Just about every angler we know has tried trolling for trout. It is a highly effective fishing method that allows you to cover lots of water and catch more fish.
What we love most about trolling is the process of refining your gear to achieve the optimum setup for any situation. Overtime, we have learned that one of the most important pieces of gear when trolling for trout is a quality trolling rod. Oh, and spoiler alert, not all rods are created equal.
Whether you are targeting stocked rainbow trout with gang trolls or trophy browns on cranks, your trolling rod is the foundation of the entire setup. That’s why we did the heavy lifting and created a full spectrum list of the 10 best trolling rods.
What Is Trolling?
Trolling is a style of fishing in which the fisherman drags the bait or lure through the water. The movement of the bait or lure is meant to attract the attention of certain types of fish, including salmon, tuna, marlin, walleye, trout, and some species of bass.
There are specific types of baits and lures that provide better results when trolling. For example, the ideal trolling lure mimics the motion of a small fish moving through water.
When fishing from a boat, the movement of the boat will create a trolling effect. When fishing from a standing area, the angler reels in the lure or bait at the proper speed to create the movement needed for trolling.
Do You Need a Specific Rod for Trolling?
To answer this question in a single word: yes! If you wish to become an expert, then you have to adhere to the rules of a particular fishing technique. For trolling fishing, you need one or several sets of the three most essential tools: fishing rods, fishing lines, and reels – preferably saltwater.
For trolling fishing, you might have to consider non-corrosive lines and reels. Among all of these things, your focus should be on the rod that is constructed to lift heavyweight and is capable of multi-roll baitcasting reel along with line counters. Look for durable lines with remarkable strength.
Buying Guide for Trolling Rods
Looking for trolling rods will certainly be a much different process than looking for spinning or surf rods. Each form of fishing will bring varying characteristics and elements of the rod in order to enhance performance and durability. When considering trolling rods, there are a few common elements to keep in mind. These elements are:
As a result of their particular application, trolling rods have a few variations in line guides, particularly when compared to other fishing rod categories. The guides can either be standard or roller guides. Depending upon the environment you will be in and the type of fish you are trolling for, line guides can play a big part in determining which trolling rod is best for you.
Standard line guides are the most common, and they are suitable for small or medium-sized fish. For larger fish, however, anglers will want to look for roller guides. These guides will create less friction on the fishing line. Decreased pressure on the line will increase your control when bringing in a large fish.
While rod length is commonly talked about as influencing casting, length has a slightly different impact when trolling. The greatest benefit to having a longer trolling rod is that it allows for a larger surface area to be covered. By setting one—or even two—long trolling rods off each side of the boat, fishermen are much more likely to run their bait past more fish.
Shorter trolling rods, on the other hand, will be restricted to spaces closer to the side of the boat. If covering the greatest amount of surface area is a key factor in your fishing, make sure to look for long trolling rods.
If the trolling rod is not stiff enough, the action will be slow, and your lure or bait will be tougher to control. A stiff trolling rod delivers fast action and realistic movement.
Because you’re going after larger fish, your trolling rod needs to be durable. What’s more, the action of dragging the bait or lure through the water places extra stress on the rod. Good build quality is important for these reasons.
Our Top Picks
The Penn Quall Level Wind Combo Reel & trolling rod comes as a trolling rod and reel combo for catching big game fish such as salmon and steelhead in different saltwater conditions.
Constructed from fiberglass, the trolling rod is lightweight and boasts a balanced strength to weight ratio. Its trolling reel is designed with an HT 100 carbon fiber drag system that offers a powerful drag of up to 15 lbs. whilst its ball bearing system ensures smooth casting.
The ball bearing integrates 2 stainless steel ball bearings and an instant anti-reverse bearing which eliminates rotor backlash. Additionally, the trolling reel features a marine grade bronze alloy main gear and a stainless steel pinion gear.
Integrated guides with Pacific Bay Deep Pressed rings of the Lamigas X-11 Cork trolling rod are built to survive the most rigorous fishing conditions.
The trolling fishing rod features a lightweight and durable two-piece graphite construction which makes it easy to store and transport. Additionally, the graphite construction increases its sensitivity whilst its durable and attractive gloss merlot finish adds style to its look.
Furthermore, the trolling rod is fitted with stainless steel and chrome guides. The guides combine a Pacific Bay Deep pressed ring design and finish which allows them to withstand even the harshest fishing conditions.
The Okuma Classic Pro GLT is a medium power rod that’s built for freshwater trolling. It’s designed to be used with line between 12 and 27 pounds and features 11 guides plus the tip. It’s also designed to be used with copper and lead core lines, which can be useful if you’re fishing with planer boards in deep water.
The trolling rod features a fiberglass blank with durable double-foot solid stainless steel guides. It also benefits from having an up-locking Fuji-style reel seat with a stainless steel hood.
