Best Surf Fishing Reels

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Surf Fishing Reel Buyers Guide

One of the foremost components that you need for surf fishing is a fishing reel. You have a durable and lightweight rod, but having a good surf fishing reel will improve its performance, and you will get an even better experience.

Most anglers don’t believe in buying a fishing rod and reel combo so that they can customize the pair as per their needs.

But when it comes to buying surf fishing reels, even expert anglers may find it hard. There are a variety of options available in the market, so it is natural to get confused.

Buying the wrong reel can have disastrous outcomes as the line can break when you are fighting with the fish.

So, to help you make a quick decision, we are here with this surf fishing reel buyer's guide. The guide comprises multiple factors that you need to take into consideration when choosing a reel.

Let’s get started!

What is a surf fishing reel?

These are special types of reels that fit on surf fishing rods. Surf fishing is different from regular fishing as you can fish from the shore by casting the bait into the water from a considerable distance.

You cannot use a regular reel with a surf fishing rod. Surf fishing reels have optimal performance, and you can cast into water with excellent ease.

Why is this buyer’s guide important?

You may be wondering why a buyer's guide is important when choosing a surf fishing reel! When searching for these reels, you will come across different types, materials, casting distance, line capacity, and much more.

And these factors will surely confuse you if you are new to surf fishing. This buyer's guide comes directly from an expert angler's desk, so you can rest assured that you can make a better choice with the guide.

You need a reel that’s suitable to target the fish you want so that it doesn’t snap when you are fighting with the fish.

What to look for in a surf fishing reel before buying it?

A surf fishing reel has to serve many purposes, so it should be durable and resistant to corrosion. With the below-mentioned factors, you can make an informed decision while choosing a fishing reel.

Make a list of some reels and then compare them based on these factors to quickly select the best reel that you should buy.

Types of surf fishing reels

Start with streamlining the options by choosing the right type of surf fishing reel. You will find multiple types available in the market, so we have explained the most common types below to help you choose the best one.

The two common reels that surf anglers love to use are baitcasting and spinning. Both reels have significant differences in terms of casting and performance. Also, the weight of the reel depends on the type you choose.

Baitcasting reels

Baitcasting surf fishing reels are compatible with specific fishing rods, and you cannot use them just with any rod. If you want to use heavy lines to catch bigger fishes, then baitcasting reels should be your choice.

You can cast to a great distance, and the line will be stable and fully in your control, which are the basic requirements to catch bigger fishes. However, there are a few disadvantages of baitcasting reels, such as the backlash.

If you don't know how to operate the reel, then you may feel backlashes while fishing.

Spinning reels

If you want to handle heavier cast with ease, go for spinning surf fishing reels. The reel gets attached to the rod’s lower end and is ideal for intermediates and new anglers. Furthermore, you can cast using lighter lines to cast farther.

After choosing the type of surf fishing reel, look for the below-mentioned factors to make a rewarding choice.

Type of species you want to target

The choice of the fishing reel depends on the fish species you want to target and the surroundings. In areas with coral reefs, sharp rocks, jetties, and vegetation, the fish can engage the line in these objects, so more strength is a must.

You need a surf fishing reel that accommodates braided lines and can bear the shock whenever the fish struggles to leave the hook. Furthermore, the reel should be capable of withstanding conditions such as exposure to saltwater and abrasion.

Ease of use

A surf fishing reel should be easy to use so that you can cast without any issues. The ease of use depends primarily on the ball bearings present inside the reel. The bearings reduce the friction, and you can cast to a significant distance without applying too much force.

But how many bearings the reel should have? We have explained the bearings in the form of another factor to avoid any confusion.

Another thing to look for is an easy to use surf fishing reel is the handle. The handle should rotate smoothly, and it should offer a slip-free grip so that you can control the rod better while pulling the line.

Weight of the reel

Many new anglers think that the weight of the reel has no impact on the rod’s performance, but this is not the case. The weight of the reel can impact your performance, so it is essential to choose the weight wisely.

Surf fishing reels that are lightweight will make it easier for you to cast. However, you cannot target bigger species as they need heavier fishing reels.

In short, the choice of the reel’s weight depends on the species you want to target. Both spinning and baitcasting surf fishing reels are available in different weights and sizes.

Go for lightweight materials that are durable and can withstand abrasion and heavy force so that the reel can easily withstand anything.

Just buying heavy reels is not a solution to anything as you cannot hold the rod for a prolonged time due to hand fatigue.

Line diameter

Line diameter is a critical factor that folks often overlook when choosing a surf fishing reel. You should decide which reel to buy by checking the fishing line it can accommodate.

