The Best Carp Reels - (Full UK Guide On Top Quality Carp Fishing Reels)

best UK Carp Reels

The sound we most associate with carp fishing is one of screaming reels.

However, turn up at the bank under-gunned, and the only thing that will be screaming is you when you lose the fish of a lifetime.

The best carp reels are the real (pun intended) workhorse of your entire setup, so you will want to choose wisely.

What to look for? Well, we’ve done the hard work, so you don’t have to. Here’s what you need to know.

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If you haven't got the time to read the full article then you may want to skip straight to our list of the best carp reels or for ease we have listed some of the top picks here...

Alternatively please read on to see more information on the best carp reels as well as more detail on what goes into our chosen products.

What Are the Different Types of Carp Reel?

Carp fishing reels come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s plenty of choices out there. While this is a good thing, it can make it difficult to know the best option. Here’s a very quick guide on the different types available: -

  • Standard coarse fishing reels – These are a jack of all trades sort of deal. They are good for small to medium-sized carp, as well as for other species.
  • Big pit reels – Designed to cast huge distances and for catching medium to trophy-sized carp.
  • Baitrunner reels for carp fishing – These reels offer low resistance when fish take the bait, allowing them to ‘run’ with it before you strike. Hence the name.
  • Spod and marker reels are fairly sizeable and are used to cast huge spod bombs and markers. You’ll tend to find these are used for pursuing big carp.
  • Float fishing reels – Yes, carp can be caught on a float. But float fishing and big reels don’t go well together. These tend to be a lot lighter and substantially smaller than traditional ‘big’ carp reels.

What Makes a Good Carp Reel?

There are a few things that go into great carp reels. The inherent features are those that will make life easier and are specifically suited to carp fishing. Things such as: -

  • Large spool capacity – A big spool helps when carp fishing for several reasons. First, there’s a good chance that if you run into a large carp, you will need to pay out a fair bit of line. 100 yards isn’t going to cut it.
  • Easy distance casting – This sort of pairs up with the above. A larger spool means a more spaced and even line lay, allowing you to wring every last yard of casting distance out of your setup.
  • Quality gearing – The moment of truth for most ‘cheap’ reels is when you finally hook into a monster. There’s no hiding from cheaper mechanics and gears when it comes to carp fishing. Stripped gears is a genuine possibility unless you invest in a decent reel with quality components.
  • Good retrieve ratio – The faster the retrieve, the more efficient your angling. It’s that simple. Being able to capitalise and gain as much ground as you can when fighting a big fish will lead to a better catch rate

Can You Use Any Reel for Carp Fishing?

Technically, yes, you could use any reel for carp fishing…

You also could run a marathon in flip flops. The point? Yes, you’d get around, but it certainly wouldn’t be optimal or comfortable.

For the odd session, you might get away with using a standard reel. If you are serious about carp fishing, you need to be properly equipped.

What Are the Best Carp Reels?

We’ve taken a look at the best carp reels for the money and found several that will have all the features above. Below you’ll find a list of pretty much every type of carp reel you’ll need for a given situation.

We’ll show you what’s great about them and what makes them the best reels for carp fishing.

Here they are…

The Best Carp Baitrunner Reels

best carp reels

#1. Shimano Baitrunner XT RB Reel

Remember how we talked about good quality gearing in your carp fishing reel?

Shimano is an industry leader when it comes to making things that run flawlessly.

This reel is solid and really well constructed. We particularly love the deep spool. 

Check out this brief video that showcases these reels...
best carp reels

#2. Daiwa Emcast Baitrunner Reel

Daiwa has long been one of the really ‘big players’ in the carp fishing game. And with reels like this, it is little wonder.

If you take a look, there’s loads to love.

This elegant reel looks the part and has the performance to match. The retrieve, as a result of 8 ball bearings, is absolutely silky smooth. 

This, combined with the airbail, makes it a joy to use.

The spool is really deep, and with twist busting technology and infinite anti-reverse, you aren’t going to get all tangled.