The grips are made from EVA foam and the butt is rubberized with a shrink tube overlay to make it easier to get the rod out of your rod holder, as well as more comfortable to hold when your hands are wet.
The Shimano Scimitar is a 9 foot 6 inch trolling rod that comes in two pieces for easy transportation and storage. It is a heavy power rod that is designed for trolling in freshwater but can also be used for light inshore fishing.
Featuring a strong but lightweight carbon graphite blank, this rod benefits from having durable aluminum-oxide guides that are designed to be strong and corrosion resistant, which could come in handy if you fish in saltwater.
This rod is designed for use with 10 to 30 pound line and could be a good option if you’re looking to target salmon or steelhead trout.
This Ugly Stik trolling rod and reel combo can be a great option if you’re a beginner, as it can give you a good starting point with a compatible rod and reel that’s suitable for freshwater trolling. It can be ideal for fishing for walleye.
The two piece rod features Ugly Tech construction, which is a combination of graphite and fiberglass, to create a strong, durable blank. It also features Ugly Tuff one-piece stainless steel guides.
The 20 size reel benefits from having a built-in line counter so that you can see how much line has come off your spool while trolling. It also features a clicker to let you know when a fish is pulling your line off your reel. The spool has a capacity of 290 yards of 14 pound mono line and the combo is designed to be used with line between 6 and 12 pound test.
Unlike the other Lew’s Speed Stick model reviewed above, this model was specifically designed for flat line trolling (in other words, without using a planer board). For this type of fishing it’s best to use either very short or very long rods, so you can spread out your lines. We chose the 6’6” model for this review, since it combines well with any of the other rods that are long enough to use with planer boards.
If you’re also interested in the longer version of this rod, which is 10’6, you can use that as an outer rod combined with the shorter one on the inside, and run a spread of flat lines that way. This style of trolling is easier and faster to set up, and a pure flat line setup is also easier to work with when it comes to changing direction with your boat.
The Mr Walleye Series is another rod that was specifically designed for walleye trolling, and comes with all the right specifications for the job. With a length of 8’6” it’s long enough to perform well with planer boards, while it’s graphite build makes it lightweight enough to enjoy fighting a walleye.
The most distinguishing feature of this model is its lightness of weight, and slender design, which is more reminiscent of a finesse rod. This lightweight design is achieved with high modulus IM8 graphite, which is reinforced with strengthening technology to make it highly durable, and able to withstand the punishment of this kind of fishing.
If you’re used to heavy and sluggish glass fiber rods, then this model is a very pleasant surprise, and makes catching fish a lot more fun. And just like the Daiwa Accudepth, this is a telescopic rod, making it very convenient to stow away and transport.
Many buyers of this trolling rod are satisfied with the firm grip of this rod. Another buyer showed satisfaction with the composition of this trolling rod. As these rods are made up of aluminum, they are long-lasting. Other buyers report that the rod makes it easy to lift a big fish.
It stands out to us because of its constructions as it is made up of top-quality, tough 1-piece E-glass graphite blanks. The very reason that this trolling rod is designed to lift heavy saltwater fish makes it stand out to us. Plus, this rod comes with heavy-duty roller guides that make it easy for you to catch tournament-winning fish.
With top-quality manufacturing, aluminum gimbal, easy to use features this is one of the very best trolling rods on the market. Have a look at the pros and cons and if you think you can take advantage of this trolling rod, then now is the time to get your hands on this beautiful and efficient machine.
Contrary to its name, the rod is quite modern and popular for its efficiency and overall durability. It’s a medium-action casting pole that’s 7’6’’ long.
It features Ugly tuff one-piece guides made from stainless steel for better durability and smooth operation. Another thing worth mentioning is the Ugly Stik clear dip design that makes the pole that much easier to use, and perfect for trolling walleye.
Its 20-size line counter reel has two ball bearings for more efficiency. Another one of its best features is also the on/off bait clicker for easier use. Plus, the rod comes with a 7-year warranty deal from the manufacturer. In terms of what this rod is made out of, it’s both graphite and fiberglass.
Long has Lamiglas been among the top producers of high quality fishing rods and their Kokanee Classic Glass is no exception. The supple flex on the fiberglass blank is flawless which gives this trolling rod the perfect moderate action for trout.
Not only can the light power Classic Glass hold up to big trout pushing 10 pounds, it also handles most trolling setups with ease. It also makes for a great downrigger rod.
The 7’ or 7’6” rod provides a nice balance between length and control when fighting a fish. They are not bad to look at either. Choose from a red or mahogany blank matched with high quality cork handles and a hook keeper for securing hooks. While it is a beautiful rod, we prefer to avoid cork handles since they often get damaged in rod holders.