Person Fishing at a Shore

Top 6 Best Surf Fishing Spinning Reels Reviewed (2020)

The surf is a harsh environment as we all know. There’s a lot of factors that are doing their best to get inside your reel and cause damage. Everything from sand, grit, slippery rocks and constant salt spray are trying to worm their way inside your reel. That’s not all your reel is going to have to manage, you could hook a huge fish from the surf and your reel it’ll need to handle this too.

It’s not easy to find a reel that can survive and work in this environment and that’s why we have created this review of the best surf fishing spinning reels, so you can find the right one for you and fish it with confidence. 

The Top Three

All-Rounder

Daiwa BG

This reel is heavy duty and will handle life in the surf well. The body, rotor and side plates are made from aluminum so it’s corrosion-resistant and strong.

Daiwa BG

The best all-rounder will cast well, handle the salty environment and big fish without putting a huge dent in your wallet. 

The all-rounder is the Daiwa BG. This reel does a lot for a great price. It’s strong, reliable and the drag is very powerful. Couple that with a huge line capacity and great materials, and you have a reel you can depend on.

Best on a Budget

Seaknight Rapid Saltwater Reel

This reel has been designed with inshore fishing in mind, making it light and great for casting. The body, side plate and rotor are made from aluminum for increased durability and corrosion-resistance.

Seaknight Rapid Saltwater Reel

This is all about getting the job done for the best price. The reel has to survive and manage a big fish but we’ll probably lose some add on features by keeping the price down. 

The Seaknight Rapid Saltwater Reel does the basics well and for a low price. The drag is high enough, the line capacity will manage, it’s light for easy casting and the gears are sealed. It’ll manage the surf and won’t let you down if you look after it.

Editor’s Choice

Quantum Cabo PT

Quantum has made this reel with their own aluminum that has been designed to remove impurities and therefore remove any weak spots where corrosion may take hold. The spool allows the line to come off in tight coils to reduce friction and increase your casting distance.

Quantum Cabo PT

The editor’s choice is simply the best reel in the review with no thought to budget whatsoever. A reel that’ll give you confidence in every aspect of surf fishing and hopefully last a lifetime.

The Quantum Cabo PT is the editor’s choice. It has everything you’ll need to battle the surf with. The drag is smooth and very strong. The reel is made of the highest quality materials and has been designed to survive. The line capacity is also gigantic. I don’t think there’s a fish out there that would worry me if I had this reel in my hand!

What to Look for

These are all the things to consider when you’re looking to buy a surf spinning reel. 

What are you fishing for?

Your reel needs to be able to land the fish you’re looking to catch. Some anglers are dedicated to a single species.

If you love shark fishing, you’re going to need a serious reel but if you like to target stripers in the summer, you’re not going to need something that hardcore.Think about the purpose of your reel before you buy it. 

Line Capacity

When you fish in the surf, you find your spot and usually stick to it. If you hook a monster, you can’t chase it down and you’ll depend on your line capacity to handle the runs of the fish.

RECOMMENDATION

Make sure the reel you choose holds enough line so you can be confident you’ll land a giant if it decides to eat. 

Using Braid

Most surf anglers use braid and for good reason. It lasts longer, increases your line capacity and helps you cast further. You’ll probably be spooling your reel with it, so make sure your reel is made for it.

TIP

Most reels come braid-ready these days but just check first. 

How Heavy Is The Reel 

The weight of your reel is directly related to how easy it’ll be to cast with and often how strong it is. Surf fishing involves a lot of casting and a heavy reel is going to get tiring.

Surf fishing involves a lot of casting and a heavy reel is going to get tiring…

That being said, you may want the heaviness so you can land a big fish. Try a find a balance between the two, personally I’d rather get tired casting and land a huge fish than the other way around. 

Corrosion & Durability

The surf is a mean place for reels. They’re constantly being attacked by the elements and it can cause them to fail very quickly.

You’ll want a reel that’s made from high-quality corrosion-resistant materials and is sealed..

You’ll want a reel that’s made from high-quality corrosion-resistant materials and is sealed or has some kind of water protection system to keep the salt out. This’ll give the reel the best chance of surviving in the harsh conditions. 

Drag, Strong and Smooth 

We’ve already mentioned that when fishing in the surf you have a chance of hooking a fish of a lifetime. The last thing you want is for your drag to fail.

The reel needs to have a strong, smooth and reliable drag that can handle a serious fish. It should be sealed and made from corrosion-resistant materials.

Gear Ratio 

Your retrieve rate is dictated by your gear ratio. The higher the ratio the faster your retrieve will be. If the reel states a ratio of 7.0:1, the reel will spin 7 times per full turn of the handle. If you want a fast retrieve, think about and check the ratio of the reel you’re looking at.

