Best Conventional Reels For Saltwater Bottom Fishing

Heading offshore and not having a heavy-duty reel can be a bit of a headache. So guess what we came up with? Exactly, The Best Conventional Reels! And not just that, there is a detailed guide that we have made (and ugh, don’t ask the time it took) after going to several destinations including Alaska and Florida to test a bunch of the reels and choose a few of them as the best ones. So gear up because what you are going to get is far beyond your expectations! 

Best Conventional Reels

Before we start reviewing the best conventional reels, here are a few key factors that we think are necessary for you to know before opting for one. Basically, conventional reels are built for a bigger fishing game that involves as massive depth as the bottom of the sea. Taking that into account, these reels are built for the gigantic fish which are impossible to catch with the ordinary Baitcasting and spinning reels. Whereas, they have an extensive capacity for line storage. On top of that, these are the only reels that are able to resist heavy strain and saltwater corrosion nearly at best.

The Best Conventional Reels | 2022

So what if the style is traditional? You can absolutely have technologies play a part in your reel so don’t settle for a reel that sacrifices the quality just because it is a model of some decade ago. Remember that “old is gold” and by considering that here are the 7 best conventional reels that you may look into having the features and specifications that will best suit your fishing style. 

Here’s also the overview of the features of our top three picks.

Penn Squall II Level Wind
Penn Squall II Level Wind
  • Carbon fiber drag washers
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Instant anti-reverse
  • Star drag
  • Built-in line counter
  • Decent composition of graphite and aluminum
Shimano Torium
Shimano Torium
  • Power drag system
  • Easy and sleek retrieving ability
  • Extremely anti-corrosive
  • Star drag with a power of 33 lbs
  • HEG technology
Daiwa Saltist
Daiwa Saltist
  • Oversized T Handle (70-90)
  • Stainless Steel Worm Shaft
  • Clicker Line Out Alarm
  • CNC Machined Spool
  • Multi-disc drag system
  • Linen counter feature

1. Penn Squall II Level Wind – Best Level Wind Reel

Penn Squall II Level Wind - Best Level Wind Reel

Specs and Features:

  • Ball bearings: 3+1
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Drag type: star 
  • Retrieve rate: 28″ | 70cm, 35″ | 89cm
  • Weight: 16.8 oz
  • Gear ratio: 4.0:1 , 4.9:1
  • Carbon fiber drag washers
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Instant anti-reverse

Penn has been… wait, do we really need to introduce Penn? I mean who doesn’t know about it? Not to brag about it, but everyone, whether new or old to fishing knows what Penn is and what it worth is. So, let us just move to the Squall II which is, as per the title, the best level wind reel to date. Why? Well, here is our argument. 

First of all, the construction of the reel is incredibly CLASSIC! The entire body is made of aluminum (making it solid and sturdy) except for the side plates and handles. Here they have used graphite which balances the weight of the reel. Whereas, the spool is made of machined aluminum and TADA! No corrosion, no strain. 

Then, there is a star drag which means, you’ll have no load on the spool and thus you can conveniently manage the spool movement and regulate the casting and retrieving at optimum ease. Speaking of retrieving, the material they use for the drags is carbon fiber which is undeniably the most consistent drags to have in a reel. With these drags you can blindly trust the reel to give successful attempts to catch the most wanted fishes under the sea. 

Now let’s move to the bearing system which is based on 4 stainless steel ball-bearing which keeps the process smooth and sleek throughout. Other than that, there is an instant anti-reverse that backs against backlashes and birdnesting. In addition, the reel also comes in a line counter version that recently is one of the most popular reel-type nowadays, which further makes it one of the most stable Penn conventional reels.  

On top of that, you can have different sizes in the reel so you don’t have to worry about “how you will manage a reel this BIG?” all you have to do is to for the 15 sized reels if you are really not good at managing the tremendous sized reels. Not just does it help the beginners to choose a portable reel but it also has 3 more sizes i.e 20, 30, and 50 to complement the expert anglers by meeting their heavy fishing needs. 

