Best Surf Fishing Reels in 2023 (Yes, We Tested Them All)

Best Surf Casting Reels

We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Products or services advertised on this page may be offered by an entity that is affiliated with us. Learn more about our process here.

Surf fishing is gaining popularity among anglers as they don’t need a boat to do fishing. However, surf fishing means your fishing gear will be in constant contact with sand, dirt, and saltwater. Also, surf fishing involves making long casts, and you need a reel and rod that matches this kind of fishing style. A good fishing reel should make an accurate cast, offer smooth drag, and powerful retrieve.

Not all reels are meant for surf fishing, as some can’t withstand the harsh fishing environment. Here, we have compiled the best casting reels for surf fishing.

Ernest Grey

I love to test new fishing gadgets and share my opinion.

Top 3 Best Tested Surf Fishing Reels - We Just Love Them

Best Overall

Penn Slammer III

Penn Slammer III 

Best High End

Daiwa SSaltist

Daiwa SSaltist 

Best for Surf Fishing

Penn Battle III

Penn Battle III 

6 Best Surf Fishing Reels: Our Recommendations

  1. Penn Slammer III – Best Overall Surf Fishing Reel
  2. Daiwa SSaltist Best High End Surf Fishing Reel
  3. Penn Battle III Best for Beginners Surf Fishing Reel
  4. Daiwa BG Best Inshore Surf Fishing Reel
  5. Quantum Cabo – Best Saltwater Surf Fishing Reel
  6. KastKing Sharky III Best Budget Surf Fishing Reel


Best Overall Surf Fishing Reel

Penn Slammer III 

Penn Slammer III

WHY WE LIKE IT: Penn Slammer III is our best saltwater baitcasting reel for surf fishing. We liked this reel’s IPX6 sealed body design that allowed us to fish all day without sand and dirt getting into the gearbox.

Another important feature we liked is how this reel is made of strong Dura-Drag material, allowing us to reach a super smooth max drag. If you want the best experience, you should check our list of the best surf fishing rods for the money.

  • CNC Gear Technology: Yes
  • Stainless bearings: Yes
  • Hand Orientation: Ambidextrous
  • Material: Metal, stainless steel
  • Color: Black Gold
  • Weight: 16 Ounces
  • Hand and bearing material: Stainless steel



OVERVIEW:  This is an excellent reel for surf anglers who have reeled in the rod holder and want to wade deep in the waters. A seal around the main pinion, shaft, and drag system removes dirt and saltwater.

I was thrilled by the presence of line capacity rings that allowed us to see how many lines were left on the spool.

FEATURES: This reel is made with durability in mind, as it supports a brass gearing system that can withstand harsh environments while producing the required smoothness. It is also one of the best fishing reel brand today. The solid metal body and side plate make it the best for reeling in big fish.


Best High End Surf Fishing Reel

Daiwa SSaltist 

Daiwa SSaltist

WHY WE LIKE IT: I like how this reel is designed to withstand the harshest saltwater conditions. Unlike other reels I have used in the past, I noticed this reel has a dynamic cut aluminum ABS spool that is already braided, so we didn’t need to use a mono backing.

Additionally, we liked how their Digigear gear design maximized performance by transmitting the cranking power to the spool.

  • Color: Black
  • Material: Synthetic
  • Weight: 0.85 Pounds
  • Hand Orientation: Right Hand
  • Bearing Material: Stainless Steel
  • Stainless steel ball bearings: Yes
  • Digigear digital gear design: Yes



OVERVIEW: Daiwa SSaltist is an excellent option if you’re looking for a reliable reel with a smooth drag. Its lightweight air rotor design and air bail design enhances strength while at the same time reducing weight.

When using this reel, I was impressed by the conical finish where the lines directly dropped into the line roller, preventing my reel from getting unwanted loops.

FEATURES: Daiwa SSaltist is a reel designed to withstand all harsh water elements. The presence of a Magsealed line roller and shaft and corrosion-resistant ball bearings makes it last longer and improves performance.


Best for Beginners Surf Fishing Reel

Penn Battle III 

Penn Battle III

WHY WE LIKE IT: Among many spinning reels in the market today, Penn Battle III is the best reel for surf fishing. We liked how this reel had generous spool and drag capabilities that never maxed out while fighting with the fish. The presence of line capacity rings enabled us to see the line left in our spool.

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Hand Orientation: Ambidextrous
  • Handle and Bearing Material: Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 0.55 Pounds
  • Color: Black Gold



OVERVIEW: This a good choice if you’re looking for a reliable surf reel that offers smooth retrieval. Other impeccable features you will like to include instant anti-reverse bearing, stainless steel ball bearing, and a spool with line capacity rings.

I have been using the 4000 reel size, and it is a good match for kingfish and snapper fishing. It has a slightly lighter tip that makes it easier for us to use light lures. You can also check our test of the best surf fishing lures on the market.

FEATURES: This reel has a tough metal body that can withstand knocks and constant moisture associated with surf fishing. Additionally, the 6:2:1 gear ratio of Penn Battle III gives you extra retrieve speed not common in many surf fishing reels.


