Top 10 Best Trolling Reels 2018 - Comprehensive & Unbiased List

If you’re a serious angler, chances are that you already own a fish finder, a kayak and maybe a few fishing books but do you have a trolling reel? Well, as you know, any successful trolling has to begin with a good reel. This is especially crucial if you know there are possibilities of you encountering larger-than-average fish. With many different kinds of reels to choose from, you may easily find yourself in a dilemma.

As you can tell, no two different manufacturers are the same. Likewise, no two anglers face exactly the same needs. So, the key is to find a unit that is well manufactured, capable of meeting your needs and most importantly one that’s friendly to your budget. A few key points to keep in mind:

  • Weight and size are important factors to consider
  • Some reels come with a line counter for better user experience
  • The best trolling reels are ones designed to withstand torture & abuse

​Sounds like a mouthful? Worry not, for in the next few paragraphs, our expert reviewers will break every tiny detail down for you.

Top 10 Most Popular Trolling Reels – Comparison Chart

Whether you’re mulling over freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing or even fly fishing, there’s certainly a trolling reel worth your time and money. Below is a quick and helpful rundown of top products.

2018 Best Trolling Reels – In-depth Reviews

1. Penn Squall 50VSW Trolling Fishing Reel

Penn is, for sure, one of the most trusted brands in the world trolling fishing reels production and the 50VSQ Squall model attests to that fact. A quick glance at it reveals that has an aluminum spool and is therefore corrosion-resistant. You can, therefore, use it for any fishing mission without having any reservations whatsoever.

Features

First of all, the fact that this unit is made using aluminum and graphite makes it one of the lightest trolling reels in town. It’s small and lightweight and, therefore, ideal for beginners and professionals alike.

To top it all up, the unit comes with a quick shift 2-speed system that easily shifts from low gear to high gear. This once again gives you greater control and hence more fun when fishing.

Operation

If user experience is your main concern, then you’ll be glad to learn that this unit is designed with your convenience in mind. First off, it spots a quick shift 2-speed system which allows for flexible speeds. Let’s also not forget about a fantastic dura-drag system which eliminates hesitation and snags making every fishing experience superbly great. Last but not least, there’s a double dog ratchet system to prevent accidental reversing.

Pros

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    Lightweight and compact
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    Designed to withstand demanding use
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    Zero snags or hesitation
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    Anti-reverse system for efficiency and safety
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    Strong side-plates for taming large fish

Cons

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    Lacks a rod clamp screw

2. Magda Pro Trolling Reel From Okuma

Who said you have to break the bank to get yourself an award-winning trolling reel? Indeed, one of the things that stand out about the Magda Pro is that it comes with a big, over-sized power handle. This gives you the absolute power needed to fight even the trickiest fish in the waters.

Features

Launched in 2016, the Magda Pro is available in 20, 30 and 45 size varieties. All the three sizes are available in variants for left-hand and right-handed retrieves. 

But what’s even nicer about its design is that it comes with a line counter mechanism which shows you exactly how much of your line is used up. On top of that, there’s a reset line to keep the line counter mechanism debris free.

Performance

This is a true performer especially if you are the type of fisherman who always looks for new challenges to face. For instance, it comes with a screw port that allows you to keep the unit intact even when fishing under demanding conditions. That’s in addition to a corrosion-resistant frame, graphite spools, and reliable side-plates.

Pros

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    Designed to withstand any corrosion threats
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    Comes with a lubricated gear system
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    Powerful carbonite drag system
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    Quite flexible for hassle-free use
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    Great in accuracy

Cons

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    Could be faster

3. PENN LW Squall Fishing Reel

Are you into big game fishing? Penn LW is designed with features that make it perfect for trolling in saltwater. It will deliver the much-needed power to your saltwater fishing experience.

Features

This reel has a gear ratio of 4.9:1. The body is built from graphite construction. This makes the trolling reel lightweight and durable. The graphite frame and side plates are corrosion resistant making it ideal for saltwater fishing. The gear is stainless and therefore durable. It has an instant anti-reverse bearing system. The drag system is made with HT-100 carbon fiber. It has two stainless steel ball bearings and the spool is constructed from aluminum.

