Best Surf Fishing Reels: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

Last Updated on

Many anglers already know that one of the biggest benefits of fishing is relaxing at the water. It’s hard to beat spending hours to get that perfect catch, but surf fishing takes relaxation to a whole new level. Surf fishing allows you to enjoy putting your feet in beautiful sandy shores with the hopes of catching one of many types of fish species that are available.

Aside from deep-sea fish species, there’s a wide variety of fish you can catch right off the shoreline. Some of these include Rockfish, striped seabass, and Mackerel. So, it’s no surprise that more and more people are getting into the swing of surf fishing and for a good reason.

Surf fishing is a great way for anglers of all levels to learn or to improve the craft of fishing. It's considered one of the easier fishing methods as you're casting directly from the shore. Anglers can spend hours of their sunny days fishing on the beach.

Yet, there are always some factors that can make or break your experience. One of the biggest factors anglers face is not knowing which equipment that’s best suited for the sport. This review could be detrimental in making your next surf fishing experience positive. And you never know, you could end up going home with a great catch, even on your first trip!

Preview

Product

Gear Ratio

Line Retrieval

Check Price

Penn 1338219 Battle II 4000 Spinning Fishing...

Penn Battle II

6.2:1

37 Inches

per turn

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000 FB Spinning Fishing...

Shimano

Stradic Ci4+

4.8:1

31.1 inches

per turn

Daiwa Sealine-X SHA Conventional Saltwater...

Daiwa Sealine-X

SHA

6.1:1

53.30 Inches

per turn

Daiwa BG4500 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel,...

Daiwa Bg 4500

5.6:1

43.1 Inches per turn

Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel

Penn Clash

6.2:1

37 Inches

per turn

Daiwa SS Tournament 5.1:1 Long Cast Whisker...

Daiwa SS Tournament

5.1:1

26.4 Inches

per turn

Okuma ABF-90 Avenger Baitfeeder Spinning Reel...

Okuma Avenger

ABF

4.5:1

28 Inches per turn

Pflueger President XT Low Profile Reel

Pflueger President

XT

4.6:1

22.4 Inches

per turn

Quantum CSP60PTSE Cabo Spin Reel

Quantum Cabo PT

5.3:1

33 Inches

per turn

SeaKnight Rapid Saltwater Spinning Reel,...

SeaKnight Rapid Saltwater

6.2:1

21.6 Inches

per turn


Why Surf Fishing Requires Specialized Reels

When it comes to surf fishing, it’s important to remember the basics. It doesn’t take an experienced angler to get a good catch while fishing from the shore. But the reel and rod you choose can heavily determine whether you'll be lucking on your fishing trip out.

Surf fishing requires specialized reels depending on the type of species you’re hoping to catch. Basic surf fishing can be done with a fishing rod between 7 feet long and can range up to 18 feet long for longer casts. Although anglers are fully capable of catching fish in water that's knee-deep, some species will be in deeper waters and will require a more specialized piece of equipment to reach them.

It's also important to remember that fishing with a freshwater reel for surf fishing isn't ideal as the water is entirely different. Freshwater reels will get damaged and corrode when in contact with saltwater and could cost you the price of your freshwater reel over time. Also, saltwater reels are typically stronger as they're going against strong tides.


Surf Fishing Reel Buyer’s Guide

Type of Fish & Environment

A common misconception of surf fishing is that the environment of fishing in shallow waters reduces the species of fish available to anglers. Like any type of fishing, some species aren't always available to you, but surf fishing doesn't limit anglers as much as some believe. Surf fishing offers many unique environments, with an abundance of deep channels. Whether you prefer to fish in knee-deep saltwater or on an upper lagoon, there will be fish loaded in grass and sand pockets with suitable habitats for you to enjoy.

On the west coast of the States, some fish species you'll find are the California Corbina, the Barred Surfperch, and of course, the California Halibut. While on the east coast, you'll find the striped bass as well as rockfish and various forms of trout. These fish species can range in size from as small as a few pounds to a whopping 30 kg. If you're hoping to go home with a larger sized catch, then make sure you know what your rod needs before taking the shores.