All of the technology within allows for superb line lay, and like we always say, if it goes on easy, it’ll come off easy too.

There are a few other standard features worth mentioning.

One which can’t be missed is the super chunky and substantial handle. This gives you a great grip and is particularly comfortable in those long, drawn-out fights with big fish.

The other feature that we really love is the drag. In short, it’s excellent and one of the best we have seen on a carp reel.

You can tweak it to ounce perfect precision, allowing you to put exactly the right amount of pressure on the fish without fear of breakages.

The Best Carp Big Pit Reels

best carp reels

#3. Daiwa 19 Basia Reel

Ok. It’s like this.

If you are looking for the Rolls-Royce of carp fishing reels, congratulations. You’ve just found it.

The Daiwa Basia is rapidly becoming an icon in the world of carp fishing. As big pit reels go, it is pure perfection.

This is your ‘forever reel’. Make no mistake. Ok, so it isn’t cheap, but you can consider this an investment.

Boasting a huge spool with a superb line lay is the ideal choice for throwing out huge bombs and baits over the horizon.

The aluminium digigear system makes for a superb and smooth experience. The body of the reel, constructed from aluminium and Zaion, means that it is supremely lightweight.

The air bail is another great feature worth having. Touch it to open it, reel in to close it. Simple, effective and pretty classy!

best carp reels

#4. Shimano Ultegra XSD 14000 

If the Basia is a little out of your bracket, then be sure to give this one a look.

You’ll get a lot of the same functionality at a greatly reduced rate.

One feature you will need when fishing with big pits is the ability to tighten the drag to its maximum when casting. 

If it slips when casting something heavy, sorry, but that’s a trip to A and E (and we’ve got the scars to prove it).

This reel features a super stable and optimally tuned drag to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Strength aside, the drag is also super sensitive, allowing you to fine-tune the pressure, even during the fight.

Aside from the big spool, there is plenty to enjoy. The reel comes with line reducers, so whether you are casting big or want to fish on a smaller venue, it can easily be adapted to fit various line gauges, and the capacity is quickly altered.

The super slow oscillation means that you’ll still be hauling in a large amount of line but getting a really nice lay, perfect for when you want to recast.

Check out this short video that shows this great reel up close...

Best carp reel

#5. Fox FX13 Big Pit Reel

Fox is fast becoming a firm favourite when it comes to choosing the best carp fishing gear. Reels like this are the reason why.

This sleek reel offers everything you’ll need in a big pit reel and more.

The standout features include a colossal spool, paired up with a really great retrieval rate.

While you might think that fewer bearings (5) are bad, this is normally a sign of quality. Often budget manufacturers will hide imprecise engineering with extra BB’s to ensure smoothness. Not so with this reel.

The inner workings are high quality, with a stainless steel spool shaft, carbon graphite exterior and machined aluminium handle. This reel is pretty bulletproof when it comes to corrosion.

The spool lip features a special lip, custom-designed to allow the line to flow off the spool easily during the cast. The super slow oscillation further aids even line lay, resulting in the maximum distance with each and every cast.

Overall, for a mid-priced big pit reel, the performance far exceeds its price point.

If you like the look of big pit reels, there’s plenty of great guidance right here.

The Best Big Pit Baitrunner Reel

Best carp reel

#6. Daiwa Windcast BR LD Baitrunner Reel

You’ll often hear anglers ask, what’s the difference between a big pit reel and baitrunner?

Well, with this particular model, you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Namely, the ability to cast big weights huge distances while also having access to the baitrunner functions allowing carp to ‘hit and run’.

With this reel, you are getting a lot for the money.

First off, it’s made by Daiwa, so you know that you are getting experience and quality as part of the package. Brand names aside, plenty of features make this reel one of the best for carp fishing.

A retrieve ration of 4.6:1 means you’ll be bringing in nearly a metre of line with each turn of the handle. High winding power and crank rate? Yes, please!

As with the Basia, you’ll get an air bail system along with infinite anti-reverse. Twist buster technology ensures you aren’t getting kinks and tangles, which can be terminal when hooking into big fish.

