Best Surf Fishing Reels (GREAT for casting LONG distances)

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best surf fishing reel is, then we recommend the Penn Slammer III 6500 Spinning Reel.

From fishing in sandy beaches, the shoreline, or even rocky jetties, surf fishing is one of the more exhilarating sports to date. It’s for the young and the old, the novice and the professional. It knows no age – it’s for everyone looking to enjoy the sport.

Surf fishing allows you to catch a wide variety of species, including the Redfish, the Striped Bass, and the Black Drum, to name a few.

By the way, as an Amazon Associate, I earn when buying qualified products through links on my site.

best surf fishing reels

But like any other hobby or sport, you need to be equipped with a strong, reliable reel to help you handle the strong pull of the saltwater, and the drag of the fish you catch.

We’re here to show you everything you need to know before buying a new reel, including all the important questions you must ask before you get started.

But first, let me list a completely unbiased review of the top 5 best surf fishing reels we found online.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top 3 Picks…

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Best Surf Fishing Reels: An In-depth Review

Penn Slammer III 6500 Spinning Reel

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  • Quality: 4/5
  • Durability: 5/5
  • Anti-corrosion capability: 5/5
  • Drag: 4/5

Penn always claimed to have the highest industry-leading ingenuity with all their reels. With the Penn Slammer III, that doesn’t seem to be far off the truth.

The Penn Slammer III Spinning Reel features a machined full metal body, rotor, and side plate. The CNC Gear technology Penn uses in the Penn Stammer III provides a durable yet increasingly smooth gear train that never fails.

Along with its powerful air rotor, it also has a sealed slammer drag system called Dura-Drag.

Penn’s Dura-Drag allows the reel to endure regular and heavy use, and can easily and withstand high levels of heat that may be generated when utilized in long periods of time.

Dura-Drag also contains a special bonding agent that prevents corrosion and the premature breakdown of materials.

Due to these features, you can rest assured that the Penn Slammer III will be by your side for years.

I can definitely attest that the Penn Stammer III offers you a lot of excellent features for its price point. This reel just simply can’t be compared.

What We Like

  • Very well engineered
  • P67 Sealed System keeps water out of the gearbox and drag system
  • Excellent value for money
  • Well-built drag system
  • Highly durable

What We Don’t Like

  • The bail system isn’t the best
  • The knob is a little too big compared to the reel itself

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Daiwa SSaltist Spinning Reel

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  • Quality: 5/5
  • Durability: 5/5
  • Anti-corrosion capability: 5/5
  • Drag: 4/5

I’ll be honest: it’s rare to find a fishing reel with the specs the Daiwa SSaltist Spinning Reel offers for this price.

Daiwa SSaltist Spinning Reel is a purpose-built reel, designed to spin underwater without any saltwater intrusion, and has a powerful, waterproof drag system.

It’s completely forged with a “HardBodyz” body and side cover and has an anodized black finish to prevent corrosion. It also makes it very much scratch resistant.

With its solid build and salt waterproofing, it can easily outlive any other reels for under $500 with regular usage, while maintaining its top-notch quality. It has the capacity to survive tough conditions and fight hard-to-catch fish, with a 33lbs max drag.

What makes this reel stand out is the fact that it allows you to easily convert from a bailed reel to a bail-less reel, if preferred. The tools, parts, and instructions needed are provided by Van Staal themselves.

This reel winds perfectly and can cast at a high distance without sacrificing accuracy. It has a high-end feel to it and is very responsive.

It’s great for surf fishing, and disassembly is fast and easy for maintenance. It doesn’t take any more than a minute or two to completely detach the parts from each other.

What We Like

  • Has a well-designed sealant waterproof system to protect its core
  • Pairs well with other high-end rods and is surprisingly light
  • Reels with ease and has a powerful drag

What We Don’t Like

  • Not the smoothest reel available

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Penn Battle II 6000 Spinning Fishing Reel

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  • Quality: 3/5
  • Durability: 4/5
  • Anti-corrosion capability: 4/5
  • Drag: 4/5

The Penn Battle II is a heavy-duty, high range spinning reel constructed entirely of metal, including its side plate and rotor. Despite that, it’s increasingly easy to use.

Its aluminum bail wire is highly durable, and it supports an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system. This gives you the ultimate pull strength, all the while maintaining a smooth, stable reel. It’s one of the most affordable reels that feature this type of drag.

The highlight of this reel is the smoothness of its casting and retrieval. The Battle II’s 6 sealed stainless steel and instant anti-reverse bearing makes retrieval increasingly flawless and quick. You won’t have to struggle too hard with this one while pulling in your catch.

