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When you’re looking for the best surf fishing reels it can be difficult to narrow it down to one that will be the right fit for you, as there are plenty of options out there that are designed for either saltwater or freshwater fishing, or both.
Top Surf Reels (At A Glance)
- Shimano Stradic Ci4+
- Daiwa M7HTMAGST Millionaire
- Himenlens MC-A08 Saltwater
- Quantum Cabo PT
- Penn Clash
- Penn Spinfisher V
- Okuma Azores Spinning
Surf fishing can be a little more demanding on your gear than other types of fishing, and because of this, we thought we’d compile this informational guide to help you out and give you a little advice on what you might want to look out for.
Why Is Surf Fishing So Popular?
No Boat Required
Surf fishing can be easily accessible if you live near the ocean and with the United States having 95,471 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of opportunities to give it a go.
Another thing that makes surf fishing so accessible is that you don’t need a boat. You can fish from the beach, a pier or even the rocks, which means you can often catch similar species standing on land without the added cost of buying, renting or chartering a boat.
Many of the fish that can be found in deeper waters can be found closer to the shoreline because where there are small fish there will often be larger fish hunting them down. This means there are opportunities for catching lots of different species, including (depending on your bait and your location) sharks.
Video: Beach Fishing For Sharks And Pompano
Greater Variety Of Fish
We all know how vast the oceans are and what that means for anglers is that there are more fish; let’s face it, the phrase “there’s plenty more fish in the sea” doesn’t come out of nowhere.
Not only are there greater numbers of fish but there is a much larger variety of species to be found. On top of that, the size of the fish you could catch can be significantly larger than the ones you might be able to catch in your local pond.
The types of fish you might be able to catch will often vary depending on your geographical location. But mackerel, snapper, sharks, flounder, bluefish and sheepshead can be popular targets for surf fishers.
What Types Of Reel Are Available?
While a baitcasting reel can be a good option for casting long distances, a spinning reel can often be the better choice for surf fishing. But whether you opt for a baitcasting reel or a spinning reel will likely be a matter of preference and skill level.
Because the fish you can catch will be larger than freshwater fish and you will be having to deal with the added power of the ocean waves, it is important that your reel is strong enough to handle the additional weight. As well as this, you should also make sure your line and rod are able to handle the same amount of weight and pressure as your reel.
Features To Keep An Eye Out For
Because of the extra power your reel will be going up against, durability will be important. It should be built to withstand the added pressures of fishing in surf and saltwater, so that it doesn’t break under the load of a big fish.
The moving parts should be sealed, coated or made from corrosion resistant materials in order that each part will continue to work effectively on the reel even after being used in harsh saltwater conditions.
When it comes to surf fishing, corrosion resistant gear can be essential if you want it to last any length of time. Surf fishing can be more demanding on your gear because of the salt water, the salt air and the sand, all of which can cause damage to your equipment if it’s not designed to handle these types of conditions.
The drag on your reel can really come into play when you’re surf fishing because it can help you to reel in your big fish without causing your line to snap under the pressure. It can also help to protect the gears on the reel.
The drag you will need on your reel will likely depend on the size and type of fish you plan to catch, as you will usually need more drag for larger fish.
Reel Brake Types
Some fishing reels use centrifugal braking systems and others may use magnetic brakes. Brakes can help slow down your spool on baitcasting reels so that your line and lure are not traveling faster than your spool, which can help to prevent backlash and your line become tangled.
The main difference between them is that with centrifugal brakes you will usually need to remove the side plate from your reel to set your brakes. The magnetic brakes can usually be adjusted using the dial on the side of your reel.
The type of line you opt for will probably be down to personal preference but you will need to make sure that it’s strong enough to handle the pressure of the waves and the large fish that you intend to catch.
Braided line can often be a good choice because of its added strength and thin diameter, which means you can get more line onto your spool compared to monofilament of the same strength.
A good test weight for surf fishing is around 16 pounds or more
Just like with other types of fishing, it can also be possible to use a combination of line types.
