So, you want to buy the best surf rod. Well that’s simple, sort of, maybe, hmm…no, it’s not. Or is it?
If I was given a dollar for every time I was asked this question in the last decade or so, I’d now be fishing from a motor yacht the size of Bill Gates floating extravaganza. Deck side, I’d be casting solid gold minnows at whatever, sipping something exotic from something even more exotic.
Unfortunately, the answer to that question isn’t any easy one (more on that later), but let’s give it a try.
To make the best decision I think it would be beneficial to divide this post into two sections. First, we are going to look at a few options that are on the market today. Next, we are going to talk about how technology has changed the way we look at surf rods and some thoughts that will help you to make the right decision for you. Let’s begin…
What is the best surf rod?
Here is a preview:
- Penn Battalion
- St. Croix Triumph
- St. Croix Mojo
- Okuma’s Solaris
- Daiwa Beefstick
- Graphite composite blank
- Fuji aluminium oxide guide inserts
- Shrink tube handle grips
- Baitcasting model found here
The first to add to our list of the best surf rod is the Penn Battalion Surf Spinning Rod. Penn is a highly trusted brand, they are well-known for developing durable, robust rod that will last forever. It is available a number different sizes and weight ratings ranging from an 8 foot rod to an 11 foot rod.
One of the best features that I really like is the graphite composite blank. What exactly does that mean? Graphite composite means that is made of both glass and graphite. This rod, in particular, is made of roughly 70% graphite and 30% glass. The glass gives you the power to land the fish while the graphite makes it super lightweight. You really can’t go wrong here with this graphite composite blank.
It is also equipped with Fuji aluminium oxide guide inserts that allow you to use it with both braid as well as monofilament fishing line. The handle is made with a rubber shrink tube giving you that much-needed grip when things get wet. There are also casting versions available in this range for the more experienced angler.
- SCII Graphite
- Aluminium oxide surf guides
- Cork tape wrapped handle
- Travel Rod
The next rod we are going to look at is the St. Croix Triumph Surf Travel Rod Series.
This rod is made from a very durable and lightweight SCII graphite. SCII graphite rating is used specifically with St. Croix fishing rods. This rating system is used to measure the strain rate as well as the amount of fiber used to construct this blank. St. Croix did an excellent job in creating a very durable rod without adding any addition weight.
I love this features because one of the most difficult parts about surf fishing is getting a 12 foot rod to the beach. However, this rod easily breaks down into 4 small ( about 30 inches each depending on the overall length) pieces.
Great rod, great price and best of all, easy to transport. That being said I would highly recommend the St. Croix Triumph Surf for the surf angler on the go.
- SCII Graphite Fiber
- Slopped guides/frame
- One piece feel
If there is a surf rod on the market that was designed with comfort in mind, I would have to say the St. Croix Mojo Surf Spinning Rod takes the cake.
Like most St. Croix rods, this rod is built with a very strong and lightweight SCII graphite giving you a high-quality surf rod. As I mentioned what I enjoy most about this rod series is how St. Croix designed a surf rod to be both efficient and yet super comfortable at the same time. Let’s look at a few features…
The first feature that I would like to mention is how the two-piece rod is divided. It is divides in a way that when you are fishing it seems like it isn’t a two piece rod, but a one piece. This not only makes it comfortable for the fisherman but gives you more control over the rod as well.
The next feature I would like to highlight are the guides. They didn’t equip this rod with regular guides but slopped guides. These slopped guides are made for braided fishing line and are designed in a way to avoid line tangles.
Learn more about the many features the St. Croix Mojo has to offer in the following video:
- IM-6 graphite blank construction
- Fuji aluminium oxide guide inserts
- Cork wrapped handle
Would you consider yourself a hardcore surf angler? If so you will enjoy the Okuma’s Solaris Surf Fishing Rods Series.
Awesome value from the Japanese powerhouse brand. Available in spin and casting models, you also have access to a range of rod lengths. Fuji guides and a full graphite blank head the feature list, with Stainless steel double footed guide frames adding to the durability factor. Prices are outstanding and the performance is excellent across a range of fishing techniques. Many will really like the non-slip cork grips.
The blank is made of a super durable and lightweight IM-6 graphite construction. You may have heard that term before IM-6 graphite, but what does that mean? Graphite is divided into three categories; Low Modulus, Intermediate Modulus, and High Modulus. To put it simply, IM6 (Intermediate Modulus) refers to the quality of graphite and the amount used. I believe intermediate to be the sweet spot.
Because of the IM6 graphite construction, you have a very durable, lightweight and sensitive rod. Exactly what you want when heading out to the beach.
- Fiberglass blank
- Ceramic guides
- Two piece construction.
For those on a budget yet still demanding quality, it is hard to pass up the Daiwa Beefstick Surf Rod. Ideal for the novice and intermediate level angler, this fiberglass model offers great features.
The regular action provides versatility, hence its recommendation for the novice. Having said that, there are plenty of experienced traditionalists who enjoy fiberglass and would feel very comfortable with a Beefstick in their hands. There are 4 surf lengths from which to choose, with an additional 2 casting models. Ceramic guides and non-slip EVA grips head the feature list.
How things have changed…
As I mentioned earlier before making a purchase I think it is also important to reflect on how things used to be.
For example, back in the day, choosing a surf rod was somewhat of an easier prospect than it is now. Old-school rule of thumb was, go long, go fiberglass, and make sure it’s got the power to cast baits from the beach you’re fishing from into deep waters. Thing is, the shelves were packed with these guys and the choice was, more or less, made for you. Boy have times changed.
