Are you searching for the best trolling reels money can buy? Or are you looking to buy the best conventional reel for that upcoming deep-sea fishing trip? In either case, you are in the right place.
For the biggest fish in the water, sometimes the best method to land them is by trolling your bait at increased depths requiring high line capacity. Once you have the fish hooked, not just any fishing reel will do. You need the best trolling reel on the market. A reel that will allow you to put down the drag and give you some cranking power to land them.
In this article, we list and discuss five trolling reels that have the capacity to land these trophy fish consistently and will outperform your expectations in the river, lake, or ocean.
What are the best trolling reels for the money?
Here is a quick preview:
- PENN Squall
- Okuma Cold Water Linecounter
- Daiwa Seagate
- Shimano Tekota 800
- PENN Fathom Star Drag
Features: (SQK20LW Model)
- Ball Bearings: 2+1
- Gear Ratio: 4.9:1
- Line Retrieval: 28 Inches
- Line Capacity: Mono, 415 yards/17lbs, 315 yards /20lbs, Braid, 865 yards / 20 lbs
- Weight: 16.9 oz
- Maximum Drag: 15 lbs
The first to add to our list of the best trolling reels is the PENN Squall LevelWind Trolling Reel.
There are three models that are available with all having a 2+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings that help keep the reel running smooth. The biggest difference between the three available models is the spool size.
All models are made with graphite frames and side plates with a forged aluminum spool and handle that has a black finish with gold trim. These reels weigh in at weights ranging from 16.2 ounces to 16.9 ounces.
The max drag of these models is 15 pounds. All models utilize the HT-100 drag system that engages smoothly and gives you the full range of drag adjustments. This reel uses a lever drag adjustment mechanism that is easy to handle when in the middle of a fighting fish.
The gear ratios of the Squall models is a good all-around ratio of 4.9:1 with all of them featuring a high line retrieval rate needed to bring in line quickly when trolling.
This reel is extremely corrosion resistant and can be used in both fresh and saltwater settings.
Learn more about the PENN Squall LevelWind in the following video:
Features: (CW-203D Model)
- Ball Bearings: 2+1
- Gear Ratio: 5.1:1
- Line Retrieval: 23 Inches
- Line Capacity: Mono, 290 yards/14lbs, 230 yards /18lbs, 210 yards / 20lbs
- Weight: 15 ounces
- Maximum Drag: 18 lbs
- Carbonite Drag System
The Okuma Cold Water Line Counter Trolling Reel is a trolling reel that also features a line counter that measures line leaving the spool making it much easier to get your bait to the correct depth. These reels have a silver finish with burnt orange trim that stands out on the water. The frame and side plates are made from corrosion resistant materials.
There are several models of varying sizes that are available in this series of trolling reels. The weights range from 14.6 ounces to 20 ounces with 18 to 20 pounds of max drag that can put the brakes on large running fish.
This is a trolling reel that can be spooled with a huge amount of heavy line and can generate a lot of cranking power. The heavy-duty brass gears and sturdy body allow a smooth functioning reel even when heavy pressure is applied to the reel when working large fish.
The gear ratios range from 5.1:1 to 4.2:1 in the larger models with line retrieval rates between 23 and 26 inches. While not the best retrieval rates of trolling reels in this list it is more than enough to get fish in the boat quickly.
Let’s take a closer look at the Okuma Cold Water Linecounter in the following video:
Features: (SGT30H Model)
- Ball Bearings: 3+1
- Gear Ratio: 6.1:1
- Line Retrieval: 35 Inches
- Line Capacity: Mono, 490 yards/14lbs, 295 yards /20 lbs, Braid, 380 yards/40lbs, 280 yards/50lbs
- Weight: 15 ounces
- Maximum Drag: 15.4 lbs
- Carbon Drag System
- Corrosion Proof Frame
Is the Daiwa Seagate SGT30H one of the best trolling reels? We think so.
These reels are made of corrosion resistant composite material as well as machined aluminum providing a tough and powerful body that can take the torque and pressures put on these reels when handling large fish.
The Seagate features an excellent bearing system that uses three corrosion resistant ball bearings to keep the reel performing at peak smoothness. The gears are rugged and machined from brass and will keep aligned even when the reel is under pretty heavy duress making landing fish much easier.
