12 Great Surf Fishing Reels

Last updated on February 3rd, 2024 at 04:58 pm

Surf Fishing, like most other types of fishing, has some specialized gear. One of the most important pieces of gear for Surf Fishing, is the reel. Surf fishing reels are exposed to saltwater and need to be constructed with corrosion resistant materials. They also need to have a larger line capacity for casting long distances and for fighting large fish as well as a good strong drag system. Surf Fishing Reels come in two main types, Large bait casting reels, or large spin casting.

Surf Bait Casting Reels

My Recommended Surf Bait Casting Reels

Key FeaturesPenn SquallOkuma Convector
Penn Squall conventional baitcasting reelOkuma Convector conventional baitcasting reel
Strength and DurabilityStrong Bronze main gearDurable Stainless steel gears
CastabilityHigh speed long castingGood castability
PriceGreat value for high end featuresBest Price Value

The bait casting reels used in surf fishing come in a wide variety. They have a few things in common however. Large spools to hold the line capacity needed for long distance casting and fighting large fish. Strong drag systems for battling those larger fish, and they are made of corrosion resistant materials to with stand the harsh saltwater environment.

There are a number of manufactures of quality Surf Bait Casting Reels, and they come in a variety of price ranges. Everything from basic budget models all the way to the latest and greatest Cadillac models with space age materials. They will all do the job, it just becomes personal preference as to what bells and whistles you want. Of course, brand name adds some to the price as well.

surf fishing reels
Two bulls at once
Texas Redfish Double on fishbites

The higher priced models, In general, will have more modern lightweight high strength materials. They will also have more sophisticated magnetic spool braking systems that help to minimize backlash (birds nest), which is a common malady of bait casting reels. The lower priced models will rely on older spring tension spool brakes and thumb pressure from the user which will result in higher incidence of backlash. Things like gear ratio and number of ball bearings will also account for some price differences. There are some high quality and affordable options like Piscifun you can check out here.

Surf Fishing Spinning Reels

My Recommended Surf Spinning Reels

Key Reel FeaturesPenn SpinfisherDaiwa BG Series
Penn Spinfisher VI saltwater spinning reelDaiwa BG saltwater spinning reel
Strength & Durabilitywatertight saltwater provenAluminum housing and spool
CastabilityLong casting superline spoolVery smooth casting
PriceGreat Value on Proven ReelBest Bang for the Buck

There are a number of manufacturers that produce high quality spinning reels for surf fishing. They also have a wide range of price points, much like surf bait casting reels. Surf Spinning Reels will also need to be made of corrosion resistant materials, have large spools with large line capacity, and have strong durable drag systems for handling big fish.

Surf Spinning reels tend to be more user-friendly. They don’t backlash like a bait caster, and since the line feeds freely off the spool, they tend to cast farther with less effort than a typical bait cast reel. This ease of use and long casting ability, have made the spinning reel a favorite for many surf fishermen.

Bull Red on Spinning Gear
Lady with Mahi Mahi

You will find a wide range of prices, which again, are mainly due to higher tech materials, more ball bearings, improved drag systems and of course, brand name. It’s up to the user to determine what works best for their situation and budget. They will all work reasonably well. The more expensive versions will have higher gear ratio, more ball bearings and the latest in high tech materials.

The more budget friendly models will have fewer of the advanced features, and fewer ball bearings so they won’t feel as smooth as the latest and greatest models. I have noticed however, that the fish don’t really care how much you spent on your reel. I’ve also learned the hard way, that it hurts more when you break a high end reel. 😉

Best Surf Casting Reels

Finding the best surf casting reel is going to be largely a function of personal preference and budget. They have some very good surf fishing reels out there by a number of manufactures. Companies like Penn (pennfishing.com), Daiwa (daiwa.com), and Okuma (okumafishingusa.com) have good quality surf casting reels at a variety of price points.

Penn reels have been around as long as I can remember, and I’m still fishing with some that are older than I am. A testament to their quality and durability. An American company that for many years manufactured their product in the USA. The Penn 209 and 309 have been workhorses in surf fishing reels for better than 50 years. Still, a good option, they are going to be slower retrieve and will need your thumb brake when casting when compared to say the newer Penn Squall. You can read my full review of Penn Reels here:

Penn Squall:

An ideal choice for both hobbyists and serious anglers, the Penn Squall Level Wind Trolling Fishing Reel is ready for work in a variety of saltwater fishing conditions. This trolling fishing reel is built upon the legacy of the illustrious Penn GT series of reels and offers the same proven performance in a more compact package. With a forged and machined aluminum spool and lightweight graphite frame and sideplates, this saltwater fishing reel delivers exceptional reliability without adding bulk to your rod.

