3 Best Saltwater Trolling Reels

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering my 3 best saltwater trolling reels to attract the fast ones with this year. When it comes to trolling, the thrill of catching any prized fish requires a good combination of skill and equipment.

When it comes to the latter, buying a proper saltwater trolling reel is a crucial factor if you hope to keep that trophy catch on the line. But with hundreds of products to choose from, finding the best reel can be time-consuming. So to save you some time I have had a good look around and come up with three options below. Let’s check them out…

My three recommended saltwater trolling reels

I will review these in more detail below however if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience:

 Saltwater Trolling ReelPriceGet it
best deep sea trolling reel - Okuma Magda ProOkuma Magda Pro Levelwind Trolling Reel$CURRENT PRICE
best deep sea trolling reel - Piscifun Salis X Trolling ReelPiscifun Salis X Trolling Reel$$CURRENT PRICE
best deep sea trolling reel - Penn Squall Lever Drag Conventional Fishing ReelPenn Squall Lever Drag Conventional Trolling Reel$$$CURRENT PRICE

What are saltwater trolling reels?

As the name probably suggests, trolling reels enable you to catch deep-sea fish from a moving vessel via a fast moving lure or live bait (usually a live baitfish). They are similar to baitcasting reels in that they are installed on top of the rod and differ from general deep sea spinning reels as they are usually able to hold significantly more line on the spool.

A good saltwater trolling reel must be tough enough to withstand exposure to the elements and the power of larger, fast running catches. It should also have a smooth, dependable drag that can wear down a hard-fighting fish’s resistance.

Generally, trolling reels have three functions: a star drag, a line-out alarm, and a release lever.

best deep sea trolling reel - Trolling Reel

What should you be looking for?

Below are some of the main factors you should take into account as you shop for a good saltwater trolling reel:

  1. Construction material
  2. Type of trolling reel
  3. Size and weight
  4. Line capacity
  5. Drag
  6. Release lever
  7. Waterproofing
  8. Additions

Construction material

When purchasing a trolling reel, it is critical to consider the material it is made of – typically aluminum, machined aluminum material, or graphite.

The lightest weight trolling reels are made of graphite. They did have a reputation of being generally weaker making a cast aluminum reel is a good choice for most anglers for increased durability. However, advances in technology have made graphite the material of choice for many manufacturers now.

Reels made of machined aluminum are the most practical choice for catching large fish. These guard against wear and tear as well as premature failure. While this material is of the best quality and durability, they are a little more expensive than the other types above.

Type of trolling reel

Here you have two available options: open style and level wind.

  • Level wind – Level wind reels feature a moving line guide with a pawl that runs back and forth across the front of the reel. As the line is retrieved back onto the reel, the moving line guide ensures that it is evenly distributed from side to side on the spool, with no large buildups of line in any one spot.
  • Open-style conventional – These reels lack a line guide, meaning the angler is responsible for redistributing the line back onto the spool – usually by their thumb.

Personally, I would recommend a level wind reel unless you are also using it on the beach and you want to cast it a little further than on a boat . They also tend to jam if sand gets in them too.

Size and weight

Trolling reels are more specialized than other types of reels, but they also come in various sizes and weights. If you choose a large reel, you will have more line capacity which comes in handy when reeling in larger fish but they may be a little heavier.

Most trolling reel manufacturers produce them in sizes such as 15, 25, 40, 50 and 60 etc. When it comes to trolling, the larger the fish you are chasing, the more line you will potentially need to stop its ‘run’ meaning a larger reel.

Line capacity

As per reel size above, line capacity is another important consideration when trolling. When troll fishing, you simply let the line fall straight and smoothly into the water until it reaches the desired depth or distance from the boat. Troll reels are not generally cast as per other reels however due to the type of fish being chased and there is usually a ‘running’ period where the fish strikes and tries to escape.

For larger species, this can lead to a run taking up to 300 yards of line. As a result, the length of the line your reel spool can handle use has a significant impact on success.

This of course can also be determined by whether you have braid or mono loaded onto your spool as well.

best deep sea trolling reel - Trolling Reels in water

Drag

This feature helps in reducing the friction once a fish takes your lure or bait. The drag’s purpose is to limit how much force can be applied before the spool slips and lets out more line. This avoids line breakage giving it a little more strength as well as protecting your reel at the same time.

Drags systems on trolling reels consist of a set of friction plates that allow you to control how fast the line is let out whilst the fish runs, and is then hauled in. When it comes to selecting your trolling reel, check the drag rating from the manufacturer as you generally want something that will withstand the type of fish you are chasing – usually measured in pounds.

Look also for a drag that is easily set and operates smoothly without jerking when the fish makes a run.

Release lever

And whilst we are discussing drag, one advantage of many trolling reels is a release lever that allows you to very quickly and effectively adjust the speed of the drag as you fish.