What’s more? You can get this reel in two different gear ratios based on what fits best to your fishing needs. However, having a 4.9.1 is a better option assuming that you are habituated to using conventional casting reels previously. Otherwise, a slower ratio is a go-to option for having a stable control and handling mechanism to deal with the harsh and risky conditions of the sea.

  • Solid aluminum built
  • Excellent drags and bearings
  • Highly functional main and pinion gears
  • Compact design and lightweight
  • You may face line issues at the very beginning

Considering the reasons, the reel that topped our list for the best conventional reel is none other than the “Penn squall II” and for valid reasons. It has more of a modern reel technology than any low-profile Baitcasting reel. Al in all, the build and the remarkable weight make this reel really attractive to own for bottom-line fishing.

2. Shimano Torium – Best Star Drag Conventional Reel

Shimano Torium - Best Star Drag Conventional Reel

Specs and Features:

  • Ball bearings: 3+1
  • Material type: Hagane body
  • Drag type: star
  • Drag max: 33 lbs
  • Retrieve rate: 34” per crank
  • Weight: 19 oz
  • Gear ratio: 4.6:1

Parallel to Penn, we have Shimano Torium as the best star drag conventional reel that has to offers a bundle of advanced features which you won’t be able to resist. 

One of the best things about Shimano reels is that they use specialized technology for their reels. While having said that, they feature a Hagane body for constructing the Torium which makes it ultra-rigid and robust. Surprisingly, that’s just not it. It also has a HEG technology which is apparently the gear system of the reel count out that it also includes a more improvised set plate and side plates. 

Similar to Penn, it features star drags except that it uses cross carbon technology to manufacture them. As we explained the working of star drags in the Penn, equivalent perks are here with them making the reel more compact and convenient to use. Also about the specifications, it can handle a considerable load of 33 pounds like a piece of cake! 

On top of that, it has a powerful bearing system consisting of 4 anti-rust ball bearings and the best part is, they actually work the same way as they claim to. However, all these phenomenal features make the reel a bit pricier which is pretty much a con for you assuming that you are tight on budget.

  • Compact body
  • Power drag system
  • Easy and sleek retrieving ability
  • Extremely rigid against saltwater
  • Quite expensive

Conclusively, Shimano lives up to its name by providing the exceptional bottom fishing experience that one could ever ask for. Alongside powerful drags, it has a super rigid body and quality gears. So take your chance with the Shimano Torium and live up to the best fishing life that you may have ever fantasized.

3. Daiwa Saltist | Best High-speed Conventional Reel

Daiwa Saltist - Best High-speed Conventional Reel

Specs and Features:

  • Ball bearings: 4 + 1
  • Material type: Aluminum 
  • Drag type: multi-disk 
  • Drag max: 15 lbs 
  • Retrieve rate: 35” per handle crank 
  • Weight: 15.8 oz 
  • Gear ratio: 6.1:1

Can’t stand against the slower gear ratio? Don’t worry, Daiwa Saltist is all here to help. This reel, along with the faster gear ratio, comes loaded with remarkable features that you’d love to know. 

Before we go into the specifications, let us mention the feature we love the most about the reel and that is the “line counter”. It makes it really easy to keep the track of the line while using it to go into the depth of the water. Whereas, the multi-disc drag system stays another powerful feature with unmatched quality possessing the ability to hold up 15 pounds with a speedy gear ratio of 6.1:1

At 15 ounces, it beats the record of being the most lightweight conventional reel. Let alone the speed of the reel is yet another mention-worthy feature making it highly robust and sturdy. Alongside the weight and speed, this reel is highly portable as well without compromising its capacity.  

And how can we forget to tell you about the bearing system of the reel? It features a total of 5 ball bearings which extraordinarily makes the reel perform sleek and smooth. That combined with the retrieve rate of 35” is the game over for all the fishes no matter how fighting they can be! 

