Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Deep Sea Fishing Reels Reviewed

We have rated & compared the best deep-sea fishing reels on the market. Find a high-quality model for offshore fishing in this review guide.

by Andrew

Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Deep Sea Fishing Reels Reviewed

We have rated & compared the best deep-sea fishing reels on the market. Find a high-quality model for offshore fishing in this review guide.

by Andrew

by Andrew

If you’ve been deep-sea fishing before, then you know the feeling of pulling in a huge catch, so it's no wonder you want your very own equipment. 

We have reviewed and compared some of the best deep-sea fishing reels on the market today. From bottom-feeding fish to fish who surf or stay in the shallows waters, there’s bound to be a deep-sea reel suitable for you.

Preview

Product

Reel Type

Max Drag

Gear Ratio

Check Price

PENN Fishing SQL20LWLC Squall LevelWind ,...

Penn SQL20LWLC

Level-Wind, Trolling Reel

15 Lbs.

4.9:1

Sougayilang Trolling Reel Saltwater Level...

Sougayilang

Conventional, Trolling Reel

40 Lbs.

4.1:1

Shimano Torium 16 HGA Saltwater Star Drag...

Shimano Torium SW

Baitcast Reel

24 Lbs.

6.2:1

Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter Levelwind...

Okuma Magda Pro MA-30DX

Trolling reel

17 Lbs.

4.0:1

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, Right...

KastKing Rover Round

Baitcasting Reel

18 Lbs.

5.3:1

Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning Reel Size 80

Okuma Azores

Spinning Reel

44 Lbs.

5.4:1

Penn 1206096 Squall SQL60LD Lever Drag...

Penn Squall Lever Drag Conventional Fishing Reel

Lever Drag, Conventional

20 Lbs.

4.3:1


Why Deep Sea Fishing Requires a Specialized Reel

In reality, you can bring a 6-7 foot pole and a generic fishing reel when you’re out at sea, but with saltwater splashbacks and the occasional unplanned dunk, your equipment is bound to run into some problems.

By purchasing a spinning, casting, or conventional reel that’s suited for the deep-sea elements, you'll feel the equipment is helping your performance and not keeping you back from a catch. 


Choosing the Right Deep Sea Fishing Reel

Type of Fish & Environment

Make a splash in nature, and surround yourself in scenic springs and lazy rivers all across the States. From crystal clear waters in Florida to Montauk in New York, there’s a ton of places you can enjoy some deep-sea fishing.

When you’re out by the water, expect to reel in anything from a swordfish, sailfish, snapper, or amberjack. It’s advised to find some good locations which you'll visit the most and scout for fishes in that environment.

Type of Reel

Later in the article, we discuss the differences between casting, spinning, and conventional reels, and why they’re commonly used when deep-sea fishing. No matter the style of reel, they all need to be:

  • Compact
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Easy to handle and operate all-day

There’s a range of reels by great brands on the market in spinning, baitcasting, conventional, or lever wind reels. So, choosing your preferred one is simply up to you.

Skill & Experience Level

Deep-sea fishing is fun, challenging, and exhilarating-no matter the experience level. All of us anglers are just praying for some luck and hoping everything goes to plan. However, mistakes can be made, and some can be costly on your equipment.

For first-time deep-sea anglers, we recommend heading out with a professional so you can safely learn everything you'll need to know.  There’s a lot of groups who meet across the states for fishing trips, so joining a mixed group with beginners, as well as experienced fishermen, could be helpful.

Power & Durability

What sets deep-sea fishing apart from other finesse styles is that all equipment needs to be powerful and durable from the line to the rod, and especially the reel. You’ll be in contact with saltwater quite frequently, so corrosion-resistant materials and finishing should be a priority on your next or new deep-sea reel.

Speed & Smoothness

Ball bearings allow fishing reels to operate smoothly. The purpose of a ball bearing is to reduce rotational friction within a reel, so add numerous bearings, and it should reduce friction completely. Most of the best deep-sea fishing reels on the market today have between 2-6 ball bearings, with some models offering an anti-reverse bearing as well. 

Line Capacity

If you want to cast your line 60, 70, or even 100 yards into the clear, then you’ll need a reel that can hold a lot of lines. Each model has a capacity for a specific line specified with the model, so you know which line to match with your reel. In regards to the line type, most deep-sea anglers use nylon monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braid.

