Catching a musky is an exciting fishing adventure. A musky is a freshwater fish native to North American waters. These fish monsters are notoriously sneaky and extremely difficult to catch.
Muskies are apex natural predators among their habitat and ecosystem. Known for their ambush hunting, the muskies feed upon other fish and are famous for their cannibalism. They get found primarily in the upper Mississippi valley, Hudson basin and the Great Lakes of North America.
The ideal time for fishing for a musky is during the spring season in shallow waters with plenty of vegetation. You can catch a musky all round the year but the spring season is when they have their lowest metabolic rate and hence can get captured with small bait.
Catching a musky is a sport in itself. You can’t just reel in and reel out and grab a musky. A well-prepared plan must get set and executed to successfully catch a musky fish. Sophisticated fishing gears will help you catch a musky.
Many anglers pick the right fishing rods, bait or lines but forget about the fishing reel. The fishing reel is an equally important piece of fishing equipment that aids you in having great fishing experience. The combo of best musky rod and reel will reward you greatly.
Using a traditional reel for catching a musky is an exercise in vain. Traditional reels can not withstand the sheer force of a musky. It can make your fishing adventure quite aggravating and tiresome. Specially designed musky reels enable you to catch a musky with ease.
These musky reels have a different set of engineering and mechanism. The best musky reels provide you with power, ease, and comfort to catch a big fish like muskies. There is nothing like catching a musky after a long and fierce battle. It is probably the best fishing experience any angler can get.
I have listed the ten best musky reels available in the market along with their detailed review. Read further to find out about the final verdict. You can choose the best musky reels based on your desires and requirements.
Top 10 Best Musky Reels Review 2019
The Shimano Tranx Low Profile Baitcasting Reel is an excellent musky reel from Shimano. The meager gear ratio of 4.6:1 makes the Tranx an ideal reel for musky fishing. The low gear ratio works exceptionally well with the quick speed. This combined feature makes the Shimano Tranx a great musky reel.
The casting process is effortless, and the retrieval is quiet. Fishing with the Shimano Tranx is a smooth experience. The weight of the reel is slightly heavier at 20 ounces. This weight factor is because the Shimano Tranx has a reliable build quality.
Moreover, the CoreProtect water-resistant technology combined with the solid build quality, makes it very attractive. The solid build quality does not let it corrode or wear out quickly. The quality and innovation put in the Shimano are second to none.
Furthermore, the Shimano Tranx is ideal for large musky baits like bulldawgs. The reel has elegant looks. The HEG and X ship technologies make retrieval smooth and effortless. The drag system can handle even huge muskies. Overall, the Shimano Tranx is one of the best musky baitcasting reels in the market.
- Solid build quality
- High torque and great power
- Saltwater favorable
- Powerful drag system
- Metal build construction
- Fast retrieval rate in the gear ratio
- Retrieval and casting made smooth
- Slightly on the heavier side
The Abu Garcia Revo, as the name suggests, is a complete beast. No other muskie reels provide the raw power and ease of use as much as the Abu Garcia Revo Toro.
The Revo Toro Beast operates smoothly and is easy to cast and retrieve. Another exciting aspect of the reel is that the reel comes in both left and right hand retrieve options. Raw power, smooth and ease of use are its crucial features.
Moreover, the spectacular gear ratio of 4:9:1 and 24-inch line retrieve distance per crank makes the reel smooth and easy to handle. Casting with the Revo Toro Beast is a pleasant experience. There is some natural friction on the cast, but it can send the lure for a long distance.
Furthermore, the Metal alloy construction makes the reel lightweight at 13.58 ounces. The structure also makes the reel corrosion resistant. There are different variations of the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast with left-handed and right-handed functionality. Overall, the Abu Garcia is a fantastic baitcasting reel.
- Durable and safe
- Ease of use
- Lightweight and portable
- Stylish and sleek design
- Price slightly on the higher side
- There is some friction while casting
Daiwa Lexa High Capacity Baitcaster reel is a great musky reel that comes under a budget. The new Lexa series from Daiwa handles everything from bass to the mighty musky.
High line capacity of the Daiwa Lexa series offers productive and pleasant fishing experience. The Lexa 300 series has an ergonomic design and low profile. However, the reel can store up to 240 yards of 40lb fishing line. These musky reels have a seven bearing system which makes casting smooth.
