Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Line Counter Reels Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best line counter reels on the market. Find a high-quality model for trolling fishing in this comprehensive guide.

by Andrew

Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Line Counter Reels Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best line counter reels on the market. Find a high-quality model for trolling fishing in this comprehensive guide.

by Andrew

by Andrew

Anglers looking to go after large target fish in deeper waters should invest in good quality trolling gear. Trolling is a popular method for catching freshwater bass and walleye as well as saltwater species like tuna, marlin, and kingfish.

A proper line counter reel is arguably the most important purchase for an angler interested in trolling. Line counter reels take the guessing out of how much line is being used so that anglers can have full control of the line output.

Preview

Product

Reel Weight

Gear Ratio

Ball Bearings

Check Price

Penn SQL20LWLC Squall LevelWind

Penn SQL20LWLC Squall

1.01 lbs.

4.9:1

2BB+1RB

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur...

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur

1.1 lbs.

5.3:1

2BB+1RB

Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter Levelwind...

Okuma Magda Pro MA-30DLX

1.1 lbs.

4.0:0

2BB

Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel...

Okuma Cold Water

0.9 lbs.

5:1:1

2BB+1RB

Daiwa Accudepth Plus-B Line Counter Levelwind...

Daiwa Accudepth

0.9 lbs.

4.2:1

1BB

Sougayilang Line Counter Trolling Reel...

Sougayilang

1.3 lbs.

4.1:1

6BB+1RB


Why Line Counter Reels Are Good for Trolling

By design, line counter reels are typically larger than most other reels. This is intended to accommodate more line, which is crucial when going after large target fish in deep waters.

Not only do line counter reels have more line capacity, but they also provide anglers with an accurate measurement of the lure's depth. The line drags behind the boat while trolling, and this line counter feature ensures that anglers can be intentional with how much line is released.


Line Counter Reel Buying Guide

Line Counter Type

Line counter reels will commonly measure line output in feet. For instance, the models included in this review allow anglers to keep track of how much line is being released by using this metric. This allows for precise control of the lure's depth, and it’s easy to check the measurement.

Drag System & Clickers

A drag system is a crucial part of every reel. The drag system is responsible for reducing friction and creating a smooth fishing process, especially when fighting fish. Maximum drag capacity will vary from reel to reel. Some models will include clickers, which will function automatically unless you turn it off.

Power & Durability

Anglers planning their first or next trolling trip will commonly venture out into deeper waters. To effectively target large fish species and actually reel them in, it’s necessary to invest in gear with enough power and durability to do so. It’s also essential that a line counter reel is corrosion resistant.

Speed & Smoothness

A reel's ball bearings play an essential role in creating a smooth and stable fishing experience. More ball bearings typically mean a smoother performance, but this isn’t always the case. For many reels in this review, only two or three bearings are necessary.

Line Capacity

Most line counter reels are designed for higher line capacities than some other reels. This helps with targeting large target fish. In some cases, anglers can purchase a multi-colored fishing line to keep track of how much line is being used at a given time. Line counter reels will also track line output in feet, but this type of line can also offer a lot of insight.

Type of Fishing Environment

More line capacity translates to more depth and, as a result, bigger target fish. Trolling is a common method for targeting salmon, walleye, tuna, bass, and various other species. High quality and well-constructed line counter reels can be used in saltwater and freshwater fishing environments alike. 

Other Reel Features

  • Size
    In terms of line counter reel size, anglers can generally trust that large reels will have large spools. This means that the reel can hold more line, both in terms of quantity and density.
  • Gear Ratio
    A reel’s gear ratio accounts for how many times the spool will turn each time you turn the handle. For instance, if a reel has a gear ratio of 5.3:1, it will have a slower retrieval rate than a 7.2:1 reel. However, lower retrieval rates can work to your benefit when targeting heavy target fish.
  • Weight
    Weight can also vary from reel to reel. As a general rule, line counter reels are built to be bigger than some other types of reels and will usually weigh about a pound, if not more.

