Smallest Ultralight Baitcasting Reels: 6 Models Reviewed in 2021

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It’s often said that you should leave the ultra-light and finesse style fishing to the spinning reels. 

While it’s an opinion I share and prefer the super-light stuff on spin, there are baitcasters that are up to the task should your skills permit.

Fishing light on baitcaster gear can be pretty tough, especially when the weather’s up. Shooting unweighted soft plastics from a baitcaster is a recipe for backlash if ever there was one.

However, it’s a matter of the angler’s casting proficiency. If you’re confident casting next to no weight from a tiny baitcaster, this style of fishing can be great fun and very rewarding.

With finesse style application fast becoming more popular, manufacturers are delivering on the reel front with baitcasters that are up to the task of competing with spinning reels for finesse and light work.

In reality, some of these models have been around for a while. Fishing light with baitcasters isn’t new.

What is new, is the growing interest from keen anglers interested in the awesome sport of baitcaster finesse.

While care is required to avoid frustration, any angler half decent with a baitcaster can master the skills of ultra-light baitcaster fishing.

The list below examines some of the smallest baitcasting reels that will help rather than hinder as you navigate the nuances of fishing baitcaster finesse.

Keep in mind there are a bunch of great reels that should have made the list. You can rest assured, however, the reels listed below are definitely worth your consideration.

Let’s go fishing. 

1. Abu Garcia Revo MG Xtreme – Most Features

The Revo isn’t a cheap reel. But what it lacks in affordability, it makes up for in features and performance. There isn’t a reel in this list with more features. 

Because of the quality of construction and materials, this is a reel that will last you a lifetime. Everything is stainless, or alloy, and ceramic. 

Abu Garcia REVOMGXTREME2-L Revo MGXtreme Low Profile,Black

There’s little chance of corrosion getting a hold at all. What’s more, ABU has made maintenance easy for the novice, with basic lubrication a cakewalk, even for the technophobic.

While you would generally consider a reel like this to be technically intimidating, it’s actually pretty straightforward for basic regular care.

The Revo is ridiculously light at 4.5 ounces; it makes you wonder how on earth they can get 11 bearings in it. And with 11 bearings, every move, every rotation is silky smooth.

I can safely say that this is the best ultralight baitcasting reel out there.

The frame is one-piece aircraft-grade alloy, and the spool is a super lightweight concept (SLC). Even the handle is a custom lightweight design. 

The addition of cork knobs confirms that ABU was seeking the definitive lightweight baitcaster.

It’s not for everyone, and the applications are limited considering the price. And I expect most of the criticism revolves around such a hefty tag for a souped-up reel with limited uses.

While I sympathize with this argument to a degree, I actually disagree. This is a premium piece of kit, beautifully crafted for a particular purpose.

It’s an ultra-light fishing reel built for ultra-light fishing applications. It just happens to be constructed from the finest of materials.

I like this reel for any style of inshore finesse fishing from the salty estuaries to babbling mountain streams. Casting the lightest of lures is well supported. 

While it will take some getting used to, it’s worth the time.

Pros

  • Exceptional construction and construction material
  • Incredibly smooth crank and casting
  • Phenomenal list of top-shelf features

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Limited applications
  • Some might argue too light. Difficult to match up to the perfect rod

Features

  • 8 stainless steel HPCR™ bearings + 1 roller bearing
  • 2 additional CeramiLite Spool Bearings
  • One piece X-Mag™ alloy frame
  • Carbon Matrix™ drag system
  • C6 carbon sideplates
  • IVCB-4™ braking system
  • Infini II™ spool design
  • Compact bent carbon handle
  • Round cork knobs
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum main gear
  • Ti coated line guide reduces friction and improves durability
  • Recessed reel foot
  • Lube port
  • Super lightweight concept (SLC™) spool design
  • Custom lightweight handle design
  • Carbon star drag design
  • Full Specs Here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

2. Okuma Helios Air – Excellent Feel And Csating

The feel of the Helios inspires a great cast. It might sound a little ordinary to say, but it’s simply a nice reel to fish.

It’s not jam-packed with features like the Revo, but the construction quality is outstanding. Considering the price is well below the Revo, the Okuma delivers exceptional value for money.

Okuma Helios SX Low Profile Reels HSX-273V

That’s not to say it’s cheap, it’s not. However, this is a full magnesium construction, including the side plates. 

