Best Surf Reels: Complete Reviews with Comparisons
Do you plan on doing some good old surf fishing? Yeah, fishing in the ocean right off the beach can be a real blast, but that said, you do need the right reel for the job. Today we want to help you find some of the best surf reels of 2019. We have got some great options for you to take a look at.
Best Surf Reels: Reviews
KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel
Here we have what is a very affordable surf fishing reel, well, one that can be used for all sorts of freshwater and saltwater fishing applications. The KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel is a really durable and high quality reel, one that comes with many features that will undoubtedly benefit anybody looking to do some real surf fishing for the big fish.
One of the big time features that you get with the KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel is that it is made out of a heavy duty graphite body. Now, the advantage here is not only that graphite is very tough, and can even withstand corrosion due to saltwater, it’s also very lightweight. Having a lightweight reel is usually pretty important to help create a balanced setup, as well as to ensure that you don’t fatigue too quickly while using it.
Something else which stands out about the KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel is that it comes with 10 stainless steel ball bearings which are double shielded. For one, these ball bearings are of a very high quality, as stainless steel is tough and resistant to corrosion.
Next, thee ball bearings allow you to cast far distances and reel in the line real quick thanks to the buttery smoothness which they provide. It is also worth noting that these ball bearings are double shielded, which means that no saltwater will get to them.
Moving on, the KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel features a 5.2:1 gear ratio, which is pretty good for this kind of thing. It allows you to reel in somewhere around 25 inches of line per revolution of the handle, which is pretty quick. It’s fast enough to get good hooksets and to reel fish in fast, but also slow enough to be ideal to fight some pretty tough fish that require tiring out.
Speaking of reeling in fish, this thing features a strong aluminum spool which is both durable and lightweight, and has big time line capacity too. It can hold up to 190 yards of 60 pound braided line.
What is also worth talking about here is the high quality drag system, which is a triple disc carbon fiber drag system, a sealed one, which means that for one, it is super durable. What’s also impressive here is that this thing can handle up to 40 pounds of drag, which is no small feat, thus making this reel ideal for some pretty large fish.
When it comes to the handle, the high density EVA foam grip is pretty nice, comfortable, and will keep you from slipping, although it’s not overly durable.
Simply put, we like more or less everything about the KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel, especially the fairly low price which it comes in at. It’s not often that you can find such a high quality surf fishing reel with all necessary components and features for such a reasonable price.
The only thing that we think could use some improvement on the KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel is the reel handle. We are not big fans of EVA foam, even the high density stuff, as it just is not all that durable.
- Overall very durable
- Saltwater ready
- Good gear ratio for big fish
- Great ball bearing system
- A whole lot of drag
- Grip material is not overly durable
Fin Nor Offshore Spin Fishing Reel
Here we have another really nice surf spinning reel, one designed primarily for offshore fishing. This means that the Fin Nor Offshore Spin Fishing Reel is extremely durable and well suited to deal with saltwater, it has a good gear ratio designed for larger predatory fish that will fight you, it has a big time drag system, and great line capacity too. Now, this thing is more than twice the price of the other one we just looked at, but there is no denying the fact that it’s a powerful and reliable reel.
Something which stands out to us right off the bat about this Fin Nor Offshore Spin Fishing Reel is the super high quality carbon fiber totally sealed offshore drag system. Simply put, it’s one of the best out there. In terms of durability and the toughness of the components, it’s nearly unparalleled.
It’s one of the toughest drag systems out there, and yes, it is totally sealed and ready for offshore use, which means that it won’t matter how salty the water is. Now, the really impressive part here is that this thing has a maximum drag of 60 pounds, which therefore means that you can easily use this reel to haul in some very big catches.
Something that also makes a difference is that the Fin Nor Offshore Spin Fishing Reel has a 4.4:1 gear ratio, which for this model means that it can reel in about 34 inches of line per handle turn. It’s a good thing to have a fast retrieval rate at times, although it’s not always the best for larger fish, as sometimes you need it to be slower to fight and tire fish out. That said, this gear ratio here is fine for hauling in your lure at a very fast pace, and it doesn’t hurt for solid hook setting either.