Moreover, the aluminum frame, side gear side plate, an a7075 aluminum spool, Megaforce cast control are some of the exciting features of the fishing reel. An oversized swept handle comes equipped with the Daiwa Lexa 300 series. This feature makes the weight of the reel to be massively reduced.
Furthermore, the reel is extremely lightweight at around 10.5 -11.03 oz. The ultimate tournament carbon drag offers upto 22lbs of drag pressure. The drag pressure is sufficient enough for large fish like a musky. There are both right and left-hand variations of the reel.
The gear ratio is 7:1:1 and 6:3:1 of hyperspeed. The Lexa 300 has a counterbalanced power handle for extra leverage. The Daiwa reels are perfect for saltwater and freshwater applications. Overall, the Daiwa Lexa 300 reel is the best musky reel for the money.
- Good value for money
- High line capacity
- Powerful drag system
- Small form factor
- Ergonomic design
- Metal construction
- Not suitable for smaller baits
The Okuma Coldwater Low Profile Musky Reel is an elegant and advanced reel. Its excellent shape and design provide exceptional comfort.
The reel has the spool capacity of 350 line spool that stretches up to 150 yards. The external frame is aluminum die-casted and centered. The frame can hold upto 65 pounds of the braided line that enable you to catch muskies and other difficult fish.
Moreover, the Okuma Coldwater has a mechanical line-counter that enhances the fisheries to the low profile baitcasting reel. The bar spool helps in casting at all times. The excellent gear ratio of 5:4:1 and 25-pound drag is another outstanding feature.
Furthermore, the Okuma Coldwater is available in both left and handed versions. The precision free line gets designed for near-exact trolling. The spectacular multi-disc carbonated drag system is outstanding. There are other excellent features like aluminum made diecast, carbonite system pinion gears, among others.
The powered grip makes it easier to handle large fish like a musky in oceans, rivers, or lakes. The advanced line counter technology measures the distance. It works well for musky, tuna, salmon, and other fish as well. Overall, the Okuma Coldwater Low Profile Musky Reel is one of the best musky trolling reels.
- Smooth casting
- Powerful 25-pound drag
- Both left-handed and right-handed versions available
- Saltwater and freshwater use
- Rust and corrosion resistance
- Higher fishing line
- Advanced line counter
- Extra lubrication required
Kastking is a relatively new brand in the world of fishing reels. However, the performance of this brand is anywhere next to the top brands.
The spectacular gear ratio of 4.2:1 and the retrieval rate of 23.2 inches per crank rate is the stand out feature. This ratio makes the retrieval slow, which is the only downside of the reel. The drag is at 15.5 pounds, which is average.
Moreover, the metal construction is ergonomically designed. This design makes the reel heavier than average. The Kastking Rover 70 baitcasting reel models ranges from 40 to 90. However, the Rover 70 is ideal for musky fishing. The reel is perfect for saltwater fishing conditions as well as inshore fishing.
Furthermore, the frame gets made from aluminum anodized, and the gears contain brass. The other parts of the reel get made from stainless steel which protects it from corrosion and rust. The 4.5-inch handle of EVA foam provides excellent grip. The carbon fiber drag system makes the drag smooth, and it provides a maximum drag of 20.
Additionally, the reel has a ball bearing of 4+1 with 3:6:1 gear ratio. It retrieves at 24.8 inches per turn. The line capacity of 650/16 yards per test. Kastking rover series is one of the cheapest in the market. The reel comes under the price of $100. Overall, the Kastking Rover 70 is best budget musky reel for beginners.
- Best budget musky reel under $100
- Anodized aluminum frame and spool
- Carbon fiber drag system
- Max drag of 20 pounds
- Centrifugal braking system
- Knob with EVA foam
- Corrosion and rust-resistant
- Does not give a high-end performance
- Won’t last more than a couple of seasons
The Shimano Corvalus a leading name in baitcasting and fishing reels. The corvalus can withstand even the most difficult of fish like the musky.
The one-piece aluminum built reel is perfect for both saltwater and freshwater. The super stopper anti-reverse solid hooksets and variable braking system allow for easy casting. This feature also makes it easy to fish in different conditions.
Moreover, the super stopper enables the angler to eliminate back play, which in turn provides an instant hook setting power. The line capacity is suitable for trolling and saltwater expedition. The gear ratio of the Shimano Corvalus is 5:2:1. The maximum drag is around 11 pounds.