Skill & Experience Level

Spending a day on beautiful shorelines doesn't require a whole lot of skill. If anything, it's an excellent way for novice and experienced anglers alike to enjoy fishing.  For beginner anglers, it's a great way to learn some techniques in a relaxing environment. While more experienced anglers often can fish with two lines at once.  You'll often see these anglers with a regular-sized spinning rod to catch bigger fish. A smaller rod can be used for smaller fish like kingfish (sea mullet) or spot.

Power & Durability

When you're looking for a rod that's suitable for surf fishing, there are a few characteristics you'll need to look out for. One of these is its durability. As saltwater differs immensely from freshwater, you'll need to get a corrosion-resistant reel.

Materials like stainless steel and fiberglass can be extremely durable against erosion. If you have got a rod and reel you use for freshwater fishing that’s made of stainless steel, don’t rush to the shores just yet. Lower grades of stainless steel can, in fact, rust and corrode if continuously exposed to saltwater.

A rod that’s suitable for saltwater is usually made of a higher grade of stainless steel (like a 304/L Stainless Steel, or 316/L Stainless Steel, for example). Be sure to choose a higher grade of stainless steel with high-quality alloy compositions. This will ensure your rod is more corrosion resistant than others.

Another key factor to look at is a reel’s power ability. Saltwater reels should have a well-balanced rotor so that it reduces the amount of fatigue the angler experiences. This keeps the reel from wobbling and produces more power. Thus, the saltwater spinning reel will make you struggle less and exert less energy.

Reel Features

  • Gear Ratios on a Surf Fishing Reel
    Gear ratios determine the speed at which a reel picks up the line. A gear ratio of a typical fishing reel can be 6.3:1. This means the spool rotates 6.3 times for every 360-degree turn of the reel handle. For surfcasting rods, the gear ratio is measured as high-speed and low-speed.High range gear ratio reels are those with gear ratio from 7.1:1 through 8.1:1. These are high-speed reels that are strong and very fast and are perfect for anglers catching big fish and a quick pace. The low gear ratio starts from 5.1:1 to 5.4:1. Low gear ratio offers more power when handling fish such as huge swimbaits, deep water spinnerbaits, and crankbaits.
  • Weight of Surf Fishing Reel
    Surf fishing reels may come with gears and different lengths, but all should show high sensitivity and a maximum casting weight of 70-140 grams. Surf fishing reels are technically advanced these days, so the weight can be extremely light for their size. They should still be sensitive and extremely capable of catching larger species. They allow anglers to cover long distances into the sea or lagoon using lighter weights. 
  • Drag Strength of a Surf Fishing Reel
    The strength of the drag on a fishing rod refers to how much resistance the hooked fish feels when it pulls on the rod. The drag strength is measured in pounds, and it is adjusted manually for older reels. Newer reels will allow you to manually set the drag power and are much easier to control nowadays as they often come with maximum drag settings. Be sure to check this feature when you’re buying your surfcasting rod.

Line Capacity

The line capacity for surf fishing reels should be high enough to allow for casting in deeper oceans as well as casting in knee-deep waters. This type of line should be heavy enough to land 40 to 50 lb. fish. Braided lines or metal leaders will increase your line capacity so you’ll be able to fish in harsher conditions at ease. Surfcasting reels can handle line weights up to fifty pounds.

However, you should always remember that a battle with a larger fish could allow you to lose up to 100 yards of line. The more you fill your spool with line, the further you will be able to cast, and the higher the capacity you'll have. As a result, many anglers believe that the optimal amount of line for surf fishing is 250-300 yards.

Price & Warranty

The old saying, "You Get What You Pay For" certainly rings some truth when looking at surfcasting reels. It’s important to note what you’re using it for and whether you’re willing to invest in high-quality equipment or just a basic reel that will teach the fundamentals for surf fishing.

As for warranties, it's good to purchase from reputable brands as many can offer guarantees on parts for 1 to 5 years (on average). Yet some companies can offer lifetime warranties on their rods and reels, like Shimano, for example. This really gives anglers peace of mind when they’re out by the water.


