The Best Bait Runner Reel

One of the most important innovations in carp fishing, the baitrunner reel is a relatively new development, and one that adds to the excitement of angling.

Designed to allow for extra versatility, a bait runner reel uses an extra clutch function that is not usually found on other reels. This allows for extra line to be released and flow freely from the reel when needed, yet the action is reversible with a simple flick of a switch.

The modern angler uses a baitrunner reel to great effect, and they allow for efficient set-up of the rods so that catches are made easier, and if you haven’t tried using one yet you will certainly find it an essential part of your kit when you do!

We had a look at some of the best baitrunner reels available, so here’s our selection with some details and information.

Our Selections

1: Carp-Corner Baitrunner Reel x 2


The first choice on our list is an excellent package from Carp-Corner, a known brand with some great gear at sensible prices. You get two reels with this deal, at a price that cannot be overlooked, and they are decent-quality reels that will do the job without any problems whatsoever. These reels are the usual twin-handled baitrunner design, can be set as left or right-handed, are light and durable and come with excellent credentials.

The action is smooth and easy to use, so you won’t have any trouble handling them, and these are size 40 reels so are suitable for all users. To give you an idea, the line capacity is around 350yds for 12lb line (210yds for 20lb) which is perfectly adequate. Each comes with a spare graphite spool, they are very nicely engineered, and we really can’t fault this twin-pack as it is an excellent buy – think father and son fishing together, and you can’t go wrong!

Key Features – twin pack, reversible handles, easy to use, quality, good capacity

2: John Wilson Rovex NI 5000


From the Masterline brand comes this excellent baitrunner wheel, the John Wilson NI5000. It is undeniably beautifully made, has some excellent features, and at the price is well worth having a closer look at. This one comes with a very durable stainless steel shaft for added performance. It is nicely finished in a silver colour, and the action is akin to the usual free-spool reel, with twin handles and nice gearing.

The bearings are from three ball-bearings so you get a very smooth action, it has a capacity of around 200yds of 20lb line – more the useful for handy and exciting carp fishing – and it can be switched from left to right handed. An aluminium spool and brass pinion gear are other features, and all in all it is a very good reel for the type. Some people may prefer lighter versions, perhaps the carbon models, but at the price this is a very nice reel that is well worth looking at.

Key Features – steel, aluminium and brass construction, smooth action, 3 bearings]

3: Shakespeare Beta Freespool


There are few bigger brands in the world of angling than Shakespeare. This very well-known and respected brand, which offers a massive range of great fishing gear at sensible prices, likes to offer gear that is not only good for the expert, but also suitable for those with little experience. This free-spool baitrunner reel is no exception, and it is a very good choice for anyone looking for a well-priced reel with great performance.

It offers all the usual baitrunner attributes, is a size 40 reel with a very light graphite body and spool, and comes ready loaded with quality 14lb-rated mono, so you are ready to fit it and go. It’s easy to use with a nice action and smooth bearings, is very simple to handle and will be a sensible choice for a beginner. We can recommend this one easily, and when you check the price you will be amazed.

Key Features – brand, lightweight, carbon reel, very good price, ready-loaded

4: Shimano Baitrunner ST


We had to include at least one from Shimano, as this massive brand in fact invented the baitrunner concept and name. This model is a typically high quality one – in fact, it’s one from a range of different sizes and versions of the same reel – and comes with excellent customer reviews and some brilliant credentials. It’s well made, superbly engineered and for a top-quality item, perhaps the very best here, it’s a decent price.

It’s a double-handle, five-bearing design – the action is superbly smooth and very impressive – which can be left or right-handed, and among the range are a choice of different sizes. The recommended model, according to users, is the 6000, so check that one out for the best options. Its very light, very easy to use, and while aimed at experienced anglers would be perfect for a novice and won’t need upgrading for a while. If you want the best, this could well be it.

Key Features – the original, top brand, 5-bearing, wide choice, excellent quality

5: NGT Camo 40 2-pack


The last one on the list is from another giant of the fishing gear world, NGT, and it’s another two-pack. With this one, you get a pair of size 40 NGT reels, but that’s not all. Each also comes with its own bag, they are superbly engineered, and they offer the quality you would expect from this brand. It’s a great deal, and one that will appeal to the experienced angler looking to get his son or daughter – or a friend – into the sport, or to someone who needs a spare reel for convenience.

With a graphite body and the usual twin-handle system – switchable between left and right – and a nice gear and action, this is a great reel that offers excellent performance. It doesn’t have the greatest capacity – an example is 120yds of 12lb line – but is adequate for everyday use, but they do come loaded with 12lb line and with spare spools. We think that, at this price, this package is going to be very difficult to beat.

Key Features – NGT brand, carbon body, twin pack, reel bags included

That’s our selection of the best baitrunner reels on the market, but which is for you? There’s plenty of choice here, and as we think we’ve covered all the features to look for – weight, line capacity and action – and all offer everything you need, we’ll get straight down to business with our recommendations!

Our Choice

There is a stand-out model among our list, and unsurprisingly it is from the brand that began the baitrunner era, Shimano. Their offering is exceptional quality, and its development can be traced directly back to the original model.

However, we can’t help feeling that, in terms of value for money, the NGT package – the final entry on the list – is perhaps a better choice. You get two top quality baitrunner reels, complete with line and very nice reel bags, at what can only be described as a truly excellent price, so we recommend you check that one out before you make your decision

We hope this review has helped you find the reel you need, and happy fishing!

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