In terms of the ball bearings, here you get 4 high quality stainless steel shielded ball bearings. Now, this might not be the highest ball bearing count of all reels, but the fact of the matter is that quality is more important than quantity, and here you get a ton of quality. These stainless steel bearings make the Fin Nor Offshore Spin Fishing Reel about as buttery and smooth as humanly possible, and yes, they are shielded, so saltwater is not going to make the slightest difference with them.
What’s pretty cool is that the Fin Nor Offshore Spin Fishing Reel also comes with a multi-stop anti-reverse feature, something which not too may others come with. Now, we do have to say that this reel weighs close to 40 ounces, which is not great, but then again, it is heavy duty. It’s made out of some of the toughest and most saltwater resistant materials out there, and that is definitely important here. Even the handle is very durable here, although not overly comfortable.
The final thing that deserves a mention here is that the Fin Nor Offshore Spin Fishing Reel also has great line capacity, up to 540 yards of 20 pound mono line or up to 400 yards of 65 pound braided line, so you can fish far and deep without issue.
The good part about the Fin Nor Offshore Spin Fishing Reel is that it is super durable, seriously one of the very toughest surf fishing reels we have seen in a long time. More so, everything about this reel is designed to be big, bad, heavy duty, and to fight the big fish.
There are a couple of drawbacks to this particular reel, such as the fact that it is bulky and heavy, so using it will tire you out. Also, a small thing, but the handle is not the most comfortable to hold for a long time.
- Superior durability
- Very fast line retrieve
- Amazing drag system – 60 pounds
- Very smooth casting and retrieving
- Massive line capacity
- Ideal for deep offshore saltwater fishing
- Not the most comfortable handle
- Bulky and heavy
Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel
If you want a heavy duty surf reel that can withstand a ton of punishment and put the big fish on the table, the Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel is a great option to go with. Now, this fishing reel is heavy duty and super durable no doubt, and it has many other beneficial features. With that being said, it’s also by far the most expensive reel on the list so far, nearly twice the price of the Fin Nor reel we just looked at, but you do get what you pay for, and here you definitely get a lot.
One of the big highlights of the Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel is simply that it is made out of some ultra tough materials. Forget plastic, because this thing is made out of a combination of various metals, allows, and other materials, which combined to form one heck of a durable surf spinning reel. Seriously folks, this thing is heavy duty, about as tough as it gets, literally.
It can handle a heck of a lot of weight and pressure being put on it from every which way, and the materials themselves have been specially selected to be impermeable to the effects of saltwater. This thing won’t rust on you.
Something else about the Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel worth mentioning is that it comes complete with 8 high quality and shielded stainless steel ball bearings. Here, when it comes to the bearings, you get both quantity and quality, which is a big deal because it allows for some really smooth action, both in terms of casting and retrieval.
Moreover, these ball bearings are completely shielded, so they aren’t going to rust either. The continuous anti-reverse system is another feature that definitely comes in quite handy.
Speaking of retrieval, this particular fishing reel has a gear ratio of 4.9:1, which is not too shabby at all. This thing has the ability to reel in close to 40 inches of line per handle revolution, which is a heck of a lot to say the least. This allows you to reel in fish with excessive speed. It may be a bit too much for overly large fish, but should do fine for most situations.
Speaking of large fish, what also stands out about the Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel is that it comes with a ceramic carbon drag system which is totally sealed. It’s actually one of the very best drag systems out there right now, and it can provide up to 50 pounds of drag to stop large fish in their tracks, plus of course it is fully adjustable too. And yes, the drag system is sealed to be impermeable, so saltwater can’t get to any of the interior components.
What is also pretty nice about the Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel is that it weighs under 25 ounces, which is not all that lightweight, but considering how heavy duty this thing is, it’s actually quite lightweight, and that does make a difference when it comes to balance and fatigue.
