Best Trolling Reels for 2023: Expert Reviews & Recommendations

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Nothing beats a trolling reel when the time comes to explore large sections of water. They pack an insane amount of yards of line, have massive drag, corrosion-resistant frames and internals, and gigantic handles. As a result, they are not the most versatile type of reel. But if you want to land massive gamefish, then they have no match. 

Choosing a trolling reel takes quite some time. You need to learn what to look for. Then, you have to assess your necessities and proceed with the search afterward. Luckily for you, you’ve already found a shortcut.

Here you will find 10 of the best trolling reels. Plus, some buying bits of advice.

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10 Best Trolling Reels Reviewed

In this section, we will be showcasing the top 5 best trolling reels on the market today. Each reel has been carefully selected based on its performance, durability, and user satisfaction. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, these reels are sure to deliver the power and control you need to tackle even the biggest gamefish.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and take a closer look at the best trolling reels available.

Piscifun Salis X

Sale
Piscifun Salis X 5000 Round Baitcasting Reel, Level Wind...
  • 【Built to Hunt Monsters】The Salis X trolling...
  • 【Incredible Power】Piscifun Salis X saltwater...
  • 【Braid Ready Spool】The Salis X conventional...

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 490
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 30
  • Sizes: 3000 and 5000
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • IPT: Up to 49
  • Graphite frame and side plates 
  • CNC brass gears 
  • Aluminum braid-ready spool
  • Bait clicker
  • Power handle

Trolling in the sea requires a well-built reel. It has to handle the corrosion nature of saltwater. Plus, it has to be strong enough to cope with the strain of gamefish. That’s where Piscifun Salis X comes in to help. 

The graphite frame and side plates keep the weight down. But it also makes the Salis X resistant to corrosion right out of the box. Sadly, graphite is not as strong as metal. 

The anodized aluminum spool needs no backing, which means that you can spool braid directly into it. Thus, saving space and maximizing line capacity. 

Inside the trolling reel, we find a set of powerful CNC brass gears. They are large, giving you more torque to reel big fish. On the other hand, the carbon fiber drag washers yield up to 30 pounds of power. It is more than enough for almost any fresh and saltwater fish. Nevertheless, the drag dial is very sensitive, making it hard to set it right.

Pros: 

  • Bait clicker
  • Smooth line release switch 
  • Incredible maximum drag 
  • Braid-ready spool 
  • Right and left-handed models 

Cons: 

  • Cheap plastic screws 
  • The line release switch get stuck at times

KastKing ReKon

KastKing ReKon Line Counter Trolling Fishing Reel,Round...
  • LINE COUNTER TROLLING REEL – New from KastKing...
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPONENTS – The KastKing ReKon...
  • AMAZING DRAG POWER & FEATURES – The ReKon Line...

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 550
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 30
  • Sizes: 10 and 20
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1 and 5.3:1
  • IPT: Up to 33.5
  • Graphite frame and side plates 
  • CNC brass gears 
  • Aluminum braid-ready spool
  • Bait clicker
  • Power handle

Going back to affordable options, we have the KastKing ReKon trolling reel with a line counter. Just like the Okuma reel we’ve reviewed before, this one has a mechanical line counter. It is somewhat more accurate and user-friendly. 

The ReKon’s body is graphite. It handles well against large fish, with no noticeable bend. The built-in holes Furthermore, the braid-ready aluminum spool needs no backing when using a braid. It has enough space to hold 550 yards of line, depending on the size and fishing line. Either way, it is more than plenty. 

The carbon drag washer delivers up to 30 pounds of stopping power. As a result, you can use the ReKon to target most fresh and saltwater gamefish. We recommend going for size 10 if you mostly troll for small fish. Conversely, the size 20 is ideal for striped bass and steelheads. But beware, the drag system is not that smooth.

The larger reel has an oversized power handle that gives enough torque to leverage large gamefish. 

Pros: 

  • Decent maximum drag
  • Huge line capacity 
  • Fairly accurate line counter
  • Comfortable power handle

Cons: 

  • The drag is not that smooth
  • Delicate line counter 

Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter Trolling Reel

Sale
Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter Levelwind Trolling Reel, Small,...
  • Made using the highest quality materials
  • Tested for reliability and quality
  • Used by professionals worldwide

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 450
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 15
  • Sizes: 20, 30, and 45
  • Gear Ratio: 4.0 and 5.1:1
  • IPT: Up to 26
  • Brass self-lubricating gears 
  • 2 stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Oversized stainless steel handle 
  • Automatic spool engaging 

Getting a reliable trolling reel no longer means spending a lot of money. The Okuma Magda Pro proves that fact. It retails for around 55 bucks, making it one hell of a deal.

