Musky is short for muskellunge, and it is a special kind of fish that exists in freshwater. It is usually found in North America. They spawn sometime between mid and late spring. You don’t have to search for them very deep down the water, just check for them in a not-very-deep area that has a lot of vegetation.
Musky fishing is exhilarating because the fish simply do not surrender. They demand a real fighter on the other end of the rod. Musky is the strongest and hardest fish to catch. So you need to have some gear that is even stronger than the fish.
Musky fish need a particular reel because they have distinctive characteristics. Their unbelievable strength requires a reel that can use a heavy line without tiring you. For example, even though they weigh around 20 to 30 pounds, they can put up a fight that requires a reel that takes up to 80 pounds of force. I am telling you, they are called “the fish of 10,000 casts” for a sound reason.
Since the reel is a critical factor in determining whether you will have an exciting and fruitful trip with musky fishing or not, we have made you a list of the best musky reels on the market. You will also find some vital information and the frequently asked questions, allowing you to be perfectly armored against your tough opponent.
List of the Best Musky Reel:
- Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast – Best Musky Baitcasting Reel
- Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile – Best Musky Rod and Reel Combo
- Abu Garcia C3 Musky Reel – Best Musky Reel with a Carbon Matrix drag system
- KastKing Rover Round – Best Budget-Friendly Musky Reel for Beginners
- Okuma Komodo SS – Most Durable Musky Reel
- SHIMANO TRANX 500 – Best Water-Resistant Musky Reel
- Okuma Coldwater 350 – Best Musky Spinning Reel
Our Top Picks:
|POC||Type||Reel Material||Gear Ratio||Ball Bearing||Maximum Drag|
|Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast||Baitcasting||Alloy||4.9:1 and 6.2:1||7+1||25 lbs.|
|Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile||Baitcasting||Brass & aluminum||6.4:1||5+1||18 lbs.|
|Abu Garcia C3 Musky Reel||Baitcasting||–||5.3:1||3+1||15 lbs.|
|KastKing Rover Round||Baitcasting||Hard anodized aluminum||5.3:1||6+1||30 lbs.|
|Okuma Komodo SS||Baitcasting||Stainless steel||6.3:1||7+1||30 lbs.|
|SHIMANO TRANX 500||Baitcasting||Hegane||4.6:1||7+1||25 lbs.|
|Okuma Coldwater 350||Spinning||Aluminum||5.4:1||3+1||25 lbs.|
The 7 Best Musky Reels in 2021
1. Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast – Best Musky Baitcasting Reel
Its name speaks for it as it really is a beast when it comes to catching tough fish. Its 7 stainless steel HPCR bearings and 1 roller bearing offer it durability, strength as well as ensure smooth retrieval.
Moreover, its Power Stack Carbon Matrix drag system that resists up to 25 pounds increases the smoothness by which you will retrieve. Furthermore, it gives the reel power like no other.
Since you will be fighting against fish that does not rest, you must have a comfortable handle. The large handle of Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast comes with EVA knobs placed on it. Such knobs allow you to get every torque you can get. Moreover, it has a high line capacity, which makes it suitable for hard fights.
This baitcasting reel comes in two sizes (50 and 60) and two different gear ratios (4.9:1 and 6.2:1.)
Do you think that this is all it has got to offer? Not yet. It also has InfiniMax dual braking system that provides excellent adjustability.
Are you left-handed or right-handed? It doesn’t matter because this excellent reel for musky fishing is suitable for all.
However, it falls on the expensive side of the market and features no clicker.
- Suitable for left and right-handed
- Strong and durable
- 25-pound maximum drag
- High line capacity
- No clicker
You will have fun while fishing for musky with this durable and robust baitcasting reel. It is definitely up to the game with its maximum drag, and high line capacity.
2. Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile – Best Musky Rod and Reel Combo
Let’s discuss this excellent combo. For starters, its power disc drag that resists up to 18 pounds and has a star-shaped adjustment knob ensures that you can catch pretty big fish like musky.
Moreover, it features a machined aluminum spool with an excellent line capacity, given that it takes 12/145 mono, and 30/140 braided. Besides, it features a dependable brake that does not lock whenever you experience a backlash.
As for smoothness, I assure you that it offers a pretty smooth retrieval thanks to its 5+1 stainless steel ball bearings.
The reel is quite impressive, no? Now, let’s move onto the rod. It is made of 24-ton graphite, so we can rest assured that it is durable and lasts for some years. Also, its medium-heavy power and 7-feet length make it suitable for fighting musky and other large fish successfully.
Besides, it is so sensitive, so you will feel the lightest of bites on its other end, even if you are not entirely focused. Moreover, since your comfort is essential to Abu Garcia, they have made you a Winn polymer handle, which helps you hold the rod for as long as you need.
Also, the handle has a compact design to prevent your hands from getting close to the reel.
Are you a lefty or a righty? Oh, wait a minute. It doesn’t matter! Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile suits both kinds of people.
