When you’re heading out to the surf to catch your next big fish, the first thing on your mind should be your rod and reel. This combo is the most important tool in angling, because, unless you’re planning on breaking out the spear or fishing net, you’d be lost without them.
We've compiled a list of the top ones currently available. Let's see what they have to offer.
Comparison Chart of the Best Surf Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
PENN Battle II
Daiwa D-Wave Saltwater Spinning Combo
Penn Spinfisher V & VI
Okuma Tundra Combo
Shakespeare Wild Cat Combo
Aspects to Consider Before Buying
When perusing the internet or the aisles of your local sporting goods store, there are a couple of important aspects that you should consider before purchasing a surf fishing rod and reel combo.
Length and Weight
The length of a rod plays a role in the power and length of a cast. For surf fishing, which often requires a longer cast to reach the maximum yield of fish, it’s better to have a slightly longer rod, between nine and ten feet long. A surf rod should also be fairly lightweight to help in subtle bite detection.
Reel Seat & Style
While there are several popular reel styles on the market, the most effective for surf fishing is generally a spinning reel. They’re simple to use, have great drag capabilities, and are great for dealing with windy conditions. An effective reel seat shouldn’t be overlooked either— go for one that won’t come loose after a few uses.
Quick Take - The Best Surf Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
These are our recommendations for the best fishing rod and reel combo:
Review of the Best Surf Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
Time to take a closer look at our top picks and see what they have to offer:
The Battle II rod and reel combination from Penn has gained well-deserved popularity for its combination of sensitivity and power.
The rod is created with a graphite composite blend, which can both detect bites from small fish and hold up under the pressure of a larger catch. It comes in several different sizes, ranging from a 6’6” medium-light to a 10’ heavy power design, which allows the user to pick and choose, depending on their angling style. Each rod comes fitted with a comfortable EVA foam handle and aluminum oxide guides.
The Battle II reel includes a full metal body, rotor, and side plate with anodized aluminum spool. It also features a heavy-duty drag system equipped with “HT-100 Versa-Drag Carbon Fiber Washers.” With a line capacity of 200 yards, it’s sizable enough to keep you going throughout a day out on the water. Other features include a 5+1 steel bearing system with instant anti-reverse, aluminum bail wire, and line capacity rings.
Overall, this is a great pick for anglers who are looking for versatility in their rod and reel combo. Although there may be better rods on the market in terms of a specific action, the Battle II combination brings some great qualities and features to the table, including a durable construction and an awesome balance.
Saltwater anglers will appreciate Daiwa’s work on the D-Wave spinning rod and reel combo. This rod is best-suited for tackling large, aggressive fish out on the ocean or along the shoreline.
The D-Wave rod was created with full graphite in an effort to keep it super-sensitive without compromising strength. The length of the rod is 11 feet and in combination with heavy power, makes it a great pick for maximum distance casting. It features aluminum oxide guides and a stainless steel hooded reel seat to protect from corrosion from saltwater.
The reel, a D-Wave 3Bi spinning reel, is also made with graphite. The spool is created with aluminum and features an “Advanced Ballistic System.” For smoother operation under the pressure of windy, tumultuous ocean conditions, Daiwa included several reel features including a Gyro Spin rotor balancer and a Twist Buster II line roller.
Daiwa used their patented Digigear technology in the construction of the reel, which specializes the shape and surface of gear teeth to ensure for effective, long-lasting performance
For those anglers looking for a reliable saltwater rod with smooth casting and sensitivity, look no further. This definitely isn’t the most versatile rod, as it wouldn’t be as effective in a freshwater setting, but for surf fishing, it does its job well. If you’re a beginner, you may want to skip this one, as making accurate casts can take some practice with this reel, but once you get it down, it’s a breeze.
Another Penn rod and reel combo showing up on our list— they know their stuff. The Spinfisher reel is among the most recognized reels in the world of angling thanks to its high-technology construction and effective performance.