The reel has a lightweight and corrosion-resistant frame and side plates. The graphite spool keeps the weight down and offers a whopping 420 yards capacity. It is more than enough for trolling and deep-sea fishing. 

The level wind stainless steel shaft wraps the line evenly around the spool. It also keeps the line flowing. Thus, decreasing the chances of snapping. 

Inside we find the carbon drag system. It delivers up to 15 pounds of stopping power. On the other hand, the self-lubricating brass gears transfer power from the handle to the spool. Plus, the two stainless steel bearings keep things smooth. 

On top of that, the Okuma Magda Pro has a mechanical line counter. It shows how much line is out of the spool. Naturally, it is barely an estimate. But it serves its purpose. 

Pros: 

  • Mechanical line counter
  • Oversized handle
  • Corrosion-resistant frame 
  • Self-lubricating gears 

Cons: 

  • The line counter is not that accurate 
  • The drag dial moves on its own
  • Low maximum drag

Penn Squall Lever Drag 2-Speed Trolling Fishing Reel

PENN 1292938 Squall Lever Drag 2-Speed Trolling Fishing...
  • Reel, RH, 3BB plus 1RB, 2.9:1 / 1.5:1 ratio
  • Alum spool, Braid 2485/65 2145/80 1835/100, mono...
  • Reels saltwater lever drag

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 550
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 30
  • Sizes: 10 and 20
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1 and 5.3:1
  • IPT: Up to 33.5
  • Graphite frame and side plates 
  • CNC brass gears 
  • Aluminum braid-ready spool
  • Bait clicker
  • Power handle

If you are a beginner, you might well skip this trolling reel. The Penn Squall Lever Drag has a shocking price tag. However, it is a good option for those looking for monsters. 

The Squall Lever Drag 2-Speed gets its name from the ability to change the gear ratio. You can swap between 2.9 and 1.5:1 profiles. Thus, also changing the IPT from 33 to 17. The first profile is more suitable for fast retrieves, while the second is ideal for fighting big fish. 

The aluminum spool has an outrageous line capacity. You won’t ever run out of line again. The line rings come in handy to tell how much line is on the spool. But as we said, you won’t run out of it. The spool also runs like the wind thanks to the stainless steel gears and ball bearings.

On the other hand, the carbon drag washers work like a charm. They deliver up to 40 pounds of stopping power, which is more than plenty for most gamefish But most importantly, it works buttery smooth. You will experience neither jerks nor snags while using the trolling gear.

Pros: 

  • Anti-reverse handle 
  • Huge line capacity
  • Swappable gear ratios 
  • Sturdy reel foot
  • Smooth drag system
  • Corrosion-resistant

Cons: 

  • It is not user-friendly
  • Heavy

SHIMANO Tiagra Conventional Saltwater Lever Drag Reel

Rapala TIAGRA 30A TROLLING 2 SPD
  • TIAGRA 30A TROLLING 2 SPD
  • TIAGRA 30A TROLLING 2 SPD
  • TIAGRA 30A TROLLING 2 SPD

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 1805
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 35
  • Sizes: 130
  • Gear Ratio: 3.9:1
  • IPT: Up to 41
  • Hagane body and gears 
  • Carbon fiber drag washers 

With a rigid Hagane metallic body, the Tiagra saltwater trolling reel is another premium option for those willing to pay for it. The stiff body eliminates flexing, transforming actions into cracking power. In addition, Shimano’s proprietary E.I. Coating increases corrosion resistance. Thus, increasing durability.

The oversized handle increases torque, making it easier to reel big fish. Plus, the huge gears transfer power from the handle to the spool much more effectively than smaller models. 

On the other hand, the 3.9:1 gear ratio means that the Tiagra is more suitable for big saltwater gamefish. Besides, the Hagane spool hauls enough line for trolling and battling fish for many hours without worrying about running out of line. 

Moreover, the cross-carbon drag system yields a whopping 35 pounds of drag! More than enough for catching sailfish and other giants. 

