Best Overall Reel for 2024 

Outdoor Life tested and reviewed the DAIWA Ballistic MQ LT and calls it the best of the best.

FOOTHILL RANCH, CA (February 16, 2024) – The truth tends to come out when judged by a jury of your peers. Such was the case when writer and avid angler Derek Horner tested and reviewed DAIWA’s Ballistic MQ LT, ultimately judging it the “Best Overall” for 2024.

Pitted against a wealth of other brands and models – angling for bass, panfish, trout, and saltwater species – the Ballistic MQ LT rose to the top.

Instead of us telling how great it is, we’ll let Outdoor Life author Derek Horner put it in his own words:

The author with a 25-pound freshwater striped bass he landed with the Daiwa Ballistic MQ LT 2500D.

How I Chose the Best Fishing Reels

By Derek Horner

Selecting a fishing reel that fits both your needs and your budget can be a daunting task. Hundreds of options are available, and if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, it can quickly become overwhelming.

That’s why I got my hands on the top reels from the top brands in the fishing industry to put through a summer of abuse and tournament bass fishing. Here are picks for the best fishing reels after a year of testing.

As a tournament bass angler, I spend most of my summer on the water, dialing in patterns and trying to perfect new techniques. With many hours spent on the deck of my bass boat, and the resulting stripped gears and sheared-off components, it’s become clear to me that I’m not easy on my gear. That’s probably a relief to you, though, because you can trust me when I say the reels below all stood up to the torture test.

Testing Spinning Reels

I spent months fishing for smallmouth, largemouth, stripers, and lake trout tearing drag and testing the quality of these reels. I feel very confident in telling you that each and every one of these reels deserves a shot to be on your reel seat.

Due to that fact, deciding which reels are better than the others was more difficult than I had ever expected. Thankfully, after a lot of thought and in-field research, I’m confident the reels below deserve the top spots.

The DAIWA Ballistic MQ LT 2500D is more than deserving of our best overall award. Throughout the summer of battling largemouth, smallmouth, lake trout, and even a 25-pound freshwater striped bass, the high-quality drag never showed even the slightest sign of slipping or failing. The quality of this reel can be felt with each turn of the handle, which fits perfectly in your hand with a well-thought-out handle design.

Coming in at just below 7 ounces, you don’t have to worry about the weight of your reel wearing you down throughout a long day on the water. A final piece worth noting with this phenomenal reel is the castability. The first time I reared back and fired out a ¼-ounce swimbait head with a 3.8-inch soft plastic swimbait on the back, I was stunned at just how far along the bluff wall it went. It was almost like I was long lining the bait, but in reality, I had simply cast it out there.

If you’re looking for a high-quality reel at a very reasonable price, I wouldn’t look any further than the DAIWA Ballistic MQ LT 2500D.

Best Overall: DAIWA Ballistic MQ LT 2500D

Key Features:

  • Price: $229.99
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Weight: 6.9-Ounces
  • Bearings: 2CRBB + 6BB + 1RB
  • Line Capacity: 10/250 (Test/Yard)
  • Drag Weight: 22-Pounds


  • Incredibly smooth while reeling
  • Castability
  • A drag weight heavy enough to battle even the largest bass


  • The gear ratio is a bit lower than other options, meaning a slower retrieve on the water

If you’re looking for a high-quality reel at a very reasonable price, I wouldn’t look any further than the Daiwa Ballistic MQ LT 2500D.


For Daiwa’s latest color catalog and/or information on Daiwa dealers in your area, call Daiwa’s Customer Service Department at 562-375-6800 or e-mail inquiries to: The URL for Daiwa’s web site is


About Daiwa Corporation

Daiwa’s first spinning reel rolled off the assembly line in 1955. Since then, the company has grown into one of the largest and most influential tackle companies in the world today. To handle sales and distribution in the United States, Daiwa Corporation first opened its doors on September 26, 1966, operating from a small facility in Culver City, California. Today, based in Foothill Ranch, California, Daiwa Corporation sells tackle throughout the United States, Canada, Central and South America. From the very beginning, Daiwa’s emphasis has been upon innovation and quality. The result is a long list of product features, design and materials that have become standards for the fishing tackle industry. Daiwa’s long-standing record of innovation has left a visible mark on the majority of tackle manufactured today and continues to advance the sport of fishing. Learn more at


Noel Vick

Traditions Media

(612) 708-7339