Top 8 Best Musky Reels Reviewed

Best Musky Reels

When it comes to targeting muskies, a formidable and powerful species, you need a reel that can withstand their strength and handle big lures. Additionally, muskies are known as the “fish of a thousand casts,” requiring a lightweight reel to prevent fatigue during long casting sessions.

After extensive research and testing, we have compiled a list of the top eight musky reels available on the market. Among these options, the Shimano Tranx stands out as our recommended choice for most anglers. It combines a lightweight yet durable construction, a powerful drag system, and smooth performance. Furthermore, it offers great value at a reasonable price point.

If the Shimano Tranx doesn’t meet your specific needs, don’t worry. Our list includes a variety of options, including musky trolling reels and budget picks, ensuring there’s something for everyone.



Top 8 Best Musky Reels

  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Reel Size: 3000-4000
  • Gear Ratio: 5.8-7.6:1
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  • Ball Bearings: 4+1
  • Reel Size: 3000-4000
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1-5.6:1
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  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Reel Size: 6000
  • Gear Ratio: 7.6:1
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  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Reel Size: 6000
  • Gear Ratio: 4.9-6.2:1
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  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Reel Size: 4000
  • Gear Ratio: 7.1:1
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  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Reel Size: 3000
  • Gear Ratio: 6.5-7.2:1
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  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 3500
  • Gear Ratio: 5.4:1
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  • Ball Bearings: 4/6+1
  • Reel Size: 4000-9000
  • Gear Ratio: 3.6-5.3:1
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Shimano Tranx

Best Musky Reels


Shimano Tranx
  • Durable Aluminum Body
  • Versatile Sling Mounts
  • Inline Bolt System

1. Shimano Tranx

Shimano Tranx
  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Reel Size: 3000-4000
  • Gear Ratio: 5.8-7.6:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 17.6-22 pounds
  • Weight: 11.6-12 ounces

Our top choice for musky fishing reels is the Shimano Tranx. This exceptional reel combines strength, smoothness, and a remarkably lightweight design. What truly sets it apart is its outstanding durability and rugged construction.

The Shimano Tranx incorporates advanced technologies like the Hagane Body, S A-RB, and X-Ship, which greatly enhance its strength and durability.

Firstly, the Hagane Body is a solid metal construction that surpasses the flexibility of other reel bodies. Made from lightweight yet durable materials such as aluminum and magnesium, this reel boasts a rigid structure that can withstand immense pressure without any bending or flexing. As a result, the Shimano Tranx exhibits exceptional toughness. Its resistance to bending ensures that all your applied force is efficiently transferred to the cranking motion, maximizing your fishing power while minimizing wasted energy.

Additionally, the Shimano Tranx is equipped with the S A-RB technology, which ensures the bearings are shielded on both sides to protect them from salt and sand intrusion. This effective shielding extends the lifespan of the reel and maintains its smooth performance over time.

Furthermore, the X Ship feature provides exceptional support to the pinion gear by utilizing bearings on both ends. This design keeps the pinion gear perfectly aligned with the drive gear, even under intense pressure. As a result, the gears maintain their stability and deliver consistent power transfer. Similar to the Hagane Body, this technology contributes to maximum energy efficiency during your fishing endeavors.

To further enhance its durability, the Shimano Tranx incorporates an aluminum sideplate. Aluminum is known for its toughness and high resistance to corrosion, ensuring that the reel remains resilient even when facing challenging conditions.

With the combination of the Hagane Body, S A-RB, X Ship, and aluminum sideplate, the Shimano Tranx stands as a remarkably well-built reel that can withstand the rigors of battling monster muskies without faltering.

Furthermore, the Shimano Tranx excels in both drag performance and weight, ensuring a well-rounded fishing experience. Throughout my 21 years of fishing, I have never encountered a situation where I needed more than the maximum drag of 22 pounds provided by this reel. You can confidently tackle even the largest muskies without any issues.

In terms of weight, the Shimano Tranx is remarkably lightweight, tipping the scales at just 11.6 ounces. This featherlight design allows for effortless casting, ensuring that you can cover long distances without strain or fatigue.

To enhance the smoothness of operation, the Shimano Tranx features 5+1 bearings. While it may not be the smoothest reel available, it provides commendable performance and ensures a seamless experience when reeling in fish.

