Surf fishing is one of the most exciting sports, and it can be hard on gear particularly spinning reels. The extreme amounts of sand, pounding surf and jagged rocks are a recipe for broken equipment.
The good news is that many manufacturers provide reels that can endure the rigors of surf fishing. This article gives you a better idea of what to look for in a spinning reel and discusses essential factors to consider when shopping for one.
What features make up the best surf fishing reel?
Let's take a look...
You will need a reel built to withstand constant exposure to saltwater. At the very least, look for a model that comes with sealed stainless steel bearings. Some manufacturers use a gasket on the body and side plates to keep water out. This process makes for more water resistance and longevity.
Spinning reel sizes are usually labeled with 1000, 2000, 3000 and so forth. Larger reels have higher numbers and can handle massive fish with ease. They also provide greater drag power, line capacity, and gear ratio. We recommend at least size 4000 for optimal performance.
Gear ratio refers to the number of times a bail rotates per single crank. A 7:1 gear ratio means that the spool rotates 7 times per turn of the handle. The higher the gear ratio, the faster the line retrieves. Unfortunately, this means you don’t get a lot of torque power to reel in heavy fish.
Another essential factor to consider is how much line the spool can hold. Surf fishing requires at least 250 yards line in the 20-30 pound range. You need something with the highest line capacity you can afford because it will allow you to cast further.
It is always a good idea to shop for a reel with 20 lbs of stopping power at the minimum. A high drag power allows you to reel in large and heavy fish species with ease. It also ensures durability because the reel doesn’t break easily under pressure of skittish fish.
Available in multiple sizes ranging from 1000 to 8000, the PENN Conflict Spinning Reel boasts a 7+1 bearing system. It is well designed with an all-metal body and smooth finish. It makes it easy for anglers to maintain a precision gear alignment in the roughest conditions.
The reinforced graphite rotor does a great job of ensuring the retrieve is always smooth. Graphite offers the advantage of strength, lightweight and enhanced rigidity. Because of its lubricating nature, graphite can withstand more heat than other metals.
This surf spinning reel uses an infinite anti-reverse feature to minimize room for spinning backward and ensure that the hook set is accurate and powerful. It has a Techno-balanced rotor with a one-way bearing to enhance smooth retrieve. The HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers are designed to withstand the high heat generated when dealing with large fish.
The Okuma Azores is designed for offshore use and comes in five models ranging from size Z-40S to Z-90S. It offers plenty of features, some of which you may expect to find in more expensive reels. Among them is a dual force drag system, which works with the dual anti-reverse system to ensure an accurate hook each time.
The dual force drag system utilizes a stack of felt drag washers on top and a carbonate drag washer under the spool. This helps with even distribution of pressure and smoother drag. The click drag adjustment offers precise settings.
Also included is a mechanical stabilization system (MSS) that reduces the risk of interior metal components corroding. The rigid die-cast aluminum body, rotor and side plate are designed to endure exposure to extreme abuse.
The Azores surf spinning reel comes with an oversized spool shaft and spacer, which create stability and balance. There are six high-performance bearings and anti-reverse roller bearing that guarantee super smooth retrieve. The quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing and ratchet system make up the dual anti-reverse system.
Use of the patented Elliptical Oscillation System translates to an extremely even line lay while retrieving.
Okuma incorporates a corrosion resistant coating to make this reel more resistant against the effects of saltwater exposure.
Other notable features include Hydro Block water seal, machined aluminum handle, solid aluminum bail wire and high-density gearing.
The Concept A3 from 13 Fishing Concept is a low profile spinning reel that draws its strength from H.A.M. gears. They are made from hardened brass and cut with Japanese Hamai precision. The result is sturdy double-tough guts that make this model a real beast in the water. The Bull Drag System has 30 pounds worth of stopping power.
Available in left- and right-handed versions, the Concept A3 comes in four versions. They are equally split between 6.3:1 and 8.1:1 gear ratios. All of them are rated for up to 240 yards of 12-pound line and have a 7+1 bearing system. Addition of a Beetle Wing side plate ensures easy inner access. The Ocean Armor 2 Saltwater Protection Process offers an added layer of protection against the effects of saltwater exposure.
This surf casting spinning reel uses a dead stop anti-reverse system to prevent backward spinning. It has Concept cork knobs that provide a comfortable and secure grip. Overall, this is an excellent choice for inland fishing when handling medium to large species.
The Shimano Stradic Ci4+ comes with the patented X-Ship Technology, which has pinion gear supported by a double bearing. This ensures a much smoother retrieve, especially when dealing with large and stubborn fish.
There are four versions of the Stradic Ci4+ to choose from including 1000, 2500, 3000 and 4000. They have a drag range of 7lbs to 24lbs.
The magnum rotor offers better balance, making it easier to start and stop the retrieve. Incorporating a G-Free Body Free Design went a long way towards improving weight and balance in your hand. This design was first utilized on the Shimano Stella and helps prevent forearm fatigue.
The Advanced CoreProtect water resistance provides 3600 all-weather water resistance and ensures that your reel offers lasting reliability. The body is made from Ci4+ carbon, a super durable and lightweight material used for more expensive Shimano reels.