Best Inshore

Daiwa BG 

Daiwa BG

WHY WE LIKE IT: Daiwa BG is among the best inshore surf fishing reels in the market today. I loved how its dynamic cut ABS spool enhanced our casting distance while ensuring the line moved on and off the spool without forming loops. Additionally, I liked how the air rotor design ensured the reel was well-balanced while fighting with big bass.

  • Hand Orientation: Right Hand
  • Weight: 0.25 Pounds
  • Color: Black, Gold
  • Material: Synthetic
  • Fishing Line Type: Braided
  • Handle Material: Aluminum
  • Carbon ATD Drag System: Yes
  • Infinite Anti-Reverse System: Yes



OVERVIEW: If efficiency is your utmost priority, you will like how this reel’s ATD Tournament drag system provides the smoothest drag from when you cast until you retrieve your catch.

For example, when using Daiwa BG, I didn’t experience any jerky motion common among many reels. I also loved how their infinite anti-reverse system eliminated all the back play when setting my hook.

FEATURES: The Daiwa BG is among the best surf fishing reels for bass fishing, providing a strong drag of up to 15 lbs. This reel features an improved management system and anodized body to enhance efficiency and durability. It also works great with different types of saltwater fishing rods.


Best Saltwater

Quantum Cabo 

Quantum Cabo

WHY WE LIKE IT: We liked how Quantum Cabo is specifically designed for saltwater fishing. Its corrosion-resistant Alloy body and SaltGuard multi-layer coating protected our reel from corrosion. Moreover, its drag capabilities allowed us to reel in big fish of up to 30 lbs.

  • Material: Blend
  • Weight: 13.4 Ounces
  • Color: Silver, Blue
  • Hand Orientation: Ambidextrous
  • Fishing Line Type: Braided
  • Handle Material: EVAFoamslidering



OVERVIEW: If you’re buying a spinning reel with durability in mind, the Quantum Cabo is your ideal choice. This reel has an SCR alloy body that can withstand the pressure and all harsh elements of saltwater fishing. I liked how the 8PT bearings ensured my hook was solid and smooth when retrieving my catch.

FEATURES: This reel is designed to fight big fish and withstand harsh water conditions. Quantum Cabo offers smooth retrieval, an extreme drag of up to 65 lbs., and SaltGuard corrosion protection, essential features you rarely see in other models.


Best Budget Surf Fishing Reel

KastKing Sharky III 

KastKing Sharky III

WHY WE LIKE IT: KastKing Sharky III is my favorite budget-friendly surf fishing reel. I like how the aluminum spool is corrosion-resistant and super smooth. This reel’s aluminum handle with EVA grips allowed us to retrieve our catch with minimum resistance and slips.

  • Material: Graphite, Stainless Steel, Carbon, Aluminum
  • Handle and Bearing Material: Stainless Steel
  • KISS Sealed: Yes
  • Braid-ready Spool: Yes



OVERVIEW: This reel is designed for freshwater and saltwater applications as it is ergonomically designed with a powerful gear ratio. You will love the smooth drag and its ability to withstand heavy drags of up to 39.5 pounds. I liked how its braid-ready aluminum spool ensured the collected line laid on the spool without forming loops.

FEATURES: It’s hard to find an affordable reel that is extremely tough and lightweight. KastKing Sharky III is designed with a next-gen feel and is well-balanced to withstand all the rough conditions when fighting with a big fish.

How To Pick The Right Surf Fishing Reel To Not Get Disappointed


Surf fishing involves making many casts, and the weight of your reel determines the number of casts you make. A heavy reel will tire you quickly, thus minimizing your chances of getting more fish. Choose a lightweight surf fishing spinning reel for easier casting and retrieval.

What Size Reel Matches Your Style?

The size you choose depends on personal preference and the size of your lures. When surf fishing, it’s advisable to use a heavier reel since they are durable and can withstand harsh fishing environments associated with surf fishing.

Is a 6000 Reel Good for Surf Fishing?

Yes. a 6000-size reel is good for surf fishing as it’s large enough to carry a long, strong braid. Its length increases the casting distance and pairs well with a 9-11 ft. rod. If that seems to much, we could recommend reading our guide on how to choose best surf fishing rod and reel for beginners.

Is a 4000 Reel Good for Surf Fishing?

Real size 4000 is ideal for surf anglers targeting salmon, pike, and trout. This reel size allows more accommodation for thicker lines, increases the cranking power, and gives more room for a stronger drag system.

Is a 3000 Reel Good for Surf Fishing?

Reel size 3000 is ideal for surf fishing trout as it offers increased compact size and line capacity. This reel allows you to work with higher breaking lines while at the same time offering a strong drag system.

Line Capacity

Since you will be surf fishing, the line capacity you choose should be enough to fight with the fish. Ideally, you should choose a surf fishing reel with a larger spool to accommodate more lines.

Additionally, your line capacity should allow you to cast further and increase the chances of landing a bigger fish.

Drag System

When choosing a spinning fishing reel for surf fishing, check its maximum drag. A good surf fishing reel should provide about 20 pounds of drag so you can comfortably fight with the fish.