The rest of the functionality of this Daiwa conventional reel is ensured by the excellent cranking power which guarantees a smooth and fast retrieve in seconds. Besides the retrieve rate in this reel is higher than the above two at 35” per handle crank.

  • Built-in line counter
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Dual system anti-reverse
  • Speedy and robust
  • Not applicable for heavy fishes

With the rapid speed, ultra-lightweight and portable design, this is the best saltwater conventional reel to have in your possession. Besides, it is built very impressively, so if you fall under the category of highly professional anglers then without taking the next second, grab it and see how it turns 360 changes to your fishing adventures.

4. Kastking Rover – Best For Inshore Saltwater Fishing

Kastking Rover

Specs and Features:

  • Ball bearings: 6 +1 
  • Material type: Aluminum 
  • Drag type: carbon fiber 
  • Drag max: 15-30 lbs 
  • Weight: 19 oz
  • Oversized T Handle (70-90)
  • Stainless Steel Worm Shaft
  • Clicker Line Out Alarm
  • CNC Machined Spool

When it comes to budget + quality, nothing can beat the level of KastKing! Not only their reel are budget-friendly but also give a quality experience that you can’t help getting obsessed with. One of these reels that we are reviewing today is the Rover so let’s dive into what it entails. 

Staring at the attractive body of the Rover which is composed of aluminum while the red hot color simply makes it tempting to the eyes. Although, this is an updated version of the Rover with the changes to its side plates and change of a normal spool to a CNC Anodized spool adding the value to the reel. 

Then comes the 6 exceptionally constructed ball bearings. We are pretty sure you must not be expecting a great number of bearings in a conventional reel. Let alone in a reel at such a price cost.  

Other than that, the drags are second to none. They are made up of carbon fiber which ensures extra safety against the dangerous corrosion of the sea. Besides, they work pretty nicely, managing the weight of around 15 lbs (in a smaller size) to 30 (in a large-sized) models. 

Speaking of models, KastKing is quite famous to manufacture one gear in various models having different sizes, gear ratios, the bearing system that admirably meets the needs of all the anglers at different levels. 

Get back to features because we are not done yet, there is an oversized T handle that enables a solid hold over the reel. Since you might be fishing offshore where you are most likely to get the hands and reel wet hence it’s necessary to have a non-slip grip to ensure you’re not losing it at any stage of your cast. Moreover, there’s stainless steel worm shaft which makes certain zero worries about corrosion. Despite all these features, the reel is lightweight as well having just a total of 19 oz which is, all and all, AMAZING, right?

  • Anodized side plates
  • Solid aluminum body
  • Attractive cost factor
  • Exceptionally smooth carbon fiber drags
  • Not as durable as others on this list

4 words that say “you won’t be disappointed” and that’s all we have to state about the KastKing Rover. Given consideration to all the features it provides with respect to the price, you simply won’t be able to get a better reel than this at this price.

5. Piscifun Salis X – Best Lever Drag Reel

Piscifun Salis X

Specs and Features:

  • Ball bearings: 6 + 1 
  • Material type: graphite 
  • Drag max: 26 lbs 
  • Retrieve rate: 49 inches per turn 
  • Weight: 25.7 oz 
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1 
  • Line Release Switch
  • Linkage Line Wind
  • Sensitive Bait Clicker

And here comes our favorite conventional reel! Piscifun Salis X. Initially, we’d like to ensure you one thing about this reel is, that the technology here is entirely unmatched for the reason that it has a lever drag which truly makes it one of the best lever drag reels! Even for the smallest operation, the reel has the advanced components and features to help you get the best out of your fishing experience. 

Among its many features, let us start with the linkage line wind which happens to be the top-notch feature of the reel. With this feature, the line slows evenly and smoothly without any potential backlash and entanglement. Also, there’s a line release switch with which you can automatically release the line and then stop it when the desired amount of line is discharged. 

