Want to know why I love surf fishing? The possibility to catch almost anything. The ocean is vast and full of exciting things!
You want in on the action, right? The good news is that surf fishing is generally pretty simple, but you’ll have to have the right gear to be a success.
It’s a little rough and ready, but pick the best, and you’ll see success.
I want to show you some of the best surf fishing rod and reel combos on the market.
That way, you can get out on the beach in no time at all and catch!
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If you’ve ever lure fished, you’ll already know about Berkley.
Like me, they know a thing or two about fishing.
They have produced a rod and reel combo set that is well worth a look for the money. Besides being a great rod for surf fishing, I really like that it has one or two interesting features.
This 10′ rod has a medium through action, perfect for throwing out big weights and big baits. It’s pretty heavy-duty, which is just what you need considering the size of some of the fish residing in our oceans.
It has one standout feature that I really need to mention.
Notice anything in the name? ‘Glowstick’? This rod has an integrated LED light that causes the tip to illuminate bright red. This is super handy for low light conditions and is even super visible during the day, making bite detection much easier.
I really like the rubberized shrink wrap handle too, it is easy to keep clean and gunk-free.
Oh, and the reel and Berkley trilete line! The reel is powerful with plenty of capacity, so you should be able to cast with ease.
It’s made of stainless steel, which doesn’t corrode, exactly what you need for saltwater.
Speaking of solutions for ‘out of the box’ fishing… Check this out.
This is a fairly big setup in more ways than one.
First, you get a gigantic 12ft surf rod. This is a great size for casting a long way and out to the fish. It comes with a 9000 size reel. That’s a pretty big reel! It has plenty of capacity, so you can load it up with more than enough line.
The reel has a triple carbon disc drag system, with over 35lbs of drag that is more than enough to handle pretty much any species.
But here’s what I really like.
It comes with everything you need to fish multiple styles and techniques. Have a go with the included pyramid weights for bottom fishing or target sight feeders with the included bucktail lures and surface poppers.
A powerful surf rod and reel combo.
Ability to fish multiple styles from the get-go.
Bright, easy to see tip.
I would find it just a little heavy for spinning and lure fishing. It is more suited to fishing big weights on the bottom.
If you are an entrant to surf fishing, this rod and reel combo will let you hit the ground running. Granted, it’s a heavy setup, but that means you won’t need to upgrade when targeting bigger species.
No, I’m serious. If you are just looking to give surf fishing a try or want to figure it out, it makes sense to look at a budget option.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
This surf rod and reel combo is a budget set, and I’m not saying it’s amazing… It will offer you the basic tools needed to get over that third breaker and into a fish or two.
This 8-foot rod is more suited to surf spinning than casting huge distances, but beginners don’t need to be slinging huge weights anyway.
The rod comes with a reel and around 200 feet of 10lb mono which is more than enough to get going.
Because it is a slightly shorter rod, it will be lighter and much easier to manage.
Very low price.
Easy to manage size.
The rings are steel, so they will corrode on contact with seawater over time.
There are better rod combos out there.
You already know that I’m a big believer in ‘you get what you pay for’… But that said, for a budget rod and reel combo for surf fishing, or if it is used infrequently, I think this fits the bill nicely. A good surfcasting rod and reel combo for beginners.
And start looking at some serious players. Penn is about as serious as it gets when it comes to surf fishing.
If I were buying, I’d opt for the 7′ rod and 6000 reel size. This will give you the necessary muscle to cast beyond the horizon and enough line to do it. And it will allow you to handle both big and small species with ease. This is a quality setup, and it shows.
The rod and reel are perfectly matched and from the same manufacturer, so you can be confident that they work well together. The reel, in particular, is a joy to use.
With 5 stainless steel ball bearings, you can be confident that it will be pretty corrosion-proof. It has a silky smooth action with a quick retrieve ratio, making it perfect for fishing over long distances.
The carbon fiber drag washers also provide excellent resistance, especially when you have hooked a big one that wants to take line!
This rod would be ideally suited to cast out big leads. You will be able to lure fish with it but will find it performs best with bigger lures.
The reel is excellent, an often overlooked feature of combo surf setups.
An excellent all-rounder for a variety of species.
It’s a little more expensive than my budget sets.
The all-metal reel performs well but is slightly heavy.
I’m maybe a bit biased. I tend to use Penn for surf fishing when I can. I think this is a superb surf combo for the money. It’s strong enough to fish big lures, which gives you the flexibility to use big weights on the bottom too. I like it!
If Penn isn’t your thing, let me show you something else that’s just as good.
Daiwa is another heavy hitter in the world of fishing. This medium-heavy rod is sizeable (10′) and is ideally paired with a 5000 size reel.
As with my Penn suggestion above, both the rod and reel have been designed to work together, so it will save you time trying to find a reel to match the rod.
Speaking of the reel, this holds a great deal of promise. With 6 + 1 ball bearings, you can be sure of great and reliable action. The body is made from aluminum, which is super resistant to saltwater corrosion.
