Whether you’ve just started fishing or whether you’re a long-time enthusiast, everyone should give surf fishing a shot.
Not only are there some great catches out there, but few things are also so peaceful as fishing with the sand between your toes and the surf lapping in your ears.
Surf fishing offers a stunning range of species and gives you a chance to try out some new baits and lures without the extra expense of a boat. Surf Fishing is also a great activity to try with kids, as long as you’re happy to help with casting and hooks.
Fishing is a great activity at all ages and surf fishing is the perfect time to introduce children to the wonderful world of fishing.
Whenever you go surf fishing there’s always the chance, you’re going to hook something amazing, or at the very least delicious! But if you want to give yourself the best chance at catching something worth boasting about than you need to use some specialist equipment which starts with a great surf reel.
You need a surf reel that’s going to be able to stand up to the powerful saltwater fish you might encounter, and that’s where this handy guide comes in. We’re going to take you through some of the best surf reel currently available, answer some of your most important questions and show you some of the things you need to be aware of before buying any surf reel.
All the reels we’ll show you are capable of casting long distances and should handle most species you’re likely to encounter. So, let's take a look so you can get out there and get fishing as soon as possible!
Top 5 Best Surf Fishing Reels
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
First up we have a stellar model from Penn. If you haven’t already heard of Penn then it’s worth being aware that they’re a brand well known for designing high-quality reels, a Penn reel should be durable and longlasting and Penn works hard to make sure that their reels are well designed for the needs of their customers.
This one is no different. Regarded as the best Penn reel for surfcasting, it’s everything you need in a saltwater reel. The reel is durable, and Penn has included an anti-corrosive full metal body to protect it from the rust of saltwater fishing.
The side plater and the rotor are also anti-corrosive and the aluminum bail wire is heavy-duty enough to easily be able to withstand the rigors of any fishing expedition you care to undertake.
If you’re after some bigger fish than this is a good reel option for you due to the powerful HT-100 drag system made from carbon fiber while the 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and anti-reverse bearing should also give you a boost when hunting big fish game.
The reel has a large line capacity which many fishers value in their surf reel. The spool is designed to be used with Superline, and you can spool it with the braided line without needed mono backing for smoothness. This reel is built to withstand saltwater, and as long as you look after it this is a great investment for your future fishing adventures.
This version is the 4000 size with a 6.2:1 gear ratio. If you want something with even more drag power or a larger line capacity than Penn has you covered, there are also 5000, 6000, and 8000 sizes available.
- Built from high-quality materials for a longlasting and durable reel
- Sealed bearings to protect from saltwater
- An excellent piece of kit to invest in
- If you use braided line no need for mono backing for smoothness
- The perfect reel to help you cast far and smooth with fast retrieval
- A little of the heavy side
- Durable, high range spinning reel ideal for conquering big saltwater gamefish
- Full metal body, sideplate, and rotor and heavy duty aluminum bail wire offer exceptional durability
- HT 100 carbon fiber drag system provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness
- Fluid cranking with 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti reverse bearing
- Superline spool requires no backing, is braid ready, and has line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity
If durability and performance are important to you than Shimano surf reels are a good place to be looking.
Deciding to go with a brand that consistently makes high-quality excellent reels is never a bad idea, and you’ll know you’re in safe hands with one of these. The Stradic looks as amazing as its performance and Shimano have worked hard to create a reel that understands the need for smooth casting and reeling and this reel is equipped with a Dyna-Balance rotor, Fluidrive II system, and Propulsion Line Management System.
These systems increase the durability of the reel and reduce any line twists and wind knots you may get while surf fishing whilst simultaneously ensuring a smooth cast from a long distance. This is a very robust reel with the strength you want in a reel that’s going to be expected to fight larger fish, and this is partially thanks to the X-Ship technology and HAGANE gearing and body.
The body is also built to withstand the marine environment and it’s another solid option if you’re looking to invest in your fishing kit. The carbon body and Magnumlite Rotor give this reel its lightweight feel and this makes it super easy to use and carry around with you.
This is a nice balanced reel and it’s easily capable of casting long distances, while the drag system can handle large fish without any fuss. There are a variety of models for a range of needs so make sure you get the best one for you.
This reel will hold up well to heavy use in saltwater, but remember that you will need to put in some effort in maintenance to keep it at peak performance level.
