Are you looking for the best surf casting reel?
There’s no doubt that the rise in spin reel technology, coupled with their user-friendly operation, has seen them dominate the surf fishing market. The surf casting reel is often seen, rightly or wrongly, as a more advanced style of reel, more suited to the experienced angler. This pretty well comes down to one, perhaps two reasons. Firstly, backlash and, Secondly, and to a lesser extent, the need (on many models) to manually level your line on the spool as you retrieve.
Like the technological investment manufacturers have been piling into spinning reels, they have also been toiling likewise with the casting reel. The results have been phenomenal. The casting reel is now very much user-friendly, has addressed the features of backlash and level wind that would often scare the novice, and enhanced the features that provide casting reels with advantages over the spinning reel.
New breaking systems to mitigate against casting backlash and the resulting birds nest, and awesome level wind systems, have addressed those perceived fears. This allows the angler to focus on the traditional advantages of the casting reel. A casting reel can offer great casting lengths, with outstanding accuracy, which is one of the many reason they excel in surf fishing. They also are oftentimes equipped with spools that will take far more line of a heavier class. The retrieve speeds are awesome and the added control you have with your thumb and palm when applied on the spool is invaluable when playing a fish and casting.
Which casting reel is the best casting reel for surf fishing? Below we have compiled a list of 5 amazing surf casting reels that will see you well placed to hit the beach and dominate the waves. It should be noted; level wind systems, while fantastic, will impart friction on the cast, reducing distance. When distance is sought, it is best to avoid level wind. If significant distance is not required, take advantage of this feature.
What is the best surf casting reel?
Here is a quick preview:
- Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Classic 6500 C3 CT Mag
- Daiwa Millionaire Surf Cast Reel
- Penn Squall 15
- Daiwa Saltist Level Wind Reel
- Zebco / Quantum Smoke 100SZ
Let’s now have a more in-depth look at each surf reel individually….
- Gear Ratio: 5.3:1
- Carbon matrix drag system
- 2 HPCR™ bearings in the spool
- Corrosion resistant IAR bearing
- Line out alarm
- Magtrax brake system
- Open top CT frame
- Dual stopper
One such reel that we think is the best surf casting reel is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Classic 6500 C3 CT Mag. The open frame of this is model provides awesome access to your spool for casting and playing control. The coolest feature by far however is that it is designed for distance. Prodigious distance. It’s not the cheapest casting reel, but offers very broad appeal for the angler looking for a combination of performance and durability.
In casting reel terms it is very simple, exactly what you want on the beach. The carbon matrix drag is ideal for battling not just the fish, but the corrosive and abrasive elements your reel will invariably find surf side. A traditional star drag is incredibly easy to operate, and ideal for the novice. Two bearings keep things smooth with an added anti reverse bearing, all corrosion resistant. The magtrax technology uses a magnetized breaking system to assist the angler avoid the problems of backlashing.
For a hefty spool capacity of over 200 yards, it maintains a modest weight of 465 grams. A ratio of 5.3:1 will have you retrieving at a rate of 600cm per turn. Ideal for pulling in those hefty casts at speed. If you’re targeting anything over the 10-pound mark from the back breakers, this is an ideal selection.
- 7 Bearing System (5CRBB + 1BB + 1RB)
- Lightweight aluminum spool
- Counter-balanced power handle
- Fast 5.8 to 1 retrieve picks up 28” per crank
- High-grade brass drive gear and stainless steel pinion
- Infinite Anti-Reverse
- Rigid, one-piece frame
- Smooth star-adjust drag
- Magforce®-Z cast control
It’s very hard to beat a world campion, and the Daiwa Millionaire Surf Cast Reel is indeed a world champion.
Modestly priced, considering its pedigree, it will still however appeal to those anglers less concerned about the price tag and more focussed on top shelf performance. Of the five reels listed here, this is the king, and for very good reason. What’s more, it looks fantastic!
Casting distance is second to none, you can hit the continental shelf with this guy, and the Magforce Z magnetic breaking system will allow you to do this free from backlash. Magforce Z can be dialled in precisely, using the numbered dial to completely refine to conditions and casting weight and casting style. The spool, capable of speeds up to 30,000 rpm, will begin to back off when maximum speed has hit, slowing the spool to match that of your hurtling bait.
Constructed from super lightweight alloy, the one-piece frame is incredibly strong and maintains superb rigidity. High-grade brass drive gear and stainless steel pinion keeps you locked and loaded in perfect sync. 5 corrosion resistant ball bearings provide a beautifully smooth crank, and last 12 times longer than standard bearings. Perfect for the harsh surf environment. Infinite anti reverse assists anglers to set hooks with confidence, turning more strikes in to hook ups.
A gear ratio of 5.8:1 allows you to spool up 28 inches per crank. The star drag is super smooth and very easy to set and adjust on the run. The open frame also provides great access for palm control of the spool. The high-tech spool will hold 15/330, 20/200 yards of mono, and a whole lot of braid. The alloy frame and side plate keeps the weight down to a comfortable 12 ounces.
- Gear Ratio: 6.0:1
- Stainless steel pinion gear
- Live Spindle design
- HT-100 drag system
- 6 shielded stainless steel ball bearings
- Instant Anti-Reverse bearing with silent back up ratchet
- Weight: 14.6 ounces
No list of the best surf casting reel could be considered complete without mentioning a PENN. The Penn Squall 15 is loaded with features.
The Penn Squall has a graphite frame and sideplate, and holds tremendous amounts of mono and not to mention a great amount of braid. It is also sports a super-fast crank for a reel of this size, better still, the crank is silky smooth. The accessible price will make the Penn Squall 15 near on impossible to pass up. This is an incredibly popular casting reel, enjoyed by many pro anglers.
