Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Conventional Reels For Bottom Fishing Reviewed

We have rated and compared the best conventional reels on the market. Find a high-quality model for bottom fishing in this review guide.

by Andrew

Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Conventional Reels For Bottom Fishing Reviewed

We have rated and compared the best conventional reels on the market. Find a high-quality model for bottom fishing in this review guide.

by Andrew

by Andrew

Bottom fishing uses weight to get lures down to the deepest depths to catch targets like catfish, amberjack, grouper, sharks, and more. Conventional reels are the best for bottom fishing because they reel line in more quickly and have higher line capacities generally. If you want to catch bottom-dwelling fish, you need the best conventional reel.

Preview

Product

Reel Type

Max Drag

Gear Ratio

Check Price

Penn International VIS 2 Speed Reel

Penn International VI

2 Speed

30 Lbs.

4.1:1

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, Right...

KastKing Rover 60

Level wind

20 Lbs.

5.3:1

Daiwa SGT50H Seagate Star Drag Saltwater...

Daiwa Seagate SGT50H

Star drag

19.8 Lbs.

6.4:1

Shimano Torium 16 HGA Saltwater Star Drag...

Shimano Torium SW

Star drag

24 Lbs.

6.2:1

PENN Squall Star Drag, SQL30

Penn Squall Star Drag 30

Star drag

13 Lbs.

6.1:1

Gomexus Saltwater Jigging Reel Shark Fishing...

GOMEXUS Saltwater Jigging Reel

Lever drag

30 Lbs.

5.0:1

Penn SQL50LW Squall LevelWind

Penn Squall Level Wind SQL50LW

Star drag

20 Lbs.

4.0:1


What is a Conventional Reel & Why is it Best for Bottom Fishing?

Conventional reels look a little bit like spinning reels, but they mount like baitcasters. Their unique design allows them to hold way more line and they’re also way easier to rinse off after use in saltwater. Conventional reels have drag systems that far outpace the resistance spinning reels, and most baitcasters can put up against big fish.

A conventional reel can be used for trolling, vertical presentations at the bottom, or casting. They’re versatile enough to allow the angler to adjust to changes in the environment, which are frequent on the water. Conventional reels also have higher line retrieval rates, which means they’re much better for sending the lure a long distance with any method.


Angler’s Guide to Choosing Quality Conventional Fishing Reels

Reel Type & Size

There are 4 main types of conventional reels: level winds, 2-speeds, star drag, and lever drag. Star drag and lever drag can be very similar to each other, except a lever drag has a sliding lever to adjust the drag rather than a star-shaped crank. 

2 Speed conventional reels are great because they can give anglers more cranking leverage, and they can use the higher speed to move lures longer distances. Level winds often have better line lay.

Gear Ratio & Retrieve Per Turn

Moving the lure to the bottom and back will take a fast reel unless you want to stand around, spinning the handle all day. The gear ratio is the number of times the spool turns with one crank of the handle while the retrieve per turn, often expressed in inches per turn or IPT, measures the length of line returned to the spool with each turn of the handle. Use both to gauge the speed of a reel.

Bearings

Ball bearings within the reel help make the operation of the various parts smoother. Some knockoff brands will try to wow buyers by putting in too many bearings. The placement of the bearings is more important than how many there are. Two well-placed bearings can be better than 9 poorly placed ones.

Power & Durability

These reels will go up against some monsters from the deep, so they should be strong. They should especially be resistant to corrosion that can be caused by saltwater. Many models are all-metal, which makes them very strong, but they can’t stand up to salt.

Single-piece reel bodies are usually much stronger. You can also look for spools that go through the body and connect with the handle instead of relying on screws.

Line Counter & Capacity

Depending on how deep the water is and the method you’re using to bottom fish, you could be letting half your line go before you even get a fish on. Make sure your reel can hold plenty of backup line.

You should also make sure it can hold heavy test because big fish will snap the line if they possibly can. If you’re trolling, get a reel with a line counter, so you know what depth you're fishing at. 

