TOP 15 Surf Fishing Reels of 2020 Reviewed with Buyer’s Guide & FAQ
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of surf fishing reels out there.
When I got into surf fishing a few months back, I had no idea what to look for, and there was so much information coming at me from all angles that I had no idea how to pick my reel.
Then one day I decided I’ll ask all my fishing buddies and do a bunch of research on my own.
That’s how I ended up with my own list of some of the best surf fishing reels of 2020.
- TOP 15 Best Surf Fishing Reels of 2020
- HaiBo Saltwater Spinning Reel
- Fin-Nor Offshore Spinning Reel
- Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel
- Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Blue Yonder
- Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
- Lew’s Mach I Speed Spool
- Shimano Stradic Ci4 Spinning Fishing Reel
- 13 Fishing Concept A3 Fishing Reel
- Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning Reel
- Penn Conflict II Spinning Fishing Reel
- KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel
- Daiwa Millionaire-S Baitcasting Fishing Reel
- KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
- SeaKnight Rapid Saltwater Spinning Reel
- Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel
- Quick Buying Guide to Surf Fishing Reels
TOP 15 Best Surf Fishing Reels of 2020
HaiBo Saltwater Spinning Reel
Review: The Haibo Saltwater is a heavy-duty saltwater spinning reel, perfect for big game fishing.
Its 6 sealed stainless steel ball bearings make reeling in heavy fish silky smooth. The one-piece metal body makes it extra durable, it also gives it extra protection from sand and saltwater.
The Haibo Saltwater is a really nice all-rounder that promises strength you can rely on.
- Strong, durable and long-lasting.
- High drag capacity of 61.7lbs.
- Sealed bearings and drag system offer protection from salt and sand.
- The drag system has a tendency to not lock.
- Relatively low gear ratio compared to other models.
Fin-Nor Offshore Spinning Reel
Review: This robust reel will stand up to pretty much any challenge you throw at it. The aluminum body provides extra durability and protection from the elements and the double-shielded stainless steel bearings give it a smooth performance.
It has a pretty low gear ratio, 4.4:1, which makes it easier to haul in the big ones.
- Tough aluminum body.
- Smooth performance.
- Low maintenance.
Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel
Review: With over a hundred years of experience designing fishing reels, Pflueger really know what they’re doing.
The President XT is a stylish reel that gives great value for money. Its steel components offer corrosion resistance while guaranteeing resilience.
On the lighter, faster side, it has a maximum drag of 6lb and a gear ratio of 5.2:1, so it might struggle with the big ones out there in the water.
- Great value for money.
- Great for smaller game.
- Only comes with one spool.
- Will struggle with big game.
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Blue Yonder
Review: Want to cast far? The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Blue Yonder provides an excellent long distant cast that’s simple to use and feels great.
The open frame allows for easy line access while the MagTrax brake system delivers consistency and superb control, while 2 stainless steel ball bearings and 1 roller bearing give it a smooth performance.
- Smooth and consistent drag.
- High-quality components.
- Great for long-distance casting.
Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
Review: One of the best mid-range reels on the market, the Daiwa BG gives you great value for money. If you don’t need a fully sealed reel, the Daiwa BG has everything you need.
Its fully anodized body protects it from corrosion, while 6 stainless steel ball bearings give it a nice and smooth action. It’s a strong, smooth reel with a great drag.
- Feels sturdy with a smooth performance.
- Strong anodized body.
- Great value for money.
- Heavy, compared to pricier reels.
- The painted spool is susceptible to corrosion if not properly maintained.
Lew’s Mach I Speed Spool
Review: This innovative, lightweight baitcaster gives one of the best performances on the market.
Lew’s live up to their reputation with this light, graphite framed reel with premium double shielded, 10 ball bearing system.
It’s got a 6.2:1 gear ratio, which is on the high end. It’s quick and perfect for small to medium game.
- Super smooth.
- Hard as a rock.
- Cast style might be tricky for beginners.
Shimano Stradic Ci4 Spinning Fishing Reel
Review: Even though it’s known as a freshwater reel, the Shimano Stradic Ci4 is saltwater resistant.
