The Best Line Counter Reels: 2021 Buying Guide

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: KastKing ReKon Line Counter (click to see)
“The Kastking ReKon features enhanced strength and longevity, accurate line counting mechanisms, and can be used in both fresh and saltwater. An absolute favorite of anglers who regularly fish.”

Best Budget Reel: Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter (click to see)
“With a multi-disc, Carbonite drag system, a corrosion-resistant graphite body, and a superior hook set, the Okuma Magda Pro might be for fishers looking for a quality line counter reel that is built to last at an affordable rate.

Most Powerful: Sougayilang Line Counter Trolling Reel (click to see)
“Featuring a class-leading 30-pound drag system, a simple to use free-spool lever, and an easily adjustable star drag knob, the Sougayilang Reel is tough enough to tackle any fight.

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A line counter reel allows you to accurately gauge the depth of your presentation, ensuring that your bait is running in the strike zone.

Premium line counter reels are constructed from high-grade materials, utilize quality ball bearing systems, and are capable of accurately counting line, down to the most specific of values.

These reels also feature durable drag systems, which are up to the task of handling the most immense of fights.

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Hours spent testing
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Our Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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KastKing ReKon Round Baitcasting Reel, Line Counter Trolling Fishing Reel, Level Wind Trolling/Jigging Fishing Reel, Conventional Baitcasting Reel, Graphite Body, Durable Stainless-Steel & Brass Gears, Large Line Capacity, Powerful Carbon Disc Drag
Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter Levelwind Trolling Reel, Small, Black/Silver, MA-30DX
Sougayilang Line Counter Trolling Reel Conventional Level Wind Fishing Reel
Our Grade
Our Rating 96/100
Our Rating 92/100
Our Rating 90/100
Feature 1
30-pound drag system for superior strength
Multi-disc Carbonite drag system for increased fighting power
Class leading 30-pound drag system for unparalleled strength
Feature 2
Double shielded ball bearings for both fresh and saltwater use
Corrosion resistant graphite body and frame for enhanced durability
Pronounced drag adjustment knob for easy on the fly adjustment
Best Overall
Our Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
KastKing ReKon Round Baitcasting Reel, Line Counter Trolling Fishing Reel, Level Wind Trolling/Jigging Fishing Reel, Conventional Baitcasting Reel, Graphite Body, Durable Stainless-Steel & Brass Gears, Large Line Capacity, Powerful Carbon Disc Drag
Our Grade
Our Rating 96/100
Feature 1
30-pound drag system for superior strength
Feature 2
Double shielded ball bearings for both fresh and saltwater use
Best Budget Reel
Our Rank
Ranked #2
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Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter Levelwind Trolling Reel, Small, Black/Silver, MA-30DX
Our Grade
Our Rating 92/100
Feature 1
Multi-disc Carbonite drag system for increased fighting power
Feature 2
Corrosion resistant graphite body and frame for enhanced durability
Most Powerful
Our Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Sougayilang Line Counter Trolling Reel Conventional Level Wind Fishing Reel
Our Grade
Our Rating 90/100
Feature 1
Class leading 30-pound drag system for unparalleled strength
Feature 2
Pronounced drag adjustment knob for easy on the fly adjustment

Best Line Counter Reels 2021

  1. Best Overall: KastKing ReKon Line Counter
  2. Best Budget Reel: Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter
  3. Most Powerful: Sougayilang Line Counter Trolling Reel
  4. Best High End Reel: Penn Squall LevelWind
  5. Easiest To Use: Okuma New Magda Line Counter Reel
  6. Smoothest Operation: Okuma Cold Water Line Counter Reel

KastKing ReKon Line Counter

Best Overall: More than capable, even under the most demanding of circumstances

KastKing ReKon Line Counter Trolling Fishing Reel,Round Baitcasting Reels,Size 10,Left Handed
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KEY FEATURES

  • 30-pound drag system for superior strength
  • Double shielded ball bearings for both fresh and saltwater use
  • Specialty spool design for superior line capacity

The KastKing ReKon should prove to be the perfect line counter reel for any angler who regularly fishes at every available opportunity, and requires the use of a fishing reel that is durable beyond comparison. This reel is constructed from premium machined components and features a 30-pound carbon disc drag system, for enhanced strength and longevity. The KastKing ReKon also features one of the most accurate line counting mechanisms of any reel on the market today.

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The KastKing ReKon is also notable for its ability to be used universally, both in fresh and saltwater. This reel features three stainless steel ball bearings, which are highly resistant to the corrosive nature of saltwater, and uses only the most rugged of machined brass internal components. As a result, the KastKing ReKon should be up to withstand even the most relentless abuse, at the hands of the elements and monstrous fish.

