Big Pit Vs Baitrunners

Big Pit Reels vs Baitrunners - (2024 Full Guide on Popular Carp Fishing Reels) 

Two reels, a world of difference? Well as you will see, there are a few similarities, and maybe a little bit of mixing going on. 

In this article we are going to have a look at big pit reels vs baitrunners and see which one you should be going for.

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Big Pit Reels vs Baitrunners - When to choose which:


Rivers / Canals / Ponds <50 yards wide

Small Lakes < 100 yards wide

Medium Sized waters < 200 yards wide

Large waters over 200  yards wide

Big Pit?


You can skip straight to our recommended products below or read on to find out everything you need to know.

What is a big pit reel?

If reels had a family tree, the big pit reel’s grandad would be the sea fishing reel. They have a lot of similar features. And their aim is broadly the same. To cast a big heavy weight a very long way. They achieve this admirably due to the size of the spool. By having less loops the line can be payed off the spool a lot easier, meaning less drag and therefore more distance.

How the carp mainline goes on is equally as important as when it is coming off. For each turn of the spool (or in this case bail arm) you will wrap a certain amount of line around the spool. Due to the big spool size there is more line per wrap, therefore the line lay is less compact and much more even. Again, this aids casting distance.

Other common features with sea fishing reels and big pit reels are a front drag system and a fearsome retrieve ratio. When we look at big pit reels vs baitrunners there is a bit of a difference.

What is a baitrunner?

A bait runner can be a larger reel, but its main feature is that it has a switch that will allow line to pay off the spool without offering any resistance. The reason this is useful is that effectively you have two drag systems.

One of the drags is set with the baitrunner facility so the fish can 'run' freely when taking your bait and the other after you have disengaged the baitrunner (the clutch) comes into play. The clutch is quite often set a lot tighter than the baitrunner in an attempt to stop the fish in in its tracks and start the fight.

Big pit reels vs Baitrunners, what are the similarities?

Basically, both reels are designed primarily to catch big fish. And by big we mean ‘camp out for three days to get one bite’ kind of fish. If you are just starting out in the sport, you may want to cut your teeth with a carp fishing setup for beginners before attempting the 'heavy' gear. 

The size of both big pits and baitrunners alongside the drag facilities both help when dealing with the larger, hard fighting species.

The main difference between the two, other than the bait runner facility, comes in the spool type. Big Pit Reels have much larger spools. With the large spools there is less resistance and therefore you are able to cast a lead further.

With a baitrunner reel you can cast a decent sized lead a max of 100-110 yards where as with a big pit reel you are looking at the 120 - 150 yard range.

Checkout this brief video clip explaining this fact:

Big pit reels vs baitrunners, which is better?

Well actually you no longer have to make the choice. As you will see they have borrowed a little bit from each other. You can get Baitrunners with huge spools and fearsome retrieves, or big pit reels with a baitrunner switch.

One thing that is very important though when choosing between a Big Pit Reel & a Baitrunner is the carp rod that you will be fishing it with. Getting the right balance with the best Carp rod and reel combo will make such a positive difference to your fishing.

 Let’s take a look at some examples of these in our product review section…


The Best Premium Big Pit Reels

baitrunner vs big pit reel

Daiwa 19 Basia Reel

Simply quality. No doubt the Best Big Pit Reel for people that firstly take the sport seriously and secondly actually have some disposable income to invest in a quality reel.

Whilst at the upper end of the budget if you were going to make one purchase, and one purchase only, then this reel is for you. This is your ‘forever reel’. This is the best Big Pit Reel on our list. Believe it or not there are more expensive reels, but from this point on you are in the realm of diminishing returns.

The features are luxury. A lightweight Zaion body means it is easy to hold and well balanced. The gorgeous black finish makes it look like something batman might fish with. And the air bail system is something that you didn’t know you missed until you have it. Tap the bail arm and it releases, turn the handle and it closes. With a slow spool speed and excellent line lay capability this reel will allow you to cast into orbit. A 15kg drag system gives you more than enough firepower to handle the biggest specimens.

Check out the following short video on the features of this amazing reel:

Daiwa air

Daiwa big pit fishing reel Emblem

When talking about big pit reels this is no doubt a thoroughbred. The unique air rotor system relieves stresses caused by powerful casting and winding. The 'air bail system' means you can open the bail arm at the touch of a finger. The retrieval rate is absolutely frightening, you’ll get nearly a metre back onto your spool for every turn of the handle.

Daiwa have done it just a little bit differently by also increasing the length of the spool as well as the width. Due to the forces involved casting large distances with heavy weights, tangles can be a problem. Daiwa have addressed this by adding anti twist technology to the reel. If you definitely didn’t want a bait runner then this is about as ‘big pit’ as you can get.

Check out this brief clip that showcases the Daiwa Emblem 25 with a 360 view of the reel:

baitrunners vs big pit reels

Sonik Tournos XD 10000

This great reel from Sonik has features that are well thought out in the design that adds real value to the actual user on the bank. For example the quick click folding handles is a luxury feature that makes things easier when setting up

The 'nitty ' gritty' however of the cast and retrieve of this reel has the same luxury feel of the 'quick click' feature and indeed of a reel 3 times its price tag.