It’s a great lightweight reel that doesn’t compromise on performance or durability.
If you’re willing to pay a bit extra, the Shimano Stradic will score you some great catches.
- Suitable for saltwater and freshwater.
- Price, compared to similar models.
13 Fishing Concept A3 Fishing Reel
Review: Lightweight and versatile, the 13 Fishing Concept A3 is a great reel for more advanced anglers.
With an aluminum frame, this reel is great for fresh and saltwater. It’s got 30lbs of drag, so you’ll be able to pull in the monsters with this ultra-strong, low-profile reel.
The cork knobs feel great and are a really nice touch.
- Lightweight and low profile.
- Versatile – can be used in salt and freshwater.
- Very smooth with 30lb drag capacity.
- Cast style might be tricky for beginners.
Okuma Azores Saltwater Spinning Reel
Review: With a die-cast aluminum body, the Okuma Azores is a nice introductory reel, ideal for beginners. With 16lb drag, it’s designed for going after the small and medium game.
It has an aluminum body, 6 stainless steel ball bearings, and an anodized spool, so it’s totally corrosion-resistant.
- Watertight and corrosion resistant.
- Reasonable price.
- Great for beginners.
- Feels a little clunky.
Penn Conflict II Spinning Fishing Reel
Review: With a drag of only 9lb, the Penn Conflict II is designed for smaller game, but it’s a really good reel for nearshore or inshore fishing.
It has a graphite rotor and an 8-bearing system which give it good strength and torque while also making it one of the lighter reels on this list.
It’s a great looking reel, definitely one to add to the list when you’re going after the smaller prize.
- Sealed bearing system.
- Great design – it looks amazing.
- Not suitable for medium or big game.
KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel
Review: The KastKing Sharky III is an awesome reel if you’re just getting into surf fishing.
Its 10 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings give it a smooth action while the aluminum body gives it strength and makes it feel nice and sturdy.
It’s got a 39.5lb drag, so it will stand up to medium, if not big game. For the price, you can’t ask for more.
- Great for beginners.
- Great price.
- Great drag capacity (almost 40lb).
- Advanced anglers might want something with more accuracy and precision.
Daiwa Millionaire-S Baitcasting Fishing Reel
Review: With its patented Magforce Z technology, the Daiwa Millionaire offers superb control, allowing you to nail those precise casts.
It has a free-floating spool which gives it the necessary freedom for long casts.
Its got a 15lb drag capacity, so it will stand up to medium game. The Daiwa Millionaire is a great lightweight, sturdy reel perfect for long, precise casts.
- Superb precision.
- Great reliability.
- Intelligent braking system.
- Drag capacity isn’t strong enough for big game.
- Cast style may be tricky for beginners.
KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
Review: With six, stainless steel ball bearings, carbon fiber drag washers, centrifugal brakes, and anodized aluminum alloy spool, the KastKing Rover Round is a really nice introductory reel for beginners looking to try a round reel.
Its durability and comfortable design make it a pleasure to use. And its affordable price makes it perfect for beginners.
- Great value for money.
- Good introductory reel for baitcasting.
- Good all-round performance.
SeaKnight Rapid Saltwater Spinning Reel
Review: The SeaKnight Rapid comes with a stainless steel ball-bearing system with 33lbs of drag.
It’s a heavy-duty workhorse that will land you some of the bigger game out there. It has an anti-corrosion finish that gives it protection from the salt and sand.
It’s affordable and sturdy, perfect for beginners.
- Durable and corrosion-resistant.
- Good for beginners.
- Won’t add much to an advanced angler’s arsenal.
Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel
Review: I kept the best for last. The Penn Battle II has everything a reel needs. It’s affordable, it looks great and it delivers a superb performance.
It has a full metal body, carbon fiber drag system, and five sealed stainless steel ball bearings.
It’s strong and durable and definitely my favorite reel on this list.
- Stylish and durable.
- Great drag capabilities.
- Superb all-round performance.
- I haven’t found one yet!
Quick Buying Guide to Surf Fishing Reels
Hopefully, now you’ve got an idea of what to look for during your search for the best surf fishing spinning reel.