A full magnesium reel at this price point is truly phenomenal. Stripping the weight down usually ends up boosting the retail price making it inaccessible to many. 

This is not the case with Helios Air.

This is a great reel for finesse applications. It’s ideal for lightly weighted soft plastics and the smallest of hard bodies. 

It’s probably designed to be fished in the freshwater, but it has the stamina to deal with the saltwater with only cursory attention to cleaning.

Avoid casting a larger class of lure; it’s simply not designed for it, so doesn’t perform so well. 

Trying to get a deeper running crank to work is a little outside performance spec, but it is possible if that’s where you think the fish are at.

Along with its construction quality, its casting manners really stand out. 

When we’re fishing finesse, it’s important that the reel will handle the smallest of lures without creating backlash headaches.

In that regard, I like this reel for those learning to fish light with baitcasters. Despite the price, I’d still select it for a beginner.

This is a beautiful reel and pretty well stands alone at this price point. In many respects, this reel is probably the best value for money on the list.

Pros

  • Superb Build
  • Casting manners
  • Versatility within its small application range

Cons

  • Drag not as smooth as others
  • I would prefer external cast control (brake) adjustment

Features

  • ALC: Rigid diecast aluminum frame and sideplates
  • CRC: Corrosion Resistant Coating process
  • Machined aluminum, ported spool
  • Aluminum gears
  • Multi-disc Carbonite drag system
  • Micro-click static drag star for Precision drag settings
  • Friction-free shaft system
  • 10BB + 1RB stainless steel bearings
  • Precision Japanese ABEC-5 spool bearings,
  • Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing
  • New generation 12-point adjustable Velocity Control System
  • Oversized carbon fiber 100mm length handle
  • Full Specs Here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

3. Shimano Curado MGL 70 – Best On A Budget

I’m pretty careful with my fishing expenditure, and I know there’s a lot of anglers who share the frugal approach. That’s why I rate the Curado so highly.

It’s very affordable when compared to its competitors. And what’s more, it’s jam-packed with features and a superb build.

Shimano CUMGL70HGK Curado MGL 70 HG Low Profile RH, Baitcast Reel Box

It’s one heck of a popular reel, and the 70 is brilliant for light work, as you can cast light rigs with limited fuss and great results.

Infinity cast control coupled with an exceptional spool design drives the impeccable casting manners. For my money, that’s what the best finesse baitcasters are all about.

Forget drag, and crank, which by the way, are very good and as smooth as you might demand.

Casting is critical in this application. 

Casting the 70 imparts confidence as it’s so predictable. Both length and accuracy are excellent for a reel of such small proportions.

A couple of ounces heavier than the super-light Revo and Aldebaran, it’s not noticeable. 

It has a very small footprint and is very compact for a palmable ergonomic feel. 

Indeed, I prefer the shape and layout to its more expensive, lighter, and smaller baitcaster competitors.

I like the Curado as a go-to finesse workhorse. It’s just so easy. It welcomes a day of relentless casting without a hint of fatigue.

Perfect for bass hunting, just be aware that if you hook up big, the crank might not feel as smooth as with a standard battle.

It’s no problem, however, just something to be aware of.

The cross carbon drag system, and a reasonably generous spool capacity for its size, give you more than enough battle power should a big fish take your small bait.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Exceptional casting manners
  • Affordable for this class of reel

Cons

  • It’s really for light work only. Lacks versatility

Features

  • S3D Spool
  • Super Free Spool
  • MGL Spool
  • Micro Module
  • Hagane Body
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • S-ARB (Bearings)
  • X-Ship
  • SVS Infinity
  • Full Specs Here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

4. Shimano SLX MGL 70 – Most Accessibly-Priced

There’s a significant number of similarities between the SLX and the popular Curado. 

I can only assume the SLX is a deliberate attempt to capture keen prospective finesse baitcaster anglers, put off by the horrible pricing for this class of fishing reel.

Shimano SLXMGL70HG SLX MGL 70 HG Low Profile RH Baitcast Reel Box

Importantly, the SLX offers value without cutting quality corners. It’s an excellent build with no use-by date should you care for it appropriately. 

That equals excellent value for money.

It’s .2 of an ounce heavier than its Curado stablemate. That’s effectively nothing. 

What it does share, which is critical, is the SVS Infinity, S3D, Super Free spool, which is responsible for the outstanding casting manners.