Pros: 

  • Huge line capacity 
  • Impressive drag 
  • Oversized handle 
  • Virtually no flex

Cons: 

  • It is tricky to set the drag
  • Heavy

Burning Shark Trolling Reel

Burning Shark Trolling Reel Saltwater Level Wind Reels, Drag...
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE:High Quality Trolling Reel,Double...
  • DETAIED PARTS:Machined Aluminum Spool, Bakelight...
  • USING: Noise Is Small,The Line Release Lever Works...

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 430
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 40
  • Sizes: 30 and 40
  • Gear Ratio: 4.1:1
  • Stainless steel gears 
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Carbon fiber drag washers 

If something affordable is what you want, the Burning Shark trolling reel is a superb option. It retails for around 60 bucks. Therefore, you will need to let go of some features.

The first is that it has a low capacity compared with other options. It might be enough for most situations. However, you will need to re-spool the reel more often. 

Although it has a decent drag for trolling, it is not smooth. There are noticeable jerks as you reel the line in, which prevent you from using the whole 40 pounds of power. Thankfully the reel is compatible with a braided line right out of the box. Plus, the level wind does a decent job of distributing the line evenly. 

You can open the handle knob for some reason. We don’t know why. So make sure not to lose it. On the other hand, the size is adequate. But it doesn’t feel as sturdy as other models. 

The same goes for the stainless steel reel seat. The ratchets don’t look that durable. Plus, the frame itself is rather slim. 

Pros: 

  • Ideal for beginners 
  • Decent casting for a trolling reel
  • Saltwater-proof

Cons: 

  • Flimsy handle and reel foot 
  • The rag is not smooth 

PENN Warfare Level Wind

Sale
PENN® Warfare™ Level Wind
  • Lightweight graphite frame and sideplates
  • Forged and machined aluminum spool
  • Machined brass main and pinion gear

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 455
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 15
  • Sizes: 15, 20, and 30
  • Gear Ratio: 3.9 and 5.1:1
  • IPT: 27 and 29
  • Graphite frame
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Brass gears 
  • Level wind

With an anti-reverse bearing, the PENN Warfare level wind trolling reel is an ideal option for those looking for quality at an affordable price. The lightweight graphite frame is corrosion-resistant and strong enough to handle the strain. Still, there are a few things to take in mind.

For instance, the carbon drag washers only deliver 15 pounds of drag. Thankfully it works swimmingly. There are no noticeable jerks. On the other hand, the anodized aluminum spool merely holds 455 yards of monofilament line. Although it has lesser capacity compared with other options, it is still enough for trolling purposes. 

There are three sizes available. All of them either have a 3.9 or 5.1:1 gear ratio. The first one is more suitable for trolling. The machined brass gears yield more power, which is desirable for big fish. 

The Level Wind system does a superb job distributing the line around the spool. As a result, the reeling process is as smooth as you could imagine. 

Pros:

  • Silky-smooth operation
  • The anti-reverse system works like a charm
  • Lightweight 
  • Braid-ready spool 

Cons: 

  • Low maximum drag
  • Sensitive spool switch 

Sougayilang Line Counter Trolling Reel

Sale
Sougayilang Line Counter Trolling Reel Conventional Level...
  • DURABLE: The entire Thunder LS II series is based...
  • EASY OPERATION: One of the absolute best things...
  • FASTER SET-UP: Each time you check your lure, or...

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 430
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 40
  • Sizes: 3000 and 4000
  • Gear Ratio: 4.1:1
  • IPT: 
  • Stainless steel frame
  • Machined aluminum spool

The Sougayilang trolling reel is an ideal option for beginners. It retails for around 60 bucks, giving you a lot of value for your money. 

It comes with a depth counter. It is fairly accurate. Just in mind that it only gives an estimate.

The stainless steel frame and side plates minimize flex. Thus, increasing power as well. On the other hand, the aluminum spool houses 430 yards of monofilament line. So, yes. It is low. 

Inside the trolling reel, we find the carbonite drag discs. They deliver up to 40 pounds of power. It is more than enough for most fresh and saltwater gamefish. However, keep in mind that it doesn’t operate smoothly. The good news is that you can easily adjust the drag using the star dial near the handle. 

The handle and reel foot are other points of concern. Both are flimsy and look prone to break at a moment’s notice. So, make sure to check your reel each time you hit the water. 

