The Best Surf Casting Reel: Top 5 Tested & Reviewed

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Daiwa Millionaire (click to view)
“The Millionaire has plenty of line capacity, smooth casting, and enough drag to put pressure on large fish you’ll run into. Ideal for anglers who spend long hours on the surf since it’s lightweight.”

Best Premium Option: Shimano Calcutta B (click to view)
“The Shimano Calcutta is famous for its quality, longevity, and power, making it ideal for long-term anglers. It’s recommended for surf fishing since it won’t rust or fill with sand.”

Best Budget Option: KastKing Rover Round Reel (click to view)
“The KastiKing Rover is a low-cost reel that stands up with its bay in terms of features and performance. Ideal for beginners and anglers on a budget who don’t want to buy low-quality junk.”

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Sometimes in surf fishing, the distance you can cast makes all the difference. Casting reels can help you get that extra distance that traditionally used spinning reels can not.

Ideally, you’ll want a reel with a Levelwind to make it easier to spool line, a smooth, free spool for less friction on casts, and a silky anti-brake to keep the spool from over-turning. 

We’ve put together this list of the best casting reels for surf fishing so you can make a smart buying decision before heading out to your next surf fishing holiday.

Sources researched
15
Sources researched
Customer reviews
11,850
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
12
Hours spent testing
Products tested
5
Products tested

What Is The Best Beach Casting Reel?

Top 5 Casting Reel

Best Overall

Daiwa Millionaire Classic Utd Baitcast Reel

Daiwa Millionaire

Best Overall Surf Casting Reel

Infinite anti-reverse system

Solid carbon fiber drag

Best Premium Option

Shimano Fishing Calcutta Conquest 401 A Round Reels [CTCNQ401A]

Shimano Calcutta B

Best Premium Surf Casting Reel

Super-strong, ultralight, aluminum frame

Huge line capacity and great drag power

Best Budget Option

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, Right Handed Fishing Reel,Rover40

KastKing Rover Round Reel

Best Budget Surf Casting Reel

Low cost for the number of features

Up to 30 pounds of drag

Best 2-Speed Option

Okuma A-16SSE Andros Two Speed Reel

Okuma Andros 2-Speed Reel

Best 2-Speed Surf Casting Reel

Quick flip between two gear ratios

The ergonomic level makes adjusting drag a breeze

Most Versatile Option

Daiwa Saltist 50 Levelwind Reel

Daiwa Saltist Levelwind Reel

Most Versatile Surf Casting Reel

Automatic clutch engage

Fast gear ratio, 35” per crank

Best Surf Casting Reels: 2022 Guide

These are the best reels you need to grab for your next surf fishing trip:

  1. Daiwa Millionaire
  2. Shimano Calcutta B
  3. KastKing Rover Round Reel
  4. Okuma Andros 2-Speed Reel
  5. Daiwa Saltist 20 Levelwind Reel

Daiwa Millionaire

Best Overall: High tech, easy to operate, and plenty of line capacity for long casts and big fish.

Daiwa Millionaire Classic Utd Baitcast Reel
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KEY FEATURES

  • 330 yards of 30-pound braided line
  • Infinite anti-reverse system
  • Solid carbon fiber drag

The Daiwa Millionaire is an excellent choice for a surfcasting reel. Plenty of line capacity, smooth casting, and just enough drag to put pressure on larger fish you’ll run into. A lightweight reel with a comfortable handle, the Millionaire is a solid choice for any surf fishermen looking to use a casting reel.

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Reel Specs

330 yards of 30-pound braid is pretty standard for surf reels, really a necessity for extra-long casting. With 11 pounds of drag, you won’t be stopping big fish in their tracks, but you’ll have plenty of power to wear them out. The aluminum internal gears and bearings stand up well against saltwater and won’t rust, and the Levelwind will ensure your line lays flat on the spool. 

How Will It Perform

Overall you shouldn’t run into any problems with the reel. The infinite anti-reverse will remove most of the risk of an over spool tangle, and it’s a comfortable reel to use thanks to its handle. The one downside is if you hook into a shark or big game fish, as the drag is a little lacking for fish in that size range.

Shimano Calcutta B

Best Premium Option: A reel that will perform for generations with just a little bit of care.

Shimano Fishing Calcutta Conquest 401 A Round Reels [CTCNQ401A]Check Price on Amazon

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KEY FEATURES

  • Super-strong, ultralight, aluminum frame
  • 24” retrieval rate
  • Huge line capacity and great drag power

The Shimano Calcutta B is famous for its quality, longevity, and power. The reel is easily worth the entry price, especially for long-term anglers since the reel will last and perform nearly inevitably. It makes an excellent reel in any situation and a great surf reel since it won’t rust or fill with sand.

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Reel Specs

It’s more geared for power than speed, but the reel’s sheer quality and cranking power make up for it. The frame is made from ultralight and rigid aluminum that keeps the reel strong, centered, and easy to cast. It’s got an exceptionally smooth drag, and every part of it you can imagine has anti-corrosive materials. With 17 pounds of drag, there isn’t much you can run into that the reel will feel too small for either. 

How Will It Perform

Easily the highest quality reel on the list, you should expect pretty flawless performance. From smooth casts and drag to heavy-duty cranking power, this one’s got you covered. A biannual cleaning will keep the reel in excellent condition and you’ll enjoy using it for years to come.

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

Best Budget Option: A low-cost reel that stands up with its bay in terms of features and performance.

