Cast To The Future: Must-Try Fishing Reels for 2024

Team Cast & Conquer

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person fishing with a baitcaster reel
person fishing with a baitcaster reel

As we begin 2024, we wanted to share 6 must-try fishing reels with you so you can determine if they'd be a good fit for you and so you'd have plenty of time to get them before spring arrives. We've included three new baitcasting reels and three new spinning reels so at least one of them should fit into your fishing preferences and budget.

Shimano Curado 200 Overview

Our Must-Try Reels for 2024

Shimano Curado 200M Baitcast ReelShimano Curado 200M Baitcast Reel

The Shimano Curado 200 is a highly anticipated addition to the iconic Curado lineup, designed for tackling big fish and heavy baits. In this review, we'll dive deep into its specs, performance, pros and cons, and ultimately deliver a verdict on whether it lives up to the hype.

Specifications:

  • Model: Curado 200 (M, HGM, XGM models available)

  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1 (M), 7.4:1 (HGM), 8.5:1 (XGM)

  • Line Capacity: 14lb/110yds mono & 30lb/190yds braided

  • Weight: 7.4oz (M) & 7.6oz (HGM, XGM)

  • Bearings: 6+1

  • Drag Power: 13lbs (M, HGM) & 12lbs (XGM)

  • Features: HAGANE Body, X-Ship, MicroModule Gear, MagnumLite (MGL) Spool III, Cross Carbon Drag, CI4+ Palm Plate, S3D Spooled Spool Ring, LevelWind, DC braking system

Reviewing the Specs:

  • Gear Ratios: The range of gear ratios caters to various fishing styles, from crankbait finesse (M) to fast retrieving topwaters (XGM).

  • Line Capacity: The increased capacity compared to previous Curados makes it ideal for heavier lines and large lures.

  • Weight: While not the lightest reel on the market, its weight is respectable considering its power and durability.

  • Bearings: The high bearing count ensures smooth cranking and long-term performance.

  • Drag Power: The impressive drag system tackles bruisers with confidence.

  • Features: Each feature contributes to its strength, castability, and overall fishing experience. The MGL Spool III stands out for its reduced inertia and enhanced casting distance.

Pros:

  • Exceptional Casting Performance: The MGL Spool III and DC braking system work together to achieve effortless, pinpoint casts with a wide range of lures.

  • Unmatched Power and Durability: The HAGANE Body and MicroModule Gear provide a rigid platform for smooth cranking and fighting big fish.

  • Smooth & Refined Operation: The combination of bearings, S3D spool, and LevelWind deliver a buttery-smooth feel from cast to retrieve.

  • Versatility: The range of gear ratios and line capacities makes it suitable for various fishing techniques and target species.

  • Premium Build Quality: As you would expect from Shimano, these reels are very well built. The attention to detail shines through in every aspect of the reel's construction.

Cons:

  • High Price Point: The Curado 200 comes at a premium price, which might be a deterrent for some anglers.

  • Learning Curve: Mastering the DC braking system requires practice to avoid backlashes.

  • Bulkier Than Some Competitors: Some anglers might prefer a lighter, more compact reel for finesse fishing.

Overall Verdict:

The Shimano Curado 200 is a top-tier baitcaster reel for serious anglers who demand the best in terms of performance, durability, and features. Its exceptional casting distance, power, and smooth operation make it ideal for tackling big fish and heavy baits. While the price tag might be steep, the 200-series is a long-term investment that will deliver outstanding results for years to come. However, it's essential to remember its bulkier size and potential learning curve with the braking system.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Shimano Curado 200 earns its place among the elite baitcast reels on the market. If you're looking for a high-performance workhorse to handle challenging fish and techniques, the 200-series is a worthy contender.

Diawa Tatula 100 Overview

Diawa Tatula 100 baitcast reelDiawa Tatula 100 baitcast reel

Daiwa's 2023 Tatula 100 baitcast reel promises precision performance and power in a re-designed package. But does it live up to the hype? Let's dive deep into its specs, strengths, weaknesses, and ultimately, whether it deserves a spot in your arsenal.

Specifications:

  • Model: Daiwa Tatula 100 (2023)

  • Gear Ratio: 6.3:1

  • Bearings: 7+1 ball bearings

  • Drag: 11 lbs.

  • Weight: 7.1 oz.

