10 Best Surf Fishing Reels In 2024

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Video best casting reel for surf fishing

What Size Reel Is Best For Surf Fishing

Modern spin reels have astonishing power and tech features. A 4000 or 5000-reel size is all the average angler will need to tackle the majority of surf-dwelling fish and conditions. With these surf reels, you’re set for everything from whiting and pompano to big drum, stripers, bluefish, mackerel, and modest sharks.

My go-to reel is a BG 3000. I’ll sometimes use a 2500 for the sport if conditions are light enough. For big live baits and big targets, 8000 to 10000 are great as a rule of thumb. However, I use a 14000 Saragosa that doubles as my rock fishing reel. It has compact body design and lightweight construction giving it similar dimensions and weight to some 8 and 10000 size reels, but with the power and line capacity of a 14000.

For casting reels, 300 to 400 sizes are popular. For conventional reels, selecting by size can be difficult. I choose conventional reels by spool capacity and drag capacity based on the intended target.

Surf Fishing Reel Buying Guide

By and large, any reel of a quality build has its place in the surf. But there are certain things to look for to ensure you get reliability.

Budget

Very few reels under $100 are advisable for surf fishing. The Sedona is an exception. But for a little more than $100, you can get exceptional surf reels, such as the Daiwa BG. For those on a budget, $120 to $250 will get you feature-filled quality.

Top-shelf performance and features start around $340.High-end reels retail between $600 and $1000+.

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Brand

Penn, Daiwa, and Shimano offer the greatest range of surf reels, including budget through to top shelf, performance reels. Van Staal offers top shelf only, with Okuma and Quantum, offering limited options entry to mid-price. Okuma is worth a look for value for money across the price spectrum.

Brands such as Fluaeger, KastKing, and Mitchel offer entry-level gear. My advice is always to establish your budget and application before you shortlist brands.

Materials

I advise a full metal body and side plate for rigidity. Brass or stainless main gears and pinions are a must. Sealed bearings are a good idea, however, once you have sand and water ingress, cleaning is required anyway.

An absence of cheap plastic is a good sign – it doesn’t take a trained eye to spot a reel that looks cheaply made. Trust your gut instinct.

Ball Bearings

Should budget permit, I look for a minimum of 5 sealed stainless steel bearings plus the clutch – 6 all up. Ball bearings are critical as they reduce friction, movement, and slop significantly. This helps ensure the transfer of power, and reduces wear and tear on critical parts.

Reel Brakes

For those seeking conventional and casting reels, you’ll have the option of centrifugal or magnetic brakes or a combination of both.

I think centrifugal brakes are a better match for surf conditions, but it’s not a critical consideration. By and large, surf casting with reels of conventional configuration comes down to angler skill, irrespective of brakes.

Anti-Corrosion

Most brands offer corrosion-resistant coatings or technologies, usually starting at a lower mid-price. Alloys and stainless steel offer excellent corrosion resistance and are materials you should seek out.

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While a carbon body offers good corrosion resistance, it lacks rigidity in cheaper models, and that’s an undesirable tradeoff. The best anti-corrosion technology in existence is your post-session cleaning regime – and by orders of magnitude!

Sealing

Drag and clutch sealing is now more common in affordable reels. Full-body sealing and waterproof reels don’t start until prices hit the high end. Sealing is great for the surf.

Keeping sand, salt, and water out ensures your reel will have a long working life. Don’t be dissuaded if the reel that suits you has no sealing. Take care not to drop it, and clean it regularly, and a quality reel will endure.

Summary

I just can’t go past a Daiwa BG. The performance, features, and quality of materials relative to its modest price make this the perfect surf reel for all surf anglers. If my budget permitted, I’d have several Van Staals – they’re the ultimate surf weapon. If big live baits and big lures are more your thing, you can’t go wrong with the Saragosa.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>