Best Surf Fishing Reels of 2023 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Last updated on August 17th, 2023

Leonard Friedrich

When selecting a surf fishing reel, there are numerous components to take into account in order to make an informed choice. Surf fishing requires specialized equipment designed to withstand harsh saltwater conditions and provide optimal performance for casting long distances and reeling in large fish species.

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss different types of surf fishing reels. We will also delve into important considerations before purchasing your ideal reel, including target species, casting distance requirements, durability concerns, breaking power, and size.

Furthermore, we’ll explore various popular species you can catch from the surf, like striped bass, bluefish, or even sharks and tarpon. Last but not least important aspect is maintenance tips for prolonging the life of your favorite surf fishing reel through proper cleaning procedures and storage techniques.

Surf Fishing - Review of the Best Surf Fishing Reels

Table of Contents:

Introduction to Surf Fishing Reels

When it comes to surf fishing, having the right gear can make all the difference, and choosing the best surf fishing reel is a critical part of this equation. Here’s an introduction to some of the most crucial features, performance aspects, and materials of top-quality surf fishing reels:

1. Size and Line Capacity: Surf fishing often involves casting long distances, and you’ll need plenty of line to do this effectively. Larger reels are typically preferred for surf fishing as they can hold more line. Therefore, a generous line capacity is an important feature to consider.

2. Durability and Materials: Surf fishing is a challenging environment for your gear. Saltwater, sand, and sun exposure can all take their toll. Consequently, a good surf fishing reel should be made of durable materials that resist corrosion. Look for reels made from aluminum, stainless steel, or high-grade graphite, as these materials are generally robust and can withstand harsh conditions.

3. Drag System: Surf fishing often targets larger species, which can put up a fight. This is where a reliable and smooth drag system comes in. The best surf fishing reels will offer a robust, adjustable drag system that can handle these larger fish without breaking or causing line damage.

4. Ball Bearings: The number and quality of ball bearings in a reel determine how smooth the retrieve will be. Generally, the more ball bearings, the smoother the reel will operate. Look for reels with shielded or sealed ball bearings for the best performance in a saltwater environment.

5. Gear Ratio: The gear ratio of a reel determines how fast you can retrieve the line. For surf fishing, a moderate to high gear ratio (typically around 4.7:1 to 6.2:1) can be beneficial, providing a good balance between retrieval speed and power.

6. Sealing: Given the sandy, often wet environment of the beach, it’s beneficial to opt for a reel that offers some degree of sealing against the elements. Whether it’s against sand, salt, or water intrusion, this can significantly extend the reel’s life.

To sum up, the best surf fishing reels will offer a robust construction, superior line capacity, a smooth and reliable drag system, quality ball bearings, an optimal gear ratio, and good sealing. Always remember to balance these features with your specific fishing needs and personal budget. Happy surf fishing!

Considerations Before Buying a Surf Fishing Reel

When purchasing a surf fishing reel, it is essential to contemplate various elements. The first is the species you want to target. Different reels will work better for different types of fish, so make sure you choose one that’s suited for the type of fish you’re after. If you’re going after larger gamefish such as tarpon or sharks, then a bigger and more powerful reel might be necessary.

Casting distance and durability should also factor into your decision-making process when selecting a surf fishing reel. Make sure the reel can handle the strain from casting long distances and has enough power to land large catches without breaking down easily in saltwater conditions. Also, consider how much weight your rod can support; heavier lines require stronger rods with more robust components like aluminum spooling arms or carbon fiber drag systems for added strength and stability while fighting big catches.

When deciding on a surf fishing reel, breaking power is an essential factor to consider. Generally speaking, lighter lines require less breaking power than heavier ones do; so make sure you select your reel based on the type of fish you plan to target most often. Additionally, size matters too; smaller reels are more maneuverable but may not have enough strength for bigger species, while larger reels can take up valuable space in tackle boxes if they don’t fit snugly inside them. To ensure success and avoid any surprises out on the water, it’s best to choose wisely when selecting your equipment and make sure that everything has the capacity needed for whatever catches you’re after.

Finally, make sure the overall size of your chosen surf fishing reel fits comfortably in both hands during use; ergonomic design helps reduce fatigue over longer periods out at sea.

