Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Trolling Rods Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best trolling rods. Pull lure & bait through the water with ease using these high-quality fishing rods.

by Andrew

Buyer’s Guide & Information

Best Trolling Rods Reviewed

We have reviewed and compared the best trolling rods. Pull lure & bait through the water with ease using these high-quality fishing rods.

by Andrew

by Andrew

A fishing rod is one of the most important pieces of equipment, no matter what technique you use.

Trolling, which is the practice of pulling a lure in the water from a slow-moving boat, calls for a particular rod that flexes correctly and gives lures a lifelike presentation. Read on to find out all about trolling rods.

Trolling Rods Compared

Preview

Product

Rod Length

Material

Rod Power

Check Price

Fiblink Saltwater Offshore Heavy Trolling...

Fiblink

Saltwater

5’1”

E-Glass Graphite

Heavy

Okuma Classic Pro GLT Dipsy Diver Rod (12 -...

Okuma

Classic Pro GLT 

CP-PB-861M-T

8’6”

Fiberglass

Moderate

Shimano TDR 8'6' M 2-Piece Freshwater...

Shimano TDR

Trolling Rod TDR96MH2B

8’6”

Aeroglass

Medium

Daiwa Wilderness Downrigger Trolling...

Daiwa

Wilderness

8’6”

Fiberglass

Medium-light

Lamiglas X-11 LX90MC | 9'0' 2-PC. Fishing...

Lamiglas

X-11 Cork

9’0”

24-ton Graphite

Medium

Fiblink Bent Butt Fishing Rod 2-Piece...

Fiblink 562

Bent Butt

Feet + inches

E-Glass Graphite

Extra Heavy

Why Trolling Requires a Specific Rod

Trolling isn't quite like any other fishing methods. The lure sinks to a certain depth, depending on the target species and pulled through the water.

Additional tools like a downrigger or planer boards help maintain depth and cover more area, respectively, and the right trolling rod should work with both. Anglers use trolling to catch pelagic fish such as tuna, wahoo, swordfish, and mackerel in saltwater and stripers, pike, trout, salmon, musky, and walleye in freshwater sources.

Rods built for trolling should be stiff enough to give lures an enticing presentation, let fish swallow bait without getting tipped off, set the hook cleanly, and get the fish on the boat. This usually entails strong line guides and a rod blank with a more parabolic bend than other fishing rods.


What Makes a Good Trolling Rod?

Frame Quality

The majority of trolling rods are built out of either graphite or fiberglass. Fiberglass has a great sensibility for feeling activity at the end of the line, and it also loads energy differently. Rather than responding immediately, fiberglass rods take a bit more effort to bend. Many anglers don’t like that, but it’s the best action for medium-sized trolling targets.

Graphite is more lightweight and tends to have a faster action. Graphite is a good choice for larger targets because it gives rod blanks more backbone, and they can usually set the hook strong and fast.

Line Guides

When you have a fish on, the line is likely going to strain against the line guides. For this reason, trolling rods have to have strong line guides that won’t pop out. Trolling rods for massive targets have roller guides that give even better line control and handle extra pressure.

Less expensive trolling rods typically have aluminum oxide or ceramic inserts in the line guides. Ceramic reduces friction better than aluminum oxide. It’s important to make sure the line guides don’t pop out and won’t bend if someone drops the rod.

Target Fish & Fishing Environment

One of the most essential factors when trolling is to get your lure to the right depth. Different species can be found within different depth ranges. For example, the biggest salmon are typically found at around 80 feet, although you can also catch salmon of a good size at 60 feet. 

Trolling can be done in both freshwater and saltwater environments. The method is pretty much the same, although it can change depending on the max depth and width of lakes and rivers.

Rod Length

Longer baitcasting rods allow anglers to cast further, but in the case of trolling, longer rods are best for downrigger and planer fishing. Shorter rods, say around 7 or 8 feet, are better for fishing dipsy divers.

Larger fish will probably be easier to catch on longer rods, but beginners frequently have trouble managing the weight of longer trolling rods. In that case, the best tactic isn't to go with a super short rod but instead use a moderate-sized rod with a lighter line. Beginners can build more skills faster that way.

Rod & Line Weight

The weight of trolling rods is usually fairly minuscule until you reach the largest rods meant for the biggest targets. At that level, you need lots of weight to hold the heavier line and counteract the fish's weight.

Line weight ratings are pretty flexible, meaning you can probably go a size up or down from the line range the manufacturer gives, but the rating is handy for optimal use. Match the line weight with the target's size and remember that beginners will probably have a hard time starting with really heavy test.