Its bronze main gear and stainless pinion gear provide exceptional strength and precision to ensure smooth, comfortable cranking. Additionally, the saltwater fishing reel’s proprietary greased HT-100 Versa Drag system allows for multiple drag settings and remains cool in the heat of battle, giving you the finesse and power needed to conquer a variety of fish species. An anti-reverse bearing eliminates back play in the handle for instant hook sets, while the Versa-Handle system allows you to choose how long the handle should be. And thanks to its line capacity rings, the spool displays at a glance how much line is remaining.

  • Level wind trolling reel for big game fish in a variety of saltwater conditions
  • Durable construction with lightweight graphite frame and side plates and bronze main gear and stainless pinion gear
  • HT-100 carbon fiber drag system provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness
  • 2 stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing that eliminates rotor backplay
  • Forged and machined aluminum spool is braid ready and has line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity
  • Graphite frame and side plates keep the reel lightweight
  • Machined high-strength main gear is marine grade bronze alloy
Penn Squall customer review

The Penn Squall will have a faster retrieve, magnetic spool brake, and newer high tech spool, drag, and frame materials. This of course, makes it more expensive choice in surf fishing reels as well. Nearly twice the price of the Penn 309. Over a long day of surf casting, the faster retrieve and fewer backlash worries might make the price more bearable.

Penn 309

Casting or Trolling These Reels Have Earned The Trust Of Anglers Worldwide! This series of tried and trusted reels feature rugged positive level wind, HT-100 star drag, counter balanced handles, stainless steel ball bearings, and chrome plated brass components for corrosion resistance. We can’t say enough about these reels, just ask anyone around the dock!

  • , Level wind fishing reel excels across a variety of freshwater and saltwater situations
  • Delivers legendary toughness and reliability in a proven design
  • Machined aluminum spool, bakelight sideplates, and stainless steel gears for long-lasting durability
  • HT-100 carbon fiber drag system provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness
  • Counter-balanced handle and oversized paddle knobs offer fluid, comfortable cranking.
Penn 309 customer review

Okuma, a Chinese company, entered the US market a few years ago and has steadily made improvements and gained market share. They make casting and spinning reels and their Classic Pro XP and Convector CV series are both good mid range surf casting reels that have some modern high tech materials, fast line retrieve and are budget friendly. I’ve use the OKuma Classic Pro XP for several years now and find it to be a very good surf fishing reel. It is very resistant to the saltwater environment. The drag holds up well when fighting big fish and the spool brake adjustment effectively minimizes backlash.

Okuma Classic Pro XP

  • , Lightweight, corrosion-resistant side plates
  • Machined aluminum, anodized spool on XP
  • Ported graphite frame design.
Okuma Classic XP cutomer review

The Okuma Convector CV series is the next step up if you will, in their casting reel line up. Has a faster retrieve, stronger drag system and more advanced spool control. Very well-made with high tech corrosion resistant frame and spool materials. Very good line capacity for long distance casting and for those long runs that big fish sometimes make. This would be a great addition to anyones surf fishing reels.

Okuma Convector CV

Oversized gear and drag system (Excluding left-hand line counters). Stainless steel, self-lubricating gear system. 3 stainless steel bearings.

Okuma Convector reel customer review

Daiwa, a Japanese company, has been a player in the fishing rod and reel markets for many years now and they have some very good surf fishing reels in their line up as well. The Daiwa SeaGate series and the Daiwa Saltist series have both proven to be excellent surf fishing reels. The Saltiist series is made of a one piece corrosion resistant aluminum frame with high strength alloy gears and 4 ball bearing with a high speed gear ratio.

Daiwa Saltist

Now you can have proven Saltist reel performance with the added convenience and efficiency of a levelwind. Plenty of cranking power, a super-smooth multi-disc drag, and four corrosion-resistant CRBB bearings make these reels ideal for a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater applications.

  • Four CRBB shielded, corrosion-resistant ball bearings and a roller bearing.
  • Powerful, high-strength alloy gears.
  • Up to 30% greater winding power.
  • Super Drag with up to 22 pounds of drag max.
  • Rugged, all metal construction with rigid, one-piece aluminum frame.
Daiwa Saltist customer review

Daiwa’s Seagate series is constructed of corrosion proof all composite frame. It also has a high speed gear ratio, smooth drag system and the large line capacity needed for surf fishing reels. Either of these reels will make a great surf casting reel and should give many years of service. All of these manufactures also produce some very good surf spinning reels as well.

