The Best Surf Fishing Reels 2019 – A Detailed Review

There is no doubt that surf fishing is one of the most exciting things for an angler to do. Not only is it scenic but also provides you with the chance to hook sharks, redfish, bluefish and the like. However, like just any other kind of fishing, it’s important that you have the right kind of tools for the job – like the right surf fishing reels.

The ideal reel is one that’s powerful enough to withstand aggressive fighters. It should also be made of high-quality parts so it’s corrosion resistant as well.

On the search for the best surf fishing reels? Your search is about to get easier thanks to the reviews we have compiled below. Our editors have evaluated the finest reels for the job based on the following key requirements:

  • Build quality
  • A design that’s easy to use
  • Brand reputation
  • Quality of the drag system

Remember, different people have different preferences. As such, it’s important that you fully understand your unique needs so you can make the right move. Ready? Let’s get started.

Top 10 Best Surf Fishing Reels in 2019 – Comparison Chart

Ask any experienced angler out there and they’ll tell you that a reel plays an important role in your success. In that regard, we have put together the following list to provide you with a quick comparison of the 10 reels reviewed.

The 10 Best Surf Fishing Reels in 2019

1. Penn Battle II 4000 Spinning Fishing Reel

When it comes to high-quality fishing reel, the Penn brand rarely disappoints. In this case, we are going to review the Penn Battle II, which is an upgraded model of the Penn battle. It is very affordable and is suitable for freshwater fishing.

The Battle 4000 Series is the standard duty version as it lies between the light duty 1000 Series and the heavy duty 8000 Series.

Product Description 

The Penn Battle II 4000 is made in the USA and is constructed from high-quality materials and is designed for an excellent performance in the saltwater environment you will subject it to. It offers exceptional durability, and we can deduce this from the full metal body, the aluminum bail wire, and the rotor.

It features the HT-100 carbon fiber drag system for smooth and powerful drag. It also features five stainless steel ball bearings and an instant anti-reverse bearing.

Other Features and Benefits

The Penn Battle II is designed to be corrosion-resistant and is durable as it can withstand the damage that comes from sprays and chemicals.

The five ball bearings make for a smooth reeling process. It also has line capacity rings which inform you of the line capacity and how much is left so that you can know how much more you have to pull.

The anti-reverse handle will enhance your success in pulling the fish out of the water, and you will be comfortable with it whether you are left or right-handed.

Lastly, it is very affordable.

Pros

  • Features an anti-reverse system
  • Ergonomic and comfortable handle
  • Smooth retrievals

Cons

  • Too noisy

2. Shimano Stradic Ci+ 4000 Spinning Fishing Reel

The Shimano line of fishing reels is one of the most popular brands globally. They have high-quality construction, most can handle fish of different sizes and can be used by amateurs and professionals as well. The Ci+ model is not an exception, and we can add its versatility to the list of impressive qualities.

Product Description

The Shimano Ci+ Fishing Reel has a maximum drag capacity of 20lbs, and it features 6 S ARB Ball bearings and one ball bearing to give you a smooth spooling process and control. It also features the CoreProtect which repels water, and it is placed in the line roller and roller clutch.

The reel comes with a variety of settings in the micro-click adjustable knob.

Other Features and Benefits

The Magnumlite (MGL) rotor is relatively lighter, and it will contribute to a smoother retrieval as you will have a better balance and require less force in the process.

You will also notice that you rarely get arm-fatigue with this reel. We can attribute this to the G-Free body design that moves the mass of the reel closer to the rod.

It has a carbon fiber body to make it extremely light. It also has a cold-forged aluminum spool for increased strength and durability.

The Hagane cold-forged drive gears will enhance the smooth retrieval while the Super Stopper II anti-reverse bearing will prevent playbacks in the reel.

Pros

  • Better water-repellence
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Too pricey

3. Daiwa BG Spinning Reel BG 2000

The Daiwa franchise has a reputation of releasing some outstanding fishing reels into the market, the BG Spinning Reel being one of them. Its construction features top-notch technology and has very decent pricing for the quality that it offers.

