5 Best Lever Drag Reels (Top Picks for 2022)

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Any angler going for heavy power fishing techniques will appreciate lever drag reels. These reels are super powerful and have the strength to deal with the heaviest species. Additionally, they can withstand harsh environments.

Therefore, you will not have to worry about your reel getting ruined due to adverse conditions with them. However, some people have difficulty choosing the right lever drag reel. You need to consider its strength, targeted species, size, and reel’s performance, among other factors. Here are some of the best lever drag reels.

We have researched tons of lever drag reels, and picked best models out there. We took built quality, material, application, user experience, durability etc into consideration, and sorted the reels accordingly. You may compare and consider your desired reel from the comparison table.

Best Overall
Penn Fathom Lever Drag

Penn Fathom Lever Drag

  • Manufacturer : ‎Pure Fishing
  • Fishing Techniques : Spinning , Trolling
  • Suggested User : ‎Unisex-adult
  • Color : Black Gold
  • Fishing Line Type : Braided
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Budget Friendly
Shimano TLD Lever Drag

Shimano TLD Lever Drag

  • Manufacturer : ‎Shimano
  • Suggested User : ‎Unisex-adult
  • Color : Black
  • Warranty : 1 Year
  • Skill Level : ‎Beginner
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Best High End Reel
Okuma Makaira 2

Okuma Makaira 2

  • Manufacturer : ‎‎Okuma Fishing Tackle Corp.
  • Fishing Techniques : Trolling
  • Suggested User : Unisex - Adult
  • Color : Gold
  • Fishing Line Type : Braided
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Penn Squall Lever Drag

Penn Squall Lever Drag

  • Manufacturer : ‎Pure Fishing
  • Fishing Techniques : Trolling
  • Suggested User : Unisex-adult
  • Color : Gold, Multicolor
  • Fishing Line Type : Braided
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Shimano Speedmaster 2

Shimano Speedmaster 2

  • Manufacturer : ‎Shimano
  • Hand Orientation : Right Hand
  • Suggested User : Unisex
  • Line Retrieve per Crank (inches) : 42 / 23
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 20/250, 25/280, 30/230
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1. Penn Fathom Lever Drag

Premium Choice
Penn FTH30LD2LH Fathom
9.9/10Our Score
  • Gear Ratio : 5.5:1 high and 2.8:1 low
  • Max Drag :  40LB
  • Ball Bearing :  5 shielded stainless steel 
  • Weight : 0.6 Kilograms ,
  • Hand Orientation : Left / Right

Penn Fathom Lever Drag is great for jigging, live baiting, and bottom fishing applications. With its sturdy construction, you can deal with large and vigorous saltwater species. The full metal body and side plates ensure its superior strength and durability. Additionally, the stainless steel main and pinion gears are durable and let you explore different waters without any worry.

You are assured of a smooth and powerful drag given its Dura-Drag washers. Also, the five stainless steel ball bearings ensure the smoothest casts and help eliminate backlash and bird nests. The reel also lets you know how much line you have left due to the line capacity rings, so you have an easier time fishing.

Key Features

  • Six available sizesFull metal body and side plates
  • Stainless steel main and pinion gears
  • Double dog ratchet anti-reverse
  • Line capacity rings
  • Drag material Dura drag

2. Shimano TLD Lever Drag Conventional  Reel

Budget Choice
Shimano Triton TLD20 Lever Drag
9.9/10Our Score
  • Material : Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Graphite
  • Weight (oz) : 18.6 - 24.5
  • Max Drag (lb) : 22 - 23
  • Ball Bearings : 4
  • Gear Ratio : 3.6:1, 4.0:1

Whether you are casting live bait, trolling, or engaging in any other demanding technique, you can rely on the Shimano TLD Lever Drag.  You can always rely on the aluminum spool with a strike alarm clicker ensures even line lay and lets you know when you catch a fish.

The reels construction consists of a graphite body, precision stainless steel gears, and the main shaft. The graphite body ensures its lightness without compromising on its quality. The gears are robust and highly durable; they give you leverage and power to deal with the largest species.

You will experience comfort at its best with its handle that comes with an oil-ported torpedo knob. Additionally, you can be sure of smooth casts due to the four ball bearings and Triton drag system made with titanium material.

Key Features

  • Graphite body and side plates
  • Stainless steel gears
  • One-piece cold-forged aluminum spool

3. Okuma Makaira 2 Speed Offshore Lever Drag Trolling Reel

High End
Okuma MK-15II Makaira Two Speed
9.8/10Our Score
  • Material : Aluminum, Stainless Steel
  • Weight (g) : 1843
  • Max Drag (kg) : 27.2 - 39
  • Gear Ratio : 3.2:1, 1.3:1
  • Ball bearings : 4+1

I highly recommend this lever drag reel if you can stand the price. Okuma Makaira 2 Speed Offshore Lever Drag Reel thrives in big game fishing, making it the ideal reel for Tuna, Sharks, and Billfish. The construction consists of an aluminum frame, side plates, and spool. It is also coated with an Okuma corrosion-resistant coating, making it ideal for saltwater.

The two gearing system technology consists of two sets of stainless steel main and pinion gears. The high gear ratio helps in the fast presentation of baits, while the low gear ratio gives you more torque. You are also assured of a smooth and powerful drag so you can deal with the biggest and fighting species.

