Best Round Baitcaster Reels Reviewed In 2021

Choosing a round baitcaster over a low profile baitcaster will often come down to personal preference. 

A lot of anglers prefer that little bit of extra working room afforded by their larger size.

But the key motivation for selecting a round baitcaster usually comes down to the target. 

The round baitcaster is an excellent option for chasing a larger class of fish and fishing that little bit heavier.

Ideal for saltwater and freshwater, the round baitcaster offers more versatility. 

You have the inshore covered with a host of techniques, and you also have access to lighter offshore sports work.

If you don’t have a round baitcaster, add one or two to your fishing tackle forward planner. No arsenal is complete without one. 

For me, the driving reason for owning a few round baitcasters is simply because they’re great fun to use.

Once mastered, which takes a little practice, particularly casting, you won’t be able to put it down.

The list below briefly reviews 5 of the best round baitcasting reels for your money. Whether or not they’re the best is debatable. 

But I can say with certainty that in their class, they’re excellent reels.

The Best Round Baitcasting Reels – 2021 Reviews

DAIWA RYOGA 2020H RH Boat Jigging Reel from Japan
DAIWA RYOGA 2020H RH Boat Jigging Reel from Japan
Bearings: 12BB, 1RB /// Gear Ratio: 6.2:1; Line/Handle Turn: 73cm; Line Capacity: 16lb/125m, 20lb/100m, 25lb/70m, 15lb/290m, 20lb/230m
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Round Baitcast Fishing Reel
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Round Baitcast Fishing Reel
4 stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 roller bearing provides smooth operation; Carbon Matrix drag system gives smooth drag performance
SHIMANO Calcutta B Round Reel
SHIMANO Calcutta B Round Reel
Line Retrieve Per Crank (in): 24; Max Drag (lb): 17.5; Gear Ratio: 5.0:1; Weight (oz): 11.7
Daiwa Millionaire Classic Utd Baitcast Reel
Daiwa Millionaire Classic Utd Baitcast Reel
Carbon Ultimate Tournament Drag (11lb); High Strength Alloy Gears; Infinite Anti-Reverse; 3 Bearing System ( 2BB+1RB)

Last update on 2021-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Please keep in mind that this is my personal selection. There are trawler loads of round baitcasters that could and should be on this list.

The Daiwa Ryoga – Best In Show On An Open Budget

The Daiwa Ryoga sits firmly at an aspirational price point. But you get plenty of reel for the money. So, the pain in your pocket will fade away the moment you open the box.

It’s a stunning-looking reel, and the performance matches its catwalk looks. 

DAIWA RYOGA 2020H RH Boat Jigging Reel from Japan
  • Bearings: 12BB, 1RB /// Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Line/Handle Turn: 73cm
  • Line Capacity: 16lb/125m, 20lb/100m, 25lb/70m, 15lb/290m, 20lb/230m
  • Weight: 295g

Last update on 2021-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It’s difficult to know where to start with the Ryoga simply because it sports all of Daiwa’s flagship technologies.

12 (+1) Magsealed bearings head the feature list. The Ryoga can be fished in the salt, the fresh, and the driving rain. 

The aluminum alloy machine-cut frame and side plates deliver outstanding strength, rigidity, corrosion resistance and keep the weight down.

The Duraluminium G1 spool offers remarkable strength, balance, and is lightweight for outstanding casting performance.

The spool is free-floating. This provides a significant reduction in cast-killing friction for extra-long casting and reduced wear. 

The Magforce magnetic brake system is reliable and predictable. Casting is relatively easy to master.

There are 13.2 pounds of Daiwa’s famous ATD (drag) and a spool that holds 230 yards of 30-pound braid (30/140 in the 1016). 

That’s a heck of a lot of firepower and fish fighting potential.

Weighing in at only 9.5 pounds, it’s made for relentless casting. In addition, the 6.3 ratio is a perfect mid to fast speed ideal for a host of lure types and techniques.

