Sun is shining, the sand feels warm under your feet, waves are crashing, and fish are just swimming about waiting for you to catch them. Don’t let faulty reels get in your way of having a glorious fishing experience. Experienced surf anglers already know that the best surf fishing reels play a critical role in your success.
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Table of Contents
Surf Fishing Reel Reviews
We have put together the most comprehensive guide so you can get one of the best surf fishing reels available today that doesn’t let down.
1. PENN Slammer III Spinning Fishing Reel
The PENN Slammer III is what a lot of seasoned anglers regard as among the best surf fishing reels – if not the best.
It’s not because of its gorgeous design that you’d hardly see elsewhere, but of its sealed body wrap and spool that’s specifically for withstanding force and impact without letting water into this reel which can choke it up.
This is a spinning reel that’s close to maintenance-free apart from the exterior freshwater rinse. Loaded with a bearing system made of stainless steel and consisting of 6+1 balls for a super smooth operation, the line won’t get stuck as you try to wind it up.
The PENN Slammer III lets you play your very best game by the shore and it’s known to beat even the more expensive surf reels.
2. Daiwa Sealine SL-X-SHA Conventional Reel
Next up is the Daiwa Sealine Series with the Size 30 most suited for surf fishing. The reel is versatile enough to use on both freshwater and saltwater applications and features a rock-solid construction.
There’s no need for you to have custom drag washers with this reel for handling record-class fish and metal side plates in order to make it hold up to the style of fishing you choose to employ.
This is because these essential features are already built into the reel. The reel is ready for you to use on saltwater. It’s one rugged piece of aluminum from the frame and side plates all the way to the spool.
3. Okuma Rockaway Surf Reel
Okuma is slowly becoming the staple when it comes to long casts surf fishing. Its latest surf fishing reel is incredibly lightweight, but it’s more than that.
It’s compact-bodied and a long-stroke reel with a graphite body, side plates, and rotor to give you a genuine corrosion-resistant reel suited for harsh surf fishing environments.
Its spool is built specifically to hold long braid or mono lines while ensuring they’re tight and secure. The reel has a drag with 26 pounds as maximum output and a stopping power that can handle heavy and strong game.
A gear ratio of 5.3:1 lets the reel bring in approximately 41 inches of fishing line per turn. It retrieves your lure quickly so you can make the next precise cast.
4. Daiwa Saltist Spinning Reel
Daiwa Saltist is a spinning reel that’s designed for saltwater fishing as its name suggests. It’s tailored for anglers that want a strong, dependable, and durable reel capable of withstanding the hardest conditions.
The Saltist spinning reel has a rugged appearance and reputation of being hardy. The Magsealed line roller, as well as the ball bearings, are corrosion-resistant for high performance and long-lasting smoothness.
Daiwa is known as a brand that delivers high-end, quality fishing gear. It’s a name familiar to all seasoned fishermen. The Daiwa Saltist, in particular, is exceptional when targeting larger Pelagic species either from the beach or from the boat.
5. SeaKnight Rapid Spinning Reel
If you’re always heading out to the beach or sea, the SeaKnight Rapid is also one of your best options. It’s one of the best surf fishing reels as it performs seamlessly even with prolonged use.
This spinning reel is built tough and operates smoothly and precisely. It has well-engineered 10+1 ball bearings made of stainless steel. The ball bearing system is also shielded.
The other features worth noting on this reel are the outstanding 33-pound drag system that’s very powerful, ample protection from sand/water ingress, and a robust gear train.
6. KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel
KastKing Sharky III is perfect for anglers who spend the majority of their time going after some of the heaviest and largest fish in the sea.
The surf fishing reel has a trip disc carbon-fiber drag system that carries an incredible 39.5lb working capacity. It utilizes a 10+1 double-shielded bearing system that’s saltwater-rated and complements the significant drag capabilities of the reel.
It’s one of the top reels as it guarantees ultra-smooth performance and reliability even under heavy loads.
7. Pflueger President XT Low Profile Reel
If you’re familiar with the predecessor of the Pflueger President XT, the Pflueger President, then you know that it’s a well-respected reel series. This one takes it to the next level.
It’s able to justify its price tag which is significantly higher than the standard Pflueger President. This spinning reel delivers outstanding performance from its aluminum pinion gear and higher gear ratio.
Its drag is pretty smooth and predictable without stops and starts that create overwhelming loads. The reel is loaded with bearings so it’s smooth and silk, and it’s far more resistant to corrosion.
