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This week's Feature Blog

Trolling Reels, A Word On Size & Style

Trolling reels come in seemingly every size and design imaginable these days. Some of these reels are so small it’s hard to imagine them as useful trolling aids and others are so large it boggles the mind to image why anyone fishing in freshwater would need so much line capacity.

Most manufacturers of trolling reels size them about the same as their competition so as not to miss out any “niche” market. The Daiwa Sealine line counter and level wind style trolling reels I’m using include models in the 17, 27, 47, 57 and 60 size rating.

The same SG27LC Daiwa line counter reels used to target walleye get double duty when the Fishing 411 staff targets spring brown trout like this.


A lot of confusion focuses on the 17 size line counter reel. For many open water trolling chores, these smaller reels simply do not have enough line capacity. The problem comes in when fishing long trolling leads often needed to get crankbaits to their maximum depth. When fishing with a 200-300 foot lead, most of the line on the reel has been played off causing the spool to become pretty skinny. Because not much line is left on the spool, each rotation of the spool is playing off less line causing in turn for the line counter to seriously under estimate the actual lead length.

The 17 size line counter reel doesn’t have big enough shoulders to carry the heavy load when it comes to open water trolling, but this small and lightweight reel is ideal for several other common trolling chores. I like to use the SG17LC reels when flatline trolling or structure trolling crankbaits with thin diameter fused and braided lines.

The 17 size reel holds just enough 10 pound test Berkley Fireline or 10 pound test Berkley Trilene Professional Grade Braided line to structure troll. Since this presentation is generally conducted with the rod in the hand, the extra line needed for planer board fishing isn’t an issue.

I also use the Daiwa SG17LC reels on my walleye bottom bouncer rods. This little reel handles enough 10 to 12 pound test monofilament line for bottom bouncer presentations and the line counter feature comes in very handy when I’m fishing with inexperienced anglers.

Using the 17 size line counter I can set a bottom bouncer perfect for the conditions I’m facing, then communicate that precise lead length to other anglers in the boat so each bouncer line is set correctly and fishing as designed.

I also use the exact same set up for targeting spring brown trout when fishing structure and also targeting trout in deeper water. Instead of a bottom bouncer and spinner at the terminal end, I use a three way swivel set up, a two ounce pencil sinker and at the terminal end a diving plug such as a 2.5 or 3.0 Mag Lip. The three way set up lets me fish bottom in those 20 to 40 foot depth ranges, even when using small profile plugs.


The iconic SG27LC line counter reel in the Daiwa Sealine series has carved out a niche as the “best overall” reel on the market in this price range. At a little over $100.00, this reel has proven itself over and over again as a dependable reel with a superior drag system and a line counter that works harder than the Energizer Bunny.

The SG27LC is hands down the choice of countless walleye trollers literally everywhere this common species are common. The 27 size reels have plenty of line capacity and this reel also calibrates nicely when filled to near capacity.

In fact, for walleye trolling the 27 size reel actually holds a little more line than necessary. To avoid having to fill the entire reel with premium and expensive fishing line, I spool about 150 yards of “bargain basement” monofilament line onto my reels and then top dress them with enough premium Berkley XT to fill out the reel.

This simple trick allows to fill two reels with one 300 yard filler spool of premium line, doubling the value in the process. For walleye trolling Berkley XT in 10 pound test is an ideal trolling line. For those anglers who are looking for a little more break strength, Berkley Big Game in 12 pound test is about the same diameter as 10 pound test XT.

When it’s time to put new line on these reels I simply spool off the top dressing until I come to the knot joining the backing line to the top dressing. That way every reel is being spooled up with exactly the same amount of line and I’m not wasting expensive premium line in the process.

The SG27LC is hands down the walleye trolling reel of choice, but I also use these same reels for targeting spring brown trout and the 27 size reel will handle three colors of lead core line nicely with plenty of space for 20 pound test monofilament backing line.


The SW47LC is the reel I depend on for fishing most diving planers such as the iconic Dipsy Diver and also the Slide Diver. For diver fishing I spool on about 200 yards of 20 pound test monofilament as backing line and then top dress the reel with 200 to 250 yards of 40 to 50 pound test super braid.

For diver fishing I like the round shape of an 8 carrier braid such as Berkley’s Trilene Braid Professional Grade over flat fused lines such as Fireline. However, to get braided lines to function properly they must be loaded on top of a base of monofilament line. Otherwise the soft braided line will crush under pressure causing the line to bite into itself when a heavy fish is pulling on the drag. Simply base filling the spool with monofilament and then top dressing with braid solves this common problem.

For those anglers who enjoy fishing lead core line, the 47 size reel is large enough to spool on 200 yards of 20 pound test monofilament as backing line and 5 to 7 colors of 27 pound test spectra braid lead core line.

The 47 size reel is also ideal for anglers who troll for Great Lakes musky using larger monofilament lines in the 30 to 40 pound test sizes.


The largest line counter that Daiwa makes is the SG55LC and this is the reel I use for fishing longer lengths of lead core line out to 10 colors or about 300 feet of lead core line. This reel is large enough to handle that much lead core and also plenty 20 pound test monofilament as backing line.


Daiwa also produces a larger level wind reel in the Sealine series known as the Sealine SLW. This reel is large enough to function with the larger sizes of sinking lines including 45 pound test copper line and the new 45 pound test Weighted Stainless Steel line. The SLW60H will handle 200 yards of 20 pound test monofilament as backing line or 300 yards of 50 pound test braid as a backing line, plus up to 300 feet of copper or Weighted Stainless wire.


So there you have it, the best applications for the various sizes of line counter and level wind reels. The Daiwa Sealine series of reels have been around for decades and have proven themselves to be not only tough and dependable, they are also a great bargain.

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