If you love fishing with heavier lines that have more diameter, then choose the reel accordingly. On the other hand, thin or lightweight lines make casting easy, but the line can snap if you target bigger species.

In short, you should determine if the reel can accommodate a heavy or a lightweight fishing line to ensure that you get the desired performance from it.

Size of the reel

Spinning and baitcasting surf fishing reels are available in a plethora of sizes, such as 3000, 2000, and 1000. You can determine the size of the reel with these numbers, where 3000 is the largest and 1000 is the smallest.

Some brands even offer surf fishing reels that are bigger than 3000. If you want to fish in freshwater targeting smaller species, go for smaller fishing reels. The reels are lightweight, and you won’t complain about hand fatigue while filling your bucket with fishes.

On the other hand, targeting saltwater species requires a bigger reel as these species are bigger and better fighters, so you need a heavy-duty reel to keep the situation under control.

Line capacity

Don’t confuse line capacity with line diameter as both are different. You should check how much spool the reel can accommodate to make sure that you can cast up to a considerable distance.

Surf fishing is different from regular fishing, and sometimes you need to cast to a distance to catch the fish. Bigger surf fishing reels have better line capacity, and you get more lines to cast the bait.

For saltwater fishing, you need fishing reels with better line capacity, whereas for fishing in freshwater smaller line capacity will also work.

Ball bearings

The smoothness and the performance of the surf fishing reels depend on the bearings primarily. If the reel has fewer bearings, you will encounter roughness when pulling the line. To get a smooth experience and to cast with ease, the reel should have a large number of bearings.

More bearings mean that the reel will operate smoothly. Furthermore, make sure that the bearings function in the opposite direction as well so that you can tackle the backlash with ease.

The number of ball bearings presents inside the reel depends on the size, manufacturer, and type of reel. When you cast to a distance, then the bearings make it easy to pull the line back smoothly.


Surf fishing is more fun when you target bigger saltwater species that are fast swimmers and excellent fighters. Even if you target smaller species, the fish can escape if the fishing reel has low drag.

It is unknown what type and size of fish attacks on the lure, so it would be great to get ready to fight anything that takes the lure.

Fishing reels with smooth and powerful drag will make it easy to handle strong species that can escape quickly if the reel has poor drag. Surf fishing reels with better drag can withstand more force, and you can fight with the fish to pull it out of water.

When looking for a surf fishing reel, make sure that its stopping power is at least 20 lbs. For bigger species, you need more stopping power so that the fish doesn't get out of your reach.

Gear ratio

The gear ratio of the fishing reel is how many times the spool rotates when you turn the handle. You will see the ratio rating written on the fishing reel manual that helps the anglers determine the exact gear the fishing reel has.

These ratios can be like 7:1, 6:1, 5:1, and 4:1. If you go with a fishing reel with a 4:1 ratio, then the spool will rotate four times after you rotate the handle one time.

As the gear ratio increases, the cranking power of the reel decreases. Surf reels with lower ratios have better cranking power. However, the retrieval can be slow.

Depending on the type of lure, you can choose the gear ratio while buying a surf fishing reel. If you want to retrieve the lure quickly, go for reels with a higher gear ratio. On the other hand, when targeting larger species, you can settle down with a lower gear ratio, such as 4:1.

Resistance to corrosion

If you want the reel to last longer, it is essential to ensure that it is resistant to corrosion. Corrosion is inevitable when you fish in saltwater because the minerals and salts present in the water can make the reel’s components corroded, and it will impact the health of the rod.

You should go for a surf fishing reel that has high corrosion resistance and remains as it is for years. When choosing a reel, you will find that they have sealed components.

A reel that comes with sealing can resist the water from affecting the primacy components, which are prone to corrosion. The watertight seal prevents the water from reaching the bearings, or the gear and drag system.

When you go for a reel that has an anti-corrosive seal, then it will perform better, and you will get a prolonged lifespan.


Surf fishing is a high impact activity that needs a powerful reel that can withstand the impact caused by the objects surrounding the line and the force exerted during the fight with the fish. There is no chance that you can buy a substandard reel that has poor durability.

Instead, go for reels made using high-quality materials so that the reel lasts longer, and you don't face any issues during fishing. Furthermore, check the thickness and strength of the bail wire to make sure that it won’t bend or break when you are out fishing on the shore.

The common materials used to manufacture surf fishing reel are aluminum and carbon fiber. Both materials are durable, but there is a significant difference when it comes to price.

