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Choosing the Right Offshore Fishing Reel

Guide to choosing the right offshore fishing reel with various factors and types

Choosing the Right Offshore Fishing Reel

Offshore fishing is a highly diverse type of fishing. We know this sounds like a juxtaposition, but the sheer number of species to catch makes selecting one reel difficult. Instead of excluding techniques that makeup offshore fishing, we have elected to cover some of the most popular styles and provide the information needed to get the right offshore reel for your needs. Follow along as we cover trolling, jigging, and bottom fishing reels to help you decide on your next offshore reel.


No doubt, the most iconic style of offshore fishing is trolling. From trolling cedar plugs for tuna to ballyhoo for king mackerel, having a suitable trolling reel will make your trip offshore that much more memorable.


Trolling reels will come in two drag syles. Older style conventional reels that can work for various styles feature star drags. Star drags are larger star-shaped wheels on the side of the reel that the angler can adjust to add more tension to the line. The second style of drag is the lever style. Levers work as described rather than twisting to adjust the drag; the angler can more smoothly reduce or add tension with their thumb.
Star drags are rugged multi-use reels that, while easier to use, don’t give the same responsiveness that levers do. Lever drags are more desirable because, in most trolling instances, the drag is set light, so the fish can grab the bait and become hooked. Having the drag set too high at this point would rip the bait from the fish’s mouth. Adding tension to the line with a lever drag quickly is why many anglers look for reels with this feature.


Size is relative to the species you plan to troll for. It sounds like common sense; however, there is more nuanced than just big reels for big fish. Offshore trolling reels need to have sufficient line capacity as offshore fish make blistering runs when hooked. Ending up spooled is something no one wants. Larger reels can also accommodate higher-strength drags to keep from being spooled.

Gear Ratio

While line capacity and drag are important, the gear ratio is perhaps more important. A higher gear ratio like 6:1 works well for quickly receiving baits; a lower ratio like 4:1 is better from using your reel to winch in big fish. Many offshore reels will have a high and low setting for this reason, just like if you were trailering a vehicle, you would keep your transmission in a lower gear setting to maximize power.

Jigging or Bottom Fishing

Offshore fishing isn’t just trolling blue water for fast pelagics. Some of the hardest fighting and most delicious fish hang out on the deep wrecks and rock piles offshore. To get to these fish, you need a reel that will have the capacity to hold enough braid to get to the bottom. When that tilefish or amberjack does grab on, you will need a reel with the strength to hoist one of these brutes off the bottom.


Luckily for bottom fishermen, the line of choice is braid. Braided line provides the strength and sensitivity needed to feel the nibbles from a football field or more below. Braided line is smaller in diameter than mono, so your jigging and bottom fishing reels can hold a significant amount of line. The amount of line needed to get down deep actually bring us to our first attribute to look for.

Line counter

Line counters work the same way the odometer in your car does. It takes the number of rotations of your spool and displays the feet of line you have dropped. These come in handy when you are fishing deep and can’t always tell if your bait or jig has hit bottom. Many reels will have this option, but an angler can also add them to an existing setup.

Level Wind

With the amount of line you are reeling, it’s important to make sure the reel’s level wind feature wors smoothly. Level winds are devices on the front of the reel that move back and forth while you reel to lay line back on the spool evenly. An angler needs to pay attention to where the reel is depositing line without a level wind. If the line is piled up on one side, it may topple over and bind, leaving a rat’s nest.

Gear Ratio

While there’s no force of the boat to pull aginst like when trolling, it is still vital that your bottom fishing reel has the proper gear ratios. Speed isn’t what puts fish in the boat. The cranking power of a lower gear like 4 or 5:1 is a much better option than a 6:1 would be.


This should be a focus on all of our reel styles, but with the amount of fighting done while battling fish from the bottom, it’s critical to have a comfortable reel handle. Check to see if the handle fits your hand. Look for a handle that provides some slip resistance while also filling your fist. Trying to battle a grouper off a wreck is increasingly painful when you push a two-inch reel handle into your palm.