Reel Features

  • Size
    No one wants to suffer from hand or arm fatigue when fishing from a beautiful boat, kayak, or shoreline. Before you purchase your reel, consider the size, shape, and position the reel will be in once it’s connected to a reel seat of a rod.
  • Weight
    You can buy reels nowadays that can catch tuna, bluegill, or salmon, and the reel that dragged the catch in may weigh less than 2 pounds. Deep-sea fishing reels don't have to weigh a ton for them to be powerful. Take the Shimano Torium SW Reel on our list, for example. This reel can drag up to 24 lbs while weighing 1.09 pounds. Keep the reel weight low, so you don’t risk arm or hand fatigue.
  • Drag strength
    Brands have found new ways to intensify drag systems without sacrificing smoothness. It’s measured in lbs, and many brands list the reels 'max drag' for each product. We’ve added each reels’ max drag along with each review.

Warranty

When you buy your new deep-sea reel, be sure to check out the warranty and see what you’re covered for. The typical length for warranties is 12-months, but some brands like KastKing and Ross Reels offer limited lifetime warranties on all of their reels. Other brands offer a 5-year warranty, so it’s worth checking out. 


7 Best Deep Sea Fishing Reels Reviewed

1. Penn SQL20LWLC

Our Top Pick!

Reel Type

Level-Wind, Trolling Reel

Weight

1.01 lbs

Max Drag

15 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

4.9:1

Bearing Count

2BB + 1RB

Since the 1930s, Penn has been at the forefront of modern reel design and production. Their new model, the SQL20LW LC, is built with graphite, stainless steel, and aluminum materials and proves to be another exceptional reel that acts like no other. The Penn SQL20LW LC is our top pick for the best deep-sea fishing reel. The top-qualities materials aren’t just for the interior of the reel. The machined high-strength main gear has a marine-grade bronze alloy.

Power and durability isn’t a problem on the lightweight reel either. With an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, this reel provides enough powerful drag that won’t sacrifice its smoothness.

We’re not the only ones who think this. An angler from Texas stated on Penn’s website, “This reel is easy to use and has the power and smoothness to handle the biggest of fish.”

The 2-ball bearings (made of stainless steel) also keep everything on the inside operating smoothly. This reel by Penn also features an anti-reverse bearing that eliminates rotor back play. As this is a trolling reel, you should expect precise line output. Penn even marked the machined aluminum spool with line capacity rings at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity. This is a great addition to novice anglers who are only starting on their deep-sea fishing journey.

One of the biggest reasons we’ve picked the Penn SQL20LWLC as our top pick for the best deep-sea reel is the price. This reel has everything you need to reel in species up to 15 lbs in fresh or saltwater, and it won’t break the bank compared to other reels by competing brands.

Pros
  • Line capacity rings come in very handy for anglers
  • Durable materials throughout the whole reel
  • Great price point
Cons
  • Max drag may not be high enough for many deep-sea anglers

2. Sougayilang

Best Deep-sea Fishing Reel Under $100

Reel Type

Conventional, Trolling Reel

Weight

1.3 Lbs

Max Drag

40 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

4.1:1

Bearing Count

6BB+1RB

From fishing reels to lure, lines, rods, and essential equipment. Sougayilang creates these products, and more with their attention to provide quality products, precision technology, and product innovation that improve the global fishing industry. Their Line Counter, Conventional reel in D-SHA4000 is a reel that looks the part while having some great features for deep-sea fishing.

The Sougayilang reel uses high-quality Aluminium for the frames, along with an aluminum spool, and bakelite side plates, and stainless steel gear system. As a whole, these materials can withstand saltwater fishing conditions for years.

The gear ratio on this model is 4.1:1, so expect the line to run and retrieve a little slower than tournament deep-sea reels. For a beginner deep-sea angler, this ratio will suit you well, as lower ratios can be useful when going after heavy-duty target fish without being too fast.

We loved this model's smoothness and efficiency, thanks to the Sougayilang 6 stainless steel ball bearings, with one roller bearing for anti-reverse properties.

Some other key features you’ll find on this conventional reel are:

  • Double Dog Ratchet System so the handle doesn’t go in reverse
  • Multi-disc Carbonite Drag System- for ultimate stopping power
  • Spherical Handle that’s better suited for anglers’ hands, even with fishing gloves

Match these features with a max drag of 40lbs, and mark it under $100, and there you have it. You’ve got yourself a killer reel with a 3-Year warranty on a budget. And, with a standard reel seat, you can put this on a range of rods to suit your environment.

