3 Best Deep Sea Trolling Rod and Reel Combos

Hey there my fellow anglers and welcome to my post covering my 3 best deep sea trolling rod and reel combos to chase those ocean monsters this year. When it comes to deep sea fishing, a good rod and reel combo is definitely the most crucial piece of equipment you will need.

After all, it is your main tool of use as those large ocean going species hit your line and go for a run. And with that weight in the fight, you definitely need something that will not only run smoothly, but be able to manage the fight as well.

And of course there are options to choose each requirement separately however rod and reel combos help you match a rod to a reel, meaning everything is in sync from the start. So if you are looking for a good trolling combo for ocean fishing, let’s check out some good options I have come up with below.

My three recommended deep sea trolling rod and reel combos

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:

 Trolling Rod and Reel ComboPriceGet it
best trolling rod and reel combos - Okuma CP-DR-762ML-20DXT Great Lakes Trolling Combo1. Okuma Great Lakes Trolling Combo$CURRENT PRICE
best trolling rod and reel combos - SHIMANO Rod & Reel TLD Fishing Combo2. SHIMANO Rod & Reel TLD Fishing Combo$$CURRENT PRICE
best trolling rod and reel combos - Penn Squall Lever Drag Conventional Reel and Fishing Rod Combo3. Penn Squall Lever Drag Conventional Trolling Combo$$$CURRENT PRICE

What are deep sea trolling rod and reel combos?

Trolling combos are trolling reels and rods that manufacturers or retail outlets have put together ensure that they match in terms of size, need and use. Also, they help their customers save the time of fitting rods and reels on their own.

And as they are designed for trolling type fishing, they will usually consist of:

  • Reel: 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.
  • Rod: Trolling rods are generally shorter and stronger than most other types and in conjunction with a good trolling reel, have the purpose of dragging bait or fishing lures through the water to attract large fish. Generally, these consist of one or more rollers within the guide to the line away from the rod and provide a smooth surface for the lines to slide across, reducing friction and the possibility of the line breaking.
best trolling rod and reel combos - trolling rod and reels

What should you be looking for?

Below are some factors to take into account as you look for a good trolling rod and reel combo:

Rods

  1. Length
  2. Weight
  3. Power
  4. Action
  5. Material
  6. Additions

Length

As above, deep-sea fishing rods are usually distinguished by their high strength whilst remaining short in length. Anything under 6-7 ft is preferable as at this length they are easier to manage within the confined spaces of a boat where casting distance is generally not an issue.

Weight

Another important consideration is the weight of your rod which should be light and well-balanced. The majority of these rods are made of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or graphite to keep your wrists and arms from tiring whilst supporting the weight of the rod. The lightweight also relieves strain on your shoulders and back.

Power

This characteristic describes the rod’s strength and its resistance to bending under work. Power ratings are commonly described as heavy, medium heavy, medium and so on and in the case of trolling rods, it is typically a case of the heavier the better.

Heavier power rods will handle heavy line weights and tackle and the option you choose will in part be determined by the type of water you are fishing in and the species being targeted.

Action

Action describes how much of the rod deflects (bends) when pressure is applied to the tip. A fast action rod will bend in the top third or less of the blank, a medium or moderate action rod will turn in the top half or so, and a slow action rod will bend in the lower third.

Slow action rods are sometimes referred to as ‘parabolic,’ which means that the bend is consistent along the length of the rod. These are in my opinion the best option for trolling as they allow the lure or bait to move without the rod ‘jigging’ it around too much.

Material

The best deep sea fishing rods are typically made of carbon being or graphite due to their increased strength and being light in weight. In short however, most rods are made of one of three materials:

  • Fiberglass – Very strong and durable with very little maintenance required (rinse off after fishing is generally all that is needed). Also, very cost-effective with many good options available that don’t cost the earth – although these types of rods appear to be less available these days due to the introduction of carbon fiber technology.
  • Graphite – Graphite rods are generally more rigid with higher power ratings however tend to have greater sensitivity than their fiberglass cousins. Their composition also means that a little more cleaning is required over time to avoid them becoming brittle and snapping. These are good for shorter rods too as they can handle bigger fish without the ‘give’ that longer rods have.
  • Carbon Fibre – This is a newer compound in fishing rods being more rigid than the fiberglass/ composite rods but also lighter – which is great for heavy offshore fishing. These types are becoming more and more popular for all levels of experience due to their toughness and versatility.

