What Are The Best Trolling Rod and Reel Combo? 5 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

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It is difficult to find the best trolling rod and reel combo that best suits your needs. There are a lot of factors to consider when you make this purchase. In this blog post, we will review 5 different trolling rods with reels in 2022 that we think to provide excellent quality and performance. We also have a buying guide for those who need some guidance when it comes to choosing the best product for their needs!

Let’s start!

Our Top Picks!

  1. PENN Squall 30 Fishing Rod and Trolling Reel Combo. (Best Overall)
  2. Penn Pursuit III Spinning Combo. (Best Value For Money)
  3. Ugly Stik Bigwater Combo. (Durability Pick)

Best 5 trolling reel and rod combos in 2022

best trolling rod and reel combo image - A rod and reel combo fixed to a boat

Here is our list, in case you’re in hurry:

  1. Penn Pursuit III Spinning Combo.
  2. Ugly Stik Bigwater Combo.
  3. SHIMANO trolling Rods & Reels TLD Fishing Combo.
  4. PENN Squall 30 Fishing Rod and Trolling Reel Combo.
  5. Ugly Stik Spinning Combo.

Penn Pursuit III Spinning Combo


Penn Pursuit III Spinning Combo features a lightweight, corrosion-resistant graphite body that can handle any freshwater species. The spinning reel offers a 4+1 stainless steel bearing system with a braid-ready durable spool. There are also 100 carbon fiber drag washers to ensure smooth casting and retrieval of line. 

This trolling combo is composed of a graphite composite rod with the Pursuit III  spinning reel at an affordable price. In addition to being used in trolling, you can also use it for surf and inshore fishing.


  • It is a smooth reel and looks good.
  • The trolling combo casts well. (if you’re looking to cast!)
  • Good customer support.
  • Good value for the money.
  • Versatile combo. You use it for surfing also.
  • The corrosion resistance makes it suitable for saltwater conditions.

Note: In the description, it’s written that it’s ‘LE model’. In fact, it’s the regular Pursuit III and not the “LE” one.


  • Poor package and shipping.
  • The rod is a little stiff for freshwater small fishing including smaller catfish and hybrid strippers. However, it works fine for the bigger ones like redfish and blue cats.

Ugly Stik Bigwater Combo


Ugly Stik Bigwater Reel and Rod Combo is the best option for people who are looking for the best value for their money. This combo comes with an ugly tech construction, which is a combination of graphite and fiberglass. It also features a clear tip design that delivers more responsiveness and strength.

The Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Reel has lightweight EVA grips that provide comfort during long day fishing trips while the durable aluminum spool with one way clutch instant anti-reverse bearing provides reliable hook sets. 

It also features an oversized handle knob which gives you better control over fights. Overall, this combo is worth the money paid for it.


  • Powerful rod.
  • The reel is smooth and casts far if you’re looking for other techniques.
  • Durable fishing rod.
  • High value for the price.


  • There is no reverse on the reel.
  • A little stiff for the freshwater applications.

SHIMANO trolling Rods & Reels TLD Fishing Combo


One of the highly recommended trolling rod and reel combos is the Shimano TLD Fishing Combo Saltwater. This fishing combo has a lot of features that make it the best choice for any fisherperson.

It includes A-RB stainless steel ball bearings that are treated to improve the overall corrosion resistance. The rod has aluminum oxide guides applicable for monofilament, fluorocarbon, braided lines. The gimbal is made of aluminum which improves its durability.

Shimano cared about SBW rods comfortability by adding: 

  1. Hard Density EVA rear grips to enhance durability and fighting power.
  2. A Fore grip designed with comfortable EVA. 

The combo is composed of a Shimano TLD reel with an SBW rod. I highly recommend getting the Shimano TLD reel. You can fit it with any rod and it will make a great combo. You can check its price on Amazon here:


  • One of the smoothest reels on the list.
  • Great customer support
  • Lightweight and solid construction reel.
  • The combo is highly designed for saltwater applications.


  • Hard to cast with.

PENN Squall 30 Fishing Rod and Trolling Reel Combo


The Penn squally combo is one of the best trolling rod and reel combos on our list. It features a frame and side plates that are made of graphite. Graphite is known to enhance lightweight and durability. A powerful HT 100 carbon fiber drag with 2 stainless steel BB works to provide smoothness. The stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and works well for saltwater fishing. 

It also offers an instant anti-reverse that helps keep you focused while fishing by eliminating the rotor back play. The allot main gear is made of high-strength bronze.

The rod is sensitive and made of a tubular glass blank.