Key Features

  • Silent-anti-reverse
  • Helical Cut Gearing system
  • Two-speed gearing
  • T-Bar handle
  • Machined aluminum spool with forged side plates
  • Ratcheting clicker system

4. Penn Squall Lever Drag 2-Speed Trolling Fishing Reel

PENN Squall Lever Drag
9.8/10Our Score
  • Material : Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Graphite
  • Weight (oz) : 55.6
  • Max Drag (lb) : 40
  • Gear Ratio : 2.9:1 / 1.5:1
  • Ball bearings : 4

This two-speed reel is one of our best fishing reels. The Penn Squall Lever Drag 2-Speed Reel gives you the confidence to deal with the biggest saltwater species. The graphite construction ensures the reel is sturdy and super light. The double dog ratchet system also prevents the handle from reversing, giving you more leverage.

You can easily tell how much line is left as the aluminum spool has line capacity rings. Additionally, you are assured of smooth casts given the four ball bearings. Finally, the two-speed system has a quick-shift mechanism so you can swiftly change the gear ratios without losing your catch.

Key Features

  • Machined aluminum spool with line capacity rings
  • Stainless steel main and pinion gears
  • Quick-shift 2 speed system
  • Drag Material Dura-Drag
  • Double dog antireverse
You may also Like : Is Penn Squall better than Warfare ? 

5. Shimano Speedmaster 2 Speed Lever Drag Saltwater Fishing Reel

Shimano Speedmaster Ii
9.8/10Our Score
  • Gear Ratio - 5.7:1 / 3.1:1
  • Max Drag: 40lbs |
  • Weight: 25.7oz |
  • Bearings: 4
  • Fishing line Type : Monofilament

You can rely on this reel for all your offshore applications and expect nothing but the best. Its rigid HAGANE body is ideal for anglers eyeing the biggest species and-heavy power fishing. Shimano Speed Master 2 Speed Lever Drag reel also features a super smooth and powerful drag with a wide range of adjustability.

The  S compact design makes handling easier and you can fish for longer hours. It’s perfect for use with braided lines and also gives anglers a chance to use monofilament lines due to the spare drag cam. You are also assured of smooth casts and reduced bird nests due to the 4+1 ball bearings.

Key Features

  • HAGANE Body and HAGANE Gears
  • S Compact body
  • Spare Drag Cam
Learn More : Is Shimano Speedmaster 2 as Good as Telica? 

What makes a Good Lever Drag Reel?

Speed System

Lever drag systems come in either one-speed or two-speed designs. The choice of the speed system entirely depends on the angler. One speed system reels come with one gear ratio, and you can choose the gear ratio that serves you best. On the other hand, two-speed reels have high gear and low gear ratios. The high gear ratio is meant for light applications, while the low gear ratio provides more torque when dealing with bigger species.


The material of your lever drag is an essential consideration. The most common materials are graphite, aluminum, and stainless steel. Graphite, for starters, is lightweight, and that’s why most anglers prefer it. It is also corrosion-resistant, but it’s not as sturdy as aluminum and stainless steel. Stainless steel and aluminum materials, on the other hand, are robust and perfect for fighting and vigorous species, but they are prone to corrosion. So if you choose them for saltwater fishing, make sure they have a corrosion-resistant coating.


Lever drag reels are a little more expensive compared to other reels. However, if you’re determined to get an affordable one, you will find a more affordable one with a bit of patience and research. However, if you do not mind the price, most brands will ensure that the high-end lever drag reels offer the best performance and are reliable.


When dealing with lever drag reels, you will come across drag materials like Dura-Drag and Cross Carbon drag, among others. The drag material depends on the angler’s preference; however, for the smoothness and power of the drags, you need to ensure that they are smooth and powerful. Depending on the targeted species and size of your reel, you can choose a drag power that matches your needs. Some reels will go up to 40 lbs or more, while others can as low as 10 lbs. Make sure the drag is powerful and can handle most species you will encounter.

Bearing System

In every reel, you have to consider their bearing system. For lever drag reels, you need to ensure smooth casts, and that’s why it’s essential to have high bearing counts and, if possible, an anti-reverse bearing. Bearing counts from 4 will be perfect for most fishing applications, even heavy applications. You will experience smoother casts, and with an anti-reverse bearing, you can get rid of backlash.

Small Lever Drag Reel

Best Small Lever Drag Reel : Shimano Talica Conventional Reel

Most anglers prefer smaller reels since they are easier to handle , and they make fishing easier. However, most lever drag reels are bigger, and getting a small reel can be challenging. In addition, with the small lever drag reel, you need to ensure that they can handle the different species and the harsh environment. Small lever drag reels include Shimano Talica 8, Okuma Andros 5 Narrow, and Accurate Valiant 400.

Budget Lever Drag Reel

One of the most popular Budget Lever Drag Reels : Penn Warfare Level Wind Conventional Reel

As we have seen earlier, lever drag reels are a little expensive. However, if you are on a tight budget, it is possible to get a budget reel. Although most anglers recommend using high-end reels due to their quality and reliability, you can still find a reliable and affordable reel. Penn Warfare Level Wind Conventional Reel will deliver unmatched performance at less than $100.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Lever Drag Better than Star Drag?    

It’s really hard to tell whether a lever drag is better than a star drag. Every angler has their preference, and some will prefer the star drag while others prefer the lever drag reel. The star drag, for starters, is cheaper, and they cast farther due to the free spool. On the other hand, lever drag reels are more durable and powerful. Additionally, they have less work when it comes to controlling the line. The choice between which one is better is entirely dependent on the angler.

Can you cast a lever Drag Reel?

Of course, yes, if you can cast star drag reels well, you can also cast lever drag reels. However, it would be best if you got the right technique. Most people will have a hard time achieving longer distances; that’s why you need the thumb control mechanism. This technique is reliable and saves time

Final Verdict

With the different technological advancements today, anglers can participate in any technique. You do not have to settle for less anymore. A lever drag reel will ensure you have the best experience in saltwater and freshwater. Additionally, they are easier to use as you do not have to control the line with your thumb, unlike star drag reels. 


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