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6 Best Offshore Trolling Reels To Pick From

Written by James Schulz

Spinning and baitcasting reels are not the best options to fish from a moving boat.

Trolling reels are the best option in this situation.

Trolling is dragging a fishing rod on a boat, possibly with multiple baits, to cover large water areas.

To be successful, you require the right equipment and practice for trolling.

Therefore, it is imperative to know exactly what features make a trolling reel work.

This guide will review the top best offshore trolling reels, ways to select a quality trolling reel, and what you should look out for when purchasing trolling reels.

What Is A Trolling Reel, and Why Do You Need It?

Trolling reels are ideal for deep-sea fishing in either freshwater or saltwater.

They are not meant to be used in the same way as traditional reels; they are more round and have more lines as compared to other reels.

Since trolling reels are attached to the rod, they look like baitcasting reels.

Trolling has more lines, which makes them stand out. This is to make trolling easier with the heavier fishing line.

Trolling reels have three functions: line out the alarm, star drag, and release lever.

Trolling reels can use different fishing lines. Although, this depends on the species of fish.

They are universal in this respect. Trolling is one of the most effective forms of fishing.

You can use multiple lures and cover a lot more water.

Trolling reels can fish farther from shore than other types of reels.

These reels are more powerful and have a more significant drag.

Many of these reels also have reel counter abilities that help to release a particular line while angling for fish in open water.

However, trolling reels do have their limitations. They are usually more expensive and harder to use than other many types of the unit.

It can be overwhelming to choose from so many trolling reels or products.

But don’t worry; we have reviewed the top trolling reels to buy the one that’s right for you.

At a Glance

Top 6 Offshore Trolling Reels of 2022

1) Best Overall Trolling Reel: PENN’s International VIS 2 Speed Reel

PENN's International VIS 2 Speed Reel.jpg

 

Penn International VIS 2 speed reel is the top choice for an offshore trolling reel.

This fishing reel is the standard or conventional reel that is also the most popular in the Penn International family.

Penn VIS reel is the most popular choice for captains of charter boats because of its reliability, user-friendliness, and fishing power in any condition.

In addition, it has an ergonomically-designed, contoured single-piece aluminum frame that’s very powerful yet surprisingly light.

Furthermore, it is fitted with a locking lever to help stop “drag creep,” typically caused by endless trolling.

Finally, it has a gearing system of stainless steel fitted with four stainless steel aircraft-grade ball bearings that provide silky-smooth performance in saltwater.

Additionally, it includes Dura-Drag washers that almost stop any hesitation, even when operating at the most challenging drag settings. It is also an excellent line for cruising.

Depending on the line option you pick, Penn International also has a great line capacity of 525 to 1,425 yards.

To put it into perspective, one mile is 1760 yards. Gold is the only color option for this reel.

If you are searching for a great result-producing trolling reel to capture everything from dorado sharks to wahoo and others, you should not look beyond Penn International VIS.

Pros

  • Durable aluminum frame
  • Stainless steel aircraft-grade ball bearings
  • Dura-drag system
  • Great line capacity
  • Two-speed level
  • Overall, smooth performance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • One-color option
  • Not for beginners

2) Best Saltwater Trolling Reel: Penn’s Squall 2-Speed Lever Drag Trolling Reel

 

Penn's Squall 2-Speed Lever Drag Trolling Reel.jpg

If you are looking for greater power, control, and speed and don’t mind spending slightly more than you would usually, then the Penn reel might be the one you’re searching for.

If you are keen to hunt for the biggest fish in deep waters, then Penn Squall 2-Speed Lever Drag  Trolling Reel is one that you can use as a weapon.

First, it is built to last with sturdy and solid construction.

It is constructed of graphite, which is light and durable.

Its lightweight makes it easier to ensure your hands are not subjected to the most strain possible.

It also has the Dura-Drag system that is efficient and easy to use.

Additionally, you can change between two speeds to be more in control of how you catch.

Thanks to this reel’s simple design, switching between two speeds isn’t too tricky.

There are four ball bearings made of stainless steel and one anti-reverse.

The stainless steel and other materials resistant to corrosion used within the frame and the overall construction have made this reel functional for many years.

It’s among the best alternatives for saltwater trolling reels.

Additionally, it has an excellent line capacity and can keep track of the depth of the line.

Finally, it is easy to check the condition of your cable using the capacity rings attached to the reel.

Although this reel will cost slightly more as compared to other conventional fishing reels, it delivers superior performance and better features and control.