One minor drawback of this reel is related to the product images. When we purchased the size 3000 model for testing, we expected it to come with a power handle. However, it arrived with a double paddle handle instead. After clarifying with Shimano, we discovered that only the size 4000 models with a 7.6:1 gear ratio are equipped with the power handle. It is unfortunate that the product images misleadingly depict the 4000 model handle when selecting the 3000 option.

Nevertheless, considering its exceptional durability, strength, and smooth operation, the Shimano Tranx remains the top choice for musky reels, especially when price is a determining factor. It delivers outstanding performance and is built to last, ensuring it will accompany you through the next decade and successfully handle muskies of any size.



2. Shimano Calcutta D Round Reel

Shimano Calcutta D Round Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 4+1
  • Reel Size: 3000-4000
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1-5.6:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 15 pounds
  • Weight: 11.6-11.8 ounces

The Shimano Calcutta D surpasses the Shimano Tranx as the ultimate musky reel when price is not a limiting factor. Its unparalleled durability sets it apart, even from the well-built Shimano Tranx.

In addition to featuring the Hagane Body, S A-RB, X Ship, and aluminum sideplate, the Shimano Calcutta D incorporates Shimano’s EI surface treatment. This unique treatment significantly enhances the reel’s corrosion resistance, making it more than twice as durable as reels with standard surface treatments. The Shimano Calcutta D stands as a testament to its exceptional sturdiness.

Regarding its other aspects, the Shimano Calcutta D matches the Shimano Tranx in terms of lightness and smoothness. However, it falls short in terms of drag strength.

Notably, the Shimano Calcutta D possesses one less bearing compared to the Shimano Tranx. Despite this, I found both reels to be exceptionally smooth during use. The slight difference in bearing count did not noticeably affect the overall smoothness, placing both reels on an equal footing in terms of operation.

Regrettably, the Shimano Calcutta D offers a maximum drag of only 15 pounds. While still sufficient for handling large muskies, it may struggle against trophy-sized specimens.

In summary, the Shimano Calcutta D excels in smoothness, lightness, and unmatched toughness. Although it provides slightly less drag strength than the Shimano Tranx, it remains a formidable reel. Its exceptional durability ensures a prolonged lifespan, surpassing even the Shimano Tranx. However, it is important to note that the higher price tag of $150 may not be suitable for everyone. If you seek the absolute best musky reel available, the Shimano Calcutta D is the reel to choose.



3. Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket
  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Reel Size: 6000
  • Gear Ratio: 7.6:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 25 pounds
  • Weight: 14.6 ounces

The Revo Toro Rocket offers a compelling choice for anglers seeking a musky reel with increased line capacity. While it may not boast the cutting-edge technologies of Shimano reels, it relies on a simpler yet effective approach to durability by employing aluminum and stainless steel materials throughout its construction.

The reel’s spool, frame, and sideplate are made of durable aluminum, while the bearings and handle are crafted from corrosion-resistant stainless steel. This combination of materials results in a heavy-duty reel that is well-suited for musky fishing. However, it is important to note that the Revo Toro Rocket’s durability does not match the level achieved by Shimano reels, which employ advanced technologies for enhanced strength and longevity.

On the other hand, the Revo Toro Rocket excels in drag performance. With a maximum drag of 25 pounds, it offers ample stopping power for musky and even larger species like tuna.

In terms of weight and smoothness, the reel performs admirably. Weighing 14.6 ounces, it is slightly heavier than the Shimano reels but still falls within the range of lighter musky reels. Additionally, the 5+1 bearings ensure smooth operation during use.

One notable feature of the Revo Toro Rocket is the extended handle, which provides increased leverage. This design allows for reduced force exertion when turning the spool, resulting in decreased fatigue. This feature is reminiscent of Shimano’s energy-efficient technologies that maximize performance.

Overall, while the Revo Toro Rocket may not match the durability and weight of Shimano reels, its advantage lies in its superior drag performance and increased line capacity. Anglers who prioritize line capacity and are willing to sacrifice some durability may find this reel to be a suitable choice. Additionally, the availability of the reel in size 6000 makes it an attractive option for musky fishing without the unnecessary weight of larger reel sizes.



4. Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast

Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast
  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Reel Size: 6000
  • Gear Ratio: 4.9-6.2:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 25 pounds
  • Weight: 13.8 ounces

For anglers seeking a musky reel with large line capacity and lower gear ratios, the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast is the perfect choice. This reel is essentially the same as the Revo Toro Rocket, with the only notable differences being a slight weight reduction and the gear ratios.

The Revo Toro Beast shares the same high-quality reel parts as the Toro Rocket, including the aluminum spool, frame, and sideplate, as well as the stainless steel bearings and extended handle. Additionally, both reels offer a maximum drag of 25 pounds and feature 5+1 bearings for smooth operation.

The primary distinction between the Revo Toro Beast and the Toro Rocket lies in their gear ratios. The Revo Toro Beast is designed with lower gear ratios, providing anglers with the desired slower retrieval speed and increased power. This makes it an ideal choice for those who prefer a musky reel with ample line capacity but with lower gear ratios.

With minimal weight difference between the two reels, the focus is primarily on the gear ratios when selecting between them. If you prioritize line capacity and slower retrieval speeds, the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast is the musky reel that caters to your specific needs.



5. Daiwa Lexa WN

Daiwa Lexa WN
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Reel Size: 4000
  • Gear Ratio: 7.1:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 25 pounds
  • Weight: 16.9 ounces

The Daiwa Lexa WN is a budget-friendly musky reel that offers decent performance without excelling in any specific area.

In terms of durability, the reel features an aluminum frame, sideplates, handles, and bearings, which provide a satisfactory level of sturdiness. However, during testing, I noticed some flexing in the reel, indicating that it may be less durable compared to the higher-end options discussed earlier.

With a maximum drag of 25 pounds, the Daiwa Lexa WN offers sufficient stopping power for musky fishing.

In terms of smoothness, the reel is equipped with 6+1 bearings. While this should theoretically result in a smooth operation, I found the reel to be slightly less smooth compared to the previous high-end options. This may be due to the quality of the bearings, which are good but not of the same caliber as the higher-end reels.

The weight of the Daiwa Lexa WN is slightly heavier at 16.9 ounces, but it still allows for relatively effortless casting.

Overall, the Daiwa Lexa WN is a well-rounded reel that performs adequately in various areas. It may not excel in terms of durability, smoothness, or weight, but it offers a cost-effective option for casual anglers who don’t require the top-tier features of the higher-end reels.



6. Lew’s SuperDuty 300

Lew’s SuperDuty 300
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Reel Size: 3000
  • Gear Ratio: 6.5-7.2:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 24 pounds
  • Weight: 9.2 ounces

The Lew’s SuperDuty 300 is a reel that prioritizes lightness without compromising its robustness for musky fishing.

The reel features an aluminum spool and handle, stainless steel bearings, and high-strength brass gears. Brass, which we haven’t discussed before, is a durable metal alloy known for its corrosion resistance. The combination of brass, aluminum, and stainless steel ensures that the reel is capable of handling the challenges of musky fishing.

The remarkable lightness of the Lew’s SuperDuty 300 is achieved through the use of a graphite sideplate and carbon fiber drag system. Both graphite and carbon fiber are lightweight materials, contributing to the reel’s overall lightness.

However, it’s important to note that the trade-off for this exceptional lightness is a potential reduction in durability compared to reels made with heavier metals like aluminum and stainless steel. The graphite and carbon fiber components may not be as long-lasting.

In summary, the Lew’s SuperDuty 300 stands out for its unmatched lightness but may sacrifice some durability to achieve this. Anglers who prioritize a lightweight reel for musky fishing may find it worth considering.



7. Okuma Coldwater Low Profile Linecounter Reel

Okuma Coldwater Low Profile Linecounter Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 3500
  • Gear Ratio: 5.4:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 25 pounds
  • Weight: 12.5 ounces

The Okuma Coldwater is a reel specifically designed for trolling, and it stands out on our list as the only reel with a line counter.

Line counters are a key feature indicating a reel’s suitability for trolling. In our search for the best trolling reel for musky, we carefully evaluated numerous options with line counters to find the most durable and reliable one.

After thorough examination, the Okuma Coldwater emerged as the top choice for musky trolling. Its outstanding qualities make it an easy winner.

It’s important to note that while some reels on this list also feature aluminum and stainless steel parts, it’s not a common feature among all reels on the market. We have selected only the best reels, which naturally boast the finest materials.

