At a Glance: Trolling Reels

Trolling reels, commonly known as "conventional reels," are similar to baitcasting reels in function, but are designed for use in offshore trolling. Trolling reels have much greater line capacities and typically have a stronger drag system than their smaller cousins. Large paddle-handles, star drags, and spool release levers are visible features of trolling reels that set them apart in addition to the larger frames. An important, but less-visible, feature is the baitclicker alarm which provides a small amount of tension when free-spooling to deploy line and has an easily audible clicking sound as the line is stripped off once a fish strikes the lure or bait. This is important because when it is in the “on” position it immediately alerts an angler that something heavier than the terminal tackle is now at the end of the line, allowing the angler to turn his attention back to the rod with the clicking reel. Many trolling reels feature a level-wind system that lays the line onto the spool evenly. Reels designed for large saltwater fish do not feature level-wind systems because the moving parts can’t keep up with the speed of a running billfish or other large, hard-fighting species. One more mechanical feature that sets some trolling reels apart from casting reels is a built-in line counter. A reel with a line counter will allow an angler to send out specific line amounts for depth control when using dive charts for lures and divers and will allow for repeated deployment to exact settings when locating active fish. Trolling reels with metallic spools are well suited for large fish and wire lines, while plastic or composite spools are more than adequate for monofilament or braided superlines. Keep in mind that most trolling reels also have large reel-feet and are only compatible with trolling rods.

Popular brands of trolling reels available at FishUSA include Shimano, Abu Garcia, Daiwa, Okuma, Penn, Shakespeare, and more.