincast reel!
To use one of these reels, you will need to press the button cast. That’s all there is to it! There’s no drag or bail to play around with. They’re great for using with small species, like panfish, but aren’t the best for going after musky.
Another kind of reel you may want to consider is a spinning reel. This kind of reel has a bail arm that winds your line around the spool as you retrieve.
When you’re ready to cast, all you need to do is flip the bail arm open and hold the line with your index finger.
Using a spinning reel is much easier than a baitcasting reel, which we’ll cover in a moment – yet it offers more precision and durability than a spincast reel.
Baitcasting reels are the very best reels you can choose for fishing muskie. They offer a certain level of performance that you just can’t get with any other kind of reel.
They tend to be very well-built with excellent line capacity, tough drag, higher gear ratios, and durable construction.
Baitcasting reels can be a bit more difficult to use than other kinds of reels, but spending some time to acquaint yourself with their use is well worth your time at the end of the day.
If you’re right-handed, you might not think a lot about the kind of reel you get for musky fishing. However, if you’re left-handed, this is likely a serious concern.
Make sure you find a reel that matches your handedness, regardless of where you might fall on the spectrum.
The choices tend to be more limited for left-handed people, but in recent years, more manufacturers have begun to offer reels that can suit people who are both right and left-handed.
When considering the gear ratio for your musky reel, anything less than 4.5:1 is going to be less than ideal for going after musky.
What is the gear ratio? It refers to the number of rotations that the spool makes with a single turn of the reel’s handle.
Generally, the lower the first number is, the slower the reel will retrieve. That means you’ll have to put less effort into retrieving your bait.
There’s no single right answer when it comes to the best gear ratio. While a reel with a slow gear ratio might be ideal for one situation, a faster reel may be better for other applications.
In general, when you’re going after musky, you’ll want a reel with a gear ratio between 5:1 to 5.7:1. This will offer precision aligned with strength when you are trying to reel.
Line Retrieval Rate
This number is usually indicated in inches. It tells you exactly how far you can retrieve your line by turning the handle one time.
It will tell you how much effort will be required to land your hooked fish.
Retrieval rate is generally going to be somewhat slow when you’re looking at musky fishing reels. For best results, keep your reel full of line when you are out there on the water.
Line capacity is a simple factor that is nonetheless incredibly important when you’re trying to find the right musky reel.
The amount of line that you can put on your reel is just as important as the quality of line.
Make sure your reel can hold at least 140 yards of line (around 80 lbs) in order to make sure you have enough room.
When you’re looking for the right musky reel, durability is going to be one of the most significant factors.
Musky are incredibly strong fish – you need a reel that will offer enough grit to fight back when you’re trying to retrieve these fighters.
You’ll find reels made out of all kinds of materials, including graphite and carbon fiber. However, you’ll also find reels made out of rugged materials like stainless steel and aluminum.
All of these materials work well at strengthening a reel as long as they are integrated in the right way. Do a bit of research when it comes to the construction of the reel.
If a reel is cheaply glued or constructed in a shoddy way, it doesn’t matter how rugged the materials are – it’s not going to hold up to the pressures of musky fishing.
Check customer reviews to help you get an informed opinion of the durability of a given reel.
Muskies are big fish, weighing anywhere between 15 and 36 lbs. As a result, you’ll need a strong line – often, around 80 lb – to hold up to these tough-fighting fish.
Look for a reel that can handle that size of line – otherwise, you’re going to be disappointed by line breakages and reel failures when you’re fishing.
Enjoy Musky Fishing No Matter Where You Live
Musky, or muskellunge, are freshwater fish found in many of the lakes and rivers of North America. These fish look and act a lot like pike, forming small colonies to hunt other fish in packs.
Now that you’ve read the reviews and figured out what to look for, it’s time to head out on the water.
Whether you’re new to the sport of musky fishing or a seasoned pro, arming yourself with the right gear is hands down the best way to have fun in the great outdoors.
Oh – and to catch tons of musky, of course. Consider this list of the best musky reels and you’ll be well on your way to doing both.