Drag Strength

As touched on briefly, drag strength can be pivotal for anglers out on the water. If a reel doesn’t have a high maximum drag capacity, it’s not likely that you will be able to handle large target fish as best as you could.

Warranty

Warranty plans will differ from brand to brand, but we recommend investing in a line counter reel that has a one-year warranty at least. This is a minimum requirement and may not be necessary if the reel is high quality; however, it is still important to look into.

Price

Line counter reels can come at high price tags, but this is usually out of necessity. This type of reel needs to be high quality and durable, with more line capacity. The most important thing is that a reel is high quality by design and made to last. Whether you’re a novice or experienced angler, it’s important to get value for your money.


6 Best Line Counter Fishing Reels Reviewed

1. Penn SQL20LWLC Squall

Our Top Pick!

Which Hands

Left hand

Weight

1.01 lbs

Gear Ratio

4.9:1

Max Drag

15 lbs

Bearings

2BB+1RB

When it comes to the best-of-the-best line counter reels for trolling, the Penn SQL20LWLC Squall is our top pick.

Built with graphite, stainless steel, and aluminum material, this reel is highly durable while also being lightweight. Additionally, the machined high-strength main gear is constructed with marine-grade bronze alloy. 

The process for fighting fish and reeling in your catch is simplified with the HT-100 carbon fiber drag system. The ball bearings and anti-reverse bearing reduce friction, which is hugely beneficial when out on the water. A high strength stainless steel pinion gear contributes to the overall smoothness of the trolling experience. 

This line counter reel is outfitted with a forged and machined aluminum spool. Anglers can keep track of how much line is being used with the line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity. Anglers who use the trolling method have the most success when regulating line output with precision, which is why this feature is so beneficial.  

Anglers can choose from multiple drag settings to successfully target and bring in a variety of fish species. This Penn SQL20LWLC Squall is one of the most dependable options on the market today, especially for trolling in deep waters.

Pros
  • HT-100 carbon fiber drag system
  • Line capacity rings
  • Machined high-strength main gear
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Less maximum drag capacity than some other models

2. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur

Best Baitcasting Reel With Line Counter Alarm

Which Hands

Right hand

Weight

1.1 lbs

Gear Ratio

5.3:1

Max Drag

15 lbs

Bearings

2BB+1RB

The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur is the best baitcasting reel with a line counter alarm that we’ve yet to come across.

The aluminum and carbon fiber material are integral in the reel’s sturdy and durable construction. The stainless steel ball bearing system allows for a smooth operation even when reeling in large target fish.

The Carbon Matrix™ drag system provides consistent drag pressure and a high maximum drag capacity at 15 pounds. The line-out alarm is a feature that isn’t included in every line counter reel on the market, which is part of the reason why this model is worth your investment.

This reel’s line counter function counts in feet so that anglers can keep track of how much line is being used. The Abu Garcia brand designed this model to give anglers more accuracy when trolling. A power handle is one feature that improves the overall strength of the reel. Another noteworthy feature is the instant anti-reverse ability.

The reel handle position is positioned for right-hand orientation. If you’re an angler looking for a dependable baitcasting reel for trolling, this model is a great quality reel to invest in. The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur is versatile regardless of whether you’re trolling in freshwater or saltwater environments.

Pros
  • Star Carbon Matrix™ drag system
  • High maximum drag
  • Aluminum and carbon fiber material
  • Instant anti-reverse
Cons
  • Not pre-spooled

3. Okuma Magda Pro MA-30DLX

Best Line Counter Reels For Walleye

Which Hands

Left hand

Weight

1.1 lbs

Gear Ratio

4.0:0

Max Drag

17 lbs

Bearings

2BB

Many anglers targeting walleye consider trolling as the most efficient fishing approach, and the Okuma Magda Pro MA-30DLX is the best line counter reel for this purpose.

