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Best Trolling Rods

Updated August 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 12 Models Considered
  • 5 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 84 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best trolling rods

    Last Updated August 2018

    If you’re ready to step up your fishing game from the basics to something a bit more involved, trolling is a great option. Many anglers love trolling because of the challenge. It takes practice and skill to give the bait or lure just the right action.

    To have more success with this type of fishing, it helps to have the right equipment. A good trolling rod is the best place to start. A poor-quality trolling rod could cause the line to break under pressure, costing you that big fish you’ve been battling for the last 10 minutes. Nobody wants that!

    BestReviews is here to help you discover the most important aspects of the products that matter in your life. Use the article below as guidance as you shop for your new trolling rod.

    The type of fishing line and reel you use play a key role in your trolling success. Of course you’ll want to start with the right type of trolling rod, but you should also be sure to match the reel and fishing line to the type and size of fish you want to catch.

    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.

    A longer trolling rod gives you a better angle and more leverage when a fish strikes. It can absorb more impact with greater flexibility, too. Unless you have a two-piece design, however, a longer rod may be more difficult to store and transport.

    Trolling rod features

    Technically speaking, you could use almost any type of fishing rod for trolling. When trolling from a boat, for example, almost any casting rod would work, as the boat drags the lure or bait through the water at the desired speed.

    For the very best results, however, you’ll want a trolling rod. Trolling rods are designed to absorb the force when a large fish hits the hook. Here are some important features to look for in a trolling rod.

    Heavy-duty build

    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.

    Stiff materials

    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.

    Top-mounted reel

    With the reel mounted at the top of the trolling rod, you’ll have an easier time controlling the line.

    Rod guides

    You can typically select from three different types of guides for your trolling rod: standard eyes, roller guides, and inner flow. We’ll discuss these different guides in more detail later.

    Butt ends

    A good trolling rod has a butt end so it can sit securely inside a socket. Continue reading for more information about butt ends.

    EXPERT TIP

    Because of its shape, a trolling rod with a straight butt is easier to store than a trolling rod with a bent butt.


    EXPERT TIP

    Because fishermen on a boat will often use a trolling rod in a socket, the rod needs to be stiff enough to withstand the impact of a fish strike without you holding it.


    Bent butt vs. straight butt

    You’ll need to choose between a bent butt and a straight butt when selecting a trolling rod. The one you select should be determined, at least in part, by how you plan to troll.

    Bent butt

    If you plan to sit in a fighting chair and fish for big ones from a boat, a bent butt is preferred. The butt end of this type of trolling rod fits in a gimballed socket mounted to the boat. Its design helps you change the angle of your rod in the water. In a boat, this can help you gain leverage when a fish you’ve hooked swims close to the boat.

    This type of rod works best with heavy tackle and a heavy drag setting on the reel. It’s not really made for lightweight fish or for fishing from a standing position.

    Straight butt

    A straight butt works for almost any kind of trolling. Fishermen who choose a straight butt rod are using a shorter rod usually between 5.5 and 7.5 feet. Most people who use this style are seeking fish up to 50 pounds in weight. If the rod is long enough, however, you can catch even larger fish with a straight-butt rod.

    You can place the straight butt end of the trolling rod in a socket worn around your waist or in a socket attached to the boat.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    A trolling rod with standard eyes gives you the most versatility, but for larger fish, a rod with roller guides or an inner flow design works better because it puts less stress on the line.

    Trolling rod guide options

    The guides are the parts of the trolling rod that support the fishing line. Picking the right guides for the type of fishing you want to do can help you have the most success.

    Standard eyes

    Standard eyes are simple circles or loops attached to the exterior of the rod. The line fits through the eyes. Standard eyes are the least-expensive option, and they work well for smaller fish. However, they do put a lot of stress on the fishing line, risking a break.

    Roller guides

    Roller guides allow you to thread the line onto the rod securely, but they don’t put as much stress on the line as standard eyes. Roller guides work well for big fish that fight for a long time.

    Inner flow

    The inner flow design runs the line through the blank, or middle, of the rod. This eliminates stress points and creates a smooth bend in the curve of the rod. Inner flow helps you reel in large fish, but it’s an expensive design.

    You may eventually end up purchasing additional gear for trolling, including a trolling motor for your boat and sockets to hold the trolling rod.

    Trolling rod prices

    Trolling rods are available at a variety of price points. Some cost as little as $20; others cost as much as $100 or $150 for the rod alone. Rods with standard eyes tend to sit on the lower end of the price range, while rods with roller guides and inner flow tend to cost more.

    An average-quality rod usually costs around $50. A longer rod with a greater weight capacity will cost more than that.

    If you’re purchasing a combination reel and rod, you can expect to pay $40 to $300. You can expect to pay $100 to $150 for a rod/reel combination of average quality.

    Other costs

    You likely will have some add-on costs with a trolling rod. For example, some rods ship with a reel attached. More commonly, however, you must purchase the reel separately.

    Additionally, you may have to purchase fishing line, as a trolling rod alone will not include the line. (Some rod/reel combinations do include fishing line, however.)

    A good trolling rod should be stiff enough for fast and accurate action, yet it should have the flexibility to absorb some of the energy from a fighting fish.

    FAQ

    Q. How long is a typical trolling rod?

    A. Most trolling rods are longer than a standard fishing rod. The extra length allows them to absorb fish strikes and to flex while you do battle with fish. Most trolling rods measure between 5.5 feet and 8.5 feet in length, although you can find rods that are 10 feet and longer.

    Q. How do I transport and store a trolling rod?

    A. Some trolling rods break down into two pieces. If you select this type of rod, make sure the two pieces fit together tightly! The last thing you want is for the pieces to break apart as you’re trying to land a huge fish.

    Q. Do I need more than one trolling rod?

    A. Some fishermen like to mount multiple trolling rods into sockets on their boats. This gives them more coverage area. Having multiple lures or bait sources in the water may simulate a school of small fish, which in turn may draw larger fish to the vicinity. However, if you’re just fishing recreationally or from a standing position, one rod would probably suffice.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Austin
      Austin
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Kyle
      Kyle
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor