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Looking for the best budget carp reels? Let Marc Coulson be your guide. From big-pit to freespool reels, all under £100, we've got you covered...
£100 doesn’t buy you much these days, especially in carp fishing. Or does it? Well, contrary to what some would have you believe, a second mortgage really isn’t needed to buy some pretty decent modern kit and, in the case of reels, you can buy one, two or three on this kind of budget without feeling that you’ve had to compromise on quality.
In many cases, trickledown technology from more expensive models is in abundance, resulting in some extremely impressive reels which knock offerings from even just five years ago into a cocked hat.
I’m genuinely impressed at just how good these reels, from a range of manufacturers, really are and I’ve deliberately chosen a selection to suit multiple angling styles, from big pits to those more suited to stalking and even floater fishing.
The modern tendency is for a quick-drag spool, allowing the switch from locked up to free spool in just a turn – or less – on the drag knob. Smaller reels, however, may feature a rear drag or, in Shimano’s case, a drag and a Baitrunner facility.
This is an important factor for me, as balancing your reel with modern lightweight rod blanks is vital. Thankfully, most modern reels are built with this in mind.
These vary wildly these days, with single and twin, folding and non-folding handles featuring heavily in many reels. The key is how balanced it is on rotation – wobble is not what you want here!
DAIWA CROSSCAST CARP
RRP: £89.99 | www.daiwasports.co.uk
I’m quite simply aghast at just how good this bit-pit reel is when you consider the price tag. In fact, it’s so good, I see little point in buying Daiwa’s next couple of models up – why would you when this performs and looks so good?
The QD spool is exceptional for a reel in this class and the HIP high-impact line clip is a huge improvement on some of Daiwa’s previous clips and matches the clip found on reels in higher price brackets.
In all, the Crosscast feels smooth and sturdy in the hand and if you did one of those blindfold tests with one of these you’d swear it was £200 worth!
RRP: £63.99 | www.shimano-eu.com
Classic Shimano styling reminiscent of the old GTE models but with far more refined build quality and operation.
I love the traditional look of these twin-handled Baitrunners and although the ST-RB is a base model this one is super smooth and extremely well balanced.
Shielded stainless bearings offer longevity, something the old Baitrunners were so famous for, while modern additions in the build keep it in up to date.
This is the ideal reel for a medium-sized venue where casting isn’t the optimum requirement, but it is a joy to use and represents a great entry into the Shimano Baitrunner stable for those that haven’t used one before.
FOX EOS 12000
RRP: £100 | www.foxint.com
Although not one of the two big players in the reel market, Fox is knocking on the doors of Daiwa and Shimano with a host of reels, including this one in the budget big-pit market.
The matt black finish is in keeping with modern carp anglers’ preferences while, despite the price tag, it’s crammed with features and benefits to not only aid casting but also make the reel itself a pleasure to use.
The front drag is honest and reliable, albeit maybe not quite as fast as the Daiwa. However, when playing fish it sometimes pays to have a little more room for maneouvre with your clutch so this won’t necessarily bother too many people.
WYCHWOOD EXTRICATOR 5000FD
RRP: £79.99 | www.wychwoodcarp.co.uk
One of the smaller reels in this line-up, I’ve included the Extricator as it seems perfectly suited to my favourite method of stalking as well as my least favourite, surface fishing!
It also wouldn’t look out of place on the increasingly popular 8, 9 and 10ft carp rods that so many companies now produce and sell in their droves.
Even on such short rods, in the right hands it’s still capable of casting a relatively long way – size isn’t always necessarily everything in this case – but that isn’t at the core of its design.
The drag is particularly smooth and I’d happily recommend it if you’re in the market for such a reel.
RRP: £87.99 | www.nashtackle.co.uk
The daddy of Nash’s BP family of reels, this one boasts a whopping 510m of 0.35mm line capacity and is designed for ultra-long-range work either from the bank or a boat.
Twin line clips adorn the spool, which is a nice additional touch, while the one-touch folding handle will appeal to a certain section of the carp fishing fraternity, for sure.
The matt black finish is as sultry as you’ll see, in fact with the lack of garish logos, you’d struggle to even know it was a Nash reel.
This is matched in the handle and arm, which are also deep matt black.
SONIK VADER X
RRP: £49.99 | www.soniksports.com
Another all-black affair, the Vader X, along with rods of the same name, was launched earlier this year to huge acclaim.
For a reel to be this good for such a low price tag – even more so when you consider some of the deals I’ve seen online.
Okay, it’s not a Basia, but then none of the reels here are. What the Vader X represents is a solid reel with impressive retrieve, decent line lay and good line capacity for a ridiculously small price tag.
Think about it this way, mast carp anglers buy at least two reels which, in this case, still comes in under our price bracket!
MITCHELL AVOCAST BLACK LE
RRP: £99.99 | www.mitchell-fishing.co.uk
A giant in the reel market over the years, more recently Mitchell has produced some impressive carp versions and this Limited Edition Avocast is one of the latest in that line.
It’s a proper, out-and-out big-pit reel and, as such, boasts huge line capacity as well as impressive retrieve rate and cranking power.
I know a couple of mates who use one of these for spod and marker work, but I think that’s a bit of a waste of a reel with so much going for it.
I probably shouldn’t say this, but while the stated RRP just sneaks in under our limit, you can get these for significantly less if you shop around, making it even more impressive.