Operation

The reel is light and powerful. Operating it for long hours will not tire you. In addition, the drag system is made from carbon fiber material, making the operation smooth and easy. The handle length has a firm grip and adjustable to suit various fishermen needs. The spools are designed with capacity rings. The capacity rings make monitoring of the line easy, helping you know how much line is left while fishing.

Pros

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    Light
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    Durable
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    Powerful
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    Various models to choose from

Cons

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    This model does not have a left-hand design

4. Okuma Linecounter Cold Water Trolling Reel

As the name suggests, this reel is designed for cold water fishing. Okuma Cold Water has many features to offer both a newbie or seasoned angler. Some of the features include durability and performance.

Features

Most of its parts are made from aluminum including the handle, spool, and drag. The reel has a titanium coated level wind. Okuma Cold Water reel frame and side-plates are weather resistant. It has three stainless steel ball bearings and the drag system is multi-disc and carbonated. The reel’s gears are made of brass. In addition, it has a self-lubricating gear system. The line capacity is designed to be anti-forging and easy to set.

Operation

The reel pulls with ease and is easy to operate. The handle is made from non-slip rubber and has an ergonomic design for easy operation. The reel has an anti-reverse bearing system. The reel is lightweight and can be held for long without experiencing fatigue.

Pros

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    Durable
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    Competitively priced
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    Smooth and comfortable to operate

Cons

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    One-year Limited warranty
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    Left-handed only
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    Noisy clicker

5. Okuma Classic Graphite Level Wind Pro XP Trolling Reel

The right fishing reel makes fishing fun and enjoyable for anglers. You need a reel that can handle all your fishing needs. Okuma Classic is a reel to depend and is offered at a great price. It has three models to choose from.

Features

The reel has many features that make it corrosion resistant and therefore durable. The frame is graphite while the side plates are made from aluminum and graphite. The handle and spool are made from aluminum while the gear is constructed from brass and is stainless. The drag system is multi-disc. In addition, the reel has a self-lubricating gear. The gear has a ratio of 3.8:1.

Operation

This reel is good for bottom fishing and handles monster fishing well. The T-style knobs make it easy to grip. It has a drag system that is easy to operate, putting you in control of fishing. It has an easy to operate on and off-line clicker.

Pros

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    Affordable
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    Lightweight
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    Durable

Cons

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    Right-hand models only

6. Shimano Conventional Tekota 300 Trolling Reel

When shopping for a reel you want one with great features. This reel is specially designed to hold almost 300 ft of braided line, which is quite a lot. It has other great features ideal for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. The brand offers many models to suit different fishing needs.

Features

The reel is engineered with durable parts. Many of its parts are made from aluminum including the spool and frame and side-plates. The side-plates also have graphite. Shimano conventional gear ratio is 4.2:1. The reel’s ball bearings are anti-rust and therefore long-lasting. The drag system is made from carbon fiber washers.

Operation

The reel is designed to hold a lot of line capacity. It is easy to handle for its small size and it's strong. The features of this reel make it hold up to a lot of pressure.

Pros

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    Durable
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    Strong
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    It can hold up to 300 ft line


​Cons

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    It is small and therefore not suitable for monster fishing
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    Many models to choose from which can be confusing

7. PENN GP Level Wind Reel

Penn General Purpose is an old and popular brand. If you are looking for a reel that is reliable all the time, consider Penn General. It is ideal for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. The reel has various models to offer including 9, 209 and 309 models.

Features

Though the design is old-fashioned, this reel is a heavy duty fishing gear. The reel is made to last with durable parts. The spool is made from anodized aluminum. The main gear is made from brass while the pinion gear is stainless steel. The reel has a gear ratio of 3.2: 1.

Operation

It is designed with toughness and therefore reliable. It is easy to operate this reel and ideal for casting or trolling. The drag is designed to operate smoothly even under heavyweights.

Pros

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    Little maintenance required
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    Affordable
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    Made by Penn.

Cons

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    Simple and old-fashioned design.

8. Penn Warfare Level-Wind Fishing Reel

This reel is reliable and will meet your fishing needs. The brand has three models for fishing different kinds of fish. The three brands have some common features they share.

