What Kind of Reel Do I Need to Start Musky Fishing?

How to Choose Your First Musky Fishing Reel


As mentioned in the article about choosing your first musky rod, muskies are a big fish that require heavy equipment to reel in their intense fight. If you find yourself hooked with a musky, and are using light tackle, you will either have to wait until the fish gets tired enough to slowly come in to your reeling with a loose drag (not a guarantee), or you will suffer the consequences of your fishing line/reel breaking under the stressful situation.

Musky Reel

Buying your first musky reel doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Focusing on a few simple aspects, you can find some decent fishing reels, that will help narrow down your choice to find something to fit your budget. Features to look at, in your new fishing reel, should be the style, the size (model can often give clues to how big you need), line capacity, product reviews, and obviously a price that you can afford. Let’s look at each of these categories.

Musky fishing reel for any budgetMusky Fishing Reel Style

Spinning or Casting, that’s the question. Well, let me put it this way, if you don’t use a baitcaster style fishing reel for musky, you might get laughed off the lake. Ok, maybe not. But most musky fisherman choose to use baitcaster style fishing reels (similar to bass fisherman). Baitcasters are a classic build for casting lots of lures, and work well with the many different lure retrieval styles that musky fishing incurs.

Musky Fishing Reel Size (often helpful looking at model number)

If you don’t get many opportunities to actually go to a store that carries fishing reels meant for muskies, you might not have any idea how to decide which size will work for your new musky rod. If you only look online, or if you actually do get a chance to go to a musky reel store, lets just look at the general size of the reel and the model number it has.

Since model numbers vary greatly between different brands, they may not be the most helpful thing to look at, but generally, the bigger the model number (compared to other model numbers of the same brand/model), the bigger the reel. Again, this can be deceving, because some models simply don’t offer a size that would be able to handle the yearly punishment musky lures/fights give. This is why getting an opportunity to physically handle the reels is a great advantage. Then you can go back online to find the best deals.

Musky Fishing Reel Line Capacity

After looking at the model number size, take a look at the line capacity (yards/pound test) recommended for the different models. You will want to look for a model that can handle a larger pound test size. Even though reels often recommend around a 14lb test line size, that refers to a monofilament line. You can put a super braid line on your reel that has the diameter of 14lb test mono line, but possible the strength of up to 50 or 80lbs.

Musky Fishing Reel Price

This is my most important factor when determining which reel I will be buying. That doesn’t mean that I focus on the cheapest or best deal, but I definately go into my new reel purchase with a set price in mind-it’s just the way I work.

I will not lie to you, heavy fishing tackle meant for muskies will have a higher price than a bass fishing reel. I mean c’mon, it needs to stand up to the daily beating of heavy lures and heavy fish. So don’t think you will get something for dirt cheap, but don’t think you can’t get a good deal either. A solid brand of reel that I recommend is Abu Garcia.

Musky Fishing Reels Product Reviews

This is usually the place I start, when looking for a new fishing reel to buy. The internet has been around long enough, and if a certain model has been a consistent producer, there is no doubt it has my attention. Before the internet, I ‘grew up’ into fishing reels, and I will tell you, I think I came from a good place. I grew up using Abu Garcia Ambassedeur musky fishing reels, and they have almost always performed to a sufficient level. The product reviews passed down from my family have greatly favored into my choices when buying new reels, and I think they will help you to.

SonarFish Tip – Keep in mind that if you decide to go cheap or undersized for your musky reel, that the heavy workload of large lures may cause the gears in your reel to break quicker. Make sure to oil up your reel each year to prolong it’s life.