Best Trolling Rods for Every Species: 2023 Reviews and Buying Guide

Written by: Pete D
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There’s no one “best” trolling rod, and which tackle is a good choice largely depends on the species you’re chasing.

For instance, a great spider rod for crappie isn’t going to do you much good for walleye, and an excellent walleye rod will simply fail under the stress of a tuna.

If you’re wondering what the best trolling rod is for the species you’re after, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed quickly.

Quick glance at the best trolling rods:

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Best Trolling Rods Reviewed

B'n'M Poles The Stick - Best Spider Rigging Rod for Crappie

Length: 13’
Power/action: heavy/fast
Material: graphite
Guides: stainless steel
Handle: continuous Portuguese cork

13 feet of stiff rod makes the B’n’M Stick an outstanding choice for spider rigging. 

What? A heavy-power rod for crappie?

Yes!

First off, you really need the length to keep your rigs separated and avoid tangles when you hook a fish. Second, you want that rod to be stiff so that it darn near sets the hook on its own, and a typically light or light-medium just won’t do that nearly as well.

The Stick is famous for its ability to lift slabs straight out of the water and drop them in the boat, but make no mistake - this isn’t a general purpose crappie rod!

It won’t cast any better than a long broom handle, and you won’t feel a thing on the end of your line.

But for trolling, it’s just right.

Expect long, high-quality cork handles that are just perfect for providing the leverage to swing a fat slab over the side, a reel seat sized for crappie tackle, and premium guides that’ll keep your light lines intact.

Pros:

  • Long enough to avoid tangles and help you set up your spider rigs properly
  • Stiff enough to lever slabs directly into the boat
  • Purpose-built for trolling

Cons:

  • Definitely not an all-purpose crappie rod!

St. Croix Rods Legend Glass - Best Trolling Rod for Bass

St. Croix Rods Legend Glass Casting Rod, Honey Pearl, 7'4'

Amazon 

Length: 7’4”
Power/action: medium-heavy/moderate
Material: S glass
Guides: Fuji K-Series
Handle: split cork

While some folks will tell you that you can just troll with the bass rod you use with worms, that’s not a particularly good idea.

Most bass rods have fast tips, and trolling a crankbait with that sort of action is more likely to rip the treble hooks free than set them. The solution is a slower rod, specifically a high-quality fiberglass rod like the St. Croix Rods Legend Glass.

The medium-heavy blank is 7-feet, 4-inches long, providing enough backbone to resist the water pressure on your lure created by trolling and still leave plenty of flex for a strike. And because the action is moderate, it’ll provide enough give to prevent ripping a crankbait free, especially if you do your part by setting your drag a bit lighter than you normally would.

When the fight starts, feel free to adjust your drag to its normal weight, and have confidence that this fiberglass blank is going to give you a fight-winning edge. It’s going to bend along its length, as a good fiberglass rod designed for trolling should, but it’s going to have power to spare as it does. 

And when a bass jumps and shakes for all it’s worth, don’t worry: your hook is going to stay where it should.

Everything about this rod is premium, from the blank, to the guides, to the reel seat, to even the awesome cork handle. And there's no question the Legend can double as a general bass rod for crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater lures like torpedoes and Super Spooks.

Pros:

  • Excellent blank for trolling
  • Awesome guides
  • Awesome reel seat
  • Awesome handle
  • A great all-around bass rod in addition to a fantastic trolling rod

Cons:

  • ???

St. Croix Rods Eyecon - Best Trolling Rod for Walleye

Length: 8’6”
Power/action: medium/moderate
Material: graphite/fiberglass composite
Guides: Kigan Master
Handle: continuous EVA foam

Trolling for walleye is a popular method across the northern U.S., and a good trolling rod is an absolute necessity to effectively use bottom walkers, spinners, spoons, and swimbaits.

If you’re a walleye fanatic looking for a new trolling rod, you should do yourself a favor and check out St. Croix’s Eyecon. The 8-foot, 6-inch medium-power model has just the action you want for slow trolling. 

If you use downriggers, this rod has enough spring in the blank to “pop” when your lure gets hit.

And whatever your style of trolling, when the fight is on, this medium-power blank will have more than enough oomph to wrestle even the meanest walleye into your landing net. Expect a lot of parabolic bend from this blank and plenty of sticking-power for treble-hooked lures.

St. Croix’s Eyecon sports long, tough EVA handles that fit securely into rod holders, as well as high-quality guides, a great reel seat, and a blank that’s perfectly designed for its task.

Pros:

  • Excellent blank for trolling
  • Awesome guides
  • Awesome reel seat
  • Awesome handle
  • A great all-around walleye rod in addition to a fantastic trolling rod

Cons:

  • ???

Okuma Guide Select - Best Trolling Rod for Salmon

OKUMA GSC-C-1062XH-CG Guide Select Classic Salmon Rods, 10'6'

Amazon 

Length: 10’6”
Power/action: heavy/moderate
Material: carbon fiber
Guides: SeaGuide XBG
Handle: 3K woven carbon fiber fore and rear grips

Okuma’s Guide Select Classic is a perfect trolling option for salmon. Designed specifically for this task, it’s packed with the features that guarantee success.

The blank is heavy power, allowing you to fight big fish when the time comes, but the action is moderate, making it ideal for trolling, especially with treble-hooked lures. And whatever your choice of lure, hooks won’t be ripped free before they’re set.

When the fight of your life happens with a big salmon, you’ll appreciate that heavy blank, and it’ll definitely tilt the odds in your favor.

The guides are excellent, as are the components overall. Of special note, the handles are woven carbon fiber, allowing easy entry and exit from rod holders.