Additions

Other potential additions include:

  1. Guides – A rod with more guides will hold the line a little better as it will bend more consistently throughout its length allowing it to use all of its power for fighting fish. Roller guides can also assist in keeping the bait or lure running smoothly in the water and when retrieving fish – especially if there is an angle on the rod when in the holder.
  2. Handle – Your choice of handle material is heavily influenced by your personal preferences. A long handle relieves muscle pain and strain, especially if you’ve been fishing for a while. Most trolling rods have EVA foam, carbon fiber or cork handles.
  3. Rod butt – You may prefer a straight or bent rod butt. For the majority of applications, straight butts are best as they fit in standard boat rod holders. Curved butts can be necessary when using heavy drag settings on heavy tackle however as they can relieve strain on your body and allow you to concentrate on reeling in your catch.
best trolling rod and reel combos - man with trolling rod and reel

Reels

  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.

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 Great Lakes Trolling Combo

The first rod and reel set I have chosen is intended for beginners looking to catch most offshore and nearshore species. And although it is a budget model, it does still contain many of the components you would see in higher priced options such as machined gears components and lightweight graphite in the construction. See its specifications below:

Reel

  • Brand: Okuma
  • Bearings: 2
  • Ratio: Not Stated
  • Composition: Aluminium and Graphite
  • Drag: Star drag on side
  • Line specs:
    • Mono (yds/lb) – 290/14, 230/18, and 210/20

Other inclusions:

  • Line counter
  • EVA foam grips
  • Machine cut brass gearing
  • Corrosion resistant graphite spools

Rod

  • Brand: Okuma
  • Composition: Tubular e-Glass composite
  • Length: 6’7″
  • Power: Medium heavy
  • Action: Medium
  • Line weight capabilities: 12 – 25lb mono, 20 – 40lb braid

Other inclusions:

  • Double footed aluminum oxide guides
  • Stainless steel hooded reel seats

Why have I chosen it?

This rod and reel combinations is a good budget option of both offshore and nearshore trolling or even jigging. The rod blanks have been customized with long-lasting guides that provide less friction and incredible performance and the reel is equipped with a stainless-steel ball bearing system and a solid drag system that will assist you when the fish run. All in all this is a great option for all round deep sea fishing.


2. SHIMANO Rod & Reel TLD Fishing Combo

This next combo comes from an extremely well-known and popular brand with components designed for heavy-duty saltwater angling. This all-inclusive kit includes everything you will need to catch any target fish with extra comfort built onto both the rod and reel. See its specifications below:

Reel

  • Brand: Shimano
  • Bearings: 4
  • Ratio: 3.6:1
  • Composition: Graphite
  • Drag: Lever drag – 15lb
  • Line specs
    • braid (yds/lb) – 700/50
  •  

Other inclusions:

  • EVA foam grips
  • Machine cut brass gearing
  • Corrosion resistant graphite spool

Rod

  • Brand: Shimano
  • Composition: Graphite reinforced with Carbon Coil Technology
  • Length: 6′
  • Power: Heavy
  • Action: Not Stated
  • Line weight capabilities: 15 – 30lb mono

Other inclusions:

  • AFTCO roller stripper and tip
  • Fuji guides
  • Triangular foregrip with X-wrap
  • Fuji DPS Graphite big game reel seat
  • Machined-aluminum gimbal with cap

Why have I chosen it?

This combination features a reel that is well-known for its strength and durability with stainless steel gears and a lightweight graphite body. The rods have been ergonomically designed with comfortable EVA grips and smooth runners and tip roller for extra casting and retrieval capabilities. This is a great option for beginners and experienced fishers alike.


3. Penn Squall Lever Drag Conventional Trolling Combo

This final combo is from another popular brand well-known for the roughness of its products. It is made of lightweight, corrosion-resistant graphite and stainless steel gear with a higher speed gear ratio, making it ideal for trolling all species of ocean fish. See its specifications below:

Reel

  • Brand: Penn
  • Material: Stainless Steel, Graphite
  • Bearing material: 6 x Stainless steel
  • Line capacity: 25lb/350 – 50lb/370 – Sizes 30 – 60 available
  • Gear ratio: 5.1:1
  • Weight: 1.65 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.25 x 5.25 x 4.00 Inches

Other inclusions:

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

Rod

  • Brand: Penn
  • Composition: Tubular graphite composite
  • Length: 6′ – 7′
  • Power: Medium heavy
  • Action: Medium
  • Line weight capabilities: 12 – 25lb mono, 20 – 40lb braid

Other inclusions:

  • Aluminum oxide inserts
  • Slick butts
  • Eva fore grips
  • Graphite reel seats

Why have I chosen it?

The design for this rod and reel is ergonomic, giving you comfort and ease. The reel is designed for dependable and versatile saltwater fishing providing both durability and strength whilst being light in weight. I personally used a number of different Penn options for my deep sea fishing and have always found them extremely dependable and easy to use. If you only get one compo for your trolling needs, then this one would be the one for you.

Conclusion

There you have it, my three best deep-sea trolling rod and reel combos for an excellent angling experience this year. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual, let me know 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

3 Best Deep Sea Trolling Rod and Reel Combos
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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