Tackle Test 2017: Best Budget Reels

The quality of these reels belies their bargain-basement price tag

There’s something special about a great fishing reel. The way it casts. The way it functions. But when that reel comes in well under budget…that’s something extra special indeed. Here are four top reels with prices you’ll like.


Score: 79.2

Buy It Now! Price: $45

The Revros fishes as if it were a reel that costs two or three times as much as its $45 price. Its build is simply that solid. The Air Rotor, a proprietary Daiwa feature, slenderizes and lightens the reel while moving the center of gravity a bit more aft. This shifts the balance of the rod ever-so-slightly rearward, livening the rod’s tip.

An 8-bearing (7+1) system keeps the gearbox aligned, resulting in a smooth demeanor. An ABS aluminum spool manages the line without any hiccups, while the paddle-style knob is an ergonomic delight. The drag starts and stops without stuttering. The Revros would be a welcome addition to a bass arsenal for any angler on a budget.


Score: 83.7

Buy It Now! Price: $70

The BPS Formula is one ugly duckling. But this rather mundane-­looking baitcaster took us completely by surprise. What sets the Formula apart is its price-to-feature ratio—you’d be hard-pressed to find a baitcaster in the $70 range with as many features. For example, at 7.3:1, the Formula is fast, gobbling up 30 inches of line per turn. With a capacity of 190 yards of 30-pound braid, the Formula has plenty of payload for reaching out on long casts or dredging deep water.

The bottom line is this: For those shopping for a great workhorse reel at a fair price, the BPS Formula is worth taking for a test drive.



Score: 82.4

Price: $80

This baitcasting reel drew solid marks for its ergonomics and controls. Wright & McGill has a reputation for building quality rods and reels at fair prices and this is another shining example.


Score: 75.8

Buy It Now! Price: $49

Shimano’s line of reels runs the gamut from uber expensive to bargain basics. The Catana 1000 FC is one of the company’s lower-priced models yet still offers typical Shimano reliability and performance in a no-frills package.