The Seagate also employs a dual anti-reverse system that provides instant hook setting power. The large aluminum handle and oversized knob allow you to put a lot of cranking power into the reel to put big fish in the boat.
The reel uses Daiwa’s popular UTD drag system and depending on the model can produce from 15.4 to 19.8lbs of pressure. This drag system engages smoothly and uses a star drag adjustment system that is easy to manipulate when working fish.
These reels feature excellent gear ratios ranging from 6.1:1 to 6.4:1 with line retrieval rates of 35 to 48 inches. For a trolling reel, it is critical that you can get the line in quickly and these reels do the job.
The aluminum spool can hold large quantities of line, and it also utilizes a simple spool release lever to let line into the water. One of the features that I like is they put a small bar on the front end of the reel. As the fishing line comes off the reel, this bar prevents it from hitting that edge. This helps to protect your fishing line. A small detail, but without a doubt an important detail to this amazing reel.
Overall this is one of the best trolling reels that are currently available.
Learn more about the Daiwa Seagate in the following video:
Features: (TEK800 Model)
- Ball Bearings: 3+1
- Gear Ratio: 4.2:1
- Line Retrieval: 33 Inches
- Line Capacity: 530 yards/25lbs, 450 yards /30 lbs, 370 yards/40lbs
- Weight: 29.8 ounces
- Maximum Drag: 24 lbs
We are going to conclude our list of the best conventional reel with the Shimano Tekota 800 Conventional Reel.
There are several different sizes of the Tekota available which provides a trolling reel that is perfect for your intended fishing situations. The one featured above is the TEK800 model. This particular reel is meant for serious saltwater fishing, but there are other models available for smaller fish.
All models have a 4.2:1 gear ratio with line retrieval rates ranging from 25-33” per turn of the handle. This line retrieval is much lower than some of the other models on this list, but the reel makes up for it in its unmatched cranking power.
These reels use aluminum frames, side plates, spool, and handle giving you a durable housing for the gear system as well as a reel that is going to be able to endure extreme pressure and duress.
The Dartanium drag system engages smoothly and can put out 12-24lbs of max drag depending on the model. The drag can be adjusted easily by the star drag adjustment knob that is located on the reels handle.
These reels can be spooled with huge amounts of monofilament or braid and when in free spool mode, an audible clicker is employed to detect takes and running fish.
Take a closer look at the Shimano Tekota 800 in the following video:
Features: (FTH30 Model)
- Ball Bearings: 5+1
- Gear Ratio: 6.0:1
- Line Retrieval: 40 Inches
- Line Capacity: Mono, 440 yards/20lbs, 300 yards /30 lbs, Braid, 625 yards/50lbs, 500 yards/65lbs
- Weight: 18.4 ounces
- Maximum Drag: 25 lbs
Lastly, let’s take a look at the PENN Fathom Star Drag.
This conventional reel is available in five different models all with a striking black finish with gold trim that has long been associated with PENN reels. All models feature five stainless steel ball bearings that are placed in key areas throughout the reel to provide structural support and promote a smooth running gear system.
All models are constructed with full metal frames, side plates, spool, and handle. Not only do they provide superior cranking power, but they also provide fantastic gear ratios of 6.0:1 with line retrieval rates ranging between 28 and 40″ given the specific model. It’s tough to find a trolling reel that is at the top of the list in both aspects, and the Fathom manages to do it.
The Fathom uses PENN’s HT-100 drag system, and all models can put out a whopping 25 pounds of drag pressure and uses a star drag adjustment knob.
The Fathom has a fantastic gear system with machined bronze alloy main gear and stainless steel pinion gear that when paired with the housing, give you a gear system that will remain functional under heavy duress.
This reel has a lever operated free spool system for releasing line into the water, but the open frame design also gives it enhanced casting performance compared to other trolling reels. All models can hold an incredible amount of line and feature an adjustable audible clicker for the free spool system.
Learn more about the PENN Fathom in the following video:
Reels designed specifically with trolling and working heavy loads are necessary to put the biggest fish in the water onto your boat. We have outlined five trolling reels that have the technology, reputation, and track record of getting the job done so you can be confident when doubling down on the fish of a lifetime.