  • Line Capacity: 14lb/120yds mono & 30lb/130yds braided

  • Frame Material: Zaion V (Carbon Composite)

  • Spool Material: A7075 Aluminum

  • Features: Hyper Drive Design, TWS Line Guide, UTD Drag, Swept Handle, Levelwind Disengagement

Reviewing the Specs:

  • Gear Ratio: 6.3:1 strikes a great balance between retrieve speed and cranking power for a wide range of baits and techniques.

  • Bearings: 7+1 provides smooth operation and durability.

  • Drag: 11 lbs. should handle most freshwater predators, though some may prefer something stronger for saltwater or giants.

  • Weight: At 7.1 oz., the Tatula 100 sits comfortably in the medium-weight category, offering a balance between fatigue and control.

  • Line Capacity: Covers most light to medium bait applications with various line options.

  • Frame Material: Zaion V is lightweight and strong, reducing fatigue and enhancing sensitivity.

  • Spool Material: A7075 Aluminum is strong and lightweight, aiding in long casts and finesse control.

Pros:

  • Hyper Drive Design: This suite of features enhances smoothness, power, and rigidity, translating to effortless retrieves and confident battles.

  • TWS Line Guide: Eliminates line friction for exceptional casting performance and distance.

  • UTD Drag: Ultra-smooth and powerful, providing consistent stopping power throughout the drag range.

  • Swept Handle: Improves comfort and crank efficiency by aligning the paddles closer to the rod's centerline.

  • Levelwind Disengagement: Enables easy spool swapping and fine-tuning for specific baits.

Cons:

  • Price: On the higher end compared to some competitors, though the feature set justifies the cost for some.

  • Palm Fit: The compact frame may not suit anglers with larger hands.

  • Learning Curve: Mastering the TWS system and casting finesse baits takes practice for beginners.

Overall Verdict:

The Tatula 100 is a top-tier reel offering exceptional performance, advanced features, and a premium feel. It's ideal for experienced anglers seeking a versatile reel for light to medium freshwater applications. However, the higher price tag and learning curve for the TWS system might deter beginners.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Abu Garcia Max 4 STX Overview

Abu Garcia Max 4 STX Low Profile Baitcast ReelAbu Garcia Max 4 STX Low Profile Baitcast Reel

The Abu Garcia Max 4 STX stormed onto the baitcasting scene in 2023, promising improved performance and features for the mid-range angler. But does it deliver? Let's dive deep into this reel's specs, strengths, weaknesses, and ultimately, whether it deserves a spot in your tackle box.

Specifications:

  • Gear Ratio: 6.4:1

  • Bearings: 5+1 stainless steel ball bearings

  • Drag System: Power Disk™ with 15lb max drag

  • Spool Material: Machined aluminum

  • Frame Material: One-piece graphite

  • Line Capacity: 150/10, 120/12, 85/17 (yds/lbs.) mono & 155/20, 120/30, 80/50 braided

  • Lure Rating: 1/4 - 5/8 oz

  • Weight: 7.4 oz

  • Features: MagTrax braking system, Duragear brass gears, Compact bent handle and star, Recessed reel foot, Flipping switch

Specs Review:

  • Gear Ratio: Ratio offers plenty of versatility in power fishing and covering water quickly.

  • Bearings: Smooth operation is guaranteed with 6 bearings, particularly for a mid-range reel.

  • Drag System: Power Disk provides consistent stopping power, though some may prefer a smoother drag for finesse fishing.

  • Spool and Frame: The aluminum spool aids casting distance and durability, while the graphite frame keeps things lightweight.

  • Line Capacity and Lure Rating: Handles a wide range of line weights and lure sizes, making it adaptable to various fishing situations.

  • Weight: Lightweight for all-day comfort, especially compared to older Max models.

  • Features: MagTrax braking excels at preventing overruns, Duragear ensures long-lasting performance, and the Flipping switch is a bonus for cover manipulation.

Pros:

  • Smooth and reliable casting: The combination of bearings, braking system, and lightweight spool delivers effortless casts with minimal backlashes.

  • Durable construction: Quality materials and Duragear brass gears inspire confidence in the reel's longevity.

  • Versatile performance: Handles a wide range of fishing techniques and lures, making it a great all-rounder.

  • Comfortable design: Lightweight body and ergonomic handle reduce fatigue during long fishing sessions.

  • Feature-packed: Flipping switch and MagTrax add value and functionality, especially for the price point.

Cons:

  • Drag isn't the smoothest: While powerful, the Power Disk drag might not be ideal for anglers who prioritize finesse presentations.

  • Not the lightest reel: Some competitors offer even lighter options, though the Max 4 STX remains comfortable.

