I spent years using spinning reels like Shimano Vanford and Daiwa BG SW before I gathered enough confidence to try finesse fishing with baitcasting reels. I never looked back because I had so much fun using my first baitcasting reel, despite struggling initially to thumb the baitcaster properly.
That’s why I’ve gathered some of the smallest baitcasting reels on the market to make your transition from spinning to a baitcasting reel easier and help you perfect your finesse fishing.
Each of the five ultralight models I picked is stacked with features that give you complete control over your casting accuracy and decrease the amount of effort you have to put into retrieving a lure.
I’ll walk you through the smallest baitcasting reels and suggest five ultralight models you should consider if you’re looking for a baitcasting reel you’d like to use in 2023.
Bottom Line Up Front
My favorite ultralight baitcasting reel is Shimano Metanium MGL because it is durable and has impressive features. If you’re on a budget or don’t want to overpay for your first baitcasting reel, models like the Abu Garcia Revo X or Daiwa Tatula SV 70 might be a better option.
My Top Picks At a Glance
|Daiwa Tatula SV 70
|Abu Garcia Revo X
|Shimano Curado MGL
|Daiwa Steez CT70 SV TW
|Shimano Metanium MGL
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing an Ultralight Baitcasting Reel
I can’t entirely agree with anglers who use ultralight baitcasting reels with St. Croix Mojo Yak or similar casting rods because they don’t utilize the full potential of their reels. My advice is to get a rod designed for baitcasting reels if you want to make the most of the features the reel offers.
Besides ensuring you have the right equipment, you should also pay attention to the reel’s features because maximum drag, number of bearings, and weight vary from model to model.
Let’s look at some of the most important features you should consider when selecting an ultralight baitcasting reel.
- Frame material: Inexpensive and medium-priced models usually have aluminum bodies, while high-end baitcasting reels have magnesium bodies.
- The reel’s weight: There’s no threshold you can use to distinguish between ultra lightweight and regular baitcasting reels. However, if you’re looking for a small baitcasting reel, you should target models that weigh under 8 oz.
- Drag system’s capacity: The maximum drag of most ultralight baitcasters ranges between 10 lbs and 20 lbs. Hence, when choosing a baitcasting reel, you must factor in the size of the fish you want to catch and the maximum pressure a reel can withstand.
- Ball bearings: The reel’s casting accuracy and maximum recovery depend on its ball bearings. Also, models with shielded bearings are less prone to corrosion.
I’d like to underscore that your current skill level should play a part in the selection process because you’ll likely experience more than a few backlashes before learning to cast a baitcasting reel properly, even if you get a model that makes it easy to avoid them.
Reasons to Opt For a Small Baitcasting Reel
Maintaining casting accuracy when trying to catch fish that hide under dense vegetation is a challenge, even for the most skilled anglers. A baitcasting reel lets you place the lure exactly where you want it by allowing you to turn a dial and control the spool’s motion.
Most anglers use these reels to catch bass, although they can be highly efficient for inshore saltwater fishing. Moreover, baitcasting reels allow you to cast thousands of times using heavy lures while causing almost no fatigue.
On the other hand, you should consider other reel types if you want to continue using light baits.
Shortlisting the best ultralightweight baitcasting reels wasn’t an easy task for me because there are so many models that deserve to be mentioned.
I selected the models featured in this article based on several criteria that allowed me to pick models suitable for anglers with different experience levels and budgets. Let’s take a quick look at the selection criteria I used to choose the best ultralight baitcasting reels.
- Reel’s weight: This criterion helped me exclude all baitcasting reels heavier than 8oz from consideration.
- Overall quality: I examined and compared the features of a broad range of baitcasting reels to determine their overall quality and select the best ones.
- Model’s price: The cost of the baitcasting reels played an important role in my selection process because my goal was to include models that fit all budgets.
Top 5 Ultralight Baitcasting Reels
Daiwa Tatula SV 70 – The Best Value for Money
Daiwa has added its acclaimed Stress-free Vertical (SV) technology, complete with Super Duralumin spool, movable rotor, and magnetic brake to regulate spool speed and provide intuitive castability based on the weight of your lure.