When considering the purchase of a surf fishing reel, it is important to factor in your desired species, casting distance, and durability requirements, as well as breaking power and size. When looking for what type of fish you can catch from the shoreline, consider targeting striped bass or bluefish, flounder or weakfish, and even sharks or tarpon.

Key Takeaway: When selecting a surf fishing reel, it’s important to consider the species you’re targeting, casting distance and durability requirements, breaking power needs for your lines, and rod strength capabilities. Additionally, ensure that the size of the reel is comfortable for both hands during use for extended periods at sea.

Best Surf Fishing Reels for the Money

Disclaimer: All products in this article were independently researched and reviewed by our team of experienced anglers. Learn more about our review process here. We use so-called affiliate links in this article. This means that if you click on one of the links provided in this article and end up making a purchase, we might earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. We only recommend products we’ve tested and believe in.

KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel

KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel
KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel

Key Features:

  • Durable design with fiber-reinforced graphite body and rotor
  • Powerful triple disc carbon fiber drag system
  • Water and dirt protection with KastKing Intrusion Shield System (K.I.S.S.)
  • Smooth and quiet retrieve
  • Affordable price with premium features like stainless steel ball bearings, saltwater resistance, and ample line capacity

There’s a reason why the KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel is held in high esteem among surf fishing enthusiasts, and after having used it extensively, I can see why.

The KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel comes in a variety of sizes, from the lightweight 1000 to the heavy-duty 5000, accommodating a wide range of angling requirements. One of the standout features is the sturdy build, thanks to its high percentage fiber-reinforced graphite body. Despite its durability, the reel remains lightweight and easy to handle.

This reel showcases the innovative “K.I.S.S” (KastKing Intrusion Shield System), a unique water-resistant design for its spool, body, and rotor. It has given me peace of mind during surf fishing excursions, where contact with saltwater and sand is unavoidable.

Another exceptional aspect is the triple-disc carbon fiber drag system that provides up to 39.5 lbs of smooth drag. This feature has proven to be invaluable when tackling the powerful runs of surf-dwelling fish.

In terms of operation, the KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel provides a smooth and quiet performance, attributable to its 10 + 1 high-quality, saltwater-rated, double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings and the anti-twist line roller. Whether casting or retrieving, the reel operates seamlessly.


  1. K.I.S.S Feature: The KastKing Intrusion Shield System is great for protecting the reel from the harsh conditions of surf fishing.
  2. High Power Drag: The triple-disc carbon fiber drag system is more than capable of handling strong, surf-dwelling species.
  3. Durability: The fiber-reinforced graphite body offers a balance of robustness and lightness.


  1. Drag Adjustment: The drag adjustment knob can feel slightly loose, which can make fine-tuning a bit tricky.
  2. Handle: The handle, while ergonomic, could have been a bit more substantial for better leverage during the retrieval of big fish.

Overall, the KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel delivers a high-performance surf fishing experience at a great price point. It packs a punch when it comes to durability, power, and smooth operation. For any surf angler looking for a reliable reel that offers value for money, this is a strong contender.



Penn Pursuit III Nearshore

Penn Pursuit III Nearshore
Penn Pursuit III Nearshore

Key Features:

  • 4 plus 1 stainless steel bearing system
  • Ht-100 carbon fiber drag system for smooth – LONG lasting drag even at extreme drag pressures
  • Lightweight and corrosion-resistant graphite Body
  • Machined and anodized aluminum superliner spool

The Penn Pursuit III spinning reel is a sturdy, reliable piece of fishing equipment that has become an integral part of my surf fishing gear.

The Penn Pursuit III comes in several sizes ranging from 2500 to 8000, but for my surf fishing excursions, I found the 6000 size to be the most suitable. With a gear ratio of 4.6:1, it provides the perfect balance of speed and power needed when casting out into the surf.

This reel stands out because of its robust construction. The body is made from lightweight and corrosion-resistant graphite. The graphite body, combined with the machined and anodized aluminum Superline Spool, allows for easy casting and long-lasting durability, particularly in harsh saltwater conditions.