Pros
  • Lightweight corrosion resistant frame and materials
  • Multi-disc, carbonite drag system works smoothly
  • Quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing
  • 3-year warranty
Cons
  • A lot heavier in weight compared to its competitors

3. Shimano Torium SW

Top of the Range

Reel Type

Baitcast Reel

Weight

1.9 lbs

Max Drag

24 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Bearing Count

3bb + 1RB

Shimano has a range of reels that are so versatile, you can adjust the settings and use it in fresh or saltwater with ease. The Shima Torium SW stands out as the ‘Top of the Range’ reel for deep-sea fishing as it weighs in at 1.9 pounds, yet it has heavy-duty capabilities. This is one of the lightest reels that can do so much once you set and adjust it on your deep-sea trips.

The Torium SW has a cross carbon drag, which provides long-lasting smoothness to withstand fast, powerful runs from big or small inshore species. With a max drag of 24lbs, this reel is our top choice for catching tuna, walleye, or bass.

There are 4 bearings constructed from stainless steel that have been treated with anti-rust properties. Because of this process, the bearings are ten times more corrosion-resistant than other stainless steel bearings you’ll find on competing reels.

As this is a baitcasting reel, expect the gear ratio to be higher. This model has a ratio of 6.2:1 and has a fast retrieval rate. This makes this reel pretty versatile once you get the hang of the speed. You can use this baitcast reel in freshwater, saltwater along with boat fishing, shore fishing, and of course, deep-sea fishing.

This model has been specifically designed for left-handed anglers, but don’t worry. Right-hand orientations are available in the 3 different sizes. Not only is this reel accessible and adaptable to more people, but it has also been constructed with an ergonomic grip to further improve an angler’s comfort.

Pros
  • Gast and efficiency gearing system
  • Good max drag
  • Focusing on both left and right-handed anglers
  • Lifetime limited warranty
Cons
  • Best for species below 20 lbs
  • No level-wind system

4. Okuma Magda Pro MA-30DX

Best Cheap Trolling Reel for Deep Sea Fishing

Reel Type

Trolling reel

Weight

17.03 oz.

Max Drag

17 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

4.0:1

Bearing Count

2 BB

Looking for a reel that’s suitable for deep-sea fishing, but you’re tight for cash? No worries! Luckily for you, Okuma has created their Magda Pro Line Counter Trolling Reels for deep-sea anglers on a budget, or for anglers looking to bring a backup reel on their adventures.

This is a right-handed, low-cost, crank line counter trolling reel that’s lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and comes with standard features that work well on the water. Pair it with the best trolling rod, and you'll be ready for the waterways.

The Magda Pro MA-30DX is one of four models within the trolling range. We’ve picked the 30DX option for deep-sea fishing as it has a higher max drag for bigger catches. All models have similar features, like the self-lubricating gearing system on each model and a stainless steel level wind line guide system. The mechanical line counter function measures in feet and has a rubber push-button reset, so you know how much line is in the water.

The Magda Pro MA-30DX is equipped with a carbonate drag system and a durable machine cut brass gear system, so it feels like this reel is ready for anything. It can handle up to 7 kg. in weight without worries, and the gear system operates incredibly smooth without heating.  This stops your fishing wire from burning up. You get to enjoy a smoother fishing time for this little feature.

With 2 ball bearings running around the inside of this reel and with a large handle with a grip, the reel feels very thought out, even though the price tag is a third of some of its competing reels. That’s why it’s our top choice for the best cheap trolling reel for deep-sea fishing.

Pros
  • Sturdy frame for a low-cost reel
  • Noise-free
  • Budget-friendly
  • Covered with a one year warranty
Cons
  • Some anglers find it too big

5. KastKing Rover Round

Best Baitcasting Reel for Deep Sea Fishing

Reel Type

Baitcasting Reel

Weight

12 oz.

Max Drag

18 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

5.3:1

Bearing Count

6+1

The next reel on our list is the Rover Round Baitcasting reel by KastKing. This brand first released this reel in early 2018. KastKing said the reel is "perfect for trolling, bottom fishing, and other techniques used in freshwater and saltwater." We loved taking this reel on deep water fishing trips in lakes, rivers, and oceans.

The Round Rover reel has a one-piece aluminum frame with a corrosion-resistant, stainless steel shaft and gear system. This impressive reel is so powerful and features a strong carbon fiber drag system. This gives up to 18lbs of drag. Whether you are after giant catfish, carp, walleye, or trolling offshore fishing for large saltwater species, the Round Rover is the perfect weapon of choice.

