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Up to date Could 10, 2023 9:11 AM

Surf fishing is extremely onerous on all gear and deal with, however the very best surf fishing reels are up for the problem. The explanation so many reels wrestle within the surf is because of the corrosive and damaging energy of saltwater. Even in case you by no means dunk your reel underwater, the occasional splashes and even spray might be sufficient to shortly bind gears, corrode components, and lock up drags. Moreover, most anglers are subjecting their reels to sand and the occasional tumble onto rocks, jetties, or piers.

On the flip facet, combating highly effective fish from shore additionally requires {smooth} operation, with sturdy internals and exact drags. Surf fishermen additionally have to make lengthy casts, which suggests they want a reel that matches the rod and casts nicely. That is fairly the checklist of necessities, and for that cause, most reels aren’t nicely fitted to the surf—besides those particularly constructed to face up to these harsh situations. Here’s a checklist of suggestions and proposals for the very best surf fishing reels.

How We Picked the Finest Saltwater Surf Fishing Reels

My selection in surf fishing reels is predicated on almost 30-years of angling expertise, which incorporates surf fishing on each the East and West coasts of the USA for a big number of species. My major angling pursuit is surf fishing for striped bass, and I spend about 120 nights a season (about 700-1000 hours) chasing these fish all through the Northeast, from New York to Canada.

I’ve personally used and examined a big quantity and spectrum of reels in each freshwater and saltwater settings—from reels costing lower than $15, to reels costing greater than $900. I even have many contacts with skilled anglers, business professionals, and top-tier deal with suppliers and retailers. These sources and my very own important expertise have knowledgeable all my selections right here. I evaluated every reel right here primarily based on the next standards:

  • Sturdiness: Can the reel stand up to the pains of standard surf abuse? There is no such thing as a harder setting for a reel than the surf, and most reels are less than the duty. It doesn’t matter how mild, {smooth}, or sturdy a reel is that if it may well’t survive the cruel salt, sand, and rocks discovered within the surf.
  • Drag Operate: Surf anglers can’t chase after their quarry; we’re certain to the shore. Subsequently, drag power, {smooth} operation, low start-up inertia, and warmth resistance grow to be necessary.
  • Weight, Casting Performance, and Energy: All of those components are necessary, and contribute collectively to your skill to succeed in fish, hook them, and struggle them to the shore—again and again, season after season.
  • Value: To place it bluntly, saltwater gear is dear. Discovering choices that suit your funds will mean you can spend extra time fishing, and fewer time working to pay for all of it. Nevertheless, surf anglers push their gear extraordinarily onerous, and discovering a reel that could be a steadiness between low price and dependability might be onerous to steadiness. Right here, I gave you the strengths and weaknesses of every reel at just about all funds choices which might be viable for the surf.

Finest Saltwater Surf Fishing Reels: Critiques & Suggestions

Finest for Learners: Penn Battle III

Finest for Learners


  • Development and Construct: Full metallic physique and facet plate, CNC gearing
  • Drag: 15- to 30-pounds (3000-8000 measurement), HT-100 carbon drag washers
  • Bearings: Sealed 5+1 stainless-steel bearings


  • Constructed to deal with surf use and sealed in the best locations
  • Is available in a very good number of sizes
  • Drag is powerful, dependable, and simply adjusted
  • Very inexpensive for a sturdy, long-lasting reel


  • Not as {smooth} as a few of the competition- particularly after some use

Penn has a number of budget-priced reels that may work for the surf fisherman—together with the favored Fierce reel—however the Battle is the very best of the bunch. Penn reels have a status for being a bit heavier than different manufacturers, and never fairly as {smooth}. This trade-off comes with a status for being very dependable and extra rugged than reels from different producers like Shimano, Daiwa, or Okuma. These latter traits—ruggedness and reliability—make Penn reels notably in style with surf fishermen. Many surf anglers will fortunately sacrifice slightly little bit of smoothness on the deal with, understanding they’ve a reel that won’t allow them to down over a harsh season on the seaside.

The Battle is constructed round high quality inside elements and stable building. It’s proof against salt intrusion and holds up nicely even when subjected to common “splashes”. It’s going to require thorough rinses and common upkeep in case you dunk it, nevertheless it’s constructed to final. I notably like how simple it’s to regulate the drag. The drag doesn’t go from “none” to “all” with just some clicks however as an alternative requires a major variety of turns, which helps with small changes whereas combating a fish. The Battle III additionally comes obtainable as a combo with a Penn rod, in a wide range of sizes, that are very fashionable and make a superb worth.