Pros                

  • A powerful reel
  • Simple to control and use
  • Two speeds
  • Lightweight
  • The smooth and powerful drag system
  • Excellent capacity, with capacity, rings to aid in keeping track of the remaining line
  • Ideal for saltwater due to its resistance to damage

Cons  

  • A bit more expensive than the others

3) Best Budget-Friendly Trolling Reel: Okuma’s Magda Pro Line Counter Trolling Reel

Okuma's Magda Pro Line Counter Trolling Reel.jpg

Okuma’s Magda Pro Line Counter Levelwind Trolling Reel is a light, rust-resistant reel with side plate rings made with stainless steel.

Furthermore, the reel includes a mechanical counter and a reset button made of rubber and measures lengths measured in feet.

Also, the reel is prepared to take on any task thanks to its durable brass gears, carbonate drag mechanism, and self-lubricating gear systems at an affordable cost.

The stainless steel components of the reel make it the reel resistant to corrosion, making it durable over time.

In addition, it has equal wind and a mechanical counter.

This means that even if you encounter strong fish in freshwater, your current will not lose its level.

This reel lets you handle 210 yards and 20 pounds of the test.

Although there are better reels than this available, this is the most reliable reel.

You won’t be breaking the bank when you buy this while having everything that a top-quality, expensive reel.

With graphite spools resistant to corrosion with sides plate rings made of stainless steel, a light frame with corrosion resistance and counter-mechanical line function; two ball bearings in stainless steel with an all-disc carbonate drag device, the wind line guide, self-lubricating, gear, the stainless steel level, and has a one-year guarantee.

Pros

  • High-Quality Materials to ensure durability and lightness
  • Self-Lubricating Gearing System
  • Good capacity
  • Level wind is included
  • Easy to use
  • One-Year Warranty

Cons

  • Line counters can be stuck sometimes
  • Sometimes, the drag adjustment doesn’t work

4) Best For Retrieval Trolling Reel: Burning Shark’s Saltwater Level Trolling Reel

Burning Shark's Saltwater Level Trolling Reel.jpg

 

Are you worried about retrieving the line? Feel nervous?

Then you may consider the Burning Shark trolling reel.

The reel comes with various excellent qualities; the top one is its ability to retrieve the line easily.

It is due to the level wind feature, which ensures that everything is on the right track when retrieving.

In addition, the fishing gear is constructed very well.

It comes with an aluminum spool with CNC technology with a large capacity and is highly durable.

It’s one of the finest stainless steel saltwater trolling reels with a carbon drag to catch fish.

It can carry 300 yards of 80lbs line and is equipped with an anti-corrosion coating that stays clean in saltwater.

Its six and one bearing keeps the reel moving smoothly.

It has a gear ratio of 4.1:1 and is considered a durable trolling reel for saltwater fishing.

Star drag makes it simpler as well because many other trolling fishing reels lack this feature.

It isn’t necessary to have difficulties with the handle since it features double-dog ratchets which stop the handle from turning.

And you can have all of this at a fast pace at a meager cost.

Pros
  • Great-quality builds
  • Good line capacity
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Powerful drag system
  • Smooth performance
  • It is easy to handle
  • Able to handle larger species
  • The level wind makes it easy to retrieve line
Cons                 
  • Might break easily
  • The handle is prone to break

5) Best Lightweight Trolling Reel: Penn’s Torque Gold Lever Drag Reel

Penn's Torque Gold Lever Drag Reel.jpg

 

Penn’s Torque Gold Lever Drag Reel is among those small reels designed to provide an impressive drag in a light package, benefiting from the smaller diameter spectra lines and the much more potent and more lightweight carbon custom rods.

Apart from being light and small in size, its unique is its easy manufacturing of high-quality, durable components inside the reel.

It features an open-top design with an anodized and machined aluminum side plates and body and a forged light aluminum spool. The Quick Shift(TM) 2-Speed technology quickly shifts between high and low gear.

In addition, the Dura-Drag System virtually removes any hesitation, even at the most extreme drag settings, built to ensure long-lasting PENN endurance.

This Penn reel is manufactured in the U.S.A. It is superior to any reel from the competition, is simple to maintain, and isn’t wear out until you land 100 marlins or an enormous yellowfin!

Pros

  • Made in the USA with imported and domestic components
  • Machined and anodized side plates and aluminum body
  • 6 stainless steel ball bearings
  • Quiet double-dog anti-reverse feature
  • Quick-shift(TM) two-speed technology
  • Dura-drag(TM) system
  • Lightweight aluminum spool equipped with line capacity rings

Cons

  • Expensive

6) Best Value For Money: Penn’s INT30VISX Conventional 2-Speed Reel

Penn's INT30VISX Conventional 2-Speed Reel.jpg

 

Penn International VISX Conventional 2-Speed Reel is wholly covered in machined aluminum and light- yet-durable stainless steel gears.