The other thing which stands out here is that this thing has a line capacity of 300 yards of 20 pound mono line or 380 yards of 65 pound braided line, which is not too shabby at all, and definitely allows for some long distance and deep water fishing. The LMS line management system is pretty useful too, because it’s pretty effective at stopping tangles from occurring.
The good part about the Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel is that it’s just a beast. It’s tough, it’s durable, it won’t rust, and it can reel in some pretty heavy fish too. There’s also the fact that it looks pretty darn nice too. Just all in all, this has to be one of the best saltwater fishing reels, surf or otherwise, that we have seen in quite some time.
Something that is not too impressive about the Quantum Cabo PT Spin Reel is that the handle is not overly comfortable. There have also been some problems with the drag clicker, specifically with it being durable and staying in place.
- Superior durability overall
- Super fast retrieval rate
- High quality and powerful drag system
- Great 8 ball bearing system
- Saltwater guarded in every way
- Lightweight and well balanced
- Issues with the drag adjustor
- Handle could be more comfortable
Shimano Baitrunner 12000 OC Oceania Spinning Reel
Here we have yet another fairly powerful and durable saltwater spinning reel, the Shimano Baitrunner 12000 OC Oceania Spinning Reel. Now, it may not have the word “surf”, in the name, but it performs very well for all kinds of saltwater fishing.
It’s made out of quality components, it’s very durable, it can haul in some pretty decent sized fish, and it can haul them in fast too. The only downside we can see is that it is quite the expensive reel, just as pricey as the one we just looked at.
The Shimano Baitrunner 12000 OC Oceania Spinning Reel is a really nice option to go with, because for one, it features a mix of durable metals and composite materials which make up the frame and side plate of it. What is important to remember is that this thing is extremely durable and made to last for years to come. It can handle a heck of a lot of pressure without breaking in any way, and yes, everything here is specifically designed to withstand the effects of saltwater, even the specially designed spool and bail.
Now, speaking of the spool, which is made out of high quality aluminum by the way, it has pretty good line capacity and is braid ready too. Now, what stands out about the spool here is the prolusion line management system, which helps to keep things straight and goes a long way in preventing tangles from occurring.
Moreover, this thing does have pretty good line capacity, as it can handle up to 265 yards of 20 pound mono line or up to 230 yards of 80 pound braided line. No, the line capacity here is not quite as high as the others we have looked at, but still not bad at all.
The Shimano Baitrunner 12000 OC Oceania Spinning Reel is one of the smaller reels we are looking at today, which is one of the reasons why it has a slightly smaller spool, but then again, there is a reason why this thing weighs under 30 ounces and is well balanced, because it’s not huge.
That said, the Shimano Baitrunner 12000 OC Oceania Spinning Reel can still put the hurt on fish, thanks to the 3 + 1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings. No, the quantity of bearings is not huge here, but the quality sure is amazing, plus of course, it’s all shielded to be well guarded against saltwater. It really is a buttery smooth reel.
What’s also important to note here is that the Shimano Baitrunner 12000 OC Oceania Spinning Reel has a 4.8:1 gear ratio which allows it to haul in 36 inches of line. It’s a bit fast for very large fighting fish, but certainly works well for anything medium sized or smaller. Keep in mind that this option does come with a very high quality drag system, one that is shielded and sealed so it won’t be rusted or worn down by saltwater.
The maximum drag on this reel is 25 pounds, which is admittedly a bit less than we would like to see, although it is an easily adjustable and super high quality drag system nonetheless.
What we really like about the Shimano Baitrunner 12000 OC Oceania Spinning Reel, besides its super sleep design, is that it’s just tough. No, it’s not designed to handle the largest of fish out there, but it can definitely hold its own. Just all around, between the high quality materials, the ball bearing system, the drag, and everything in between, it’s just a really reliable reel, and somehow manages to not be all that heavy either.