Ease of Use

Continuous casting and reeling can exhaust the hand and wrist. Get a reel with a comfortable grip that doesn’t weigh so much that it will wear you out. Find one with a power handle to make sure you have the most possible leverage over the target. If you want to use rod holders, get a bait clicking feature that will alert you when the line is being pulled off the spool.

Price & Warranty

Conventional reels can cost several hundred dollars, or they can run less than $100. Generally, the more costly they are, the more durable and the more powerful. Less expensive reels are also usually not protected by a warranty while the more robust models are in order to protect the larger investment.


7 Best Conventional Reels for Bottom Fishing Reviewed

1. Penn International VI

Best Conventional Reel

Reel Type

2 Speed

Reel Size

30

Line Capacity

1220/100, 1015/130, 750/200

Max Drag

30 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

4.1:1

Bearing Count

5

Penn conventional reels are the best bottom fishing reels on the market, but the Penn International VI is even a step above that. Everything is right where you want it on this reel, from the design features to the performance specs. It can retrieve 41 inches of line per turn, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a reel with such a combination of speed and drag power. It doesn’t seem like an exaggeration to say that most anglers who use the Penn VI are only going to very rarely see this reel pushed to its limits.

They’ve built the spool of this conventional reel out of aluminum that can take a lot of pressure without buckling but doesn't add tons of extra weight. This reel is lightweight for its size, which means you can carry it easily and spend more time fishing without hand and wrist fatigue.

The 30-size Penn VI can hold a ton of line. Imagine the depths you could fish and the monsters you could withstand with over 1,200 yards of 100-pound test. If you need even more than that, the 50-size Penn VI can hold almost 600 more yards. With two speeds that allow you to slow-troll big baits or whip the line back in fast as lighting, the Penn International VI is undoubtedly the best 2-speed reel for bottom fishing on the market today.

Pros
  • High line capacity
  • Tons of drag power
  • Durable
  • Fast retrieval
Cons
  • Plastic gear release

2. KastKing Rover 60

Best Budget Conventional Reel

Reel Type

Level wind

Reel Size

60

Line Capacity

250/16

Max Drag

20 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

5.3:1

Bearing Count

6 + 1

For weekend warriors and those who need a bottom fishing reel for occasional trips without investing too much money, the KastKing Rover 60 is perfect. It’s versatile enough for more than one type of fishing if you’re not concerned with getting specialized gear. This is also an excellent backup conventional reel if you want to expand your arsenal. It might not have the line capacity of some other conventional reels, but 250 yards is nothing to shake a stick at.

The Rover 60 is one of the most durable conventional reels for bottom fishing, constructed out of aluminum and stainless steel that is both durable and resistant to corrosion. The history of KastKing isn't the longest one, but they've made a splash with design features like the oversized handle and the powerful drag system on the Rover 60 conventional reel. It also has one of the fastest gear ratios on the market.

What makes the KastKing Rover 60 the best conventional reel for trolling is the built-in clicker that alerts the angler when the line is going out. It’s loud enough to get your attention, and the fish will be able to run with the line until you want it to stop. With 20 pounds of drag power, you’ll be able to turn some big targets without any problem.

Pros
  • All-metal body
  • Built-in line out alert
  • Oversized handle
  • Fast gear ratio
Cons
  • Lower line capacity

3. Daiwa Seagate SGT50H

Best Saltwater Conventional Reel

Reel Type

Star drag

Reel Size

50

Line Capacity

350/30, 310/40

Max Drag

19.8 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

6.4:1

Bearing Count

3 + 1

The composite frame on this Daiwa conventional reel might cause a few double-takes, but it’s well worth it - that composite makes the Seagate corrosion-proof. Daiwa also built this reel with corrosion-resistant ball bearings inside. It can withstand much more contact with water than many similar models, and it has a  centrifugal brake system that other conventional reels lack. Overall, it lives up to its reputation as being the best inshore conventional reel. It operates smoothly, and it can haul some serious fish.

Not only that, but the Seagate also holds a ton of line. A whopping 840 yards of 40-pound J-braid will fit onto this spool at one time, making it optimal for pier fishing as well as casting out in the surf. Anglers trying to pull a shark in on the beach will have all the tools they need if they take this reel and the right fishing rod.