Finest for Calm-Water: Daiwa BG

Finest for Calm-Water

Diawa BG


  • Development and Construct: Digitally minimize gears, machined deal with, and waterproof drag
  • Drag: 15- to 33-pounds (3000-8000 sizes), Computerized Event Drag (ATD)
  • Bearings: 6+1 stainless-steel bearings


  • Persistently cited as probably the greatest surf reels of all time
  • Sturdy, {smooth}, and rock-solid building
  • Out there in a variety of sizes
  • Reasonably priced price ticket


  • Not designed for heavy splashing or to ever be submerged

The Daiwa BG is a reel that makes a superb match for these anglers who’re fishing back-bays, quiet flats, calm surf, or simply by no means plan on getting their reel moist. It has wonderful construct high quality that can final a few years with the right care. It’s not designed to be submerged, however it should rise up OK to occasional splashes if rinsed after every use, however this isn’t its sturdy swimsuit.

As an alternative, the BG is designed for these that can hold it dry. Should you do this, it’s a cut price given all of the know-how packed into this inexpensive reel. It stacks up nicely to dearer reels when it comes to precision, power, and high quality of supplies. I might argue it’s possible the very best cut price on this checklist, and I would definitely not name it an entry-level reel, regardless of its worth. The internals are extraordinarily sturdy and are able to deal with the biggest, strongest fish you’ll hook. Additional, the drag is ultra-smooth and really adjustable, with ultra-low start-up inertia.

It’s value noting that the BG additionally is obtainable as a combo with a correctly matched rod obtainable for every measurement reel. As a substitute, when you’ve got a bit extra to spend and are searching for the “subsequent step up” the Shimano Saragosa is among the best saltwater fishing reels obtainable as we speak—simply don’t get it soaked, or it received’t final lengthy.

Finest for Sometimes Getting Moist: Penn Spinfisher VI

Finest for Sometimes Getting Moist

Penn Spinfisher VI


  • Development and Construct: IPX5 sealed spool, physique, and drag. Full metallic physique with CNC Gears
  • Drag: 15- to 40-pounds (3000-8500 sizes) HT-100 carbon drag washers
  • Bearings: 5+1 sealed stainless bearings


  • Splash- and spray-proof IPX5 ranking will survive steadily being splashed, and even a number of dunks
  • Clean and powerful drag that’s simple to regulate
  • Strikes an excellent steadiness between worth and dependability


  • Not as mild or {smooth} as non-sealed reels
  • Not as water-tight as dearer surf-specific reels

The Penn Spinfisher VI is designed to be splashed and sprayed with saltwater and nonetheless survive a number of seasons. The drag retains getting higher with every redesign, and I discover them simple to regulate and really dependable. I additionally admire the handbook bail possibility on the 6500-and-up sizes, and you can too get a bail-less conversion package for the 4500 and 6500 sizes. Total, the Spinfisher is a stable possibility when tackling any measurement fish and is a pleasure to forged. I may also level out that it’s obtainable in giant sizes, and this might be notably tempting for anglers who want a big reel that can get splashed and sprayed. There is no such thing as a different sealed reel over 8000 measurement that prices lower than $300.

This “high decide” was the toughest for me to make, because the competitors is powerful. Penn’s personal Slammer III and the Tsunami SaltX are much more watertight, with stronger our bodies and internals, and higher drags than the Spinfisher. Nevertheless, these reels price considerably extra (roughly 50%) for the same measurement. The Tsunami SaltX is a wonderful reel that stands up very nicely to abuse and can survive being dunked recurrently for much longer than a Spinfisher. Nevertheless, for a lot of anglers, the additional price will not be justified on this case, as a result of they received’t be dunking their reels in any respect—besides accidentally.

Finest for the Harshest Circumstances: Van Staal VSX

Finest for the Harshest Circumstances

Van Staal VSX


  • Development and Construct: Plane grade solid-aluminum building, absolutely sealed physique and drag
  • Drag: 30- to 42-pounds (100-275 manufacture measurement ranking; approx. 3000-8000 business normal)
  • Bearings: 6-to-8 sealed stainless bearings (depending on measurement)


  • Essentially the most rugged reel you should purchase; designed to be reeled underwater
  • Extremely-strong and constructed from stable aluminum
  • Easy design requires little common upkeep
  • Glorious customer support and guarantee


  • For the worth, it’s a fundamental reel that isn’t overly {smooth}
  • Costly and solely obtainable bail-less

The Van Staal VSX is a tank. This can be very sturdy, rugged, and sturdy on a stage no different reel can match. Machined from aircraft-grade aluminum and really absolutely sealed, the VSX is just about impervious to saltwater. My VSX is submerged underwater recurrently, typically for lengthy intervals, and but features simply as nicely now because the day I bought it. The one upkeep it will get is an occasional fast rinse with freshwater, and on the finish of the season new seals and grease.