Daiwa Seagate

Daiwa Seagate Levelwind Reels are built for reliable service in fresh or saltwater. A choice of 50 and 60 sizes offer the line capacity needed for Great Lakes style trolling with lead core and copper wire lines. Rugged, corrosion-proof composite frame 4 bearing system Dual system Infinite Anti-Reverse Ultimate Tournament carbon drag (UTD) Oversize line guide aperture for copper wire line Loud spool click Fast 6.1:1 gear ratio Oversize Soft Touch handle knob

Daiwa Seagate reel- customer review

Best Surf Fishing Spinning Reels

The best of anything, is always subjective, but I’ll try to give you some good options to check out and see what might be the best for you. Surf Spinning reels come in a wide variety of makes, models and price ranges. It’s a matter of what features will give you the best results for the fish you’re after in the environment that you will be fishing in, and will fit in your budget.

Surf Spinning reels need long cast spools with large line capacity and strong drag systems. Companies like Shimano (fish.shimano.com), Daiwa and Penn all have years of experience producing these kinds of reels for the surf fishing environment. The Shimano Ultegra and Socorro SW series of reels are excellent choices.

Young lady fishing with her Penn Spinning reel - 12 Great Surf Fishing Reels

Shimano Ultegra:

  • Reelsize: 5500, Surfcasting and carpfishing reel. Gear Ratio: 5.3:1
  • Mono line capacity (lbs/yd): 10/425, 12/315, 16/230
  • Weight: 17.3 ounce, max dragforce: 33 lbs
  • Bearings: 1 S A RB and 3 shielded stainless steel and 1 roller bearing.

The Shimano Ultegra has incorporated the latest technologies in materials, with line capacity, smooth drag, and high speed gear ratio. It also is very water resistant protecting the inner workings of the reel from the saltwater environment making it another great choice for surf fishing reels.

Shimano Ultegra customer review

Shimano Socorro Saltwater Series

The Socorro SW Series is a little more budget friendly than the Ultegra series and they were specifically designed for saltwater applications from the ground up. True durability to tackle nearly anything in the salt best describes the new Shimano Socorro SW spinning reels. Equipped with long lasting Hagane gearing, the Socorro reels give anglers the strength for both inshore and offshore action, and with X Ship Technology, they offer the ultimate in smoothness and power. Fish with confidence. Socorro SW reels are ready and will make great surf fishing reels.

  • The Socorro saltwater spinning reel offers true durability to tackle nearly anything in the salt
  • X-Ship technology provides improved gear durability and eliminates friction between the spool shaft and gear enhancing the casting performance and allowing for longer casts
  • Incorporates Shimano’s flagship HAGANE gearing that provides long-lasting, strong, and durable performance and smoothness giving anglers the strength for both inshore and offshore action
  • Features Cross Carbon Drag which provides long lasting smoothness to withstand fast, powerful runs from pelagic and large inshore species.
Shimano Soccoro Saltwater customer review

Penn Battle II

Penn has made saltwater surf fishing reels longer than anyone. Their Spinfisher SS series and newer Battle II series are great options for surf fishing reels. Both contain the latest in modern technologies in frame materials, drag and gear components. Both have the large line capacity and smooth drag necessary for cast long distances and fight large fish.

Penn Battle II spinning reel
  • Penn Battle II: Durable, high range spinning reel ideal for conquering big saltwater game fish
  • Full metal body, side plate, and rotor and heavy duty aluminum bail wire offer exceptional durability
  • HT 100 carbon fiber drag system provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness
  • Fluid cranking with 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti reverse bearing
  • Superline spool requires no backing, is braid ready, and has line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity

Arm yourself for the most punishing saltwater battles with the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel. Crafted from durable materials and packed with fish-fighting features, this saltwater reel is engineered to catch fish year after year. From the full metal body, sideplate, and rotor to the five sealed stainless steel ball bearings, each component is designed to help you land your catch. The reel’s HT-100 Versa-Drag carbon fiber drag system leverages both sides of each drag washer to provide maximum drag, and its instant anti-reverse bearing eliminates pullback so you reel without interruption.

Additionally, the drag washers are treated with a proprietary grease to ensure long-lasting performance. Suitable for use with Berkley or Spiderwire Superline, the spool is fitted with a rubber gasket that prevents the Superline from slipping under pressure–meaning anglers can use braided line without a monofilament backing. And thanks to its line capacity rings, the spool displays at a glance how much line is remaining.