The Okuma Coldwater impresses with its aluminum spool, frame, sideplates, and handle. Notably, the frame and sideplates are crafted from a highly corrosion-resistant type of aluminum. This ensures exceptional performance and reliability when targeting prized musky.

If your plan involves trolling for musky, you can confidently rely on the Okuma Coldwater. It is a reliable and durable reel designed to excel in this specific fishing technique.



8. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 4/6+1
  • Reel Size: 4000-9000
  • Gear Ratio: 3.6-5.3:1
  • Max Drag Weight: 15-30 pounds
  • Weight: 11.6-22.1 ounces

If none of the previously mentioned reels have caught your attention, it’s possible that price is a deciding factor for you. In that case, the KastKing Rover might be worth considering.

This round reel features an aluminum spool and sideplates, as well as stainless steel bearings. On paper, the specifications seem acceptable, and it does function as a reel for musky fishing.

However, there are certain aspects of this reel that become apparent only after using it.

Firstly, it is noticeably heavier and bulkier than expected.

Secondly, you may experience backlash issues every three or four casts.

Thirdly, the clicker is quite soft, making it difficult to hear unless you are in complete silence.

Fourthly, this reel is notably noisy, potentially ranking as one of the loudest I have ever used.

Lastly, the KastKing Rover likely has a relatively short lifespan, lasting around a year or less. Given its low price, this limited durability is not surprising.

The KastKing Rover represents the lowest price point for a functional musky reel. It is unlikely to find a cheaper musky reel that actually works. This reel is a suitable choice for anglers on a tight budget or those who don’t engage in musky fishing frequently enough to justify a higher investment.



Things To Consider When Choosing A Musky Reel

Now that you have a better understanding of the various musky reels available, it’s time to choose the right one for your needs. To assist you in making an informed decision, let’s break down the important factors to consider:

  1. Reel Size: Consider the size of the reel based on the line capacity you require and the size of musky you intend to target. As mentioned earlier, reel sizes in the range of 3000 to 6000 are suitable for musky fishing.
  2. Drag System: Look for a reel with sufficient drag power to handle the strength and fighting capabilities of musky. A drag capacity of around 25 pounds is generally recommended.
  3. Bearings: While the number of bearings is important for smooth operation, focus on the quality of the bearings rather than the quantity. Look for reels with high-quality bearings, such as stainless steel or other durable materials, for optimal performance.
  4. Gear Ratio: Consider the gear ratio based on your preferred fishing style and lure presentations. Higher gear ratios, such as 6:1, offer faster line retrieval for lures that require a quicker retrieve, while lower gear ratios, such as 4:1, provide more power for slower presentations.
  5. Durability: Evaluate the materials used in the reel construction, such as aluminum, stainless steel, or other corrosion-resistant alloys, to ensure the reel can withstand the rigors of musky fishing.
  6. Weight: Take into account the weight of the reel, considering that musky fishing often involves casting and retrieving for extended periods. Opt for a reel that is lightweight enough to reduce fatigue but still maintains the necessary durability and strength.
  7. Special Features: Consider any additional features that may enhance your fishing experience, such as line counters for trolling or extended handles for increased leverage and ease of use.

By considering these factors and matching them to your specific fishing preferences and requirements, you’ll be able to choose the ideal musky reel that best suits your needs.

Baitcasting VS Spinning

Although both baitcasting and spinning reels have their advantages and disadvantages, when it comes to musky fishing, baitcasting reels are generally more suitable. Here’s why:

Baitcasting reels excel in casting heavier lines and lures, providing better accuracy and control. They are designed to handle the demands of heavier tackle and offer greater casting distance and precision. However, they do require more skill and practice to master.

On the other hand, spinning reels are better suited for lighter lines and lures. They are generally easier to use and offer smoother casting with lighter tackle. While they can still handle heavier lines to some extent, they may not provide the same casting performance and control as baitcasting reels.

Considering that musky fishing often involves using heavier lures, baitcasting reels are the preferred choice for most anglers. They offer the necessary power and accuracy for casting larger lures and handling the strength of musky. As a result, this list focuses on baitcasting reels specifically for musky fishing.

However, it’s worth noting that spinning reels can still be used for musky fishing if you primarily use lighter tackle or prefer a simpler reel design. Just keep in mind their limitations with heavier lines and lures.