For that reason when asked what is the best surf rod I tend to give the simple answer “I don’t know!” Interestingly, and perhaps because I look like I know what I’m talking about, the shocked look is followed by an engaging conversation where the inquirer will offer a tremendous amount of information about where they fish, their fishing style, preferred reel type, target species, and a host of wonderful bits of info that allows me to eliminate a huge number of rod styles and hone in on the perfect surf rod for this particular angler. Saying, “I don’t know” is a little cheeky, yes. A more accurate response, yet equally as frustrating is, it depends.
The reason this response is as genuine as I can muster is because of the incredible range of surf rods and rods that are great for the surf. Technology has exploded in fishing rods; no points for stating the obvious. Consequently, there are rods designed and manufactured not just for surf fishing generally, but refined to suit target, lure, line type, fishing style and techniques, reel type, conditions and whether or not you prefer to wear yellow while fishing on a Tuesday. Working in concert with the growth in technology, and perhaps more poignant, is a maturing in the way contemporary surf anglers approach the sport.
If we are hitting the beach to dangle live baits at sharks beyond 200 pound or so, we’ll use a game rod and reel. We’ll take the baits out to the back line of breakers on a jet ski and we’ll mount a game chair on the back of our pick-ups, happy days!
Conversely, if we are targeting a smaller species known to frequent the wash just a few feet from where we stand, we’ll use a super lightweight 6 or seven-foot boat rod with a 2500 spin reel. Why use a 12-foot rod when you want to launch your bait just 3 feet! Such is the strength of the modern rod; the same outfit might be used by the sports angler to hunt big Striped Bass.
The increasing trend is the modern anglers desire to catch something big using something little. It’s about the sport. Technology has provided the catalyst for growth in this trend. Graphite my friends, has changed the game.
Check out the blue water anglers jigging for bullet trains like Tuna. These shortish rods are as thin as your grandmother’s pinky finger, and 80 pounds of Tuna bends them to the butt. The rod is pointing straight down, nigh on vertical, and the only thing that looks like breaking is the angler attached to the cranking end. A close look at the rod would see you questioning its ability to reel in a toad, yet they subdue monsters. This strength has made its way into every fishing rod, including surf models. Generally speaking, they’re a heap lighter, much thinner, more powerful, more sensitive and more responsive.
Things to consider when looking for the best surf rod…
In short, the number of practical variables, mixed with application and angler driven subjectivity, I’m left with little choice but to answer the question of what the best surf rod might be, to an infuriating, “it depends.” What’s worse, is having just explained to you the level to which one can refine rod selection for surf fishing, I’m about to tell you to grab a spin model, 10 to 13 feet with a medium rating and a medium action. Predictable, pedestrian even, but it is all I can do without knowing specifics about your intentions. I can only advise on something that will provide you with significant versatility, allowing you to cover a broad range of techniques and targets. In all professional honesty, this is good advice for surf rod selection. The right surf rod will allow you to catch a small fish of a couple of pounds without feeling like you are skull dragging with a vehicle winch. But, you will also have a chance to land a 40-pound monster with the same rod. Versatility is the key.
Personally, with many years of experience fishing the surf, I love to use a 6 ½ foot rod rated to 6lbs. I will target fish up to 15 pounds with this stick. It’s best that there be few anglers around me, because hooking big fish on such light gear can mean a lengthy fight. The somewhat infuriated fish will walk me up and down the gutter becoming increasingly belligerent, perhaps because he recognizes he’s being played on what amounts to a piece of cotton. This style is not for everyone, and conditions MUST be right, but I love the sport, and I love holding a rod that weighs next to nothing, relative to a 13-foot beach rod.
When the surf’s up, when I need to cast a reasonable distance, when I want to target fish of size, or if I’m looking speculatively at a mixed bag, I’ll use my 12-footer. I never head out on to the beach without it. It really is my staple. I can cast small baits, large baits and hefty metal slices. My recommendation is that such a rod be your staple too.
9 to 13 foot will cover length, and I recommend a graphite blank or composite. I strongly recommend a spin style, yet casting or overhead are very effective for the experienced. Rating should be in the 10 to 20lb range, and a light/medium to medium power and moderate to fast action. Avoid the cheapest, it’s likely a false economy, and I can say for certain that the most expensive won’t catch you any more fish than the mid-priced rod.
Purchasing on-line will save time. Armed with the information I have just provided, a little brand inquiry and reading a few reviews, you will be well placed to select a surf rod. I have listed 5 options each of which I would consider to be the best surf rod under the right circumstances and for the right fisherman. I’m not saying to purchase these rods specifically, do your own research as well, you’ll learn plenty in the process. The rods I have listed here are good examples of rods I’d be happy to cast beach side.
These rods provide a sure path to surf rod satisfaction. Wherever you are, whatever beach, whatever fish you target, from Perch to Stripped Bass or Shovel Nose Shark, and a whole lot more, you’re covered with the range listed above.
There is nothing quite like fishing the beach. The views, the sounds, the atmosphere and the host of available species. As with any worthy pursuit, use the right tool for the job and get the best tool your budget will allow. Modern surf anglers are spoiled for choice. For some, this has created a little confusion as to how one finds the best surf rod. I’m thinking now you are a little wiser as to your options and ready to purchase a surf rod that will become a beloved piece of kit in your fishing arsenal. We’ll have a look at the best surf casting reels next. Looking forward to it.
What do you think is the best surf rod? Share your thoughts in the comments below…