  • Great deal for the money.
  • lightweight trolling rod and reel combo.
  • strong drag system with a sturdy rod that is able to handle large fish well under pressure.
  • Great customer service.
  • Easily adjustable. 


  • Poor shipping and package.
  • The butt handle has 8 sharp corners that can scratch or stab you.

Ugly Stik Spinning Combo


The ugly stick is reputable for making very tough rods. In this combo, they are offering a super tough medium-heavy action spinning rod. As usual, they added a clear tip design. The guides are made of stainless steel to deliver more durability. 

On other hand, the reel isn’t considered high quality compared to the rod. Overall, the combo the versatile and you can use it to fish different species and it is worth the money.


  • Flexible and super tough rod.
  • The quality of the combo is well worth the money.
  • Works for various kinds of fish including catfish, trout, salmon, pike, and kokanee. You can get those also if you’re looking for walleye trolling rods.
  • Versatile rod and reel combo and works for various types of fishing.


  • The Drag isn’t very sensitive.
  • The reels is considered not very smooth and low quality compared to the rod.

What Are The Factors That Should Be Considered When Choosing Rod And Reel For Trolling?

A rod and reel combo fixed to a boat for trolling.

Choosing the best trolling rod and reel combo isn’t an easy task. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of factors to think about in our detailed buying guide:

What Makes a good trolling rod?

Power rating

Power rating is important when buying the best trolling rods. The rod power is related to what fishing technique you’re planning to use:

I recommend going for a medium-heavy to heavy power in most trolling rods. They are suitable for most medium to heavy trolling divers. They also work fine for > 10 Ibs fish. Medium light rod power is good for casting rods. 

If you’re going for downriggers or other trolling types, getting light to medium power is a good option.

Fishing rod Material and Construction

The ideal trolling rod should contain 2 important characteristics:

Corrosion resistance

This is due to the fact that you are most likely to use your fishing rod for saltwater fishing, so it should not rust when in touch with water. Graphite and Fiberglass are recommended materials to choose from for the best saltwater trolling rods. It’s also better to stick with an aluminum alloy wheel seat. For the guides, stainless steel is good for saltwater. trolling

Strength and Durability

Because you’re targeting bigger fish, your trolling pole must be sturdy. Furthermore, the act of dragging the bait or lure through the water puts additional strain on the rod. A high-quality rod is essential to withstand heavy-duty work.

So, If you’re thinking about purchasing a standard eye trolling rod, keep in mind that it’s intended to take standard catches, not huge ones.

Which to pick Graphite or fiberglass?

I know that this question pumped into your head once I recommended both materials. Here is a quick comparison to help you start:

Fiberglass is durable enough. They are popular as slow- to medium-action rods. They’re excellent for soft presentations of large baits. They are also a good choice for working rough bottom where hang-ups are common.

Graphite is the more expensive option. It is much more sensitive and faster in action. When it comes to lifting weights, graphite is more powerful and withstands more.

Now the choice is up to you!

You may want to check: The 6 Best Ultralight Fishing Rods: Reviews with Buyer’s Guide.

Type of Reel

There are 2 types of reels to pair with a trolling rod: 

Star drag reels

Drag reels are formed of star-shaped drag control knobs (to tighten and loosen the system) and a little lever to put them into a free spool. It is the drag system applied in bait caster and conventional reels.

Lever drag reel

A lever drag reel uses applied pressure by sliding lever mounting against the spool. The applied pressure creates a sort of friction that is responsible to drag the spool.

It is also advised to use a top-mounted reel with the trolling rod. It’s easier to control the line this way.


The handle is an important factor to consider when buying a trolling rod. The best handles for trolling rods are:

Pro Cork grips

It is made of natural cork and it is an excellent choice for the best gripping and comfortable experience.  They help fishermen maintain a firm grip on their rod and reel combo. 

Rubber grips

They are sturdy and best if you’re planning on using your best trolling rod in saltwater. It could also be used by those who have sensitive skin or allergies. Rubber grips are best if you intend to fish often because it will last longer than other handle types.

EVA foam

EVA foam grips for fishing rods are best known for their shock-absorbent properties. However, they are not as comfortable as cork grips. This material will absorb sweat and improve your grip.

The Rod Length

Trolling rod length is usually longer than normal fishing rods. The best length of a trolling rod is between 6 – 9 feet long. If your rod isn’t long enough, Yon can use a planer board to have more distance away from your boat.

Rod Action

The rod action is crucial to think about when choosing a trolling rod. The wrong action can cause you to tear your catch mouth. For trolling, a moderate to slow action rod is suitable. 

The higher flexing absorbs the force of the fish strike and protects its mouth from being torn. The moderate action is better if you’re targeting large fish species.