And there’s more…
The rod rings are also made of aluminum oxide. No rusty rings here, thanks!
The rod’s handle is high-quality EVA. I always try and steer clear of cork when looking at sea fishing rods as it tends to degrade fairly quick. This should last a good while.
The 10′ rod is rated to cast around 2-6oz. That’s a huge amount of scope to throw out pretty much any size of bait, giving you real flexibility in how you fish and what you fish for.
Really great value considering the quality of the rod and reel.
The reel looks like it would perform great.
The rod is medium-fast, perfect for distance casting.
Great across the board for big and small weights.
Honestly? There isn’t too much to dislike. At a push, I’d say 10′ might be unwieldy for a beginner.
Hands down one of the best rod and reel combo for surf fishing. The price is similar to more budget surf combos but with a premium performance from a very well-known rod manufacturer. Try it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Surf fishing is super harsh on your gear. Like I said at the start, it is rough and ready. So you are going to want something purpose-built to stand up to punishment.
This surf combo from Tsunami. They aren’t a well-known brand name, but this kit offers everything you’ll need to stand up to the saltwater.
The rod is tough as a tank with a responsive graphite blank and aluminum oxide line guides. The reel seat is a screw type, keeping your reel firmly fixed where it belongs. I also really like the rubber shrimp wrap grip. It is easy to clean and should last a long time.
And the reel?
Equally as tough! Tsunami has integrated 13 independent seals to prevent saltwater ingress. This, combined with a heavy-duty aluminum body and sealed stainless steel ball bearings, means that you will need minimal maintenance to keep fishing.
Like with all good surf reels, it contains a carbon drag system to give you just the right amount of pulling power when you need it most.
A super-tough yet lightweight setup.
A good all-rounder with fast action, perfect for many situations.
An easy to maintain surf setup.
I think this is a superb surf combo… I’m not going to pick to find something I don’t like.
If you’d have asked me five minutes ago, I’d have said Penn always produces the best surfcasting rod and reel combos. Now, I’m not so sure. This looks like a great surf combo. For the money, I can’t fault it.
Ok, here’s a secret on how to cast further and harder.
Use a multiplier reel.
They aren’t for everyone, but if you want to power cast huge baits a long way, they are ideal. When they come as a surf combo… Even better.
The ideal option here would be a 10′ rod paired with a 25 or 30 sized reel. You could comfortably go all the way up to around 4oz without breaking a sweat (or your rod).
Both the reel and the rod are superb quality, but I’d expect nothing less from Penn. The reel is super lightweight with a corrosion-resistant graphite frame and side plate. It has a total of 6 ball bearings and a start drag system so you can perfectly control the pressure on the fish.
And get this…
The rod is awesome too. It features Penn dura guides, normally found in many higher-end rods. The composite graphite blank is rated as ‘medium’ power. This means that you’ll get a nice blend of casting action and bite detection, even for smaller species.
As a final cherry on top, the rod features a graphite reel seat which is great for keeping the weight down.
A premium setup.
The reel is excellent for distance casting.
Lightweight with medium action, a great all-round rod and reel set.
It’s a little on the pricey side (I think it’s worth it, however).
Multipliers can be a little tricky for beginners.
A rod that has a medium action but is heavy enough to deal with any conditions? Where do I sign? Multipliers are real ‘big boys toys’, but once you have mastered them, you’ll be able to fish in areas where others can’t get to.
A Quick Guide to Surf Fishing Rod and Reel Combos
One of the most vital pieces of equipment is your rod and reel.
That’s obvious, right?
It will be used more than any other piece of gear, so you want your combo set up to be right. Here are some things that I look for when choosing…
Don’t believe what they say.
Size matters. Especially when talking about rods!
Your rod length will determine how it performs overall. Here’s a quick rundown on what a long and short rod provides:
Long Rods (the good)
Give better bite detection.
Are more suited to varied fishing styles.
It can be fished heavier.
Long Rods (the not so good)
Difficult to transport.
Are always a multi-piece rod.
Tend to be heavier in weight.
Short Rods (the good)
Easy to transport.
Great for lighter fishing.
Short Rods (the not so good)
Don’t cast as far.
Are limited in how you can fish.
Are less sensitive in bite detection.
Where you go from here is entirely up to you. I prefer a longer rod. Around 10′ is the ideal size. This will give you the flexibility to cast a long way and have the required backbone to catch a range of species.
Don’t neglect ease of transport either. You may be walking a long way. I make life easy and take a really lightweight tackle bag. Still, if you don’t have this luxury, you will want to make life as easy as possible with an easier-to-carry rod.
Rod Action and Power
Rod action is a big one.
“Fast” means that it is really whippy. This is great for casting light weights and pulling in small fish, but you want an action that is at least ‘medium’ for real casting power. This rod will be stiffer but will ultimately allow you to do more as you progress.
If you are unsure, medium-fast is a great compromise between the two.