Regardless of whether you are hoping to jig amberjack off a reef or hook a marlin while trolling, having the correct gear will make the difference. A properly geared bottom fishing rig will save your shoulders while filling the cooler with some of the finest eating fish in the sea. Likewise, having a reel with an adjustable drag will let that sailfish hook themselves on the ballyhoo before you set the drag to strike and begin a kodak worthy battle. Selecting reels doesn’t have to be stressful. We have taken the time to save you the trouble of figuring out what features are needed on what reels. After all, fishing is supposed to be relaxing until that first bite; then, it’s all excitement.

Here are some of our favorites broken down

Avet Lever Drag Conventional Offshore Fishing Reel

Avet is a well-respected and technically advanced reel maker with a reputation for delivering affordable offshore fishing reels that have the power and durability required to land big game fish. It features precision machined 6061 T-6 marine grade aluminum and stainless-steel components with unmatched durability and longevity. It has a beautiful, anodized finish that prevents corrosion and rust while increasing its overall strength. The narrow, deep spool design provides excellent line capacity while keeping overall size and weight to a minimum.

Additionally, it has precision machined stainless steel gears that are heat-treated for optimum performance and maximum life span. It is equipped with a loud clicker alarm that alerts you during those frantic bites. The CCS offers easy access to the spool while being able to pack more lines onto it with the palm of your hand, maximizing the amount of spool capacity.

On top of that, the lever drag system is super easy to use because you can continually feed out the line while fighting a fish without having to reset or readjust the drag settings at any point. Complete with an outfitted drag system that’s both dependable and capable of putting the squeeze on powerful fish, Avet has positioned anglers from all sides of the line to win.



Avet Lever Drag Conventional Offshore Fishing Reel

MaterialHandle MaterialBearing MaterialHand Orientationlever drag
AluminumAluminumAluminum‎Left Hand2-speed


  • Marine-grade aluminum construction for maximum durability
  • Anodized finish for corrosion resistance
  • Loud clicker alarm to alert you about the bait
  • Adjustable drag system


  • It may be difficult to change the handle from left to right.

PENN Squall II Conventional Offshore Fishing Reel

The PENN Squall II packs a lot of punch into a lightweight, compact package. Its graphite frame and side plates are ultra-light in hand, while its forged and machined aluminum spool provides strength without unnecessary weight. Shielded stainless steel ball bearings work together with the anti-reverse roller bearing to eliminate play on the handle and provide smooth reeling every time. And with an oversized ergonomically designed handle knob plus custom soft-touch grip, anglers will enjoy pain-free cranking for hours.

Additionally, it has a rugged HT-100 drag washer with a rugged spool that won’t give up on you during your fishing excursion. With multiple retrieve ratios, this reel has the ability to be converted from right to left hand retrieve to take your fishing to another level.

The Squall lever drag is available in both 2 speed and single-speed models, and each reel is designed for both inshore and offshore fishing. No doubt, this reel will keep the angler one step ahead of the fish.


PENN Squall II Conventional Offshore Fishing Reel

Drag TypeHandle MaterialBearing MaterialWeightBall Bearings
Star DragAluminumAluminum16.8 OZ3+1 shielded stainless steel


  • Lightweight graphite frame
  • Stainless steel bearings for corrosion and rust resistance
  • Ergonomically designed handle for better grip
  • Left and right-hand reel conversion


  • The drag system can sometimes be difficult to adjust.

SHIMANO Trinidad Offshore Fishing Reel

SHIMANO Trinidad offshore fishing reel is just one of many products in the Shimano line that specializes in providing fishermen with the best equipment possible. It is a beautiful reel that is perfect for any offshore fishing fan. It features a high gear ratio of 6.2:1, which allows you to crank in your line quickly without having to sacrifice anything else.