Penn Battle !! customer review

Penn Spinfisher 6500SS:

The Penn Spinfisher VI features IPX5 sealing so whether it gets hit with a wave, or you let it ride in the spray all the way home, you don’t have to worry about saltwater getting into the gearbox or drag system. Penn HT-100 drag washers are housed in a fully sealed spool to give the stopping power needed for big saltwater fish. A full metal body and side plate keep the CNC gear system in precise alignment under heavy loads. Available in standard, live liner, long cast and bail-less models these make great surf fishing reels.

  • Watertight spinning reel performs reliably in saltwater and sand environments
  • Durable construction with full metal body, sideplate, and rotor and heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
  • Sealed HT-100 Slammer drag system provides robust, silky-smooth drag, while friction trip ramp prevents premature bail trip when casting
  • Fluid cranking with 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing
  • Superline spool requires no backing, is braid ready, and has line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity
Penn Spinfisher VI customer reviews


Daiwa has produced quality surf spinning reels for many years as well. Their Saltist series of spinning reels has been designed from the ground up for the saltwater fishing environment. Corrosion resistant, smooth drag, high speed retrieve with large line capacity, the Daiwa Saltist spinning reel is a great option for a surf fishing reel.

Saltist Spinning reels are made to withstand the elements. With the rugged and durable reputation of the Saltist name. These reels feature a Magsealed main shaft, Magsealed line roller and (CRBB) corrosion resistant ball bearings for long lasting smoothness and performance.

Daiwa Saltist Spinning Reel
  • The Daiwa SALTIST Spinning Reel was made for serious saltwater fishing
  • This reel was designed to provide reliability and performance
  • Features: – Machined aluminum screw in handle – Waterproof carbon ATD drag system – Digigear syst
  • 6:1 – Retrieve Rate: 33
  • 2″ – Bearing Count: 8CRBB, 1RB – Braid Capacity (Yards/lbs): 190/15, 170/20, 120/30 – Mono Capacity
Daiwa Saltist Spinning reel customer review

Daiwa BG series:

The Daiwa BG (Black Gold) series of spinning reels is another good option for surf fishing reels, and is a little more budget friendly. The BG series reels have a proven track record both on the beach and offshore. The next generation of our their popular BG spinning reel series just got leaner and meaner. This complete series ranges from ultralight freshwater actions to heavy big game saltwater models.

  • Black Anodized Machined Aluminum Housing (“Hard Bodyz” Body & Side Cover), Over-sized Digigear (Digigear System)
  • Solid Screw-In Handle, Air Rotor, Dynamic Cut Aluminum ABS Spool
  • Braided Line Ready Spool, Waterproof Drag System, Carbon ATD, Line Per Handle Turn: 47.4″
  • Manual Return Bail (4500 and Larger), 6BB+1RB, Gear Ratio: 5.6:1, Drag Max:22
  • Line Capacity (Lb. Test / Yards): 14/470, 17/380, 20/280 J-BRAID: 40/480, 50/360, 65/310
  • Infinite Anti-Reverse System (4000 and Smaller), Infinite Dual Anti-Reverse System (4500 and Larger)
Daiwa BG spinning reel customer reviews

Decisions Decisions

I hope you found this helpful. There are many options, and these are just some mid range models. I tend to be more budget minded. I use my equipment pretty hard so it needs to be durable but not so expensive that I panic every time it takes a dunk in saltwater or falls in the sand.

Young Lady with a big Peacock Bass caught with her Shimano spinning reel.

Essential Surf Fishing Gear:

  • Surf Fishing Rods, surf rods are typically longer and heavier duty than standard rods. read more.
  • Surf fishing Reels,larger and stronger with greater line capacity to handle big fish. read more.
  • Surf fishing Rod and Reel Combos, pre-matched rod and reel set ups for surf fishing – read more.
  • Sand Spike Rod holder, holds your rods securely while you wait for that big bite. – read more.
  • Surf Fishing Rigs, terminal tackle for fishing the surf. – read more.
  • Surf fishing Carts, for beaches that won’t allow vehicles you need a way to carry your gear – read more.
  • Rod Racks for Vehicles, carry your rods out of harms way and easy to access- read more.
  • Beach Camping Gear, in case you want to fish all night or for several days – read more.

Every body is different. Different target fish, different fishing environment and different budgets. Any of these surf fishing reels will serve you well for many years without breaking the bank. They have cheaper models, and there are some much more expensive models as well. So as always, stay safe, enjoy the journey and please try to leave it cleaner than you found it.

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