For performance, versatility, durability and easy fishing, most anglers look to a spin reel as the best option for surf fishing. If for no other reason, the ease at which one can cast long distances is a given with a correctly balanced set up.
The technology in spin reals is now incredible, strength, drag technology and spool capacity provide access to massive fish. Most importantly, the competition between manufacturers keeps process low and variety abundant. In fact, that’s probably the toughest thing, how does one choose the best spinning reel for surf fishing?
Here is a list of five possibilities. Whether they are the best is arguable and genuinely subjective. What we can say however is if you choose one of these listed, you really can’t go wrong. You will be purchasing versatility. These reels will perform brilliantly in many other applications beyond the surf. So let’s begin…
What is the best surf spinning reel?
Here is a quick preview of our top 5:
- Penn Battle II Spinning Reel 6000
- Shimano SE4000FE Sedona
- Shimano Ultegra 10000 XSC
- Shimano Aerlex 8000 XTA
- Okuma C-65 Ceymar
- Full Metal Body, side plate, and rotor
- HT-100™ carbon fibre drag washers
- 5 sealed stainless steel ball bearings
- Instant Anti- Reverse bearing
- Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
- Superline Spool
- Line Capacity Rings
Penn has the rugged durability to handle the salt and sand. The surf environment can kill lessor reels very quickly, but the Penn Battle II Spinning Reel 6000 will see you through countless surf side battles.
Offering a massive 25lbs of drag, the Battle can turn the most belligerent of fish. Holding 390 yards of 40lb braid gives you all the backup you need should they choose to head toward the open ocean. The spool is braid ready, and while taking mono without a problem, Penn designed the battle with braid in mind, evidenced by the rubber gasket on the spool to prevent braid from slipping.
Five sealed bearing offers a very smooth crank. They also keep out the salt water. The alloy spool is machined and fully anodized, offering a lightweight feel and more protection from the elements. Further innovations include the techno-balanced rotor. Smooth retrieves are one thing, but it also allows for an even, consistent line lay that provides the basis for casting performance.
The Penn Battle II is serious bang for your buck. This is a lot of power for a small outlay. It’s built for many applications but it really hits its straps on the beach.
- XGT7 Graphite Frame & Sideplate
- M Compact Body
- Varispeed II Oscillation
- Cold Forged Aluminium Spool
- Super Stopper II
- Propulsion Line Management System
- Fluidrive II
- Oversized Power Roller Line Roller
- Ball Bearings: 3+1
- Gear Ratio 5.0:1
Shimano offers excellent technology for entry-level reels. The Shimano SE4000FE Sedona is a great example.
The 4000 size is considered a medium size reel and, more or less, the smallest size we would use in the surf. Great styling is matched by some amazing features considering the price. 18.5lbs of drag will see the FE punch well above its competitors. In addition, it is relatively a lightweight surf reel. At only 11.3 ounces, you hardly know you’re holding it.
The Sedona will hold 280 yards of 15-pound line. With a gear ratio of 5.2:1, one crank will spool up 32 inches of line. The Shimano Propulsion Line Management System allows for amazing casting distances, providing you with plenty of flexibility in the surf. The XGT7 Graphite Frame and Sideplate, and the M Compact Body keep everything light a compact, yet rigid and strong.
Cranking is smooth, with 3 ball bearings supporting your retrieve. The crank is made even smoother via the Dyna-balanced rotor, removing any vibration or wobbling. Other technologies one might not expect in an entry-level spin reel include Shimano’s Super Stopper II. This anti-reverse system promotes confidence for aggressive fishing, the percentage of the strike to hook-up is significantly increased.
For the novice and the budget conscious, the Shimano Sedona represents an outstanding spinning reel for surf fishing.
- Gear ratio: 4.3:1
- 5 Ball Bearing System
- AeroWrap 2
- X-Ship System
- Super Stopper II
- Dyna-Balanced Rotor
- Instant Drag System
- Slow Oscillation System
- Line Retrieve: 103 cm
- Line Capacity: 440 yards / 12lbs, 220 yards / 20lbs
- Weight: 22.4 ounces
- Long Casting Capabilities
Before we move on to the next reel, I just want to mention that this reel and the next one are designed for big fish. With that being said, the first one we will look at is the Shimano Ultegra 10000 XSC. Made with an aluminum body, graphite spool, and long aluminum handle.
One of the best things I like about this reel is the long casting abilities. This is made possible by the design of the spool. Rather than having a large and deep spool, it is equipped with a long spool. This design allows the line to come off more easily and allows for much longer casts. Pair this up with a powerful rod and you have a bait launching machine.
