Best surf fishing reels – Review & Buyer’s Guide

The environmental demands of surf fishing require that you take into account the most important factors in choosing the best surf fishing reel for the money and one that fits your needs. Let’s look at the most important factors in selecting a reel that will be durable and cost-effective while offering the level of performance you will want to make your surf fishing experience the most fun that it can be. What size reel for surf fishing is best depends on a number of different factors we will take a look at now.

Top 5 The Best Surf Fishing Reels

1. Daiwa BG — Durable Surf Fishing Spinning Reel

The Daiwa BG is designed with a machined aluminum housing and rotor. It has a 6 ball bearing system and has a 5.6:1 gear ratio that works well for surf fishing. The BG is large and has a large capacity for braided line.

The Daiwa has a strong and reliable drag system that maintains its setting in the surf and is quickly adjustable. The BG has a strong and fast retrieval of larger lures and big fish as well.

The great durability the Daiwa offers makes it a common choice for anglers who want the best surf fishing spinning reel for their money. In addition to its durable design and construction, it is easy to disassemble and reassemble for deep cleaning in addition to normal maintenance.


The Daiwa is a well designed and constructed reel that is well suited to handle the demands of surf fishing. The Daiwa has a reputation for toughness and durability and is the choice of many charter fishing companies. With proper maintenance, the BG will provide years of surf fishing enjoyment.


  • This is versatile and will serve as a great surf fishing reel as well as part of an offshore rig.
  • Daiwa users are very loyal to the brand and the company’s reputation for durability and customer service adds value to this reel.


  • The tradeoff for the reel’s strength and durability is its heavier weight.

2. Penn Battle II — Best Spinning Reel For Surf Fishing

The Battle II is constructed with a full metal body, sideplate, and rotor. The bail wire is of heavy duty construction that is superior to most smaller spinning reels.

The Penn Battle II features Penn’s HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, which is powerful and is also designed to remain sealed against sand and grit. The Battle II has a 5 ball bearing system and has a durable and smooth retrieve.

The spool is high capacity and is designed to handle heavy line weights and all braided lines as well. The Battle II enjoys the Penn reputation for durability and toughness.


The Penn Battle II is a heavy-duty surf fishing reel. The all metal construction and super strong bail wire are ready for harsh saltwater conditions and it is designed to handle plenty of heavy line and metal leaders to get the job done. The drag system on the Battle II is strong and designed for the rigors.


  • The drag system works great for surf fishing.
  • This is a very durable all-metal construction reel.


  • The bail wire is heavy duty and takes some getting used to; although the benefit of strength justifies the learning curve involved.

3. KastKing Sharky III — Strongest Surf Fishing Reel

The Sharky III has a powerful drag system, allowing for comfortable fights against the largest surf fishing species. The carbon fiber drag system provides a super strong 39.5 pounds of maximum drag power. The main rotor is made of machined stainless steel and its brass gears are all designed with strength in mind.

The KastKing Sharky III has a 10 ball bearing system that is sealed and saltwater rated. It provides a suitable line capacity for surf fishing and has a nice and smooth retrieval system at its price point.

The bail wire and line roller are also designed to be strong when handling braided and heavy-test line under pressure. The KastKing Sharky III is designed for easy cleaning after getting dunked in saltwater and rolled in the sand all day.


The Sharky III is very powerful and strong. If you tangle with big fish (or even a shark) while surf fishing, the superior drag will keep you in the fight while protecting your reel, rod, and line. That is a great choice for the rigors of surf fishing.


  • That is designed for saltwater use and has a well-designed sealant system to protect its inner systems.


  • That is strong but requires careful maintenance to protect its durability.

4. Okuma Tundra — Best Entry Level Surf Reel with Rod Combo

This Okuma Tundra has a one ball bearing system and is manufactured with a graphite spool. It comes with a disc felt drag system.

The Tundra is lightweight and casts well when repeated surf fishing casting is called for. While this is not designed to be the most durable, it is strong and handles heavy line and big fish just fine.

In addition to being a suitable beginner’s surf reel, this combo is also a budget option for anglers who want to have multiple lines out at the beach.


