What is the Best Musky Reel for the Money – Top Picks of 2021

Fishing is often enjoyable and exciting especially if you are catching a musky. This musky fishing thing is increasing in popularity in North America. Don’t blame the fish, but yes, it is sneaky, fast, and is the apex predator of its ecosystem.

Catching musky fish requires sophisticated gear, and they are specially designed which are different from conventional reels. Herein, the best musky reel must meet all pre-requisites so that it will catch the fish without any difficulties.

This elusive fish is sneaky, can outsmart you, and is difficult to catch. That is why it was once known as ‘fish of 10,000 casts.’ But not anymore. With the advanced era, you can pick them in a shorter period.

What is a Musky?

A muskellunge often abbreviated as musky or muskie is a freshwater fish native to rivers and lakes of North America. It has an elongated body and closely resembles with the pikes and pickerels.

The fish is known for its ambush hunting and can form small colonies as well. These colonies hunt bigger fishes in packs (gregarious). There is no natural predator (except human) in their habitat, and hence it is the apex predator.

They eat all type of fish and can be cannibalistic too. These fishes are found in most lakes with moderate or low trophic state index (TSI), larger rivers, great lakes region of North America, upper Mississippi valley, and also in Hudson basin.

Muskies usually spawn in mid to late spring and in shallow waters where the vegetation is abundant. You can catch them in any season but spring season is best as they typically lower their metabolic rate and can be captured with smaller baits.

How to Target a Musky?

Catching a musky isn’t a simple reel-in and reel-out procedure. There are plenty of factors you must consider before targeting it. A careful plan and execution will be fruitful since you are not catching a simple random group of fish.

Before you execute your project, you must select the water body in which you are about to fish. Since these fishes are cold water fishes, you can find them in north water bodies that have more freezing temperatures.

Not all locations in a water body can be ideal. Within the water body, select a place where the temperature meets the migratory patterns of the fish.

Depending on the water temperature, season, and migration, you can target the fish under the following zones:

  • Early Spring

Shallowest parts of the lake or river where the temperature ranges from 40 to 50 F (7 -12 C). Look for deeper zones if the temperatures reach mid 50’s F and further deeper such as weed beds, submerged rocks when the temperature is 70 F or above.

  • Autumn Season

The temperature will be 50 to 60 F (10 to 12 C). Look for shallow waters where the prey for the musky are abundant.

  • Winter Season

When the temperature is below zero, seek for deeper zones. It is in this time their metabolic rate is low, and you can quickly catch larger and a higher number of fishes.

Finally, you have to select an ideal time to catch these tricksters. In spring and late fall, muskies are active during the warmest hours, i.e., when the sun is overhead. Whereas in summers, you will find them active in dawn and dusk hours.

These predators have sharp vision and acute sense to vibrations in the water. Make sure you provide such an environment so that you can trick them with food and lure them.

Best Musky Reels in 2021

Now that you know about muskies, their habitat, and the availability in different seasons, let us know about some of the musky reels to catch these feisty predators.

Having the right equipment is an essential factor for musky fishing. No doubt, the best musky reel for the money will offer you the class performance to catch these sneaky predators.


1. Okuma Coldwater - Best Low Profile Reel

Okuma Coldwater Low Profile

Our first pick in the list of musky reels is the Okuma coldwater low profile line counter reel. The reel is modern, elegant and quite sophisticated. Its shape perfectly fits in your hand and gives a great feeling of comfort.

The 350-line spool will stretch up to 150 yards. The aluminum frame is die-casted which is centered and holds a braided line of 65 pounds which is more than enough for you to catch muskies as well as salmons.

Its bar spool is available at all times for casting easily. The thumb bar spool helps in minimizing the drift. The Okuma Coldwater 350 will enhance the fisheries through their mechanical line-counter to their low-profile baitcasting reel.

It has a gear ratio of 5:4:1 and has a maximum of 25-pound drag. Its precision fishing line-counter is designed for near exact trolling presentations.

Okuma offers both left and right-handed version of reels. The multi-disc carbonated drag system makes it one of the best musky reel available in the market.

Other features include a die-cast made of rigid aluminum along with handle plate, carbonite system with multi discs, pinion gears which are oversized and machine cut, aluminum handle which is balanced with knobs, and double toned anodized spool.

Powered grip handle will allow you to take on any kind of musky or salmon from oceans, rivers, and lakes. It has advance line counter technology which measures the distance (depth in feet). Their viewing technology known as Clear View, enables anti-fogging for clear vision.

The build quality, use of advanced materials, long life-span will motivate you for off-shore and on-shore fishing. Okuma Coldwater reel is designed to catch a wide variety of fishes such as tuna, salmon, musky, bass, pike, and other heavy fishes.