Pros: 

  • Fairly accurate line counter
  • Large power-handle 
  • User-friendly 

Cons: 

  • Flimsy handle 
  • Delicate reel foot 

SHIMANO TEKOTA Levelwind Trolling Reel

Shimano Tekota 700 Saltwater Star Drag Reel with Line...
  • The Tekota trolling reel is a great solution for...
  • Constructed into a one-piece die-cast aluminum...
  • Featuring a unique crossbar-forward design that...

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 275
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 18
  • Sizes: 300
  • Gear Ratio: 4.2;1
  • IPT: Up to 25
  • 4 stainless steel ball bearings
  • Aluminum body 
  • Carbon drag matrix

The TEKOTA trolling reel has a light but sturdy aluminum frame. The anodized coating protects it against saltwater. Therefore, it is suitable for any water body. 

The aluminum spool has enough space to accommodate up to 275 yards of line. You can increase capacity by changing to a braid or using a slimmer one. Still, it is quite low. Therefore, we suggest keeping an eye on the line counter. This way, you won’t run out of line. 

The TEKOTA trolling reel features an oversized handle with a counterweight. It gives enough torque to muscle even the biggest of fish. Next to the handle, you have the aluminum start dial. You can fine-tune the drag easily. 

On the inside, we find a carbon drag matrix delivering up to 18 pounds of drag. It might seem low. But it works great. Furthermore, the four stainless steel ball bearings keep the reel running smoothly. 

Pros: 

  • Power handle 
  • Accudate line counter 
  • Smooth retrieve and drag

Cons: 

  • Needs constant lubricating
  • Sensible drag dial 

Daiwa Sealine Sg-3B Line Counter Trolling Reel

Daiwa Sealine SG-3B 5.1:1 Line Counter Right Hand Reel w/...
  • Direct Drive Line Counter
  • One piece composite frame with 3 bearing system
  • Aluminum spool with clicker

Features:

  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 290
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 16
  • Gear Ratio: 4.2;1
  • IPT: Up to 25
  • Composite frame 
  • Machined aluminum spool 

The Daiwa Sealine trolling reel features a corrosion-resistant composite frame. It keeps the weight down as well. But, there is some flex. Still, it is nothing to worry about. 

The double knob handle sits on the shorter size. Thus, it doesn’t yield too much cranking power. There are some Sealine models available with a counterweighted power handle. These versions are more suitable for those looking for big fish. 

Allegedly, the anodized aluminum spool is braid-ready. However, we notice that the line slips from time to time. Line capacity is not that great either. It holds up to 290 yards depending on the line. So, make sure to bring extra lines on your trips.

The line counter works as you would expect. It gives a fairly accurate estimate of how much line is out. But it gets stuck from time to time. 

Finally, the carbon drag washers deliver a modest 16 pounds of stopping power. The good news is that it works great, with no noticeable wiggles.

Pros: 

  • Corrosion-resistant internals 
  • Braid-ready spool
  • Easy to use 

Cons: 

  • Low maximum drag
  • Low line capacity 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Trolling Reels

Now that you have ten options to choose from. It is time to jump in and check what you must look into when browsing reels. This way, you can choose the model that best suits your needs. 

Therefore, we will take some time to talk about things like gear ratio, inches per turn (IPT), materials of construction, line capacity, and much more! Let’s get down right to it. 

Reel Frame

The very first thing that we ought to talk about is the frame. Graphite, aluminum, and stainless steel are the most common trolling reel materials. Each material has its pros and cons. 

For instance, graphite trolling reels are lighter and typically cheaper than any other material. However, they are not as strong. They often flex under heavy loads. As a result, some of the cracking power gets lost.

On the other hand, aluminum and stainless steel make for a sturdy trolling reel. They don’t flex under load, taking advantage of the whole cranking power. Sadly, these reels are heavier and inherently more expensive. 

So, which one should you pick? Well, it depends. For example, if you are a hardcore angler. Then, going for stainless steel or aluminum trolling reel is the best bet. They can haul bigger loads, house more yards of line, and have a massive maximum drag. 

In contrast, beginners will be more than fine with a graphite trolling reel. Why? Well, they are not that expensive. Plus, you can use them for a wide variety of activities. Yeah, sure. You lack the hardware to land massive fish. But at least you can use a graphite reel for more than just trolling.

Drag System

Drag plays an important role when battling any fish. It refers to the amount of pressure you have to apply to take some line out of the spool. Thus, by setting the right drag, you are virtually letting the reel battle with the fish alone. 

