Anglers worldwide have been innovating and trying out new ways of fishing throughout the last century. Trolling has been one that has been popular in the last couple of decades. And without the best trolling reels, you cannot do well, as a trolling reel is the main component while you choose to catch big fish in the ocean waves.
Trolling reels are specially made for catching big fish and tolerate extreme weight. With a lot of pulling power and rigidity, trolling reels have to survive extreme gear action too. Among so many good trolling reels on the market, finding the best one for you is quite a bit of brainstorm. We will be taking a look at the seven best of the bests on the market.
Top 7 Best Trolling Reels Reviews
Check out the reviews of the top trolling reels on the market right now in 2019 with our honest opinion.
1. PENN Warfare – Best Overall
If you research, you can see that PENN Warfare is on the best-selling reels list on the internet. Alongside being lightweight, it’s a powerful and heavy-duty machine. You can find the reels both left and right-handed. The weight has been reduced by using graphite on constructing frames and side plates.
Aluminum forged spool provides smooth and fast action, and graphite on the outer body prevents corrosion for a long time. You can rock this set of reels for more than decades without worrying about the machine getting dysfunctional or unusable. With a drag ratio of 5.1:1, this reel can provide you with a rock-solid fishing experience in the waves.
Using the depth counter on the reel, you can monitor how much of the line you have released in the water. Your fishing line goes through the depth counter, and the counter keeps the measurement so that you bait your hooks in the right location. You can also lock the fishing line on your desired depth with just a screw.
Al of the metal component on this reel is corrosion resistant. In water, even salt water, they do not get oxidized or get damaged. Pinion gears are forged with a neutral metal called brass. An instant anti-reverse bearing can stop the line release instantly when your line catches any fish. It’s a tough and rough machine that every angler wants to have.
- A machined brass pinion gear
- Corrosion resistant aluminum for smooth action
- Lightweight graphite frame
- Ht-100 carbon fiber drag washer
- Very large and advanced for beginners
2. Okuma Classic Pro XP – Best Trolling Reels for the Money
In super-compact form factor and minimal design strategy, Okuma Classic pro XP is one of the best companions for speed fishers. Super-fast spool action and sturdy material design make it a great choice for beginners. Professional anglers are also fond of this piece of gear.
The body cage is made of corrosion-resistant, and they are super lightweight. Just because the trolling reels deal with a lot of line tension, the reels have to be strong enough. The spool is made of anodized aluminum, which makes the spool strong and oxidation-proof.
The spools don’t catch any rust or oxidation mark in bad weather, salt, or sweet water. Gears can tolerate drag weigh up to 22 to 25 lbs, which is great for big fishes of saltwater. A 100 plus lbs. catfish is a piece of cake to this small and compact reel which is amazing.
Okuma Classic Pro XP offers a line clicker, and you can turn it off if you want to. You can install these reels to any rods, from beginners to professionals by your preferences.
Despite a lower price, a dependable multi-disc rubidium drag system results in the most reliable trolling reel system. The free works like a champ even under super-high tension of water stream, and this reel is never going to give up on you.
- Lightweight and compact construction
- Machined anodized aluminum spool
- One of the best budget trolling reels
- Corrosion resistant frame survives the extreme environment
- Comes with a multidisk rubidium drag system
- Not a very good option for professional anglers
3. PENN Squall II LevelWind – Best High Speed Trolling Reels
With many attachments and measurement options to choose from, the PENN Squall LevelWind is one of the versatile ones out there. In the dedicated section of the market, these spools rules like champs and graphite smooth body also provide a silky-smooth fishing experience that every beginner to experienced fisherman wants.
Squall LevelWind has three sizes represented by 20LW, 30LW, and 50LW, and they all have left and right-hand options. Anodized aluminum spool provides a buttery smooth dragging experience and ensures that the free is strong and sturdy enough to tolerate high line tension.
The spool easily handles braided lines. For high tolerance, and HT-100 drag washer has been provided that keeps the drag washer cool and smooth. 2+1 shielded steel bearing system provides anti-reverse action when it needs.
The main gear of this reel is made of bronze alloy, and the bronze is marine grade. They are strong and last longer than the regular ones. Also, it can offer excellent speed for bigger to medium fish. Actually, the better speed makes this the right high-speed trolling reel in the market. The frame is made of graphite, and that makes it lighter and tougher than the conventional ones.
With 30LW and 50LW options, you will get a line length counter for the best user experience. You can tie your rod on the back and see the released line length using the length counter. Squall LevelWind has the most value for the money on the market, and you are also going to get the performance you prefer.