  • Lightweight reel
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Can be used for both salt and fresh water fishing
  • Advanced design with long-lasting materials
  • 3BB + 1RB stainless steel ball bearings
  • Designed for right and left-handed use
  • Smooth casting
  • 25-pound max drag


  • Slight friction while casting
  • Requires extra lubrication


2. Shimano Corvalus - Best Freshwater Reel

Shimano Corvalus

Shimano Corvalus is probably one of the leading tools in baitcasting and fishing industry. It is designed to use both in salt water and fresh water. Built with one-piece die-casting aluminum, it is designed to withstand the drag even from the most robust fish out there.

TheCorvalus consists of Super Stopper anti-reverse for solid hooksets. Along with the stopper, it has a variable braking system for easy casting. It also helps to operate in different situations.

Additionally, the super stopper will help in eliminating the back play which provides the angler with instant hook setting power.

The line capacity is long enough to use for trolling and saltwater applications. It is one of the few baitcasters that offer great price to quality value. Furthermore, the components are made of high-quality materials and will last for an extended period.

Shimano Corvalus comes in four different models, i.e., CVL300, CVL301, CVL400, and CVL401. All the models have the same 5:2:1 gear ration and same 11 pounds max drag. They also have similar bearings: 3BB + 1RB.

The units differ in their power cap, monoline cap, weight, and which hand they are designed to fit (left or right-handed operation). The CVL301 and 401 are left handed while the CVL300 and 400 are right-handed devices.

Accordingly,the CVL300 and 301 models weigh 10.9 oz while the CVL400 and 401 weigh 11.8 oz. There is no considerable difference in the weight, but professional users will feel it. The 400 and 401 models have a clicker while the others two doesn’t.


  • One-piece diecast aluminum frame
  • Variable braking system (VBS)
  • Super stopper with assist stopper
  • Ability to use in fresh and salt water
  • Available in four different models
  • High cost to quality value
  • Great baitcasting reel if you want to buy under $100


  • Only 11 pounds drag capacity
  • The line may break in the middle of a fight


3. Daiwa Saltist Levelwind Reel - Best Cheap Casting Reel

Daiwa Saltist Levelwind Reel

A reel which is known to have a robust performance with a simplistic design is the Daiwa Saltist level wind reel. The precision balanced reels are designed for fishing in salt water, fresh water, and coastal fishing.

Daiwa has incorporated an ultimate tournament carbon drag with 20 pounds max drag capacity. The entire unit is made of a one-piece aluminum frame.

It has an automatic clutch which is best suited for fishing larger fishes such as catfish and musky. The name H-C in the reel is the abbreviated form for ‘Helical – Cut.’

H-C gears enable smooth spooling (winding) with maximum power. The ball bearings of the reel are corrosion resistant and will last 12 times longer than the standard bearings.

The balanced power handle and soft touch knob provide great leverage to crank down bigger fishes. It has anodized finishing to give a premium look and feel while handling.

Daiwa Saltist H-C has four CRBB bearings along with a roller bearing. Infinite Anti-reverse enables you to have smooth spooling while preventing back play. The reel also has an extra loud spool click.

With a gear ratio of 6:1:1, it has all the strength and rigidity to haul bigger fishes from both salt and fresh water.The auto-engaging clutch and quick spool make it one of ideal baitcasting reel for indoor fishing. It weighs 18.3 oz which is super lightweight and offers heavy-duty functionality.


  • Helical-cut (HC) gears
  • Automatic clutch engagement
  • 6:1:1 gear ratio
  • Ultimate Tournament carbon drag with 20 pounds drag capacity
  • One-piece aluminum frame
  • Lightweight with heavy-duty performance
  • Infinite anti-reverse
  • Suitable for saltwater and freshwater fishing
  • Long lasting corrosion resistant bearings


  • The spool can be noisy at times


4. Okuma Komodo SS - Best Low Profile Baitcast Reel

Okuma Komodo SS

If your need is to have a baitcasting reel that is versatile and has a wide range of options, then Okuma Komodo is for you. This low profile baitcaster has different models with varying drag capacity and reel length.

For ultimate power and strength, the baitcaster is made of stainless steel. The drive and pool shaft are also made of industrial grade steel. All materials are corrosion resistant and will last for years.

The multidisc high output carbonite drag system can have drag capacity as much as 30lbs. It has precision cut metal pinion gear which will help in free spooling and superior strength.

Around the superior foundations of the Okuma Komodo, it has premium components such as a rigid spool and side plates made of aluminum, and a velocity control system.

Another outstanding feature is the presence of synchronized level wind system which does not disengage for casting. This features always maintains alignment with a line as it comes off the spool while fishing braided lines.

Okuma maximizes the reel with the incorporation of Zirconium line guide inserts for use with braided lines. This system also helps in preventing the drag pressure.

The various models of Okuma Komodo include KDS364, KDS-463, KDS-471, KDS-364P, KDS-463P, KDS-471P, KDS-364LX, KDS-463LX, KDS-463PLX.

All models differ in gear ratios, weight, max drag, and line capacity. Bait clicker is standard in all models. Other significant features of these reels are a micro-click drag star system, dual anti-reverse, on and off clicker, quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing.


