person fishing in ocean during daytime

TOP 15 Surf Fishing Reels of 2023 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 2023.

TOP 15 Best Surf Fishing Reels of 2023

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.


If you’re looking for a good surf fishing reel, the Haibo Saltwater does the trick. It’s perfect for most angler’s needs.

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.


  • Weight.


The Fin-Nor Offshore is a workhorse, requiring very little maintenance, and it’s strong enough to go after the big fish.

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.
  • Lightweight.
  • Great for smaller game.


  • Only comes with one spool.
  • Will struggle with big game.


The Pflueger President XT is lightweight with superb performance. For its low price, you can’t ask for more.

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.


  • Price.


The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Blue Yonder is a top-of-the-range, long-distance caster that’s perfect for more advanced anglers looking to hook the big ones.

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.


The Daiwa BG is a superb reel if you’re just getting into surf fishing.

It’s got everything you need and, in my opinion, is the best surf fishing reel for the money.

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.


  • Lightweight.
  • Super smooth.
  • Hard as a rock.


  • Price.
  • Cast style might be tricky for beginners.


The Lew’s Mach I Speed Spool is a great, high performing reel, perfect for anglers willing to spend a bit more.

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.


  • Durable.
  • Lightweight.
  • Suitable for saltwater and freshwater.


  • Price, compared to similar models.


Its durability, versatility, and design make the Shimano Stradic a great all-round reel.

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.


This reel is a beast. It’s versatile, lightweight and super strong. A great reel for more advanced anglers.

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.
  • Weight.


If you’re looking for a solid introductory reel that won’t break the bank, I’d say the Okuma Azores is an ideal choice.

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.


  • Lightweight.
  • Sealed bearing system.
  • Great design – it looks amazing.


  • Not suitable for medium or big game.


If your priority is reducing weight, then this is a good saltwater reel for you.

If not, maybe take a look at the Penn Battle II which offers more versatility.

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.


The KastKing Sharky III is not only a perfect reel for beginners, but I’d say is the best baitcasting reel for surf fishing on this list.

Its price and all-round performance make it perfect for beginners.

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.


The Daiwa Millionaire is a super precise reel, perfect for small to medium game.

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.


  • Weight.


At its price range, the KastKing Rover Round is one of the best round surfcasting reels on the market, perfect for beginners.

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.
  • Price.
  • Good for beginners.


  • Won’t add much to an advanced angler’s arsenal.


The SeaKnight Rapid is one of the most durable reels out there. If you’re new to the game and want to catch the big ones, this one’s for you.

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!


The Penn Battle II is, in my opinion, the best surf fishing spinning reel. It’s won prizes, and it’s my own personal favorite.

After taking my time researching dozens of reels, I ended up getting a Penn Battle II and I’ve never regretted my decision.

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.

man fishing on seashore


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.

Corrosion Resistance

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!

Gear Ratio

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.

person fishing in ocean during daytime


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.

men fishing on seashore

Line Capacity

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.

Drag Capacity

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 2023.


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.

Needlenose pliers and a knife are useful too, as are surf belts, fishing vests, and fishing waders.

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 2023.

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!