Furthermore, the Corvalus also offer right and left-handed options. The ball bearings are 3bb+1bb. The weight of the device is approximately 10.9 to 11.8oz. Overall, the Shimano Corvalus provides smoother and efficient casting with a longer lifespan.
- Good value for money
- Backlash gets eliminated
- One-piece diecast aluminum frame
- Super stopper anti-reverse solid hooksets
- Variable braking system(VBS)
- Freshwater and saltwater applications
- Drag system at only 11 pounds
- Some users complained about the build quality
Zebco is most popularly known for manufacturing fishing rods for beginners. However, Zebcoalso produces many fishing gears for expert anglers as well. The Zebco Big Cat Xt is perfect for catching catfish or a musky.
The Zebco Big Cat Xt is an upgrade from its predecessor, Zebco Big Cat. If the Zebco Big Cat was ideal for small fish like bass, the Zebco Big Cat Xt is perfect for a big fish like a musky or a stripper. It has a low gear ratio of 4:2:1. This little gear ratio makes the retrieval quite speedy at 29 inches per crank.
Moreover, the maximum drag is at 17 pounds. The Zebco Big Cat Xt provides a pleasant and productive casting experience. The primary component of the body of the reel gets made out of graphite. It weighs around 18.4 ounces. The reel has a 2+1 bearing and continuous anti-reverse system.
The anti-reverse system is an upgrade from the quick set mechanism. The reel can cast long distance as the mono capacity is at 200/20 yards per test. The bait clicker is one of the loudest in the range of fishing reels. Overall, the Zebco Big Cat Xt is a competent fishing reel from Zebco.
- Long casting
- Continuous Anti-reverse system
- The maximum drag of 17 pounds
- Fast retrieval rate
- Loud bait clicker
- Graphite construction
- Only right-handed
The Daiwa Saltist Level Wind Reel is a robust musky reel with an elegant design. The reels are perfect for saltwater, freshwater, or even coastal fishing.
The precision-balanced reels are ideal for fishing in saltwater, freshwater, and coastal fishing. The most exciting feature of the Daiwa is that it has a maximum drag of 20 pounds ultimate tournament carbon drag. One-piece aluminum drag makes up the frame.
Moreover, the automatic clutch enables the angler to catch a catfish or musky. The Helical cut ensures smooth spooling. The corrosion-resistant ball bearing lasts 12 times longer than average bearings. The power handle has a great balanced, and the knob is a soft touch-enabled. This feature ensures excellent leverage to battle a big fish like a musky.
Furthermore, the anodized frame looks exquisite. The handling is of premium quality. There is an infinite anti-reverse system that enables smooth spooling without back play. The spool click is another advantage.
The gear ratio of 6:1:1 enables the angler to catch big fish from salt and freshwater. Weighing at 18.3 oz the reel is super light. Overall, the Daiwa Saltist Level Wind Reel is an elegant reel with power-packed features.
- Automatic clutch engagement
- Ultimate tournament carbon drag with max 20 pounds drag capacity
- One-piece aluminum frame
- Infinite anti-reverse
- Helical cut gears
- Ideal for saltwater and freshwater
- Long-lasting corrosion and rust-resistant gear bearings
- Spool can get quite louder
The Okuma Komodo SS is baitcasting reel with versatile functionality. The Okuma Komodo has a wide range of models with different drag capacity and reel length.
The stainless steel frame makes it corrosion and rust-resistant. The river and the pool shaft are also industry grade steel made. The multi-disc high output Carbonite drag system has 30lbs of drag capacity. The precision-cut metal and pinion gear make spooling easier and effective.
Moreover, the integral component like a rigid spool and side plates get made of aluminum. There is a velocity control system and synchronized level wind system. This feature enables the angler to maintain alignment with the line. The incorporation of zirconium line guide inserts maximizes the reel. This feature helps in controlling the drag pressure.
Furthermore, the different models of the Okuma Komodo have various gear ratios, weight, line capacity, maximum drag, etc. there are other essential features including the dual anti-reverse system, on and off clicker, quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing, micro click drag system, and others. Overall, the Okuma Komodo SS is another excellent product from Okuma.
- The dual anti-reverse system
- Quick set anti-reverse roller bearing
- Corrosion resistance
- Different variety of models
- Zirconium guided line
- Bait clicker
- A micro click drag star system
- Spooling can get very loud
The Shimano Calcutta D is another power-packed fishing reels from Shimano. There is a sloped design of the reel, which makes the side almost 15% smaller in diameter.