Also, both materials are resistant to corrosion. You should choose the material depending on your requirements and budget.

Reel brakes

Surf fishing reels come equipped with brakes that stop the line from going any further. There are two types of braking systems available i.e., magnetic brakes and centrifugal brakes. Some fishing rods can even have both types of brakes.

Both braking systems have excellent performance, but there is a huge difference when it comes to using them. With centrifugal brakes, you can enjoy more control over the cast, and the brakes perform better due to friction created using the tension knobs.

On the other hand, it is easy to engage magnetic brakes, and if you are new to surf fishing, you should choose reels with magnetic brakes.

Professional anglers should choose reels that have both a braking system for better performance and control over the rod.

Easy to clean and maintain

The surf fishing reel should be easy to clean and maintain so that you don't have to spend a lot of time removing the mineral deposits. It is critical to clean the reel after every fishing session to extend its lifespan.

Therefore, look for reels that are easy to clean and require less maintenance. The best way to find the best reels is by checking customer reviews. Look for reviews made by the anglers who are using the reel to ensure that the reel requires less maintenance, and you can clean it quickly.

Using braid

Braided surf fishing line is highly popular for its capacity, casting distance, and longevity. For surf anglers, braided lines are ideal, but you need a reel that supports braided lines.

There are a multitude of good surf fishing reels available, so you can quickly make a good decision.

Accessories to buy with surf fishing reel

After choosing the surf fishing reel, you should get some accessories with it to enjoy surf fishing. Below we have listed some accessories that you can consider buying with the fishing rod.

  • Reel cover

Fishing reel covers are essential when transporting the gear. You can protect the reel from any damages, as a sharp object can affect the lifespan of the fishing line. With a cover, you can protect the reel from scratches and other minor damages.

Look for covers that are durable and are easy to use so that you can quickly snap them around the fishing reel.

  • Line release

Line releases are good to use with spinning reels. With a line release, you don't have to hold the rod all the time. The release device will let the fish run after it takes the bait in the mouth so that the rod remains stable in place, and you can quickly get into action.

  • Power handle

With a power handle, you get a better grip over the reel. If you feel that the handle is small, using a power handle will help. When choosing a power handle, make sure that it fits well with the fishing reel.

Not all reels, support handles, so you need to check it beforehand.

  • Clamp

Some surf fishing reels don’t come with clamps. If you need a clamp, especially to hook up strong fish, then you can use an aftermarket clamp to secure the rod.

  • Spin strap

With big surf fishing reels, you get better drag and more gears. But there is a thing that you will miss, and that is a lack of control sometimes. Using a spin strap will help you battle the fish on a spinning reel setup.

  • Spool tenders

With a spool tender, you can prevent the fishing line from unraveling while it is in storage. You can buy multiple spool tenders to use with the fishing reels.

  • Repair kit

You will surely need a repair kit at some time when using baitcasting surf fishing reels. The repair kit comprises a lot of tools that you can use to fix the reel on the go.

FAQs: Best Surf Fishing Reels

Q: What’s the ideal surf fishing reel size?

A: The size of the fishing reel depends on the fish species you want to target. If you want to target bigger species, then you should go for bigger reels of size 5000-6000. On the other hand, for smaller fish, you can go a size down to get a smaller reel that's lightweight, so you don’t have to bear the hand fatigue.

Q: Are fishing reels expensive?

A: You will find a variety of fishing reels that come under the affordable range. If you go for aluminum reels, then you will find some good options under your budget.

Q: What type of surf fishing reel is better?

A: Surf fishing reels are available in two types i.e., spinning and baitcasting. Both reels are ideal for different tasks and skill levels. If you are a beginner or an intermediate surf angler then you should go with spinning reels as they attach to the lower part of the rod so that you will get better control.

Furthermore, if you are an expert angler, then going with baitcasting reels will be a better decision. The choice of the reel should depend on your experience, skill level, and other such factors that affect your performance.

Q: Can I wash the fishing reel?

A: Yes, you can wash the fishing reel after disassembling the rod. Use regular water to clean the reel and then pack it using a reel cover.


Surf fishing can be more fun and exciting if you have the best setup, such as the reel, rod, and other such things that you need. Go through this guide, and read everything thoroughly to make sure that you purchase the best reel.

Also, check the accessories section to know more about the things you can buy with the surf fishing reel. Lastly, go for branded reels only that comes with excellent after-sales service and warranty.

Don’t forget to check the customer reviews to ensure that the reel you are going to purchase is perfect, depending on your skill level and requirements. / - © Copyright 2020