10 Best Surf Fishing Reels Reviewed

1. Penn Battle II

Best Surf Reel for the Money

Reel Size

5 x 4 x 3 inches

Weight

1.1 lbs

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Line Retrieval

37” per turn

Line Capacity

1/3, 2/3, and full capacity

Warranty

1-year

The balance between price and quality for the Penn Battle II is fantastic as it functions like a higher-end reel but is affordable and likely to last you for years with the correct maintenance. The carbon washers replace traditional felt washers; this also lengthens the lifespan of the reel and provides an exceptionally smooth 'non-jerky' drag. It also looks incredibly clean with improved paint quality compared to previous models. This protects the reel against saltwater spray and chemicals, which will always lead to corrosion if you are not careful.

The Penn Battle II features a full metal body, rotor, and side plate, which makes it a slightly heavier reel than its competitors. It also means that it will not flex under the pressure of larger fish so you can fight retreating fish with ease. The Penn Battle II has an extra heavy-duty bail wire that should last well over time or warp with use. This is important as a warped bail will lead to inferior line management, which isn't fun for anglers new to the game.

The 4000 reel size is one of the most recommended as it has a gear ratio of 6.2:1. If you're looking for a reel that's bigger or smaller in size, then fear not, as there are 6 sizes to choose from. All reel sizes are well suited for fresh and saltwater fishing and have an HT 100 carbon fiber drag system. Penn did a fantastic job in pricing this reel, so we’ve named it the best surf reel for the money. It's also highly reviewed for experienced anglers, too, so it can suit many fishing styles.

Pros
  • Durable for freshwater and saltwater
  • HT 100 carbon fiber drag system
  • No backing required
  • Features heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
Cons
  • Heavier than many of its competitors
  • Difficult for self-maintenance

2. Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Best Shimano Reel for Surf Fishing

Reel Size

5.9 x 3.5 x 5 inches

Weight

0.506 lbs

Gear Ratio

4.8:1

Line Retrieval

31.1" per turn

Line Capacity

8/240, 10/200, 12/160 yd/lb

Warranty

10-year

Enjoy one of the best reels Shimano has to offer, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+, with a reel size of 4000. This Strikingly good looking reel is extremely lightweight with a solid feel. There's a protective water-repellent coating placed in the roller clutch and line roller that prevents water from entering these key areas. Don't worry about saltwater hitting it though, as this protective layer makes it saltwater ready. The reel also has a shielded anti-rust bearing, so there's no need to worry about quick erosion here too.

This reel incorporates an exciting new concept based on a reel that was previously made, named Shimano’s G-Free Body. They’ve upgraded and updated its features- one of which is the waterproof drag. This benefit is often not found on reels that are doubled in price, so it was a great implementation that makes this reel stand out from the rest.

Shimano's Magnumlite Rotor is 25% lighter than previous styles making it remarkably light in weight. It weighs in at a whopping 0.505 lbs (5.60 ounces). It also has a robust CI4+ carbon body and cold-forged aluminum spool. It has an ultra-smooth reeling experience, and when it's combined with a gear ratio of 6.0:1, it is sure to win the hearts of anglers around the globe.

Pros
  • High crank power rating
  • Shielded anti-rust bearings
  • Hagane body
  • Saltwater ready
Cons
  • Line tend to get trapped in the loop
  • Drag washers can be a little temperamental during maintenance

3. Daiwa Sealine-X SHA

Best Conventional Reel for Surf Fishing

Reel Size

7 x 5.8 x 3.2 inches

Weight

1.4 lbs

Gear Ratio

6.1:1

Line Retrieval

53.30" per turn

Line Capacity

12/420, 14/350, 20/210 yd/lb

Warranty

1- year

When you’re looking for a conventional reel that’s perfect for surf fishing, the Daiwa Sealine-X is hard to beat! Daiwa has said on their site that “Not only are these reels perfect for jigging or trolling, but the freedom of their Free-Floating Spool also lets you fire a lure or live bait with ease when an inviting target pops into view."

So not only is it a conventional rod, but it's multi-purposeful, too!  The free-floating spool also separates the spool from the gear train on outcast, so it creates less on no friction at all during use. It also helps with longer casts allowing anglers to put plenty of line on it, too.

It features a 3 bearing system (3CRBB) that constrains relative motion to only the desired area and reduces friction between moving parts when in use. It also has a tough marine bronze finish with stainless steel gears, so it's particularly useful for saltwater and sea environments. But the most attractive feature, in my opinion, has to be its handle. It has a two-position power handle with an oversized Soft Touch grip, so it allows anglers to fish with power and smoothness.