The brand new drag system replaces the old traditional star drag. The Shimano Calcutta D series is aluminum made, and this makes the reel corrosion and rust-resistant. The casting is smoother than the previous generation of the Calcutta series.
Moreover, the handle is slightly closer to the body of the reel. The fluid and powerful retrieve eliminates any back play. The drag crank knob is smooth and easy to operate. There is a micro click that enables the angler to make proper adjustments. The Calcutta reel is well built and compact compared to its predecessors.
Furthermore, the gear ratio of 5:1:1 is ideal for muskies. The retrieval rate of 27 inches per crank is another advantage. The max drag of 15 pounds is just about average. The reel is quite lightweight at 11.8 ounces. The metal reek is sturdy and provides premium value. The ergonomics of the design is also excellent. Overall, the Shimano Calcutta D is a well-built reel with classic design.
- Smaller design
- Smooth and easy to use
- Single-piece aluminum side plate
- Perfect gear ratio
- Well built
- Some users have complained about its durability
The Factors That You Need To Consider Before Buying a Musky Reel
The muskies are an aggressive fish. You will require a durable reel to catch the musky. Baitcasting reels can withstand even the toughest of the fish. Baitcasting reels are perfect for expert anglers whereas spinning reels are for amateurs and casual fishers.
You can catch a musky with other reels like spinning, and spin-cast reels as well. But it will take you a lot of strength and practice. Many factors need consideration while purchasing a musky reel. Some of them are listed below.
Gears and gear ratio
Traditionally gears used brass as their main component. However, new modern-day gears consist of stainless steel. The stainless steel gears are more durable as they are rust and corrosion-resistant. However, the material isn’t that much of an essential factor as much as the gear ratio.
The gear ratio denotes the number of rotations the spool for every turn of the reel. The average gear ratio for the best musky reel is between 5:1 to 5:7. For, eg, if the gear ratio is 5:1:1, then it denotes that the spool rotates six times in a single turn. Higher the first digit, faster the spooling and vice versa.
Having a slower gear provides excellent torque. The higher the torque, the less energy you need to invest the catch. You can choose the reel with the gear ratio you desire.
Line Retrieve Per Crank
The line retrieve per crank is a numerical value that denotes the range of your line retrieval with the turn of the handle once.
This number allows you to estimate how much strength you will have to put in to retrieve the lure or fish. Generally, the lower gear ratios of baitcasting reels mean that the retrieval rate is slower than spinning reels.
The muskies can weigh anywhere between the 15-36 pounds. This fact means the line weight must be strong enough to carry the abundant fish and stress pull it.
The ideal line weight is around 80 lbs. This weight factor ensures that the line can handle even the biggest of the fish. Generally, the 80lbs fishing line weight can carry the lures used in fishing muskies.
How much of line you load onto a reel is an essential factor as well. You should load up at least 140 yards of the line for the productive fishing experience.
If you don’t have sufficient line on your reel, the difficult muskies could make you run out of supplies and snap the line. This fact would not only mean losing the fish but also damaging the reel itself.
Muskies are one of the toughest fish in the water. Powerful gears with intense rigor are ideal for catching a musky. Fighting these fish monsters in the water can be extremely strenuous. The chances of reel damage from the force of the musky or the giant lures are quite high.
A robust and rugged reel can withstand the power of the musky when you set the hook. A durable reel will not crank or break or malfunction at this point. The reels must be rust and corrosion-resistant. Aluminum and stainless steels are the materials preferred.
Left-handed or right-handed
While this might not seem like essential criteria for you, let me assure that this factor affects the fishing quite a lot. A fishing reel that suits your dominant hand will reap great benefits.
While using a fishing reel, you will cast with a non-dominant hand and reel with the dominant hand while the right-handed reels are most common. There are many specially designed reels for left-handers that will make the fishing experience pleasant and productive.
The price factor is always important as the fishing reels is quite an investment. There are various musky reels available at different prices ranges. You can choose the best musky reel according to your requirements and budget.
The Final Verdict
All the musky fishing reels listed above are of great quality. Choosing one from the great list is a difficult task. However, if I had to pick one, I would pick the Shimano Tranx Low Profile Baitcasting Reel.
The Shimano Tranx Low Profile Baitcasting Reel has the highest build quality of the lot. The Shimano Tranx also provides its buyers with excellent value for money. It is also packed with attractive features that make your musky fishing experience productive and satisfying.