This reel is highly recommended for both fresh and saltwater fishing, and won’t disappoint while surf fishing. It puts up with quite the punishment and has heaps of power.

What We Like

  • Solid build
  • Made with corrosion-resistant aluminum
  • No backing required due to its superline spool
  • Great quality for its price

What We Don’t Like

  • Needs a bit of ‘breaking-in’; the reels come a bit stiff at first but get better with regular use.

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Tsunami Shield 6000 Spinning Reel

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  • Quality: 4/5
  • Durability: 5/5
  • Anti-corrosion capability: 5/5
  • Drag: 4/5

The Tsunami Shield 6000 is built with a carbon fiber drag system that allows easy adjustment and withstands extreme drag pressures without losing its smoothness.

This reel is made with a machined aluminum spool and body, 10-13 internal seals of water-resistant protection bearings. It also features 5 sealed stainless steel bearing systems, which provides increased corrosion protection from saltwater.

This makes it one of the few rods that can last with you for a very long time, even with frequent heavy usage.

Lightweight, powerful, and with a smooth drag, you just simply can’t go wrong with this one. This reel does very well in all types of saltwater conditions.

What We Like

  • Great casting ability and performance
  • Solid construction
  • Multiple handle options
  • Reels fish in with ease
  • Comes with a braid ready spool

What We Don’t Like

  • A bit too heavy and bigger compared to other reels at 16.5oz
  • The bail system isn’t the best and maybe considered too “soft”
  • Reel makes a sound when you reel in

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Shimano Spheros 6000 Saltwater Fishing Reel

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  • Quality: 5/5
  • Durability: 5/5
  • Anti-corrosion capability: 4/5
  • Drag: 5/5

Designed to handle challenging fish, the Shimano Spheros fishing reel is known to be robust and highly durable. Built with CF aluminum, this reel is made with an advanced cold forging technology where high resistance is guaranteed.

The Shimano Spheros is originally made in Japan, so you can expect a high-quality product with a solid build like most of what’s produced in Japan.

It features the new Shimano SW Concept, which includes a HAGANE body and gear design to fight the toughest catch and withstand continual use. It also includes an X-Ship and X-Shield that offers improved gear durability along with body protection and a forged spool.

In addition to this, it also has the anti-rust bearings S A-RB. This makes them more resistant to saltwater than stainless steel.

With the combination of Shimano’s forged spool system and Cross Carbon Drag, it easily makes it a great distance casting reel.

What We Like

  • Rigid drag support
  • Meticulously made with the highest quality of materials
  • Can withstand extreme abuse
  • Smooth retrieve
  • Available in 3 different sizes for off the beach, inshore, or blue water use
  • Overall great reel for its price

What We Don’t Like

  • Parts of the gears are plastic

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Things to Consider Before Buying a Surf Fishing Reel

The fishing industry is a huge, competitive market. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different reels, rods, and tackle to choose from. Some of which can even cost over $1000.

Before you go spending big bucks for an overpriced reel, you first need to have a proper understanding of what suits you the best at your skill level.

What’s the Best Type of Reel to Use for Surf Fishing

Penn 1403985 Slammer III Spinning

Let’s start with the basics. There’s a total of 3 types of fishing reels available for purchase: the spin-cast reel, the spinning reel, and the bait-cast reel.

Each of these reels works perfectly well for surf fishing. But every reel has its own functions and features, as well as both advantages and disadvantages individually. Let’s go through these together.

Spinning Reel

The Spinning Fishing Reel is the most commonly bought and used fishing reel in the industry. It’s a professional’s favorite – with good reason.

Unlike the spincast fishing reel, the spinning reel features an open-faced design. Casting is much more accurate and has a higher line capacity as well, which gives you more freedom to fish in the deeper trenches of water.

The spinning reel’s drag can be adjusted using the dial on the front of the spool. Its spool sits parallel to the main axis of the rod and hangs beneath it when in use – contrary to other reels resting on top of the rod while in use.

Another great feature spinning reels have that the other two types don’t is that they’re multiplier reels. This means that a single revolution of the handle causes the spool to rotate more than one time.

This allows you to rotate the spool more than a single revolution.

  • Easy to use
  • Accurate casting
  • Has multiplier reels
  • Heavy-duty
  • Would sometimes cause a twisted line

Baitcasting Reel

The baitcasting reel has a slightly different mechanic than the former two. Due to this, the baitcasting reel isn’t considered to be a beginner’s reel and best used by well-seasoned fishermen.

While the most difficult to master, they do allow you to cast the most accurate line and distance. This reel also offers fast and powerful retrieve, making them ideal for catching heavier fish.

