best surf fishing rods & Reels For Your Next Adventure

Two local young men on the beach fishing in the shallow water of the Gulf of Mexico
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Surf fishing allows fishermen to catch the size of fish that makes telling tall fish tales unnecessary. Whether you’re a newbie to fishing or you’re an experienced angler, having the right gear is important to catching photo-worthy saltwater fish. We’ve researched some of the best surf fishing rods and reels and came up with four that we think may interest you.

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

What are the best surf fishing rods?

Best surf fishing rod for the money

This rod is part of the Longitude series of surf rods, which have new technology built into them. All of the models in the Longitude series are two-piece blanks. Models range from eight to twelve feet in length. The Okuma model is rated for lures between three and eight ounces and for 20- to 40-pound lines.

Okuma rods are made to help anglers cast heavy baits far out into the water. These rods feature soft-touch EVA cushions above and below the reel seat, stainless-steel hooded graphite reel seats, and oversized double-footed aluminum oxide guides.

Pros
  • Cork-wrapped fore and rear grips for comfortable casting
  • Soft-touch EVA cushions made above and below the reel seat
  • Constructed with quality components for premium durability
  • Sensitive graphite composite blank that lets you feel the smallest of bites
  • Built strong enough to cast heavy baits long distances
  • Strong stainless steel hooded reel seat for secure reel placement as you cast and haul in heavy fish
Cons
  • May snap in two below the third guide
  • May only be good for fish less than three pounds
  • May arrive missing a protective ring on the first guide, rendering it too sharp for line to pass through it without being cut
  • Many customers think the action is a bit too stiff

Best travel surf rod

This budget-friendly telescoping rod and reel set is ideal for gift-giving, a child’s first set, or for use as a backup set. Besides the fishing rod, it also comes with a reel, and a stocked tackle box. The tackle box contains a fishing line, hard bait, Octopus soft bait, five steel crank hooks, five jug hooks, three-color fish hooks, thunder frog, fishing gear pendant, 15 fishing luminous beads, and a product manual.

As such, this fishing gear lets you catch a wide variety of fish. This implies striper, catfish, bass, walleye, trout, panfish, and inshore and saltwater fish. As a final note, the telescopic rod features a glow-in-the-dark white tip, which enables you to better see fish-biting activity at dusk.

Pros
  • Ergonomic, comfortable, soft high-density EVA handle makes this rod a joy to use for long periods of time
  • Compact, easy-to-carry, convenient telescopic rods can go with you on a bike or store away succinctly in your boat, cabin, or other handy location
  • Whole-rod cross-wrap paint detailing enhances its appearance
Cons
  • Customers complain that it doesn’t reliably hold a reel after just a few uses
  • Too stiff to use as a feeder rod but okay for spinning or float fishing
  • Some say it’s a beginner’s or child’s rod and reel set at best

Best surf fishing rod and reel combo

This relatively affordable rod and reel set is a customer favorite, mainly because of the rock-solid level wind reel that’s included. A level wind reel is a type of baitcasting reel that uses moving line guides to evenly distribute the line across the spool instead of letting the line build up.

The level wind trolling reel enable you to pull in large fish from various saltwater conditions. The ultrasensitive rod lets you feel fish bite, even when the fish is located hundreds of feet underwater during a strong current.

It is rated for a 20- to 50-pound fishing line. Though, customers report that this combo is easy to set up and that it can handle fish that weigh up to 80 pounds.

Pros
  • Easy to set up
  • Durable tubular glass blank construction
  • Lightweight graphite frame and side plates
  • Strong, Marine-grade bronze alloy main gear
  • Stainless steel pinion gear
  • Instant anti-reverse bearing and two stainless-steel ball bearings prevent rotor back play
Cons
  • May receive a broken release lever, damaged rod, a rod with missing parts, or a substitute rod
  • Rod may arrive without rod clamp nuts, allowing the rod base to fall off
  • Rod may break at the handle, even when reeling in small fish
  • May receive a defective reel, caused by faulty assembly of star drag
  • No hole in the spindle to allow attachment of the line

Best surf fishing rod for distance

If you need a saltwater casting rod that is lightweight, durable, and sensitive, this graphite rod may be just what you’re looking for. This tension-supported medium/Mod-Fast two-piece ten-foot rod performs like a one-piece pole and weighs only 13.6 ounces. Customers love its feel and say that it has awesome casting loads and that it releases quite smoothly. 