Ultimately, the choice between a baitcasting reel and a spinning reel for musky fishing depends on your personal preferences, fishing style, and the specific tackle you plan to use.

Reel Size

Musky are not typically known for their long runs that require extensive line capacity, so there’s no need to invest in a large reel that can hold excessive amounts of line. Moreover, larger reels tend to be heavier, so it’s important to strike a balance between line capacity and weight.

For musky fishing, I recommend opting for a reel in the size range of 3000 to 6000. In most cases, a size 3000 reel will be sufficient for handling musky. If you prefer to be cautious and have some extra line capacity, a size 4000 reel could be a suitable choice. Sizes 5000 to 6000 are generally more appropriate for beginners who may need to allow musky to take more line during the fight.

Remember to consider your personal preferences, fishing style, and the specific demands of your musky fishing adventures when selecting the reel size.

Line Capacity

Once again, you won’t need too much line for musky. Of course, there’s no denying the size and strength of musky, which is why you shouldn’t use anything below reel size 2000. Since line capacity is decided by the size of your reel, simply follow the reel sizes we’ve provided and you’ll be fine.

Drag System

You’re absolutely right, the drag system is a crucial factor when targeting musky.

A strong and reliable drag system is essential for preventing line breakage and effectively tiring out muskies during the fight. While the exact amount of drag needed can vary, based on your experience, you have found that 22 pounds of drag is sufficient in most cases. Setting the drag to around 1/3 or 1/4 of the line’s pound test is a good guideline for ensuring the drag is properly adjusted.

For musky fishing, it is advisable to choose a reel that can provide at least 25 pounds of drag to handle the strength and power of these fish. This will give you the confidence and control necessary to handle the larger muskies you may encounter.

Thank you for highlighting the importance of the drag system when targeting musky. It is indeed a critical factor to consider for a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

Gear Ratio

Gear ratio is indeed an important factor to consider when choosing a reel for musky fishing.

A reel’s gear ratio determines how quickly the spool rotates with each turn of the handle. A higher gear ratio means a faster retrieve, allowing you to bring in line more quickly. Conversely, a lower gear ratio provides more torque, making it easier to handle larger muskies and retrieve heavy lures.

For musky fishing, where faster retrieves are often preferred, a higher gear ratio is generally recommended. A gear ratio of 6.3:1 is a good choice as it provides a fast retrieve speed, allowing you to work lures such as jerkbaits effectively.

It’s worth noting that the specific gear ratio you choose may depend on your personal preference and the types of lures you plan to use. However, for most musky fishing scenarios, a higher gear ratio like 6.3:1 should serve you well.

Thank you for highlighting the significance of gear ratio in musky fishing and suggesting a higher gear ratio for optimal performance.

Ball Bearings

While smoothness may not be the top priority for musky anglers, it is still an important aspect to consider for a pleasant fishing experience.

Having a smooth reel can make casting and reeling in a musky more effortless and enjoyable. While the number of bearings doesn’t solely determine the smoothness of a reel, it does play a role.

In my experience, a reel with 5+1 bearings strikes a good balance between smooth operation and practicality. It provides a satisfactory level of smoothness without unnecessary complexity or added cost. Having fewer bearings may result in a noticeable decrease in smoothness, while having more bearings may offer only marginal improvements.

It’s worth noting that the quality and construction of the bearings also play a significant role in determining the overall smoothness of a reel. High-quality bearings made of durable materials can contribute to a smoother performance.


Last of all, you’ll want a well-constructed reel that won’t crumble under pressure. Look out for hardy materials like aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, etc. It also helps to have some additional protection. This protection can come in the form of shielding or sealing.

Final Verdict

Musky fishing requires a reliable and high-quality reel to increase your chances of success. Fortunately, the selection of eight reels presented here ensures that you’ll be well-equipped for the challenge.

If you’re having difficulty deciding, I highly recommend the Shimano Tranx. This exceptional musky reel offers the perfect balance of strength and durability to handle trophy muskies, while also being remarkably lightweight and smooth.

Now that you have chosen the ideal musky reel, you’ll need a matching musky rod to complete your setup. Below, you’ll find a list of the best musky rods available to enhance your fishing experience. Enjoy exploring these options and good luck on your musky fishing adventures!