Line counters make it much easier to keep your bait in the desired fishing range. When you know both the speed your boat is traveling and the amount of line you have off the reel, determining the depth you are fishing at becomes much easier.
When fishing with multiple lines, line counting reels allow an angler to check multiple depths and also avoid line tangles. Line counter reels make fishing easier for anglers of all skill levels, as the guesswork of manually counting off line is removed from the equation. Also, as a fish is reeled in, you will have a running countdown of the amount of line left out. This will let you known when the fish is about to be at the boat and when to get your net ready.
We are going to look at some of the best line counter reels for the money you might want to try out.
Top 5 Best Line Counter Reels
|Okuma Magda Pro|
|Okuma Cold Water|
For Inshore Trolling
|Daiwa Lexa LC300|
For Smaller Saltwater Species
|Penn Squall LevelWind|
|Sougayilang Conventional Level Wind Fishing Reel|
1. Okuma Magda Pro — Best Line Counter Reel for Freshwater Trolling
The Magda Pro is a left-handed line counter reel. It comes with Okuma’s Carbonite designed drag system and self-lubricating gear system.
The Okuma Magda Pro has a smaller line capacity, which works well at a lighter weight and retrieves easily in less deep freshwater or when trolling inshore in saltwater. The Magda is accurate, and measurements are consistent between multiple reels when trolling with several rigs.
The Okuma Magda Pro is a good value for the capabilities it provides a freshwater trolling angler. It mounts well on virtually all smaller trolling rods and its drag system reduces rod stress. The Magna comes with Okuma’s one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
The Okuma Magda Pro offers the things a freshwater troller of less deep water needs at a better price than many larger line counters designed for deep water trolling. The reel’s construction is suitable for fishing for most smaller to medium-sized freshwater species up to larger catfish and walleye.
- The Okuma drag system works well with small to medium freshwater species.
- This is consistent and accurate.
- This is not well suited for deeper water trolling.
2. Okuma Cold Water — Best Line Counter Reel for Walleye
The Okuma Cold Water is designed for trolling for walleye, salmon, and steelhead. It is designed with brass pinion gears and a Carbonite drag system. Okuma’s reels also include a mechanical stabilizing system which provides durability over time. This is designed with a self-lubricating brass gear system.
The Okuma is made from machined aluminum and has a wide level wind mechanism that is designed to accommodate heavier copper and lead lines. The Cold Water has an easy to read display and is an accurate manual counter.
This is also suitable for offshore saltwater trolling. The Cold Water is available in left- and right-handed retrieve, and comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
The Okuma Cold Water is a fine reel for deeper freshwater trolling for larger species. It has a reputation for high durability and an easy to use line counter. The Cold Water has significant line capacity for walleye and other large fish.
- The Okuma has a high-quality drag system.
- The counter display is easy to read and resists fogging.
- Problems with the reel’s drag have been reported with some diving rigs.
- The heavy drag is not as suitable for smaller species.
2. Penn Squall LevelWind — Best Line Counter Reel for Smaller Saltwater Species
This is designed for saltwater trolling and is constructed with a graphite frame. It has a carbon fiber drag system with an anti-reverse bearing.
The level wind system is designed for braided or metal core line. The Penn Squall LevelWind has a substantial line capacity, especially with braided line. The level wind on this reel works well with braided line, which allows for a higher line capacity when trolling for Grouper and Snapper in deeper water.
This is also suitable for freshwater trolling for Stripe and other medium-sized species. It has a nice loud clicker which is useful when trolling offshore.
The Penn Squall LevelWind is suitable for most saltwater trolling techniques, and it has a serviceable line counter. Its graphite construction is lightweight, and its level wind and drag system are well-designed for smaller saltwater species.
- The lightweight construction and drag system are well designed for Snapper and Grouper.
- The Penn drag system works well with smaller saltwater fish.
- This is not offered with left hand retrieve.
- The graphite construction is not as durable as most aluminum designs.
4. Daiwa Lexa LC300 — Best Line Counter Reel for Inshore Trolling
The Daiwa Lexa LC300 comes in left- and right-hand retrieve models with a strong aluminum frame design. It is equipped with a star drag system and has a higher gear ratio than some inshore line counter reels, making it more effective for larger inshore species.
This is easy to read and the Diawa counter has a good reputation for consistency from model to model, which is helpful when targeting multiple rigs to specific depths.
The Daiwa Lexa comes with different models carrying different line capacities. Check the capacity carefully and match each model with the type of line you expect to use and the depth of water you expect to fish in.
This is also useful for some casting techniques in addition to trolling. It has a good braking and anti-reverse system that allows for adequate casting when needed.
The Lexa is an excellent reel for inshore line counter trolling. Its construction is resistant to saltwater corrosion and is strong enough for pretty much anything an inshore trolling angler will tangle with. It comes with a nice clear clicker for trolling with multiple rigs.
- This is durable and designed to stand up to harsh saltwater conditions with proper maintenance.
- The Diawa counter system has a good manufacturer’s reputation.
- The clicker on the Diawa is not as audible as some other designs, but that should just take a bit of getting used to.
5. Sougayilang Conventional Level Wind Fishing Reel — Best Budget Line Counter Reel
This is a good value for anglers who want to give trolling with a line counter reel a try. The Sougayilang is comfortable to use, which can be useful when you are not trolling with an array of rigs and will be handling one reel throughout your day on the water.