Talking about the features, there’s this sensitive bait clicker feature that we love the most about the reel. It instantly gives you an alert whenever any fish is hooked in. besides its technicalities, this feature itself is fun to use for the way it sounds and feels. 

Now comes the specifications, which; first of all, include the gear ratio as it makes the reel really fast and robust at 6.2:1. Although, it’s quite hard to get a higher ratio in a trolling reel. Then comes the drag, (Oh God, we are obsessed with this) it gives you enough power to retrieve a weight of 26 pounds at a time, that too in a 3000 model. Whereas, if you opt for model 5000, the drag goes all the way to 37 pounds which is unarguably INCREDIBLE! 

On the flip side, however, you have to compromise on the weight of the reel. Since it is bigger in size has more line capacity, a larger spool, and a lot many other features which, as a consequence, add to the weight of the reel. However, with a lightweight rod, you can still opt for it because the functionality is worth it all.

  • Anti-slip power handles
  • Bait clicker alert feature
  • Rapid gear ratio
  • Exceptional bearing system
  • A little heavier

“Conventional reel and effortless fishing” is a phrase parallel to “getting blood out of the stone” unless you have a Piscifun Salis X. So, what this reel does is minimize the difficulty with its admirable features making the process exactly like a child’s play. Therefore, don’t miss your chance at it and see for yourself what sorcery it is capable of.

6. Daiwa Seagate – Best Daiwa Conventional Reel

Daiwa Seagate

Specs and Features:

  • Ball bearings: 3 + 1 
  • Material type: aluminum 
  • Drag type: Ultimate Tournament carbon drag (UTD)
  • Drag max: 15.4 
  • Retrieve rate: 35” per turn 
  • Weight: 15 oz 
  • Gear ratio: 6.1:1
  • Centrifugal spool brake
  • Rugged brass gear 
  • Dual system Infinite Anti-Reverse

How about trying another reel from Daiwa, or more precisely the best Daiwa conventional reel? So the reel that matched the description is luckily the Diawa Seagate, and here is why. 

The first reason we’d like to state about the reel is the built for the way it is entirely made of aluminum making it a complete robust reel. Plus, they have incorporated an anti-slip powerful handle which gives you complete leverage over the reel as well as on the water.

Besides, the durability of the reel is backed by brass gear that is least prone to damage no matter how abrasive the fishing condition is. In addition, there are 3 specialized CRRB bearings making the reel ultra-sleek and robust. Whilst, the frame is corrosion-resistant as well that additionally safeguards the reel from getting damaged. 

Then there are star drags which Daiwa has entitled as the Ultimate Tournament carbon drag (UTD) that itself are very sturdy having a max capacity of around 15 lbs. Further specification includes the gear ratio on which the speed and efficiency of the reel depend and here too, you can be carefree since here you are getting the fast ratio of 6.1:1.  

Considering the tough time in the middle of the sea, where the handling mechanism of the reel is the last thing you would be concerned about, here it weighs only 15 oz, (just like Daiwa Saltist) making the reel portable and compact to carry out heavy applications at maximum ease.

  • Anti-corrosive frame
  • Powerful handles
  • Infinite anti-reverse
  • Smooth and powerful winding ability
  • Takes a while when operating for the first time

If you are someone looking for a super solid reel with an excellent bearing and drag system while also having a fast gear ratio – all that from a trustworthy brand at an affordable price. Then believe us, you can’t get any better than the Daiwa Seagate. For it has almost all the features you may ask for, it is, therefore, the beast of a reel one can opt for.