Rod Action

Anglers always seem to have a fixation of fast tip action, but trolling is one technique that typically calls for a much slower action. When the rod is in a rod holder, for example, it will have to get a parabolic bend way down in the blank to account for water resistance and strikes on the lure.

If a rod flexes close to the tip when you put pressure on it, that’s fast action. If it flexes toward the middle, it’s moderate, and if it flexes all the way down, it’s slow.

Rod Power

While rod action describes the rod’s flex, the power describes how much weight the blank can handle without snapping. For the amount of water resistance and the overall larger weight and strength of the targets you tend to find when you go trolling, a heavy-powered rod is the best bet.

These are usually a little heavier, but you’ll be grateful to have the lifting power and backbone when a huge fish takes a bite of your lure.

Other Features

Like all fishing rods, trolling rods need to have a comfortable handle with plenty of room for hand placements and won't get slick when wet. If you use a downrigger or fish with a trolling rod holder, make sure the handle also comes out of the holder easily. That second can cost you a hook set, and there's hardly anything more frustrating when you're trolling.

Downriggers can be electric or manual. Electric ones are less effort, but they cost more. The reel seat you use should accommodate the rod and reel setup you’re using.

Price & Warranty

Trolling rods are generally less expensive than other fishing rods, but there is also a class of trolling rods that’s leagues above the rest. Even at that level, the rods cost a few hundred dollars, which is still less than many casting rods. Most trolling rods are so inexpensive that they aren't protected by a warranty. Still, many manufacturers offer a limited warranty for a year or so after purchase just in case there are any defects from the manufacturing process. 


6 Best Trolling Rods Reviewed

1. Fiblink Saltwater Offshore

Our Top Pick!

Rod Length

5’1”

Rod Weight

18.3 oz.

Handle/Butt Type

Straight

Material

E-Glass Graphite

Rod Power

Heavy

Rod Action

Medium-Fast

Although it's shorter than many other trolling rods, this Fiblink model is one of the strongest and most corrosion-resistant models available on the market. The roller line guides are strong enough to hold off huge targets, and the line rating of 30 - 50 lbs means trolling anglers will be prepared for any big fish they encounter.

It's strong enough to catch large tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, sailfish, or any other species that live nearer the shore. Plus, it can handle saltwater without showing any signs of corrosion. This Fiblink is also the best offshore trolling rod you can find.

The EVA foam handle could be better if it were all-aluminum, but other than that, it functions well and it's easy to keep a grip on even when it's wet. Most of the hardware is aluminum. For example, the reel seat is made of sturdy machined aluminum and holds an open-faced reel in place without any issues.

Fiblink has built a parabolic taper into this rod, and the E-glass/graphite composite is the perfect blend of the spring action of a fiberglass blank and the hook-setting power of graphite. Even though it can haul in some huge saltwater targets, this trolling rod is very lightweight.

This model sits in a rod holder well and pairs with a harness effectively as well. It can handle any sort of line well, although braid might have some trouble in the roller guides. Once you get past the learning curve of using a fiberglass-composite blank, this is one of the best saltwater trolling rods and definitely among the most effective for large species like tuna.

Pros
  • One-year warranty
  • Lightweight
  • Strong roller line guides
  • Parabolic taper
Cons
  • Braid might jam
  • Non-aluminum handle

2. Okuma Classic Pro GLT CP-PB-861M-T

Best Trolling Rod for Walleye

Rod Length

8’6”

Rod Weight

11.1 oz.

Handle/Butt Type

Bent, Straight, etc.

Material

Fiberglass

Rod Power

Moderate

Rod Action

Slow, Medium, Medium-fast

This two-piece trolling rod is one of the easiest to transport and pull out of a rod holder when you get a fish on. With a lure rating of 2-¾, this rod is perfect for topwater trolling. Contrary to popular belief, that’s the best place to fish for walleye. While this rod doesn’t have as high of a line rating as many other trolling rods, it’s geared toward freshwater targets like walleye, so line above the 20 lb. cap of this trolling rod is overkill.

While it is a one-piece rod, this is still a very portable trolling rod because it weighs so little. In addition to several variations of Okuma trolling rods, there are also other varieties in this rod linen for other pursuits like salmon fishing. This classic Pro GLT is clearly constructed for precision freshwater trolling, and it shows. It can catch walleye, but you might even hook a fair few salmon using this trolling rod.

In addition to its versatility, this is also a very durable rod. It has a fiberglass construction that lends itself well to trolling, provided the angler knows how to employ the spring action of a glass blank. The line guides are sturdy and offer excellent line control. Whether it's battling a huge walleye or accidentally bumping it against the wall or dropping it on the deck, this trolling rod can take a beating.