If you’re consistently submerging your reel, subjecting it to numerous sand, or risking dropping it on rocks, then the VSX is your decide. Whereas the worth might flip some off, contemplate that many 25-year-old or older Van Staals are nonetheless in motion and functioning like new. Whereas nothing is indestructible, the Van Staal VSX is as shut as you may get in a surf reel.

Nevertheless, the Van Staal VSX isn’t for everybody. It isn’t the smoothest reel, doesn’t have the highest-tech drag, has a comparatively gradual retrieve, and is dear. The drag can also be recognized to typically overheat when combating pelagics or different gigantic, extraordinarily hard-fighting fish that take 300-plus yards of line in a single run. For these causes, in case you’re by no means going to get greater than slightly spray of salt in your reel, however nonetheless need the easiest, a Shimano Stella or Daiwa Saltiga are each far more {smooth} and exact reels, with stronger and harder drags that don’t overheat.

Finest for Lengthy-Casting: Shimano Ultegra CI4+

Finest for Lengthy-Casting

Shimano Ultegra CI4+


  • Development and Construct: CI4+ carbon-reinforced physique with water-resistant drag
  • Drag: 33- to 44-pounds (solely obtainable in two sizes, 5000 and 14000)
  • Bearings: Massive-diameter spool with ultra-precision line lay


  • Particularly designed to forged ultra-long distances within the surf
  • Extraordinarily {smooth} operation, with excellent line-lay
  • Very sturdy drag in a light-weight physique


  • Like many long-cast-specific reels, you pay a premium

Most reels are constructed round basic use and make compromises to accommodate as many anglers as doable. Subsequently, there aren’t numerous reels constructed particularly for casting distance. Nevertheless, in case you are trying to forged aerodynamic lures so far as doable, the Shimano Ultregra CI4+ is my high decide. The big-diameter spool and precision line-lay may also help you eek out these further yards wanted to succeed in the furthest sand bars, rock piles, or present seams.

The excellent news is you aren’t sacrificing that a lot to get this further casting distance. This reel retains the legendary Shimano smoothness, has a really sturdy and dependable drag, and the internals are top quality. Nevertheless, it’s a comparatively giant reel due to the extra-large spool. It’s not as powerful as different reels (just like the Shimano Saragoosa or Tsunami SaltX), and a bit dear. It’s also isn’t sealed, and you’ll want to keep away from getting this one moist, the physique and drag aren’t sealed and solely “water resistant.”

Issues to Contemplate Earlier than Shopping for a Surf Fishing Reel

How Moist Will Your Reel Get?

The very best surf fishing reels should overcome many challenges. Freshwater reels (and even some saltwater reels) are merely less than the duty of fishing the surf, and you’re simply losing your cash by trying to make use of them. I’ve seen high-quality, costly freshwater bass reels get destroyed in a single day of surf fishing—not by the scale of the fish, however by the situations. Whereas sand is of concern (it should jam reels and wreck gears) and dropping your reel on a rock can destroy it immediately, saltwater is the first menace to a reel’s lifespan. Frankly, even essentially the most rugged, costly reels will finally succumb to saltwater with out some upkeep.

Usually, saltwater fishing reels which might be inexpensive are extra delicate to saltwater and require common upkeep when used within the surf. What “common” means is subjective primarily based on a wide range of components; for instance, the standard of the reel, how typically you utilize it, and the way onerous you push it. Some reels will must be religiously rinsed after each session and opened up, cleaned, and re-greased in case you unintentionally drop them within the water even for just some seconds. Others can go a number of seasons being splashed and infrequently submerged with nothing greater than a fast rinse after every outing and an end-of-the-season greasing. However, certainly, you’ll pay for this luxurious. I don’t simply imply when it comes to {dollars} and cents, but additionally smoothness, precision, and weight.

What Dimension Reel Matches Your Type?

Reel measurement is a crucial consideration when selecting the very best surf fishing reel. Shore-based anglers are sometimes confronted with actually long-distance casts, and typically with heavy lures or bait. An unbalanced rod and reel combo received’t forged in addition to a correctly balanced setup, which might wreck the fishing expertise (and restrict your catch numbers). The longer and heavier the rod, the higher a bigger and heavier reel will match it. I imagine one of the best ways to decide on reel measurement is by:

1. Deciding on what lures or bait you’ll be utilizing most

2. Matching this requirement to a correctly rated rod

3. Selecting a reel to match the size and weight of the rod

The excellent news is most rods will pair nicely with a spectrum of sizes; for instance, a rod may fit simply as nicely with both a 4000, 5000, or 6000 measurement reel, however not a 3000 or 8000.