This rod has two coats of Flex-coat slow-cure finish. This rod has a Fuji DPS reel seat with black hoods, but you will need to purchase a reel for it. This rod is backed by a five-year warranty.

Pros
  • Premium SCII graphite construction
  • Made with the popular mid-modulus graphite fiber that has a high strain rate
  • Created to be a durable, high-performance lightweight rod
  • Created to be sensitive, allowing you to detect the tiniest fish bites
  • Has a pleasing style that includes two coats of Flex-coat slow-cure finish
  • Includes a Fuji DPS reel seat with black hoods
  • Has weight-saving surf guides
  • Is a tried-and-true casting rod model that has been around since 2004
Cons
  • May not be packaged well enough for safe shipment
  • Bottom cap on the handle may fall off easily and get lost
  • The rod is not in two five-foot sections, which bothers some customers
  • You must buy a reel separately

What is Surf Fishing?

grandpa and grandsons fishing on beach


Surf fishing is a type of fishing where the angler catches fish while standing on the beach, rock or fishing pier or while wading in the shoreline water, also called the surf. Since fishermen who fish in this manner are often standing in surf waters, this type of fishing became known as surf fishing. This sport is also sometimes referred to as surf casting or beach casting. 

While the rods used for this sport are capable of launching the lure or bait two or three hundred yards into the water, some surf fishing is done in knee-deep water. This sport is usually done in salt water, but it can also be done in freshwater. Here’s what to look for when choosing the best surf fishing rod for your next adventure:

Length


Surf rods come in lengths of between nine and 16 feet. You’ll want a rod on the longest end of that spectrum for long-distance casting and for catching the very largest fish. However, the light weight of shorter rods helps when hauling in a large fish.

Material/Build


You’ll need your surf rod to be highly durable, so you’ll likely be happy with a composite that is a combination of fiberglass and graphite. A composite gets its flexibility from the fiberglass and its sensitivity from the graphite.

Action


Action refers to flexibility. You’ll need your rod to have some fiberglass in it so that it can bend without snapping in two just as you’re fighting the biggest fish you’ve ever caught. When the entire rod bends, it’s a slow action rod, and slow action increases your casting distance. However, it sacrifices some casting accuracy. When the upper part of the rod bends, it’s a medium action rod. When just the tip bends, it’s a fast action rod.

Power


This refers to the weight of the rod. It’s also called its taper. Weights are ultralight, light, medium, and heavy. It affects casting distance and the ability to reel in fish.

Sensitivity


The longer your rod, the less sensitivity it will have, even when made out of sensitive materials. Check the customer reviews for people who comment on sensitivity of particular rods.

Casting Ability


Your range will cover up to a four-ounce spread, say from six to ten. Your weights can overpower your rod if they are out of the ideal range. One way to avoid this is by making sure that your fishing line suits your rod.

What Kind of Fish You Can Catch When Surf Fishing

The species of fish caught depend on what is available in the region you’re fishing in. You can catch California Halibut, Barred Surfperch, Spotfin Croaker, and California Corbina off the west coast. West coast shark fishermen will only find Seven-gill, Soupfin, and Leopard sharks there.

Anglers can find many more kinds of sharks on the east coast between New York and the Carolinas. They can also catch the highly-valued striped bass. The heaviest striped bass caught there by a surf fisherman weighed 78.5 pounds. However, striped bass are more commonly found within the range of between 30 and 40 pounds. 

Other fish that surf fishermen catch in that part of the country include tarpon, snook, Spanish mackerel, pompano, bonito and albacore tuna, weakfish, flounder, tautog, black drum, redfish, and bluefish. From the Carolinas south, redfish anglers can catch many redfish.

Key Insights & Takeaways

While a fishing rod may appear at first glance to be simplistic, it is actually a quite complex thing. You’ll need to know what kind of fish you want to catch and where you want to fish when choosing your fishing gear. The rod type you’ll need will also dictate which reels, lures, and sinkers you should use.

We’ve looked at a lot of fishing gear to come up with our top four picks for the best surf fishing rods and reels. The winner in our lineup is the PENN Squall level wind reel and rod fishing combo. It has many features that enable optimal performance. Although it is made of graphite, customers report that it hauls in fish up to 80 pounds without breaking. As such, the reel is a high-performance one.

Ally Mash
Ally Mash
Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.

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