- 4.9:1 gear ration and smooth drag system
- Anodized aluminum spool
- Excellent speed for a trolling reel
- Graphite lightweight frame
- High strength marine-grade bronze alloy
- Weights a bit heavier
4. Okuma Cold Water Reel – Best Light Trolling Reel
Okuma Cold Water is a super tough and industrial quality trolling reel that every angler wants to have in their arsenal. With super industrial quality chassis and the best quality material, Okuma cold water is the title best choice for beginners to professional anglers.
Coldwater has many cool and professional features that you may not find in most professional ones in the market. This one is special for trolling because of the rugged built quality and high drag tolerance.
The frame is made of corrosion-resistant metal, and side plates are made of lightweight and durable metal at the same time. A multi-disc carbon drag system makes sure of the highest resistive dragging power. Pulling big fish with this reel is going to be buttery smooth. 2BB+1RB stainless steel bearings with 5:1:1 and 4:2:1 gear ratio makes your job easier.
A self-lubricating gearing system keeps the silky reel smooth for a long time. A one-year guarantee keeps you covered. The speed lock pinion gear system makes sure the lines stay locked on stream. You will also find a line length counter on the reel to keep the released line in knowledge. It’s necessary to be precise while targeting specific species of fish. It also has a reset switch for a fresh start.
- Industrial built quality
- Lightweight trolling reel for comfort
- Specially made for professionals
- Rough and tough Ratcheting star drag system
- One-year warranty
- Not good for beginners
- A bulky one
5. Fin-Nor Sportfisher – Best Heavy Duty Rod
If you are looking for a rough and tough one-piece aluminum-built reel, then Fin-Nor Sportfisher is the one that you may take a look at. In small form factor body and ergonomic design, this makes a perfect companion in a heavy stream. It’s a professional reel with a sleek design.
Impressive design strategy makes it one of the eye-catching reels on the market. The Black and silver accent makes it look more professional. Corrosion-resistant aluminum body lasts longer than the cheaper ones. You can use this one in the lake water, and it also performs great in the saltwater situation.
The aluminum spool can handle braided lines, and if you can tie correctly, you can accommodate a lot of braided lines in this reel. It has a clicker on the left side, and you can turn it off if you want to. Huge bronze and stainless gear hold up the drag weight very easily.
Leaver acts smoothly as silk with extreme weight on the line. You won’t even need to oil or swap them because steel can take much hassle for a long time.
Leaver on this reel is super ergonomic. Fin has been developing their product for more than thirty years, and the leaver design has been designed according to the professional trolling fishermen. You can be assured of the quality and advantages while buying this one.
- Heavy-duty carbon fiber drag system
- Ergonomic handle for ease of use
- Best budget trolling reels for the performance
- One-piece tough aluminum frame
- Has low drag ratio
- A bit expensive
6. Shimano Tekota 300 Trolling – Best Trolling Reel for Tuna
A versatile and professional wheel must have the ability to perform well both in freshwater and saltwater like a champ. Shimano Tekota 300 is one of them. With many power options and categorized gear options, you can find all kinds of reels that can fulfill your needs.
One die-cast aluminum frame design makes the frame construction tight and tolerable under extreme pressure. You can use these reels in both fresh water and saltwater, and oxidation or corrosion will never get any chance to damage the body or the gear system of this reel.
Specially treated bearings prevent rust that makes the reel last for a lifetime. The reel features a unique crossbar-forward design that directly accesses the spool on-disengaging level-wind system with underbrace. This is considered one of the best reels for tuna fishing while trolling because of its precise performance.
Through this system, you can manage the line better than the others. This super smooth spool ensures corrosion resistance for ten times longer than the regular treated ones.
Clicker featured on this reel is smooth, and you can turn them off whenever you want to. Steel bearing passes through braided lines like butter. Sometimes spool systems get bad due to tough braided lines, but these bearings are specially made for tolerating high pressure and tight lines. It’s a versatile beast for anglers.
- Works best on both fresh and saltwater
- unique crossbar-forward design for line management
- Specially treated anti-rust bearing
- Expensive choice
- Not good for amateurs
7. PENN Warfare Star Drag – Best Trolling Reel for Walleye & Stripped Bass
Because of having a lot of parts, including side plates and the entire body made of lightweight graphite, PENN Warfare Star Drag is one of the lightweight and heavy-duty reels on the market. Because of having a weight less than average, you can rock this piece of gear in water regardless of your experience level.