Combine this arrangement with a high-tensile aluminum spool and a high-quality clamp, and you'll find yourself with a super-strong yet super-lightweight reel. This may well be one of the most reliable drags around, so if this is what you're looking for, you've found it.

Pros
  • Features a free-Floating Spool
  • Great for less friction, longer casts & faster lure drop
  • Three CRBB Super Corrosion Resistant Ball Bearings
  • Marine bronze finish
  • High-tensile aluminum spool
Cons
  • soft the metal rings that cover the reel wear over time
  • Long wait times if sent to Daiwa under the warranty

4. Daiwa Bg 4500

Top Rated

Reel Size

6 x 5 x 4 inches

Weight

1 lb

Gear Ratio

5.6:1

Line Retrieval

43.1" per turn

Line Capacity

14/470, 17/380, 20/280 yd/lb

Warranty

1- year

Our top-rated reel for surf fishing has to be the Daiwa Bg range as Daiwa offers great value for the money and has a lot of options and variety in reel sizes. From 1500 to 6500, there’s a lot of choice for what you’re looking for. The 4500 sits within these reel sizes well and is a perfect piece of equipment to bring to the shorelines.

The best feature of this reel is that you can just remove the bail trip ramp to make it a manual. This feature is not very common, but anglers love it and find it extremely useful. Inside the BG 4500, you'll find a seven-bearing drive system that consists of six ball bearings and a single roller bearing.

While the smaller reel sizes have infinite Anti-Reverse, larger-sized reels (4500 and larger) have 'Infinite Dual Anti-Reverse.' This means the reel won't slip when you set the hook, while smooth drag washers will help prevent the line from breaking when you're fighting a fish.

You can use it for everything, including in freshwater and saltwater. The BG is equipped with a "Hard Bodyz" machined aluminum body and side cover for strength and internal part stability. These reels come with a one-year factory warranty, but make sure you provide some self-maintenance to keep it running smooth and well.

Pros
  • Features an over-sized Digigear
  • Solid Screw-In Handle
  • Manual Return Bail (4500 and Larger)
  • Infinite Anti-Reverse System
Cons
  • Reels run bigger in terms of sizing than their competitors

5. Penn Clash

Trusted Brand

Reel Size

6 x 6 x 4 Inches

Weight

0.66 lbs

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Line Retrieval

37" per turn

Line Capacity

220/10 yd/lb

Warranty

1- year

Penn Clash has been manufacturing rods and reels since the early 1930s, so it’s no surprise that they’re well known as a trusted brand by anglers all around the world. Penn’s entry into the spinning reel market is another winner in more ways than one.

Penn has used 8 sealed stainless steel bearings and will hold up under harsh saltwater conditions. The instant anti-reverse bearing provides the angler with the ability to get a good hook every time without playing around with the spool. It also features a patented HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, and the CNC Dura-Gear technology for longer-lasting and smooth gearing. The gear ratio is a reliable and sturdy 6.2:1 for the 4000 reel size model, but again, there are a whopping 7 models to choose from.

Anglers should expect an extremely durable construction with a  full metal body, and a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire. Its HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers and wave spring, which increase the drag factor by about 20% compared to Penns previous reels.

This provides a genuinely smooth drag that doesn't bottom out. It really is a quality saltwater reel for both inshore fishing as well as offshore. If you are looking to step up your reel without breaking the bank, then the Penn Clash is one that should be considered.

Pros
  • Saltwater ready with sealed bearings and gaskets.
  • Very smooth HT-100 drag system
  • Lightest reel manufactured  from Penn
Cons
  • Line roller not always appropriately aligned out of the box
  • Hard to take apart and reassemble for self-maintenance

6. Daiwa SS Tournament

Best for Long Casting

Reel Size

7 x 6 x 7 inches

Weight

0.56 lbs

Gear Ratio

5.1:1

Line Retrieval

26.4" per turn

Line Capacity

6/240 yd/lb

Warranty

1- year

The ultimate long-cast spinning reel, Daiwa SS Tournament features Daiwa's revolutionary Long-Cast technology that’s ahead of its competitors in the market. It leaves anglers fully satisfied with an average of 10% longer casts compared to its competitors in the game.