An added bonus is its weight which is far lighter. If you’re after reliability and resilience instead of a budget-friendly option, this is worthy for you to scrutinize.
8. Van Staal VR50 Spinning Reel
A surf fishing reel that’s unlikely to hit anglers’ radar is the Van Staal VR50 as its price is pretty high.
But, it’s also worth considering as it’s a premium product and it’s very well supplied! This top-shelf spinning reel is great for those with discerning tastes when it comes to spin reels and have a bit of extra cash to spend.
At 9 oz, it is heavier compared to its competitors but it offers incredible strength, features, and rigidity. The material construction of the Van Staal VR50 is quite impressive.
It’s a reel that’s built to last with the fully machined (6061) aluminum body, alloy spool, and stainless-steel spiral bevel gear system. It will handle the punishment that’s a killer for most high-end models.
How to Pick the Best Surf Fishing Reels
Regardless of the form, night surf fishing presents a unique set of issues that are unlike those that you encounter when you fish from a boat.
In order for you to get around the most common problems related to surf fishing and ensure fishing success, you’ll need a specialized rod and reel setup made specifically for surf fishing.
You have a lot of great options from our surf fishing reel reviews above. But, before you make a decision on which to get, pay close attention to these essential features as they will determine whether or not your surf fishing reel will offer you a memorable experience and aid you in landing the species you’re looking for:
Type of Fishing Reel
There are two primary kinds of reels suitable for surf fishing: spinning and baitcasting reels.
These are the ones that are more popular. They are great for intermediate anglers and novices thanks to their easy setup and usability.
They only take a couple of simple motions in getting an excellent cast out. While they are incredibly versatile, they are particularly useful for casting light baits. It’s a lot easier to cast long distances without the use or help of weight tied on the line with a spinning function.
For spinning reels, look for heavy gauge bail arms. They’re often an advertised feature. Conventional reels with heavy gauge wire bail arms survive better when they’re dragged on the sand.
They also survive better whenever you hook fish that’s ten times bigger than what you’re actually chasing. More importantly, they are much more suited for casting a big lead weight, which you’ll do more often when you surf fish in heavier conditions.
Importantly, they’re better suited for casting big lead weights, which you’ll do frequently when surf fishing in heavier conditions.
A baitcasting reel is more suited for an advanced angler. Although it does have more learning curves associated with it, this reel can be cast with great accuracy.
It’s excellent for making a perfect presentation for particularly picky fish. When surfcasting, baitcasting reels would be more useful in fishing off piers where there’s little need for extra accuracy in targeting the species that you want.
Ease of Cleaning
If a reel can’t be maintained or cleaned easily, it’ll undoubtedly have a much shorter lifespan. Saltwater is extremely harsh to any metal surface, especially the ones that comprise surf reels.
Additionally, the salt content of the country’s coastal waterways can cause reels to rust quickly if they aren’t cared for the right way. The top 10 surf casting reels sold on Amazon are simple to clean and naturally resistant to corrosion.
Good surf fishing reels also feature sealed bearing and drag systems that don’t require frequent maintenance. They’re sealed from the ingress of the elements and they come pre-lubricated.
Line Capacity and Casting Distance
Surf fishing often involves long distances so a considerable casting range will most likely result in success.
In order to ensure efficiency when you go surf fishing, it’s very important for the best surf casting reel to have the necessary characteristics that are related to casting. Good surf reels feature deeply cut, tall spools that enhance the overall line capacity of the reels.
As the line capacity of a reel increases, so will its natural ability in casting at a much greater distance. The ability in casting at an extensive range, for most anglers, will determine whether you’ll have success or be forced to go home empty-handed.
Most inexperienced surf anglers don’t know the species that they’ll hook. For this reason, it’s crucial for the best reel for surf fishing to have a drag system that’s ready to handle whatever is thrown in its way.
As you’re surf fishing on the shore, you won’t have an exact idea of the size or species of fish you will encounter. Choose the one that has a more robust drag system that offers a consistent and smooth operation.
In most cases, 20 to 30 pounds will be sufficient for the drag system. This will be plenty enough for surf fishing and when you land on the occasional monster species without failing or overheating under the additional stress.
Any reel that’s not durable will certainly fail when you take it with you for surf fishing. The best spinning reel for surf fishing or any kind of reel will be subjected to an immense amount of abuse.
Sand, moisture, sun, and saltwater can be devastating to the operation and efficiency of a reel that’s not rated for surf fishing. For this reason, the best surf fishing spinning reel for the money is one that’s impervious to corrosion and is highly durable.