The whole frame s made of graphite. So, you can leave the concern of catching rust, stains, or oxidation as soon as you buy this. The spool on the center is made of the forged and machined aluminum spool. There’re no chances of damaging the spool due to the braided fishing line.
Marine-grade bronze and pinion gear make sure of smooth action and flawless line flow. You can use these gears without lubing them. HT-100 carbon fiber drag washer takes this reel to the next level. Due to these washers, you can pull fishes of giant sizes without losing any sweat. This washer locks the line in a position like a champion.
This reel is perfect for walleye fishing or stripped bass fishing in any kind of depth and water. The versatility makes it one of the best choices for any kind of angler.
This small package will also get the instant anti-reverse bearing system that helps you pull fish with no line sleep. These reels are also budget-friendly. If you are a beginner or intermediate-level angler, you should get one of these. It looks as cool as it performs.
- Lightweight graphite frame
- Forged and Machined aluminum spool
- Comes with instant anti-reverse bearing
- Does not have a line counter
- Not good for bigger fished
Buying Guide to Find the Best Trolling Reel
So now, if you are trying to figure out how you can choose the best quality trolling reel for you, then worry no more. We will know about the things you need to consider while buying a trolling reel.
Built Material of the Trolling Reel
Make sure the element that the manufacturer has used is of good quality. They have to be water-resistant, and they have to take the beating of long-distance travel. Companies are using treated aluminum for the backplate and the chassis.
They tend to last longer and do not catch any rust or corrosion. You have to make sure that the material used in the reel is very good quality and get a good one if you use it for more than decades.
Check the Spool Before Buying
A spool is a part where your lines are going to wreath on. It has to be made of very good material that can wrap the braided lines around it.
Most of the reels have spools made of aluminum, and they are very good. But check them out if the aluminum is thick enough to handle the pressure.
Weight Consideration for the Reel for Trolling
Good weight always represents good quality. But you always have to prioritize your preferences. If you can handle the good weight, get the heavy ones, and get the heavier ones.
They are more robust and more heavy-duty. But you must check if the materials are good enough.
How Much Grip and Handling Power You Will Get?
The handle is one of the parts that people overlook, and they sometimes face difficulties while fishing, and it’s a handlebar. When you are pulling big fish out of the tides, you need more grip and handling power to manage the situation.
Choose the handlebar that you feel comfortable with. You can find wooden handlebars to rubber ones.
Does this Reel Have Corrosion Resistance?
As you will be catching fish in the water, you must be fighting that the metal components will catch rust and corrosion over time.
Some manufacturers are making reels with corrosion-resistant metals that can get through decades without getting decayed.
Check Out for Proper Bearing System
Bearing is the main mechanism that keeps the lines flowing and the spool smooth as butter. In the market, you will find a graphite-reinforced dual-drive bearing and self-lubed bearing systems.
They were a bit pricy, but they are worth the price. If you are not on a tight budget, you can consider getting yourself one.
Which Gear Ratio to Pick?
Gear ratio defines how fast you can wind up your lines on the reel. You will see some reels have gear ratios like 3.4, 5.1 and 6.1, and so on.
But remember, as your gear ratio increases, you will have to apply more strength to pull the lines.
Is this Trolling Reel Versatile?
If you are not a full-time trolling angler, then you might be going out on trips, and you might be fishing in the lakes during the off-season. If you are like that, you might need a versatile reel that can perform in both situations.
Check the Brand Value of the Reel
Brand value is the fact that you should be concerned about. Good brands are more likely to be giving warranties and after-sales services.
However, some items from relatively newer brands provide the perfect trolling reels on the market. You need to research a bit.
How is a Trolling Reel Different from Other Reels?
Even though trolling reels are designed the same as conventional baitcasting reels, there are some major differences. They are more rounded, allowing more room for the line, but they are not applicable for casting.
These reels are designed for big fishes like trout, walleye, musky, salmon, and saltwater giants like marlin and others.
Trolling reels allow you to give access to deeper water for bigger fishes. The lines are released with the drag of the waves, and they go deeper than casting reels. As on a boat, you don’t have enough room to through the bait. If you have analyzed the market, you can see a significant price difference between them.
Trolling reels use a strong drag system that is more handy and powerful than conventional reels. This enables you to set the maximum drag and gives the ability to control the pressure and the level.
And the spool of the reels is more reinforced, and they can take extreme pressure of braided lines.
You will also find that some of the trolling reels have a line counter, and it is not common in conventional reels. Line counter helps you to get information about how much line is released in the water.