Our top picks…

These are our favorite surf fishing reels out there today. We’ve matched them up against each other to see which ones are the best but they’re all great reels at the end of the day.

All-Rounder

Daiwa BG

This reel is heavy duty and will handle life in the surf well. The body, rotor and side plates are made from aluminum so it’s corrosion-resistant and strong.

Daiwa BG

This reel is heavy duty and will handle life in the surf well. The body, rotor and side plates are made from aluminum so it’s corrosion-resistant and strong.

This reel is heavy duty and will handle life in the surf well…

It has a very large line capacity and a high retrieve rate, if you hook a big fish, this reel will put up a good fight. 

The reel comes with a smooth, tough and sealed drag. Water and dirt won’t get in there and you won’t have to worry about maintaining it too much. The reel comes with a braid-ready spool and is large in diameter to reduce wind knots and line memory. 

NOTE

The reel is heavy and it’ll be tiring to cast with all day. The roller on the bail arm is known to corrode and will need replacing about once a season. The spares are easy to find and inexpensive.

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 20/550, 25/440, 30/370
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 50/730, 65/590, 80/440
  • Max Drag: 33lb
  • Gear Ratio: 5:3:1
  • Ball bearings: 7
  • Weight: 30oz
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 53.3 inch
  • Retrieve Side: Right/Left
  • See the full specs for the Daiwa BG

Pros

  • A strong and smooth drag that’s sealed.
  • A quick retrieve rate combined with a huge line capacity.
  • Made from quality corrosion-resistant materials.

Cons

  • Casting will get tiring as this reel is heavy.
  • Bail arm roller often corrodes and will need replacing.

Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

This is a good surf fishing option. The body of the reel is rigid for a tight gear alignment, keeping the retrieve smooth. The retrieve rate is also high thanks to the gear ratio and your baits will come in very quickly.

Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel

This is a good surf fishing option. The body of the reel is rigid for a tight gear alignment, keeping the retrieve smooth. The retrieve rate is also high thanks to the gear ratio and your baits will come in very quickly.

There is an issue with the main gear corroding over a season and it’ll need to be replaced. This is partly because the reel isn’t sealed and needs constant care. You may be able to avoid the corrosion if you look after it well. 

Excellent Drag

The drag is one of the best on the market thanks to Penn’s technology. It’s made from a multi-disc carbon fibre system that gives it a smooth drag while being corrosion-resistant. The drag isn’t sealed – it’ll need looking after, but it’s pretty strong and will handle most fish out there.

TIP

The reel overall is heavy and you’re going to want to think about the weight if you’re casting all day with it. 

The spool is braid-ready and includes capacity markers, making it very easy to fill and get right. 

Specs

Pros

  • Large line capacity combine with a fast retrieve.
  • Excellent drag system.
  • Rigid body for an efficient gear system.

Cons

  • A heavy reel to cast with all day.
  • The main gear does corrode.
  • The reel isn’t sealed and will need constant care.

Shimano Stradic CI4+ Saltwater Spinning Reel

This reel is durable, corrosion-resistant and very light thanks to its carbon fiber body. It’s a great choice if you like to fish with artificials which involves a lot of casting.

Shimano Stradic CI4+ Saltwater Spinning Reel

This reel is durable, corrosion-resistant and very light thanks to its carbon fiber body. It’s a great choice if you like to fish with artificials which involves a lot of casting.

The drag is sealed making the reel easy to maintain…

The drag is sealed making the reel easy to maintain and the system is made up of carbon fibre. It’s smooth, corrosion-resistant and reliable but the max drag setting isn’t the highest and it might struggle against a big fish.

The line capacity isn’t that large either, again an issue when it comes to landing monsters from the beach.

Retrieve

The retrieve on this reel is smooth and quick thanks to the bearings and gear ratio. The reel also comes with Shimano’s X-ship technology giving the gear system some extra strength when under pressure. This makes it more efficient when fighting fish and for long casts.

comes with Shimano’s X-ship technology giving the gear system some extra strength when under pressure…

Shimano has put in a power roller to assist with line management and it’s very effective at stopping twists and wind knots.

The bearing can go on this and does so often. However, Shimano are aware of this issue and will send you a replacement for free if this happens. 

Specs

Pros

  • It’s very light for casting with.
  • Excellent line management technology.
  • It’s sealed and made from great materials.

Cons

  • It has a small line capacity.
  • It has a stiff bail arm and the line roller bearing can break.
  • The max drag is a little low.