One feature I absolutely appreciate is the HT-100 carbon fiber drag system. It delivers powerful yet smooth drag, making it a breeze to handle hard-fighting fish in the surf. The 4 shielded stainless steel ball bearings add to the reel’s smooth operation, which is an asset during long days of casting and retrieving.


  1. Durability: The corrosion-resistant graphite body and anodized aluminum spool make it great for surf fishing.
  2. Smooth Operation: The HT-100 carbon fiber drag system and shielded stainless steel bearings provide a silky performance.
  3. Value for Money: Given its features and performance, the Penn Pursuit III is an excellent choice for anglers on a budget.


  1. No Anti-Reverse Switch: The absence of an anti-reverse switch might be a drawback for anglers who prefer that option.
  2. Bearing Count: With only four bearings, it’s a bit less than some competitors in its class.

In conclusion, the Penn Pursuit III is a sturdy, reliable, and economical choice for surf fishing. Despite a couple of minor drawbacks, it offers great performance that can stand up to the rigors of battling large fish in challenging conditions. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using this reel and would recommend it to any angler looking for quality gear without breaking the bank.



OKUMA Reels Surf 8K 


Key Features:

  • Quick set anti-reverse roller bearing
  • CFR cyclonic flow rotor
  • Slow oscillation system
  • Fast drag system
  • Double stainless steel line clickers

As an angler who is passionate about surf fishing, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with various reels. The Okuma Surf 8K Spinning Reel is one such gear that stands out in terms of both performance and design.

The Surf 8K boasts a large capacity spool which I found fantastic for long-distance casting—a key attribute needed when battling the surf. It can be loaded with 310 yards of 20 lb line or 260 yards of 25 lb, which is more than enough for any fishing scenario.

The reel has a gear ratio of 4.7:1, providing the right balance of speed and torque, especially when dealing with stronger currents and larger fish. The drag system is one of the standout features of the Surf 8K. With a maximum drag force of 40 lbs, this reel can take on almost anything the surf can throw at you.

The Surf 8K’s corrosion-resistant graphite body, coupled with its machined aluminum spool, ensures long-lasting durability in harsh saltwater conditions. Additionally, the 5+1 stainless steel ball bearings ensure a smooth and controlled performance.


  1. Large Spool Capacity: Enables long-distance casting.
  2. High Max Drag: The 40 lb max drag is impressive for handling big fish.
  3. Durability: The corrosion-resistant body and aluminum spool ensures it lasts in saltwater conditions.


  1. Weight: The reel is a bit on the heavier side, which may not be ideal for all-day casting.
  2. No Manual Bail: Some anglers may prefer a manual bail trip for greater control.

In conclusion, the OKUMA Surf 8K Spinning Reel is an excellent tool for serious surf anglers. While its weight might be a minor setback, the benefits it brings in terms of casting distance, drag power, and durability far outweigh the negatives. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using this reel and believe it offers good value for its price.



HAUT TON Spinning Reel

HAUT TON Spinning Reel
HAUT TON Spinning Reel

Key Features:

  • Graphite frame for offshore big game fishing, suitable for catching large fish
  • Patented design with sliding rotor to prevent spool shaking
  • Powerful drag with 55 lbs capacity, double sealed ball bearings, and carbon brake washers
  • Stable performance with a 4.8:1 gear ratio and durable multi-tooth gear design

As a dedicated surf fisherman, I always strive to use the best gear available, and the HAUT TON Spinning Reel Advanced Series has proven to be a reliable and efficient addition to my fishing arsenal.

Starting with the specifications, the HAUT TON Spinning Reel comes in various sizes, ranging from 8000 to 14000 series. The one I chose to review is the 10000 series, which I found to be a perfect balance for surf fishing. This reel is equipped with a whopping 17+1 ball bearings system that ensures silky smooth retrieves, even under pressure.

The graphite frame of this reel keeps it lightweight yet extremely durable. I’ve used it several times in salt water, and it has shown no signs of corrosion or damage. The CNC-machined aluminum spool is robust and capable of holding a significant amount of line—an essential feature for surf fishing.

Another commendable feature is the powerful drag system. With up to 35 lbs of smooth, well-distributed drag, this reel can handle the fight from larger species commonly encountered in surf fishing.