What is a Trolling Reel?
Trilling is a style of fishing technique that many of the deep saltwater fishers go through. In this technique, anglers use special reels with more power and can handle big fish without breaking any sweat.
Anglers drag the line along the hook-rigged lures behind a boat to entice the fishes to get them on the hook. Big fishes are the main target in trolling style, and Tuna, dolphin fishes, salmon are some of the knowns.
Trolling reels have almost the same design aesthetics as conventional reels. They have simple parts and simple operating techniques, but they cannot be cast.
The spools mostly have a horizontal layout, and the rod guides are upward aligned to the rod. But these trolling reels don’t have the casting button to release the lines like casting motion, and they tend to have functionality on the leaver to loosen the lines and allow the lures to fall in the water by themselves.
Trolling reels also don’t offer magnetic gears. And they have the more robust and heavier duty-built quality to fight big fishes of saltwater. The line counter is also a common feature that trolling reels might have.
How to Use a Trolling Reel?
Using a trolling reel is not as easy as casting. You cannot cast in this style of fishing. First of all, you have to have your bait eight inches from the tip of the fishing rod. You will see a spool button and press it to lower your lines. As you release the line from your boat, the waves or moving boat will drag the line from your position.
If you want to move your bait slightly back and forth, grab the handle closer to the reel and move the tip. You can use your thumb to apply breaks to the lines and to have more handling capabilities.
You can monitor your line length by looking at the line counter that has been provided in the trolling reel. As the bait reaches the desired depth, stop releasing your line. You must set multiple baits around the boat or in different depths 20 to 150 feet apart.
In that way, your chance of catching more fish will be increased. There are so many anglers who work in groups you can always take their suggestion or join them to know more about trolling fishing. Online videos tutorials are also an option nowadays.
How to Use a Saltwater Trolling Rod and Reel?
When it comes to saltwater fishing, especially bottom fishing, whether you’re fishing in the Pacific, the Atlantic, or even the warm oceans, it affects fishing experiences.
When you’re down south, it pays off to have a good trolling outfit that has a good boat reel on it in a nice stiff rod for trolling for walleyes and other fishes.
The particular outfit is part of the repel align the rod is a magnum, and it’s only about six feet long, but you will see if you look right down to the tip that it’s thick, so these rods are rated for line weight from thirty to fifty-pound test.
You can use a bright one in the line because it’s easier to watch the line when you’re jigging in open water. The reel is also very important, like rod and line. Most of the reels on the market are made out of metal, and it’s very simple to use.
A very important feature is that it has a counter, so especially when you’re fishing for fish that are suspended in the water column or if you’re letting a certain amount of liner when you’re trolling, the counter reel is a really big asset.
Major Categories of Fishing Reels
If you look deeper into the market, you will find eight major categories of fishing reels. But there are only four types of fishing reels popular among anglers, and we will be getting detailed information about them.
These reels are generally used for getting fishes from the deeper ocean where big fishes live. It’s slightly similar to the conventional baitcasting reels. But they are heavy duty and made for the big fishes. These reels are also capable of wrapping heavier lines for heavier fishes.
Spinning reels are the modern approach for anglers. It has a spinning vertical wheel with more drag ration than the older ones you have seen using your father or seniors, and it can wrap the lines more quickly and arrange them precisely.
Bait Cast Reels
Baitcasting reels are the most popular one among all types of reels. You have to loosen the spool and throw the bait into the water using your arm’s throw action. Casting these baitcasting reels is not very complicated with proper instruction.
Spin Cast Reels
Most of the beginners may have to go through the spin-casting style. They are mostly inexpensive and also very easy to use. They are just the spinning reels with casting capabilities. The con of this type of reel is that it has less capacity for fishing lines.
As far, we have seen some of the best trolling reels on the market that can serve you better than the average ones. They all have different advantages that will impress you with your preferences.
And we have also known more about how to get started and choose the right trolling reels for your water trip. You have to consider your preferences on what part of the reel is important for you.
Which One is the Best?
By comparing all the trolling reels from our top picks, we had to decide between the quality, performance, and pricing. According to our experts, PENN Warfare is the best trolling reels in our hands. I hope you will make a choice according to your taste and uses.
About me: Hi, I’m Alex N. Ferroni, One of the creators of The Safariors blog and former camping trainer at Tripspot Magazine. I wish some other outdoor, hiking, hunting, fishing and camping enthusiasts have made this blog to share our thought. We are learning a lot through each trip, and we want you to learn that too!