By now, you’re probably getting sick of me talking about my love for trolling for walleyes. If you’ve read any of my reviews here at Review Your Gear, you’ll know that I have quite a fancy for walleyes. And I’ve become used to trolling…A LOT. Is it my favorite way to fish??? To be honest, no. The thump on a jig is pretty darn tough to beat. But a close second is the sound of a trolling fishing reel clicker going off…especially when it’s the sound a big fish makes that I can’t even describe. I do most of my trolling for walleyes, although I do spend a decent amount of days trolling for muskies as well. It’s tough to beat the ground you can cover trolling…especially at high speeds. So with that being said, when it comes to trolling reels, I’m VERY picky. I’ve used the following brands below and here are my recommendations.
Okuma Cold Water Trolling Fishing Reels
This may come as a shocker that I chose the Cold Water reels by Okuma as the Editor’s Choice. There has been some heavy competition through the years for trolling fishing reels, without a doubt. But I feel the award is for a reason…overall features, reliability, and price.
The Okuma Cold Water trolling reels are the real deal…and why you may ask?
- Well first of all, you can get them shipped to your door for under $100 (pretty reasonable in my opinion).
- Second, I own these trolling reels and they are SOLID. I have 10 of them to be exact, as I switched to them a couple years ago from a competing brand. I haven’t had one fail me yet, and that’s after a couple of HARD years of use. I’ve owned other trolling reels that have failed in a year or even less.
- Third, I LOVE the drag system on these. So many of the other reels are touchy, meaning you have to adjust them just right to get the desired tension. The drag system on the Okuma’s “click”…and that makes them easy to set and test.
- Fourth, did I say they were reliable??? I can’t stress enough how hard I am on equipment, and the fact that not one has failed me yet gives them the nod. I have dozens of older, broken trolling reels from other brands.
I have various sizes of this reel, some for shallow water and others for deeper and even leadcore. No matter the situation, you should be happy with these trolling fishing reels for any species.
PROS: Reliable as can be, not too pricey, great drag system
CONS: The line counters can stick a bit, but I see that often with all of them to be fair.
Daiwa Sealine Trolling Fishing Reels
A close second to the Okuma Cold Waters was the Daiwa Sealine reels. Many anglers would’ve chosen this trolling reel over the Okuma’s. Hey, to each their own. I still have a lot of Sealine’s in my arsenal, but I did drop them in rank since I have had a few issues with mine. But outside of those issues, I still have owned around a half dozen and still use a few of them after many, many years. Their line counters always work, which sounds simple…but it isn’t. If a line counter goes out, I only use the reel for trolling 3-ways (where the line counter isn’t as important). The Sealine’s do have quite the following over the past decades, so that tells you something. There isn’t a ton of parts either, it’s all one mold. Not a bad design in that regard.
PROS: Not too expensive, pretty reliable, and are smooth
CONS: The drag system can be touchy, not much turning of the setting can change drastically.
Daiwa AccuDepth Trolling Linecounter Reels
The Daiwa AccuDepths are the cheaper version, basically, of the Sealine trolling reels. They have a lot more simpler drag system, it’s not built as strong, and it doesn’t have small bells and whistles like it’s counterpart… But at the end of the day, these may be a cheaper price tag but they do flat out work. I bought 2 of these years back and now use them for running Leadcore. I can’t break the darn things ha ha! To me, that simple fact speaks volumes in any gear for that matter. But if you go through as many fishing reels as I do, longevity is a serious factor in my reviews. I also like the auto-engage clutch built into the reel. Makes it pretty smooth.
PROS: Great price tag, can last a long time
CONS: Not as solid of a drag with only one bearing, but still works well
Penn Squall Lever Drag 2-Speed Trolling Reels
Traditionally, Penn fishing reels are more used on the coasts for saltwater fishing. And that’s cool, I love fishing saltwater whenever I can (which isn’t often enough). But I do own one Penn trolling reel and I have to say the thing is awesome. It’s fairly newer, so I haven’t used it enough to give it the “reliable” or “durable” sticker just yet, but it’s on its way. This reel is meant for BIG fish, and is setup to take on the task. It’s built strong at all ends, and has a multiple speed changing setting that allows you to change how fast you’re reeling in a flash. I must say that if you’re into trolling reels for saltwater, or freshwater muskies…this is a reel to be in your arsenal.
PROS: Has multiple speeds, built extremely well, great reputation
CONS: Very expensive in comparison to the others
Shimano Tekota Reels
Honestly, I don’t know how you can have a review on fishing reels of any kind without having at least one Shimano reel. Their reputation goes without saying…they make great reels. The same goes for their trolling reel line of reels, the Tekota series. This reel is being used heavily in both saltwater AND freshwater, and has the power to control big fish but the finesse for smaller species…such as my walleye. It has probably the smoothest drag system of them all, and the feel of the reel is something else. Now I do not own one, but I have a close friend that runs 4 of them and speaks extremely highly of them. I’ve used them in his boat and fell in love with them. The only problem is the price tag for me as I run a lot of trolling rods.
PROS: Awesome reputation, smooth drag system, very durable
CONS: On the higher end for pricing
So I would have to consider these to be the top trolling reels in the market today, based on durability, reliability, feel, and price. They’re all great fishing reels and I’ve used them all as I’ve stated. When it comes to trolling crankbaits, you need to have a trolling reel you can count on. After all, a large part of fishing is confidence and it’s hard to be consistent without it. When I purchase a reel, I expect to get AT LEAST 3 HARD seasons out of it…no matter the price. If it can’t do that, I’m searching for an alternative plain and simple.
Get out and get fishing while the season is in full swing!