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Most beginners aren’t going to want to spend a fortune on their first baitcasting rod and reel and I was exactly the same. I’ve tried and tested multiple different combos and in this post, I’m going to be talking about the best baitcasting combo under $150.
In my opinion, the best baitcasting combo under $150 is the Shimano SLX reel with an Ugly Stik Elite casting rod. The reel was just as solid as some of the higher-end models out there and even though it wasn’t the best, it was pretty hard to beat for the price. The rod is super strong (and cheap) as well and if you toss on a quality braided line then it feels just as good as a rod that’s double the price.
I haven’t tested every single combo out there so I can’t really say this is the absolute best but it’s what I ended up going with for my first baitcasting setup. I’ve used it a number of times and it’s still going strong. It’s right at the $150 mark and that’s why I think it’s a great option for beginners or someone who doesn’t want to break the bank. Continue reading for the full details.
Ugly Stik Elite Rod
In my opinion, this is the best casting rod under $50. I’ve tested out quite a few competitors in this price range and none of them felt as solid or had the same ratings. It’s definitely not the most sensitive or high-quality rod out there but for 50 bucks, it can’t be beaten.
I got the 6’6″ medium-heavy option and it’s what I’d recommend. It comes in a few other sizes I think and you can get a lighter or heavier version but I’ve been able to catch all sorts of fish on the thing with no issues.
It’s also incredibly solid and durable and has taken a beating and held up nicely. I drag it through the bush and through the dirt all the time and it’s held up like a champ.
The guides on this rod (the holes that the line goes through) seem to be a lot sturdier compared to other rods in this price range and that’s another reason I went with it.
I don’t know the biggest fish you could catch on it but I’ve seen videos where people attached a pretty good amount of weight and it didn’t break. I’ve caught everything from 1 lb Kokanee to 10 lb lake trout on it.
I’d recommend you through a braided line on it because it’ll help make the rod more sensitive. If you’ve used a rod that’s a couple of hundred bucks you’ll notice a difference but using braided line closes that gap. It doesn’t stretch like normal line and that’s what improves the sensitivity so you can feel the smallest of bites.
Shimano SLX Reel
This is my favorite reel under $100 and is the one I purchased for my first baitcaster. I’ve always like Shimano products and I think it’s pretty tough to beat this one for the price. I also think it’s one of the better-looking reels on the market.
The quality of this reel seems to be just as good as some of the more expensive units and I haven’t had a whole lot of issues with it. It’s not the most heavy-duty or smooth reel but it’s always done the job I needed it to do.
I always use a braided line as my main fishing line and it does cast pretty nicely. It comes with slick rubber handles and reels in as well as more expensive options. I’d easily pay 200 bucks for this reel.
The only downside is that the brake system isn’t as easy to adjust as some. Some reels have a dial that you can turn to adjust the brakes but the SLX has a side plate that needs to be removed. It only takes 10 seconds but a turning dial would be easier.
If you’re someone who’s used a baitcaster for a while or have a bunch of money to spend then you might want to go with an upgraded model but for everyone else, this is an absolute awesome reel to get.
Like I was saying, I haven’t tried every single combo of rods/reels out there so I can’t say for sure that this is the best option. It’s the one I went with and have had no issues at all with it. I purchased the reel because it was made by Shimano which is one of the most popular companies out there and it had a bunch of solid reviews. I picked up the rod because it was cheap and a lot of people had good things to say about it. You can’t really go wrong for 150 bucks though.
Until next time, happy fishing. If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks.
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