Top 7 Best Trolling Reels Reviewed

Best Trolling Reels

Hello, fellow angler! In this review, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the best trolling reels.

Trolling is an exciting fishing style that often involves targeting large fish in deep-sea waters. To handle the demands of trolling, you’ll need a reel that can hold ample lines, especially heavy-duty lines, and withstand the corrosive effects of saltwater.

For those who are willing to invest a bit more, the Penn Squall II Level Wind Conventional Reel is an excellent choice. This reel offers impressive power and durability, making it suitable for even the largest oceanic species. It’s also designed to withstand the harsh conditions of saltwater fishing.

However, if the Penn Squall II is beyond your budget, rest assured that there are many other trolling reels available that offer great performance without breaking the bank.



Top 7 Best Trolling Reels

  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 1500-5000
  • Max Drag Weight: 33 pounds
at Amazon
❤️ Most Reviewed
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 6000
  • Max Drag Weight: 24 pounds
at Amazon
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Reel Size: 3000-4000
  • Max Drag Weight: 38-40 pounds
at Amazon
  • Ball Bearings: 1+1
  • Reel Size: 1500-3000
  • Max Drag Weight: 15-20 pounds
at Amazon
  • Ball Bearings: 14+1
  • Reel Size: 1000-5000
  • Max Drag Weight: 30 pounds
at Amazon
  • Ball Bearings: 2+1
  • Reel Size: 1500-4500
  • Max Drag Weight: 13.2-15.4 pounds
at Amazon
  • Ball Bearings: 2+1
  • Reel Size: 1500-4500
  • Max Drag Weight: 13.2-15.4 pounds
at Amazon


Penn Squall II

Best Trolling Reels


Penn Squall II Level Wind Conventional Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 1500-5000
  • Max Drag Weight: 33 pounds

1. Penn Squall II Level Wind Conventional Reel

Penn Squall II Level Wind Conventional Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 1500-5000
  • Max Drag Weight: 33 pounds
  • Includes Line Counter?: Yes

The Penn Squall II is a robust and reliable trolling reel designed to handle the challenge of catching large fish. Its impressive drag system provides a whopping 33 pounds of stopping power, allowing you to take on monster fish with ease.

Durability is a key feature of this reel. It is equipped with shielded stainless steel ball bearings and an anodized aluminum spool. The stainless steel bearings are highly corrosion-resistant, and the additional shielding ensures their longevity in harsh saltwater conditions. The anodized aluminum spool adds further rust resistance, enhancing the overall durability of the reel.

What truly sets the Penn Squall II apart is its drag washers. The HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers exhibit a unique characteristic: as the line leaves the spool, they actually get hotter, resulting in decreased friction. Unlike other reels where drag typically increases as the line leaves the spool, the HT-100 drag washers compensate for this and provide an incredibly smooth retrieval experience. This feature is particularly beneficial during fights with prize fish.

In summary, the Penn Squall II is an exceptional choice for big-game and deep-sea fishing. Its durability, power, and smooth retrieval make it well-suited for challenging saltwater environments. If you’re seeking a trolling reel that can confidently handle any fish in corrosive saltwater, look no further than the Penn Squall II.

2. Shimano Tekota Reel

Shimano Tekota Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Reel Size: 6000
  • Includes Line Counter?: Yes
  • Max Drag Weight: 24 pounds

The Shimano Tekota Reel is a remarkable trolling reel that excels in every aspect, offering unparalleled strength, durability, and lightness.

When it comes to strength, this reel boasts an impressive 24 pounds of drag, ensuring you’re well-equipped to handle any size of fish in the ocean.

Durability is a key feature of the Shimano Tekota. Its aluminum body provides robustness, while the shielded anti-rust bearings (S-ARB) offer long-lasting performance. The S-ARB ball bearings are highly resistant to rust, ensuring their reliability even in corrosive saltwater environments. Additionally, the Core Protect technology prevents the intrusion of saltwater into crucial parts like the roller clutch, body, and line roller. With these features combined, the Shimano Tekota is built to last for years of reliable use.

