Best Surf Fishing Reels For Beach Anglers updated for 2019

If you're gearing up to battle the waves and haul in the big ones, then you need a good quality surf fishing reel! After reviewing over 15 different brands and models, we came up with a few that met our expectations. In this article we present 3 of the best surf fishing reels for any budget on the market today.

What Makes a Good Spinning Reel for Surf Fishing?

The powerful fish and corrosive quality of saltwater will test the limits of any piece of tackle. Add in pounding surf, copious amounts of sand, jagged rocks, and more reel dunks than one would care to admit -- and you've got a recipe for broken gear and "fish that got away" stories.

Plain and simple, surf fishing is hard on gear, especially reels. Luckily, there are reels on the market designed to withstand the punishment of strong fish and the rigors of marine environments — exactly what the surf angler needs.

To give you a better idea of what to look for in a surf fishing spinning reel, here are a few factors to consider.

surf fishing


Surf fishing can be incredibly active and physically demanding, especially if you fish beaches with strong waves and lots of rocks. Simply getting to the water can be a challenge in some locations, and it's likely that your reel will fall, hit the rocks, and get banged up.

It's important that your reel can withstand this sort of abuse.

The best spinning reels for surf fishing have all-metal bodies that won't crack or break from routine collisions with hard surfaces.

Also, look for a reel with an extra thick bail wire because if it's too thin, it could get bent out of shape and cut your day of fishing short.

Corrosion Resistance

Any time you're fishing in saltwater, it's a good idea to use a reel that is corrosion resistant. But when you're waist-deep in the surf, your reel is almost guaranteed to get dunked and corrosion resistance becomes a necessity.

The best spinning reels for surf fishing have all-metal bodies that won't crack or break from routine collisions with hard surfaces.

Click to Tweet

At a minimum, look for a reel with sealed, stainless steel ball bearings. But if you can find a reel with gaskets on the drag housing and side plates that keep water and grit out, the reel will be even more impervious to saltwater and will last much longer.

Drag Strength

Not only do you need a strong drag to battle monster fish in the surf, you have the waves and current to contend with. Although waves and current don't pull on a reel like a big fish does, the drag on your reel remains under more constant pressure when surf fishing.

A very strong drag is necessary!

In regards to reel selection, this means you'll want to look at the largest sizes of a given reel. Generally, the larger the reel, the stronger the drag. This is especially true for spinning reels designed for surf fishing like the ones we've recommended below.

best surf fishing reels 2

Anglers have been counting on the high-quality craftsmanship and thoughtful design of Penn reels for years.

Now, Penn's recent release of the Conflict spinning reel gives surf anglers everything they need in a reel, and at a very reasonable price.

The CFT8000 is the largest size in the Conflict series of reels with a huge spool holding 475 yards of 50-pound braid and a maximum drag of 30 pounds. The reel uses Penn's premium HT-100 drag system that uses keyed drag washers which offer a significant increase in drag pressure without adding extra washers.

The body, sideplates, and rotor are all made of solid aluminum, making the Conflict incredibly durable and rigid. Eight fully sealed stainless steel ball bearings located at key points throughout the reel are impervious to saltwater and provide smooth action whether reeling in your bait or fighting a fish.

The Penn Conflict's icing on the cake is an EVA handle that's comfortable in the hand and gives you extra grip in cold, wet conditions. Nearly every aspect of the Penn Conflict CFT8000 is made for surf fishing, and if you're ready to invest in a high-quality reel that will last you many seasons, this is the best there is.

best surf fishing reels 3

If you're looking for a slightly cheaper but still high-quality reel, the Okuma Azores spinning reel makes a great surf fishing reel for under $100.

All-metal aluminum body, side plates, and rotor, plus a machine cut pinion gear give you the durability you need, and Okuma's signature Dual Force Drag system gives you a full 44 pounds of max drag on the largest Azores reel.

All throughout the Azores, measures have been taken to make the reel highly corrosion resistant including a Hydro Block watertight seal on the drag, seven corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings, corrosion-resistant high-density gearing, and a corrosion-resistant coating over the entire reel.

Another surf-fishing friendly feature on the Azores is an oversized, braid-ready spool. The larger diameter of the spool is ideal for the long distance casting required in surf fishing. And a rubber gasket around the spool allows you to tie braided line directly to the spool without adding monofilament backing.

best surf fishing reels 4

The Offshore spinning reel made by Fin-Nor is the beefiest reel on our list.

It's made for offshore fishing and comes in a range of large sizes with the largest offering over 60 pounds of maximum drag pressure!

For most of your surf fishing needs, the smaller sizes of the Fin-Nor Offshore reels will work just fine, with the smallest offering 35 pounds of drag and a line capacity of 300 yards of 50 pound braided line.

A tough, all-aluminum body, side plate, and rotor, plus stainless steel drive, pinion gears, and center shaft result in a reel that is as bombproof as they come.

Four double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings give you the corrosion resistance you need and an 11-disc drag system gives you that remarkable fish-stopping power we mentioned above.

While the Fin-Nor Offshore spinning reel is heavier than most, it's capable of handling just about any fish you hook into and is strong enough to keep cranking no matter how wet, sandy, or banged up it gets.

Plus, if you ever find yourself heading into nearshore or offshore waters, the Fin-Nor Offshore spinning reel will be there when you need it.

penn spinfisher

Reviewed by popular demand!  The Penn Spinfisher V5500 is tremendous value for the price.  It casts long, smooth, and virtually flawless without an early bail release or typical malfunctions you might expect from a mid-priced reel from time to time.

This is as solid, all-around reel that you can use for open water saltwater fishing or lakes.  Think, shark to bass, and this reel should have you covered.  So it's clear, this reel is a sealed unit, so it can be used in saltwater.  Of course, make sure you're cleaning it after each use or you can expect handles to bind after awhile, but that's standard across any saltwater gear. 

But, where this reel really shines is the drag.  This is a longer casting reel than what you may be used to, so it's a pleasure to use.

If you're used to Penn reels, then this reel won't let you down and is consistent within its class. 

The quality machining is obvious, and it is a solid, well-made reel.  This reel boasts a fluid cranking with 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing.  This type of construction is what you need to get a long, smooth cast.

The Superline spool requires no backing, is braid ready, and has line capacity rings marked at 1/3, 2/3, and full capacity, so there's no guessing.


Having seen three of the best surf fishing reels, which will you choose? If you're looking for a great all-around surf fishing reel, go with the Penn Conflict. If you want to save a little money but still want a high-quality reel, the Okuma Azores is for you.

And, if you plan on hooking into true giants and need all the reel you can get your hands on, the Fin-Nor Offshore reel will hold up to anything you hook into in the surf.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
%d bloggers like this: