The first time you try to drag a monster grouper out of 700 feet of water you’ll want the best electric fishing reel you can get. Without one, even reeling in to change baits can take several minutes.
Thinking about running a kite fishing setup? Electric reels can be indispensable. They’ll save you a bunch of time getting kites up and down.
This guide will give you all the info you need when selecting an electric fishing reel.
Uses for Electric Reels
There are myriad uses for electric fishing reels. When you have long lengths of fishing line out, it’s a great way to prevent arm strain and saving time. Below are some key uses for Electric reels.
As mentioned above, this is the practice of fishing the deeper spots where many sport fish dwell. This could be as little as 200 feet of water or as much as 2000 depending on where you are in the world. There are whole varieties of monsters waiting to be caught that exist nowhere else.
You drop your line straight down and wait for a creature of the deep to take the opportunity. Fighting even a comparatively small Snowy Grouper can take forever with a conventional reel.
Electric reels speed that up a bit. You don’t get to just leave your rod in the rod holder and let it do the work. You still have to fight and that will still be hard and take a long time. You just have more strength to apply to the rod and leverage without wasting effort cranking.
There are a couple of places that electric reels are used in trolling. Like with deep dropping, trolling can lead to some very long, hard fights.
Marlin, swordfish, and sailfish are all notorious runners. They can exhaust many fishermen who may lack the physical stamina to get them to the boat. This could be the elderly, young people, or just those with a smaller stature. Anglers with disabilities are also prime benefactors of electric fishing reels.
You will still have a fight on your hands, especially with marlin. But you can take your mind off the reel and let it do its job until you need to take over.
When trolling, especially on charter boats, you will often see rigs that have multiple lines on quick releases for each fisherman. When bringing in the whole rig, having an electric reel can save you a whole lot of cranking.
The same is true with kite fishing. You may have three rods on a kite with standard reels but an electric reel to bring in your kite. This just saves time and effort.
These uses are fairly common in some areas where large charters are popular. The idea is to keep your customers happy with baited lines in the water. Any tool you can use to speed up that process is helpful.
Choosing an Electric Reel
Many of the factors that go into choosing a normal reel will also apply to choosing an electric reel. It is a fishing reel after all and will function the same as any reel does. It just has some additional considerations.
For the purposes of selection, we will go with what you would need for deep dropping. This is often the most demanding task these reels will be put to. If they can deep drop, they can do anything you would need them to.
Something often considered when looking at electric reels is exactly how fast they can get line in. Most of them are very fast, at least far faster than you could ever hope to crank. But speed in an electric reel is a double edged sword.
There are times when you want nothing more than to get your line in as fast as possible. Maybe you want to change baits or are using your reel just to retrieve a kite. In these cases, speed is fine and having a lot of it is better.
However, if you are hooked onto a real fighter, torque is often more important. Most of the fighting will still happen with the rod but any extra pull you can get off of your reel will make your life easier.
In addition to that, if you are fishing very deep, the gear you are using is quite heavy. Without the torque to get things moving from 600 feet down, you are going to have to hand crank to get things started.
Like with most considerations, it is a balancing act. Below we talk about gearing and that will have an impact. Without gearing, pay attention the max power and retrieval speed. Look for what works best for your fishing style.
The line of choice for deep dropping is braid. And you will need a lot of it! Any reel you choose you will want as much line as you can get.
The heaviest line usually used in deep dropping is a 200-pound braid but you may not need that heavy a line. How much and what weight you will need depends on where you fish and what you fish for. A minimum of 900 feet(300 yards) is a good starting point with 80-100 pound braid.
Most reels will handle that much in a 100-pound braid but very few will hold 900 feet of 200 pound. For that, you need a very big reel. Match your line size and length to your fishing needs and you should be fine.
The max drag on any reel is important. On an electric reel, it is even more so. Getting your drag set right is one of the most important steps in deep dropping.
If you get your drag too tight you are likely to lose your fish. You have to be attentive to the reel speed and drag settings the whole time whether you are cranking or not.
Depending on your species of choice, drag can be from as low as 40 pounds to as much as 80. Going below 40 is not advisable and more than 80 is overkill. At the depth you are fishing, you need to take your time and let the fish wear itself out.
Some reels will have one gear and one retrieval speed. These are not the best reels to go with. You need some control over the speed and torque of the reel to get the best effect.
A reel with high and low is what you’re looking for. Occasionally you will have a separate speed setting. This is not the same as gearing.
Speed settings are handy to have but you need some way to be able to apply more torque when you need it and only a low and high gear model will do that.
Having a line counter is a saving grace when fishing deep. Judging depth is more difficult than when you are fishing your local rivers and lakes. Having a readout is very handy.
It can also be a nice feature to know how much more you have to go to get the beast to the surface. If you are getting tired in a fight and you can see you have just a little more to go, it can be a nice morale boost.
A somewhat common feature that plays off the line counter is dept memory. This allows you to automatically send your bait back to where it was before you started reeling.
You may also have jigging modes that will do the movement of your bait for you. I have never been a fan of these but some will have them if you want to try it. I personally like to jig but it is harder than you think with 500 feet of line out.
Power and Power Supply
You will need to properly power your reel. Most run off a 12-volt battery but may pull different amps. You need to have hookup for that.
Of course, many people carry a second battery for their reel outside of the boat’s power supply. They just use clips for attachment.
Either way, before you get a reel, make sure you are prepared to give it the juice it needs to run. Otherwise, you just have a very heavy fishing reel.
Best Electric Fishing Reels
Not many manufacturers make electric reels. This limits the market but it limited further because the U.S. is not a large consumer of electric reels. You may have trouble locating some brands, makes, and models.
Those chosen below have been selected for their reputation, reliability, and access. There are others on the market that may do as well but are much harder to get your hands on.
Shimano Beast Master 9000
- Braid Capacity: 50 lb / 1870 Yards – 100 lb / 940 Yards
- Weight: 53.0 oz. or 3.3 Lbs.
- Gear Ratio High: 3.1:1
- Max Drag: 55Lbs.
- Line Per Crank: 35 Inches
Though I find the name just a little silly, the reel is a very good example of what an electric reel should be. This is one of only two models of electric reels offered by Shimano and is the most versatile. It is also the most widely used Shimano electric reel.
I have been a longtime fan of Shimano Reels and this is no different than their manual reels at its core. It has the same durability and quality you would expect from one of the best reel manufacturers in the world.
The drag is right in the middle ground of what you would want from an electric reel at 55 pounds max. Adjustment on the drag is smooth and even. Even the strongest species are likely to wear themselves out on this beast.
And Beasts are what this reel was made for. With a 3.1:1 gear ratio and max winding strength of over 250 pounds, it has plenty of power.
The strength behind that power is a brushless motor that has an incredibly long life with minimal maintenance. This is the apex of technology and made for long-running, hard use. Like those times you need to bring in 400 feet of line with an angry fish on the end.
Line capacity is 940 yards of 100-pound braid. This is plenty for most any fishing you are going to do. You can double that line capacity if you use 50 lb. braid as you would for smaller grouper and snook.
This reel has a digital line counter on an LCD display for the sake of convenience. All in all, this reel is a solid bet and one you could do very well with. It’s hard to beat a Shimano reel.
Daiwa Seaborg 1000MT
- Braid Capacity: 60 lb / 1093 Yards – 100 lb / 656 Yards
- Weight: 3.14 Lbs.
- Gear Ratio High: 2.4:1
- Max Drag: 48.5Lbs.
I am not sure what’s up with the names of electric reels. They sound like something out of cheesy sci-fi. That said, the Daiwa Seaborg is probably the most used electric reel in the U.S. if not the world.
This reel is popular for a reason. It has amazing quality, an overall lightweight, and a ton of power. This may also be one of the easier reels to find as they are commonly sold in the U.S.
It’s very popular with great lakes anglers who fish copper wire on their reels.
Daiwa offers several reels in this line and a sister line. Enough that you could populate this whole list with them and then some. To be fare we will just cover one here, the rest you can explore on your own.
This reel has a ton of drag maxing out at 44 pounds for the largest and strongest fish.