It has a powerful 4.3:1 gear ratio bringing in 103 centimeters on every crank of the handle. It also features other perks that you would expect from a Shimano Spinning Reel such as Super Stopper II, AeroWarp 2, Dyna-Balanced Rotor and the X-Ship System.
My favorite is the X-Ship System. By having a larger gear and better positioning, it allows the reel to be smoother, more powerful and gives it more torque. Exactly what you need when fishing for those big ones from the beach.
You simply cannot go wrong with the Shimano Ultegra. Is it the best surf spinning reel? We say yes!
- Aerowrap 2
- Gear Ratio: 4.6:1
- Weight: 745 Grams
- Large Capacity Spool
- Designed for big fish
Are you looking for a big spinning reel for surf fishing? The Shimano Aerlex 8000 XTA is the answer. Let me tell you, this is a pretty big reel. It is a beast and it will handle just about any beast under the sea.
Despite its somewhat imposing size, it weighs in at only 745 grams. The lip of the spool is designed to significantly reduce friction, the cast killer. It works in tandem with Shimano Aerowrap II technology, which ensures uniform line lay on the spool. If it’s spooled evenly, it will come off evenly, without friction, without catching on itself. Aerowrap II layers line on the spool perfectly.
With a powerful drag, this reel will do some damage against some hefty competitors. Working hand in hand with the generous spool capacity, the powerful drag will see you with the upper hand in an extended battle. 350 yards of 17lb line will generally see you on top of your scaly opponent. A gear ratio of 4.6:1 is not fast but the huge spool will give you extra power for fighting big fish.
Classic lines and simplicity in design give the Aerlex plenty of cosmetic appeal. These good looks won’t cost you a bomb either, while not in the entry-level price category, this is a very affordable reel, considering its size and the huge fish you will catch with it.
As you can see this reel is extremely versatile. In fact, with just a turn of the knob and this reel turns into a free spinning baitrunner. Pair this reel with a good surf rod and you can tame any beast under the water, whether freshwater or saltwater.
The Shimano Aerlex isn’t jam-packed with high-tech flagship features, but the features it does include making it extremely capable in the surf, particularly for a bigger class of fish.
- Ball Bearings: 7+1
- Gear ratio: 4.8:1
- Weight: 20.7
- Max drag: 22lbs
- Precision gear system
- Graphite body, side plate, and rotor
- Handle and spool made of aluminum
- Ergonomic EVA handle knob
- Strong bail wire
- Computer balanced rotor
- Water-tight drag system
For the budget conscious, entry-level angler and novice the Okuma C-65 Ceymar Spinning Reel is a superb offering from the Japanese fishing giant.
While priced at entry-level, you’d be hard pressed to find an old hand who is not proud and happy to cast a C 65 into the breakers all day long. The C 65 has set out to make a large reel light while maintaining the power and strength expected of a reel in this category.
The first thing you will notice is the aggressive spool porting. This removes unnecessary weight but also keeps things cool under load. The graphite body and side plate and rotor are the heart of the lightweight feel, and importantly, contribute to the significant corrosion resistance.
22 pounds of watertight drag ensures you have serious stopping power that will perform consistently at peak as water and dust aren’t allowed to enter. The alloy handle and spool promote the lightweight feel. The ergonomic EVA knob encourages comfort in the midst of an aggressive crank in the heat of battle.
The precision elliptical gearing is supported by 6 bearings for a crank so smooth it defies its price bracket. The 7th bearing is the heart of the quick set anti-reverse, the key to setting hooks with total confidence.
Dollar for dollar it is very hard to beat the Okuma C-65 Ceymar. It is a stylish looking spinning reel with all the power and technology you need to fish the surf aggressively. This is a reel designed to last.
In a price bracket that’s under the $100 mark by some margin, this recommendation comes with a bullet. Best value for money pick of the list.
So which reel is the best surf spinning reel? As stated in the introduction, you really can’t go wrong with any of the reels on this list. Ultimately it will come down to budget. I would urge you, however, to consider your application carefully, the beaches you frequent, the fish you target and the other styles of fishing you enjoy away from the surf.
While all the reels mentioned cast brilliantly, they also have the durability to handle the tough beach environment. Sand, salt and precision moving parts make for poor bedfellows. These reels have systems in place to mitigate against the ingress of reel wrecking elements. All five represent, not only great performance but long working lives.
So, which one would you say is the best surf spinning reel? Share with us your comments in the section below…