Micro Module is missing in the SLX, but quality brass gearing delivers a lightweight, smooth crank. 

Clearly, Shimano has made the savings on the bearing count. The SLX has 4 + 1 compared to the Curado, which offers 8 + 1.

Yes, there’s a difference in feel under load, but I would challenge anybody suggesting it would be the slightest deterrent to purchase.

Bearings not only deliver smoothness and lightness of crank, but they also deliver longevity. Rotating parts supported by bearings last longer. 

It would appear the biggest trade-off between the SLX and the Curado might be longevity at peak performance.

Ultimately, it’s an affordable workhorse, beautifully crafted for finesse and lightweight applications.

While I don’t have any data on this, I expect it might challenge Curado supremacy because of the pricing. 

Essentially, the SLX gets you identical applications with very similar performance for significantly less outlay.

You would think it might be hard to bend staunch Curado fans to the SLX. But with such savings on offer, it’s certainly possible.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Exceptional casting manners
  • Outstanding value for money

Cons

  • Low bearing count
  • Might not have the peak operational longevity of its competitors

Features

  • S3D Spool
  • Super Free Spool
  • MGL Spool
  • Hagane Body
  • Cross Carbon Drag
  • S-ARB (Bearings)
  • SVS Infinity
  • Full Specs Here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

5. Daiwa Steez A TW Series – Best Versatility. Inspirational Crank

The Steez is a pricey fishing reel. However, the build quality and quality components set the benchmark. This is a beautiful piece of kit. It’s also jam-packed with Daiwa’s best features.

The standout difference with the Steez is its versatility. I’d be reluctant to call this reel a lightweight, finesse specialist. Interestingly, I don’t think it pretends to be.

Daiwa Steez A TW Series 7.1:1 Right Hand Baitcast Fishing Reel - STEEZATW1016SH

The Steez, considering its lightweight, small size, crosses a considerable number of applications. 

It’s a general-purpose reel that happens to perform very well as a finesse, lightweight weapon.

If I had to choose a reel to hedge my bets in the saltwater and fresh, with an undefined target list, the Steez would be the reel of choice.

Casting, which is critical in the finesse world, is very good. The T-wing line guide system works as intended, reducing friction and delivering beautiful casts.

Strength is a feature, and you’ll notice it under load. 

You get this feel from the very sturdy alloy frame, but having the pinion supported by double bearings, and bearing support of the worm gear, drives the feeling of stability when cranking.

The spool is very generous, providing anglers with plenty of options to up the class of line. This is very much in keeping with its all-rounder genes.

The bearings are Magsealed which adds a significant level of saltwater credentials. Considering its alloy construction, this is a genuine saltwater reel.

There’s 13 pounds of Max drag which delivers a significant level of fighting power for a reel in this class. 

When you consider spooling up with 100 yards of 40-pound braid, you can tackle surprisingly large targets.

The Steez would be an ideal finesse choice for fishing heavy structure. 

You can successfully get amongst the rough stuff with a heavier line class and not compromise the finesse imperative.

The Steez is a very classy baitcaster, and although expensive, it can do a heck of a lot more than its competitors in this class.

Pros

  • Alloy frame
  • Very classy build
  • High level of versatility

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Due to its allrounder style, it doesn’t excel as a finesse/ultra-light reel. But it’s very capable for such applications

Features

  • 90mm oversize handle
  • Aluminum Body
  • Automatic Tournament Drag (ATD)
  • G1 Spool
  • Magforce Z Casting control
  • T-Wing System
  • Zero Adjuster
  • Free Floating Spool
  • Full Specs Here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

6. Shimano Aldebaran MGL – Best In Show

My heart belongs to the Curado, as does my wallet, and I’d probably incorporate the Steez into my kit, but the Aldebaran is by far the most refined small baitcaster reel out there. It really is an outstanding reel.

While expensive, it does fit into a value for money category because of the pedigree it offers for a price that nearly borders on accessibility.

Shimano Aldebaran Mgl Low Profile Reels, ALDMGL50HG

If you seek a feature-packed, super-lightweight baitcasting reel that also offers a level of versatility, the Aldebaran is for you.

To be honest, getting used to the incredible lightweight feel took a little getting used to. 

Depending on the rod to which you mount it, it feels like there’s nothing there. An odd sensation that once overcome, was awesome.

The magnesium construction, coupled with Ci4 side plates, cuts out a significant portion of the weight. But there are zero compromises in strength and rigidity.