The best surf spinning reel is designed specifically to handle what the elements throw its way. It has shielded bearings and a drag system, and has multiple corrosion-resistant coatings.
Speed Ratio and Bearings
Even the longest cast will be of little use when you can’t retrieve the line. When surf fishing, it’s not uncommon for a long line to be spooled out.
But, this means you must be capable of retrieving the long line efficiently and quickly at the same time.
A high gear ratio will let the line get picked at a more rapid pace without experiencing any difficulty. In addition, quality bearings will simplify the line retrieval process by making sure that the retrieval is streamlined and kept as smooth as possible for the user.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the reel size best for surf fishing?
The best surf fishing reels are generally the ones that can carry 200 yards of fishing line and weigh no more than a pound. Reels that are size 6000 to 8500 are ideal to use.
As you may have noticed, they’re more significant compared to what you often use with regular fishing. But, they must still feel lightweight as surf fishing will require you to fish for hours.
How far must the line be cast when surf fishing?
Surf fishing rods are often 12 to 15 ft long and you can use them with large spinning reels and 20-25lb test line.
With the right rod and reel setup suitable for surf fishing, you can cast weighted bait for up to a hundred yards.
What type of rod is best to use for surf fishing?
A heavy action fishing rod will be a treat to use when you’re surf fishing as you’ll likely be having large catches which are more powerful compared to the average freshwater species. The length can vary between 7ft to 16ft, but the best ones are around 12ft to 15ft.
What’s the best way to maintain a surf rod and reel setup?
To ensure your fishing gear remains in good shape for your upcoming surf fishing trips, it’s necessary to rinse every single component with fresh water after every use.
You also need to ensure that the parts are cleaned and free of salt water and sand prior to storage as this will help in preventing damage. Lastly, make sure you thoroughly dry the rod and reel prior to storage.
Where are the best places for surf fishing?
The best locations for surf fishing will depend on the species of fish you want to catch. The personal favorites of most experienced anglers include tarpon for fishing in Florida’s flats and striped bass in New Jersey.
What gets anglers excited are mullet or schools of bunker. It’s common for huge predatory species to follow a bait. Beach fishing is a very relaxing way of fishing and there’s a variety of fish you can catch.
Sharks are popular fish anglers targeted by the shoreline. Shark fishing is typically done at night as it’s when sharks get closer to the shore. It pays to remember that there are specific times when sharks migrate and anglers have an increased chance of landing one.
Locations that are known specifically for surf fishing include the Outer Banks beaches in Florida, the Jersey Shore, and the entire coastline of California. If you’re at an ocean’s shoreline, there are usually great species of fish to catch.
What species of fish are typically caught when surf fishing?
If you’re thinking of surf fishing in Florida, you’ll likely catch tarpon and snook. Because you’ll never know what exactly you’ll catch, it’s important to have the right gear for catching big fish.
What is the proper way of surf fishing?
When people think about surf fishing, they’d think of the white sandy beach and a fly fishing rod stuck right in the sand as the angler waits for fish to bite.
It’s definitely a common way in doing surf fishing; however, it isn’t the only way. There are several surf fishing tactics other than fishing from the shoreline and casting the bait out. You can be on a jetty, pier, muddy shoreline, or rocky shoreline.
Should I surf fish when it’s high or low tide?
It’s best if you wait out when the tide is actually changing. If you surf fish in an area that doesn’t have large tides, a couple of hours prior to the high tide would be an excellent time for you to start. For areas further north that have larger tides, a tide change will make you very effective at surf fishing.
Take note: there’s a better time for surf fishing, but you can still surf fish and have a great catch even when the tide isn’t right.
Just spend time on the water as it’s the best way for you to catch fish. There are hours when it’s slow and there are also times when there’s lots of fish activity. It’s often due to changing tides.
What are long cast spinning reels?
Long cast spinning reels have tall spools in reducing line friction and allowing far casting. They are often referred to as surf fishing reels as they’re used more commonly for surf fishing.
They are the ones that are used with very long rods. You’ll be able to cast up to a hundred yards with a long cast rod and reel setup and get past shallow breaking water by the shoreline.
Are you excited to get out and give surf fishing a go? We suggest you test out the PENN Slammer III as it’s hands down the most durable in harsh conditions and its watertight design will keep water and sand out of the gearbox and drag system.
You’ll get a smooth performance, as well as a long-range cast, making it a clear winner. As it’s often sold out, any of the products we featured on our list of the best surf fishing reels will also guarantee you an unforgettable fishing experience.
Just remember to maintain your fishing gear properly to get the most out of your purchase.