This reel isn't a Basia or an Emblem as an all round package but isn't far off and with a much more affordable price is well worth the investment.

Checkout this brief video showcasing the Sonik XD Tournos 1000


The Best Budget Big Pit Reels


TFG TF Gear V10 Big Pit Reel

I have to say pound for pound, TFG have produced an unbelievable reel with the V10 Big Pit for the price tag. Okay it hasn't got all the frills and spills of the Basia 19 or the Emblem 25 but as a beginners big pit reel or for those on a tight budget this is absolutely ideal.

The spool size, drag and the line lay are all pushing that of the premium models and all this for under £50! This reel should be a consideration for all and sundry. 

Checkout this brief video showcasing the TFG v10:


Leeda Rogue 65FD Big Pit Reel

As you’ll see, the spool on this reel is significantly bigger in diameter than our suggested bait runners. You might get a touch more line on, but if you are down to the last 20 metres then you have other things to worry about.

Big pit reels used to be big heavy contraptions, but this reel has borrowed a little technology. It is constructed almost entirely of lightweight graphite and aluminium. The line lay will be silky smooth however the retrieve ratio just isn't as good as the premium counter-parts as its more on par with the premium bait runners.

None-the-less, this reel is great for beginners and fantastic for those looking for a budget big pit reel.


The Best Premium Baitrunner Reel

big pit vs baitrunners


The XT range from Shimano is really popular in the angling industry today and understandably so. Shimano have always produced quality reels and this is no exception.

This particular version has taken the original and given it a cosmetic face lift alongside an upgrade. Line management is now controlled by the 'Aero Wrap II' system with 2-speed oscillation to deliver perfect line lay and increasing casting performance. Another improvement is the hybrid aluminium body which is stronger and lighter than the previous 'RA' version

This reel is available in different sizes allowing you to balance your perfect reel with the sized water you are predominantly fishing.

Checkout the following video showcasing the the XT RB 10000 baitrunner:


The Best Budget Baitrunner Reel

Shimano Baitrunner ST 4000

Shimano Baitrunner ST 4000

This is one of Shimano’s flagship reels. Again the spool isn’t quite as large as a big pit. But go down in the breaking strain just a touch and you’ll have plenty of room, in fact you could just about manage 260m if you put your mind to it. Again the baitrunner switch is what sets this reel apart, but bits it has borrowed include a fast retrieve (you’ll get ¾ of a meter per turn of the handle).

 Speaking of the handle it is super chunky with a huge arm, just like a big pit reel. This reel is a super quality and as a ‘one off’ purchase is highly recommended. You will never need another reel for heavy work.

shakespeare freespool

Shakespeare Beta Freespool Reel

Well this is a great example of what we were saying. You will fit around 230m of line on a spool provided you use a sensible breaking strain. That’s easily enough to compete with big pit reels. But you also get the bait runner function. Whilst this has a really decent sized spool you maybe wont get quite as much distance on a cast. But it will certainly come close.

As a middle ground this is a great offering especially for beginners. A lightweight graphite body, a really fast gear ratio and the added benefit of rear drag all combine to make this a worthwhile package for the money

The Best Premium Big Pit / Baitrunner Hybrid

big pit vs baitrunner

Shimano Big Baitrunner XT-B Longcast Big Pit Reel

This is a great Big Pit reel with all the features and with a bait runner facility!

Shimano is a well known in it’s mechanical expertise, and they’ve applied this technological know how to produce one of the best Big Pit / baitrunner hybrids on the market today. We are now talking premium performance. This reel boasts some serious power. 20kg of drag means you’ll be able to stand your ground with whatever has taken your bait. The retrieval rate is breath-taking. One wind of the handle will bring in over a meter of line at a time.

Available in different sizes, this reel brings the best of both worlds and is a real winner with us.

Check out the following video that details some of the features of the XT-B Longcast:


The Best Budget Big Pit / Baitrunner Hybrid



You see? These are super hard to classify. Is it a big pit reel, or is it a bait runner? Well our answer is it’s both! And the best bit is, you get two of them. The spools are big enough that you will get about 300 metres apiece if you go for 10lbs line.

Looking at the spools they are definitely big enough to qualify as a big pit reel. Yet the retrieve rate is very similar to the shimano baitrunner. The similarity doesn’t end there either… they actually have a baitrunner switch too, so you get the best of both worlds. With spare spool you could even try and squeeze a few more metres out of your cast by using braid.


As you will have seen there has been a fair bit of crossover between the two technologies, and that can only be a good thing. When it comes to the answer as to big pit reels vs baitrunners, well as with everything in fishing there are no hard and fast rule.

Pick the one you like or need. A big pit casts better and may reach more cautious fish, but a baitrunners unique drag facility has many pros in modern day specimen fishing.

If you would like more detail on carp reels in general, be sure to check out our complete guide on the best carp reels here.

Thank you for reading our guide on big pit reels vs baitrunners. 

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

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