I like the Ryoga for just about everything inshore. Given the budget, it would be my first choice swimbait reel for larger inshore species. 

Cast it, jig it, troll it. The Ryoga is state of the art fishing reel performance.

Pros

  • Smooth and light crank
  • Smooth and powerful drag system
  •  Excellent spool and drag capacities
  • 12 Magsealed bearings

Cons

  • Price is prohibitive for many anglers

Features

  • 12+1 Magsealed bearing system
  • Max Drag 13.2 pounds: ATD Auto Tournament Drag
  • Alloy machine cut body and side plates
  • G1 Duraluminium free floating spool
  • Hyper mesh and Magsealed pinion gear
  • Star Drag
  • Magforce Z casting control
  • Swept handle 90mm with light knobs
  • Full specs here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C4 – Editor’s Choice

No doubt one of the more iconic round baitcasters, the C4 takes pride of place in many an anglers reel arsenal.

From the surf-dwelling drum and bluefish to spillway monsters, the C4 offers versatility and value for money.

Abu Garcia C4-6601 Ambassadeur Round Baitcast Fishing Reel

It’s a joy to cast, offering both distance and accuracy thanks to the synchronized level wind system keeping a uniform line lay consistently.

There are 4 stainless bearings supporting the Duragear durable brass gear system. 

It feels very solid under load, inspiring confidence in battles with larger targets.

There are 15 pounds of carbon washer drag that is smooth, powerful, and durable. 

Add 310 yards of 30-pound braid, and you’re well equipped for beating prize fish.

It’s available in 2 sizes and left and right handle positions. The 6.3 ratio is fast enough to rapid retrieve metal slugs without having to crank like a maniac.

While unsealed, the construction materials offer a reasonable level of corrosion resistance. 

It’s undoubtedly durable and will last many years if you clean and maintain it.

At a touch under 11 ounces, it feels light in your hands. It fits up nicely to a longer rod for a variety of surf targets.

Set up is easy, although it will take a session or two to get familiar. The six-pin centrifugal brake works nicely, which is essential for surf anglers who generally put plenty of effort into casts.

I like the C4 for fishing natural and live baits in surf gutters and holes. 

Then, should a school of bluefish pass by, I can change to a metal slice and get cranking.

The design and color scheme offers a touch of class. And at this price point, it’s accessible to most anglers and offers outstanding value for money.

Pros

  • Versatility
  • Value for money
  • Smooth and powerful drag and crank
  • Great looking, durable reel

Cons

  • No sealing
  • Watch for corrosion on the level wind mechanism

Features

  • 4 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
  • Carbon Matrix drag system
  • Compact bent handle and star
  • 6 pin centrifugal brake
  • Synchronized level wind system
  • Duragear 2 gear system
  • Full Specs here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Shimano Calcutta B – Best Longevity & Versatility – Best For Big Fish

The Shimano Calcutta has been with us for a long time and has been continually upgraded over the decades. 

This is the best choice for the saltwater angler chasing a larger class of fish.

SHIMANO Calcutta B Round Reel
  • Line Retrieve Per Crank (in): 24
  • Max Drag (lb): 17.5
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
  • Weight (oz): 11.7

Last update on 2021-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The spool and body are anodized for increased corrosion protection. 3 A-RB stainless bearings add further corrosion protection while offering excellent support for the tough gears.

Gears are afforded a perfect mesh that remains in sync under the most demanding loads. 

In addition, the Hagane body delivers excellent strength and rigidity, allowing the reel to maintain integrity during heavy battles.

You’ll find the casting manners very impressive. With a bit of practice, you’ll launch heavier lures a country mile. 

The Super Free Spool was designed to eliminate friction. I expect it does because you get serious distance when casting a balanced rig.

The Calcutta employs a centrifugal brake system designed to work at the start and end of the cast. 

It’s by no means foolproof, but it’s a great system. Once you’re proficient, you’re sure to avoid the horrors of backlash.