  • A wide variety of models
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Dual anti-reverse system
  • Bait clicker on all models
  • Quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing
  • Zirconium guided lines
  • Dual anti-reverse system
  • A micro-click drag star system
  • Different gear rations, drag and line capacities for catching different types of fishes


  • Spooling is noisy
  • You need to buy a specific model to catch a particular fish which means there is no single baitcaster which is suitable for most types of fishing


5. Daiwa Lexa - Best Conventional Reel for the Money

Daiwa Lexa

The final product in our list of baitcasters is the Daiwa Lexa high capacity low profile baitcasting reel. It features a high strength, durable, and superior ergonomics which every fishing enthusiast needs.

The attractive feature of this reel is the presence of hyper speed power handle. You can cast the reel fast and efficiently. There are seven bearings (2 Corrosion Resistant Ball Bearings, 4Ball Bearings, and 1Roller Bearing) which offer you superior control of the reel.

All the bearings are resistant to rust and corrosion. It offers you a very large line-capacity along with superb drag capacity. Its infinite anti-reverse system offers you smooth spooling and drag resistance.

A robust five-point drive train system ensures positive and hassle-free operation. Other notable features include 7:1:1 gear ratio, precision balance free-floating aluminum spool, hyper speed retrieve, and Magforce cast control.

The reel is compatible with most Lexa rods. The swept handle with weight reducing cutouts along with hyper speed power offers you optimal performance with excellent control during casting.

As for dragging, the max drag capacity of this reel is 22 lbs. You can use as much as 50-80 pounds braided line with this reel. The reel has standard pool tension adjustment and a separate adjustable magnetic backlash control.


  • Hyperspeed power handle
  • Magforce cast control
  • Infinite anti-reverse
  • 7:1:1 gear ratio
  • Rust and corrosion resistance
  • A five-point drive train system
  • Compatible with all Lexa rods
  • Superior balance with the help of swept handle with weight reducing cutouts


  • No paddle handle option (variant)

How to Choose Musky Reel?

Before you choose a musky reel, it is essential to understand the various components and metrics of them. No two reels are the same, and the selection also depends on the user skill (pro or amateur).

Know that baitcasting reels are used by professionals while spinning reels are suitable for hobbyists or amateurs. Spinning reels are relatively easy and do not require much knowledge to use.

Let us look into some other crucial factors that must be considered before buying a musky reel.

Right or Left

The most important thing you must consider is the hand of operation the reel supports. A reel must suit your dominant hand, or it will be a waste of money no matter how good the features are.

Most of the companies offer both versions, i.e., right-hand and left-hand operated musky reels. Note that the dominant hand operation means that you will cast with your non-dominant hand and reel with the dominant hand.

For example, if you are using a right-handed reel, you will cast with a left hand but reel it with a right hand. Right-handed reels are most conventional reels, but nowadays, left-handed reels are also climbing high in the market.

Gears & Gear Ratio

The gears of most of the reels are made of brass. However, stainless steel gears are more durable than brass. But it does not indicate that the brass gears are of poor quality. The functionality of the reels predominantly depends on the bearings it has.

So, the material with which the gears are made of isn’t a buying factor. But you must understand the gear ratio. The gear ratio determines the number of rotations of the spool per single turn of the reel.

If the gear ration indicates 5:1:1, it means the spool rotates five times in a single turn. So, the first number in the gear ratio shows the number of rotations of the spool; lesser the number, slower the spooling.

But slower gear ratios provide enormous torque which means you invest less energy in reviving your catch. Nonetheless, the best gear ratio for musky real will range between 5:1 to 5:7.

Line Weight

The average weight of musky will range between 20 to 30 pounds. Muskies grow in mass as they grow in length, a typical feature to these fishes.

Your reel must be able to retrieve as high as 80 pounds. Don’t be confused that similar weight of fish and line will be ideal to reel in the musky. If a musky weighs around 25 pounds, the line weight can be as high as 65 pounds.

It is ideal to have 80 pounds line weight or else the line may crank or even break.

Durability or Longevity

Since the components you are using are exposed to water, the reels must be resistant to rust and corrosion. They must also bear the weight or force of the fish without breaking or cranking.

Select a reel that is made of durable materials such as aluminum and stainless steel. Both these materials offer great performance and are resistant to rust and corrosion.

Final Thoughts - Now It's Your Turn

Musky fishing is an exciting sport, and it can turn into addiction. Selecting the best musky reel for the money will enhance your fishing experience. No matter whichever you choose from our list, you will not be disappointed.

Some musky reels are suitable for advanced users while some are designed for amateurs and selecting one is purely a personal choice.

Choose the most suitable one to get your prized fish, the musky now.

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Glen Jensen

This is Glen Jensen founder of Fisher Picks. I started this blog to provide guide and reviews of best fishing & outdoor products.

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