Notably, this reel stands out as the lightest trolling reel available. Its Hagane Body, constructed from specially engineered aluminum, offers exceptional toughness while reducing the overall weight of the reel. Even compared to other reels in the size 3000 range, the size 6000 option of the Shimano Tekota is lighter. Handling this reel is effortless and comfortable.

In summary, the Shimano Tekota is a reel that delivers on all fronts. It provides exceptional strength, durability, and a lightweight design. If you’re seeking the very best trolling reel and are willing to invest, the Shimano Tekota is the ideal choice.

3. Burning Shark Level Wind Trolling Reel

Burning Shark Level Wind Trolling Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Reel Size: 3000-4000
  • Max Drag Weight: 38-40 pounds
  • Includes Line Counter?: No

The Burning Shark Trolling Reel is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on power. Despite its affordable price, it offers an impressive 38 pounds of drag, surpassing even the more expensive Penn Squall II. With this level of drag, you can confidently tackle large and powerful fish, including formidable sharks.

Just like the other trolling reels on this list, the Burning Shark is designed to withstand saltwater conditions. It features a corrosion-resistant frame and anti-rust stainless steel ball bearings, ensuring its durability and longevity in harsh marine environments.

However, it’s worth noting that this reel is on the heavier side. The trade-off for its affordable price and high drag capacity is a slightly increased weight. While the Penn Squall II shares a similar weight, it offers a smoother drag system.

Considering its price point, the Burning Shark Trolling Reel offers a compelling option for anglers seeking cost-effective trolling gear. It provides ample power and durability, making it suitable for those looking to save while still having the ability to land prize fish.

4. Shakespeare ATS Trolling Reel

Shakespeare ATS Trolling Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 1+1
  • Reel Size: 1500-3000
  • Max Drag Weight: 15-20 pounds
  • Includes Line Counter?: Yes

For anglers with a limited budget, the Shakespeare ATS Trolling Reel offers a cost-effective option without compromising quality.

While it may not have the same level of strength as the previous reels, it still provides a respectable 20 pounds of drag. This is sufficient for catching large muskies and other sizable fish, although it may not be suitable for landing record-breaking specimens.

The stainless steel pinion gear and ball bearings of the Shakespeare ATS Trolling Reel are designed to withstand the corrosive effects of saltwater. This ensures the reel’s durability and performance in marine environments.

In terms of affordability, this reel stands out as the most budget-friendly option among high-quality trolling reels. With a price tag that is less than a third of the cost of reels like the Penn Squall or Shimano Tekota, it offers a great entry point for anglers looking to start trolling without breaking the bank.

5. One Bass Level Wind Trolling Reel

One Bass Level Wind Trolling Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 14+1
  • Reel Size: 1000-5000
  • Max Drag Weight: 30 pounds
  • Includes Line Counter?: No

The One Bass Level Wind Trolling Reel boasts impressive 14+1 ball bearings, setting a new standard for smoothness in fishing reels. This abundance of ball bearings ensures unparalleled smooth operation, making it a standout feature of this reel.

Smoothness, however, is not its only strong suit. With a drag capability of 30 pounds, this reel provides ample power to tackle a wide range of fish species. Like the Penn Squall II and the Shimano Tekota, it offers the versatility to pursue any fish you desire.

While the price of this reel is slightly higher than the Penn Squall II and still more affordable than the Shimano Tekota, it delivers exceptional performance that justifies its value.

In comparison to the Penn Squall II and Shimano Tekota, each reel excels in different areas. The Penn Squall II is ideal for targeting large fish, the Shimano Tekota stands out as the lightest option, and the One Bass Level Wind Trolling Reel shines in terms of smoothness. If you prioritize smooth operation above all else, this reel is a worthy choice.

6. Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel

Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 2+1
  • Reel Size: 1500-4500
  • Max Drag Weight: 13.2-15.4 pounds
  • Includes Line Counter?: Yes

Next up is the most durable trolling reel – the Okuma Cold Water Line counter.