Many anglers will also likely find favor in the KastKing ReKon’s significant line capacity. This reel utilizes a specialty spool that is capable of holding over 320 yards of 25-pound monofilament fishing line. The KastKing ReKon is compatible with the use of lead core and braided line, further adding to its versatility. This enhanced capacity provides plenty of line for trolling in deep water, as well as for fighting hard-running fish.

Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter

Best Budget Reel: A quality reel that fits any budget

Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter Levelwind Trolling Reel, Small, Black/Silver, MA-30DX
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KEY FEATURES

  • Multi-disc Carbonite drag system for increased fighting power
  • Corrosion-resistant graphite body and frame for enhanced durability
  • 16-point anti-reverse system for superior hook sets

If you are in search of a quality line counter reel that is built to last, yet can be purchased at a reasonable price range, then the Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter should be deserving of a closer look. This reel is constructed from lightweight, yet corrosion-resistant graphite, which promotes excellent durability, while minimizing angler fatigue. The Okuma Magda Pro also features machine-cut brass gearing, for enhanced longevity and a high degree of reliability.

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Most anglers will also find favor in the Okuma Magda Pro’s 16-point anti-reverse system, which prevents the unintentional backspooling of line. This has the potential to drastically improve an angler’s strike-to-catch ratio, as more reliable hook sets are made possible. As an angler attempts to set the hook, the Okuma Magda Pro’s anti-reverse system allows nearly 100-percent of force to be transferred through their line.

The Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter also features a heavy-duty Carbonite drag system, which is capable of operating efficiently under even the most significant of loads. This drag system utilizes multiple clutch discs for even line metering and a pronounced strength. This should be a feature that is highly appreciated by anglers who routinely seek out trophy size fish, such as large walleye or musky.

Sougayilang Line Counter Trolling Reel

Most Powerful: Tough enough to tackle any fight

Sougayilang Line Counter Trolling Reel Conventional Level Wind Fishing Reel-Thunder LS II 3000R-Right Handed
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KEY FEATURES

  • Class-leading 30-pound drag system for unparalleled strength
  • Easy to use free-spool lever for simple line dispersal
  • Pronounced drag adjustment knob for easy on the fly adjustment

If you regularly seek out the most sizable of fish on any given body of water and need a reel that is up to the task of sustaining endless fight after endless fight, then the Sougayilang Line Counter trolling reel should be worthy of your attention. This trolling reel features a class-leading 40-pound drag system, which operates smoothly, even when under an immense load. The Sougayilang Line Counter also features an anti-reverse roller bearing to prevent the backspooling of line, and promote more efficient hook sets.

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The Sougayilang Trolling Reel features a simple to use free spool lever, which makes it easier than ever to feed out the appropriate length of the line. If a fish is caught at a line length of 100-foot, simply cast out your line, flip the reel’s free spool lever, and watch the integrated line counter until your line has reached the desired length. This feature eliminates the need to manually pull a line from a reel, in order to place your bait in the strike zone.

Many anglers should also find favor in the Sougayilang Line Counter’s easily adjustable star drag knob. This knob is fashioned in a star shape and is pronounced enough that an angler can quickly make any necessary adjustments without being forced to divert their attention away from the fight at hand.

Penn Squall LevelWind

Best High End Reel: A premium reel for the serious angler

PENN Fishing SQL50LW Squall Level Wind , Black, 320Yd/50Lb
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KEY FEATURES

  • Versa Handle for a high degree of personal adjustability
  • Level Wind line guide for even line distribution
  • HT-100 drag system for ultra-smooth drag operation

The Penn Squall LevelWind should be the perfect line counter trolling reel for any serious angler who is looking to upgrade to the use of a top-tier reel with a host of premium features. This reel is constructed from lightweight graphite for angler comfort, yet uses only the most durable of machined internal components, which are constructed of only the best marine-grade bronze-alloy. The Penn Squall LevelWind utilizes an adjustable Versa Handle, which allows anglers to set handle length as desired.

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As its name would suggest, the Penn Squall LevelWind fishing reel also features the company’s specialized LevelWind line guide. This guide moves back and forth as an angler reels, evenly distributing line on the reel’s spool. As a result, line build-up is minimized, and the chance of backlash and line twists is greatly reduced. This is a feature that should be appreciated by any angler who spends a significant amount of time on the water and needs a reel that features a significant degree of reliability.

Many anglers are also likely to find favor in the Penn Squall LevelWind’s HT-100 drag system, which is specifically engineered to provide ultra-smooth operation, no matter the circumstance. This system employs the use of three carbon drag washers, which accurately meter line, without slippage under heavy operational loads.