If you can find a better salmon trolling rod than this, buy it now!

Pros:

  • Excellent blank for trolling
  • Awesome guides
  • Awesome reel seat
  • Awesome handle

Cons:

  • ???

TackleDirect Platinum Hook Conventional Standup Rods - Best Trolling Rod for Wahoo

Length: 6’
Power/action: medium-heavy/ moderate fast
Material: E glass
Guides: Fuji SIN
Handle: ?

When you know that big fish like wahoo are the order of the day, you need a no-compromise rod that can tackle the biggest, baddest fights, and look no further than TackleDirect’s Platinum Hook Conventional rods.

Used by tournament pros, you can count on the fiberglass blanks to deliver real power, giving you a chance to gain ground on a mean wahoo. Short, thick, and tough as they come, this is the rod you want when you have a 150-pound fish on your line.

The Fuji SIN guides are going to protect your heavy line, keeping you in the fight, and the aluminum reel seat has the strength to keep everything where it should be.

Built for hard fights, this is simply an excellent wahoo rod, no question about it.

Pros:

  • Super-tough blank that’s capable of wrestling with 150-pound fish
  • Awesome guides
  • Very strong reel seat

Cons:

  • ???

EatMyTackle Black & Blue - Best Trolling Rod for Tuna, Shark, and other Large Species

EatMyTackle All Roller Guide Boat Rod | Saltwater Fishing Rod (150-180 lb.)

Amazon 

Length: 5’6”
Power/action: heavy/fast
Material: fiberglass composite
Guides: Fuji SIN
Handle: ?

EatEatMyTackle’s Black & Blue is a rod designed for trolling wahoo, dolphin, and tuna, and our choice is the 150- to 180-pound rated blank.

Tough doesn’t begin to describe this rod, and it’s sensitive enough to help you feel those bites even when you’ve got a lot of line in the water.

When the fight’s on, you’ll find premium roller guides to cushion your line and a blank that doesn’t know when to quit. A favorite of pros and guides alike, this rod can win ground from even the biggest, meanest fish, and when paired with an appropriately powerful conventional reel, is a game fish’s nightmare.

The long handle is designed for stand-up fishing, and the butt is carefully crafted aluminum.

I can promise you that your arms and back will quit long before this rod gives in!

Pros:

  • Super-tough blank that’s designed for the biggest fish
  • Awesome roller guides
  • Very strong reel seat

Cons:

  • ???

Trolling Rods: A Complete Buying Guide

What makes a good trolling rod?

This is a difficult question to answer because it largely depends on the species.

Let’s break it down and give you a better sense of what to look for.

Crappie

Spider-rigging with crappie is an amazingly effective technique in the summer, when the slabs are spread out all over a lake. 

You want your rods long, typically over 10 feet, to avoid tangles when you get a fish on your line. And contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to worry about sensitivity.

You won't have the rod in your hand, so you won’t feel the bite. Instead, you’ll be relying on hi-viz line to let you know what’s going on, and of course, you’ll be keeping a careful eye on your rod tips, too.

Many slab hunters prefer a stiff rod so that they can more or less cane-pole their crappie into the boat, levering them over the side without losing any time.

Long handles are essential for spider rigs, too.

Bass

Trolling for bass isn’t the most popular technique out there, but when the bass are holding deep, finding the structure they're clinging to with your fish finder and dropping a crankbait down deep can be amazingly productive.

The key here is to avoid the stiff rods you use for worm fishing and switch to forgiving fiberglass. When you run a treble-hooked lure, the biggest problem you’ll have with a fast action rod is ripping it free. 

Fast actions are just too much of a good thing here, and a rod that can set a worm hook at 50 yards is a poor choice for trolling a Rat-L-Trap or a Strike King KVD 1.5 Deep Squarebill.

Instead, you want a moderate-action rod that bends along its length, cushioning hooksets while still providing enough snap to snag those trebles in a bass’s mouth.

Walleye

Trolling for spring walleye is almost a religion in some parts of the country, and deep-diving crankbaits are one of the best options to use.

When it comes to trolling, you pretty much want the same things from a walleye rod that you do from a bass rod: plenty of parabolic bend, an action that’s plenty slow, and lots of fight in your blank.

Fiberglass rods perform better with downriggers, springing back when the fish hits your line. And that’s a good reason to stay away from lightweight graphite.

Salmon

A good salmon trolling rod needs to be long enough to spring back from a downrigger and pick up plenty of slack. It also needs to be tough as nails. That’s why you’re going to see a lot of rods in the 8-foot range made from fiberglass or fiberglass composites.

Sensitivity and weight simply don’t count for much when you're trolling for steelhead or Atlantic salmon. Instead, you want power to spare and a rod that doesn’t know how to quit on you.

Wahoo

Wahoo are big, strong, mean fish, and you need a rod that’s stiff, sensitive, and tough to catch them.

Stand-up fishing is the norm for fishing this species, and the only method that’s tournament approved. So expect short rods that are built to take a beating, as well as long handles, and guides that let you fight like your life depends on it.

Fiberglass is the premium choice here, as strength and durability are absolutely necessary.

Tuna

Anything bigger than wahoo is in a class all its own, and that goes for tuna, shark, marlin, tarpon, and the like.

Basically, you’re looking for everything you want in a wahoo rod, plus a bit more.

Think roller guides and extra strong components.

Final Thoughts

To pick a good trolling rod, consider the species you’re after. That makes all the difference, as a good crappie rod isn’t going to get the job done with walleye.

We hope that you understand exactly what we mean by the end of this article, and we hope you’ve learned something today.

As always, we’re here to answer any questions you might have, so please leave us a message below.

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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