The precision aluminum frame is tough and keeps the weight to an absolute minimum.
Although it’s been a while since I first encountered and tested the Daiwa Tatula SV 70, I’m still impressed with the features it offers. The T-Wing Level-wind system, Stress-free Vertical technology, and Hyper-drive gearing are among the features that immediately caught my attention.
Add the 32-inch per turn recovery available on some models and an 8.1:1 gear ratio, and you’ll understand what all the hype is about. Optionally, you can opt for versions of this ultralight baitcaster with 6.3:1 and 7.1:1 gear ratios.
Moreover, the Tatula SV 70 baitcasting reel weighs 6.5 oz., and you can use it with 10 lb. or smaller lines. Its hyperdrive design includes a hyper-armed housing, a hyper-tough clutch, a hyperdrive digigear, and a hyper-double support.
Despite offering all these features and being the smallest and lightest Daiwa Tatula model to date, this baitcasting reel is moderately priced.
- The T-Wing Level-wind system minimizes backlashes and ensures accurate long-distance casts.
- The Swept Handle reduces wobbling.
- The Tatula SV 70 uses lure weight to regulate spool braking.
- This model is equipped with a versatile SV spool.
- The reel’s maximum recovery depends on the model.
- Somewhat limited braided line capacity
Abu Garcia Revo 4 X: The Best Budget Baitcasting Reel
An exceptional value, the Abu Garcia® Revo® X Baitcast Reel makes it possible for any angler to step up to one of the highest-rated reel series in bass fishing.
Initially designed for professional use, Revo low-profile baitcasters are widely revered for their smart, forward-thinking design, durability, and performance on the water.
I don’t think spending hundreds of dollars on a baitcasting reel is necessary if you’ve never used this type of reel before. A model like the Abu Garcia Revo 4 X is ideal for anglers who want to test the capabilities of ultralight baitcasters and decide if they’re better off using a spinning reel.
The affordable price isn’t the only advantage of choosing this Abu Garcia reel because its features exceed its price range. The reel’s all-aluminum body and Craftic frame are corrosion-resistant, so it won’t deteriorate quickly even if you use it primarily for inshore saltwater fishing.
The Carbon Matrix drag system can withstand up to 18 lbs. of pressure, while the magnetic MagTrax brake system prevents overruns and backlashes.
- High drag capacity
- The reel’s design is functional.
- Reel’s lube port simplifies maintenance.
- The Revo 4 X has a powerful magnetic braking system.
- Casting accuracy decreases with distance.
- This reel isn’t ideal for light lures.
Shimano Curado MGL: The Most Versatile Mid-Range Baitcasting Reel
The lightest weight Curado® to date, the Shimano® Curado MGL Baitcast Reel offers tremendous versatility.
Engineered to cover a variety of techniques, this advanced reel delivers outstanding casting distance and accuracy, yet is solidly built to handle giants without missing a beat.
As a long-time fan of Shimano fishing equipment, I might be slightly subjective about the Shimano Curado MGL model. Although similar to the somewhat higher-priced Tatula SV, I think the Curado MGL is even more versatile than the Daiwa model.
Both reels weigh the same, but the Curado MGL has a higher drag and line capacity, which makes it more suitable for larger and heavier saltwater fish.
Depending on your needs, you can opt for one of the five versions of the Curado MGL with different gear ratios and maximum recovery. However, all variants of this Shimano baitcasting reel have 6+1 ball bearings, one less than the Tatula SV.
I’d also like to point out that the Curado MGL features Silent Tune, X-Ship, and MicroModule gearing technologies that allow you to cast a lure with high precision.
- The reel’s ideal for long-distance casts because it can hold up to 135 yards of braided line.
- This Shimano baitcaster model comes with a magnesium spool.
- Curado MGL is durable despite weighing 6.5 oz.
- Silent Tune technology minimizes the vibration of bearings.
- No anti-corrosion protection
- The ball bearing system could be improved.
Daiwa Steez CT70 SV TW – On Of The Most Durable Baitcasting Reels
This reel is blessed with the best of everything, and you'll see it and believe it from the first cast onward.
Many of Daiwa's top technologies are represented here: the full magnesium body for featherweight balance and strong corrosion resistance; the ultralight G1 Duralumin SV (Stress-Free Versatile) long-cast spool; the T-wing System with separate aperture settings for casting and retrieving.
There aren’t many baitcasting reels on the market that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Daiwa Steez CT70 SV TW.
Although I’m not prone to spending more than I must on fishing equipment, getting this reel was one of the best investments I ever made. Its magnesium body is so lightweight that I don’t feel it adds any extra weight to my rod.
Moreover, its features enable you to place a long-distance cast exactly where you want the lure to be. Still, you might feel limited by its line capacity because the G1 Duralumin SV spool can’t hold more than 110 yards of an 8-pound monofilament line.
The model’s 12-bearing system, state-of-the-art hyperdrive system, and T-Wing system with dual aperture settings make it one of the top baitcasting reel options for seasoned anglers.
- The manufacturer offers a five-year warranty for this model.
- The Ultimate Tournament Drag technology ensures smooth and balanced spool rotation.
- The reel delivers impressive accuracy regardless of the casting distance.
- It’s suitable for a broad spectrum of fishing styles.
- It’s too expensive for most novice anglers.
- The reel can’t hold lines heavier than 8 lbs.
Shimano Metanium MGL – The Best Top-of-the-Line Baitcasting Reel
The redesigned Shimano® Metanium® MGL Baitcast Reel offers significant advances that an accomplished angler can truly appreciate.
Its all-new Magnesium CoreSolid Body is extremely lightweight, yet it provides all the HAGANE® durability, rigidity, and enhanced sensitivity needed to perform at the highest level.
Even though it’s considerably more affordable than the Steez CT70 SV TW reel, the Shimano Metanium MGL’s features are equally impressive.
Besides the X-Ship pinion support or Silent Tune technology you can find on mid-range Shimano baitcasting reels like the Curado MGL, the Metanium MGL utilizes the Cross Carbon Drag system and CI4 star drag.
The reel’s MGL III spool reduces inertia, while the SVS braking system enables you to make accurate casts with all types of lures.
Moreover, this ultra-lightweight model features shielded 10+1 bearings and a Magnesium CoreSolid body, so you don’t have to worry about corrosion if you use it for saltwater fishing.
The model has four variants with different gear ratios and maximum retrieves, but the reel’s monoline and braided capacity will be the same regardless of the variant you choose.
- Casting light lures with Metanium MGL is easy.
- The S3D technology eliminates spool vibration.
- You can use this reel to catch saltwater and freshwater fish.
- It offers between 26 and 34 inches of recovery per crank.
- Learning to control backlash on the Metanium MGL takes a lot of practice.
- It requires frequent cleaning when used for saltwater fishing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does It Mean If a Baitcasting Reel is Palmable?
The term is used as a reference to the reel’s size because it indicates that it can fit in the palm of your hand. However, palmability doesn’t reflect the reel’s performance capabilities.
How Heavy Should a Lure for an Ultralight Baitcasting Reel Be?
Casting a lightweight lure with some ultralight baitcasting reels can be difficult because you must turn off the braking system. You can avoid this by using lures weighing between 0.75oz and 1.5oz.
Are All Baitcasting Reels Lightweight?
Most baitcasting reels weigh between 4.5oz and 12oz, which is why determining if the model you’re interested in is ultralightweight isn’t always easy. Generally speaking, models under 8oz can be considered ultralightweight.
My Verdict: Choosing the Best Ultralight Baitcasting Reel for Your Needs
I understand that transitioning from spinning to a baitcasting reel isn’t always smooth, but I think it’s worth the effort. In my opinion, the level of accuracy you can achieve with an ultralight baitcasting reel is reason enough to start using them.