Editor’s Choice

Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel

Quantum has made this reel with their own aluminum that has been designed to remove impurities and therefore remove any weak spots where corrosion may take hold.

Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel

Quantum has made this reel with their own aluminum that has been designed to remove impurities and therefore remove any weak spots where corrosion may take hold.

The spool allows the line to come off in tight coils to reduce friction and increase your casting distance. It’s braid-ready, but braid can bunch up to begin with when you start filling and it can some time to get right.

The line capacity on the largest model is huge and the max drag is out of the world!…

The line capacity on the largest model is huge and the max drag is out of the world! The drag is made up of a carbon fiber disc-system and is supported by ceramic washers to make it smooth as butter. The reel is not fully sealed but it’s coated with a primer to increase durability. 

Anti-Reverse Feature

The reel comes with anti-reverse, but it does fail to engage on rare occasions and it’s extremely heavy. If you’re a shark fisherman it might suit you but if you plan on casting all day, look at one of the smaller lighter models, with a lower line capacity and max drag. 

Specs

Pros

  • It has a very large line capacity.
  • Excellent manufacturing with quality materials.
  • The max drag is extremely high.

Cons

  • It’s extremely heavy.
  • Braid can bunch on the spool on setup.
  • It’s not fully sealed.

Best on a Budget

Seaknight Rapid Saltwater Reel

This reel has been designed with inshore fishing in mind, making it light and great for casting. The body, side plate and rotor are made from aluminum for increased durability and corrosion-resistance.

Seaknight Rapid Saltwater Reel

This reel has been designed with inshore fishing in mind, making it light and great for casting. The body, side plate and rotor are made from aluminum for increased durability and corrosion-resistance.

This reel has been designed with inshore fishing in mind, making it light and great for casting…

The spool and sides are also sealed to protect the gear system from salt and dirt getting in. This will help the reel live a long life in the salt. The spool is braid-ready and will be easy to fill up with an even line lay.

Capable Drag

Although it’s for inshore, the largest model does have enough drag and line capacity to be used in the surf. The drag is made from a carbon fibre disc system and with a max of 33lbs will manage most fish. It’s usually smooth but on rare occasions it can be a bit catchy, this may just be from poor maintenance. The drag isn’t sealed however, and you’ll have to give this reel constant care and maintenance to keep it going.

The gear ratio is a little light on this reel and you’ll have to wind harder to get your bait in quick. 

Specs

Pros

  • It’s light for easy casting.
  • Well-made from quality materials.
  • The spool is sealed to protect the gears.

Cons

  • The drag can be a tad catchy and not so smooth.
  • It has a small line capacity.
  • The retrieve rate is low.
  • The drag isn’t sealed.

Daiwa Sealine-X SHA Conventional Saltwater Reel

This reel has a great line capacity and is built to cast very well. You’ll see your distance improve using this reel! The gear ratio is also high and with the large spool, your retrieve rate will be off the charts!

Daiwa Sealine-X SHA Conventional Saltwater Reel

This reel has a great line capacity and is built to cast very well. You’ll see your distance improve using this reel! The gear ratio is also high and with the large spool, your retrieve rate will be off the charts!

The reel is light for easy casting…

The reel is light for easy casting and is made up of aluminum, stainless steel, and marine bronze. These are all great materials and will last a long time in a salty environment.

NOTE

The reel has also been designed for easy maintenance – it’s simple to take apart and get to all the important bits. 

The drag is sealed and has a max of 17.6 lbs, which is a little light for the surf but can handle most fish. The reel is a bit bulky and can get in the way while using it. 

Specs

Pros

  • A large line capacity.
  • Well made from durable materials.
  • Lightweight and casts well.

Cons

  • Low max drag.
  • It’s a little bulky.

Conclusion

All-Rounder

The Daiwa BG takes the all-rounder prize. This reel has everything you need for the surf with a high and smooth max drag, big line capacity and quality materials. The reel isn’t sealed however, so you’ll need to look after it. 

Best on a Budget

The Seaknight Rapid Saltwater Reel is the best on a budget winner. It holds enough line, the spool is sealed to protect the gears and it’s made from high-quality materials. The drag is strong enough but isn’t sealed and you’ll have to look after it well. The drag is known to slip now and then but that happens on a budget. 

Editor’s Pick

The Quantum Cabo PT is my reel of choice. It’s made of the best materials, has the strongest drag and the biggest line capacity. Everything you’re looking for to beat the surf with. This does make it heavy though and you’ll grow some muscles casting with it all day. 

These are our top choices for you and we hope you’ve found the review helpful. Remember to buy a reel that will last and will handle the fish you’re targeting!

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