Product Description

The Daiwa BG Spinning Reel comes in ten sizes starting from size 1500 to 8000. It has three gear ratios of 5.3:1, 5.6:1, and 5.7:1 and can comfortably retrieve a 70lb fish. It features the "Hardy Bodyz” black anodized finish to offer a protective layer over the aluminum housing, and a waterproof carbon ATD drag system. The anti-rust ball bearings will contribute to a smooth retrieve.

Other Features and Benefits

The anodized layer makes the body sturdy and durable as well as enhances its corrosion-resistance. Then, the over-sized gear system also offers a smooth retrieve as it allows more teeth to be in contact with each other.

The screw-in handle has a solid feel while the air rotor design offers a balanced reel. The aluminum ABS spool has a higher casting distance and has low memory and also never gets wind-knots.

The seven stainless steel ball bearings are rust-resistant while the reels from size 1500 to 4000 have an infinite anti-reverse system that prevents playback when you are setting up the hook.

Pros

  • Smooth retrieval
  • Sturdy construction
  • Solid screw-in handle

Cons

  • Too heavy

4. Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel

If you are looking for high-quality fishing that is also affordable, the Penn Clash is one reel that you should consider. It was released in 2015 and is designed for saltwater fishing. It is also the lightest reel from the Penn franchise.

Product Description

The Penn Clash 4000 model has a maximum drag of 15lbs and weighs 10.7oz. It has a gear ratio of 6.2:1 and it utilizes eight bearings plus an extra anti-reverse bearing. The handles are ambidextrous, and you can use them in the left or right-handed position. The reel also uses the patented HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers for enhanced performance.

Other Features and Benefits  

The Penn Clash has a full metal body which will ensure that no twists ever occur. It also utilizes Computer Numeric Control gears which are designed towards precision and result in a smoother retrieve.

It has a Leveline Oscillation System gives you an even line wrap as you retrieve as a result of the Balanced Spool.

The bearings are made of stainless steel, and this makes them suitable for saltwater fishing. The bail is made of aluminum, which is heavy-duty and durable.

The anti-reverse bearing stops backlash from occurring while the line capacity rings will let you know the amount of line remaining.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Sturdy body construction
  • Smooth retrieval

Cons

  • Needs too much maintenance

5. Daiwa SS1300 Tournament Spinning Reel

Are you an angler looking for a spinning reel that has an incredible and reliable smooth drag? The Daiwa SS Tournament Reel is what you need. It is durable, affordable and you can use it for stream as well as bass fishing.

Product Description

This reel is made in Japan, and it features the Daiwa’s Revolutionary Long-Cast Technology to make it the ideal long-cast reel. It also features 3 Stainless Steel Bearings, an aluminum spool, oversized stainless discs, and a durable bail string. The handle allows for a right or left-handed retrieve.

Other Features and Benefits

The Daiwa SS Tournament has an anti-reverse bearing that prevents back-play in the spool. This will prevent your catch from escaping into the water.

The three bearings contribute to a very smooth drag while the body is sturdy and durable as a result of the construction consisting of Carbon V Bias Joint Chuck and Fuji L Alcon for the rings on feeder rods.

Pros

  • Smooth Drag
  • Longer casting distance
  • Interchangeable handle

Cons

  • A bit heavy

6. Okuma Avenger ABF Graphite Reel

If you are a beginner and you wish to use a Spinning Reel that will make you come for more, the Okuma Avenger is here for you. It has a stunning design and will offer you a smooth fishing experience in salty as well as the freshwater environment.

Product Description

The Okuma Avenger ABF is made in Japan, and it features the patented auto-trip bait feeding system that allows the spool and the free-running line to disengage without opening the bail. It also has Multi-disk Japanese drag washers and six stainless steel ball bearings plus one anti-reverse roller bearing.

The body is made of graphite and is corrosion-resistant while the aluminum handle is sturdy and rigid. It utilizes the computer-balanced rotor equalizing system and is backed by a one-year warranty.

