10 Best Surf Fishing Rods For Every Budget In 2024

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What’s The Best Rod For Surf Fishing?

Choosing the best rod for surf fishing is a personal decision you’ll need to make based on your situation. Here are some questions to consider that’ll make it easier to narrow down the perfect rod for your needs.

  • What species of fish are in your region during the time of year you’ll usually be fishing?
  • Out of those species, which species do you enjoy eating? Which would be fun to fish for sport?
  • Where are the best spots to find those species? Sandy beach? Rocky shore? Pier?
  • What are some of the challenges those spots present? Rough surf? Shallow shoals with rocks and seaweed?
  • Do you want to fish actively (wading in the water, casting lures) or passively (bait rig from a ground spike rod holder)? Or the option to do both?

As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on the best quality surf fishing rod. The exact answer will depend on the type and size of species you’re going after, the water you’re fishing, and your preferred fishing style.

That said, you can’t go wrong with a ten-foot, medium-heavy spinning rod with fast action. It’ll give you sufficient casting power and work well enough for small and large fish in just about any environment.

What Size Rod Do I Need?

The most common surf rod sizes are between eight to twelve feet. The rod size you need will depend on how far you need to cast to reach where your target fish live and hunt. If you have to clear a long, heavy surf zone or shallow shoals filled with rocks, you’ll need a longer rod to cast further.

The rod size also depends on the size and power of the species you’re targeting. A longer rod will give you more control over a fish and make it easier to reel in.

Smaller rods are easier to store and travel. They’re also easier for beginners to maneuver than long rods, which can have an awkward, heavy feel. Additionally, shorter rods tend to be less expensive than longer rods.

You’ll want to weigh these factors when deciding what size rod is best for you. However, if you’re looking for the best all-around size, ten-foot rods are great for beginner and experienced anglers in most situations.

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What’s The Best Power For Surf Fishing?

You should also consider the rod’s power when deciding what size rod to choose. Heavier-powered rods handle the biggest fish and heavier bait. Lighter-powered rods are more sensitive to the first signs of a bite and smaller fish.

The ideal power depends on the size and strength of your target species. You want a rod strong enough to handle the weight and light enough to notice a bend in the rod when it hits. I’d recommend a medium-heavy rod if you’re looking for all-around power that will handle most species but still be sensitive enough to show a bite.

What’s The Best Action For Surf Fishing?

The other factor in surf fishing to consider is the rod’s action. This is typically described as either fast, moderate, or slow and refers to how the rod bends.

Fast Action Rod= bends at the tip (top ⅓ of the rod)

Moderate / Medium Action Rod = bends at the middle (top ½ of the rod)

Slow Action Rod= bends at the bottom (from just above the handle to the tip)

Fully understanding the pros and cons of each rod action style is complex. For now, it’s enough to know that fast-action rods are the best for surf fishing. They’re the most responsive to bites, provide the most control over a fish during the fight, and are easier to set the hook with.

Does The Material Matter?

Some rods are exclusively fiberglass or carbon/graphite (terms are interchangeable). However, most modern rods are a composite blend of the two materials.

Graphite rods are lightweight, enhances sensitivity to bites, and flexes for casting. Fiberglass surf rods provide strength for handling heavy loads but is much heavier than carbon.

Combining these two materials allows for a balance between weight, strength, and flexibility. The ideal ratio of fiberglass to carbon will vary based on your target species and style of fishing. Carbon is also more expensive than fiberglass surf rods, so your budget will be a consideration when deciding the rod material that’s right for you.

What Are The Best Surf Fishing Rod Brands?

When you’re looking to buy a new surf rod, it can help to know who some of the major players are in the industry. Some companies are household names with longstanding reputations for making quality rods. Others are new to the game but have gained popularity by delivering a mix of value and quality.

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Here’s a list of the best surf fishing rod brands.

  • Shimano
  • Penn
  • Shakespeare Ugly Stik
  • Okuma
  • St. Croix
  • Daiwa
  • KastKing
  • Berrypro

Important note: Brand popularity does not always equal a high-quality saltwater fishing rod. You should keep in mind that most brands will have a quality range between specific models.

Also, high-end models from reputable brands may not be worth the price tag. So, be wary of the potential for “name brand” pricing.

Surf Fishing Rod Buying Guide

While shopping around, you may see product descriptions with rod parts you’re unfamiliar with. It’s critical to understand these parts if you want a rod that will fit your budget and help you catch fish.

We’ve broken down the key rod parts you need to consider in this buyer’s guide.

Cost

Before we get into each part, it’s important to consider how much you’re willing to spend on a surf rod. Rods can run you $50 for a low-end budget rod and up to $300 or more for a premium, high-performance rod.

The price is usually dictated by the components that make up the rod. Higher-quality components/materials and complex surf fishing rod designs will generally cost more than simple designs made with low-quality parts.

That said, sometimes, low to mid-range priced rods will use high-end materials. And to make things even more dynamic, sometimes companies slap a high price tag on a rod with lower-end materials. That’s why it’s important to understand the values and functions of components and materials when weighing the value of a rod purchase.

Handle

Take a look at the tube handle length and the grip material. Most handles are around the same size (compared to other rods of the same height), but not always. Whether you like a longer or shorter tube handle depends on your preference for “grip distance” between your hands while casting.

Grip material is usually either cork, exposed foam, or a non-slip/gripped shrink wrap. What you choose is a matter of personal preference. Remember that you’re working in a wet environment and repeatedly casting for hours with potentially sweaty hands. So go with whatever you think provides the best balance between comfort and grip security.

Blank

The rod’s blank is the correct term for what’s commonly referred to as the “rod” part of the rod. It’s the long flexible pole that makes up the primary part of the rod.

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The rod blank is the most important factor when deciding what rod is right for you. When you’re checking out a surf fishing rod, look to see the blank material it’s made with. Is it a fiberglass rod blank, graphite blank, or a composite blend of both materials? The material breakdown will determine the rod’s strength, sensitivity, casting ability, and cost.

Also, look into the specific construction method of the blank. For example, many blanks are a composite blend of fiberglass and carbon fiber. However, only some rods use complex layering techniques to enhance strength and performance.

Guides

The circular “eyes” on the rod the line passes through are guides. High-performance style guides such as alconite and SiC are strong, lightweight, sensitive, and smooth. They’re also excellent at conducting heat, which prevents braided lines from burning grooves when it runs out during a hard fight. As a result, they provide better casting/retrieval. Plus, they have increased responsiveness to bites without sacrificing strength.

Low to mid-range guide options include ceramic, stainless steel, or titanium. Ceramics are light and corrosion-resistant but lack strength and durability. Stainless steel is strong and easy to bend back to shape when twisted but heavy and can corrode over time. Titanium is lighter, stronger, and resists corrosion better than stainless steel. But it’s more brittle and will break instead of bend when it can’t handle the pressure.

Reel Seats

The reel seat holds the surf fishing reel in place using hard plastic, carbon/graphite, stainless steel, or a combination. Graphite composite is lightweight, strong, sensitive to bites, and expensive. Stainless steel is strong and usually combines with carbon or hard plastic to decrease weight. Plastic is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and cheap but not very strong or sensitive.

Summary

The rods I reviewed all have their place depending on your budget and fishing style. That said, the Penn Battalion II will satisfy the needs of both beginners and seasoned anglers without breaking the bank. You can’t beat getting high-end quality at a mid-range price. If you’re willing to spend a little more, the Shimano Tiralejo is the best you can get. Otherwise, I’d recommend the Battalion II to get the job done.

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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 >>