- Durable construction, perfect for saltwater
- The drag system can handle most large species and is powerful and smooth
- Designed to reduce wind knots
- Great at long-distance casting
- Lightweight to encourage comfort both while fishing and in transit
- No anti-reverse switch
- Gear Ratio: 6.0:1, Weight: 5.60 ounce
- Mono line capacity lbs/yd: 2/270, 4/140, 6/110
- PowerPro Line capacity lb/yds: 10/95, 15/85, 20/65
- Line retrieve per crank: 31.10. inch
- Max Drag force: 7 lbs, Bearings: 6 S A RB and 1 RB, spare spool available under ASIN: B01M3UEXIQ (Shimano Item-No. RD17775)
If you’re just getting started and you want something you know you’re going to be able to use, then this option from Daiwa might be just what you’re looking for.
These reels are designed to be able to endure a tough marine environment so any accidental bumps it may get from you while you’re getting a handle on surf fishing won’t be a very big deal. The performance of the reel itself is pretty flawless too, and the great thing about this range is the variety of sizes that you can get.
The larger sizes are more than amply equipped to deal with the larger saltwater game, so you can work your way up. The reel offers a smooth drag and a dual anti-reverse system which helps make your casting and retrieval smooth and comfortable. If you’re concerned about durability and corrosion resistance in saltwater than rest assured, this reel will put your worries to bed.
The all-metal body and side cover make this a very durable model against corrosion. The cut Aluminum ABS spool takes braid directly and is designed to minimize wind knots and braided line slips. This reel also includes a screw-in handle and a drag system that’s designed to be watertight eliminates any issues between the main gear and handle arm all of which add into the strength of the model.
Despite all the features that this reel includes it’s incredibly lightweight thanks to the design of the Air rotor so you can fish in comfort for hours.
- A cleverly designed spool which helps eliminate issues with the line
- Durable construction which helps protect against any beginner’s bumps
- Powerful and smooth gears to help retrieve larger fish
- Great range of models
- High-quality materials and well thought out construction
- "Hard Bodyz" body and side cover increase strength
- Air Rotor weighs 15% less than ordinary rotors
- 6+1 bearing drive with instant anti-reverse
- Carbon ATD is waterproof for reliable performance
If you’re not certain that surf fishing is for you but still want to give it a chance than this could be the reel you’re looking for.
It offers a smooth powerful cast, is still durable and anti-corrosive like some of the more expensive options but isn’t going to break the bank so if you decide surf fishing isn’t for you than there's no harm done.
This is a solid reel that offers a good performance so it’s a great one to use to get to grips with surf fishing and then upgrade as and when you choose. You want your reel to prevent seawater, sand, or dust from corroding the gear system or bearings and in this model, the aluminum spool and rotor are sealed, and the bearings shielded to stop this from happening.
The reel body is also coated to further stop corrosion from interfering with your gear, and the whole reel itself is designed to be lightweight and comfortable for elongated periods. This reel can handle most inshore species pretty easily as it’s been built with an enhanced shaft strength that’ll help you hook up to 33 pounds max drag.
The drag system is smooth and strong, and very comfortable to use. SeaKnight has worked hard to create a reel that whilst being relatively inexpensive, doesn’t skimp on the essentials or the quality of the construction so that their customers get the very best fishing experience possible.
- Anti-corrosive and durable
- A strong and smooth drag system
- Lightweight design makes it easy to use
- Well- constructed and very comfortable to use
- A good option for beginners, or those just trying out surf fishing
- Introducing the Rapid fresh and saltwater spinning reel featuring an anti-corrosive coating for salt ad fresh water use.
- The Rapid offers an enhanced thicker main shaft, stainless ball bearings, and a carbon fiber drag system with 15kg/33 pound drag to land the largest gamefish.
- Exquisite craftsmanship employing advanced production technologies and outfitted with high quality 10 + 1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings create an amazingly smooth reel.
- The Rapid also features a sealed aluminum spool and rotor structure, preventing water and sand from entering the gearing.
- The Rapid is a fast, powerful, durable reel suited for heavy freshwater and light saltwater use. Perfect for inshore fishing, and for Bass, Stripers, Walleyes, Catfish, and Northern Pike.
This is a great and powerful long-distance surfcasting reel that can easily deal with large saltwater fish.
It has a max drag of 61.7 lbs thanks to the CH-50 and carbon fiber drag washers and, 6 stainless steel ball bearings with an instant infinite anti-reverse system to prevent back play, making this one of the most powerful models on this list.