The reel is the winner of two Bassmaster Classic awards for its unique design while still being strong and durable. The Daiwa SS tournament features a smoother oversized micro-adjustable drag to gives anglers ultimate torque. The 3 stainless steel bearings are excellent against corrosion.

Stainless steel bearings aren't easy to rust, especially when they're washed down correctly. Luckily, these bearings can be washed down without having to use a lubricating oil, so self-maintenance is easier than its competitors too.

An Aluminum Spool and a super-strong Whisker graphite body makes it one of the favorites among fishers. While there are 2 options to choose from, the better for surf fishing and for longer casts has to be the 1300 reel size. As it’s smaller in size than others on this list, it makes it lighter in weight yet extremely durable. This is one of the finest light tackle saltwater spinning reels made and is an excellent addition to any angler's fishing equipment.

Pros
  • Long cast spool
  • Extremely smooth drag
  • Three stainless steel ball bearings
  • Lifetime bail spring
Cons
  • Does not feature anti-reverse

7. Okuma Avenger ABF

Best Surf Fishing Reel Under $100

Reel Size

7 x 6 x 4 inches

Weight

1.0 lbs

Gear Ratio

4.5:1

Line Retrieval

28" per turn

Line Capacity

410/8 yd/lb

Warranty

1-year limited

If you are going for some serious saltwater fishing and you want a good, quality fishing reel at a reasonable price, then the Okuma Avenger ABF could be exactly what you’re looking for. For a cheaper alternative at under $100, you don’t have to sacrifice on quality construction, great performance but at an affordable price.

The Okuma Avenger is commonly known as their bait feeder version of their Avenger B model with the addition of the On/Off auto trip bait feeding system switch. A bait feeder reel (also known as a teaser level) is used to engage the secondary drag system. When the secondary drag is engaged, you can then make a "controlled free spool." This means that the drag is light enough to allow a fish to take the bait and run with it without feeling the very light drag.

The lightweight CNC spools are fitted with smooth oil-soaked felt washers that give power and smoothness to any angler. The reel features six sealed ball bearings and uses Okuma's live bait feeding system. It also has an easy-to-reach lever (located on the body behind the handle), which disengages the spool to allow the line to run freely.

It comes in a range of sizes and features varied gear ratios. The reel we’re focusing on is 4000 in reel size and has a gear ratio of 4.5:1. It truly is a great reel that will have you on the water quickly without breaking the bank.

Pros
  • Precision Machine Cut Brass Pinion Gear
  • Sealed gearbox
  • Graphite rotor and body
  • Good anti-reverse technology
  • Comes with additional graphite spool
Cons
  • The handle consists of a difficult material combination of plastic and aluminum
  • Heavier in weight than its competitors

8. Pflueger President XT

Best Low Profile Surf Reel

Reel Size

4.75 x 4.75 x 3.5 Inches

Weight

1.6 lbs

Gear Ratio

4.6:1

Line Retrieval

22.4" per turn

Line Capacity

250/8 yd/lb

Warranty

1- Year

If you’re looking for a reel that has plenty of features but is kept under the radar, then the Pflueger President XT could be the one for you. Pflueger is a well-known company that manufactures fishing products and are best known for their innovative design and detailed performance. They’ve focused on their President reel and elevated it to suit more anglers’ needs.

The features of this product speak for itself. It has an aircraft-grade aluminum handle that provides extreme durability. Its graphite body and rotor makes it extremely resistant to corrosion- perfect for surf fishing in any environment.

The total weight of the Pflueger President spinning reel is around 1.6 pound, and the company thought of many ways to reduce the weight compared to its original design. The spool has a hole-like structure that reduces the weight of the instrument along with giving comfort to anglers when they’re by the water. Don’t be fooled by its size as it doesn’t impact the performance of the reel while catching larger species.

It also has 9 stainless steel bearings that seem to work flawlessly. It also has a unique anti-reverse bearing which has a one-way clutch bearing with a sure-click bail. This transmits torque between the shaft and housing in one direction and allows free movement in the opposite direction.