  1. Multiple Size Options: With sizes ranging from 8000 to 14000, this reel caters to different fishing needs.
  2. Smooth Operation: The 17+1 ball bearing system ensures a silky smooth retrieve.
  3. Durable and Lightweight: The graphite frame and CNC-machined aluminum spool are both durable and lightweight.


  1. Drag Adjustment: I found that the drag adjustment could be a little more fine-tuned.
  2. No Spare Spool: For its price, the inclusion of a spare spool would have been beneficial.

To wrap it up, the HAUT TON Spinning Reel Advanced Series has proven to be a high-quality, reliable reel for surf fishing. Despite a couple of minor drawbacks, I have found its performance on the surf to be exceptional. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, this reel is sure to serve you well in your surf fishing adventures.



PENN Surfblaster III Longcast Fishing Reel

PENN Surfblaster III Longcast Fishing Reel
PENN Surfblaster III Longcast Fishing Reel

Key Features:

  • 5+1 Sealed stainless steel ball bearings
  • Extra slow oscillation speed for perfect line lay
  • Quick and smooth HT-100 drag system
  • Shallow conical-shaped spool for great casting distance
  • Large T-knob handle for extra comfort and grip
  • Including spare spool

Starting with the specs, the PENN Surfblaster III is a true behemoth. The reel body is made of corrosion-resistant graphite, and the spool is heavy-duty aluminum. It’s designed with longcasting in mind, perfect for reaching those far-off fish.

One of my favorite aspects of this reel is the 5+1 shielded stainless steel bearing system, ensuring smooth retrieval and excellent performance even under stress. Also, it comes with PENN’s quick turn Drag system—a real game-changer for those hard-fighting surf species.

The large diameter, long stroke spool combined with the slow oscillation system guarantees exceptional line lay, reducing friction and increasing casting distance. Plus, it’s got a fantastic line capacity, essential for surf casting where you really need to launch your bait or lure a good distance.


  1. Longcasting Capabilities: The long stroke spool and slow oscillation system contribute to exceptional casting distances.
  2. Durable: The corrosion-resistant graphite body and heavy-duty aluminum spool add durability without adding unnecessary weight.
  3. Smooth Performance: With the 5+1 shielded stainless steel bearing system, retrieves are smooth and effortless.


  1. Size: This reel is quite large, and while this has benefits, it can feel bulky to some anglers.
  2. Price: It’s a bit on the pricier side. However, I believe the value and performance justify the cost.

In conclusion, the PENN Surfblaster III Longcast Fishing Reel has become one of my go-to reels for surf fishing. Despite its size and price, its performance, casting distance, and durability are unbeatable. Whether you’re a seasoned surf angler or someone looking to delve into surf fishing, this reel is a fantastic choice.



Species You Can Fish From the Surf

Fishing for Striped Bass off Montauk Beach, NY
Fishing for Striped Bass off Montauk Beach, NY

Surf fishing is an excellent way to try for a few of the most popular oceanic fish species. Striped bass and bluefish are two of the most sought-after species for surf anglers, as they can be found along many beaches throughout the year. Both striped bass and bluefish are powerful fish that put up an exciting fight when hooked on light tackle. The best tackle for these species includes medium-weight spinning or baitcasting reels with 8-15 lb test line, depending on the size of your quarry. Spoons, soft plastics, jigs, topwater plugs, and live bait such as eels or clams will all work well when targeting these fish from shore.

Flounder and weakfish can also be caught from the surf during certain times of the year. These flatfish like to lurk around structures near shorelines, so using bottom rigs baited with sandworms or cut bait is a good bet when targeting them from shore. A medium action spinning reel spooled with 10-20 lb monofilament line should do just fine for catching flounder and weakfish off the beach.

Sharks and tarpon can also make appearances along coastal beaches at various times throughout their migrations each year. Still, they are usually more difficult to target than other species due to their larger size and strength. Heavy-duty gear is necessary if you plan on tangling with one of these big game predators; think conventional reels spooled with a 50+ lb test line coupled with stout rods rated for heavy drag settings. Live baits such as mullet or mackerel fished close to the structure will give you your best chance at hooking into one of these monsters from shore.