The Okuma Tundra Surf combo is a good choice for an entry-level combo setup for anglers who want to try out surf fishing with serviceable equipment at a value price. This combo will work for beginners and younger anglers who are looking to get some fishing experience on the beach.


  • The combo comes loaded with 25-pound test line and is ready to go to the beach right out of the box.


  • This is not as durable as the rod in this combo, although the rod may work with different reels as an angler advances.
  • This is not as durable as most reels designed for surf fishing.

5. SHIMANO ULTEGRA — Best Surf Casting Reel

The Shimano Ultegra is the premier surf fishing reel when it comes to casting power. The Ultegra is made using advanced composite materials that save weight and increase casting distance.

The drag system and the retrieval system of the Shimano Ultegra are also designed with casting in mind. The drag system is heavy-weight while allowing for easy casting. The Ultra has a 5 ball bearing system and has serviceable retrieval speed.

The Ultegra has a high capacity spool to match its superior casting distance. The Shimano will hold enough braided line to handle any surf fishing applications and allows for surf fishing techniques that require pushing against currents and sand bars far from shore.


The Shimano Ultegra is a popular choice for surf anglers who demand the greatest casting power to go far out into the surf. While it might not be in the price range of many anglers, it offers great quality and durability for the money. For anglers who demand the longest casting power on the beach, the Ultegra delivers.


  • The Shimano is made with exacting design and high-quality materials.
  • All the design aspects of this reel are aimed at maximizing casting power and distance.


  • The Ultegra requires careful maintenance and use. It is not intended to be smashed around on the rocks.

Surf Fishing Reels Shopping Guide

Surf fishing from the beach is a favorite method for anglers of all levels of skill and experience. Running multiple lines out past the breakers with various rigs and lures is a great way to both relax on the beach and have some high-intensity excitement when the fish are biting. Redfish, flounder, even sharks — there are all sorts of fish that come into the surf looking for food at different tide levels and times of the day. Surf fishing requires long distance casting and close attention to surface and underwater conditions and allows for a level of experimentation not provided by many other types of fishing. Each person’s personal preferences and budget helps them decide what is a good surf fishing reel for their needs, and we are going to examine some of the reels that provide the best bang for your buck.

In our guide, we will look first at what type of reel for surf fishing best suits most skill levels. Surf fishers use both spinning and baitcast reels. In this guide, we are going to evaluate and discuss spinning reels. Because surf anglers typically like to have multiple rods and reels in play while fishing, we find that the economic choices afforded by spinning reels make them the best type of reel for surf fishing for most anglers. Inexpensive reels do not have to be cheap reels, of course, and we are going to look at the best surf fishing reels available at a reasonable cost.

Surf fishing is difficult on your gear in every way. You will be battling some large fish that will place stress on your reel, line, and rod all by themselves. Add in the powerful forces of the waves, sand, coral, and rocks that continually hammer away at your gear and you can see that strength and durability are at a premium for surf fishing reels.

The corrosive effects of saltwater are especially hard on surf fishing gear. Your reel is likely to be regularly dunked and coated with saltwater the entire time you are out. A reel that is properly constructed and sealed is key–as is your diligence in quickly cleaning your gear thoroughly with soapy water after every trip.

Here are our recommendations for the best quality and highest rated surf fishing reels on the market.

Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance

First and foremost, your surf fishing reel should be easy to clean. After every trip, all of your gear must be washed with hot soapy water and thoroughly rinsed with clean fresh water to avoid the corrosive effects of saltwater. This is especially true of your reels, as they are of course made from finely machined parts and will not withstand continued contact with saltwater residue. Sand and grit also do their best to get into every moving part of your reels and on and around your line. The spinning reels in this guide all offer easy cleaning (and disassembly as needed to deal with sand and other debris).

Casting Distance and Line Capacity

Long distance casting is essential for successful surf fishing. Fish are often located far out, and learning how to study surf and currents along with tidal influences means you will need to have the power to get your lures out at long distances most of the time.