The opposite issue that comes into play with reel measurement is how a lot line capability you have to. This requirement boils all the way down to how far you have to to forged, and the way a lot line the species you’re concentrating on will take throughout a struggle. Should you don’t have to forged greater than 100 ft, or the fish you’re concentrating on will solely take small quantities of line (or none), you possibly can lean in direction of a smaller reel. Nevertheless, in case you’re casting extraordinarily lengthy distances and/or going through fish that take extraordinarily lengthy runs, you have to to lean in direction of a bigger reel.

Total, most surf anglers shall be greatest suited with a reel between 3000 and 8000, and 4000 – 6000 sizes are hottest, although manufacture size-ratings can differ, and a few anglers might need to use reels in extra of the 12000 measurement.

How Necessary is Drag to You?

Saltwater fish are highly effective, and as shore-based surf fishermen, we have now no skill to chase after an enormous fish if it decides to take off into the open seas. As an alternative, we should rely solely on our muscle tissue and drag to struggle the fish. How sturdy and {smooth} the drag is all the time issues, however in case you are concentrating on smaller species, like pompano or croaker, you possibly can select a extra reasonably priced reel with decrease drag scores.

Nevertheless, it isn’t only a drags power ranking that issues. Begin up inertia, overheating, and adjustability are all essential as nicely. Begin up inertia is the quantity of strain a fish should overcome to get the drag transferring. This quantity is usually a lot larger than the working drag strain, notably on lower-priced reels. Sadly, this preliminary bit of additional strain at begin up may end up in knots breaking. The excellent news is, high-quality saltwater reels have little or no begin up inertia, and that is but another excuse to decide on a reel particularly designed for saltwater fishing. As a facet word, poorly cleaned and maintained drags will succumb to important begin up inertia regardless of how costly they’re.

Lastly, the adjustability of the drag issues in case you’re consistently altering drag strain. Many moderately- and higher-priced reels are very simple to regulate, with {smooth} transitions from “slightly bit” to “quite a bit” of drag. Different, inexpensive reels might be fairly annoying, with just some clicks of the knob, they will go from “nothing” to “locked”, leading to a damaged line, misplaced fish, and an offended angler.

What’s Your Funds?

Like most different saltwater-specific gear, surf fishing reels are costly, however you get what you pay for.

Usually, the extra you pay for a reel:

  • The higher protected will probably be from saltwater (although not all the time true)
  • The stronger the drag shall be, and the smoother it should perform
  • The stronger and harder the gears and important elements of the reel shall be (together with the physique, deal with, and gears)

Whereas all of us need to save as a lot cash as we will, I insist that you just select your reel funds fastidiously. It’s really superb how briskly the surf will destroy a reel. A “low-cost” reel isn’t low-cost if you need to purchase a brand new one each month or lose a private greatest as a result of it fails in the midst of the struggle. I feel both going with a funds, extra fundamental reel, or a top-tier surf-specific reel (and never one thing in between) is the very best thought.


Q: How do I select a surf fishing reel?

Begin with what lures and bait you’re going to be utilizing, match that to a rod that covers your wants, then lastly match a reel to the rod. For instance, in case you are an angler trying to forged lures starting from 1- to 4-ounces, and want to forged lengthy distances, you’d possible select a rod 10- or 11-feet-long rated to between 1- and 5-ounces (ensuring to go away room on the high finish to not max out the rod’s capabilities). This size and rod ranking would then possible greatest match with a reel within the 5000-8000 measurement vary. Should you aren’t involved about line capability and need lighter weight and decrease price, the 5000 measurement would possibly make sense.

Q: How a lot do surf fishing reels price?

Usually, I might anticipate to spend no less than $120 for a reel that can rise up to some seasons’ worths of standard surf use, even when it’s not going to be getting splashed or dunked. I went a budget route once I first began, and remorse that call. It price me extra in the long term. The Penn Battle III and Daiwa BG vary from about $130 to $160 and are my high picks. Should you intend on solely utilizing your reel on trip, or a number of occasions a yr, a reel like a Penn Fierce ($75-$115) can get you began. Nevertheless, if you’ll be fishing quite a bit (greater than three nights every week) and/or plan on getting your reel moist recurrently, you need to be ready to spend more- or you’ll be changing your reel no less than each season. Extremely-sealed reels designed to get splashed quite a bit, and dunked sometimes, begin round $200-300—the Penn Spinfisher VI, Slammer III, and Tsunami SaltX are good locations to start out.

Finest Saltwater Surf Fishing Reels: Ultimate Ideas

There is no such thing as a single reel selection for each angler, and that is notably true for surf anglers. Realistically figuring out how a lot saltwater your reel goes to be splashed with is a big issue, however not the one one. After figuring out how moist your gear goes to get, be sure to select a reel that balances along with your rod and bait necessities, with a robust sufficient drag to subdue the biggest fish you’re more likely to encounter. Make your selection fastidiously and intentionally, and it’ll improve your catch charge—and delight—within the surf.

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