The Pflueger President XT is available in five different weights, and each size has its advantages, depending on the preference of the user. It's one of the better-priced reels on the list, so be sure to check it out before making your final decision.

Pros
  • 9 stainless steel ball bearings
  • Lightweight Aluminum construction
  • Smooth sealed carbon fiber drag system
  • One-way clutch instant anti-reverse bearing
Cons
  • Customers complain about long return waits when they sent in their reel under warranty

9. Quantum Cabo PT

Top of the Range

Reel Size

3 x 3 x 6 inches

Weight

0.83 lbs

Gear Ratio

5.3:1

Line Retrieval

33” per turn

Line Capacity

20/400 yd/lb

Warranty

1- Year

Quantum released the Cabo PT in 2014 and still has anglers in love with it. Not only does it put out a ridiculous 35 lbs of drag at max use, but the drag is one of the smoothest, and it holds a lot of line (225/50 of braided capacity). While the reel is completely constructed of metal, it weighs less than 0.83 lbs. For a rod with an insane drag power, sealed drag, and sealed anti-reverse, this rod is actually extremely light compared to its competitors in the market.

This top of the range reel features a sealed magnum CSC drag system, sealed magnum clutch, and a titanium fail-proof bail system with a magnetic trip. It also has a saltGuard 7-layer corrosion protection finish, so this reel is entirely waterproof. 

The LMS (line management system) and super hard PT gears complement any rod to make it smooth yet powerful for even the smallest bites. With over 6 styles and sizes available, there's bound to be one that suits your style and needs. Not to mention, it’s reversible so left and right-handed anglers can use in absolute comfort. It is the top choice for serious saltwater game anglers and is considered our top of the range reel for all those reasons and more.

Pros
  • Robust and durable construction
  • Sleek look and comfortable to hold
  • Huge, strong center shaft
  • 7-layer corrosion protection finish
Cons
  • Drag clicker (spring) can be fragile
  • High price point for beginners

10. SeaKnight Rapid Saltwater

Best Budget Surf Fishing Reel

Reel Size

5.5 x 5.1 x 3.5 inches

Weight

0.6 lbs

Gear Ratio

6.2:1

Line Retrieval

21.6" per turn

Line Capacity

0.25-160 yd/lb

Warranty

N/A

If you’re looking for a reel with versatility when surf fishing but at a good value, look no further. The SeaKnight Rapid 4000H comes loaded with features but at a fraction of the price compared to other reels on this list. That’s why many anglers have voted this the best budget surf fishing reel year on year.

The Rapid is outfitted with high quality 10+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings that create an amazingly smooth feel to the reel. And don’t worry about going against larger fish, the carbon fiber drag system with 15kg /33 pound of drag can pull in the largest gamefish when surf fishing. The 4000 reel size features an anti-corrosive coating for salt and freshwater use. Its shields on both sides of the bearings reduce the possibility of saltwater or sand inhibiting the bearing's rotation. 

It also features a sealed aluminum spool and rotor structure, so it’s considered “anti-water, and anti-dust” in all accounts. Its craftsmanship and attention to detail in its design leaves it looking clean and exquisite So, not only does it look good, but it has an advanced production technology for a rod at this price point.

Pros
  • Anti-corrosive Bearings & Components
  • 1 Stainless Anti-Reverse Ball Bearing
  • Carbon Fiber Drag System
  • Open Designed Rotor for Smooth Working.
Cons
  • No information online or on their site about a warranty

Spinning Reels vs. Baitcasting Reels for Surf Fishing

There are two main kinds of fishing reels we use today; spinning reels and baitcasting reels, and luckily enough, both can be used for surf fishing. Here are some factors to consider when choosing between a baitcasting or spinning reel.