Other Features and Benefits

The study graphite construction gives the spinning reel the capability of pulling out the larger fish species from the water.

The Multi-disk drag system coupled with the Japanese Oiled Felt Drag Washers will make the reel more efficient and as a result, boost your catch.

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • Smooth reeling process
  • Corrosion-resistant body

Cons

  • Handle causes blisters

7. Pflueger President XT Low Profile Reel

If you are looking for a robust yet straightforward fishing reel, then the Pflueger President XT is the way to go. It is affordable and will still offer you the outstanding performance associated with low profile baitcasters. Is it worth the hype? Let’s find out.

Product Description

The Pflueger President XT is made in the USA and features a graphite frame to make it very lightweight. It has an aircraft-grade aluminum handle with soft rubber handle knobs to make them very comfortable. It also features nine ball bearings which are corrosion resistant as well as a magnetic adjustable external braking system.

Other Features and Benefits

You will be impressed by the build quality of this reel, with the graphite material making it durable and lightweight at the same time. The premium C45 carbon side plates also increase its strength while maintaining a low weight.

The stainless steel ball bearings contribute to an effortless performance underwater. The maximum drag of 12lbs means that you will have a fish of decent size to take home.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Smooth drag system
  • Affordable

Cons

  • No left-hand retrieve

8. Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel

One of the best Spinning reels designed to withstand the harsh conditions of saltwater fishing is the Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel. Among its main features are the high drag capacity, Performance Tuning (PT), and corrosion resistance.

Product Description

The Quantum Cabo uses 8 PT bearings and has an alloy body and side-plate to make it solid and give it incredible strength and durability. It has a drag capacity ranging from 30 to 65lbs and has a sealed clutch to make it very water-tight. It also features the SaltGuard Corrosion Protection to enhance its durability in saltwater conditions.

Other Features and Benefits 

The alloy material called SCR is used on the body and side cover to make this reel durable and will effectively serve you for many years to come.

The reel features the Koyo-sealed anti-reverse bearing to prevent playback in the spool which may make your fish escape.

The Titanium bail system enhances its strength and durability while the Line Management System (LMS) comprising of a ball bearing line roller and a Magnetic trip, and they combine to give you smooth and robust retrieval.

Lastly, it has a soft handle knobs for comfort.

Pros

  • High-quality build
  • Extreme drag
  • Water-tight

Cons

  • Weak handle

9. Daiwa Sealine-X50SHA Conventional Saltwater Reel

If you are looking for the best fishing reel for jigging or trolling, the Daiwa Sealine-X50SHA is a viable option. It is suitable for both beginners and professionals and has a free-floating spool that leads an easier spinning process.

Product Description

The Daiwa Sealine-X50SHA features a three ball bearing system with corrosion-resistant ball bearings that are long-lasting. It has a 6-element star drag system, and a sturdy make consisting of bronze and stainless steel gears.

It has a handle which you can use both in the right or left handed position while the gear ratio is of 6.1:1. It weighs 18.7oz and has a maximum drag of 17.6lbs.

Other Features and Benefits

The dual-position handle has an over-sized soft rubber grip, which is comfortable, and you can hold it for hours without experiencing arm fatigue.

It has a stunning appearance with a gold and black combo, making it a joy to look at.

It will withstand harsh ocean conditions as a result of the corrosion-resistant materials used in its construction.

Pros

  • Decent pricing
  • Attractive look
  • Comfortable handle

Cons

  • Low maximum drag

10. Sea-Knight Rapid Saltwater Spinning Reel

If you are looking for a versatile and affordable spinning reel that you can use in any water, the Sea-Knight Rapid will be of great help. It has a fantastic look featuring bright gold accents, and it will offer you a decent performance in light freshwater and heavy saltwater fishing.

Product Description

The Rapid Spinning Reel has an anti-corrosive coat to sustain its freshwater suitability and has 10+1 Shielded Stainless Steel Ball bearings for a smooth reel. The sealed aluminum spool and rotor structure will help in keeping out water and sand from the interior structure.