If you release it all the way out, you can actually use it to let line out if needed (much like a baitrunner type spinning reel) or adjust the drag up or down as you fight to control your catch.

Waterproofing

Most reels these days incorporate some sort of waterproofing in their components as saltwater in particular can do significant damage to the internal workings of a reel. Hence, anything that can be done to keep this out, will definitely increase its lifespan so look for:

  • Fully encased bearings
  • Corrosion-resistant components
  • Corrosion resistant coating on all external parts
  • Fully sealed, or increased seals around casing

As above, the more water resistant components that are included, the longer the reel will last.

Additions

  1. Counter – Line counter fishing reels measure the amount of line in the water allowing you to determine the depth of your fishing lures with precision. There are generally two types of line counters: electric and manual. The one issue with electric counters is that their LCD screens and other electronic components may fail due to exposure to a wet environment.
  2. Clicker – If you are fishing at night, or have a few lines out, a clicker will notify you audibly once a fish has hit.
  3. Bearings – As with a car wheel, the spinning mechanisms inside a fishing reel generally incorporate ball bearings for smoother operation. From my experience, most come with between 3 and 10 and I was always told that the more you can get for the price, the better.
  4. Ratio – One advantage of a spinning fishing reel is the winding ratio. This is usually set anywhere for 3:1 up to 6 or 7:1 (often listed as 6.0:1 etc.) This simply means that for every time the user turns the handle a full rotation, the spool holding the line has actually turned 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 times meaning less winding for faster line retrieval.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. Okuma Magda Pro Levelwind Trolling Reel

This first option is versatile and made of lightweight aluminium and graphite with self-lubricating machine cut brass gears and reinforced side plate rings. It includes a mechanical line counter that measures in feet to determine the amount of line spooled as well. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Okuma
  • Material: Graphite and aluminium
  • Bearing material: 2 x Stainless steel bearings
  • Line capacity: 290 – 450 yds dependent on size purchased (sizes 15 – 45)
  • Gear ratio: Dependent on the purchased model
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 6.8 inches x 4.5 inches x 3.9 inches

Other inclusions:

  • 12 – 40Lb Multi disc carbonate drag system
  • Line counter
  • Stainless steel level wind line guide
  • Corrosion-resistant frame

Why have I chosen it?

This fishing reel is lightweight, equipped with a multi-disc carbonate drag system and two stainless steel ball bearings. It even has a stainless steel level wind line guiding system that works great for directing the line where you want it to go. When it comes to durability, ease of use and a great drag system, this is a high-quality trolling reel suitable for beginners and experienced fishers alike.


2. Piscifun Salis X Trolling Reel

This next option is a trolling reel explicitly designed for catching large gamefish. Its frame and side plates are made of highly durable graphite, while the handle is stainless steel to withstand a wide range of saltwater conditions. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Piscifun
  • Material: Stainless Steel, Graphite
  • Bearing material: 6+1 Stainless steel
  • Line capacity: 24lb/430 yds – 30 lb/490 yds mono – 80 lb/290 yds – 80 lb/520 yd braid (sizes 30 and 50) 
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1
  • Weight: 1.60 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8 inches x 5.4 inches x 4.6 inches

Other inclusions:

  • Level line wind
  • Machine aluminum spool
  • High-speed retrieval
  • Bait clicker
  • Line release lever

Why have I chosen it?

This is a solid and reliable piece of fishing equipment that employs high-grade carbon fiber washers capable of delivering close to 40lbs of drag power. Put simply, this saltwater fishing reel has many features that you cannot find in other reels in its class.


3. Penn Squall Lever Drag Conventional Trolling Reel

This final product’s manufacturer is among the best in the industry with frames and side plates are made of graphite which is lightweight, and corrosion-resistant when exposed to saltwater. Line capacity rings are included on the forged aluminum spools, so you know how much line is left. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Penn
  • Material: Stainless Steel, Graphite
  • Bearing material: 6 x Stainless steel
  • Line capacity: 25lb/350 – 50lb/370 – Sizes 30 – 60 available
  • Gear ratio: Depending on the purchased model
  • Weight: 1.65 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.25 x 5.25 x 4.00 Inches

Other inclusions it has:

  • Dual speed variances
  • ‘Dura-Drag’ Release Lever Drag system
  • Machined aluminum spool

Why have I chosen this?

The ratcheted drag lever is a handy feature as it can withstand high drag pressures of larger catches and the versa-handle design allows you to place the handle in two different positions for retrieving. The top of the lever handle is flush with the outside of the reel, preventing slack line from entangling between the lever and the spool. A great option for experienced fishers chasing large catches.

Conclusion

There you have it, my three best saltwater trolling reels that will assist you in any saltwater fishing action. As always, let me know how you go and of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

Paul

best deep sea trolling reel - Pinterest
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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Paul