Baitcasting reels, which one?

It looks like my old Shimano Bantam has given up the ghost…its only 24 years old. So I’m in the market for a new baitcaster, primarily for tossing spinners down to 1/8…though mainly in the 1/4, 3/8 size, smaller crankbaits, and the like, all freshwater. What I’m looking for is something under $80 that can hold up to getting dunked in the water. Also want it to hold up with minimum of tinkering…don’t mean oiling, just don’t want to have to always be working on the thing. I’m pretty familiar with the Abu line, so am interested in learning about experiences with some of the others, expecially the Okuma’s, Quantums,; and maybe the less expensive Shimano’s. Unfortunately, most folk I know are using Shimano Curado’s ( the one that’s been discontinued) and Chronarch’s. Too rich for me right now. Input welcome, on the one’s I’ve mentioned as well as not mentioned.

Can’t give you specific advise on baitcasters but I have several Okuma (both spinning and fly) reels and I am very pleased with them. I also have a high end Shimano spinning reel and my mid-priced Okumas are every bit as smooth, maintenance free and of equal quality. I don’t hesitate to recommend the Okuma brand.

For under 80 I would look to find last year’s Shimmano Citica. They changed them for this year and increased the price. I just got one of the old style at Wal Mart for 50 bucks. I have heard good things about the Quantum reels in that price range as well but do not own one. If you can find a torno for that price it would also be great (I own 5 or 6 of them).

Citica $79

I have a late 90’s Quantum CX400. It is a servicable graphite-body reel with centrifugal and magnetic brake adjustments. This is an entry level reel, but it has performed flawlessly. I also have an Abu 5500 and an older Bantam 10x, which may be similar to yours, so I may be able to compare performance.

The Quantum will not cast as far as the Abu if set perfectly and everything else is equal. However, if I am not paying attention and don’t tune the brake perfectly after changing lure weights, the Quantum’s magnetic brake is more forgiving (backlashes) than the Abu. I do a bit of shore fishing as well as kayak fishing close to shore, and catching a weed or tree limb on your backswing is backlash city. The Quantum features a quick-open side plate, which means cleaning up a nasty backlash can be aided by popping off the side plate–no screwdriver–and removing the spool. I suppose you could also get an extra spool and do line changes this way, but I haven’t found it necessary yet.

I like the old Bantam 10x too; in fact, I have it on an old noodly spincasting rod for throwing light lures like 1/8 ounce jigs, undersized crankbaits, and small spoons. This is one of the reasons I can’t stand too much graphite in casting or spinning rods–they are usually too stiff to cast light lures well. The 10x casts pretty well, but even with routine maintenance (no abuse), it won’t match the newer Quantum or Abu for casting distance. However, it is a very comfortable reel.

I don’t think the Quantum is perfect, though. In fact, if you are looking into something like your Bantam, I would suggest looking at Ebay for a reel that suits your needs; you can usually get something (often in box in unused shape) for about half of the old retail. I have purchased 3 out of my 5 baitcasting reels on Ebay and have never had a bad experience as long as I shopped (and checked the seller) carefully.

I also use a an old graphite-body Ambassadeur USA 1, which is not as good as any of the reels mentioned above, but it was a great deal and acts as my “lets go fishing in the rain, sand, and shoreline” reel. It works acceptably.

My fifth baitcaster is an old Daiwa B-Mag 1000. Because it is missing the drag adjustment knob, I adjusted it with a needle nose pliers and use it for ice fishing. I may go to more baitcasting reels for this, because spinning reels just twist already inelastic, cold line, and the baitcaster offers a smoother drag (not to mention the ability to thumb the spool). My favorite ice-fishing-with-a-baitcaster is the pike I iced this year on 4-pound line, but that’s another story.

Air-casted a Pflueger baitcaster a few weeks ago, and it seemed pretty smooth, and was under $60. I couldn’t find another reel that felt as smooth in casting, setting, and tripping, and I usually pick up everything within reach and try it out. You may want to check out a Pflueger if possible, too.

if it were up to me, I’d go to sleaze bay and snatch up a curado or three.

your bantam lasted 24 years- ya could get that out of a curado in freshwater.