  • Line capacity could be higher: For deep-water applications or heavy lines, higher line capacity reels might be a better choice.

Overall Verdict:

The Max 4 STX is a solid mid-range baitcasting reel that punches above its weight in terms of features, performance, and durability. Its smooth casting, comfortable design, and versatility make it a great option for beginner and intermediate anglers seeking a reliable reel for various freshwater fishing techniques. While the drag could be smoother and the line capacity slightly higher, these minor drawbacks are easily outweighed by the reel's numerous strengths and competitive price tag. If you're looking for a dependable and feature-rich baitcast reel without breaking the bank, the Max 4 STX is definitely worth a serious look.

Final Score: 4.0 out of 5 stars

Shimano Stradic 2500HGFM Overview

Shimano Stradic Spinning Reel Model ST2500HGFMShimano Stradic Spinning Reel Model ST2500HGFM

The Shimano Stradic 2500HGFM is a spinning reel that needs no introduction. Having earned its stripes as a reliable workhorse for anglers of all levels, it's undergone a facelift for 2023. But does the new iteration live up to its legendary lineage? Let's dive deep into its features, performance, and overall value to find out.

Specifications:

  • Model: Shimano Stradic 2500HGFM

  • Weight: 7.8oz

  • Gear Ratio: 5.8:1

  • Line Capacity: 120yds/10lbs. mono and 65yds/20lbs. braided

  • Bearings: 6+1

  • Max Drag: 20lbs.

  • Features: InfinityXross, InfinityDrive, MicroModule II, X-Protect, Duracross Drag, Anti-Twist Fin, G-Free Body, Hagane Gear, MagnumLite Rotor

Specs Breakdown:

  • Weight: The reel's lightweight construction, thanks to its Ci4+ material, makes it a dream for long fishing sessions, reducing fatigue and improving casting accuracy.

  • Gear Ratio: The 5.8:1 ratio offers ample retrieval speed, while still being suitable for finesse fishing.

  • Line Capacity: The reel handles a good range of line weights, suitable for targeting various species and sizes.

  • Bearings: The number of bearings ensures smooth operation and helps minimize wear and tear.

  • Max Drag: The impressive 20lbs. of drag power tackles strong fish with confidence, even in tough terrain.

  • Features: Each feature tackles a specific concern: InfinityXross for gear durability, InfinityDrive for cranking power, MicroModule II for smooth reeling, X-Protect for water resistance, Duracross Drag for long-lasting performance, Anti-Twist Fin for line management, G-Free Body for casting comfort, Hagane Gear for strength, and MagnumLite Rotor for reduced rotational inertia.

Pros:

  • Unmatched smoothness: The combination of features translates to silky-smooth reeling and casting, making fishing a joy.

  • Durability: The robust construction, backed by proven technologies like Hagane Gear, ensures the reel withstands harsh conditions and heavy use.

  • Versatility: The reel's specs and features make it suitable for various fishing styles and target species, from freshwater bass to inshore saltwater fish.

  • Lightweight: The Ci4+ material makes the reel comfortable to hold and maneuver, enhancing fatigue-free fishing.

  • Powerful drag: The strong drag system handles hefty fish confidently, giving you an edge in the fight.

Cons:

  • High price tag: The Stradic FM comes at a premium price point, which might deter budget-conscious anglers.

  • High gear ratio: While perfect for some techniques, the 5.8:1 ratio might not be fast enough for some users.

  • Shallow spool: The spool depth might limit line capacity for heavier lines or deeper fishing applications.

Overall Verdict:

The Shimano Stradic 2500HGFM is a top-tier spinning reel that delivers undeniable performance, smoothness, and durability. While its premium price tag and high gear ratio might not be for everyone, for serious anglers seeking a versatile and reliable workhorse, the Stradic is a worthy investment. Its exceptional features and proven technologies make it a reel you can rely on for years to come, elevating your fishing experience to new heights.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Pflueger President XT 25 Overview

Pflueger President XT Spinning reelPflueger President XT Spinning reel

The Pflueger President XT 25 (model) spinning reel, released in 2023, has made waves in the fishing community. But does it measure up to the hype? We've put it through its paces on the water to deliver a comprehensive, angler-tested review.

Specifications:

  • Bearings: 10 stainless steel bearing system

  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1 (fast retrieve for covering water and fighting fish)

  • Drag: Sealed, multi-disc carbon fiber drag system (smooth, powerful stopping power up to 8lbs.)