You need to have a think about how you are going to fish most of the time. Will your rod be held in your hands or on a beach spike?
Are you intending to spend all day working a lure? Or are you going to go down the line of ‘chuck and wait’ with a juicy lump of bait?
The answer to both of the above should give you an idea of how heavy you want to go with your rod.
I’ll make it simple.
Lighter-weight rods are great for fishing lures and being held in your hands. Heavier rod and reel combos are better in a rod rest or stand.
Corrosion Resistance and Durability
If you are new to surf fishing, this is a big one that you might not be aware of.
And it’s super important if you want to get value for money.
I’m talking about…
Saltwater is super corrosive to pretty much everything, given enough time. It will cause your rod rings to rust, your handles to disintegrate, and your reels to seize up.
Here’s how I deal with it.
First, I always give my sea fishing gear a good rinse with fresh water after an outing. Easy, right. It would be, but I’ve lost count of how many pairs of fishing pliers I’ve lost due to rust… Well, I used to until I found these…
Second, I always make sure that any combo I buy is made from material that doesn’t corrode easily. Look for materials like stainless steel, aluminum, and carbon in your tackle’s makeup.
That way, if you can’t find time to give it a wash, it will last longer.
There are different types?
Yup, but don’t worry, when it comes to surf fishing, there are generally two…
Fixed Spool Reels for Surf Fishing
These are generally the most common. They are really easy to use, and they are a breeze to maintain. The downside is that poor quality reels tend to get their inner gears stripped when pulling against obstructions (or big fish… lucky you). They don’t tend to tangle easily.
The downside is that they are limited in casting range, especially when using big sinkers.
Multiplier Reels for Surf Casting
These are the ‘big guns’ of the surf fishing world. They are normally really heavy-duty and are pretty bulletproof when it comes to maintenance. There are fewer moving parts.
You can cast a heavy lead colossal distances using a multiplier.
Don’t’ believe me? Check this out
The downside to multipliers is that they can be a little technical to master.
Oh, and one other downside…
They tend to get in a tangle if you so much as look at them in the wrong way.
Let me tell you something about the sea…
It’s pretty big.
I know… You already knew that! The point that I’m making is that you may need to cast a long way over a lot of ground to find the fish. And for that, you’ll need a lot of line.
Surf reels tend to be a lot bigger as a result.
I’d say as a minimum, you want a 4000 size reel. The optimum is more like 5-6000.
If you are surf fishing, there’s a pretty good chance that at one point or another, you are going to hook something pretty big.
That’s the point.
As a result, you may need to apply pressure to the fish or even do a ‘pump and wind’. This puts a lot of stress on the rod, the line, and the reel.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
By being able to ‘set the drag’, you allow a fish to take line, but in a controlled way, with resistance. Eventually, this will tire the fish out, then he’ll be ready to be reeled in.
A good drag will allow you to fine-tune your reel to give just the right amount of pressure.
Got questions? Sure, here’s what I get asked all the time:
Should I buy a combo or rod and reel separately?
There are merits to getting rods and reels separately. But to get the best pairing, you really have to know what you are doing.
I’ve lost count of the number of guys I see trying to cast with a boat rod or fishing with a too-small reel.
So here’s the answer…
If you are a beginner, go for a combo deal.
That way, you can be reasonably assured that the setup you purchase has already been paired up in a way that works.
What is the best surf rod and reel combo?
For the money, I think you won’t go far wrong with the Tsunami set above. It is super durable, relatively lightweight, and an excellent all-around kit. You can fish in a variety of styles… And it looks pretty good too!
What is the best size rod for surf fishing?
You’ll find a whole range of surf rods, ranging all the way down from 7′ up to 16′. For short-range heavy fishing, 7′ is ok… But I’d suggest going for something around the 10′ mark to give you the best range of options.
Can I use a 7-foot rod for surf fishing?
Yes, you can indeed! Often the fish are pretty close in, so you won’t need to cast far. A 7′ rod is great for shorter casts. However, you might find it a little limiting if the fish are further out!
I’ve always had the most success about two hours after the sun rises and the preceding two hours before darkness.
If you want to know what time of year you can go, the answer is, absolutely any time. Different species arrive on the shore depending on the time of the year. There’s never a bad time to go surf fishing (weather permitting, of course).
Where should I cast when surf fishing?
The general advice when surf fishing is to try and cast just beyond the third breaker or wave. This normally indicates a ledge or drop-off where the fish will be lurking.
That said, the fish haven’t read the rule book, so if you aren’t successful, try casting as far as you can and then working back 5 yards at a time.
It’s not too difficult to choose the best surf fishing rod and reel combo. As long as you know how you want to fish, have a general idea of the ground you want to cover, and have a length in mind, the rest is straightforward.
Go for a medium rod and a decent reel, and you will be able to get out there and catch!
I’ve got lots of suggestions for other great combos elsewhere on my site… yes, even fly fishing.
What’s your idea of a perfectly paired rod and reel for surf fishing? Let me know in the comments!