Casting is outstanding as it has all the key features that promote predictable, accurate, and long casts, including SVS and the S3D Super Free spool. 

It’s ideal for casting the really light stuff but also performs well upping lure weights a little.

While versatile in terms of applications, there is a spool limitation insomuch as line capacity is pretty limited. 

The shallow spool tends to dictate minimum line diameters. So, if you want to up your line class, you’re going to have to compromise on the amount of line you can hold.

However, it’s important to note this is the sort of reel where you’re only fishing light anyway, so the shallow spool won’t really be an issue. Whip on some 10 pound and happy days.

Some anglers have a little trouble finding comfort using such compact baitcasters. 

This won’t be the case with the Aldebaran. It’s a very comfortable reel. In many respects, you can feel the pedigree. It feels expensive.

I know that’s a pretty useless value judgment, but in my defense, good feelings promote fishing confidence. You fish better when you can feel the class of your kit.

While versatile and ready to poke at a diverse array of applications, it’s not really made for anything gnarly. 

I won’t be using it to drag deep diving cranks through aqua foliage, and other such structures. But it’s not that type of reel.

 Pros

  • Magnesium/Ci4 construction
  • Unbelievably light
  • Great casting manners
  • Brilliant performance across the board
  • Refined construction

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Shallow spool

Features

  • x-ship
  • Hagane body
  • ci4+
  • s3d spool 
  • Silent tune
  • SVS infinity
  • s-arb
  • super free spool
  • Saltwater ready
  • Full Specs Here

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

What is the Best Finesse Baitcasting Reel?

Everybody wants to know this, but it’s not really answerable. If you’re choosing from the top shelf, it will generally come down to feel, which is very personal. I love the Curado, as do thousands of anglers.

If I had to choose the best finesse baitcasting reel, I’d probably go with the Curado, just ahead of the Aldebaran.

There’s no real science behind my decision. As I suggested, it is about feel. But I have to add that the Aldebaran is an astonishing reel.

There’s palmable, and then there’s the Aldebaran. In every way built for finesse and the lightest of sports fishing. Keep in mind that both of these reels cost a pretty penny.

The Curado is a brilliant, predictable cast; that’s why it gets my vote.

What is the Lightest Baitcasting Reel on the Market?

It’s difficult to say for sure what is “the lightest baitcasting reel on the market”, but the Revo MG Extreme is an amazing 4.5 ounces and the Shimano Aldebaran MGL comes in at 4.8 ounces.

The Revo is the lightest on this list and more than likely the lightest baitcasting reel there is. It’s a perfect option for the series ultra-light sports angler.

It should be noted that there is only .2 of an ounce difference between the Revo and the Shimano. They are both extremely light.

I would bet that there’s not one angler who could feel the difference of .2 of an ounce. It’s such a small number that I don’t believe it matters.

What is the Best Ultralight Baitcasting Reel?

Again, “best” is a very loaded word and not particularly useful. There are about 2 ounces between the lightest to the heaviest (not that heavy has any place in this list).

The ABU Garcia and the Shimano are the lightest. But are they the best? Again, Like many anglers, I love the Curado with its no-nonsense solid quality and brilliant casting manners.

I guess the point is, when does the weight become useless numbers? A fancy marketing tag for the manufacturer?

Don’t get me wrong, the weights relative to performance are certainly impressive. But “best” and “lightest” might not necessarily get you the reel you’re looking for.

Best is very much subjective when it comes to high-quality top-shelf reels. It really is a case of, not better, just different.

If I had to choose, It would be a tough race between the Revo, the Daiwa, and the ShimanoAldebaran.

Ultralight and Smallest Baitcasting Wrap

Probably the most important consideration is that all of the reels listed above are going to be awesome fun. 

Keep in mind; there’s some serious art and a fair skill requirement to fishing light with a baitcaster.

However, these reels are going to enhance the experience and help the ultra-light beginner master the craft.

My only criticism is that most of the ultralight baitcasting reels listed are a little on the pricey front. But these aren’t the sorts of reels you’re likely to see in the kits of the average angler, perhaps with the exception of the Curado.

Any of these reels fit finesse and ultra-light applications perfectly. Selection is going to come down to feel and budget.

My final thought is this. Make sure you fit it up to the perfect rod. With reels of this size, balance is going to make a huge difference. 

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