For a less expensive reel, this rig has a well-constructed drag system with brass gears, Carbonite design, and an aluminum star adjustment wheel. The drag works well with heavier freshwater species and even larger catfish.
The Sougayilang comes with a three-year limited warranty, which is a good value on a reel at this price point. It has a reputation for good customer support.
The Sougayilang is a great choice for an angler who wants to try out trolling in just about any kind of water. It offers decent construction at a reasonable price, and even as an angler moves into different types of trolling, the Sougayilang reel will still serve well as a member of a multi-rig arsenal.
- This is a good choice for anglers who want to try out trolling at a decent price.
- The drag system on this reel works well for heavier fish.
- The level wind requires more attention than other line counters when retrieving line.
Line Counter Reel Shopping Guide
Line counter reels are specifically designed for fishing by the trolling technique for virtually all species of fish in all types of waters. Trolling involves constant movement through deeper water in order to find fish suspended at different depths and looking for food. Trolling allows anglers to cover a large amount of real estate in order to find fish that are actively feeding at particular depths and locations.
Effective trolling involves management of line length and replicating distances, depths, and speeds that are successful. Manually counting line lengths is an option, but accurate repetition becomes very difficult when fish are active. When you are trying to manage multiple trolling rods from your boat, keeping up with line length in your head becomes just about impossible. Modern line counter reels were designed to make repetition effective and trolling more productive.
Line counter trolling reels are similar in some aspects to baitcasting reels. A line counter reel is mounted above a trolling rod, as is the case with baitcasters. Line counter trolling reels have higher line capacities than baitcasters, as the design of the trolling reel centers around managing deep and long line lengths. Trolling line counter reels are not designed for precise or long-distance casting. Rather, they are designed to accurately and efficiently send out a desired amount of line behind your moving boat so that you can manage bait depth and speed.
Line counter trolling reels come with a line counter attached. The counter is designed to accurately display the amount of line that has been taken off of the reel at any time. The line counter is a fairly simple design, and often the most distinguishing characteristics of line counter reels are the quality and design of the other main components of the reel.
Manual and Electric Line Counters
Among line counter reels there are different counter designs available. Manual line counters essentially count the number of revolutions of the reel’s spool, typically making adjustments as line is spent off of the reel. As more line goes off the reel, the total diameter of the spool decreases. Most counters base calculations on the diameter of the reel spool and 12-pound test line.
Electric line counters are more accurate than manual counters in most situations, as they typically take into account the exact size of line being used. Electric counters can involve somewhat involved programming and close attention to inputs into the counter’s calculator. Electric counters also involve the additional upkeep involved in battery maintenance and protecting LED displays.
Most anglers seem to be fairly satisfied with the accuracy provided by manual line counters as they allow for replication, even if measurements are not totally exact. Some people do not mind the additional work involved in programming electric counters and enjoy a higher degree of accuracy. This is another of those areas where personal preference makes the difference in what you choose.
Most trolling line counter reels come made from one of three major material types:
- cast aluminum;
- machined aluminum.
Graphite reels are the lowest strength line counter reel, but they are lighter in weight and often less expensive. Weight usually is not a huge issue with trolling, as rods are placed in rod holders most of the time while fishing. Aluminum reels are typically stronger and of higher quality. Machined aluminum line counter reels are made from a single block of aluminum and are the most sturdy and capable of handling the largest fish. Aluminum is generally longer lasting and less prone to wear, with machined reels again being at the top of the list for long life.
Trolling line counter reels usually have higher line capacities than other reel types, as lots of line is used before a fish is ever on the hook and taking off additional line. Line capacity is most important when trolling for larger fish that have the ability to strip all the line off of a reel. This is usually an issue when offshore saltwater fishing or fishing in freshwater at significant depths.
Also, you should consider the type of fish you are going for when evaluating line capacity. Reels for walleye will require different line capacity considerations than reels for striped bass or catfish of the same size.
The type of line you use also directly affects line capacity. Braided lines are smaller in diameter and take lures and baits deeper with less line. Lead core lines are thicker than braided line, and line capacity will be affected by their greater diameter.
A line counter trolling reel should come equipped with a quality drag system, especially if you are going to be going after larger fish. Multiple disc drag systems with adjustments that are easy to reach and make during a fight with a big fish are preferable.
Because trolling with line counter reels usually involves having multiple rods in rod holders while moving through the water, clickers can be essential equipment. A clicker makes a sound you can hear whenever line is being taken off of the reel’s spool. Audible clickers that can be heard above normal background noise will help you get to the right rod quickly and start getting the fish reeled up to the boat.
With trolling reels, a level wind helps keep your line evenly spaced on the reel’s spool while you are fighting with a fish. This feature can be very important in preventing reel damage and line breakage, especially while your attention is focused on what the fish is doing on the other end of the line.
A trolling reel with a line counter is often used for trolling for walleye, salmon fishing, striped bass fishing, lake trout fishing, kokanee and steelhead fishing, or bumping for catfish. You can match the depth of your bait to the depth of the fish. When depth control is critical, use a line counter reel.
They work on revs of the spool. The spool must be full.
Selecting the right line counting reel based on these attributes will help make sure that you have the right equipment for effective trolling techniques. We hope this guide has been of use, and please let us know of any questions or comments below.