Okuma New Magda Line Counter Reel

Easiest To Use: The perfect option for those who are new to line counter reel use

Okuma MA-30DLXT New Magda Linecounter Reel, Left Hand
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KEY FEATURES

  • Self-lubricating gear system for enhanced durability
  • Level Wind guide for even and thorough line dispersal
  • Robust drag system for enhanced power

If you are new to line counter reel use and are currently in the market for a new reel that is of high quality, and is simple to use, then the Okuma New Magda is likely your best option. This reel is reasonably priced, yet rich in features, allowing anglers to delve headlong into the world of line counter use, with ease. The Okuma New Magda features a self-lubricating gear system, a robust carbonite drag, and an Automatic trip spool engaging mechanism, which makes simple work out of accurately dispersing the line to the desired depth.

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The Okuma New Magda Line Counter Reel also features a Level Wind line guide, which is a unique feature to see included on a reel that is priced so conservatively. The guide reciprocates as the New Magda’s handle is turned, leading to even line dispersal across the reel’s spool. This prevents binding, backlash, and line twists, which ultimately provides smoother line dispersal when attempting to reach the desired depth.

Most should also be fond of the Okuma New Magda’s durable machine-cut brass gearing, which provides an effortless degree of gear mesh. This gear system is also self-lubricating in nature, which should prove to enhance the Okuma New Magda’s overall longevity. This is a feature that is likely to be appreciated by those that fish on a frequent basis, which can put tremendous wear and tear on most reels.

Okuma Cold Water Line Counter Reel

Smoothest Operation: Advanced in design for ultra-smooth operation

Okuma Fishing Tackle Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel CW-203D, Silver
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KEY FEATURES

  • Mechanical Stabilizing System for enhanced gear mesh
  • Carbonite drag system for next-level fighting prowess
  • Titanium coated level wind for even line dispersal

The Okuma Cold Water Line Counter Reel should be the perfect choice for anglers who catch a high number of fish and find themselves retrieving their line on a regular basis. This reel features precision-machined intervals that are supported by Okuma’s Mechanical Stabilizing System for tighter than average tolerances. After factoring in the reel’s premium ball bearing assembly, the Okuma Cold Water Line Counter trolling reel should prove to be one of the smoothest operating reels on the market.

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Many anglers should also find value in the Okuma Cold Water Line Counter’s heavy-duty Carbonite drag system. This system employs the use of multiple drag discs to accurately meter line feed under a wide range of operating conditions and loads. This is a feature that is likely to be appreciated by any angler who seeks out trophy size fish, that often fight relentlessly and place a significant amount of tension on a reel’s line and spool.

The Okuma Cold Water Line Counter Reel also features a specialized spool, which is designed for use with braided or wireline. This line is guided onto the Okuma Cold Water Line Counter’s spool with a titanium-coated level wind, which is engineered for superior toughness and durability. As the line is pulled through the guide of this level wind, it is dispersed evenly onto the reel’s spool, effectively minimizing backlash and line twist.

What to Look for When Buying Line Counter Reels

Manual and Electric Line Counters

A line counter provides an angler with information that is vital to success, especially when trolling for deepwater species.

Trolling success is often a product of consistency. Many species of fish suspend or school at particular depths for periods of time, with little change in pattern. When this occurs, an angler must locate the depth at which these fish are holding, and ensure that their bait or lure is consistently reaching this depth. This is absolutely vital, as a deviation of depth as little as 1-2 feet can often be the difference between whether or not fish are caught.

A line counter makes it simple to present your bait or lure at the same depth time and time again. These counters are built into a line counter reel’s housing and report the amount of line that has been extended in feet. After a fish has been caught, an angler can once again extend the same amount of line, which ensures that their bait reaches an identical depth, as long as trolling speeds remain constant.

Construction Material

Reels can be constructed from a wide range of materials, each of which carries its own unique characteristics. 

In the world of line counter reels, few construction materials are as popular as graphite. Graphite is known for its lightweight characteristics, which make it the perfect choice when keeping angler comfort in mind. The less a reel weighs, the more comfortable it is to use, as hand, arm, and back fatigue is minimized. This keeps you on the water for a longer period of time, catching fish as intended.

Graphite is also known for its durability, especially in regard to corrosion resistance. Graphite, by nature, is highly corrosion-resistant. This is of significant value as corrosion of any type can be detrimental to a reel’s ability to operate as intended. Graphite is also stronger than a number of alternative materials and is more than capable of taking a beating, with little ill-effect.

Line Capacity

The greater a line counter reel’s line capacity is, the more efficiently it can be used when trolling for suspended fish.

