If you’re thinking about getting into surf fishing, then you more than likely have a few questions. I know that I did! I already had plenty of fishing gear, including poles and reels, however, I wasn’t sure if they were big enough for the surf? After all, when I would go to the beach with the family, I would see these guys with their 10-foot poles, who seemed to be casting out a mile out. After watching for a little bit, and finally working up the nerve to ask a few of them some questions, here is what I found out.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to the best size spinning reel for surf fishing. The size of the surf, the area that you are fishing, and what type of fish you are targeting all play a role in determining the size of your reel. With that being said, most of the surf fishermen that I spoke with recommended a 6000 reel. This size of reel has plenty of backbone as well as enough line capacity for casting long distances.
While a 6000 size reel is recommended for surf fishing, the most important thing is for you to get out there and have fun! So grab whatever reel you have laying around and go wet a line.
Do I Really Need to Buy a New Reel
So now that you know the recommended size of spinning reel for surf fishing, you may be wondering if you really need to go out and spend a couple hundred dollars for a new rod and reel, or if you can just use the gear that you already have?
That really depends!
If you plan on really getting into surf fishing, then yes…I would recommend going ahead and buying a rod and reel that’s a better fit for surf fishing.
However, if you just want to try surf fishing out, then I would either just rent a rod and reel from a local bait shop, or go ahead and use the gear that you already have, assuming it’s reasonably fit.
For instance, I typically use either a 4000 or 5000 size spinning reel for most of my inshore fishing. This size reel is perfectly okay to use for surf fishing assuming that you are going to be fishing with smaller artificial baits, or even live baits such as shrimp, squid, sand fleas, and even small baitfish.
Honestly, the only time that I break out the big boy rod and reel is if the waves are bigger than a foot or so, or if I plan on using a larger bait.
The larger rod and reel will not only allow me to cast past the breakers but also allow me to land a much larger fish than I would be able to with my normal setup.
Something else to think about is whether or not you plan on wading out into the water or not. If so, then I would highly recommend that you opt for a reel that is completely sealed.
Spinning Reel vs Conventional Reel for Surf Fishing
When it comes to fishing, you basically have 3-4 different types of reels. You have a conventional, baitcaster, push button and spinning reel. While conventional and baitcasting reels look very similar, spinning reels and push button reels are completely different.
For surf fishing, you will usually either see fishermen using a spinning reel or in some cases a conventional reel.
Spinning reels are designed with a fixed, open-faced spool positioned in line with the rod. The spool is stationary and a rotor/line guide revolves or spins around the fixed spool. This type of reel is designed to mount below the rod and held in the right hand while you crank it with your the left hand. If you prefer to crank with your right hand, most models come with the ability to reverse the handle.
I’ve used all four types of reels through the years and have found that for casting long distances, the spinning reel wins hands down. This is also what I was told by a number of surf fishermen. Baitcasters are typically good for casting in tight spaces, while conventional reels are the choice for trolling and bottom fishing.
It’s also my opinion that spinning reels are much easier to learn how to use when compared to the other reels, including push button reels, which you see a lot of small kids using.
When I first started teaching my oldest daughter how to fish, I started her out with a push-button reel, thinking that it would be the easiest for her to learn with. It wasn’t! She just couldn’t get the hang of it. It wasn’t until I switched her to a smaller version of my spinning reel that she improved.
Spinning reels are hands down the best all-around reels for surf fishing, but conventional reels do have their place!
Some fishermen prefer to use a large conventional reel for surf fishing, especially if they are fishing for large sharks.
They are a stouter reel that can provide more stopping power when fighting big fish!
However, there is one drawback! You’re going to need a kayak or some other method in order to get your bait out to where the fish are. That’s because large conventional reels are not made for casting, but are made for trolling and bottom fishing.
Spinning reels, on the other hand, are made for casting far distances. The best part about spinning reels is that they are highly versatile! You can use them for surf fishing, bottom fishing, and even trolling. Depending on the size of the reel, they can also double as a Bass fishing reel or some other type of freshwater fishing.
This is why the spinning reel is the reel of choice in most cases when it comes to surf fishing.
How to Determine The Size of a Fishing Reel
It can be a little confusing determining what size fishing reel will best suit your needs, whether it be for the surf or some other type of fishing. This is partly due to the way reel sizes are determined. Each reel manufacturer has their own way of sizing their reels.
However, most will use a number system starting with either 1000 or 2000 and go all the way up to 9000 or even higher in some cases. The lower the number, the smaller the reel. A reel that’s rated at 5000 or 6000 is the best all-around size reel. This size can be used for small, medium, and some larger fish.
Most reels will have the size listed somewhere on the reel itself.
Does The Size of the Reel Matter
The size of the reel matters if you are targeting a multitude of different species of fish. If you are just fishing for smaller fish such as Pompano and Whiting, then chances are you can get away with using a smaller reel such as a 4-5000 weight.
However, if you are using live bait, there are a number of different types of fish (including sharks) that may come to the dinner bell. And while you don’t need the largest spinning reel on the market in order to catch a larger fish, you do need a reel that can handle a heavier load.
This is why I and other fishermen suggest using about a 6000 reel. It’s small enough to still use for smaller fish, but it still packs enough punch to handle large reds and Striped Bass. You could even pull in a decent size shark with a reel of this size.
What’s The Best Brand of Spinning Reel
This one is a matter of preference really! I personally love Penn reels, especially the Spinfisher V Series. It comes in a variety of sizes from its smallest 3500 reels all the way up to its 10500 reels. The Spinfisher V series is watertight, which is extremely important when it comes to surf fishing.
If you would like to find out more about the Penn Spinfisher V, you can check out the price and other customer reviews here on Amazon.com.
Now I know that there are some fishermen who swear by Shimano fishing reels. While I’m sure Shimano makes an awesome reel, I’m just particular to Penn.
Another reel that I’ve heard good things about when it comes to surf fishing, is the Daiwa BG Series of reels. They are all metal and very easy to break down, making them easy to clean, which can be a huge plus, especially if you don’t have the money to shell out for a more expensive fishing reel.
Proper reel maintenance is crucial when doing any type of saltwater fishing, especially surf fishing, where a reel is constantly being exposed to the surf and sand.
Best Fishing Line for Surf Fishing
Most surf fishermen want to cast their bait as far as possible. This is where choosing the proper fishing line comes in handy. For maximum casting distance, I highly recommend that you opt for at least a 30-40 lbs braided fishing line. This will give you the maximum casting distance as well as provide enough strength in case you hook up with a big one.
If you do decide to go with a monofilament fishing line, then you need to choose a smaller pound test. Something in the 20-30 lb range will give you enough casting distance, however, you are going to sacrifice strength. Sure you could use a heavier line, but as you go up in poundage, your casting distance will go down. And as you know by now, when it comes to surf fishing, casting distance is king!
When it comes to surf fishing, the best size spinning reel will be the one that feels comfortable in your hands. For a lot of people, a 6000 reel is a good place to start. Its size will be enough to reel in larger fish but is still small enough to feel even the smallest fish bite.
If you already have a favorite spinning reel that you use for inshore species like redfish and snook, see if they offer a 6000 reel. If so, you might want to go with that, since you know that you already like the brand.
Do you have a favorite surf fishing reel? If so, we would love to hear about it. Please feel free to leave a comment below letting us know what you like about it.