To withstand the rigors of saltwater conditions, the spool frame and side plates of this reel are specifically designed to be corrosion-resistant. This ensures long-lasting performance and protection against the corrosive effects of saltwater.

Furthermore, the ball bearings used in this reel are crafted from stainless steel, adding an extra layer of durability and ensuring smooth operation even in challenging fishing environments.

One standout feature of the Okuma Cold Water Line Counter is its self-lubricating gearing system. This innovative system guarantees consistent and reliable performance, as it automatically lubricates the gears for optimal functionality.

With its robust construction and reliable performance, the Okuma Cold Water Line Counter is the ultimate choice for anglers seeking a durable trolling reel that can withstand the harshest saltwater conditions.

In addition to its impressive durability, the Okuma Cold Water Line counter also features a self-lubricating gearing system. This innovative system ensures that the gears of the reel are consistently lubricated, preventing performance issues and maintaining smooth operation over time.

Another notable feature is the Mechanical Stabilizing System (MSS). This system effectively connects and supports critical components such as the spool shaft, pinion gear, pinion gear bearing, drive shaft, and main gear. By keeping these parts in proper alignment, the MSS enhances the reel’s overall stability and longevity.

With its combination of a self-lubricating gearing system and the Mechanical Stabilizing System, the Okuma Cold Water Linecounter offers exceptional durability and reliability.

It is worth noting, however, that the drag system of this reel may be relatively weaker compared to other options. If durability is your top priority and you can work with a slightly less powerful drag, the Okuma Cold Water Linecounter is definitely worth considering.

7. Okuma Magda Pro Levelwind Trolling Reel

Okuma Magda Pro Levelwind Trolling Reel
  • Ball Bearings: 2+1
  • Reel Size: 1500-4500
  • Max Drag Weight: 13.2-15.4 pounds
  • Includes Line Counter?: Yes

The Okuma Magda Pro Levelwind Trolling Reel is specifically designed to be lightweight, making it a standout choice for anglers who prioritize weight reduction. The reel’s spool is constructed with graphite, which is known for its lightness, and the frame and side plates are engineered to be lightweight as well.

Compared to most other trolling reels on the list, the Okuma Magda Pro is notably lighter, offering a significant weight advantage. Only the Shimano Tekota surpasses it in terms of lightness. The focus on reducing weight has certainly paid off in this reel.

However, it’s important to note that the maximum drag weight of the Okuma Magda Pro is relatively modest at 17.6 pounds. If you anticipate targeting larger and more powerful fish, you may find this drag capacity limiting.

Aside from the drag capacity, the Okuma Magda Pro Levelwind Trolling Reel performs exceptionally well, especially considering its relatively affordable price. For just a slightly higher cost than the Shakespeare ATS, you can enjoy the benefits of its impressive lightness.

What To Consider When Buying A Trolling Reel

Learning how to judge a fishing reel is a crucial skill. 

Since this list isn’t exhaustive, you’ll no doubt come across other excellent reels. If you don’t know how to tell a good trolling reel apart, you’re going to let these wonderful trolling fishing reels pass you by.

To prevent that from happening, you’ll want to pick up the critical skill of identifying good reels.

Here are the factors to look out for in a good trolling reel.

Line Capacity

Line capacity is indeed an important consideration when choosing a fishing reel for trolling. The capacity of a reel determines how much line it can hold without being overloaded. Reel manufacturers typically provide line capacity information in the format of X/Y.

In this format, Y represents the number of yards of a specific pound test line (X) that the reel can accommodate. For example, a reel labeled as 20/350 can hold 350 yards of a 20-pound test line.

It’s worth noting that different types of fishing lines, such as monofilament and fluorocarbon, have different diameters, resulting in variations in line capacity. Therefore, the provided line capacities are specific to the type of line specified by the manufacturer (mono or fluorocarbon).

Since trolling typically requires more lines and often involves heavier line weights, it’s important to select a reel with appropriate line capacity. Instead of listing specific line capacity combinations, it is more practical to recommend reel sizes that correspond to the desired line capacity.

By choosing a reel size that aligns with your desired line capacity, you can ensure you have enough line to meet the demands of trolling.