Manual or Electric line counter

You must pick your rod according to what line counter you’re using. An electric line counter is simple to use for accurate and precise cooperation. It will be simple for you to hold the trolling rod while following it with the line counter.

Friction Prevention

When you’re catching bigger, heavier fish, it’s important to minimize the friction. Buy a trolling rod that will assist you in friction prevention. Particularly when the rod is bent and a sharp arch forms. It makes capturing much larger and more powerful fish simple.

Rod Guides

There are 3 types of guides for trolling rods. Choosing between them depends on what species size you’re targeting:

Standard eyes

Suitable for smaller fish types. It puts much stress on the fishing line making it hard to fish larger species without getting a broken line.

Roller Guides and Inner flow ones

Both reduce the stress on the fishing line. They work fine for big fish. However, inner flow is a more expensive option.

The Butt End

The rod butt end is the part of the trolling rod that securely fits inside a socket.

Should you pick BENT BUTT vs. STRAIGHT BUTT?
Bent Butt

A bent butt is preferable if you want to fish for large species from a boat. This form of trolling rod has a gimballed socket on the boat’s end. The Design enables you to change the angle of your rod in the water. It also keeps giving you more leverage power when the fish is deen and the line is vertical.

Straight Butt

This type is easier to store and is more versatile and works for various kinds of trolling. 

Straight Butt users usually aim for smaller fish and use shorter rods for it. However, if fishermen can use it to get large fish species if their fishing rods are long enough.

When needed, you can place the strait butt end in a socket attached to your waist or boat.

Trolling Reel


The best trolling reel should be made of materials that are durable. The best trolling reels are usually made of Graphite, Cast Aluminum, or Machined Aluminum. All these metals are durable, but it is best to be mindful of what type of fish you are going to be dealing with.

If you’re looking for the best saltwater trolling rod and reel combo, keep in mind to pick a material that is corrosion resistant for both rod and reel. (like graphite!)

Graphite reels are the lowest-priced, but they have certain drawbacks. Although the reel is light and easier to carry, it is not that durable compared to other materials.

The cast aluminum reels offer higher strength and durability compared to graphite.

Other good materials include machined aluminum. While it’s the best of all the materials listed, it costs a bit more as well. That’s why it’s only recommended for experts who know what they are doing.

The Drag System

You need 2 important things in your drag system:

  1. A drag system that is strong enough to fight your catch without giving it a chance to escape. Choose the dragging power according to your desired fish weight.
  2. A smooth dragging that enables you to fight without having to deal ith jerks.

Note: A multi-disc drag system is preferred as it’s easier to control smoothly. Also, You can adjust the star drag to help you with this.

The Line Capacity of the Reel

The best trolling reels should have line capacity which is large enough to deal with the different fishing situations. It highly depends on what species you’re targeting and what depth you will find them in. 

This way you can easily determine what line length you will need and what Line capacity you should pick.

Keep in mind that you will need high line capacities if you’re using thicker lines.


The spool diameter is related to which type of line you’re using. For example, a braided line has a smaller diameter when it’s compared to monofilament or fluorocarbon of the same weight. This means you can wind a lot of it around your spool. 

Overall, pick the spool size depending on the type of line you intend to use.


A lever on a reel can allow you to select between two speeds. This is useful when dealing with bigger species. Whether it will be beneficial or not entirely depends on how and what you fish.

If you think it’s not needed, do not spend money on it. It’s not that important.


A clicker is a device that notifies you when you’re running out of line. The clicker has to be accurate and loud enough. If it’s not loud enough, you’re risking missing it due to the sound of the waves and the boat’s engine.

Frequently Asked Questions

A golden reel shooted with the water.

What is a good length for a trolling rod?

The trolling rod length varies from an angler to another. However, the length ranges from 6 and up to 14. The most popular rods are in the 9 to 11 range.

What is a trolling combo?

Trolling combos are rods and reels that are perfectly matched together by the manufactures. They are designed for trolling tactics, including planer boards and wire lines. 

Can I use any rod for trolling?

If you’re a stiff rod, it will pretty much work for freshwater and inshore trolling. For saltwater trolling, you will need a stronger rod to be able to handle larger fish species.

The Bottom Line

Choosing your gear isn’t always an easy task. When it comes to trolling combos, there are various factors you need to consider. The factors include the material, rod length, the butt end, the dragging power, and others. In this article, we tried to simplify at as possible and recommended 5 different rods and reels to help you make better decisions. However, our top picks are the Shimano TLD combo (or only the reel) and the PENN Squall Level Wind. 

Try them and let us know your thoughts and opinions. Happy fishing trip!