Features

The body of this reel is built from graphite making it durable, corrosion resistant light. The frame and side-plates are made from graphite. Aluminum frame rings provide firmness to the frame. The spool is durable and made from aluminum. Penn Warfare has a gear ratio of 5.1:1 gear. The main gear and pinion gear is made from brass.

Operation

It is lightweight and can be used for all-day fishing without getting drained from its weight. The reel has an anti-reverse bearing. Carbon fiber washers make the drag smooth to fish even heavyweights. The reel is designed with line capacity rings for ease fishing

Pros

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    Lightweight
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    Durable

Cons

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    Small release button

9. Burning Shark Saltwater Level Wind Trolling Reel

Designed to cater for saltwater fishing, the Burning Shark is a powerful reel. The reel has a powerful retrieve system with a maximum drag pressure of 40 pounds. It has other great features to offer saltwater anglers.

Features

Burning Shark reel is corrosion resistant and designed to last long. The frame and spool are made from aluminum and it has bakelite side plates. The reel has eight ball bearings for smooth operation. Seven of the ball bearings are anti-rust. The gears are made from stainless steel. Burning Shark’s gear ratio is 4.1:1.

Operation

Burning Shark offers a smooth fishing experience. The reel has an anti-reverse sphere-shaped handle for easy operation. The clicker has a big button for ease of use. The line is distributed evenly during retrieve because of the design features.

Pros

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    Little noise when in operation
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    Powerful
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    Well designed
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    Competitively priced

Cons

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    Limited International shipping

10. One Bass Saltwater Fishing Trolling Reel

The quality of your trolling reel matters a lot as far as performance and durability are concerned. Luckily, One Bass have a well-thought-out model ready for you to explore. Featuring a multi-disc Carbonite drag system, this unit seems like an ever-reliable choice, any day. But does it live up to that mark?

Features

One incredible attribute of this reel is that it contains stainless steel bearings which are not only durable but also smooth to retrieve. And to make the deal even sweeter, the assembly process is pretty straight-forward. Being a CNC machine cut unit with an aluminum spool and frame makes this a must-have trolling reel.

Performance

This saltwater fishing reel is designed to impress. Complete with an easy-to-access thumb bar spool and a line out clicker alarm, you’ll love every minute of using the One Bass Trolling Reel. And to complete the equation, One Bass Inc. has provided a 3-year warranty for this unit and so you have absolutely nothing to lose since you can always lodge a complaint if dissatisfied.

Pros

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    Easy to adjust thanks to an oversize cast-control knob
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    Ideal for saltwater use
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    Fast spinning aluminum spool
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    Fantastic gear ratio for powerful retrieve
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    Smooth functioning roller and ball bearings

Cons

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    May not withstand torture and abuse for long (not hardy)

The Buying Guide

Now that you have an idea what trolling reel offers the best deal for you, it’s time to zero-in to the most competitive choices at your disposal. Worth noting is that reels come in different sizes, materials, and functions. Basically, what you need to note when buying one includes:

Body: A reel made from graphite and aluminum tends to offer a better bargain and performance.

Size: Go for a medium-sized reel if you’re just getting started. Avoid extremes.

Gear Ratio: Go for a high gear ratio if you’re looking to work faster, vice versa applies.

Drag System: A good drag system is one that allows the line to be pulled even when the reel is under pressure. Go for a system with 1/3 to 1/2 of your line’s strength.

What You Should Know About Reels

There are four main categories of fishing reels and these are trolling reel, spinning reel, baitcasting reel and spincast reels. Spincast reels have a closed face, spinning reels are known for their exposed revolving spool and baitcasting reels are known for a special depressing button for adjusting spool tension.

Final Thoughts – Verdict

Keeping all the factors mentioned above in mind, our best pick is no other than the Okuma Magda Pro which has earned itself a reputation for being well-built, strong and reliable. The runners-up position goes to Penn Squall and Okuma Cold Water models respectively.

So, the next time you go shopping for your favorite trolling reel, be sure to insist on getting the best value for your bucks. The best thing is that we’ve already provided you with all the information you need in order to make an informed purchase. All the best!

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