There are six stainless steel ball bearings and an anti-reverse roller bearing, which work together to provide smooth retrieve. The ball bearings are shielded to reduce the risk of water, salt and dirt penetrating. A Super Stopper II anti-reverse bearing allows anglers to set the hook without back play.
When it comes to line management, Shimano uses an advanced AR-C spool along with the Power Roller. This minimizes wind knots and line twists by nearly 50%.
The Lew’s Fishing MH300 is a low-budget spinning reel that boasts a great feature combination and performance. With a gear ratio of 6.2:1, this reel is fast and makes it easy to pick up a generous amount of line per turn of the handle. The retrieve is silky smooth thanks to a 9+1 bearing system.
The MH300 is built to provide lasting reliability with a rugged, lightweight aluminum body. The handle is made from fold-down anodized aluminum and features a SoftTouch knob. Also included is a double anodized ported knurled aluminum spool.
The oversized multi-disc drag system offers smooth performance and can endure the pressure of larger fish. Other notable features include stainless steel bail wire, C40 carbon rotor, and Speed Lube.
The Daiwa BG Spinning Reels come in 10 models with three gear ratios and sizes ranging from 1500 to 8000. You can easily find the right size for all of your angling needs.
Highlights include a black anodized machined aluminum housing with the ability to endure bumps and scrapes. Daiwa uses a hard layer anodization process called Hard Boyz for more effective corrosion resistance.
The Digigear™ System consists of oversized gears with more teeth. They offer a smoother retrieve and increased torque, hence more power when dealing with large fish.
This reel features a solid screw-in handle that doesn’t have play between the main gear and handle arm. The air rotor is 15% lighter than conventional rotors while the dynamic cut aluminum ABS spool allows for smooth line loading, hence minimal wind knots.
Daiwa incorporates an ATD Drag System with carbon felt drag washers that guarantee a fast and accurate hook set every time.
There are seven stainless steel bearings, one of which is a roller bearing. The smaller BG spinning reels (1500-4000) have an infinite anti-reverse system that eliminates back play when setting the hook.
In addition to a roller bearing for instant anti-reverse, larger Daiwa BG reels have a dog and ratchet. They use a mechanical anti-reverse as backup.
The Penn Battle II is a solid mid-tier reel that won’t disappoint. It feels great in terms of build quality and weight right out of the box. The rubber knobs feel comfortable, even after fishing for long hours.
Available in multiple sizes, the all-around reel boasts improved paint quality that protects against corrosion. It has five stainless steel ball bearings, all of which are sealed for protection against the elements.
The Battle II uses the HT-100 drag system, which utilizes carbon fiber drag washers with 20% higher stopping power than the Penn Conflict.
The reel also comes with an upgraded spool that has capacity rings to let you know how much line remains unused. There is a rubber inlay on the spool that allows anglers to load braided line directly.
Pflueger is a popular brand with a colorful history in the tackle industry. Their President XT Low Profile Reel offers exceptional performance at a reasonable cost. It comes with nine double shielded ball bearings made from stainless steel. Along with the one-way anti-reverse bearing, these bearings make the reel feel smoother than models in its price range. You can expect super fast retrieve of 28” per crank.
Another notable feature of the President is the multi-disc drag, which has a respectable counter pressure of 5.5 pounds. The Magnetic Breaking System allows you to adjust spool rotation as well as the backlash externally.
When it comes to ergonomics, this reel features an aircraft-grade aluminum handle designed for extreme durability. It has a SoftTouch rubber knob that provides a comfortable and firm grip when fishing for long hours.
This spinning reel has excellent 4.4:1 gear ratio and an aluminum body. It comes with four double shielded stainless steel bearings that have a center shield and drive gear. They provide better stability and balance, allowing you to reel in larger fish with ease. The reel is available in six sizes to accommodate different fishing needs.
It is equipped with a Mega Drag System that uses stainless steel washers and carbon fibers for ultra-smooth performance. It also allows you to tie braided line without worrying about slippage. The forged aluminum spool does an excellent job of holding the line while optimizing the casting distance. It offers plenty of strength and remains rigid under pressure.
The reel has a line capacity of 601.5 yards of 80 lbs. braid and maximum stopping power of 60-lbs.
The HaiBo Saltwater Spinning Reel is made from quality materials, has numerous features and boasts a stylish design. The inbuilt sealed drag system works with the gear train to provide smooth performance. A rubber gasket is used to prevent your lines from slipping.
There are six sealed stainless steel ball bearings as well as an instant infinite anti-reverse system that prevents back play. The reel uses drag washers made from C-50 metals and carbon fiber. HaiBo incorporated a long wheelbase design spool to provide the power required to reel in large fish.
There you have it – the 10 best surf fishing spinning reels. They offer exceptional performance and allow for longer casting distances.
While the Penn Conflict Spinning Reel CFT8000 may be a favorite pick for many anglers, we understand that most will want to choose from a more extensive price range. All of the above models are good contenders, especially when you pair them with the right fishing rod. That said, we hope you find a reel that works for your needs.