Now comes the hard part, the actual decision.
There are a few things you should bear in mind when it comes to buying your surf fishing reel.
Have a look at these key points below to help you make your decision.
The size of the reel you choose depends on what size game you’re fishing for. Reels come in sizes of 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, etc.
The bigger the number, the bigger the game you can go after.
If you’re just starting, go for somewhere between 3000 and 5000, which tend to be good all-rounders.
Then, when you get more experienced, you can choose a reel more specific to the game you’re trying to catch.
Because you’ll be fishing in the ocean, you will want to make sure your surf fishing reel is designed to withstand constant exposure to saltwater.
Some reels are sealed with gaskets and side plates while some are open.
At the very least, you’ll want a reel with stainless steel ball bearings and an anodized body to keep it corrosion-resistant.
Don’t try to use your freshwater reel in the ocean or else you’ll need to buy two more reels!
A spinning reel’s gear ratio determines the speed at which it reels in the line.
For example, a reel with a 5:1 gear ratio means that the spool rotates 5 times for every 360-degree turn of the reel handle.
The higher the gear ratio, the faster the line retrieval.
Lower gear ratios give the reel more torque which makes it easier to reel in big game.
When you’re surf fishing, you’ll often want to make a long cast out over the breakers.
This means that, when the time comes, you’ll want to reel all that line in quickly.
Keep an eye out for fast reels if you know you’re going to be casting far.
The faster reels have less torque though and will make it harder to reel in big game.
For beginners, I’d recommend a reel with a gear ratio somewhere between 5:1 and 7:1.
Spinning reels have ball bearings within the body. These are what allow the reel to turn and they give the reel its smoothness, support, and stability.
In general, the more ball bearings the reel has, the smoother its performance.
Try to get a reel with at least 5 ball bearings, though 7 to 12 is optimal.
With all those long casts you’ll be making while surf fishing, you’ll want to make sure your reel can hold a lot of line.
Get one with a capacity of at least 250 yards of 20 to 30lb line.
When it comes to line capacity with surf fishing reels, the more the better.
A fishing reel’s drag capacity pretty much refers to how heavy a fish you’ll be able to catch. Surf fishing gives you the opportunity to go after big game, and you’ll see drag capacities ranging from 6lb to 40lb!
For beginners, I’d suggest aiming for the middle, somewhere around 25lb.
Check out this video for more useful suggestions when it comes to choosing the best surf fishing reel in 2020.
What is Surf Fishing?
Surf fishing is a type of fishing where you cast from the shoreline or from wading in the surf. Surf fishing is always done in salt water, so you want your gear to be resistant to corrosion.
Fishing in the sea means bigger game, so get a rod and reel that can handle big fish like bluefish, redfish, blackfish, flounder, sea trout, sea bass, mackerel, and tarpon, maybe even shark!
Click here for some surf fishing tips for beginners.
What Gear Will I Need for Surf Fishing?
You’ll need a few basic items before you can go surf fishing. You’ll definitely want a surf rod, reel, some lures, and lines.
What Type of Rod is Best for Surf Fishing?
There are lots of different saltwater fishing rods out there. I’d recommend an 8 to 15 foot rod with a heavy drag capacity.
The bigger the fish, the more powerful it is, so you’ll want a bigger set up than your freshwater fishing gear.
What Type of Reel is Best for Surf Fishing?
There are lots of different sizes of reel out there, from 1000 to 9500. A safe bet for surf fishing is around 3000 to 5000.
Also, before buying your reel, double-check its compatibility with your rod!
How do I Look After My Surf Fishing Gear?
As your rod and reel will be exposed to rough sand and corrosive salt water every time you go surf fishing, it’s really important you maintain your gear.
After fishing, rinse your rod and reel to get any sand and saltwater off and make sure it’s dry before you store.
It’s also a good idea to get a tackle box to keep all your hooks, leaders, lures, etc., in order.
Hopefully, these pointers will help you make your decision when it comes to finding the best surf fishing reel in 2020.
Now you have everything you need and it’s time to get out there and start fishing.
I’d love to hear how it goes, so please share your experience in the comments section.
Good luck and happy fishing!