You can take your Penn VISX to battle the largest fish and expect nothing less than the highest quality.

It’s coated with an anodized finish to provide absolute security, and the reel will effortlessly withstand the destructive power of the seas.

The lever drag system lets you enjoy a more thrilling experience of this spinning reel.

You can alter the hardness of the drag to fight various species of fish, giving the user more flexibility.

A feature that a conventional fishing reel lacks usually.

The series also comes with an automatic gear shifter that gives you the flexibility to battle a bigger catch.

It also comes with double-dog ratcheting anti-reverse technology that gives a firm anti-reverse grip and an easy transition.

The only drawbacks are the hefty steel construction and the high price cost.

The Penn International VISX is a sturdy, durable, and high-performing fishing reel for those prepared to carry the weight on their hands and wallets.

Pros

  • Durable all-metal construction
  • Solid anti-reverse security
  • The reliable dura-drag drag system
  • Quick-shift gear for versatile applications
  • Variable drag pressure

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Heavier than the majority of reels

Buying Guide

What to Consider While Buying An Offshore Reel?

You will not get the best performance from your trolling reel if you don’t consider its components. Here are some features you need to be aware of to find the best trolling reel.

1) Material/Construction

Material is an important consideration. Trolling reels generally contain graphite, machined aluminum, or cast aluminum. However, each material comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

If you’re a novice, you don’t want to spend more on reels that could break because of your mistakes.

This is also because you don’t know if you will troll fish.

So you will want a reliable yet affordable reel.

Then Graphite reels are the most affordable and what you need.

They are lightweight and easy to use, but it isn’t very strong or durable.

Cast aluminum reels are for intermediate anglers who know what they’re doing and are willing to spend a little more for outstanding durability.

Cast aluminum reels are stronger and more durable than the other options.

Machined aluminum is a superior material for reels.

It’s the most expensive and offers some of the best criterion performance.

Experts who love fishing can opt for a machined aluminum reel body.

2) Drag System

Your fish target will not surrender its life without fighting.

It is not the fish’s fault but the nature of all living things.

You must be prepared for fights, and your weapon should not cause problems.

If your weapon causes trouble, you can easily lose your prey.

You won’t get that in a conventional saltwater reel and those are not considered as best trolling reels.

The drag helps you fight off your prey and bring it in.

The drag is more than what it can handle. It is also how it takes it.

First, choose the right drag power depending on what species you want (large or small).

Multi-disc drags are a popular choice as they are easier to control and put up a good fight.

You should also consider how smooth the drag runs.

Your drag should not be jerking as your prey fights.

You want your drag to perform as smoothly as possible with the power you require.

3) Line Capacity

We are sure you already know that reels have line capacity.

This is important to consider when troll fishing.

Because they can’t be cast, troll reels differ from other reels.

When you troll fish, depth plays a considerable role; therefore, it’s essential to let the line fall smoothly and straight into the water to reach the depth you want it to reach.

The length of your line will also play a significant role.

Your reel should be capable of handling the line correctly.

When determining the length of the line, you must consider the species you are trying to find.

What depth can you find them? It is easy to choose the suitable line capacity for your reel once you have determined the depth you will work in.

4) The Spool   

The line capacity is essential, but so is the size of your spool. In this case, it is not the length of your line that matters, but its type.

What type of line do you want to use? Braided fishing line, monofilament, or lead core line?

The diameters of the different types of lines affect the size of the spool.

Monofilament lines have a diameter that is greater than the other lines.

Braided lines of the same test weight can be wound longer around the spool because it is thinner than monofilament.

You can wind more of the lead core line around the spool because they have larger diameters.

Therefore, you may need to adjust the size of your spool depending on what type of line you are using. Also, consider machined aluminum spool while you are buying a spinning reel.

5) Speed  

A reel can offer you two speeds. With a lever, you can choose between two speeds.

This is especially useful when fighting larger species.

However, this isn’t a feature that will increase your catch.

It is all dependent on what and how you fish to determine if it will help or not.

If it doesn’t, it’s best to avoid spending extra money on something that doesn’t matter to your fishing.

6) Level Wind

When troll fishing, you are in constant motion.

The wind often decreases in its speed even when fishing in one spot.

So, it’s clear that the wind will drop its level when troll fishing.

At the very least, it is more susceptible to dropping the level.

Look into an even wind level to stay in line even when your line battles with the fish.

A level wind keeps everything in check, even as the line fights fish.

You’ll be at ease while the reel handles the fishing at the end of the day.

8) Clicker  

A clicker can alert you when your line is being paid out. It is a great tool that will help you in specific situations. The clicker must be loud and accurate.

9) Counter

Fishing is a great way to escape work. However, it can be tedious and frustrating to count the line depth.