Reel Size

When it comes to trolling, I recommend selecting a reel size ranging from 1500 to 5000.

For effective trolling, the smallest reel size I suggest is 1500. Anything smaller may not provide sufficient line capacity for proper trolling, and it’s better suited for targeting smaller species like walleye.

If you’re looking to tackle larger fish, opt for reel sizes between 4500 and 5000. These sizes offer the necessary line capacity and strength to handle bigger catches.

It’s important to note that larger reel sizes provide increased line capacity, ensuring you won’t run out of line during your trolling adventures. However, keep in mind that larger reels tend to be heavier due to their extended line capacity.

Drag System

The drag system in a fishing reel consists of small steel plates that control the release of the line from the spool. It is essential for preventing line breakage and providing resistance to tire-out fish during a fight.

The drag on a reel can be adjusted to different settings, with the maximum drag capacity referred to as the “max drag weight.” Setting the drag appropriately is crucial to ensure the line doesn’t snap under the force of a strong fish.

To set the drag, it is recommended to use 1/3 or 1/4 of your fishing line’s pound test. This allows for proper tension and prevents the drag from exceeding the line’s breaking strength as more line leaves the spool.

When trolling for larger fish that require fishing lines exceeding 100 pounds, a reel with a max drag weight of 25-35 pounds is recommended. While personally, I have never needed more than 30 pounds of drag, opting for a higher max drag weight of 35 pounds provides an extra margin of safety.

By properly adjusting and setting the drag system, you can ensure a balance between preventing line breakage and effectively battling large fish during trolling.


A clicker is a mechanism in fishing reels that produces an audible sound to alert you when a fish takes the bait.

Clickers are designed to be simple and easy to use. When selecting a clicker, it is crucial to choose one that produces a clear and distinct sound.

This is particularly important during trolling, as the noise from the boat’s engine and the waves can create a loud environment. To ensure you don’t miss any fish strikes, the clicker should be louder than the surrounding noise and easily noticeable.


Fishing reels are commonly constructed using two main materials: graphite and anodized aluminum.

Graphite reels are often preferred for their affordability and lightweight nature. However, they may not be as durable and can be more prone to damage.

On the other hand, anodized aluminum reels are heavier but offer better resistance against rust and corrosion. They tend to be more resilient and can withstand harsh conditions.

When it comes to trolling, I personally prefer anodized aluminum reels for their durability and ability to withstand the rigors of this fishing technique. However, the choice between graphite and anodized aluminum ultimately depends on your individual preferences and fishing needs.

Gear Ratio

Lastly, let’s discuss gear ratio, which may or may not be a crucial factor to consider in trolling. Allow me to elaborate.

In the previous reel recommendations, I didn’t specify the gear ratios for the reels. That’s because, in trolling, the gear ratio doesn’t hold significant importance. While it is generally recommended to use a lower gear ratio, opting for a higher gear ratio won’t pose significant challenges either.

However, more experienced anglers or those with specific preferences might have a greater focus on gear ratio. If that’s the case, you may want to consider a lower gear ratio. Gear ratios ranging from 3:1 to 5:1 are typically classified as slow gear ratios. So, if the gear ratio holds significance for you, I suggest selecting a reel within this range.

Ultimately, whether gear ratio is a critical factor in your trolling reel selection is subjective and dependent on your personal angling preferences and experience level.

Final Verdict

Trolling, a fast-paced and demanding fishing style, requires top-notch equipment to tackle the challenges it presents.

When it comes to trolling reels, they must possess the strength to handle the powerful beasts encountered during saltwater fishing and the durability to resist rust and corrosion.

In this regard, the Penn Squall II Level Wind Conventional Reel emerges as the epitome of excellence. It offers a remarkable combination of power, robustness, and smooth performance, making it an exceptional choice for trolling enthusiasts.

Wishing you success and enjoyment in your trolling adventures!

P.S. If you’re specifically seeking the best trolling reels for walleye fishing, once you’ve selected the appropriate trolling reel, I recommend exploring the best walleye rods as well.