This reel is constructed from high-quality materials, which include graphite and steel. The frame, side plates, and spool are designed to be corrosion resistant and stand the test of time. Anglers who make gear selections based on the build and longevity of a piece of equipment will be pleased with this line counter reel. This is a model that will be dependable for years to come.

The multi-disc carbonite drag system and durable machine-cut brass gears improve the reel’s performance and give anglers a smooth drag experience. Stainless steel features are integrated into the build, including the ball bearings and the levelwind line guide. This contributes to the reel’s durability and a better user experience overall.

A speed LOC pinion gear system allows for high speed retrievals. The mechanical line counter function measures in feet with a convenient push button reset feature. This makes it easy to keep track of how much line you’re using and the lure's depth in the water.  

This model, in particular, holds up to 420 yards of 20-pound test line.

Pros
  • 1-year warranty
  • Multi-disc carbonite drag system
  • Corrosion-resistant features
  • Self-lubricating gear system
Cons
  • High demand, limited availability

4. Okuma Cold Water

Best Line Counter Reels For Salmon

Which Hands

Right hand

Weight

0.9 lbs

Gear Ratio

5:1:1

Max Drag

18 lbs

Bearings

2BB+1RB

Anglers planning their next fishing trip with the intention of targeting salmon should invest in the Okuma Cold Water line counter reel.

Like the previous top-performing Okuma Magda Pro MA-30DLX, this reel is constructed with high quality materials and a multi-disc carbonite drag system.

Regarding the drag performance, the ratcheting drag star sets you up for precise control over the drag settings. Salmon fishing, like other types of specialized fishing, requires good quality angling gear that can handle a fight from heavy-duty fish. This reel’s maximum drag capacity is 18 pounds, which gives anglers the ability to take on bigger fish without issue.

This model is outfitted with extra large gearing and, specifically, a drop down gear box with a self-lubricating gear system. Not to mention, the frame and side plates are corrosion resistant.

Additional features include an aluminum handle arm with ergo grip handle knobs, a quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing, and a speed lock pinion gear system. These features are definitely noteworthy and included for an angler’s benefit.

The mechanical line counter function measures in feet so that anglers can accurately gauge line output and make quick adjustments when necessary. Also, this reel is covered by a one-year warranty plan.

Pros
  • 1-year warranty
  • Self-lubricating gear system
  • Speed lock pinion gear system
  • Multi-disc carbonite drag system
Cons
  • Less warranty coverage than some other models

5. Daiwa Accudepth

Best Line Counter Reel For The Money

Which Hands

Right hand, but left hand is available

Weight

0.9 lbs

Gear Ratio

4.2:1

Max Drag

15.4 lbs

Bearings

1BB

When it comes to trolling, or any fishing method for that matter, anglers look for gear that will give them value in return for their purchase. The best line counter reel for the money is the Daiwa Accudepth.

This model is constructed from synthetic material and a one-piece composite frame. Specifically, the frame of the reel is made from lightweight but durable graphite composite material. As far as visual appearance goes, this model is characterized by its sleek silver appearance.

While many anglers will appreciate this reel’s sleek look, the Daiwa Accudepth doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the quality of the build either. This model is a comparable size to other models, and anglers won’t have to worry about handling heavy equipment all day long.

The machine-cut brass gears work alongside an auto-engage clutch for a strong and controlled fishing experience. The smooth, Teflon® impregnated felt drag delivers smooth performance when targeting and fighting fish. Because the maximum drag is 15.4 pounds, anglers can depend on this reel for targeting bigger fish.

Similar to other high quality reels in this review, the Daiwa Accudepth measures line output in feet with the direct-drive counter feature. Instead of guessing, anglers can be certain about how much line they’re using at any given time.

Pros
  • Teflon® impregnated felt drag
  • One-piece composite frame
  • Auto-engage clutch
  • Measures in feet
Cons
  • Felt drag might not be as effective in the long-term as carbon fiber drag

6. Sougayilang

Best Budget Line Counter Trolling Reels

Which Hands

Left hand

Weight

1.3 lbs

Gear Ratio

4.1:1

Max Drag

40 lbs

Bearings

6BB+1RB

The Sougayilang is an excellent quality line counter reel that is also the best budget option for trolling. 

While this model is heavier than other models in this review, it packs a punch with a high maximum drag capacity of 40 pounds. The reel is constructed with aluminum material.

The multi-disc carbonite drag system functions successfully with a powerful star drag foundation. This star drag foundation gives anglers control over the drag settings, and the drag performance is further enhanced with heavy-duty brass gears. Anglers must invest in gear that allows for precise control, especially when trolling.

Additional features include an oversized machine-cut brass drive and pinion gears, as well as the quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing. An aluminum handle arm with an ergo grip handle knob gives you a more comfortable experience when it comes to reeling in your catch.

While some other high quality reels offer warranty coverage, this reel's purchase comes with a three-year warranty. One of the perks of this is that if you run into any manufacturing or functional issues, you can address the problem with the Sougayilang brand and work out a solution.

Pros
  • 3-year warranty
  • High maximum drag capacity
  • Aluminum ratcheting drag star
  • Full carbonite drag system
Cons
  • Heavier than some other models

Choosing the Right Line Counter Gear Ratio for Trolling

  • Low Gear Ratio/Slow (4.0:0 thru 5.4:1)
    Most line counter reels on the market will fall into this gear ratio range, or even lower. This is because lower gear ratios can be useful when going after heavy-duty target fish.
  • Medium Gear Ratio/Medium (6.1:1 thru 6.4:1)
    Mid-range gear ratios are common with spinning reels. Anglers with a reel in this range will have quick retrieval rates. In most cases, these reels can handle heavier target fish, but some anglers have more success with mid-sized fish species.
  • High Gear Ratio/Fast (7.1:1 thru 8.1:1)
    Reels with high gear ratios within this range aren’t typically line counter reels. This gear ratio range is more common for baitcasting reels and fishing methods that require fast retrieval speeds.

How to Use Line Counter Reels for Trolling

Line counter reels like the top-rated Penn Squall SQL20LWLC are easy to use and well-suited for trolling. It can be smart to opt for a multi-colored line and calibrate the line counter reel to guarantee that you can consistently and accurately track line output.

Not every model will have an auto-engage feature, so you may have to manually engage the drag after casting out the line. It’s best to spool the line after calibrating how much length you need, and the amount of line correlates with the preferred depth of your target fish.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What are some tips for beginners who want to go trolling?

The key to a successful trolling trip is to invest in the right gear, which includes a line counter reel and good quality rod. Learning from fellow anglers can be extremely helpful when starting off, so seek advice, especially if you’re planning on targeting a specific fish species.

What does “levelwind” mean and why is it important for trolling?

Levelwind reels are designed for even casts and give anglers more control of the line, which is vital for trolling because precision is crucial for a successful fishing experience.

How accurate are line counter reels?

Line counter reels tend to be very accurate, but to ensure that you have a more precise reading, it’s necessary to calibrate your line counter reel.

What type of fishing line should I use for trolling?

We recommend using a multi-colored line for trolling, as this can help when tracking line output.

How far behind the boat should I troll?

The slower the boat's movement, the better in most cases. The boat's speed affects how close the line is to the back of the boat, and it can also affect the depth of the lure. Ideally, you want to troll fairly close to the boat.

What is a good troll speed?

Most anglers recommend maintaining a boat speed of around 1.5 and 2.5 mph when trolling for stripers and other commonly targeted species.


Conclusion

Trolling can be a rewarding fishing method for novice and experienced anglers. The line counter reel that an angler uses significantly impacts how successful a fishing trip is in the short-term and long-term. For such an important investment, we recommend selecting the Penn SQL20LWLC Squall.

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