Review: Zebco Big Cat XT Spincast Fishing Reel – A Reliable and Powerful Reel for Catfish Anglers

Published on May 12, 2023, 5:55 p.m.

The Zebco Big Cat XT is a heavy-duty spincast fishing reel built for catching big fish like catfish, striper, walleye, and other medium to large freshwater and saltwater species. This reel provides smooth and reliable performance thanks to its durable build and components like the titanium-nitride plated spinnerhead and stainless steel cover. With changeable right/left hand retrieve, dial-adjustable drag up to 25 lbs, and mono capacity of 110/25, the Big Cat XT is versatile and powerful enough to handle the hard fights of trophy catfish.
 Zebco Big Cat XT Spincast Fishing Reel


  • Brand: Zebco
  • Model: Big Cat XT Spincast Reel
  • Size: 25
  • Hand Orientation: Changeable right/left hand
  • Pre-spooled Line: 25 lb Zebco line
  • Gears: All-metal gears
  • Bearings: 4 (3 ball bearings + clutch)
  • Gear Ratio: 2.6:1
  • IPT: 19 in
  • Max Drag: 25 lbs
  • Reel Weight: 20 oz


  • Durable titanium-nitride plated spinnerhead
  • Stainless steel front cover
  • Dial-adjustable drag
  • Instant anti-reverse clutch
  • Dual ceramic pick-up pins
  • Changeable right/left hand retrieve

 Zebco Big Cat XT Spincast Fishing Reel

Design and Build Quality

The Zebco Big Cat XT has a rugged build meant to stand up to big fish. The reel weighs 20 oz and feels very solid in hand. The stainless steel front cover provides great protection for the internal components while the titanium-nitride plated spinnerhead allows for smooth line flow off the spool. The oversized T-knob handle is easy to grip and crank. The clicker drag adjustment feels smooth and precise. Overall the XT feels very well-made with quality components and materials throughout.


Casting - With its all-metal oscillating spool design, the XT can launch some impressively long casts. It casts much farther than typical closed-face reels. The pre-spooled 25 lb test line allows for good distance.

Retrieval - The 19 inch per turn retrieve rate brings in line quickly. Combined with the smooth 4-bearing system and 2.6:1 gear ratio, reeling in fish feels fast and smooth.

Drag - The dial-adjustable clicker drag provides up to 25 lbs of drag pressure, which is more than enough muscle for big catfish and saltwater species. The drag has a wide range and is easy to set precisely.

 Zebco Big Cat XT Spincast Fishing Reel

Retrieval and Drag System

The drag system utilizes 4 bearings - 3 ball bearings and 1 anti-reverse clutch bearing. This provides noticeably smooth cranking and instant anti-reverse for solid hooksets. The oscillating spool aided by the titanium-nitride spinnerhead minimizes friction and line twist. Adjusting the drag is simple with the clicker dial on top.


The Zebco Big Cat XT is built for catfish but has the size, power and smoothness to handle many other species. Its 25 lb mono capacity and 25 lb max drag allow it to tackle freshwater trophies like carp, striper and walleye. It has the ruggedness for inshore saltwater fishing too. The changeable retrieve makes it easy for both right and left handed anglers to use. Any angler needing a versatile and powerful spincast reel will appreciate the XT.

 Zebco Big Cat XT Spincast Fishing Reel

Use Cases:

The Zebco Big Cat XT spincast reel excels for catfish, carp, striper, walleye and other medium to large freshwater species. Its strength and saltwater-ready construction also make it a fine choice for inshore saltwater fishing.

User Feedback Analysis

With over 400 reviews and a 4.6 out of 5 star overall rating, the Zebco Big Cat XT receives outstanding reviews from customers. Here is an in-depth look at the feedback:

Casting Distance - Many anglers mention the XT allows for remarkably long casting distance compared to most closed-face reels. The oscillating spool and quality drag system provide very smooth, backlash-free casts. This enables making pinpoint casts even in windy conditions.

Drag Performance - The drag earns consistent praise for being smooth, precise and strong. Anglers are impressed with its ability to reliably handle the long runs and bulldogging of big catfish and carp without slipping. The adjustable clicker makes fine-tuning the drag for specific conditions quick and easy.

Durability - Built with all-metal components and a stainless steel cover, the XT’s construction gets high marks for durability and corrosion resistance. Anglers mention frequent use in fresh and saltwater resulting in no issues. The titanium-nitride plated pickup pins and spinnerhead provide longevity as well.

Value - A common theme in reviews is the XT provides functionality and performance comparable to reels costing over $100, making it a fantastic value. The combination of tough construction, smooth drag, and reasonable price make it a top choice for many anglers.


  • Great casting distance for a spincast reel
  • Smooth and strong drag system
  • Durable all-metal construction
  • Reliable performance
  • Changeable right/left hand retrieve
  • Affordably priced for the quality


  • Heavy for all day fishing
  • Occasional quality control issues mentioned


Considering its quality components, rugged metal body, and dual ceramic pins to prevent corrosion, the Zebco Big Cat XT delivers tremendous value. The powerful 25 lb carbon fiber drag can handle the hardest fighting fish with smoothness typically found in more expensive reels. While not the lightest reel, it is very reasonably priced for what you get. For anglers wanting an affordable workhorse spincast reel, the XT gives you a lot for your money.

 Zebco Big Cat XT Spincast Fishing Reel


For catfish anglers or anyone needing a powerful spincast reel, the Zebco Big Cat XT is an excellent option. It provides the smoothness, strength, and durability to land trophy fish while still being easy to use. Backed by Zebco’s reputation and affordable price, the XT is a great value ready to take on big fish. Anglers give it high marks for performance and reliability. Overall the Zebco Big Cat XT deserves strong consideration as a rugged spincast reel that punches far above its price.

Brand and Warranty

The Zebco brand dates back to 1954 and has a reputation for reliable, easy-to-use fishing gear. The Big Cat XT reel is warranted for 1 year against manufacturer defects.


  • Mono Capacity: 110/25 yards/lbs
  • Gear Ratio: 2.6:1
  • Max Drag: 25 lbs
  • Retrieve Rate: 19 ipm
  • Reel Weight: 20 oz
  • Pre-spooled: 25 lb line

In the Box:

  • Zebco Big Cat XT reel
  • Pre-spooled with 25 lb test Zebco fishing line

How to Use:

The Zebco Big Cat XT is easy to setup and use. Just mount it on your rod, tie on a lure or bait, set the drag dial to your desired tension and start reeling in fish. Keep it cleaned and maintained properly and it will provide years of smooth, reliable performance.

Zebco Big Cat XT Spincast Fishing Reel