The sun is shining, the waves are crashing, the sand is warm beneath your feet, and the fish are just waiting to be caught. Don’t let a faulty reel get in the way of this glorious moment.
Experienced surf anglers know your reel plays a serious role in your success. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite surf reels on the market today that won’t let you down.
Comparison of the Best Surf Fishing Reels
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How Does a Surf Fishing Reel Compare to Other Reels?
Surf fishing reels differ from conventional reels in a couple of different ways. The main difference is that surf reels are created for use in saltwater, which can be super damaging to untreated products.
Saltwater reels are made of metals that are treated to be corrosion-resistant; if this wasn’t the case, you’d be left with a weakened reel after only a few uses. They’re also typically created to handle heavier duty lines and lures, as many saltwater species are larger than freshwater fish.
Finally, saltwater reels will almost always feature sealed components, another way to prevent corrosion.
How to Choose a Surf Fishing Reel
When you’re making a decision between surf fishing reels, there are a couple of must-haves to keep in mind. Your next surf reel should feature all of the following qualities:
As mentioned above, surf fishing often involves going after large fish, so strength is of the utmost importance. Because they’ll be used in an ocean setting, these reels will be faced with all the weather that comes along with it.
They’ll need to handle corrosive saltwater as well as wind and varying surf conditions. Make sure your reel has a strong construction as its baseline quality.
Surf fishing often involves super-long casts. This means that the retrieval speed needs to be faster than average to ensure you don’t lose your catch in the process. Look for a reel with quick speed, as the slower it is, the more limited you are.
Ball bearings are one of the key elements in a smooth casting reel. Those with higher numbers of ball bearings tend to be more durable and cast a little smoother-- go for a range between 5-12 for the best functionality.
Review of the Best Surf Fishing Reels
With drag and casting capabilities on your mind, we’ll take you through some of our favorite picks for surf angling. These are some of the best options on the market in terms of usability, budget, and quality.
Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel
The Battle II spinning reel from Penn was created to perform with style. Released in 2014, the Battle II comes from a long line of high-quality reels from Penn, who pride themselves on being at the forefront of reel technology since opening their doors in 1932. Penn offers eight different models to choose from. The smaller 1000 is more suited for panfish and small fish species, while the 8000 can handle much larger catches.
This reel is crafted with durability in mind. It features a full metal body, side plate, and rotor. The whole design is coated in a new and improved saltwater-resistant paint. This helps prevent salt corrosion and eventually, damage. The model also includes five sealed stainless steel ball bearings. Stainless steel is ideal for a surf reel as it is also corrosion-resistant.
The Battle II reels feature an altered drag system which has more pressure capabilities than the models that have come before. It uses carbon fiber drag washers that leverage two sides, increasing the drag by 20 percent.
The Battle II, released by Penn, is no doubt a beautiful rod with some great features. The main issue with this rod lies with the weight of the design. Although an all metal reel is great for durability, it definitely adds a bit of undesirable clunkiness. The drag is the major pro for this reel. This isn’t the best reel for beginners, but for anglers with a bit of experience under their belt, this Battle II is a great choice.
Daiwa BG Spinning Reels
Daiwa is a Japanese company that specializes in creating fishing products for a global audience. They’re praised for their ability to consistently craft high-quality, durable angling tools. The Daiwa BG (Black Gold) spinning reel comes in several different sizes, the smaller for panfish and the larger for hunting those coveted trophy fish.
Because it is made for use in saltwater, the BG comes equipped with a corrosion-resistant body that Daiwa calls “Hard Bodyz.” It’s basically an abrasion-resistant, anodized finish that provides protection to the aluminum housing. The reel also has a waterproof carbon ATD drag system that will resist rust and corrosion.
The BG has an oversized “Digigear” system, which assists in a smooth retrieval. The oversizing of the system allows for more teeth to be in contact with each other, which can not only create a smoother retrieval but can also extend the life of the reel as it reduces the stress on the individual teeth.
Other features include a solid screw-in handle, braided line-ready spool, and a balancing air rotor.
Overall, the BG reel from Daiwa is a great go-to choice for a new surf reel. This is definitely a better reel if you’re on the hunt for larger fish, as it balances out a large rod well. It tends to feel a little clunky on lightweight rods because of its metal build. The BG has lovely, smooth casting capabilities and the drag is super strong as well.