  • Can handle difficult fish
  • Heavy-duty and has excellent drag
  • Difficult to master

Spincast Fishing Reel

The Spincast Fishing Reel features a close-faced type of design where all its important components are safely stored inside a nose cone.

Its mechanics are quite simple; you press a button when casting a fishing line, and release when it’s at the distance you want. This feature makes it ideal for beginner fishermen.

  • Great for beginners
  • Very little backlash
  • Has a smaller, more narrow spool, which prevents it from going as far as the other reels
  • The line isn’t as accurate
  • Not much freedom while fishing

In conclusion, Spinning Reels is often chosen as the best type of reel for a surf fisherman. It’s easy to cast, clean, and set up.

They also cast farther than either the two mentioned, which helps for casting along oceanfront beaches.

Your selection of reel makes or breaks your ability to catch fish. There’s a tremendously wide variety of reels in the market, from easy to use models to the more high tech variety.

What is the Optimal Reel Size for Surf Fishing?

Reel SizeSize of FishExample Fish
1000-3500 (10-35)SmallTrout, Bream, Perch, Luderick
4000-6500 (40-65)MediumSnapper, Cod, Barramundis, Drummers
7000-9000 (70-90+)LargeTuna, Kingfish, Mulloway

I can’t begin to emphasize the importance of a reel’s size while fishing. Depending on whatever fish you’d like to reel in, it’s essential to have a strong and powerful reel that’s ready to retrieve a fighting fish when it bites.

The size of the reel directly refers to its line capacity. This means the bigger the reel, the more line you can spin on its spool.

The size of your reel all depends on the body of water you’re fishing in, including its depth, density, and the type of fish you’re looking to catch.

You’ll find reels of different sizes, from 1000 – 9000+.

A 1000 – 3500 (10 – 35) size reel is great for catching smaller species of fish, and ideal if you like throwing lures. Examples are Trout, Bream, Perch, and the Luderick

4000 – 6500 (40 – 65) is ideal for medium-sized fish. This includes Snappers, Cods, Barramundis, and Drummers.

But if you’re a well-seasoned fisherman looking for a bigger haul, like the Tuna, the Kingfish, and the Mulloway, you’ll need a reel that can withstand and fight the drag and pull of this type of fish. This is in case they strip your line as they try to escape your hook.

With that in mind, the 7000-9000+ (70 – 90+) reels won’t disappoint.

As a rule of thumb, the bigger, the better. If you don’t mind spending a couple of extra bucks on a good quality reel, it’s definitely worth getting the bigger reels for your future fishing endeavors.

What is the Best Gear Ratio For Surf Fishing?

A 5.1 or 6.1 ratio works quite well in most fishing conditions. The higher the gear, the faster you reel a fish in.

In a nutshell, gear ratios relate to the speed at which a reel pulls its line.

What Other Equipment Do I Need

Here’s a shortlist of what you’ll need before going surf fishing:

  • Fishing rod and reel
  • Fishing line
  • Hooks, bait, and lures
  • Needle nose pliers and a short knife
  • Tackle Box with your favorite tackle
  • Fish bucket
  • First aid kit

And don’t forget the sunscreen!

What Makes a Good Surf Fishing Reel

There are several important factors to consider before buying your fishing reel. These include the fishing reel’s drag strength, power, ball bearings, and anti-corrosion capability.

Drag Strength

To cut a long story short, a reel’s drag strength is measured in its capability to reel in hard-fighting fish. The larger the reel, the stronger its drag strength is, so again it all comes down to the type of fish you’re looking to catch.

A reel’s drag is important as it allows you to catch fish with ease, all the while protecting your rod from breaking under pressure.

Ball Bearings

The amount of ball bearings a reel has dictates its overall smoothness, support, and performance.

The higher a reel’s ball bearing count is, the smoother the reel. Ball bearings normally range from 3 to as many as 12 per reel.

Anti-corrosion capability

Since we mostly fish in saltwater, especially with surf fishing, corrosion is a very real threat to our reels.

When buying a reel, you have to make sure you’re choosing one that’s completely stainless steel and is corrosion resistant to help protect the reel’s performance.

Final Verdict

Before buying a reel, you need to keep in mind the durability and reliability of the reel you’re choosing.

My own personal choice would be the Penn Slammer 3 6500.

Penn is one of the most recognized brands in the fishing industry. Powerful drag, great quality, solid build; what more can you ask? And although it comes at a high price point, you easily get your money’s worth and more.

Surf fishing is highly enjoyable and would be made even more so with a fishing reel that has your back when you finally hook a catch.


Peter is a software developer who loves to take every opportunity to go outside that he can get. Peter grew up going on long backpacking excursions with his family every Summer and now enjoys staying at the beautiful Texas State Parks and swimming in the amazing Texas Rivers.

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