Best carp reels under £100: 5 top freespool options

Best carp reels under £100: 5 top freespool options

We’ve grouped together five of the best carp reels under £100 for this test.

All of them come under the freespool banner, often known as a Baitrunner thanks to the popularity of Shimano’s original system.

Put simply, a freespool  or Baitrunner reel has a lever that controls whether or not a fish can take line from a closed bail arm.

Our tackle editor Marc Coulson explains…

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1) SHIMANO BAITRUNNER DL 10000RB 

2) DAIWA EMCAST BR5500

3) FOX EOS10000

4) TFG DL BLACK EDITION SPEEDRUNNER

5) OKUMA AVENTA AB-8000

Let’s face it, we don’t all fish huge inland seas where big-pit reels paired with poker-stiff rods are needed to fire out huge leads.

For the majority of our fishing, a more compact reel fitted with a freespool facility will cope with our demands.

So, keeping to a sub-£100 budget, I’ve chosen five of the best reels on today’s market that fit the bill.

They may have different names and varying specifications, but they all ultimately do the same job – allowing you to sit back and relax safe in the knowledge that, when that heart-stopping bite does come, the fish is free to run and won’t drag your rod in!

KEY FEATURES

FREESPOOL

Usually located at the rear of the reel, engaging or disengaging the lever allows you to work from the clutch or freespool facility and give the carp line on the take.

You set the tension at which the line is taken before engaging the lever and setting the rod on your rests and bite alarm.

DRAG SYSTEM

Most reels (with the exception of some Shimanos, including the one on this page) now have the drag system set on top of the spool. This needs to be set once the rod has been cast out so that the spool gives line fairly begrudgingly while playing a fish to prevent it from finding sanctuary in a snag or weedbed!

DOUBLE OR SINGLE HANDLE

Many reels in this category now come supplied with both single and double handle options, in order to meet the personal preferences of the anglers using them.

Some feel that double handles give the reel a better balance, while also making it easier to grab a handle on the take without looking. Others disagree!

QUICK-RELEASE SPOOL

Again, not found on all reels, and it’s another area that divides opinion.

It enables the user to swap spools (and therefore line strengths) without having to undo the drag knob and risk dropping washers and other internal bits and bobs, and it helps in the same way if the line becomes caught under the spool.

SPARE SPOOL

Most reels now come with spare spools, with most providing one but some, two. The benefits are obvious: spare spools enable the user to carry spools of different line strengths in the holdall should, for example, a situation arise where a drop in line diameter would allow longer casts.

FIVE OF THE BEST CARP REELS UNDER £100

SHIMANO BAITRUNNER DL 10000RB | RRP: £89.99

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The Baitrunner lever is easy to locate and use, sitting just behind the handle stem, and adjustment of this and the clutch is via a dual knob at the rear, with the adjustments boasting tiny increments so you can get things just right.

It oozes build quality, and two AR-C spools offer great value in an extremely impressive all-round package.

DAIWA EMCAST BR5500 | RRP: £99

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Although they carry an RRP of almost £100, you’ll pay nearer £65, making these reels amazing value for money.

Like all Daiwas, they’re super smooth to operate and have an extremely solid feel. Single and double handles are included, and a spare spool.

FOX EOS10000 | RRP: £59.99

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Five ball-bearings make this a smooth performer.

It has a minutely adjustable front drag and a rear freespool knob, and the chunky handle and powerful retrieve will cope easily with long-range work, if needed.

The large-capacity spool allows the use of thick lines for snag-fishing work.

TFG DL BLACK EDITION SPEEDRUNNER | RRP: £39.99

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This offering from TFG comes with a well-balanced twin handle, and a front drag and a rear freespool knob that are easy to use.

The DL stands for Dave Lane, who genuinely uses these reels for small-water and close-range fishing and doesn’t just put his name to them!

OKUMA AVENTA AB-8000 | RRP: £89.99

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There are four sizes of this reel available, and the 8000 I tested is easily the biggest of the reels in this guide.

The freespool mechanism is adjusted via a small knob at the rear, and the deep, short-stroke spool offers decent line lay.