Pros
  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Strong line guides
  • Perfect for topwater lures
Cons
  • Lower line rating

3. Shimano TDR Trolling Rod TDR96MH2B

Best Saltwater Trolling Rod

Rod Length

8’6”

Rod Weight

7.2 oz.

Handle/Butt Type

Straight

Material

Aeroglass

Rod Power

Medium

Rod Action

Moderate-Fast

Powered by Shimano's proprietary Aeroglass rod blank, the TDR Trolling Rod series has excellent balance and lots of fish-stopping power considering how lightweight it is. The line guides are standard aluminum oxide material, but they still manage to hold up to the kinds of fish this rod can handle.

With a line rating of 12 - 20 lbs, this trolling rod will be much better suited for fishing medium or medium-large species. However, if you can get a lure in or near a school of saltwater fish, you're bound to be successful with this Shimano.

The split grip and the EVA foam rubber used in the handle of this rod also makes it easy to fish in salty offshore locations. The slower action of the rod is perfect for anglers who understand and appreciate the difference between fiberglass and graphite rods. The slower action also allows this rod to give skirted lures like resin heads the right lifelike action to get the fish’s attention and goad them into a strike.

Anglers will enjoy the action of this rod once the hook is set. After that point, a fast-action rod will be ineffective, but this moderate-fast action is right in the middle, so anglers can get that clean hook set and then have the parabolic bend in the blank needed to get the fish on the boat. Having a trolling rod that is specially constructed for use with a downrigger is a game-changer for anyone who wants to set up several trolling rods to mimic the appearance of a school of fish.

Pros
  • Built for a downrigger
  • Perfect trolling action
  • Comfortable, non-slip handle
Cons
  • Lower line rating

4. Daiwa Wilderness

Best Freshwater Trolling Rod

Rod Length

8’6”

Rod Weight

10 oz.

Handle/Butt Type

Straight

Material

Fiberglass

Rod Power

Medium-light

Rod Action

Medium

One thing that seems to be showcased in virtually every Daiwa Wilderness trolling rod review is how effective it is at trolling for walleye. This trolling rod has the right power and action for lifelike presentations of the minnow lures that goad walleye so well. It’s a little shorter than typical dipsy diver rods, but the Daiwa Wilderness still fishes dipsy divers just as well as it fishes in a downrigger. Getting a lure down to a specific depth is easy with this trolling rod.

As far as price goes, you certainly get way more than you pay for this inexpensive rod. It’s still covered with a 1-year warranty even though replacing this trolling rod with a brand new one would cost less than many warranties where postage is required. The fiberglass blank is sensitive enough to feel bites at the end of the line, and it makes a nice parabola so you can set the hook without spooking the target or accidentally pulling the lure out of its mouth.

The EVA handle is comfortable to hold, and they've also built a hook keeper to make storage and transportation easy. The line guides have ceramic inserts that offer great line control and hold up well to powerful fish. You can use this trolling rod with a planer board to cover a greater distance and catch even more fish. This rod blank is also the perfect length for fishing topwater trolling lures.

Pros
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Very inexpensive
  • Built-in hook keeper
  • Ideal for topwater lures
Cons
  • Short for dipsy divers

5. Lamiglas X-11 Cork

Best Salmon Trolling Rod

Rod Length

9’0”

Rod Weight

5.8 oz.

Handle/Butt Type

Straight

Material

24-ton Graphite

Rod Power

Medium

Rod Action

Fast

The Lamiglas X-11 is the perfect length for trolling at depths between 60 and 80 feet, the ideal range for catching salmon. If you like to use a downrigger to get your lures down to a precise depth, this trolling rod fits in both trolling rod holders and downriggers snugly, and the cork handle makes it easy to remove this rod from the holder as well. The hardware they use in the reel seat and line guides is durable and functions well. This trolling rod handles line great, and any open-faced reel will fit snugly in the reel seat.

Building the rod blank out of graphite makes it very lightweight, but it still has the power of comparable fiberglass trolling rods. Plus, it has a fast-action tip, which is rare in a trolling rod. Fishing for salmon requires a quick hook set, and the X-11 salmon trolling rods let you do just that. If there’s any shortcoming with this trolling rod, it’s that it is only rated to hold line weights between 6 and 15 pounds. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to haul monster-sized fish out of the water with a rod this light anyway.

Trolling plugs, flashers, spinners, herring, and anchovies work fantastically with this rod. You can use it to catch steelhead or salmon, whichever your preference is. Part of the blank is exposed in the reel seat, so energy is transferred to the angler more than usual, giving this trolling rod superior sensitivity.