Best Spinning Reel for Surf Fishing:
HaiBo Saltwater Spinning Reel with Corrosion-Resistant
Another all-metal reel praised for its strength and durability, the saltwater spinning reel from HaiBo was created with ocean angling in mind. Choose from several different sizes depending on your fish of choice ranging from a 3000 to a 9000 size.
More than anything, this is a better choice for anglers on the hunt for trophy fish. It features several attractive attributes that are helpful in a fierce fight, including large, high-density, comfortable foam handles and a solid-cast crank.
The aluminum body saltwater reel also includes a carbon fiber drag system, which is built-in and sealed to prevent potential corrosion. It’s made for braided line, so there’s no need to back with monofilament, which can be super convenient out on the water.
Other features include six sealed stainless steel ball bearings with an anti-reverse system, a maximum drag of 61 pounds, and an anodized aluminum superline spool with a sealed magnetic click.
This is another great pick for saltwater anglers, especially for those who may be just starting out. While this reel could use a little more line capacity, and some anglers have taken issue with the drag system, the underlying features work very well and are easy to use. The size range makes it suitable for an array of anglers, especially those who fish larger species, and the foam handles make it super comfortable to use throughout a full day on the water.
Best Baitcasting Reel for Surf Fishing:
Daiwa M7HTMAG Millionaire Surf Cast Reel (5.8:1 Gear Ratio)
Daiwa is proud of its M7HTMAG Millionaire SurfCast reel, and for good reason. After release, it received rave reviews from anglers, mainly because it was created for distance casting with ease. The casting capabilities of this reel make it a great option for surf casting, as its often necessary to throw bait as far as possible.
The reel features seven corrosion-resistant ball bearings and a lightweight aluminum spool. One of the most interesting attributes of this particular reel is what Daiwa calls “Magforce Z.” This is the company’s control system that applies a smooth magnetic brake, as the spool can reach speeds up to 30,000 rpm. The amount of control is fully-adjustable to your personal casting preferences.
This is a popular choice among professional anglers, as it can cast a mile with ease. Other desirable features include a counter-balanced power handle, infinite anti-reverse, and a smooth star-adjust drag system.
This is a seriously high-quality reel for serious anglers. While I wouldn’t recommend this particular reel to newbies, this is a great choice for those with a little more experience. The major warning with this reel is to protect it from sand, as some users say it can negatively affect the casting performance. But overall, the casting capability is pretty incredible and is perfect for fishing from the shore.
Best Conventional Reel for Surf Fishing:
KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
KastKing is a well-known brand in the realm of reels. They’ve earned their popularity through their mission: “affordable innovation.” By creating economical, high-quality gear, they’ve cornered an important section of the angling market.
The Rover Round Baitcasting reel sticks out like a sore thumb among other reels thanks to its bright red color and unique design. It comes in 11 different models, allowing the user to pick and choose what would best suit their angling needs.
Anodized aluminum, stainless steel, and machined brass come together to create a durable structure. The stainless steel helps to prevent corrosion in saltwater settings, but this reel is also a good fit for a variety of angling activities including trolling and bottom fishing.
The Rover Round features a carbon fiber drag system with up to 20 pounds of drag power. Other features include non-slip EVA foam handgrips, a thumb bar spool release with easy access, and a line out clicker alarm.
The Rover Round Reel from KastKing is the best beginner’s option on our list. Because it’s a conventional reel, it’s super easy to set up and use and, as an added bonus, the price definitely won’t break the bank. Overall, this reel is a great value for the quality and it has some pretty nice features, like an easy to control drag system. Perfect for your first go at surf angling.
Types of Surf Fishing Reels
Below are the main types of surf fishing reels:
Spinning reels are the more popular of the reel variations. They’re great picks for novices and intermediate anglers thanks to their usability and easy setup. It only takes a few simple motions to get a great cast out of a spinning reel. While they’re a very versatile option, they’re particularly useful in casting light baits, as it’s much easier to cast a long distance without the help of weight on the end of a line with the “spinning” function.
Baitcasting reels are well-suited for the advanced angler. While they do have more of a learning curve associated them, these reels can cast with awesome accuracy and are great for making the perfect presentation for a picky fish. In surf casting, a baitcasting reel would be most helpful in fishing off a pier, where you need a little extra accuracy to target the fish you want.
Now that you’ve got some information at your fingertips, you can take the steps to get a surfcasting reel that is perfectly-suited for you and your surf fishing rod. Even if you don’t choose a pick on our list, remember the basic qualities that all good reels should have. Happy Fishing!