Alright, so something that could use a bit of improvement here is the spool, specifically the capacity. For such an expensive saltwater reel, and yes, that is another problem with it, the big price tag, we do expect to fit more line on it. Other than that, we think that the Shimano Baitrunner 12000 OC Oceania Spinning Reel is a fine option to keep in mind, except if you want to fish for massive monsters that is.
- Extremely durable
- Awesome for average sized fish
- Durable and adjustable drag system
- High quality bearings for smoothness
- Great line management system
- Saltwater proof
- Fairly lightweight and well balanced
- Very expensive
- Could use more line capacity
Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel
Here we have what is officially the most expensive reel on the list today, but it’s hands down also one of the best all around saltwater reels out there. Yeah, it’s an expensive reel and it’s not something to buy if you go fishing once per year, but if you are serious about surf and ocean fishing, then it’s definitely one of the better reels on the market. It’s big, it’s smooth, it can reel in line fast, and it has got a killer drag system too.
Alright, so something that is definitely worth mentioning about the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel is that it has a heavy duty full metal body, an aluminum bail, a metal spool, and so on and so forth.
The point here is that whatever can be made of metal on this reel is made of metal. This thing is designed to be tough, durable, to handle a lot of weight and pressure, and to last for years to come. Of course, everything about this reel has also been specially treated and/or designed in order to be as resistant to the corrosive effects of saltwater as humanly possible.
Next, the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel features 8 high quality sealed stainless steel ball bearings, and not low quality ones either. If you are looking for high quality and a high bearing count in one, then this is a great reel to keep in mind, and it definitely helps keep things running super smoothly. There is also the fact that everything here is sealed to ensure that saltwater cannot damage anything. Casting and retrieval here is about as smooth as can be.
Speaking of retrieval, the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel features a gear ratio of 4.7:1, which is decent, and yes, it is fast too. It can pull in 40 inches of line per handle turn, so that is very fast. This is ideal for small and medium size fish that need to be hauled in fast, it works well if you have cast a far distance, and it works well for fast hook setting too. It’s not the best for super heavy fish, but other than that, it’s just fine.
Speaking of heavy fish, the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel does also come with a high quality front HT-100 drag system, which is very high quality indeed. It’s rated as one of the top and most popular drag systems out there right now.
When it comes to this particular reel, the maximum drag is 30 pounds, which once again is not ideal for super large fish, but should do fine for most. And yes, the drag system is sealed off to ensure that nothing can get damaged by saltwater. The instant anti-reverse feature is something that comes in quite handy too.
The other thing to mention here is the spool, which in this case is impressively large. Yes, there is a line management system to keep things straight and to prevent tangles. In terms of line capacity, the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel can handle up to 230 yards of 30 pound mono line or up to 345 yards of 80 pound braided line, and that is indeed quite impressive, especially considering that this whole reel is really not that large. It weighs well under 28 ounces, which is not too heavy for this kind of thing.
The good part about the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel, simply put, well, everything really. There is a reason why this reel costs as much as it does, and it’s because it’s one of the highest quality options out there. It reels in fairly big fish fast, it has a state of the art drag system, a super high capacity spool, super smooth and high quality ball bearings, and a frame that you could run over with your car.
One of the only things which we really do not like about the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel is the price. Yeah, it’s a pretty darn expensive saltwater reel to say the least.
- Great durability
- Totally saltwater proof
- Super fast retrieval rate
- State of the art drag system
- Ultra smooth casting and retrieval
- Comfortable handle
- Durable anti-reverse
- Great line capacity
- Very expensive
Surf Reels Buyer’s Guide
Before you go out and buy any surf reel, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. Let’s take a closer look at the main surf reel buying considerations right now. Folks, if you want the best possible saltwater or surf reel, you really don’t want to avoid these points we are about to make.
Gear Ratio & Line Retrieve Rate
One of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to a surf fishing rod, or really any saltwater fishing rod for that matter is the gear ratio and line retrieve rate. You will often see something like 6.2:1 or 2.5:1, which is the gear ratio, and generally speaking, the higher the gear ratio is, the faster the line will be retrieved.