With over 6 sizes available, both in left and right orientations, there’s bound to be a size to suit you. Anglers find this reel incredibly easy to operate, and we loved the Round Rovers’ single oversized T handle, finished with non-slip EVA foam knobs. And just when you thought this sleek and smooth reel couldn’t get better, it has been reinforced with thicker hard-anodized aluminum, making it "Bullet Proof." 

We have to say; this was a great reel for deep-sea fishing and a perfect reel to help you cast accurately. With its sleek design, you’ll turn other angler's heads turning once they see this attractive red reel on your baitcasting rod.

Pros
  • Bulletproof material and frame
  • Highly versatile reel
  • Sleek design
  • 1-year limited warranty
Cons
  • It can be a little noisy when operating

6. Okuma Azores

Best Spinning Reel for Deep Sea Fishing

Reel Type

Spinning Reel

Weight

1.8 PDS

Max Drag

44 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

5.4:1

Bearing Count

6HPB + 1RB

There are a ton of spinning rods and reels on the market today, but a lot of them are specialized for freshwater fishing. For deep-sea fishing, these reels will simply not do. The Okuma Azores line of the spinning reel was designed specifically for saltwater fishing. Especially for anglers interested in improving their experience with the help of a competent spinning reel.

There are 5 different models within the series, but the model we believe is best for deep-sea fishing is the Okuma Azores Z-80S. This is one of three models within the series that’s designed to catch medium to large-sized fish. The max drag is up to 44 lbs (one of the highest on our list). The gear ratio isn’t too fast, at 5.4:1. 

On each of the larger models within the series, the construction is quite the same. The body, side plate, and rotor are all constructed of rigid die-cast aluminum, making it incredibly tough. The spool shaft is oversized, allowing you to put lots of pressure on the drag system and distribute that evenly, so you do not overload it. With practice, you’ll feel more balanced throughout your rod and reel. It’ll also give you more durability over time.

With the proven power features and the patented interior design created by Okuma, the AZORES is much more durable, strong, and smoother than the competition. That’s why we’ve picked the Azores Z-80S as the best spinning reel for deep-sea fishing.

Pros
  • High-performance bearings for outstanding smoothness
  • Machine cut aluminum handle for comfort
  • Oversized spool shaft
  • Minimum 5 year warranty
Cons
  • Not fully sealed, allowing debris to build-up  

7. Penn Squall Lever Drag Conventional Fishing Reel

Popular Model

Reel Type

Lever Drag, Conventional

Weight

1.65 PDS

Max Drag

20 Lbs.

Gear Ratio

4.3:1

Bearing Count

5BB + 1RB

Our list's last model is by popular demand; the Penn Squall Lever Drag Conventional Fishing Reel is used by professionals worldwide. This reel is perfect for deep water trolling and offshore big game trophy fishing. If you choose a smaller model in this series, it will be competent for an inshore trolling reel.

There are 4 sizes within the Lever Drag series, but there are Lever Wind models, along with conventional models, too.

Penn says, “the Lever Drag reel has all of the proven features of the GT series, with the addition of improved gear ratios and an Instant Anti-Reverse bearing, in a more compact package.”

We loved how lightweight the Squall Conventional reel was, weighing 1.65 pounds. We also loved its aesthetic. With gold and a metallic black finish, it looks like a professional reel.

Some of the materials used in its construction include:

  • Graphite frame and side plates
  • Marine-grade bronze alloy main gear
  • A stainless steel pinion gear system
  • HT-100 drag system with a max drag of 20 lbs
  • 6 shielded stainless steel ball bearings

One thing we didn’t love about this reel was graphite construction instead of aluminum. Graphite twists ever so slightly under extreme pressures or to exposure to the sun. Aluminum won’t change its form or get damaged by the sun, so it’s usually a better choice for deep-sea fishing trips. Apart from that, there are not many flaws with the Lever Drag model by Penn. 

Pros
  • High-quality reel in the mid-price point
  • Penn’s ‘Double Dog’ anti-reverse system transitions very smoothly
  • Anti-corrosive interior and exterior
  • 1-year warranty
Cons
  • Graphite is great to lower the weight of a reel but isn’t as strong or dependable as aluminum

Types of Reels for Deep Sea Fishing

Spinning Deep-Sea Reels

This could be a spinning (fixed-spool) reel or a spin-cast reel. They both operate similarly, but no fixed spool reel will require you to hold the line in place during the cast. A spin-cast reel is easier to use. You simply press a button on the reel, which allows the line to unspool freely.