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, Right Handed Fishing Reel,Rover40Check Price on Amazon

KEY FEATURES

  • Comes in both left and right-handed models
  • Low cost for the number of features
  • Up to 30 pounds of drag

KastKing has a habit of making incredible reels for a low price, and the Rover Round doesn’t disappoint. With various sizes to choose from and a huge number of features packed into a low-price package, the Rover is an excellent choice for beginners and anglers on a budget who don’t want to buy low-quality junk.

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Reel Specs

The reel parts are all precision cut on CNC machines, which gives it great rigidity and a quality fit. Double shielding on the bearings keeps out water from anything but submersion, and overall corrosion resistance is fantastic. With up to 30 pounds of drag depending on the model, the Rover will handle everything in the surf and is a great choice to take offshore as well. 

How Will It Perform

You should expect a lot from this workhorse. It’ll have a smooth cast and drag and no reported issues with the Levelwind. Thanks to its high drag power, this is an excellent choice for targeting bigger fish in the surf.

Okuma Andros 2-Speed Reel

Best 2-Speed Option: An incredibly lightweight reel that packs plenty of power and all of the advanced features Okuma has to offer.

Okuma A-16SSE Andros Two Speed ReelCheck Price on Amazon

KEY FEATURES

  • Quick flip between two gear ratios
  • Ergonomic level makes adjusting drag a breeze
  • Silent retrieval shows the perfect fit of gearing

The Andros is specifically designed to give you all the power and quality possible in the lightest and most agile reel possible. Easy adjustments make casting, switching gear ratios, and adjusting drag on the fly all incredibly easy, and with a bit of practice, you’ll be casting huge distances with ease.

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Reel Specs

With a rigid one-piece frame and stainless steel gearing, the Okumua can stand up to big fish and tons of abuse. Small and lightweight, the reel still has plenty of power with over 24 pounds of drag. It lacks some features of other reels on the list but replaces them with others. Gear ratio swapping with the flick of a switch, a smooth lever drag, and an adjustable anti-reverse gives you plenty of options to tune it to the way you fish.

How Will It Perform

You’ll need to practice with the reel as you adjust the anti-reverse, and you’ll need to get used to adjusting the line on the spool as you retrieve it.  That being said, the reel is an excellent choice for more experienced anglers and can be a great everyday reel that can handle anything you throw at it. 

Daiwa Saltist Levelwind Reel

Most Versatile Option: An excellent choice for surf fishing, as well as jigging, trolling, and working lures.

Daiwa Saltist 50 Levelwind ReelCheck Price on Amazon

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KEY FEATURES

  • Super smooth line guide
  • Automatic clutch engage
  • Fast gear ratio, 35” per crank

A fantastic all-around reel, the Daiwa Saltist makes for a great surf fishing reel. Excellent line capacity, fast retrieval, and good drag power give it an edge over fish prowling the surf.

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Reel Specs

The Saltist gives you the durability you need to fish the surf with an anodized finish, one-piece body, and high-strength gears. It’s got a fast gear ratio that gives you 35” retrieval per turn and a ton of drag power. In addition, the spool can pack on over 300 yards of 40-pound braid, meaning big fish have room to run even after long casts.

How Will It Perform

You should expect a smoother cast despite the Levelwind, thanks to how smoothly it glides. This reel is perfect for packing up on the boat for offshore trips as well as making a great choice for surf fishing. Overall, it’s a solid all-arounder that can handle most kinds of fishing and most fish species.

What To Look For When Buying A Surf Casting Reel

Anti-reverse

Perhaps the most important thing you need in a casting surf reel is a solid anti-reverse. Without it, you won’t be able to get the distance you’re after on your casts since you’ll have to slow the spool down manually. So not only is it a matter of convenience, but it’s near a necessity to avoid backlash, over pool, possible injuries, and to quite simply give you a better experience.

Line Capacity

Surf fishing means you need to be able to cast significant distances, up to and over 100 yards. Factor in the fact that big fish can run that far, and you need a spare line for break-offs, cuts, and maintenance, and you need at least 300 yards of line on the reel to be effective. The braided line gives you the advantage of using heavier lines while taking up less space than monofilament, which is also needed for long-distance casting to avoid snapping your line.

Corrosion Resistance

Any time you surf fish, you’ll be exposing your reel to salty spray and sand. Even if you don’t drop it, these things have a way of finding their way into reels and destroying them from the inside. The best thing you can do is look for sealed parts and resistant metals. Aluminum and stainless steel are some of the best options for reel part materials, and shielded bearings should be part of your qualifications to keep that stuff out. 

Drag Power

Fish in the surf have the advantage of using the waves and currents to their advantage on runs. Therefore, you’ll want slightly more power than usual if you want to be able to turn them. The lowest I would go is ten pounds of drag. However, that won’t be enough if a medium shark or bigger game fish grabs your bait. Twenty pounds of drag is a pretty standard baseline that will get you through most fish you’ll encounter.

Questions & Answers

Do Levelwinds hurt casting distance?

Unfortunately, yes, a Levelwind adds friction to the line as it leaves the reel, reducing casting distance. The trade-off is that it evenly spools your line back onto the reel spool. Without a Levelwind, you’d need to do this by hand on every retrieval, and if done improperly, it would reduce your casting distance anyways. A smooth Levelwind like those on this list is simply the better option for less experienced anglers and those who want a smoother, less-involved experience.

Are casting reels or spinning reels better for surf fishing?

Back in the day, casting reels had a significant advantage in both casting distance and drag power. Nowadays, it’s much more of a personal preference since spinning reels have caught up in both aspects. You should fish with whichever is more comfortable for you. Therefore, make sure you’re using the proper size reel for the types of fish you plan on and could be hooking into to minimize failures.