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Looking for my first baitcaster, but im not sure what I should be looking at.. I have 0 experience with baitcasters and unfortunately I have no friends that own one for me to try out. I'm not looking to break the bank especially if I end up having to resell it, but I do realize a 60$ setup compared to a 150$ setup is a completely different world sometimes. With that being said, my limit is about 160$, hoping after tax can be below 200$

I typically use a 7 ft med pflueger Trion spinning combo w 12-14lb mono, as my all around go to pole,. I use Texas rigs, cranks, tubes, topwater, as well as a smaller spinning combo for micro cranks and panfish jigging. Hoping to find something that's similar(to the plfueger)in being an all around baitcaster. I see a lot of people gearing their baitcaster towards heavy cover and top water,. I don't have much cover im working with much, so idk if 30 lb test is needed.

I know there's tons of YouTube vids, but none of them seem to give me the input I need

Thanks for any feedback
 

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Bought my 13 year old a Shimano SLX MGL for his first baitcaster. He was better than me with it in less than a week. He can cast anything from large topwater to small ned rigs with no problem. I liked it enough I got one of my own. $150.
 

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No way I'd spend $100+ on the first one. Go somewhere that has display models with mock rod handles to figure out if you like round or low profile. Plan on spending $50 or so and learn how to use it. You can always upgrade later.

I've used everything from $40 Quantums to $300+ Shimanos. There's a world of difference, but I can't justify $300 reels anymore. I don't own a $100 reel nowadays, but I'm not fishing 30 hours a week anymore either.
 

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grip master
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If you are used to holding your rod in your right hand get left handed reel.
Academy Sports and Outdoors.....Ardent Apex Elite L Hand only is on sale for $55. Sells for $179 most places.
Excellent reel. High reviews, love mine, and paid $180. Bought another yesterday. weighs only 5.9 oz.
Rod....Tackle Wharehouse..Ark, Lancer Pro, $79. Less than 4 oz. You will have a 1st class outfit, for $135.
Will fish like a $400 combo, trust me, I'm using them,
You will have to spend a lot of money to find another combo that weighs in ay 10 oz.
 

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As you can see, a question like this is going to get a lot of different opinions. Bait casting reels are really not that difficult to learn to use, but IMO, your not having someone you can turn to to give you casting and reel set up pointers is going to play a role in reel choice.Personally, and this is only because you have no one to help with reel set up, I would suggest a reel with magnetic cast control. They're easier to set up, and learn with. I can't really suggest a specific reel to look at though. I use all Shimano reels and none of their bait casting reels have magnetic cast control.

The absolute easiest reel to learn to cast would be a Shimano DC bait casting reel. It has a computer built in that applies braking force based on spool speed. You choose a setting and the reel adjusts the amount of braking based on that setting, but the least expensive model with that technology is $190 plus tax. You can find Youtube videos on how to set up other Shimano reels, and if you would be comfortable going that route, the Shimano SLX MGL reel that was mentioned above is an awesome little reel. Easy to set up and casts extremely well. I have one on my jerkbait rod and it will cast light baits just as well as heavier ones.

The Curado K mentioned above are also awesome reels. I have several of those as well. I would not suggest getting an 8.5:1 ratio if you are looking for an all around reel though. I just think it's too high for more water resistant baits like larger spinner baits or crankbaits. It's a great ratio for fishing Texas rigs or topwater though. 6.3:1 is IMO a much better choice for an all around gear ratio.

As far as rod power goes, your main concern as a first time bait cast user should be to get a rod that will load with the weight of baits you'll be throwing. MH is a great all around power for a rod, but I personally wouldn't choose that as my first bait casting rod. I would go with a medium power. I just think it's a better choice to learn with.

Anyhow ..... good luck in your search, Be patient in your learning because bait casters are much better when using moving baits than spinning gear, and I think they're more versatile.
 

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First of all make sure you actually need a baitcaster, don't get one just because cool guys in $60,000 boats use them. Gary Yamamoto wins tournaments with a spinning rod. The only reason to get a baitcaster is to use it as a heavy power rod for throwing heavy baits and heavy Texas rigs into thick cover. If you get a baitcaster thats not at least a Medium heavy then your wasting your time and money just use a spinning rod. That being said, if you need a baitcaster this setup below is right below $200. DO NOT buy a cheap reel, this reel is really good for the money and is all you need.

Berkley Lighting rod 7 foot Medium Heavy. Shimano SLX150XG 7:3:1 gear ratio. 40-65 pound power pro braid to a 10-14 pound fluorocarbon leader.
 

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I saw the post above about the Ardent reel and decided to try it. Seemed like a good deal. I got it in the mail yesterday and strung it up today. Thumb bar wouldn't release like it should. So I took it apart figuring it was just over greased. It has bad clutch springs and a bad bearing. So I would be very wary of those reels. The ark rods are the bees knees for the money though.
 

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grip master
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Wow...That is un fortunate. I have 3 and love em...Here is what you do.
Call...or E-mail....Tim Thompson, Quality Warranty Manager for Ardent Reels.
[email protected] You will have a new reel in a matter of a few days,
and will send a return label with it... For certain.
Read reviews on that real.....Very high makes!
 

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grip master
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If you got the one I described....It shipped directly from Ardent in Missouri.
Look at label on box. Academy didnt touch it. Ain't sure how that works.
But for $55 you got the deal of the century...I went back to the same site
to get more, and today they are $200...Take a look
 

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grip master
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Oh Ya, meant to say....About 3 years ago I got one with that problem. Easy fix, but Tim Thompson
told me to just send it back. You will be impressed with that reel, and the service. I can guarantee.
Tell him you are a friend of Mark from REELGRIP
 

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Thanks, I appreciate that!! It was only going to serve as a temporary reel anyway and I think I have spare parts laying around to fix it. So I'll go that route. As far as the OP's question goes though, I'd start with as nice of a setup as possible. Spend most of the money on the reel if your not familiar with baitcasters. You take your chances with off brands. I'm not a name brand only kinda person, unless that's where the quality is. But believe me, I like finding hidden gems too. Daiwa and shimano set the standards and for good reason, those should be you're first picks. After that lews, then abu and or okuma. You really can't go wrong with either daiwa or shimano though. Yeah thier gonna have lemons too, but not like the others. Plus thier braking systems are much better than the rest, with shimanos being a little more finicky than daiwa's. There is a huge difference in lower end equipment vs higher though. Anyone that says different doesn't know any better. You simply won't have as good of an experience with cheaper equipment. Good luck!!
 

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grip master
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Thanks, I appreciate that!! It was only going to serve as a temporary reel anyway and I think I have spare parts laying around to fix it. So I'll go that route. As far as the OP's question goes though, I'd start with as nice of a setup as possible. Spend most of the money on the reel if your not familiar with baitcasters. You take your chances with off brands. I'm not a name brand only kinda person, unless that's where the quality is. But believe me, I like finding hidden gems too. Daiwa and shimano set the standards and for good reason, those should be you're first picks. After that lews, then abu and or okuma. You really can't go wrong with either daiwa or shimano though. Yeah thier gonna have lemons too, but not like the others. Plus thier braking systems are much better than the rest, with shimanos being a little more finicky than daiwa's. There is a huge difference in lower end equipment vs higher though. Anyone that says different doesn't know any better. You simply won't have as good of an experience with cheaper equipment. Good luck!!
Buy nice or buy twice.
 
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