There’s an excellent model selection so you can refine your choice to target and technique. 

Spool capacities are very generous, which adds to the versatility and fighting power. I prefer a little more drag capacity, but it’s by no means underpowered.

With the Calcutta, you have the option of casting big lures and baits. 

You can live-bait, bounce the bottom, troll, or jig, It’s a great reel for pier fishing and handy around the ocean rocks and sea walls.

The Shimano Calcutta is the real deal, and it’s built to last a long time. So, keep it maintained and clean, and you’ll hand it on to your kids.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Power and strength
  • Casting capacity
  • Spool capacities

Cons

  • At this price point, I’d expect a few extra bearings.
  • At this price, I’d expect sealing. This is a notable absence.

Features

  • Bearings 3+1
  • Cold Forged Aluminum Frame, Sideplates & Spool
  • A-RB (Anti-Rust Bearing)
  • Variable Brake System (VBS)
  • Clicker Alarm System
  • Super Stopper
  • Dartainium Drag
  • Level Wind
  • Right hand
  • Full Specs here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Daiwa Millionaire – Best Round Baitcaster On A Budget

The Millionaire has all the class and performance without the hefty price tag. 

The Millionaire was built to last yet built to be accessible to those anglers on the strictest budgets.

Daiwa Millionaire Classic Utd Baitcast Reel

In terms of features, the Millionaire is pretty spartan. There’s no sealing and only a couple of bearings. 

Nor is there a list of flagship technologies. At this price point, you shouldn’t be expecting these things. 

Instead, what you should be looking for is capability, strong basics, and endurance. And the Millionaire delivers in these areas.

There’s a modest but useful 11 pounds of drag. The largest model, the 400, holds 300 yards of 40 pounds line, which is indeed generous.

The inclusion of UTD, Ultimate Tournament Drag, is a significant bonus and typical of trickle-down technologies. 

UTD has been around for a while, but only in the Millionaire’s more expensive stablemates.

Gear ratios are a little slow and probably unnecessarily slow. They are, nonetheless, workable. This is an excellent reel for live baits and casting swimbaits.

That would be my application for the millionaire. I’d cast swimbaits for larger inshore species, and I’d set live baits for monsters.

Of course, the millionaire is more versatile than a two application wonder. 

You can troll, jig, bottom bounce, and cast any number of lure types. It’s great fished from the bank, pier, surf, boat, or kayak.

For the sports inclined, you can poke at modest pelagic species outside the heads. 

With the largest of the four models, you have the spool and line class capacities, even if the drag is a little wanting.

Keep it dry and clean, and your Millionaire will be a stayer. Daiwa is particularly good at producing accessibly-priced performance.

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Accessible price point
  • Versatility
  • Drag performance

Cons

  • It could do with an extra bearing or two.
  • Limited features

Features

  • Carbon Ultimate Tournament Drag (11lb)
  • High Strength Alloy Gears
  • Machined Aluminum Spool
  • Infinite Anti-Reverse
  • 3 Bearing System ( 2BB+1RB)
  • Cut-Away 100mm Swept Paddle Handle
  • Soft Touch Oversized Handle Knob
  • Full specs here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Shimano Corvalus – Best Value For Money

The Shimano Corvalus is the reel for you if the Calcutta busts your fishing budget. 

For anybody concerned about longevity, the Shimano 10 year warranty should put your mind at ease.

Shimano Corvalus 400, Round Freshwater Fishing Reel

The Corvalus might not be jam-packed with flashy features, but it’s a performance reel delivering excellent value for money.

At this price point, the Corvalus is a quality build. The frame, side plates, and spool are constructed from lightweight alloy. 

This delivers a rigid, super-strong reel that’s no burden to cast for hours on end.

Alloy construction provides enhanced corrosion credentials, as do the 3 +1 stainless bearings. The crank is lighter than you’d expect from the modest three bearings, and it has power to burn.