It has a 33lb drag to make it suitable for the biggest fish species in the water.

Other Features and Benefits

The sturdy construction consisting of the aluminum spool, rotor structure, thick main shaft, and stainless steel ball bearings will enhance its ability to survive the harsh saltwater environment.

The casting and retrieval are smooth while the anti-reverse gear helps in preventing your catch from escaping back into the water.

It also has an oscillating system that minimizes line friction by layering the line onto the spool evenly.

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Strong drag
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Weak drag-knob

What Makes Surf Fishing Reels Different?

Unlike conventional fishing reels, surf reels have quite a few extra features. For instance, they are designed to be used in salt water conditions which would, otherwise, damage common reels.

Another awesome advantage to using these and not any other reel types is that they handle heavy duty lines and lures. As such, surf reels are your best bets when it comes to hunting for those saltwater monsters. Other light gauge reels would struggle when exposed to larger fish species.

Yet another aspect of these reels that makes them different is that their components are sealed. This alone goes a long way to prevent corrosion and adding to the lifespan of your precious gear.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Surf Reel

How can I go about buying an affordable fishing reel if this is my first time doing so? You might be wondering. Well, in our view, there are quite a few pointers to take into account. But to sum all that up, the ideal surf reel is one that meets the following requirements.

The Power & Durability of the Reel

As you know, surf reels are used to capture large fish species. For that reason, it’s important to ensure that the reel is of the best quality possible. It should be designed to withstand the harsh ocean environment.

Besides that, it should be corrosion-resistant. Ultimately, you need to insist on the reel being solidly built. That way, you can get all the power you need to face those unbelievably strong saltwater fish species.

Speed & Smoothness

At the heart of every reel is a set of ball bearings. Ideally, these bearings should be optimized for a smooth and efficient casting experience. One thing there is to note, however, is that the higher the number of bearings, the better the user experience.

Reels with high number of ball bearings tend to be quite durable as well. So, how do you determine if the bearings in your reel are adequate? Simple – the ideal number of bearings is between 5 and 12.

Yup, that’s where all the magic happens. And while at it, remember that surf fishing entails making long casts. As such, your best bet is to settle for a reel that allows for a superfast retrieval speed. This ensures that you don’t easily lose your catch.

Size of the Reel

There are different reel sizes typically ranked as 1000, 2000, 3000 and so forth. Basically, the greater this number becomes, the larger the capacity of the reel involved.

Basically, small sized reels are suited for freshwater use. So, in this case, you want to go for a larger one. The main point to keep in mind right now is that larger reels also allow you to spool high capacity lines. And with high capacity lines, you stand a better chance of battling large fish species.

What’s The Gear Ratio?

It’s easy to overlook this all-important aspect of fishing reels but don’t. The point is, the gear ratio of your gear determines its effectiveness. So, the moment you compromise on it, you also lose out in terms of value.

Basically, the gear ratio describes the number of times the reel’s spool rotates whenever you turn its handle around. So, if you get a 5:1 ratio, it means that a single rotation of the reel’s handle yields 5 spool rotations. Likewise, a 7.3:1 ratio is equivalent to the spool rotating 7.3 times per handle turn.

Think of it this way, the higher the gear ratio you get to work with the faster you’re likely to retrieve the line. However, faster retrieval speeds also come at the expense of the cranking power. So, if you want extra cranking power, go for a reel with a slower retrieval rate.

In our view, the best gear ratio to settle for surf fishing is the medium one. Avoid going for one that’s either too fast or too slow.

Line Capacity

The line capacity of the reel is always printed on its surface either in pounds or yards. How much line capacity you settle for depends on how far you want to cast. Generally, surfing requires you to use long fishing lines especially when it comes to capturing fast running fish.

Remember, a high line capacity also gives you the freedom to spool a heavy-duty line. As such, it can be relied upon to handle huge fish species without breaking it.

It is important to ensure that you settle for a line capacity that’s versatile just in case you land a fast swimmer. Also, it has generally been observed that braided lines tend to offer better results than ordinary ones. Fortunately, almost all surf reels accommodate braided lines with no major qualms.