There are many anglers who are tougher on their reels than the fish will ever be. Dropping in sand, dunking in the salt water, irregular maintenance etc. We know these anglers, you might be one. This Penn is for you. It’s robust construction, like any Penn for that matter, makes this the perfect choice for hunting larger fish in the corrosive and gritty beach environment. The Penn Squall 15 is the reel of choice for everything you want in a surf casting reel, PLUS, outstanding durability.
6 shielded ball bearings provide a crank as smooth as honey, and also handles the corrosive environment. The Penn Live Spindle technology is the source of its exceptional casting length and the super-fast 6.01:1 gearing retrieves your long casts in no time flat.
When the battle is on, and this unit will tackle sharks, the HT-100 drag system provides awesome confidence. 15lb of super smooth but powerful drag, will have your target turned and heading back to the beach before you can “Fish On!”. Your drag is back up by the line capacity. You can let them run with 525/15, 430/20, 320/30 (yards/pounds) of braid.
Magnetic cast control all but renders backlash. Again, this cast control technology really does make the casting reel infinitely more user-friendly, particularly for surf fishing where conditions a casting weights will vary significantly. Instant anti reverse ensures hooks get maximum penetration when you strike so hook-up becomes a genuine fight to the beach. Outstanding all round performance in the classic Penn black and gold!
Learn more about the Penn Squall 15 in the following video:
- Automatic clutch engagement
- Anodized finish
- Helical-cut gears
- Fast 6.1:1 Gear ratio pulls 35” of line per handle crank
- Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag with 20.0 lb drag max
- Four CRBB ball bearings plus roller bearing
- Lightweight aluminum spool
- Precision balanced power handle with Soft Touch knob
- Rigid, one-piece aluminum frame
- Infinite Anti-Reverse
- Extra loud spool click
For those looking for all the bells and whistles the Daiwa Saltist Level Wind Reel is your answer. The price is a little elevated, and the model is by no means new, but the Saltist has great top shelf features, and the Heavy-Duty Level Wind is just the beginning.
The Saltist has excellent casting performance, you might not break any records, depending on your technique, but casts will be accurate and long. That which is lost due to friction from the level wind receives adequate compensation from the Live Spindle Design, and the outcome of a high-tech spool uniformly loaded, thanks to the level wind.
20lbs of Daiwa’s famous Ultimate Tournament Drag is another key feature that sets this apart from the rest. The drag is incredibly powerful and one of the smoothest on the market. A Spool Capacity: 12lb / 420 yards, 14lbs / 350 yards, 20lb / 210 yards, sees any angler well placed to patiently wait out the extra-long runs from determined, aggressive predators, of course, giving the UTD time to do its thing. A 6.1:1 gear ratio heaps on an impressive 35” of line per crank. Yes, it’s fast.
The anodized alloy frame is crafted from one piece of metal. It is incredibly strong, providing outstanding rigidity. The anodizing process ensures your reel will stand the test off time in one of fishing’s most corrosive environments. The 4 stainless bearings not only contribute to the incredible smooth cranking but also contribute to the lengthy working life of the Saltist. The pinion too, is stainless steel, completing a corrosion protection list that makes your Saltist one of the most durable casting reels available.
Perhaps the best feature is the reel’s flexibility to perform brilliantly in any number of applications. While great for the surf, the Saltist is equally at home casting from the ocean rocks and jigging or trolling the blue water from your favorited vessel.
This makes the Saltist incredibly cost-effective. While you might dish out a little more cash at the outset, you will cover the roles of several fishing reels, ultimately saving you a heap of coin.
Learn more about we think the Daiwa Saltist Level Wind Reel is the best casting reel for surf fishing:
- Gear Ratio 8.1:1
- Line Retrieve Rate 35 inches per crank
- Durable PTX Frame Construction
- 25lb Max Drag
- 10 + 1 Ball Bearings
- Aluminium PT main gear
- Aluminium PT drive shaft
Let’s think outside the box for a minute. Just because you are fishing the surf doesn’t mean you need to hit the back breakers with heavy kit. The fish can be at your feet or only tens of yards away, and we’re not always chasing monsters over the 10-pound mark. The Zebco / Quantum Smoke 100SZ will gladly tackle a 10-pound fish, but you can do it carrying half the weight on a much smaller rod with a low profile baitcaster. And the Quantum has some serious creds to see you casting in comfort and style.
Casting lengths are outstanding, and thanks to the ACS external centrifugal cast control with its 13 settings, you can refine your cast set up to suit your casting technique and the conditions faced. No more backlash. There is a level wind that layers your line beautifully to the spool.
This is a super-fast reel, the fastest on this list. With a gear ratio of 8.1:1, lures and baits are retrieved at a blistering pace of 35” per crank. Cranking is velvet smooth thanks to the 10 ball bearings that support the alloy main gear and pinion. The extensive use of alloy for internals and externals provides and incredible lightweight feel. The lightweight handle with its ergonomic knob allow for precision control, great feel and outstanding feedback.
25 pounds of max drag is the feature that makes this reel so capable in the surf. When you happen across a fish much larger than you have targeted, you have the power to turn its head back to the beach. 25 pound is a huge amount for such a diminutive reel.
While a touch pricey, you will be able to use this reel in a huge range of inshore applications, from river to estuary, from salt to fresh. The outlay may hurt a little, but the versatility of the Zebco / Quantum Smoke 100SZ will allow you to cast it everywhere, eliminating the need for an arsenal of reels.
I hope to have answer that question we set to answer in the beginning: What is the best surf casting reel? As you can see, with a variety of different types of reels on the market is it difficult to limit it to just one. However, I must say that no matter what reel you choose off this list you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Please share you thoughts on what you think to be the best surf casting reel….