  • Baitcasting Reels
    Bait-casting reels utilize a revolving spool that turns among multiple gears. Their line flows straight on and off the spool through a level wind mechanism. These reels provide for better casting control and distance, both of which are very important when surf fishing.Baitcasters also have a lot more line capacity, so they tend to provide a lot more versatility. It's important to note that they tend to backlash and create the dreaded "bird's nest." This isn't so fun for beginners that are by the water and will have to act fast, or else their fishing trip will be cut short.
  • Spinning Reels
    Spinning reels use a fixed-spool design where the line gets wraps around the spool in coils, coming on and off at a 90-degree angle through a roller.  Spinning reels are much easier to learn how to spincast, yet they may not cast as far as a baitcaster. Most anglers seem to have taken the path of least resistance when they’re beginning their surf fishing stories due to their easy to use methods.A negative aspect of spinning reels is that they tend to create a line twist, especially when an inexperienced ­angler attempts to reel in a catch that's going against the drag. Advocates of baitcasting reels seem to prefer the simplicity of a direct connection between the lure (or bait) and the reel spool.

Choosing the Right Gear Ratio Reel for Surf Fishing

Saltwater reels are classified into 3 gear ratio groups- high-speed, medium-speed, or low-speed. Some saltwater spinning reels even allow anglers to switch from high speed to low speed with the push of a button. Here’s some more information on each gear ratio that’s on the market.

  • Low Gear Ratio/Slow (5.1:1 thru 5.4:1)
    These reels have the highest amount of torque, allowing you to put less effort into regaining bait and more energy towards finding the fish you’d like to catch. These reels are also great for slow rolling big, heavy baits such as spinnerbaits and swimbaits.
  • Medium Gear Ratio/Medium (6.1:1 thru 6.4:1)
    These reels are great for multiple techniques when surf fishing. It makes them very popular among bass anglers fishing in harsh sea environments. Whether you’re casting into sea plants or heavy sand, they should be the best option to pull without damaging the rod or losing the bait.
  • High Gear Ratio/Fast (7.1:1 thru 8.1:1)
    These are high-speed reels that are strong and very fast. They're perfect for catching up fish quickly and effectively. Getting a rapid hook set and promptly reeling in fish means you have precise control when retrieving your line. It also means you can cast again and again. They’re much faster and more complicated than a lower gear ratio.

Surf Fishing Reel Sizing Guide

You may have seen some numbers in the reviews that just doesn’t make sense to you just yet. These numbers indicate the size of the reel, and each model will have a number associated with them. The main concept is that the smaller the number, the smaller the reel is.

These numbers range from 10 (or 1000, both are the same size) to 300 (30,000). Some brands will offer larger sizes than a 30,000 reel size, but they are not popular for surf fishing. The most common size reels typically sit between 3500 to 6000 for a standard beach and jetty combination.


Surf Fishing Reel FAQs

Is it better to surf fish at low or high tide?

There is no better tide for surf fishing, per se. Depending on the individual situations, location, weather conditions, and seasons it all can vary. You can catch fish at pretty much any tide and time; however, certain fish will be susceptible during certain tides.

What are some tips for inexperienced people who want to go beach fishing?

Here are 3 tips that any inexperienced angler should find useful:

  1. 1
    Know where to set up. Choose somewhere above the high water, so you won't need to move with the tides.
  2. 2
    It is essential to learn how to anchor the baited rig, so you don't continue losing it during strong tides.
  3. 3
    Know your rod and reel before you get to your preferred location. It will save you a lot of time practicing and will keep your neighboring anglers happy.
What kind of rod should I use for surf fishing? What’s the best length?

9 -12 feet long rods typically work well for pretty much all types of surf fishing conditions. They can cover fan casting, jetties, and even throwing out a long cast.

Can I use a surf reel away from the surf?

From the list above, you'll see that many reels are suitable for saltwater and freshwater, so bringing your surf reel away from the surf is fine. However, even if you can, it doesn’t always mean you should as different fishing styles build up different types of dirt in the reel. It's preferred by anglers to have one reel per style, but it's not mandatory in any regard.

What is the best pound test line for surf fishing?

A 30-40 Lb braided fishing line is most recommended for surf fishing. This line should not only last you a long time, but it should do well for any larger species you may hook along the way.


Conclusion

Finding your perfect reel for surf fishing should be a lot easier now that you’ve all of the information at your fingertips. You should be able to determine your preferred price point and figure out which features are most important to you easier to narrow down your choice.

Any reel from our list will be a good addition to your fishing equipment, but if you’re still unsure then take a look at the Penn Battle II. So, take the first step and have your reel ready. Your next step is to start looking for your preferred rod to complement it.