On the other hand, troll fishing can be a peaceful activity if you have a counter-angler.

There are two types of counters available. There are two types of counters: the manual and the electric line.

However, one problem with electric counters is that their LCD screen or other electronic parts could fail in a watery environment.

How to Use a Trolling Reel?

Trolling reels aren’t so easy to operate as standard spinning reels or other reels.

If you just throw the line on traditional reels, you need to pull it away from a vessel or boat.

Some suggestions to help you keep from losing your line or fish:

  • You should follow the counter to place the bait at the appropriate depth.
  • The weight of the bait and the boat must weigh between 20 and 150 pounds. Absolutely no more or less. The fish won’t get too near your boat in the first instance. In the second case, it will be challenging to get it out.
  • If you’ve stood still for an extended time with no results, it is time to alter the bait. It is often helpful to attract fish. It’s also beneficial to modify the location to a degree—the more lures, the more significant number of fish you will catch. Try to put different lures at different depths and distances to the boat. This way, you’ll achieve the desired results.

How to Maintain and Clean A Trolling Reel?

Over time, any reel can get dirty. Even if the reel is not exposed to the elements, it can still become dirty.

So, like any machinery or product, the maintenance of trolling reels is essential.

But, first, you will need a vessel of warm or hot water, oil for the reels, a biodegradable cleaner, and some fluid.

  • First, remove the cover on the side of your reel. Then, to keep your components close and accessible, use a mat. You can tag or number your components as you take them out to reassemble everything with no stray pieces.
  • To prevent your reel from becoming misplaced, ensure that you properly position it during disassembly.
  • Before you continue, assess your spool for the fishing line.
  • To clean the entire reel, use Simple Green or any other biodegradable cleaner that you can find in your local market.
  • Apply grease using a small brush to the teeth’s bottom. You can also use a toothpick.
  • Use lighter fluid to wash the bearings and assess them to ensure they are spinning correctly. Next, equipping TG’s Rocket Fuel, oil the bearings using a small stick such as a toothpick.
  • Once you have completed all steps, put your reel together again. To keep the line safe and exterior finish, use Reel Magic after you are done.

Conclusion

Fishing in the open water of a lake or deep ocean is gratifying but requires special equipment.

You will need the best rod, trolling reel, and lures to achieve great results.

And all products mentioned above will help you achieve the results you want.

When choosing a reel, consider factors like drag system, line capacity, material, and clicker.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of reel is best for trolling?

Reels with the following characteristics are the best:
Large paddle handles, levers for spool release, and star drags are prominent reels that distinguish them from larger frames. One crucial but visible characteristic is the bait clicker warning that offers a tiny quantity of tension when free-spooling to the position line. It makes a ticking sound when the line is removed after a fish has landed on the bait or lure. It is vital because when it's in the "on" position, it warns anglers that there is something much heavier as compared to the tackle is in the middle of the line. This allows the fisher to switch his focus back to the rod using the clicking reel.

Most trolling reels have the level-wind mechanism, which places the line on the spool equally. However, reels for big saltwater fish don't have level-wind mechanisms since the mobile components cannot keep pace with the speeds of billfish or any other species.

The built-in line counter is another machine attribute that sets trolling reels apart. A reel equipped with line counters will permit a fisher to distribute precise amounts of line to ensure diving charts control the depth to guide lures and allows for frequent deployment according to specific settings while finding fish.

These reels possess spools made of metal that are excellent for large line fish as well as wire, and spools made of composite or plastic are sufficient for braided superlines made of monofilament.

A two-speed reel is a favorite of big game anglers. You can switch between a high-speed retrieve to bring in the line and a lower-speed retrieve to fight a fish.  

What is a trolling reel?

Trolling reels, also called "conventional reels," are heavier versions of baitcasting. As a result, they have a higher drag pressure and higher line capacity. The three most important part of the reel include the line out the alarm, star drag, and the release lever.

It can accommodate various fishing lines based on the fish targeted. Trolling is an incredibly versatile method because it holds a variety of baits to lure fish and covers large areas of water.

Trolling reels can use either a lever drag or a star drag. The star drag can be set to a particular drag pressure. You can adjust a lever drag to adjust the pressure for larger fish.  

Is a 4000-reel big enough for surf fishing?

YES! 4000 – 6000 is the most essential range for surf fishing. This reel range will provide everything, including Pompano reds, small whiting, slot Reds, Tarpon, massive Snook, and even small sharks.

Who makes Fin-Nor reels?

Pure Fishing is responsible for making Fin-Nor reels after acquiring the iconic fishing brands Van Staal and Fin-Nor from W.C. Bradley/Zebco Holdings, Inc.

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