Versatility is its key feature as the Corvalus can be cast, trolled, or jigged. 

In addition, it will hold 305 yards of 50-pound braid, so bottom bouncing is also an option.

Excellent casting manners make it a viable surf and rock weapon, so long as your rigs are balanced. 

The centrifugal brakes (VRB) are great with a little practice. But once you’ve got it sorted, you can put serious effort into casting an excellent distance.

The level wind does an excellent job of keeping your spool tidy. 

A consistent, uniform line lay adds to easy, tangle-free casting. There are 12 pounds of drag, which is a little light-on, but that generous spool and powerful 5.2 gear system will cover any deficit.

Target everything from big drum to Spaniards, stripers, snapper, and more. At 11 ounces, it is a little weighty by modern standards, but it’s certainly no load to carry.

Pros

  • Outstanding value for money
  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • Stylish
  • Excellent strength and corrosion resistance. The Corvalus will last

Cons

  • No sealing
  • Limited model selection

Features

  • ARB Bearings 3+1
  • Non-Disengaging Levelwind System
  • Two Post Quick Take Down
  • Rubber Handle Grip
  • Diecast Aluminum Frame
  • Aluminum Sides
  • Aluminum Spool
  • Clicker Alert
  • Suits heavy inshore fishing or light offshore
  • Full specs here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Why Choose A Round Baitcasting Reel?

It’s a difficult question to answer as there’s no definitive qualitative or quantitative reason behind it.

But in my opinion, it all comes down to feel, strength, and personal preference.

Feel is personal, so a little arbitrary. But the feeling of power and strength in a good round baitcaster is palpable. 

In short, good round baitcasters feel great to fish.

Here are a few standout benefits.

Power

The shape and construction of a good round baitcaster limits flex and twisting. 

This ensures all power goes to the business end of a fight.

The spool is anchored in two places, further enhancing strength and power by limiting flex. 

The compact design and low center of gravity delivers benefits in power that you don’t get with a spinning reel.

Spool Benefits

As mentioned earlier, a spool anchored at two points provides strength benefits. 

The spool rotates when cast, so casting distance can be very impressive. 

The rotating spool also significantly reduces line twist.

Casting

A good reel in experienced hands makes for outstanding casting. This skill is learned over time, however. 

Casting a baitcaster, round or low profile, can be difficult for the beginner. 

Casting errors are often punished with nasty bird nests. But, once mastered, they’re casting weapons.

Durability

Just like any type of reel, durability comes down to construction, construction materials, and reel care. 

Round baitcasters offer no particular durability benefits over any other reel type.

What are Round Baitcast Reels Used For?

Round baitcasters are highly versatile. They can be cast, trolled, jigged, and bounced on the bottom. 

You can fish inshore, offshore, from a boat, a bank, a pier, or a kayak. You can fish the surf or the rocks for any species, small or large.

What to Look for in the Best Round Baitcasting Reels?

Look for a balanced, strong spool. Look for plenty of line capacity for versatility. 

I also like a premium line guide for better line lay, ensuring casting accuracy, length, and consistency.

Sealing is a bonus but usually adds plenty to the price tag. 

So too does lightweight alloy construction. Despite the price, these features are desirable.

A reasonable bearing count is also something to look for. Good bearings support the rotating parts. 

A crank supported by plenty of bearings is much lighter. A decent compliment of quality bearings also adds longevity to your gears and, therefore, the reel.

The Round Baitcaster Wrap up

Take your pick from the best round baitcasters listed above, and you won’t be disappointed. 
With money in my pocket, the Ryoga is going in the bag for sure.

I like the Abu Garcia for surf work, even though it lacks sealing. If I had limited funds, the Millionaire would be a consideration.

I love the Calcutta; it would live in the boat or my office on a shelf in pride of place because of its classic stylish looks.

I usually look for value and versatility and a hefty warranty, however. So the Corvalus is the first one I would choose.

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