BTW- isn’t the bantam a type of striped down curado?

my curados have survived saltwater fishing for 7 years with LITTLE maintenance…

Bantam is older
The Bantam was introduced long before the Curado. So, you could probably call the Curado “just a souped-up Bantam.”

The Bantam 1000 I have is the Tournament
Bantam. It dates probably from about 1984 or 1985. All aluminum body, plastic handles only, and is an open baitcaster as opposed to the more closed in Curado. Its about the size of the Curado Bantam, which is no longer made, replaced by the Citica and/or Cruxis. Usually, I spool it with 8-10 lb test line. It was great for handling 1/8-3/16 oz spinner baits and crappie fishing if you like that sorta thing (Crappie fishing, that is). It appears that the bearing grease has become stiff after several years of sitting up and will need new bearings. I’ll have to find out if the Curado Bantam bearings will fit my Bantam.

Forget those backlashing baitcasters
You’ll spend more time fishing with a plain old Zebco 33 that is just the right size for the lures you are throwing.


After assessing all possibilities,
getting a little bitty spring to repair my Daiwa Millionaire 5HM, and really thinking about it, bought an Abu 5500 C4. It’ll toss the lighter lures ok, but really meets my need for another catfishing reel too. Still thinking about repairing my Bantam 1000. It cost me all of 54 cents to repair the Millionaire.

Try Walmart
They are selling the basic Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 5000 for $50.00. This is the original model before they started adding all the bells and whistles and jacking the price up. The 5000 will stand up to a lot of punishment and provides all the functionality you need.


I would definitely go with the Ambassador Abu Garcia 4600C3 or 4600C4. I stripped out a three year old pinnacle a couple of months ago and purchased two of the silver 4600C3. The only difference between the two are color and #of barons. The C3 has three barons. Both reels have a 5:3:1 gear ratio. I paid 55 bucks for each. The pinnacle that I had was more expensive and I was really disappointed with its performance at the time that It should have just been getting broke in. The Appearance also suffered as the finish began to flake off. The Abu’s are tough and should suit you fine with about 10LB test line for even the smaller spinners. I’ve had Abu’s in the past and often wonder why I ever bought the Pinnacle. I just let a good salesman get to me, I guess.

At Academy, the Abu 5500 C4 was $59,
so wasn’t a bad deal. Plus, got free line with it, something you can’t get at Wal-Mart.

My vote is for the Abu
Garcia. I have had a couple of these and they have taken some serious abuse and neglect over the years and they still keep kicking. Even the basic models are durable enough to last for a few years.

Brand recommendation
I’ve got a couple Diawa baitcasters and have been very pleased. I’ve got a ProCaster Z I use for small stuff. They don’t make the model I have any longer, but there are others in the line at a similar price point. I paid about $60.

I also have a BassProShops Excel that I bought on sale for $50 that has taken all kinds of abuse, tosses light lures easily, and has required zero maintenance so far.

I fish from a kayak in class II and II+ water, so my tackle gets wet a LOT. Rods are mounted to the deck and I take water over them frequently.

I have three Abu’s as well. One of them is a left hand retrieve that needs some repair (was given it by a friend who has moved up to Scorpions). One I bought as a refurb 5000 C3 and I use it only for soaking bait for cats or in the surf. It’s great because it’s like cranking a winch when I have a large fish on. The third is a 4000 C3. It’s a wonderful serviceable reel that’s my “go to” saltwater reel, but is not nearly as forgiving with light lures as the Diawa or the BPS Excel.

  • Big D

Bought the Abu 5500 C4, got it at a good
price, resurrected a 25 year old Daiwa Millionaire 5H, that was/is a great real and my favorite for casting, rarely get a backlash. And alread had another Abu, the 6600D5. That one isn’t one I’d buy again, its got the magnetic anti-backlash stuff and isn’t worth a damn when fishing with weights and baits that weigh over an ounce.