Everything in this reel's interior feels tailored to work in a fluid, silent way. Unlike with some other reels' more complicated designs, everything is clearly visible, and working with this reel is more intuitive because of that. While it has one of the fastest gear ratios for a conventional reel of its size, the spool is kept well under control by the brakes, making casting and reeling a breeze.

Pros
  • Corrosion-proof
  • Intuitive design
  • Holds lots of line
  • Fast gear ratio
Cons
  • Overkill for beginners

4. Shimano Torium SW

Best Conventional Reel For Bottom Fishing Beginners

Reel Type

Star drag

Reel Size

30

Line Capacity

420/25, 350/30, 260/40

Max Drag

24 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Bearing Count

3 + 1

You can tell just from looking at the Shimano Torium that it’s the perfect bottom fishing reel for beginners. There aren’t many frills, but it's an effective reel. The compact body and lightweight help keep newbies from being worn out with hand and wrist fatigue, and the cross carbon drag will give them plenty of stopping power to help facilitate any beginner’s luck they might be having. Shimano has also built this reel with a lightning-fast gear ratio so you won’t have to waste time pulling your lure in.

Butterfly jigs are well-suited for this conventional reel, which is optimized for those vertical bottom fishing presentations. That being said, the floating spool design also makes it super easy to cast with this reel. If you are vertical jigging, the reel is small enough to hold in your hand, which will let you give your lure a more lifelike action. 

Probably the only downside to this reel is that beginners might get used to its lightness and slim profile and thus be unaccustomed to heavier reels when they want to level up. Still, this reel makes bottom fishing so much fun that they’ll have plenty of skills built up by that time.

Pros
  • Great for casting & bottom fishing
  • Low-profile & lightweight
  • Fast gear ratio
  • Strong drag
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Spoils beginners

5. Penn Squall Star Drag 30

Best Conventional Reel for Surf Casting

Reel Type

Star drag

Reel Size

30

Line Capacity

390/20, 350/25, 260/30

Max Drag

13 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

6.1:1

Bearing Count

6

Built without the constriction of a level wind reel and with an anti-backlash system that’s highly effective, the Penn Squall Star Drag 30 is the best conventional reel for casting, and it's not too shabby at bottom fishing either. They built the frame with graphite, which makes it very lightweight and allows the user to cast repeatedly throughout a long day of fishing without experiencing any hand or wrist fatigue. The spool can also hold tons of line, which is great for sending bottom lures down or fishing in the surf off of a high pier.

This star drag model is much easier to use in a tight fight with a fish than the Penn Squall Lever Drag conventional reel. However, they both have a very similar construction otherwise. While it doesn’t have as much drag power as some of the competition, it can hold more line at heavier weights to help you keep the advantage over striper or any big targets you might be chasing.

Penn has built this reel out of stainless steel that will show scratches but has an extremely high corrosion resistance for saltwater use. It carries on the long history of Penn reels that won't break the bank and will help you catch some personal bests. Using your thumb on the line gives this reel a particular level up over level wind models and makes its casting way nicer.

Pros
  • Ideal for casting
  • High line capacity
  • Lightweight
  • Fast gear ratio
Cons
  • Will show scratches
  • Less drag power

6. GOMEXUS Saltwater Jigging Reel

Best Conventional Jigging Reel

Reel Type

Lever drag

Reel Size

15

Line Capacity

430/10

Max Drag

30 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

5.0:1

Bearing Count

8 + 2

This is one of the smallest conventional reels for bottom fishing, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the specs. It still holds a massive amount of line and packs a massive 30 pounds of drag power, more than double some of the competition for the same reel size. While it doesn’t have the nice star drag for quick adjustments during a fight with a fish, it’s not very difficult to make adjustments with the lever drag on this model.

The whole reel is metal, and it's been built with marine-grade components that won't take a hit from seawater exposure. It will probably help to add a bit of grease to the main gear, but that might not be the case with every reel that comes from this manufacturer. Just test it a bit before you plan to take it on any fishing trip.