  • Material: Carbon fiber body and machined aluminum main gear (lightweight strength and durability)

  • Line Capacity: 90yds/6lbs. mono & 110yds/8lbs. braided

  • Additional Features: Braid-ready spool, slow oscillation for even line lay, machined aluminum handle, comfortable EVA knob, line roller anti-reverse, bail wire trip switch

Specs Reviewed:

  • Bearings: The 10 bearing system translates into effortless casting and reeling – a dream come true for light lures and finesse fishing.

  • Gear Ratio: The 6.2:1 ratio is a sweet spot for most freshwater applications. You reel in line quickly without sacrificing fighting power.

  • Drag: The carbon fiber drag is buttery smooth and impressively strong. We battled feisty bass without any issues.

  • Material: The carbon fiber body is surprisingly lightweight but feels tough enough for years of abuse. The aluminum main gear adds confidence for heavy fish.

  • Line Capacity: The reel could stand to hold more line, but its capacity is more than adequate in most situations.

  • Additional Features: The braid-ready spool and slow oscillation prevent line twist, while the comfortable handle and ergonomic design reduce fatigue during long fishing sessions.

Pros:

  • Smooth and powerful performance

  • Lightweight and durable construction

  • Versatile for various freshwater species and techniques

  • Strong drag system handles big fish with ease

  • Braid-ready and line management features minimize frustration

  • Excellent value for the price

Cons:

  • Not ideal for saltwater use (corrosion concerns)

  • Larger sizes might feel unbalanced with some lighter rods

  • Not the fanciest reel on the market (aesthetics might not impress everyone)

Overall Verdict:

The XT 25 is a clear winner in the mid-range spinning reel category. Its smooth operation, strong drag, and versatile functionality make it a standout choice for freshwater anglers of all skill levels. While not specifically designed for saltwater, its robust construction can handle occasional splashes.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Diawa Exceler LT 2500D Overview

Diawa Exceler LT 2500D spinning reelDiawa Exceler LT 2500D spinning reel

The latest iteration of the popular Daiwa Exceler LT, the 2023 2500D, promises an even smoother and lighter experience for the budget-minded angler. Let's check out what you can expect from it when it comes to its specs, pros, cons, and our overall thoughts on the reel.

Specifications:

  • Model: LT Series 2500D

  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1

  • Weight: 6.9oz

  • Line Capacity: 210yds/10lbs. mono & 185yds/15lbs. braided

  • Max Drag: 22lbs

  • Bearings: 5+1 ball bearings

  • Material: Zaion V Body, Air Rotor, Air Bail, Digigear

  • Features: Infinite Anti-Reverse, Twist Buster Line Guide, Machined Aluminum Handle, One-Touch Folding Handle

Spec Breakdown:

  • Lightweight design: Zaion V Body sheds grams, making it perfect for long days on the water.

  • Fast gear ratio: Ideal for retrieving lures quickly and covering water efficiently.

  • Line capacity: Handles braided lines well and suits most freshwater and inshore applications.

  • Max drag: Sufficient for battling most freshwater fish, though pushing larger species might be tricky.

  • Bearings: Smooth operation, though some competitors offer more for potentially even greater smoothness.

  • Material: High-quality components for strength and durability.

  • Features: Standard features enhance comfort, performance, and portability.

Pros:

  • Exceptional value: Offers top-notch features and performance for its price point.

  • Incredibly smooth retrieve: Digigear and bearings deliver a butter-like feel.

  • Lightweight and comfortable: Fatigue-free fishing, even in extended sessions.

  • Durable construction: Zaion V Body and Digigear ensure long-lasting performance.

  • Versatile: Capable of handling a variety of freshwater and inshore fishing techniques.

Cons:

  • Limited max drag: May struggle with trophy fish or heavy currents.

  • Lower bearing count: Some competitors offer more, potentially making them even smoother.

  • No manual bail setting: Might be missed by anglers accustomed to this feature.

  • Not saltwater-specific: Not ideal for extended use in harsh saltwater environments.

Overall Verdict:

The Exceler LT is a fantastic choice for budget-conscious anglers seeking a smooth, lightweight, and versatile spinning reel for freshwater and inshore fishing. Its exceptional value, impressive performance, and comfortable design make it a top contender. While its max drag and bearing count might fall short of some higher-end models, its strengths far outweigh its limitations. If you're looking for a dependable and enjoyable fishing experience without breaking the bank, the Daiwa Exceler LT would be a fantastic choice.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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