Moreover, it has a lever drag design with two drag systems, a clicker system, and an ergonomic power handle. The clicker makes the process of setting lines and changing the speed much easier and more efficient. On top of that, the handle is ergonomically designed so that users can have greater control over the reel, which will lead to better performance on the water. While the reel is easy to use, it’s also versatile enough for many different fishing applications. It’s ideal for live bait or deep water jigging and can be used with braid, fluorocarbon, or monofilament lines.

This reel is made from high-quality materials, including aluminum alloy for the spool and frame, as well as brass gears for long-lasting durability and strength. It also has four bearings plus one roller bearing to keep everything running smoothly while you fish. Overall, the Trinidad series of reels offer a great combination of power and precision to help any angler catch big fish with ease!


SHIMANO Trinidad Offshore Fishing Reel

Bearing MaterialHand OrientationWeightGear RatioSize
Stainless SteelRight Hand‎1 Pounds6.2:116 Right


  • High gear ratio to catch big fish
  • Ergonomic power handle
  • Lever drag system for precision and accuracy
  • High-quality aluminum alloy spool and frame for enhanced strength.


  • Higher Price Point

PENN Fathom Offshore Fishing Reel

The PENN Fathom Lever Drag Conventional Reel is a great choice for the saltwater angler. It’s been built with a full metal body and side plates to keep precise gear alignment under heavy loads. It has a Dura-Drag system that is designed to prevent hesitation, even under extreme drag settings, and give off a buttery smooth performance. It is manufactured with stainless steel that has been tested under harsh conditions, and it will stand up to the most demanding fishing situations.

The reel has an ergonomic handle knob that makes it easy on your hands. It also has a pinion bearing and stainless-steel reel stand. The design of this reel is fairly simple yet stylish. It boasts an all-metal construction that’s built to last, so you don’t have to worry about replacing it any time soon.

This model also has several adjustable parts with different gear ratios to ensure that it functions well in different conditions. This reel is great for offshore fishing and is available in several different sizes, so you can find the one that suits your needs best. It’s a great choice whether you’re a beginner or an expert, and it’s not going to break the bank either.


PENN Fathom Offshore Fishing Reel

BodyBall BearingsSpoolDragSpeed models


  • Precision gear alignment for better casting
  • Stainless steel manufacturing for durability and corrosion resistance
  • The smooth and efficient drag system
  • Adjustable parts and different gear ratios


  • Not as durable as some other options on the market.

SHIMANO Talica Offshore Fishing Reel

The SHIMANO Talica Lever Drag Conventional Reel is a well-designed and high-quality fishing reel that’s perfect for offshore fishing. This reel has a maximum drag of 60 lbs. making it one of the most powerful reels on the market. The drag system can be tuned to multiple settings so that you can find the one that’s just right for your style of angling.

This reel also features an ultra-smooth drag system that makes fighting large fish easy and comfortable. It is manufactured with High-Efficiency Gear Technology for smooth retrieves while reeling in big fish! With 7 bearings, this reel delivers exceptional performance on the water. You can even change the line retrieve speed from 20 to 46″ per crank. Its gear ratio is 6.2:1 for low gear and 3:1 for high gear, which makes it perfect for reeling in all kinds of fish, from tuna to sailfish.

With one of these sturdy reels on your pole, you’ll have no trouble reeling in those giant fish you’ve been dreaming about. And thanks to its sleek design and the light, strong aluminum frame with all titanium internals, you won’t have to worry about the Talica slowing you down at all as you work hard to land your catch.


SHIMANO Talica Offshore Fishing Reel

MaterialWeightBearing MaterialHand OrientationSpeed modelsDrag
Blend25 OuncesStainless SteelRight Hand2Up to 60 lb


  • Changeable retrieve speed from 20″ -46.”
  • Two gear ratios to reel in different fish
  • Sleek and lightweight design
  • 7 steel bearings with a drag capacity of 60 lbs.


  • Higher Print Point your hands get wet.

Rather than just list our top picks we broke our list down with Price Points, Pros and Cons. We hope that this level of organization will allow you to make the best decision for your style of offshore fishing. As always have fun, and we will see you on the water.

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