3 Best Trolling Rod and Reel Combos for Halibut

Hey anglers and welcome to my post where we will check out my three best trolling rod and reel combos for Halibut this year.  Trolling is an effective approach to catching Halibut – especially when they are not actively feeding. And as with most fishing exploits, a good rod and reel setup will give you the best chance of a successful catch.

And as usual, there are a number of decent options out there so to help you out I have had a look around and come up with three good options below.  Let’s check them out.

My three recommended trolling rod and reel combos for Halibut

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

11/17/2022 09:04 am GMT Lasso Brag

What are trolling rod and reel combos for Halibut?

Trolling combos for Halibut 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:

  • ReelTrolling 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.
  • RodTrolling 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.
Trolling rod and reel combo for Halibut - Trolling reel

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 for Halibut:

Rods

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

Length

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 trolling 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.
Trolling rod and reel combo for Halibut - Halibut under water

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

Other potential additions include:

  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.

FAQ

Can you troll for Halibut

Trolling is an effective approach to catching Halibut – especially when they are not actively feeding. They are ground feeders so you will need to make sure your bait or lure is weighted.

My three recommendations broken down

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

1. PENN® Rival™ Levelwind Combo

My first rod and reel combo is designed to be a versatile all-around fishing option at an affordable price. The durability of this product ensures it will last many seasons with the advantage of being built for comfort. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: PENN
  • Rod length: 6.5 feet
  • Rod material: Fiberglass
  • Rod power: Medium-heavy
  • Reel material: Graphite body
  • Reel bearing: 2 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
  • Reel capacity:
    • Mono line capacity (yds./lbs.) – 475/15, 315/20, 290/25
    • Braid line capacity (yds./lbs.) – 760/20, 570/30, 400/50 
  • Reel gear ratio: 5.1:1
  • Weight: 4 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • EVA foregrips
  • 7 Stainless steel guides

Why have I chosen it?

This halibut rod and reel combo comes with a variety of features including stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts and triangle EVA foregrips for comfort and support.  The reel includes HT-100 drag washers for smooth drag under heavy loads and extensive line capacity, which is ideal for trolling for halibut. Although the reel frame is made of graphite, the aluminum frame rings add rigidity as well.


2. Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Spin Combo

My second rod and reel combo for Halibut fishing is constructed in such a way that it can handle the demands of halibut fishing, while the reel is designed for even the largest catches. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Abu Garcia
  • Rod length: 7 feet
  • Rod material: Composite blank construction
  • Rod power: Medium-heavy
  • Reel material: Aluminum
  • Reel bearing: 2 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
  • Reel capacity:
    • Mono line capacity (m/mm) – 255/17
    • Braid line capacity (m/mm) – 350/30
  • Reel gear ratio: 5.1:1
  • Weight: 3.23 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • Anti-reverse feature
  • EVA handles
  • 7 guides

Why have I chosen it?

This rod and reel combo comes with a rod at a length of 7 feet with stainless steel guides which is within the recommended range to land Halibut.   The reel includes two stainless ball bearings for smooth operation and a carbon matrix hybrid drag system for heavy-duty trolling.  If you’re serious about catching halibut, this rod and reel combo will do the trick.


3. PENN Squall II Level Wind Conventional Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

The PENN Squall II rod and reel combo is packed with the features we need for Halibut trolling including a highly durable reel and graphite composite rod.  See its specifications below:

  • Brand: PENN
  • Rod length: 6.5 feet
  • Rod material: Graphite composite
  • Rod power: Medium-heavy
  • Reel material: Graphite frame
  • Reel bearing: 3+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
  • Reel capacity: 17/415, 20/315, 25/290
  • Reel gear ratio: 4.9:1
  • Weight: 2 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • Line counter
  • Anti-reverse system
  • 1-year warranty

Why have I chosen this?

The rod is lightweight and sturdy  with a reel made of  wear-resistant bronze main gear and stainless pinion for a smooth fishing experience.  Penn’s first-rate Squall Level Wind reel sits atop this popular rod, which boasts a smooth, powerful drag and enviable capacity. It is easily capable of exhausting large fish and also aids in the distribution of mono across your spool. These are a great option for those who like to get out there on a regular basis.

11/17/2022 09:04 am GMT Lasso Brag

Conclusion

There you have it, my three best rod and reel combos for landing the prized Halibut. 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, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun

Paul

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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