7. Sougayilang Trolling Reel – Best Conventional Reel For The Money

Sougayilang Trolling Reel

Specs and Features:

  • Ball bearings: 3 + 1
  • Material type: composite (aluminum, graphite, stainless) 
  • Drag max: 28 lbs 
  • Weight: 24.7 oz 
  • Gear ratio: 4.1:1

So now we are ending the list with the Sougayilang trolling reel, which is one of the top-class emerging reels in recent times. So, what makes the Sougayilang popular among the eminent reels of high-profile brands? To keep it short, it is the price and quality of it which makes it stand out. However, here is the complete detail of why we said what we said. 

The components are where the 90 of the credit goes which adds to the quality of the reel. It features all three materials of reel manufacturing into one with a wise division to construct each with respect to the external requirements.

For instance, there are stainless steel handles and the bearing which protect them from corrosion and abrasion since they are the most sensitive to it. Then there is an aluminum spool for the smooth operation and lastly, there’s graphite for the entire body which cuts off the weight pretty nicely without affecting the strength of the reel. 

Other than the built, there is a magnificent carbon disc drag system having the power of delivering 28 lbs making it invaluable for the price tag it features. Along with that, there’s a very stable gear ratio of 4.1:1 which not only enables speed but also provides resistance where necessary for the heavier species. 

Besides its technical features, this reel itself is pretty attractive from its appearance and that’s rightly why it is the best conventional reel for the money. Not to mention, its colors are solid as it’s built which ensures there’s no wearing off of the color as well the quality of the reel. 

Although it is quite a budget-friendly reel yet the manufacturer also allows for a 3-year warranty and this is also one of the reasons that make it distinctive among all the budget-friendly reels out there. Therefore, in case of any issues that you come across, the manufacturer instantly replaces or repairs them without any long procedures.

  • Balanced control and power
  • Cost-effective + three years warranty
  • Highly functional drags
  • Fast and stable gear mechanism
  • Slightly heavier than the reels reviewed above

For around 60 bucks, This reel is a TOTAL STEAL! It has a stable bearing system, quality built based on all the considerable materials, a powerful drag, and a long-time warranty in case you run into any malfunction. Now tell us, what’s more, you can ask for?

Don’t Buy A Conventional Reel Before You Read This – How To Make The Best Purchase?

Conventional reels are undeniably old-fashioned yet that does not mean you gotta compromise on the quality and technologies that the modern reels used. The fact that conventional reels are still in manufacturing has more advanced features to make the bottom fishing easy which is otherwise impossible in low-profile casting or spinning reels. Being a bit traditional, conventional reels are quite complicated hence you gotta consider a few factors before you buy one.

Drag system:

Ever wondered what makes the conventional reel soo special? You may be guessing right because it is the drag system because of which these reels have the optimum leverage. Having that said, conventional reels provide a drag system of about 20 to 40 lbs which is why exactly help in bottom fishing. 

Although, these drags are least prone to damage because of no complexities near them as in a low-profile reel so you’ll be able able to retrieve the line without having to face the irritating backlash. 

One more thing to look at while considering the drags is whether they are star or lever drags. Generally speaking, both the drags have their perks and drawbacks so it is you who has to decide to go with either of them. In terms of convenience, lever drags have an edge since the drag is directly on the spool so you can easily set them up without. Otherwise, in star drags you gotta go through the gear system since they are at the rear gears. However, with star drags, you’ll have the advantage of a lighter spool which is why you can use the reel for a long time with star drags.

Weight of the reel:

Yikes! The most typical factor of conventional reels. The weight indeed can be the biggest drawback of the conventional reel unless you buy it from a high-end brand such as Penn or Shimano. Normally, the weight of a conventional reel can range between 10-60 oz which is 2 times heavier than an average spinning or low-profile reel. 

Regardless of the weight factor, you can look out for the size and construction of the reel. A smaller size would work fine as it’ll additionally help you to manage it better overall. Whereas, you can look out for the star drags in the reel as these are located on the rear gear which makes it easy to spool the reel.