Useful Surf Fishing Tips
Follow The Tides
The tides can have an impact on the behavior of the fish, as some fish may follow their prey in with the tide. Fish behavior will usually differ depending on your location and the species that you’re targeting, so it can be a good idea to talk to other anglers in your area to find out the best times to catch your specific target fish.
Depending on the type of fish you’re aiming for, the times when the tides are moving in our out can be good times to catch fish, as fish can often be found in moving water as they hunt down the baitfish that are carried with the tide.
One thing that can be the difference between fish and no fish is how far you’re able to cast your line out, as one of the main aims is to cast your line as far as you can.
Casting distance can be important and using an overhead casting technique can let you cast your line out to where you want it. This can be a general casting technique to master and can even be successful for beginners.
Video: How To Cast A Spinning Reel – Overhead Cast
To cast even longer distances, you can take the overhead casting to a new level by extending your arms on the rod and aiming towards a 45 degree angle in the sky as you cast, just like a record holding caster might.
Know Where The Fish Are
Because you’re dealing with a huge amount of water when it comes to the oceans, it can be difficult to pinpoint where exactly the fish are. But there are a few things you can look for to help you locate their position.
The underwater landscape can play an important role in determining where you’ll find fish, as you will often find fish near points where the seabed changes, such as deep sections or drop offs and sand bars.
Sand bars can be good indicators of where you might find fish, as these tend to create areas of currents where fish will often be found looking for baitfish.
The areas where the waves start to break can also indicate a change in the underwater landscape and could be where you might find fish.
7 Best Surf Fishing Reels
1: Shimano Stradic Ci4+ Spinning Reel
- Weight: 8.10 ounces
- Gear Ratio: 4.8:1
- Max Drag: 24 pounds
This Shimano spinning reel is a lightweight reel that’s built for the surf. It has a line capacity of 240 yards of 8 pound monofilament line or 160 yards of 12 pound line.
It features shielded anti-rust bearings as well as having the added benefit of Coreprotect technology that prevents water from getting into the mechanisms using a water repellent coating. The reel has a durable and smooth gear system with a ratio of 4.8:1.
This reel also features a Magnumlite Rotor which is designed to improve the rotational stability and provide a smoother, extra light touch when you turn the handle.
2: Daiwa M7HTMAGST Millionaire Surf Reel
- Weight: 12.2 ounces
- Gear Ratio: 5.8:1
- Max Drag: 11 pounds
This Daiwa Millionaire Surf Reel is a lightweight reel designed for surf fishing and to give you improved casting distances. It’s a durable reel, made with high quality components, including a balanced carbon swept handle that adds to its lightweight feel.
It’s made from aluminum alloy and features a super tuned machine cut spool and an infinite anti-reverse feature. It has smooth Magforce-Z magnetic braking which is designed to prevent overrun and to automatically hold off when the spool slows down.
It benefits from corrosion resistant ball bearings and has a line capacity of 330 yards of 15 pound monofilament line.
3: Himenlens MC-A08 Saltwater Spinning Reel
- Weight: 13.8 ounces (3000 model)
- Gear Ratio: 5.1:1
- Max Drag: 38 pounds
The Himenlens reel is a spinning reel specifically designed with saltwater fishing in mind. It is crafted entirely in stainless steel for added corrosion resistance and it features a durable carbon fiber brake system for added durability and performance.
It features a powerful corrosion resistant drag system up to 38 pounds for the 3000 model and the spool is designed to be braid-ready so you can tie your braided line directly to the spool. It also comes in larger sizes with up to a 55 pound drag.
It is a durable reel that can be ideal for both surf fishing and freshwater fishing if you like to mix it up.
4: Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel
- Weight: 24 ounces (CSP60)
- Gear Ratio: 4.9:1
- Max Drag: 45 pounds
The Quantum Cabo reel has been designed for some serious saltwater fishing, making it an ideal choice for fishing in the surf. It has a line capacity of 300 yards of 14 pound line and has a generous 45 pound max drag.
It is a durable spinning reel with corrosion resistant components, including a sealed Magnum CSC drag system made from ceramic, carbon fiber and stainless steel. It also benefits from having a SaltGuard II corrosion resistant coating for added protection against saltwater damage.