Pros
  • Cork handle
  • Fast action
  • Lightweight
  • Great for downriggers
Cons
  • Low line rating

6. Fiblink 562 Bent Butt

Best Trolling Rod for Tuna

Rod Length

5’, 5’6”, 6’ & 7’

Rod Weight

49 oz.

Handle/Butt Type

Bent

Material

E-Glass Graphite

Rod Power

Extra Heavy

Rod Action

Fast

For a trolling rod with every possible design feature, we recommend the Fiblink 562 bent butt. With its extra-heavy power and fast hook-setting action, it’s one of the best trolling rods for stripers and similar large targets. The hardware is mostly aluminum and stainless steel. The all-aluminum reel seat is very strong and, although this rod is a bit more costly than other trolling rods, you can only find such features on trolling rods at this price point.

The bent butt is perfect for trolling from a trolling rod holder, and there's also a stainless steel swing tip that helps direct the line straight down into the water for vertical presentations and trolling. The line guides themselves are roller guides rather than the standard round-eyes line guides you tend to find on other trolling rods. They stand up much better to larger, more powerful targets, and they have an embedded design that prevents line slippage or tangling. The line is also at a greater height for more leverage, and there's also Teflon in the roller guides to reduce friction.

The reel seat has an exposed design, and the spiral is integrated into the blank better than on most other trolling rods. The handle is non-slip, even when it gets wet. This trolling rod has more backbone than just about any competing trolling rod on the market. It’s built for huge targets like tuna, wahoo, and marlin. You’ll be much more likely to catch a personal best with this rod in your arsenal.

Pros
  • Strong backbone
  • Roller line guides
  • Durable hardware
Cons
  • Overkill for smaller targets
  • More costly

How to Use Trolling Rods - Tips & Techniques

The best way to start out trolling is to use your fish finder to scope out new areas. Trolling will let you cover a ton of distance easily, but using electronics helps avoid unproductive areas. When trolling, you have to keep the boat moving, even when you have a fish on. Stopping can lead to line tangles.

If you can, work your way up to putting multiple lines in the water. This will enable your lures to mimic a school of fish. It will also let you try a multitude of presentations, which makes a strike more likely.

Try out some of these trolling lures and make sure to use a variety of them. It's possible to go trolling alone, but when you first start, it will be much easier to do with at least two people so somebody can steer the boat if the other gets a bite.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can you cast a trolling rod?

While you can cast a trolling rod, you’re likely to find it difficult if it has a slower action. The fast tip of a casting rod is what loads the line and casts out, so while the longer length of trolling rods might help cast further in theory, the action might make it hard to do. If you have a curved butt section, you’ll also have a much harder time.

What is the best trolling rod holder?

There are many trolling rod holders for boats, but the best has to be the Millennium Marine Spyderlok. It keeps a firm grip on the trolling rod and attaches and detaches quickly. The material it’s built out of is strong and can hold a beating without rusting.

What’s the difference between a casting rod and a trolling rod?

Casting rods are meant to send a lure far out over the water and then bring them back through the water. The way they handle line is different because they don’t have to deal with as much water resistance as trolling rods do. Trolling rods are also meant to bend much more than casting rods are.

What is a good troll speed? How fast should you troll for stripers?

They say the best speed for trolling is about 9 knots, which is a little over 10 MPH. However, in the majority of situations, that will be much too fast. When fishing for stripers, for example, the trolling motor should be set at about 2.5 - 4 MPH maximum to give the fish a chance to catch up.

What type of fishing line should I use for trolling?

Make sure to look at the line rating on your trolling rod before deciding what weight line to use. Mono line between 20 - 30 lbs. is great for trolling medium-sized targets because it has a bit more stretch than other kinds of line. For really big fish, you can use up to 50-pound test or a fluoro leader.

How far behind the boat should I troll?

Fish aren’t going to swim right up behind the boat most of the time. It’s best to let your lure drag at least 20 feet away from the boat. The amount of line on the reel will determine how far away from the boat you can go, but going any further than 150 feet will likely lead to tangles, and it'll take forever to reel the line back in when you finish.

How much line should you let out when trolling?

Every kind of lure dives at a different depth, and that can affect how much line you should let out. If you want to have the lure 50 feet behind the boat, for example, you should know whether the lure is trolling at 2 feet or 20 feet of depth. The best way to gauge how much line to let out when trolling is to use a reel with a line counter built-in.


Conclusion

To be successful at trolling, anglers need a rod with a parabolic bend, strong line guides, and enough backbone to handle large species like tuna. The Fiblink Saltwater Offshore has all that, and it's backed up with a one-year warranty, which is what makes it the best trolling rod on the market.

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