Line capacity:

Whether it is spinning, spincast, or a baitcasting reel; line capacity stays the most significant factor to look into. Line capacity determines how much line a reel can hold and based on that you can decide the casting distance and the depth of the sea that you may aim for. Speaking of line capacity with regards to the conventional reel, you need the bulk of line here. In addition, consider the vast line capacity (that you may get in large-sized reels) especially when you are going for offshore fishing. 

Firstly, the line has to go all the way to the bottom of the sea hence the mainline requires to be excessively large. Then, you must make sure you have an extra line for the retrieving since most of the time the fishes win the encounter wars just because of the less line kept at the back. Finally, keep a spare line with you whenever going with the conventional reel.


For the construction of a fishing reel, consider none other than aluminum or graphite. As we go down more precisely there, we’ll definitely go for the aluminum one because of the stiffness and strength it provides to deal with those monster fishes. Graphite, although, is a good option since it is light in weight and also quite easy to maneuver. However, graphite is less sturdy than aluminum considering the harsh environment of offshore conditions. 

And don’t forget, if it does not say “Anti-Corrosive” leave the reel right away no matter how many advantages it may provide because one cast, and you will lose it all. You may consider Kastking Rover or Sougayilang as the best budget option.

Line counter:

Similar to electric reels, conventional reels also feature a line counter (in a few reels). The reels with a line counter are a bit expensive though. However, it’s one of the most significant factors to look into if you are planning to fish under several miles since there the line becomes an extremely sensitive issue because of one wrong line measurement and boom! All of it is water only.


Set aside all the theories and go for the bigger spool. Since we are here for the bottom fishing which is unfortunately impossible without a spool having a massive size. The reason is, a smaller spool tends to tangle the line and can’t hold enough pressure which is why having a massive spool size is a must. Though it may contribute potential weight, however, that’s what a conventional reel is after all. 

Return per retrieve and Gear Ratio: 

Since the success of a fishing trip essentially depends upon the success of a retrieve hence the retrieving mechanism of the reel must be powerful as well. Likewise, the gears must be robust as well, and here is one thing to keep in mind “fast is not always good”. Thus, go for the gears that provide efficiency, are well-built and obviously, give the required pace to handle those hectic fishes. 

Cost of the reel:

Finally comes the price factor of the reel. Because of the irregular price range of the reels, the features vary greatly from one reel to another. Although, if you find yourself as a recreational angler, then definitely you aren’t required to go for a 500 dollar reel. Also, if you are just experimenting with offshore fishing, then a low-cost reel would be fine. 

Other than that, if you are a pro offshore fishing angler looking for nothing less than a quality reel then we might suggest the reels with a little higher price tags i.e one of the Penn’s or Shimano’s that we have reviewed in this article.


The work of the conventional reel sizes merely depends upon the capacity it provides. Short-sized reels are more portable but don’t meet the criteria of excellency well enough. In contrast to that, bigger-sized reels allow you to put massive lines and thus give you leverage over any challenging fish.

Not at all, conventional reels are one of the easiest reels to fish with especially if you are previously used to fishing with a bait caster. They’re just a few differences between the two. However, it can be pretty tough for you in case you start casting with it.

In conventional reels, you gotta use the thumb very gently and moderately over the spool. Remember to not put so much because then it’ll start to spin. (Not to mention, backlash in conventional is way worst than in baitcasting reels).

Ending Note:

Having the best conventional reel in your possession can be a bit heavy but rest assured, it can solve about 99.9 problems of trolling and offshore fishing. So now, let us just wrap this up for you. First of all, look out for the corrosion resistance, then the stable gear ratio, don’t miss out on the weight, and obviously, make sure it has a powerful drag. 

Luckily, the reels we have reviewed above match all of these requirements which states, that you can choose any of them that goes well by your budget and fishing style. However, in our opinion, the three best of them are as follows: 

And this is all you need. Hope it was useful enough to help you get your dream conventional reel that stays for many years to come!

Clinton Shannon

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