Line counter reels are used primarily for trolling, which is the practice of pulling a baited line behind a boat at a predetermined depth and distance. The idea of this practice is to cover as much water as possible in search of awaiting fish. In order to troll successfully, you must have an adequate line at your disposal to reach your desired depth. A reel that is restrictive in this nature can effectively limit your success, to a great degree.

The greater a reel’s capacity, the easier it is to reach a certain depth with your presentation. A reel with a high line capacity presents an angler with the freedom to fish as they need to, to find the greatest possible degree of success.

Drag

The quality of a reel’s drag system directly dictates the efficiency with which a fish can be fought to the boat.

A reel’s drag is responsible for metering line tension when a fish is on the other end of the line. If this tension grows excessive, line breakage can result, leading to the loss of a fish. However, a properly adjusted drag will allow a slight amount of line to be pulled from a reel before reaching a line’s breakage threshold, thereby allowing an angler to continue his or her fight.

Most premium drag systems utilize a set of carbon discs to impart the proper degree of friction for accurate line metering. These discs are part of a greater clutch-based system that controls the pressure imparted upon them. When a drag is adjusted, more or less pressure is applied to this series of discs, which in turn manipulates the amount of tension that can be imparted before slippage occurs.

Clickers

Being alert to strikes the moment that they occur is key to making the most out of each opportunity when it is presented.

In order to capitalize upon each bite, it is essential to detect a strike as quickly as possible. Doing so allows you to quickly and efficiently set the hook, often resulting in a catch. On the other hand, any level of delay has the potential to result in a missed fish and wasted opportunity. Line clickers serve as one of the best possible ways of keeping track of bites, especially when fishing multiple poles at one time.

As its name would suggest, clickers alert an angler to strikes by making a “clicking” noise. As the line is pulled from a reel, this audible alert sounds, allowing an angler to react quickly before a fish releases its grasp on the bait. 

Level Wind

A level wind plays a vital role in ensuring that a line counter reel operates in the most reliable fashion possible.

When fishing, few circumstances are as aggravating as being forced to contend with tangled or twisted lines. When this occurs, a significant amount of precious time is spent unknotting or cutting free the mess of line that comes as a result. A reel’s level wind minimizes the occurrence of such issues, by evenly spreading line across the face of a reel’s spool.

As a reel’s handle is turned, the level wind reciprocates back and forth across the reel’s face. As this occurs, the line is fed through a guide on the level wind’s extension. This back and forth motion allows the line to be applied to a reel’s spool in the evenest manner possible, ensuring that there is no excessive build-up of line on any certain area of the reel’s spool.

Questions & Answers

What is a line counter reel?

A line counter reel is a reel that records and reports the amount of line that has been extended. This value is most often described in feet and can be vital to anglers when trolling, in an attempt to catch schooling or suspended fish.

The measurements provided by a line counter reel allow an angler to replicate such a distance time and time again, in a bid to make sure that any bait or lure used is presented at an optimal depth for success.

Why should I use a line counter reel?

A line counter reel serves as a vital tool in any depth-sensitive situation. Many fish suspend or school at a defined depth during different times of the year, when this occurs, an angler must present their lure or bait at this specified depth, or else risk coming up empty-handed. 

Line counter reels record the distance of the line which has been extended so that this distance can be replicated in a repetitive fashion. This allows anglers to quickly and efficiently return their lines to a given depth at which they have received bites.

How do line counter reels work?

Line counter reels use a set ratio to convert a single spool revolution into a distance measurement. This measurement is most often recorded as feet and is displayed on the reel’s digital or analog display.

Each revolution of the reel corresponds to a set distance. With each subsequent revolution of the reel, the recorded distance is increased. The opposite is true when retrieving your line. With each crank of the reel’s handle, a set distance of line is subtracted from the displayed total.

How do I calibrate line counter reels?

Calibrating a line counter reel is best done with the use of two stakes. The first stake should be placed in the ground, and a distance of 100 feet should be measured off. Upon reaching a distance of 100 feet, the second stake should be placed in the ground. You will then tie your line off to the first stake, and walk toward the second stake at a distance of 100 feet.

Your reel should now read exactly 100 feet on its display. If a greater distance is displayed, the excess line should be removed. On the contrary, if less distance is displayed, the line should be added to your reel.

How accurate are line counter reels?

The exact accuracy of a line counter reel varies from model to model. However, most will be relatively accurate from the factory to within 1-2 feet. However, one must remember that each reel is calibrated at the factory with a specific diameter of the line, meaning that your individual line of choice might not be measured as accurately.

This is why it is extremely important for anglers to calibrate all line counter reels, as doing so will present the highest level of accuracy for each angler’s personal setup. While calibrating a line counter reel is not difficult, doing so can require a little bit of trial and error.