The TiMag II Nickel-Titanium bail wire is also designed to be fail-proof and features a magnetic bail trip that is guaranteed for life, reinforcing the reel’s durability.
5: Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel
- Weight: 26.9 ounces
- Gear Ratio: 4.7:1
- Max Drag: 40 pounds
This Penn Clash reel is a spinning reel built for durability and can be a good saltwater reel. It features a braid ready spool so you can tie your line directly and can hold up to 490 yards of 30 pound braided line, or 335 yards of 15 pound monofilament line.
The reel features durable, corrosion resistant components, with machine cut CNC gear technology, an all metal body and aluminum bail wire. The carbon fiber drag system features wave springs to provide smooth pressure and durability.
The durability and performance continues through the 8 stainless steel ball bearings with the benefit of an instant anti-reverse bearing to help you reel in that big fish.
6: Penn Spinfisher V Fishing Reel
- Weight: 20.4 ounces
- Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
- Max Drag: 30 pounds
This Spinfisher V is a spinning reel that has plenty of features that can come in handy when surf fishing. One great features is the water tight design that is sealed so that salt water, spray or sand is prevented from getting into the moving parts.
It’s a durable reel with a line capacity of 360 yards of 10 pound mono line, with capacity rings to let you see how much line is left. It has 5+1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
The Spinfisher V also features a full metal construction and a heavy duty aluminum bail wire. There’s also a friction trip ramp that helps to stop the bail tripping early and a rubber gasket that can help to prevent line from slipping.
7: Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning Reel
- Weight: 26.4 ounces
- Gear Ratio: 5.4:1
- Max Drag: 44 pounds
The Okuma Azores reel has been designed specifically for saltwater use. The reel features a water tight, sealed Dual Force drag system with carbonite and felt drag washers that creates improved stability. It also benefits from a Precision Click drag adjustment so you can set the drag more accurately.
It features corrosion resistant gears, a rigid diecast AlumiLite Construction aluminum body, sideplate and rotors, with machined aluminum handle and spool. The 6+1 stainless steel bearings are also corrosion resistant and designed for high performance and durability.
Another feature on the Azores reel is the Knurled Spool design which prevents braided line from slipping and removes the need for backing, meaning you can get more line on your spool. It has a capacity of 420 yards of 15 pound monofilament line.
What Size Reel Should I Use?
This can depend on the species and size of fish you plan to catch but reels in the 3000 to 4000 range can be ideal for surf fishing.
You should also make sure that your reel is compatible with your rod and that it can handle the amount of weight that you require and the strength of line that you want to use.
What Kind Of Rod Should I Use?
A heavy action rod can be a good idea when it comes to surf fishing, as you will likely be catching large fish that can be more powerful than your average freshwater species.
Lengths can vary between 7 feet and 16 feet but often a good size can be around 12 to 15 feet.
How Do I Look After My Rod?
In order to keep your rod in tip top shape for your next surf fishing trip it can be important to rinse it off with freshwater after each use.
Making sure all the parts are free of sand and saltwater before you store your rod can help to prevent damage. You might want to make sure it’s dry before you store it too.
Can I Use A Surf Reel Away From The…Surf?
Yes, you can. However, some surf reels are often designed for bigger fish and this added strength may be too much for fishing in freshwater, especially if you’re looking to catch smaller fish that may require lighter or more sensitive gear.
Surf fishing can be a fun and exciting way to catch fish. The thousands of miles of US coastline can make it an easily accessible sport and it can open up your fishing trip to a much larger variety of fish.
Because of the larger fish and strong ocean currents, remember that you’ll need suitable gear to handle the extra power.
Strong line and a rod and reel that can stand up to the pressures of both a harsh saltwater environment and powerful fighting fish can be essential. Durability and corrosion resistance are also things you should consider.
But also remember that a lot of the time it will take practice to master some of the skills required, such as casting long distances, so that can be a great excuse for another surf fishing adventure.
Do you have a favorite rod and reel combo for surf fishing? Maybe you have a great story to tell about your last surf fishing trip. Let us know in the comments. And if you want to help others out there get into this exciting sport, simply share this guide.