- Long rod
- Excellent gear ratio
- Comfortable handle
- Good line capacity
- Smooth retrieval
- Stellar cast control
- May not be suitable for short anglers
Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile is the best musky rod and reel combo for musky fishing thanks to its 7-feet rod, medium-heavy power, smooth retrieval, and big line capacity.
3. Abu Garcia C3 Musky Reel – Best Musky Reel with a Carbon Matrix drag system
This is the third Abu Garcia model on this list. There are a lot of them here for a reason; they are simply very difficult to resist.
If you want precision, smoothness, and accuracy in one reel, Abu Garcia C3 Musky Reel is there for you.
Its 3+1 ball bearings offer maximum smoothness and absolutely no grind on retrieval. Moreover, the synchronized level wind system provides an even line lay and allows you to retrieve effortlessly. As for its Carbon Matrix drag system, it resists up to 15 pounds and offers consistent and smooth drag.
The reason why this baitcasting reel is very precise is its 6 pin centrifugal brake that applies consistent pressure and therefore offers accurate casting and superior control.
Abu Garcia C3 Musky Reel knows how to take on feisty fish with its even reeling action, power knob, and extended bent cranking handle.
With a gear ratio of 5.1:1, this is suitable for musky fishing. Moreover, it offers many models with different extended spool capacities. It also takes a mono and braided line.
Besides, it offers some models that are suitable for right-handed people, and others that suit the lefties.
Its drawback is that some models are not as good as the others. So, pay close attention to the details of each model before choosing one.
- Suitable gear ratio
- Extended spool capacity
- Suitable for left and right-handed people
- Carbon Matrix drag system
- Different models have different quality
Abu Garcia C3 Musky Reel offers smoothness, precision, and strength. This is precisely what you need when your target is the strong musky fish.
4. KastKing Rover Round – Best Budget-Friendly Musky Reel for Beginners
If you are a beginner who wants to buy a baitcasting reel to catch musky, this is the right one for you. It is durable thanks to having 6 stainless steel ball bearings, CNC machined spool, and anodized aluminum side plates. Besides all of this, it is still very lightweight and, therefore, easy to use.
We can also attribute its ease of use to having an oversized T handle and nonslip EVA grips. Moreover, it features a 2-pin centrifugal brake, which makes it great for casting.
It is also pretty versatile because you can use it in saltwater and freshwater. You can also use it for trolling, bottom fishing, or any other fishing technique.
It has a gear ratio of 5.3:1 and a maximum drag of 30 pounds, which allows it to get into fights and win with ease.
All of this comes at a pretty low price.
As much as this is an awesome reel for beginners, I would not advise an avid angler to get it.
- Great introductory reel
- 30-pound maximum drag
- Not suitable for professionals
For an inexperienced angler or a beginner, KastKing Rover Round is a perfect choice that won’t break the bank. Its ease of use, durability, and lightweight is an excellent mix for new learners.
5. Okuma Komodo SS – Most Durable Musky Reel
If you are wondering what SS stands for, I am glad to tell you that it stands for stainless steel because the whole reel is made out of that metal. Do I still need to say how strong and durable the Okuma Komodo SS is? I think you have already figured this out.
In addition, its multi-disc Carbonite maximum drag resists up to 30 pounds, which is a lot given that this is a low-profile baitcaster musky reel. Moreover, it offers fast retrieval with its 6.3:1 gear ratio.
Beides you can safely store the reel for seasonal usage thanks to having a stainless steel gear that has CRC protection, making it rust-resistant. Also, there are two sizes (350 and 450), and both offer right and left hand retrieve.
Last but not least, it offers On/Off Clicker and allows you to choose between having a power handle or a paddle handle depending on your preference.
- Dual anti-reverse
- Rust and corrosion-resistant
- Three-year limited warranty
- Left and right-hand retrieve
- No power cranking handle
This is a beginner-friendly reel that is also suitable for avid anglers. Its stainless steel body along its maximum drag and fast retrieve have allowed it to make its way very easily to our list.
6. SHIMANO TRANX 500 – Best Water-Resistant Musky Reel
Dare to catch the toughest fish and win the fight? SHIMANO TRANX 500 is the perfect armor you can wear against musky fish. Its X-ship and heg technologies and the 7+1 ball bearings allow for smooth retrieval. It is also suitable for throwing the big baits that large fish are looking for.
Moreover, its 4.6:1 gear ratio offers smooth retrieve without demanding you to exert any effort in return. It can also resist up to 25 pounds with its excellent drag system. Also, its power pro line capacity is up to 420 yards.
SHIMANO TRANX 500 withstands harsh conditions thanks to being water-resistant. It provides unprecedented performance no matter the circumstances you use it in. Besides, its hagane construction makes it very durable.
Unlike most of the baitcasting reels that have the common magnetic braking system, this one features the VBS braking system, making its casting pretty awesome. This system means that it uses centrifugal force instead of magnets. The centrifugal force lets it apply more pressure when you start casting, and so decreases the probability of backlashes.
- Smooth retrieval
- VBS braking system
- Massive cranking power
If you are willing to pay a considerable sum of money for a musky reel, you won’t be disappointed if you choose SHIMANO TRANX 500.