Different reels use different drag systems. However, trolling reels typically use carbon drag washers. You may also find some models using stainless steel or felt discs. However, the first alternative wears out more quicker, and the second is not as smooth. 

Another thing to take into account is the maximum drag. Most trolling gears deliver 15-pound stopping power at least. People might think that the more drag, the better. However, this is not always true. 

Two things determine how much drag you can use: The fish and the fishing line. For example, battling with gigantic fish or fast swimmers would be easier if with more drag. Sadly, the line’s test strength limits how much you can use. Let’s say that you are using a 20-pound test line. In theory, you can use up to 20 pounds of drag. But you will be working at the limit, making the line more likely to snap. That’s why you should set the drag around 1/3 of the line’s test strength. 

Line Capacity

Trolling involves drawing the line through the water at different depths, which means letting several yards of line out in the open. Therefore, having a trolling reel with over 300 yards of capacity is key. This way, you don’t need to worry about running out of line or re-spooling.

Sadly, trolling reels with that kind of line capacity tend to be more expensive and heavy. Therefore, it might not be suitable for everyone’s budget. 

Try your best to get braid-ready trolling reels. These need no backing, and you can spool braid fishing lines right out of the box. Thus, increasing line capacity. 

Gear Ratio

Gear ratio refers to the number of times the spool spins per handle crank. It comes in an X:1 ratio, where X is the number of spool spins.

The important thing here is that the higher the ratio, the faster the reel gets. Conversely, low ratios offer more cranking power at the expense of speed. Naturally, the second option is more suitable for giants, while the first is better for small to medium-sized fish. 

Now, low gear ratios are preferably for trolling purposes. The main problem is that it will take a while to reel the line back into the spool.

Some premium trolling reels offer 2 gear ratios. These models come with a switch that allows you to change between ratios. This way, you can use the higher one when retrieving the line and the other for reeling fish.   

Inches Per Turn

Shortly known as IPT, it refers to how many inches of line you retrieve per handle crank. As you might expect, it depends on the gear ratio and the spool size. Larger spools have a higher IPT rating. Thus, allowing you to get the line out of the water. The same applies to higher gear ratios. 

Our suggestion is to get the higher IPT rating that your budget allows. This way, you can retrieve the line quickly when needed.

Line Clicker

Although not necessary, getting a trolling reel with a line clicker is a wise move. You see, it is difficult to tell whether you’ve hooked a fish or not when trolling. There are a lot of deceiving movements and noises. A line alarm solves all of this. 

As the line gets out of the spool, the line alarm starts producing a sound. This way, you will know that something is at the end of the fishing line. 

Line Counter

Like a line clicker, a line counter is not strictly necessary. But it could be of help.

A line counter will give you an estimate of how many yards of line you have on the water. This comes in handy when you need to get the lure at specific depths or far away from the wake of the boat. 

So, if your budget allows, get a trolling reel with a line counter. You won’t regret it. 

Handle

People often overlook the importance of a good handle. The truth is that they shouldn’t. 

The handle is the first piece that comes into touch with the angler. It is where you apply all your strength. Ideally, it should be thick, so it doesn’t flex. But it should also be large to enhance leverage. Thus, decreasing the effort needed to reel a big fish. 

Can I Use a Spinning Reel for Trolling?

In theory, you can troll with any kind of reel. However, don’t expect the same performance you get using a round baitcasting reel. For example, spinning reels lack the capacity, drag, and sturdy body needed to get the job done. As a result, it will be a lot harder to land a fish using the trolling method. 

Final Thoughts

Among all the options we presented here, the Piscifun Salis X is the very best option you can get. First, it has enough drag to land any saltwater gamefish. Plus, it operates smoothly, with no noticeable jerks. 

Although line capacity is lower than other models here, we think it is still enough for trolling comfortably. Furthermore, the gear ratio and IPT are higher than most other trolling reels. Therefore, you will be able to reel the line quicker whenever needed. 

Sure, we miss the line counter. Still, we get a sturdy power handle, line clicker, and draining ports instead, all desirable features in a trolling reel. So get your Salis X today

Sale
Piscifun Salis X 5000 Round Baitcasting Reel, Level Wind...
  • 【Built to Hunt Monsters】The Salis X trolling...
  • 【Incredible Power】Piscifun Salis X saltwater...
  • 【Braid Ready Spool】The Salis X conventional...

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