Always ensure you set your drag slightly below the recommended range to minimize the risks of line cutting when fighting with the fish.

Ball Bearings

The number of ball-bearing in your surf reel determines the smoothness of the retrieval. Choose high-end reels with up to 12 ceramic ball bearings to ensure smooth retrieval.

Additionally, ensure your ball bearings are well sealed to prevent unwanted elements from entering your reel.

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio you choose depends on the kind of fishing you’re doing. The gear ratio of a surf reel should be higher for faster retrieval. This allows you to quickly retrieve lures and gain control in case a slack line occurs. If you’re looking for a reel with more cranking power, choose one with a lower gear ratio.


The material you choose determines the weight and durability of your reel. If you are looking for a long-lasting reel, aluminum is a greater choice as it’s more durable than graphite and carbon fiber.

If you’re doing more surf fishing in saltwater, choose graphite reels because aluminum is prone to corrosion.


Most surf fishing reels are made with aluminum, graphite, and sometimes a combination of both materials. Aluminum reels are stronger and more durable, while graphite reels are lighter.

The material you choose depends on whether you want strength or weight. If you are beach fishing, choose surf reels made of graphite, as they are lightweight and corrosion-resistant.

Magnetic Brakes Vs Centrifugal Brakes

Reels for surf fishing either have centrifugal or magnetic brake systems. Both these options are reliable and easy to manufacture.

Centrifugal Brake System

This system uses the friction of the brakes inside the brake ring to slower the spool speed. The force applied on the brake is proportional to the spool speed. So, when the speed of the spool is faster, the brake force is much larger. That’s why centrifugal reels cast well when the casting speed is slow.

Magnetic Brake System

This braking system uses electromagnetic force for a higher initial speed. Here, the brake force is directly proportional to the speed of the spool, and the brake force is inversely proportional to the distance between the spool and the magnets.

Magnetic systems are easily adjustable and ideal for casting with a high deceleration rate, especially when casting against the wind.

When to Use Braided Lines and When Not to Use Them?

Braided lines can be used for almost all types of fishing. They come in impressive strength, are more durable, and offer no line stretch.

Due to their versatile nature, braided lines are used for fishing around structures, jigging, bottom fishing, and casting. Their superior feel makes them an excellent option for fresh or artificial bait anglers.

Although braided lines are used in many fishing instances, there are times you will need to use mono or fluorocarbon lines. Braided lines are not ideal when trolling because they don’t stretch much to absorb shock like a monofilament line would.

Also, don’t use braided lines when casting into the wind, as they can easily tangle and create knots on the cast.

Spinning Reels Vs Conventional Reels: Which Is Better for Surf Fishing?

Both spinning reels and conventional reels can be used for surf fishing. However, the reel you choose depends on your personal preferences.

A spinning reel uses a fixed spool where the lines wrap around it until it comes to the side of the cast out. The spool is controlled with a flip bail arm that allows the line to lay evenly on the spool.

Spinning reels are a good option for beginners as they are dust and water-resistant. They are also better for light tackle and offer greater retrieval rates.

Unlike a spinning reel, the spool of a conventional reel is spooled back as your handle winds so that the retrieve line is stored evenly on the spool.

Conventional or baitcasting reels can also be used for surf fishing as they cast further while maintaining accuracy. They work better with heavier weights, and their gear is more effective for faster retrieval. Conventional reels are budget-friendly and provide better drag for larger species.

Although conventional reels are great for surf fishing, they have increased chances of getting bird nests, and they are not as sand proof as spinning reels.

Frequently Asked Questions

When surf fishing, choose a 6000-8000 size range reel, which can spool 25-50 lbs. braided fishing line.

Generally, the best braid to mono knot is Double Uni Knot. However, the line you choose may depend on other factors, like the type of leader you are using or whether you’re fishing with a heavy braid.

For beginners, a 10-12 foot medium fishing rod paired with a 4500 to 6500 reel with moderate action. Experienced anglers looking to cast out further should choose a 10-13 ft. rod.

The weight of your reel depends on the fish targeted, the fishing line you are using, and the size of your surf fishing rod.

The type of fish you catch depends on the waters you’re fishing at. However, some of the most common species you can catch include bluefish, bass, flounder, spotted seatrout, and pampano.

Ideally, you should wash your reel after every fishing trip. Wash it with clean water and soap to remove dirt, lubricant, and salt. After the reel is clean, wipe it dry and use an oil or protective coating to protect them from corrosion.

Any good reel within the 6000-8000 size range is ideal for surf fishing. Your reel should handle a minimum of 500 yards of braided line.


Surf fishing reels come at different prices, and the one you choose depends on your budget. Some reels are quite pricy, but that aligns with their efficiency. However, there are many budget-friendly surf fishing reels that work just like the expensive reels.

When choosing a surf fishing reel, consider important factors such as the gear ratio, reel size, durability, material, ball bearings, and whether the reel is designated for surf fishing.

Conventional reels can be used for surf fishing as they cast further while maintaining accuracy. They work better with heavier weights, and their gear is more effective for faster retrieval.