7. Okuma Coldwater 350 – Best Musky Spinning Reel
Like KastKing Rover Round, this is a durable yet lightweight reel thanks to its die-cast aluminum frame, handle, and side plate. Just as KastKing Rover Round is the best baitcasting reel for beginners, Okuma Coldwater 350 is the best beginners spinning reel.
It has an ergonomic design and body that lets it fit comfortably into your hands. Moreover, it features an aluminum handle arm that has ergonomic grip knobs.
It works smoothly thanks to its 3+1 stainless steel ball bearings. Moreover, its Carbonite drag system that resists up to 25 pounds and 5.4:1 gear ratio allows it to be sturdy enough to take on tough fish that love the fight. However, some complaints are saying that the drag does not work as one would hope.
Besides, it houses a high-capacity 350 size spool, so the line won’t give up on you while you are fighting musky. It will also suit you whether you are a righty or a lefty.
- High-capacity spool
- Durable and lightweight
- Weak drag system
If you need a Spinning reel that is suitable for beginners for those who are not experienced enough, this is the one for you. It is durable and sturdy enough to fight musky; however, there are some complaints concerning the drag.
How to Pick a Reel for Musky Fishing
1. Right-handed or Left-handed
Since most musky reels are baitcast reels, you can’t choose on which side your handle lies, given that they are fixed in one place. So, you must make sure you get a reel that is suitable for you. You should note that you will reel with your dominant hand and cast it with the other one. I advise you to hold the reel in your hand before buying it to make sure that it is comfortable.
2. Gear Ratio
The gear ratio indicates how many times the spool turns per one turn of the reel. It tells you how quickly you will be able to move your line. For Musky fishing, a suitable gear ratio would be anything starting from 5:1
Also, make sure that the gear is made out of durable material like stainless steel or brass, so they don’t break.
3. Line Weight
Since musky is a feisty fish, you need a strong line that withstands its fights and doesn’t break. On average, musky weights between 20 to 30 pounds, but the line must be able to take at least 80 pounds of force.
It is also advisable to use a braided line instead of a mono because the former doesn’t stretch.
4. Line Capacity
The line capacity is as important as its weight. Imagine running out of line at a critical moment, how frustrating would it be?
Try to have a spool with at least 150 yards to rest assured that you will always have enough line.
5. Spinning vs. Baitcasting
Ultralight spinning reels and baitcasting reels can be used for musky fishing. However, as we already know, spinning reels are more suitable for beginners. On the other hand, baitcasting reels are the ones that can handle tough fish like musky.
6. Ball Bearings
The ball bearings are responsible for the smoothness of the retrieval. It is essential to know that the material of the ball bearing is way more important than their number. They mostly come in stainless steel, which is quite durable regardless of how cheap it is. However, the thing we don’t like about it is that it corrodes when it faces saltwater.
For this reason, the lightweight solid ceramic has made an appearance. They are more expensive than the former material; however, they do not corrode as fast as stainless steel ones.
Your reel must be able to withstand all kinds of weather. Most importantly, it must be corrosion-resistant so as not to be destroyed by saltwater. For this reason, you better get one made of stainless steel or aluminum. However, since you are targeting musky, that means that you will only use it in freshwater. Still, if you want to use the reel for more than musky fishing, make sure that its material withstands saltwater.
Now that you have everything you have, you should also check out these practical tips for catching muskies that will definitely help you catch the trophy musky you are looking for.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is Musky Hard to Catch?
If you ask professionals about musky, they will tell you that it is known as “the fish of ten thousand casts.” This is not literally correct, but it pretty much answers the question. Want to have better luck next time? Make sure to check out my guide on catching muskies more easily here.
How Long Should a Musky Rod Be?
I would generally say between 7.5 feet and 9 feet. If you are going for trolling rods, then they better be on the shorter end of this range. However, if you will use a baitcasting rod, go for ones on the higher end of the range.
Can You Catch Muskie From the Shore?
Yes, you can. However, it is much harder. You Should know that musky use breaklines as travel routes, so you must check the nearest breaklines from the shore and start from there.
I think that you have already found the best musky reel; however, since I know that it is pretty confusing, I will help you more.
Like I have mentioned above, musky fishing requires sturdy gear. In this article, we have reviewed some of the best musky reels on the market nowadays, hoping that you would find what you are searching for.
There is also a wide variety of them. For example, if you are a beginner, you could go for KastKing Rover Round, Okuma Komodo SS, or Okuma Coldwater 350. I recommend KastKing Rover Round for beginners who are still testing waters because it is affordable, so if you find out that you don’t want to fish for musky, you will not cry over the money spent in vain.
The other two are excellent for professionals as well; however, I recommend Okuma Komodo SS over the Okuma Coldwater 350. The reason why I advise you to get away from Okuma Coldwater 350 is that it is a spinning reel. With musky fishing, baitcasting reels are far more suitable than spinning ones. However, if you are a fan of spinning reels, it will suit you just fine.
If you do not want to go through the fuss of pairing a rod with your reel, you can buy the best rod and reel combo that is Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile.
All the other reels mentioned on our list are just as good. All you need is to see which of them fits your needs the most.