Your surf fishing reel should have a lot of line capacity with line of at least 16-pound test weight. Surf fishing often involves fishing around seawalls, jagged rocks, reefs, seaweed, and manmade piers and jetties.

The spinning reels featured in this guide all provide long distance casting power — when matched with the proper rod and line combinations. A long spinning rod and quality line will get the job done. The reels in this guide are capable of handling the heavier weight line and wire leaders normally necessary in surf fishing, as the big fish and currents will place lots of stress on your line while also pulling it across sharp coral and rocks.

Surf Reels Must Have Superior Drag Strength

Surf fishing keeps constant pressure on your reel’s drag system. You not only have to fight big fish from the surf, but you also must deal with waves and current at all times. The water will not pull on your line like a big mackerel, but it will exert force on your line and reel at all times.

A weak or inefficient drag system will frustrate your fishing by failing to hold steady until a fish is on your line, and then failing to hold the fish without damaging your reel and/or breaking your line. The drag system protects your reel’s more delicate internal parts and gear systems. When a big fish hits your lure, a faulty drag setting or loose system will result in extreme stress to your reel’s moving parts. As discussed, durability is of primary importance with surf reels, and a well designed and functioning drag system is therefore of the highest importance to durability.

Larger surf fishing reel size generally corresponds to a stronger drag. While adjustability is always important, it is essential to have a powerful drag system that will hold tight while lures are out in the bruising surf for longer times.


Surf fishing demands strong reels. Between big fish, harsh surf conditions, and the destructive power of saltwater, you must pay close attention to the design and construction materials of your reels.

These have graphite or composite material construction, but metal construction for surf spinning reels provide for a strong reel that is not hard to maintain and that can withstand getting banged around on rocks and other beach structure.

A large surf spinning reel should also have a big and strong bail wire. If your bail gets bent while you are out fishing, your reel is going out of service until you can get some repairs made.

Retrieval Speed Ratio and Bearings

A surf fishing reel should have a sufficient number of bearings to ensure that the long line lengths that you will have out into the surf can be easily retrieved. Systems with higher numbers of bearings also generally make for more durable reels.

For the same reason, higher retrieval ratios work better for surf fishing. There is a premium on quick retrieval of line when fishing far out in the surf. Ratios of at least 5:1 or 6:1 work well for most surf fishing, and if a slower retrieval is needed it is certainly easier to go slower with a higher ratio reel than to try going faster with a slower ration reel.


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

More fish will feed during high tide. It’s preferable to fish at dawn or dusk as there will be more water in the fishing hole. Certain species will feed at low tide. Low tide allows you to read the beach and find sandbanks, hollows, and other structures where fish feed.

Does a longer rod cast further?

Yes. The longer the rod, the longer you can cast. If the action is the same, in most cases, a seven foot rod will allow you to cast the same lure farther than a six foot rod.

What is the best gear ratio for surf fishing?

Ratios of at least 5:1 or 6:1 work well in most surf fishing conditions. If you want a slow retrieval, it’s easier to go slow with a higher ratio reel as opposed to trying to go faster with a slower reel.

What size reel should I use for surf fishing?

You want a reel that is rated at 5,000 or 6,000. This is the perfect all around size as it allows you to catch smaller fish, medium fish, and even some larger fish that are found along the shore.

What is the best length for a surf fishing rod?

You can use a 7-feet rod during high tide. 9-12 feet rods will be great for pretty much all surf fishing conditions.

What do you use for surf fishing?

Some of the most successful live baits are mole crabs, squid, sandworms, ragworms, bloodworms, shrimp, mullet and hard/soft shell crab. Ask your local bait/tackle shop employee on some of the best live baits to use in the area you plan on fishing in.

What is the best pound test line for surf fishing?

For surf casting we recommend using 30-40Lb braided fishing line. This line should not only last you a long time but it should do well for any monsters.

How do you cast a surf fishing rod?


Selecting the right reel for surf fishing involves evaluating a number of different characteristics and cost to determine the best value for your money. Finding a good deal on your surf fishing reels means looking for a combination of value and durable construction. We hope this guide has been of use in finding the best surf fishing reel available in your price range. Let us know of any questions or comments below.

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