Gomexus has built this reel to be one piece, which makes it very durable against accidental damage. The handle is also effortless to grip in wet conditions and gives the angler significant leverage to dig in when there's a fish on. Best of all, they’ve backed this reel with a one-year warranty to provide the buyer with some peace of mind. 

Pros
  • More ball bearings
  • Single-piece construction
  • Powerful drag
  • One-year warranty
Cons
  • May need extra maintenance

7. Penn Squall Level Wind SQL50LW

Best Level Wind Reel for Bottom Fishing

Reel Type

Star drag

Reel Size

50

Line Capacity

435/40, 320/50, 285/60

Max Drag

20 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

4.0:1

Bearing Count

2 + 1

Penn is just about the only company that can make a level wind reel that won’t implode when a big tuna or marlin is on the line. This is a strong reel that can certainly take a beating and casts decently for a level wind model. Penn has also built this model with a line clicker, so you can use it for trolling as well. One thing you’ll notice as soon as you pick this reel up is that it’s massive. That’s great for line capacity, and it will also help balance out longer rods. 

The drag system on this reel can hold off larger targets like striper well, and there’s also a star drag adjustment knob so you can respond quickly to a tuna or a wahoo that goes on a sudden run. The line retrieval rate is a pretty quick 32 IPT, and the handle is oversized to give the angler a better grip. 

You can spoonbill in freshwater or troll for saltwater tuna with the Penn Squall Level Wind without having to worry. The level wind gears might wear out faster than the rest of the reel, but that’s the risk you take with level wind bottom fishing reels. If you want a reel with superior line handling, this is the one for you.

Pros
  • High IPT
  • Great for large targets
  • Built-in clicker
  • Superb line handling
Cons
  • Level wind may break down

Setting Up a Conventional Reel for Bottom Fishing

Spooling a conventional reel can be difficult, but the only time it’s more complicated than on a baitcaster is when you have a level wind. In any case, a bit of electrical tape can help immensely to get the line where you need it. Take the time to learn the right knots, such as the Arbor knot, to attach the line to the spool and then reel backward.

Remember that these conventional reels can hold much more line, so you’ll be spooling more than you would with another kind of reel. Fishing the Carolina Rig is the most tried and true bottom fishing method. You’ll need heavy weights and a rod that can handle heavier test. Bucked tails and lip plugs both work great for lures. Pick up a fishing rod that’s at least 10 feet long with a heavy power rating.


Tips for Using a Conventional Reel

Keep the drag engaged at all times, or the fish will get away from you. Use a fish finder to locate underwater structures where the fish like to live and opt for braided line in tough scenarios or fluorocarbon in clear water.

To find your target fish, you’ll have to cover a great distance or find structure. Try drifting or slow-trolling for a better chance. You can prevent backlashing by using mono line, practicing before you go out on the water, and keeping your thumb on the spool to stop it when need be.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What are the best rigs for bottom fishing?

The Carolina Rig, which uses a barrel swivel, a leader, a sinker, a hook, and a bead, is one of the most effective bottom fishing rigs. The Paternoster Rig is simpler and will give the fish no resistance as it moves away, and the running ledger rig is great for species that live right on the bottom.

How far can you cast a bottom fishing reel?

Some reels can cast a heavier lure just about as far as you might expect with a normal baitcaster. Level winds put more friction on the line and reduce the distance you can cast.

What are the best brands for conventional fishing reels?

Penn takes the gold for conventional bottom fishing reels. KastKing is the place to go for budget options, and Daiwa is a good dependable source for reels as well.

Do I need to get a fishing license when bottom fishing?

You may need to register your vessel or get a specific license to fish the bottom. It depends on where you’re trying to fish, but every locale has its own local rules, so make sure to do your research.

Where is the best place to find bottom fishing reels for sale?

It’s easiest to compare prices, find deals, and explore shipping options for conventional reels on Amazon. Many of the seller channels are usually operated by authorized retailers.


Conclusion

To be a successful bottom angler, you need a reel with a fast gear ratio, high line capacity, and fish-stopping drag power. The Penn International VI has all that and more in an affordable package, making it the best conventional reel for bottom fishing.

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