Guide to Finding the Best Trolling Reel for Your Money

best trolling reels

Anglers in all regions have used trolling reels as a favorite fishing tool. For freshwater species like walleye, musky, salmon, and trout, trolling is an incredibly efficient fishing method. It often allows for anglers to cover greater distances and depths, while yielding some of the bigger fish within the species.

Trolling reels are often called conventional reels, and tend to look similar to baitcasting reels. The crucial difference between trolling reels and baitcasting reels is that trolling reels do not come with a casting button. Instead of releasing the line throughout the casting motion, these reels allow for the fishing line to simply drop down, letting the bait fall gracefully into the water.

Trolling reels allow for a prolonged, relaxing fishing experience. Since a core component of trolling involves travelling at different speeds throughout a large body of water, this often allows for longer periods of time out on the water. Using trolling reels also does not require constant interaction or supervision, which adds to the relaxing component of trolling itself.

The importance of finding the best reel lies in the application: the best reels will allow for enhanced performance, making the overall trolling experience much more enjoyable.

5 Top-Rated Trolling Reels

Finding the best trolling reel can be a complicated process. With so many available products within the fishing industry, it may seem impossible to narrow down the best reels. Our review has provided a listing of the 5 best, top-rated trolling reels to invest in for this season. Not only do they regularly outperform the competition, but these trolling reels have consistently brought in the highest overall customer reviews, making them well worth the investment for any trolling fisherman.

  • Penn Squall Level Wind Trolling
  • Graphite frame and sideplates
  • HT-100 drag washers
  • 2 + 1 stainless steel bearings
  • Anti-reverse system
  • Piscifun High Speed Conventional Levelwind
  • Stainless steel reel stand
  • Brass main gear
  • 3+1 stainless steel ball bearings
  • Twin Drag System
  • Okuma Cold Water Linecounter
  • Lightweight aluminum alloy construction
  • Multi-disc drag system
  • High-grade brass drive gear
  • Ability to set precise drag settings
  • KastKing Rover RXA Conventional
  • Anodized aluminum side plates and spool
  • Line out clicker alarm
  • 6+1 stainless steel ball bearings
  • All alloy flawless levelwind
  • Shimano Tekota Levelwind
  • Diecast aluminum spool and frame
  • Anti-rust bearings
  • Oversized clicker system
  • Counter balanced handle

1. Penn Squall Level Wind Trolling Reel

By only including the highest-quality components available, the Penn Squall Level Wind Trolling Reel is widely used by professionals and amateurs alike. Its machined aluminum spool and line capacity rings ensure that you always know exactly how much line you have left. Their Level Wind line control ensures that your fishing line will always stay within control, regardless of surrounding weather.

Made of Marine-grade bronze alloy, this reel is built to last through years of fishing. The stainless steel bearings are shielded from the elements, so fishermen don’t have to worry about excessive water damaging the bearings.

Composed primarily of graphite, this reel provides durability without having to sacrifice lightweight construction. Reviewers consistently rave about the flawless drag system and the weightless construction of the Penn Squall Level reel.

2. Piscifun High Speed Conventional Levelwind Trolling Reel

Piscifun has manufactured a number of high-quality reels, and the Levelwind Trolling reel is certainly amongst them. The pinion gear is not only made of stainless steel, but it is also reinforced with high-strength precision machinery. This keeps the reel operating smoothly and seamlessly throughout each and every trolling trip.

The Twin Drag System is meant to improve upon this smooth functionality, adding increased strength and fluidity to bring in massive fish. Overall, this reel provides an incredibly smooth and efficient drag, improving the retrieve. 

As an additional benefit, customer reviews report that the clicker is loud enough to be heard even over the hum of a boat engine.

3. Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling    Reel

The Okuma Cold Water model is an incredibly popular choice. The entire Cold Water line is based upon a powerful star drag foundation, supported by heavy duty brass gears and a full Carbonite drag system. With the ability to output 20 lbs. of drag, this particular reel model is incredibly powerful. As an additional benefit, the Aluminum ratcheting drag star enables trolling fishermen to set precise drag settings.