The Grip

One thing you need to know about fishing reels is that they have to held and used for long hours. As such, they should be well-made. And since they constantly come into contact with water, it’s also important that they have a comfortable grip.

A poor grip can easily cause fatigue. So, look for something whose handle is designed for comfort. In our view, reels whose handles are made from the EVA foam are the best.

There are also some handles that are made from cork. Those ones are quite durable although, on the other hand, tend to cause blisters if operated intensively for long hours.

In our view, when it comes to choosing the right kind of handle, your best bet is to go for something with a nice texture. It should provide you with a good grip and at the same time be safe for you to hold and use for long hours.

How Heavy Is the Reel Itself

We have talked about so many things when it comes to weight. We have mentioned stuff related to the weight of the fish, the weight of the line and so forth. The point here is that you also need to be careful about the weight of the reel itself.

One of the good reasons why you need to take this factor seriously is that an abnormally heavy reel would be uncomfortable to handle for long hours. Try to operate such and you’re likely to end up with your hands hurting.

Lightweight reels, on the other hand, are meant to cause less strain on your hands. As such, they give you the freedom you need to operate for long hours without compromising on your energy and comfort.

While at it, we’d advocate against going for any extremes. Avoid reels that are either too heavy or too light. Try to find the perfect balance between weight and strength.

Why Invest In These Reels?

There are numerous benefits to buying surf fishing reels. As usual, the only way to sample out these benefits is by actually using the reels at sea. A quick rundown of those ones goes as follows:

They Resist Corrosion

Surf reels are meant for saltwater fishing. As such, they can be used in different conditions without the worry that they’ll breakdown due to rust or something. No matter how long you use them, they always remain operational and smooth and that makes every trip to the waters worthwhile.

Strength

It doesn’t matter the type of fish you target, a strong reel provides you with the assurance that nothing will go wrong. Generally, these reels are designed to be extraordinarily strong which means they can be used even when a surprisingly large fish is hooked.

They Last Long

One of the good reasons to invest in surf fishing reels is that they are capable of lasting long. Freshwater reels struggle when exposed to rough conditions for long and, therefore, don’t offer good value for money. With their sealed bearings and advanced spools, surf reels are capable of withstanding exposure to seawater.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does surf fishing entail?

A: This is a method of fishing that involves casting while standing by the shoreline. The method makes use of plugs, jigs, and spoons to attract saltwater fish species among them the flounder, blackfish, redfish, and bluefish.

Q: How do I choose the ideal reel size?

A: To determine the reel size that’s ideal for you, you need to understand the kind of fish you’ll be target and how long you’ll be fishing in a typical day. If you’re just getting started and fishing on a small waterbody, you can start out with a reel marked 3,000 or 3,500. Such a reel can handle up to 14lbs of line.

A medium sized reel is one that belongs to the 4000 to 5500 range. Spools within that range can handle lines of up to 24 lbs. Lastly, you can go for a heavy-duty kit by opting for a 6000 to 9500 reel range. Such can take up to 30lbs of line.

Q: What’s the best way to care for my reel?

A: The first step in caring for your fishing reel involves understanding the reel size that’s suited for your surf fishing rod and style of fishing. Once you get that right, you’ll simply need to ensure that you clean it after every fishing trip.

The best way to clean a surf fishing reel is by rinsing it gently in fresh water. It also makes sense to apply some oil to lubricate the moving parts from time to time. Also, avoid opening the line unnecessarily unless you’re a reel technician.

Which One Is The Best?

Our leading surf fishing reel, for now, is the Daiwa BG Spinning Reel (BG 2000). We like its solid construction and the fact that it has a comfortable handle. It’s made by Daiwa, a company that has been doing a decent job since 1955. The product is backed by numerous positive reviews.

Concluding Remarks

With all these details at your fingertips, it’s time to take the necessary steps toward getting an affordable surf fishing reel for the money. And even if you don’t choose one from our list, the buying guide rules still apply. So, don’t compromise.

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