In addition to the things that make it great as a big pit reel, it also features a baitrunner switch, allowing you to offer your hook bait most naturally.

For the money, you are actually getting both a big pit reel and baitrunner in one package, so it is superb value.

The Best Carp Reel for Surface Fishing

Best carp reel

#7. Shimano Speedmaster Reel 14000XTC

If you are surface fishing, there’s a good chance that you will have the rod and reel in your hand.

This means you need one feature above all others.

Lightweight comfort.

This reel has it in abundance. The spool is made of lightweight aluminium with an XT7 graphite body. 

As a result, you will not get fatigued as you concentrate on those carp slurping up dog biscuits!

Surface fishing requires quick responsiveness. Any play in the parts, and you are at a disadvantage.

This reel feels solidly constructed with no rattle, meaning you’ll be in perfect contact with the line and, hopefully, your hook at all times.

With a 20kg drag, which is also super precise, you’ll be in a good place to battle fish of any size.

One thing we really like about this reel is although it is designed for surface fishing, you’ve still got plenty of room on the spool, meaning it is ideal even for the bigger fish.

The Best Carp Reel for Spodding

Best carp reel

#8. Daiwa Emblem Spod Reel

Are you noticing a theme amongst our list of the best carp reels?

Yup, it’s Daiwa again… They really are leviathans in carp fishing.

This spod reel has a fearsome retrieval rate, allowing you to get your spod out and back again in next to no time. 

In fact, each turn of the handle will pull in over 1 metre of line. You’ll fit more on a spool, too, provided you choose the right braid.

One thing will stand out when you take a look at this. The spool is oversized. Massively. And deliberately so. The aim is to allow effortless distance casting. And it really works.

You’ll also find a line clip fitted as standard, allowing you to get literally inch-perfect casting precision to the same spot every single time.

One attractive feature that you don’t often see is the AutoCast system. At the touch of a button, the reel rotor positions itself in the optimum position, ready to make the cast.

It’s one of those things that you won’t know you missed until you have it.

With four ball bearings, you can be assured of excellent machining and superb casting and retrieval performance.

In essence, exactly what you are looking for in a spod reel.

Spodding does require some specialist reels. Here’s what you need to know.

Check out this short video showing the Daiwa Emblem Spod reel up close...

The Best Carp Reel for A Marker Rod

Best carp reel

#9. Fox Eos 12000FS Reel

If you can’t cast with accuracy and precision with a marker, then what is the point?

This reel is the answer and another valuable addition from Fox.

This is a beefed-up version of the iconic EOS 10000 series reel. There are a few things that make it stand out. 

You’ll get accurate and easy casting performance when throwing out your markers.

The reel features both a sprung line clip and a pro cast lip, offering a smooth action that is also completely accurate.

The mesh tech gears will ensure an even and easy retrieve, and the rate is not too shabby either.

One thing we love is that this reel also features a free spool capability. As a result, you can use it both as part of a marker rod setup and as a baitrunner.

All in all, it is quite the package. With a lightweight graphite body and aluminium spool, it looks and feels just as good as some more premium reels with similar features.

The Best Carp Reel for Float Fishing

best carp reels

#10. Preston Innovations Magnitude Reel

Preston innovations never cease to amaze us. They produce some of the best fishing gear on the market, yet it is also really affordable.

Oh, and it looks the part too!

This futuristic-looking reel is packed full of things that make it ideal for float fishing.

It is constructed entirely of aluminium. With its die-cast body, it is rock solid and feels pretty well made.

But that shouldn’t come at the cost of weight saving. Fortunately, this reel weighs a mere 323g, making it an ideal choice for sticking on something light with fast action.

Don’t let the size fool you, either. Although it is compact, it is mighty. It boasts a fearsome retrieval rate and excellent winding power for a reel of its size.

As with all good carp reels, you’ll find that this reel oscillates slowly during the retrieve. This will ensure that you’ll be able to cast a float with precision as the line will flow off the spool effortlessly.