Surf fishing is a great way to catch different species of fish, and with the right maintenance tips, your surf fishing reel will last for years. It’s important to inspect your reel regularly for wear and damage in order to keep it functioning properly.

Key Takeaway: Surf fishing is a great way to target popular species such as striped bass and bluefish. The best tackle for these fish includes medium-weight spinning or baitcasting reels with 8-15 lb test line, while flounder and weakfish can be caught using bottom rigs baited with sandworms or cut bait on 10-20 lb monofilament line. Sharks and tarpon require heavy-duty gear, including conventional reels spooled with 50+ lb test line coupled with rods rated for heavy drag settings when targeting them from shore.

Maintenance Tips for Your Surf Fishing Reel

Cleaning and Lubrication of Parts

Proper cleaning and lubrication of your surf fishing reel are essential to ensure it lasts longer and performs better. Before commencing, make certain the reel is completely dry. Use a soft material or brush to eliminate any dirt or debris from the external parts. For more thorough cleaning, use a mild soap solution with warm water on the interior parts such as gears, bearings, spools, and line guides. Once finished cleaning these components, be sure to rinse them off with fresh water before drying them thoroughly with a clean cloth. After that’s done, add a few drops of oil to all moving parts for proper lubrication. This will help reduce friction between components while also keeping your reel running smoothly during its lifetime.

Routinely inspecting your surf fishing reel is essential in order to avert potentially pricey repairs or replacement costs. To do this effectively, survey all visible surfaces for any signs of wear, such as cracks and chips on plastic materials or discoloration due to rust on metal pieces; check internal mechanisms like bearings that may have worn out from lack of maintenance—if found, replace these quickly. Make sure you’re keeping an eagle eye out for any irregularities that could be indicative of moisture damage over time so they can be addressed without delay.

Key Takeaway: It’s essential to clean and lubricate your surf fishing reel regularly in order to keep it running smoothly. Give it a once—over every now and then too, so any potential problems can be nipped in the bud before they become costly repairs or replacements. Watch for evidence of deterioration and water damage that could result in more expensive fixes or replacements if not dealt with quickly.

FAQs in Relation to Best Surf Fishing Reels

What type of reel is best for surf fishing?

When it comes to surf fishing, the best type of reel is a spinning reel. Spinning reels are lightweight and easy to cast from long distances, making them ideal for beach fishing. They also feature strong drag systems that can handle larger fish in heavy currents or waves without compromising performance. Additionally, they provide greater control over line retrieval than other types of reels due to their gear ratio and adjustable drag settings. With all these features combined, a spinning reel is a perfect choice for surf fishing.

What makes a good surf reel?

A good surf reel should be lightweight, durable, and have a smooth drag system. It should possess a handle designed to provide comfort over lengthy sessions of fishing. Additionally, the gear ratio should match the type of fishing you are doing—higher ratios work better for faster retrieves, while lower ratios provide more torque when fighting larger fish. Finally, it should be corrosion-resistant and able to withstand saltwater conditions without issue. All these features combine together to make a great surf reel that will last you years.

Is a 6000 reel good for surf fishing?

It depends on what kind of surf angling you are engaging in. If you are looking to cast out into deeper waters and need a reel that can handle heavier weights, then a 6000-size reel would be too small for your needs. However, if you plan on staying close to shore or in shallow water with lighter lures and baits, then a 6000-size reel should work just fine. The choice of reel size should depend on the fish species and environment, as well as the tackle being used.

Is an 8000 reel too big for surf fishing?

No, an 8000 reel is not too big for surf fishing. In fact, a larger reel can provide anglers with greater casting distance and increased line capacity, which are both beneficial when fishing from the shoreline. Additionally, having a large spool helps to reduce the amount of line twist that often occurs during long casts in windy conditions. Ultimately, an 8000 reel can be very useful for surf fishing if used correctly.


Fishing from the surf can be an exciting and rewarding experience. For maximum casting precision and distance, investing in a quality surf fishing reel is essential. When picking a reel for surf fishing, there are various things to consider, such as the kind of fish sought after, casting range, and robustness. Investing in one of the best surf fishing reels on the market will ensure your success when going after those elusive fish.

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