Best Surf Spinning Reels of 2023 – Top Picks for Saltwater Surf Fishing

Last updated: September 14, 2023
Written by: Kenneth Reeves

BEST OVERALL

Penn Battle III

Penn Battle III

BEST ULTRALIGHT PICK

BEST BUDGET PICK

Penn Spinfisher VI

Penn Spinfisher VI

Surf fishing offers an exhilarating experience, but it demands specialized gear that can endure the harsh saltwater environment. A crucial component of this gear is a high-quality surf spinning reel, which is indispensable for achieving long-distance casts and successfully battling formidable fish in the turbulent surf. In this guide, we’ll unveil our top choices for the five best surf spinning reels in 2023.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Surf Spinning Reel

When selecting a surf spinning reel, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Corrosion resistance – The reel must be built to resist saltwater and sand. Look for sealed components and anti-corrosion materials, such as anodized aluminum or graphite.
  • Strong drag system – Drag needs to be strong and smooth to tire out big fish. Target at least 15-20 lbs of max drag.
  • Line capacity – The reel should hold enough line for long casts. Look for 200+ yards capacity.
  • Castability – The reel should be balanced and made for casting long distances. Line roller and spool design impact casting distance.
  • Durability – Rough surf can take a toll, so the reel should have premium build quality and components to maintain smooth functioning over time.

Top Recommended Surf Spinning Reels

BEST OVERALL PICK

Editor’s Choice: Penn Battle III

Penn Battle III

The Penn Battle III seamlessly blends the ruggedness required for saltwater conditions with remarkably smooth performance. Its full metal body and side plate offer exceptional rigidity, ensuring durability, and the sealed bearings effectively combat corrosion.


Boasting an impressive 40 lbs of drag, it possesses the strength to take on hard-fighting fish. Truly a versatile and all-around surf reel.

MOST AFFORDABLE PICK

Editor’s Choice: Daiwan BG

Daiwa BG

The Daiwa BG is renowned for its strength, smooth operation, and affordability. Equipped with an Air Rotor that enhances castability and reduces weight, it also features digitally machined gears and a robust metal body capable of tackling even the largest surf fish.

When it comes to an economical yet reliable surf reel, the BG stands out as a top choice.

BEST SEALED PICK

Editor’s Choice: Penn Spinfisher VI

Penn Spinfisher VI

Penn’s Spinfisher VI is purpose-built to withstand the rigors of surf fishing, including exposure to salt, sand, and splashes.

Featuring IPX5 sealing, a robust full metal body and side plate, and a protective gasket surrounding the gearbox, this reel is designed to endure accidental dunks and drops. Its substantial HT-100 drag system delivers consistent pressure, making it an excellent choice for challenging conditions.

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT PICK

Editor’s Choice: Shimano Ultegra CI4+

Shimano Ultegra CI4+

The Ultegra CI4+ by Shimano is crafted with their advanced CI4+ material, striking a remarkable balance between extremely lightweight design and robust rigidity. Its oversized line roller and spool work in synergy to enhance casting distance.

Backed by Shimano’s renowned reputation for smooth operation and boasting an impressive 33lbs maximum drag, this reel stands out as a top-performing choice meticulously tailored for surf fishing.

BEST DUNKPROOF

Editor’s Choice: Van Staal VR Series+

Van Staal Series

When prioritizing dunk-proof performance, the fully-sealed VR series emerges as the ultimate surf spinning reel. Its machined aluminum body strikes an optimal balance between toughness and lightweight design.

Noteworthy for its exceptional smoothness despite being fully sealed, it is thoughtfully engineered to function seamlessly with the bail open or closed. Undoubtedly, a top pick for tackling the most challenging conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Surf Spinning Reels

What size reel is best for surf fishing?

A 5000 or 6000-size reel is ideal for most surf fishing applications. These provide a balance of casting distance, cranking power, and line capacity. For larger species, an 8000-size reel may be preferred.

How much line capacity do I need?

Seek a line capacity of at least 200 yards for 20 lb test monofilament or braided line. Having more capacity is advantageous as it enables longer casts and accommodates extended runs by large fish.

Are sealed reels necessary?

Sealed reels provide an added layer of protection but aren’t mandatory. With proper maintenance, quality non-sealed reels can perform well. But for the best corrosion resistance, fully sealed reels are recommended.

What gear ratio should I get?

Most surf anglers use reels with gear ratios between 5.0:1 and 6.3:1. This provides a balance of cranking power and retrieval speed for moving baits and fighting fish.

How much drag is needed for big surf fish?

A recommended minimum of 15-20 lbs of maximum drag provides the capability to apply pressure and wear down hard fighting fish. For tackling monster-sized specimens, certain anglers opt for 40+ lbs of maximum drag to secure that extra stopping power.

Conclusion

Each of the surf fishing spinning reels mentioned in the reviews above offers a distinct advantage when engaging in battles with substantial fish in tumultuous surf. When making your selection, prioritize features such as corrosion resistance, durability, a smooth drag system, and ample line capacity. By preparing yourself for the demanding conditions, you’ll be well-equipped to partake in the exhilarating and gratifying pursuit of surf fishing.