The looks alone make it worth it. The black and blue finish is pretty eye-catching when paired up with the right rod.

Fancy having a bash at carp on a float? Be sure to check out this article.

The Best Reel For A 10ft Carp Rod

Wychwood Riot 65s

#11. Wychwood - Carp Riot 65S Reel

For those who are limited on budget, there are still some great options out there.

Wychwood has produced this reel, ideal for fishing with a 10ft carp rod.

It isn’t fancy, but it will get the job done and would be ideal to buy a couple for a multi rod setup.

10ft rods are great all-rounders ideal for casting and catching big. You’ll need plenty of cranking power, which this reel has in heaps.

How you use it is up to you. Cast medium distances as part of a ‘standard’ carp setup, or use it as a big pit reel.

Your choice.

The Best Small Carp Reel

Best carp reel

#12. Fox FX11 Reel

Carp fishing is all about big rods, reels and rigs, right?


You can still get excellent performance without pulling out the ‘howitzers’.

The Fox FX11 has all the good stuff you need in a carp reel, just in smaller form. 

You’ll get a fast retrieve rate, clean line lay and a reel that is solidly constructed and pretty bulletproof.

Fox gets around the compact size by including a slightly longer spool than standard, meaning you don’t need to compromise casting distance and capacity.

You’ll also find it is packed with the other key features essential to effective carp fishing. These include an anti-twist retrieval system, anti-backlash and a super-efficient drag.

Check out the following video that demonstrates the Fox FX11 in action...

The Best Budget Carp Reels Under £100

Sonik Vader X Carp reel

#13. Sonik Vader X Carp Fishing Reel


You don’t have to break the bank to get out carp fishing. Here’s proof.

The Sonik Vader X will give you all you need in one easy to afford package.

These classy looking reels are constructed from graphite and aluminium, just like the more ‘premium’ models. And there’s more…

You’ll still get nice features, such as spring-loaded line clips and infinite anti-reverse as part of the package.

The retrieval rate isn’t quite as fast, but for the sake of a few extra turns, it is still pretty impressive.

One lovely feature that is unique to this reel is the wood barrel handle. It actually looks really classy.

These reels will be ideal if you are trying to get three rods kitted out simultaneously.
Best carp reel

#14. Mitchell Avocet Fs Black Edition Reel

Back in the day, Mitchell was the only brand to go for.

While they have fallen out of the public eye, this isn’t because they are not excellent.

The good news for you is that they are super affordable yet offer premium performance.

You might have to make a few compromises, but the end result is practically identical.

This reel features a front drag and an excellent retrieve ratio. Just what you need to catch a PB.

The front drag is grease felt, not quite as effective as carbon, but for beginners or those on a budget, it will still offer good performance.

It even comes with a baitrunner function, not bad when you consider that many reels with similar features can cost up to five times as much!

best carp reels

#15. Fox Eos 10000 Carp Fishing Reel

A baitrunner for the cost of a takeaway for two? You bet.

The Fox Eos 10000 is slightly dated but has long been the go-to choice for established carp fishermen.

The good news for you is that you are getting the functionality that would have set you back hundreds a few years ago.

The spool is huge and, when fully loaded, will offer superb casting performance.

We particularly love the gnarled reel handle, giving you a good grip when cranking it in with its great retrieval rate.

It also comes with line clips making it a perfect all-rounder. In fact, it isn’t too far off being a big pit reel.

Overall, this reel offers excellent value that far outperforms its price point.

Final Thoughts

As you’ll have seen from the list of the best carp reels, there is plenty of choices.

Ideally, you’ll want the following features as standard; excellent retrieval ratios, solid construction and good casting performance. As long as you can meet these criteria, you’ll be in a great place.

If you can do so without breaking the bank, even better. In the market for a new setup, know that you’ve seen the best reels; why not check out our guide to the best carp fishing rods?

Already got the rod? Why not pair a new reel up with the best line for carp fishing?

Tight Lines!

All of the fishing tackle featured in this article can be found at one of the following online shops...

Total fishing tackle

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