Line retrieve is measured by the inches drawn in per revolution of the handle. For surf and saltwater fishing, anywhere between 20 and 40 inches of line retrieval per handle turn is fine. Usually, a slightly slower retrieval rate is better for big fish, and vice versa.
The next thing that you need to pay attention to when buying any kind of fishing reel are the ball bearings. The amount and quality of the ball bearings in the reel will dictate how smoothly the spool and the handle turn.
The more ball bearings there are, generally speaking, and the higher quality they are, the smoother everything will run, and the smoother a reel operates, the further you can cast and the faster you can retrieve your line.
To be fair here, the quality of the ball bearings is much more important than the quantity, but if you can find a reel with both, you are on the right track. Moreover, these reels are meant for saltwater use, and this means that all ball bearings need to be sealed off so saltwater cannot get to them.
Another thing to keep your eye on when buying any kind of saltwater fishing rod is the drag system. The drag system stops line from coming off the rod when a fish pulls at it, and also releases line when too much pressure is applied, to stop the line from snapping.
When it comes to surf fishing, you will be going for some pretty big fish that can really fight back, and this means that you need not only a very high quality drag system, but one that can handle a lot of weight. Depending on where you are, you want the drag system in your reel to be able to handle at least 25 pounds.
Saltwater Ready – Sealed
Yes, this is a point that we do have to hammer home. For one, everything which the reel in question is made of absolutely needs to be designed and/or treated to resist the corrosive effects of saltwater. There is a reason why you cannot fish in the ocean with freshwater reels, because the salinity of the water will turn them to rust in a few week’s time. Simply put, everything needs to be designed to resist corrosion and to keep water out.
What you should also consider before buying a surf reel is what materials it is made of. Once again, here this mostly comes down to whether or not it can handle saltwater. Of course, being able to handle impact, pressure, and weight are all important features too, but that said, saltwater reels need to be saltwater ready.
Spool Capacity & Quality
The next thing you want to think about when buying a surf reel is what the spool is like. Generally, surf fishing requires you to cast far distances, and ocean fishing requires a lot of line to get down deep too.
Therefore, you need to have a spool with lots of line capacity so you can fish at distance. Of course, any good saltwater fishing reel is going to be able to handle braided line. Something which always comes in handy is a good propulsion line management system to stop tangles from occurring.
Yet another important thing to keep in mind here is how heavy the reel in question. Generally speaking, for surf and ocean fishing, if you can find a reel under 30 ounces, it should be fine. Just as long as it is not super heavy, but then again, heaviness does usually mean a stronger reel.
Related Content: Best Surf Rods, you need the right kind of rod!
What is a surf fishing reel?
A surf fishing reel is one specifically designed to handle the rigors of surf fishing, or in other words fishing from a beach, at the ocean, and battling large waves, currents, and big fish too. It’s all about being big, strong, and being able to deal with saltwater.
What size reel should I use for surf fishing?
As you can tell from the items reviewed today, we stuck with the big reels. Simply put, if you want to catch the big fish, you need a big reel. We stuck with size 6000 or larger, preferably 8000.
Can I use a freshwater reel for surf fishing?
Aboslutely not. Never use a freshwater reel to fish in saltwater. Your reel will be destroyed by the time you get home.
What is the difference between a surf casting and surf spinning reel?
Simply put, spinning reels feature a bail arm, and they are much easier for beginners to use, but not the best for casting distance or accuracy, or for tangles. Casting reels are harder to use, but also tend to be more durable, they tangle less, and they cast better.
Related Content: How To Cast Surf Fishing Rods, it’s pretty simple and straightforward!
Alright, so when all is said and done, we do think that the best option here today is the Penn Clash Spinning Fishing Reel, followed closely by the Shimano Baitrunner 12000 OC Oceania Spinning Reel. We Yes, these are the most expensive reels we reviewed, and we hate to say it, but you get what you pay for, and paying a bit extra for a surf reel usually does result in better quality. Now, all options we reviewed today are fine, but the pricier ones do tend to hold up better.