This reel can fulfill a variety of fishing purposes including surfcasting, jigging fishing, and holding its own against larger fish species thanks to the long wheelbase design spool. The spool is, usefully, also braided line friendly.
The all-metal body helps to fight seawater corrosion, and the fully machined gear train, heavy-duty aluminum bail wire, heavy power handle, and sealed bearing and drag system all give it the strength a reel needs to withstand the roughness of the larger fish species making this a very strong and well-constructed reel.
- Can easily handle the big fish thanks to the high drag capacity
- The all-metal body makes it very corrosion resistant
- Great for casting long distances
- The spool includes a rubber gasket to prevent braided lines slipping
- Durable and strong, built to last
- No reverse
- Powerful, corrosion resistant saltwater spinning reel built for heavy-duty surf casting and jigging fishing from either boat or shore
- 6 sealed stainless steel ball bearings with instant infinite anti reverse system, delivers unparalleled smoothness and excellent resists corrosion on saltwater
- The fishing reel Drag washers CH-50 with metals and carbon fiber complete Kit 11pcs and long wheelbase design spool, giving you the finesse and power needed to subdue a variety of hard-pulling fish species, max drag of 61.7 lbs
- Mechanically sealed drag system and Dura-Drag prevent saltwater infiltration and corrosion, and offer extreme protection from sand
- One-piece full metal body provides extra-strength, side plate keeps precise gear alignment with rotor under heavy loads, and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire offer exceptional durability
Best Surf Fishing Reels Buying Guide
Hopefully, you’re feeling a little bit more up to date on what products are out there and what sort of reel might suit you. If you’re still struggling though, don’t panic!
This section of the guide is here to take you through some of the things to look out for when buying your reel, and what sort of thing might help you to decide what reel is right for you.
The following features are the best way to narrow down your options and pick what the right reel might be for you
It might seem like an odd thing to have up first, but ball bearings are an important part of your fishing reel and you need to make sure your reel offers you the right amount for you.
The ball bearings in a fishing reel decide how smooth and fast your casts and retrieves are. If you want a smooth operation than you need a high number of ball bearings. If you’re looking to get into surf fishing then you’re going to want a high number of quality bearings for a top-quality experience.
It’s also worth looking out for anti-reverse bearings as these will stop back play when you’re setting hooks. Put simply, the higher the ball bearings, the smoother the action.
Anyone who's looking to get into surf fishing probably wants to do it because of the big fish you have the chance to catch, but even if you’re looking for smaller species, saltwater bodies have such a diverse range of fish that you never know what might decide to take your bait or lure.
Powerful fish like you find in saltwater can melt drags and break your tackle if your equipment can’t withstand the heat. You need a reel with a powerful and smooth drag to take on the larger, faster, and stronger fish if you don’t want to walk away empty-handed.
A strong drag system will also be able to withstand the waves and currents and make your reel as strong and durable as it’ll need to be if you’re going to be using it in saltwater.
For these reasons, you’re going to want a reel with at least 20 pounds worth of stopping capability. Think about what sort of fish you’re targeting and adjust your drag power accordingly. The bigger the fish, the power your reel will need.
Corrosion Resistance And Sealing
If you’re going surf fishing then one of the biggest problems, you’ll face is corrosion. As you get in the surf with all your gear it’s all but guaranteed that your reel is going to come into contact with salt water and you never know how much or little it might have to deal with.
Saltwater is particularly hard on fishing gear and you need to make sure your reel and the fragile components within it are protected against corrosion. If you want your reel to not only be able to survive the exposure to the sea but also keep last a long time and keep performing then you need to pick a reel that is built with the knowledge that it’ll need to be protected.
Look for sealed and watertight components or protective gaskets that will keep your reel working against saltwater and sand. You’ll still need to properly maintain your reel, so make sure you’re rinsing it off in freshwater to elongate its life.
If you’re going surf fishing and you’re not willing to invest in anti-corrosion features than expect to be replacing your reel often.
Best Surf Fishing Reels - FAQ's
Is it better to surf fish at low or high tide?
It depends on what sort of fish you’re after. Most fish species feed at high tide, and many anglers prefer to fish at dawn or dusk when there’s more water in the fishing hole.
Look at what you want to target and make a decision based on their habits.
Does a longer rod cast further?
Put simply, yes. The longer the rod, the longer you can cast. But make sure to check out the action on your rod, in most cases if it’s the same than a seven-foot rod will let you cast the same lure further than a six-foot rod