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Trolling Reels – The Essential User Guide by Seasoned Anglers

how to use a trolling reel
Written by Immanuel Baranov
Last Update: March 8, 2022

If you love fishing I guess you know that the ultimate challenge is when you go trolling on open water. This is definitely not a task ideal for beginners due to its complexity to this end, most anglers strive to master the act.

The trolling technique is different from other means of fishing because it involves the use of two or more fishing lines, which are set up at the rare part of the boat where the bait or lures lags behind the boat. The boat can either be moving or static while the fishing line swept from one side to another to attract different fish species. This is why you need the best trolling reel to manipulate it masterfully.

Whether you intend to go fishing with a commercial charter boat or you prefer sport fishing with a smaller yacht or boat, these trolling tips and techniques will be of great benefit to get the best out of this fishing method.

How to Use a Trolling Reel?

The equipment required for trolling depends solely on the type of boat you intend to use and how you plan to leverage your skills. Similar to other methods of fishing, you will need fishing lines (could be braided or mono), saltwater reels (could be surf fishing reel), and fishing rods.

You will need specific trolling rods alongside a reel and non-corrosive line. Most importantly, you will have to ensure that your basic gears can handle the heavy loads. This means a sturdy and stiff rod and a baitcasting reel that has a line counter with lines durable enough to withstand tensile stress.

You will also need the following equipment:

  • Rod Holder

Setting a rod holder behind your fishing boat is most of the time the best solution that will help to steady your rods all through the period. Whether you intend fishing with a single rod, it is not ideal to keep it holding since you will need to drive your boat while fishing.

  • Depth Rigs

The depth ring is basically a heavy sinker that is designed and fixed on your fishing line, it meant to bring the line to the desired depth while you troll from a moving or static boat.

  • Paravane

This device is made from plastic that looks like an inverted wing. It used to drag the lure or bait deeper. This action is performed only when the speed of your boat increases.

  • Planer Board

The planer board is a must-have for the following reasons: the board is there to secure your line and keep it from each other; this helps to prevent the line from tangling and helps you to cover more area. The planer board is designed to help with multiple tasks and to call the attention of fishes that are trying to maintain a distance from the boat.

  • Sonar

Sonars are designed to help you find fish at their right location or when they are a couple of meters away from the boat. Sonars can also be used to predict temperature, sea bottom reading, and temperature.

Tips & Tricks

  • Have a Plan (and Stick to It)

Irrespective of your fishing techniques, it never is a perfect idea to head out with your gears and start fishing. Proper planning equals success and it’s important to plan out your chances of having an enjoyable time while having a good catch. Know the right lure and bait to use, check out the weather condition, take out time to plan out your route, and get all the necessary information you can access.

  • Utilize Your Electronic Gear

You need to familiarize yourself with the space you intend fishing. While you are around the area, it’s advisable to use a fish finder or sonar to have an idea of the type of fish available and their dept. Use your sonar to monitor location, temperature changes, and materials beneath the bottom.

  • Mind Your Depth

To have a great catch, you must know the position of your bait or lure and the right time to make necessary changes. Once you’re certain about the position of your lure; it gives you more edge to have a consistent catch, since fish have a specific depth they swim at.

  • Start Small

Take the baby step. Having multiple rods and a large fishing boat is a sure way to increase the possibility of your catch, but this doesn’t mean you should step off after a few trials. Start with planer boards on both sides, three lines and have another line attached at the back. You can set up 10 lines but if you lack the right knowledge, you might be giving more effort for fewer results.

  • Keep Going

Another mistake done by most beginners is that they attempt to stop the boat at the spot where they had their first catch. Once the boat is kicked into a neutral, it forces the line to get tangled automatically. No matter what your experience is, don’t stop your boat. Use the natural force generated by the current to keep all your lines straight and make sure you reel the spread at the end of each day.

  • Experiment

Don’t use the same type of lure on all your rods. You will need to try different baits and lures all through the spread. Doing this will help you catch a variety of fish. However, if you are within an area that has lots of fish but none is coming around, then it’s best to change bait color every 15-30 seconds so as to help keep things going.


To get the best result, we recommend carrying out some research to get the boats that speed at the right pace to help you increase your chance of having a catch. This technique is also applicable to the type of lures down to every angling technique. However, your level of knowledge has a dramatic influence on your catch.


Q. 1: What Type of Trolling Lure Should I Use?

Ans. You can use spoon lures, plugs, soft plastic, and plugs. Although the skirted lures are more effective and can be used for the big catch, soft plastic is recommended if you want to troll for small game. The plug and spoon fall in the middle of the soft plastic lure or the skirted lure and they are versatile.

Q. 2: What is The Best Boat Speed for Trolling?

Ans. Lures and baits are trolled with a speed that gets up to 9 knots. Although 15 knots speed is also recommended, especially if you are moving to different fishing areas. The speed that the lure is subjected to has some measurable impact on the outcome.

Q. 3: What Type of Line Should I Use for Trolling?

Ans. Monofilaments lines are best recommended when it comes to trolling. In most cases, you can use 20-30Lb class gear on 20 -30 lb monofilament. This will serve perfectly on fishes like sailfish, Mahi, Wahoo, and small tuna.

Q. 4. Should I Fish with The Lure on The Surface, or Below It?

Ans. Top water lures are most effective early in the morning when the sun is yet to rise. While at noon/dusk deepening the lure in the water will be a perfect idea.

Q. 5. How Can I Get the Lure Down Deeper?

Ans. To get the lure deep into the water, it is advisable to stick the rod into the while cracking your bait. If you put the end of a 7-10 Quantum KVD cranking rod into water, it’s possible to get your bait down to 4- 7 feet deep.

About the author

Immanuel Baranov

My life is pretty much defined by my avid outdoor activities. I’m generally obsessed with fishing, skiing and occasional hunting and whitewater paddling. I’ve been active since my early years. I inherited my passion for fishing from my father who made frequent family trips to the banks of Sacramento River. Growing up, I did a lot of fishing in the vicinity. Now that I have two sons, our weekends are full of fishing activities. I would say, you need good spots where you can go out a lot for the thing you love. I had the privilege to grow up near numerous water bodies and I’m proud to say that I made good use of them. It’s also great to do something with kids that helps them learn patience, endurance and preciseness.

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