Casting Deep-Sea Reels

Baitcasting reels are considered the most heavy-duty reel-type by many deep-sea anglers and are excellent for casting and deep water fishing. They tend to hold more line over spinning reels, so more anglers tend to lean more for casting reels over spinning for deep-sea fishing.

Conventional Deep-Sea Reels

There are other deep-sea reels you might have noticed from our reviews. Conventional reels are top-rated for deep-sea fishing. There are very few parts, so maintenance is a breeze. They can be incredibly durable, and they operate on a low gear ratio, so they’re great for novice angles looking to improve their abilities.


Ideal Reel Gear Ratio for Deep Sea Fishing

  • Low Gear Ratio- Slow (5.1:1 - 5.4:1)
    A lower gear ratio deep-sea reel is ideal for trolling big baits that have a lot of pull. They’re also a great combo for deep crankbaits and deep water spinnerbaits. We believe deep-sea fishing reels with a slow retrieval is a great choice for novice to intermediate fishers. 
  • Medium Gear Ratio- Medium (6.1:1 - 6.4:1)
    Medium action reels are matched with a 6-7 foot, medium to heavy pole. This is a great combo for lighter game fish. Be sure to match this with a braided line if your reel can support it. This will give you fewer chances of your line breaking if the game fish you’re pulling in is too big.
  • High Gear Ratio/Fast- (7.1:1 - 8.1:1)
    Higher gear ratios are often better when you’re casting into small strike zones. They allow your bait to get back to the boat fast so that you can prepare for another quick cast. There aren’t a ton of deep-sea fishing reels with incredibly fast gear ratios on the market. The ones that are on the market seem to be marketed more towards professional leveled anglers.

Tips for Setting Up a Deep Sea Fishing Rig

  1. 1
    Prepare your equipment: Have your rod, reel, line, and baits at the ready. Pick your line based on the reels’ recommendations. It should also give you your line capacities for each type of line.
  2. 2
    Begin to spool the line onto your reel: Tie an anchor’s knot, and begin to put the line onto your fishing reel. A good rule of thumb, try to keep a third of the spool free in case of any backlashes or bird nests (especially with baitcasting fishing reels).
  3. 3
    Feed the line through the guides: Connect the reel to the reel seat on your rod. If you have a rod holder, you can use this to stand your equipment so you’ll have two hands. Simply put the line from the reel through the guides and to the tip.
  4. 4
    Add your bait or lure: Choose your bait based on the type of fish you intend to catch. If you’re hunting mackerel, then go for a minnow. Bass and other big game fish love any trolling rigs, so you’ve got a wide selection to choose from.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How much line does a deep-sea fishing reel need?

This will depend on the reel type that you choose. Spinners, baitcasters, or conventional reels, they’ll all hold a different amount of line. In general, deep-see specific reels tend to store more lines than typical reels as it’s not unusual for your line to break when on your fishing adventure. Consider picking a reel with a line capacity marker on the spool if you are new to deep-sea fishing.

What types of fish can I expect to catch when deep-sea fishing?

One of the most common fishes you can catch when deep-sea fishing in the States is Sailfish. They’re truly beautiful to look at, and they’ve become quite iconic once you spot them on your deep-sea fishing excursions. Some other species that we listed previously are mullet, blackfin, yellowtail, mackerel, and swordfish.

Can you put WD40 on fishing reels?

As WD40 is a degreaser, it should only be used to grease gears. It shouldn’t be used on the whole reel. Too much WD40 could get onto your spool, and in return, your casting distance won’t be as far.

Do I need to get a fishing license when deep-sea fishing?

Many States require anglers to have a fishing license before you get to any shorelines. Certain ages are exempt (more information on this can be found here). The good news, you can buy a day or year license in a majority of Walmart’s across the U.S or online. They’re available for residents, or non-residents with day licenses costing as little as $11. Remember, if you’re taking a boat, be sure to have your boat license at the ready, too.

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

There’s a range of routes you can take when ordering your new deep-sea fishing reel. One of the easiest options is Amazon. You can read other anglers’ opinions and learn more about the product you prefer before making your purchase. You could also have your new deep-sea fishing reel in your hands within 7-10 working days, so nothing is stopping you.  


Conclusion

Deep-sea fishing is a lot of fun, and the right equipment can make or break your trip. Our top pick, the Penn SQL20LWLC has a max drag of lbs, and it operates incredibly smoothly and efficiently. From beginner to professional level anglers, this reel will be a ton of fun for any deep-sea adventure.

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