The gear ratio of the Seaborg is a strong 2.4:1 ratio which blends good retrieval speed with a proper amount of low-end torque. The two-speed gears can be adjusted mid-fight between low and high for the perfect amount of play. It has a push button gear shift.
It can retrieve 656 feet of line per minute when is speed mode and automatically downshift to power mode when necessary.
It features an a line counter and automated jigging function.
As for line capacity, it will hold 480 yards of 40 lb. test or 880 yards of 80 lb. test braid.
12 corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings will help it run smooth in salt water.
The motor used on this reel was designed for torque. It is a complete redesign of previous iterations of Daiwa’s motor in an attempt to get the perfect balance. It is brushless for a long life and outstanding durability.
The LCD readout gives you the line count and can easily be used to estimate depths in you are in deep water. It also works great to measure distance on trolling kite rigs.
The sheer number of charter fishermen using this reel can’t be wrong. It is a solid reel with a lot of oomph where you need it.
Banax Kaigen 7000CP
- Braid Capacity: 40 lb / 437 Yards – 100 lb / 218 Yards
- Weight: 27.8 oz.
- Weight: 27.8 oz.
- Max Drag: 66Lbs.
- Motor Speed: 186 yds per minute.
Still a little sci-fi in the name but not as bad as the Beast Master 9000. This Korean made reel not only has a better name but is probably a better value. Quite hard to find in the states, this is a reel commonly used in the South Pacific.
As a brand, I am not at all familiar with Banax. Despite my personal lack of experience, they have some die-hard fans of their electric reels. Of those I have seen used, I have never heard a single bad word said about them.
Banax offers a half-dozen or so models of their electric reels. Other than size, power, and capacity, they are almost identical. This is a higher end model but if you plan on lighter fishing, you can go with a smaller reel.
Max drag on this reel is around 65 pounds which is a solid amount of drag for deep droppers on bigger fish. Any more would risk motor damage. This is made to be a higher speed machine.
It may only have one speed, an astounding 12 feet of line a second, but has a clutch which can provide a more customized amount of speed and pressure. By using the clutch you get the maximum amount of control over what your reel is doing.
Gear ratio is fairly average at 3.5:1 and works well with the fast speed of this reel. You get a lot of torque but less than either of the above reels. This is more geared toward smaller fish and would struggle with some of the big Atlantic species.
Unlike those above, this reel has a brushed motor. This is a cost savings measure but does hurt the life of the motor somewhat if you use it heavily. Repairs are possible and not too difficult should you need them.
Still, the motor does pack a lot of power into a small package. This is the lightest reel on the list and one of the lightest electric reels made. This may not mean a lot up front but I never complain about less weight.
Considering the other features of this reel, it shouldn’t surprise you that the line is a little less than most. Designed to work best with a max 80-pound test, this reel can hold about 325 yards of it. Drop that down to 60-pound test and you will get a little better than 425 yards. An LCD screen is included to keep track of your line.
This will get you all the depth you want if you can live with fishing smaller fish. This is a perfect reel for deep tilefish and similarly sized species. With the fast retrieval, it would even make a great reel for deploying your kite fishing setup.
They may not be a big name in the U.S. but are apparently immensely popular in Korea and the surrounding area. With the price of these reels, I do expect their popularity to grow. If you can find one, it’s a solid buy. Maybe the best bang for your buck.
Still on the fence about whether or not you should get an electric fishing reel? They are quite costly to add to your fishing kit. However, I can give you one very good reason why you should bite the bullet.
You will pay almost the same amount for a conventional reel of the same size and quality as an electric reel. I wouldn’t want to replace all of my conventional reels with electrics but having a couple on hand is a good idea.
They will serve most of the same purposes as a conventional reel. You don’t have to use the powered option if you don’t need to. They can be hand cranked for your everyday fishing should you need to use one that way.
If you happen to want to fish deep, that electric function will always be there for when you want it. Most electric reels are quite expensive and complicated to produce. This leaves most of the production to companies that already make high quality conventional reels.
With a little care and effort, a good electric reel will last for years.
Give one a shot and see how they work for you. Maybe take a deep sea charter to try one out. Of course for that price, you could almost afford a decent reel to add to your own collection.