The popularity of the Okuma Cold Water reel is partly due to its lightweight nature and high durability. The side plates and frame are made of corrosion resistant aluminum, protecting the reel from wear and tear due to water and humidity.

Models in the Cold Water reel line are available for both left and right hand retrieve. By combining precise drag settings with specialized retrieve options, the Okuma Cold Water model is one of the most versatile trolling reels on the market.

4. KastKing Rover RXA Conventional Reel

A fishing favorite for years, the KastKing Rover RXA is a newly updated version of a traditional, best-selling model. This new version of the KastKing reel is perfect for trolling and bottom-fishing in both saltwater and freshwater environments. 

It also boasts superior durability, with anodized aluminum, precision machined brass, and stainless steel. Fishermen looking to troll through saltwater environments can rest assured that each of these components will keep the reel free from corrosion.

Levelwind components ensure that fishing line won’t get tangled or lost while trolling, and the line out clicker alarm can quickly alert fishermen to biting or running fish. As far as trolling reels go, the KastKing Rover RXA Conventional Reel offers a high level of value for an extremely affordable price.

5. Shimano Tekota Levelwind Reel

Shimano has a long and decorated history of producing high quality fishing reels. The Tekota Levelwind carries those same values of quality and performance, making it one of the most desirable trolling reels on the market. The anti-rust bearings have been specially treated to resist corrosion and decay, making them up to ten times more resistant to corrosion.

 The Assist Stopper anti-reverse system helps to reduce stress on the bearings, increasing durability over time. Additionally, the Tekota Levelwind introduces a new and improved adjustable drag system, making for the smoothest Shimano performance yet.

Trolling fishermen will be thankful that the handle grip material is soft and comfortable, yet water resistant to improve overall grip. The counter balance component also ensures that wobble during retrieval is eliminated.

Buying Guide for Trolling Reels

While looking for the best trolling reel, there are a few noted characteristics that you will want to keep in mind. The best reels will have common elements that contribute towards overall performance and efficiency. These common elements are:

Line Guide

A line guide is particularly important where trolling reels are concerned. Because the majority of trolling reels require a smooth, simple drop into the water, wind can exceptionally prohibit an equally smooth retrieval. The line on the reel needs to be steadily and efficiently reeled in, without interference from natural elements like wind.

A solid line guide construction will balance tension and wind to enable anglers to bring in large fish without compromising efficiency.

Loud Clicker

A clicker will signal the fisherman as to when a fish have taken the bait. Since most trolling reels are used while a boat is in motion, it is important for the clicker to be loud enough to be heard over the engine. Without being signaled to a lure being taken by a fish, anglers run the risk of losing a fish through simply not realizing that the lure has been grasped.

Smooth Drag

This is a standard component of nearly all fishing reels, but for trolling reels, a smooth drag is of particular importance. These reels need to quickly and smoothly adjust to variations in depth and distance and having the most efficient drag possible also means having the smoothest drag possible. Since these reels often bring up larger fish, a smooth drag helps ensure a smooth retrieval for the most stubborn of species.

Line Counters

Line counters were created to assist anglers in replicating the exact line depth, which is extremely helpful in eliminating the guesswork. If an angler has success by letting their line down for 30 or 40 seconds, then the best way to replicate that success is to continue trolling at that depth. With a line counter, anglers don't have to physically count each and every depth—the line counter eliminates that task.

Some trolling reels come with line counters attached, while others do not. Depending on personal preference, you may want to narrow your search to reels that come with line counters included.


With such a wide variety of fishing reels on the market, it can certainly be difficult to find the best reel for your fishing needs. When looking for trolling reels, keep in mind the standard components that each and every reel should have: a reliable line guide, a loud clicker system, and most importantly, a smooth drag.

Looking at the top-rated reels can certainly provide valuable insight into what components the best manufacturers are using for their reels. By closely examining the top-rated reels, each fisherman will be highly equipped to find the best trolling reels for their fishing needs.

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