The Spinfisher reel has a sizable line capacity and does its best work when jigging. It’s created with corrosion-resistant materials, including a full metal body, side plate, and rotor. Penn created the design made with saltwater in mind, so it is water-tight to prevent damage over time.
The drag system is a sealed “HT-100 Slammer” system for maximum power. Other reel features include an oversized bail wire, a superline spool, and line capacity rings to help the user know how much line is left.
The rod is created with a graphite composite for strength and sensitivity. It also includes stainless steel guides, EVA foam handles, and aluminum oxide inserts.
The star of the Spinfisher rod and reel combination from Penn is definitely the reel. While the rod is sensitive, it’s in one piece, has a tough time with really large fish, and overall, doesn’t shine as much in comparison. However, there is little to complain about with the Spinfisher reel— it’s super smooth, beautifully designed, and holds up great in the face of saltwater. The construction of the reel makes this an easy recommendation.
A popular combination from Okuma, the Tundra Surf spinning combo is well-suited for reeling in large fish on the open ocean. Okuma says their brand is “design driven by technique,” a promise that means a lot when it comes to rods and reels.
The rod is constructed with full fiberglass, which provides great strength against heavy catches. They have several different sizes on the longer end of the spectrum, ranging from a seven foot to a ten foot. Each rod comes with ceramic guide inserts, double-footed guides, and comfortable EVA foam handles.
A feature that is fairly unique to the Tundra Surf reel is the multi-disc oiled felt drag system. This system allows for consistent, reliable drag performance that packs a punch. The reel provides a fairly large line capacity, measuring in at 260 yards of line, which comes pre-spooled. It also includes stainless steel, hooded reel seats which provide a little extra protection in a saltwater atmosphere.
The Tundra Surf from Okuma is an incredible pick for anglers looking for a reasonably-priced rod and reel combo. While the rod seems to outshine the reel in this particular combo, it’s still an awesome pick for the price. The fiberglass construction is a great material choice for saltwater angling where a little more power is required.
If you’ve been an angler for a while, you’re probably familiar with Shakespeare. A trusted brand in the world of fishing, they consistently create products that are well-suited for anglers in a range of skill levels.
The Wild Cat rod and reel combo from Shakespeare is one of their more popular rods. It’s created with a tubular fiberglass blank, which provides tons of strength up against large fish. It’s a little heavier than rods made with graphite, but it can also take more bumps and bruises. It features stainless steel guides and comfortable EVA foam handles. The rod is a great design, featuring a deep red color that’s sure to stand out among the others.
Choose from a spincast or spinning reel design— each comes pre-spooled with 20-pound Stren line. The spincast design is a great option for beginners or for anglers who want an added layer of protection to keep their line from getting tangled. The spinning design offers a little more versatility and accuracy.
Easy to use, durable, and effective, the Wild Cat combo from Shakespeare is a great beginner’s pick. The design may not be challenging enough for anglers on the more advanced side, but for those who are just starting out, look no further. This rod holds up well under the pressure of large fish, but can also handle smaller bites well.
Benefits of Investing in a Great Model From Our List
There’s no reason to break the bank on a surf rod and reel combo if you don’t need to, but sometimes a bit of a splurge can make all the difference.
In general, investing in a rod combo with a slightly higher price point will come along with an undeniable quality improvement over ultra-cheap choices. A rod and reel with high-quality material not only performs better than its cheaper counterparts but can last years longer as well.
As aforementioned, with quality, comes longevity. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending money on a tool to have it fall apart after a couple of uses. A great surf combo can last for years to come.
Words can only go so far— the real test of a rod/reel combo is its performance on the water, and when it comes to quality, undoubtedly, the products of a higher standard are much more effective in catching fish.
Can I Use a Freshwater Fishing Rod For Saltwater?
It may be tempting to use the same fishing rod you use in your favorite local lake on the coast as well, but take caution. Some freshwater rods are not equipped for the corrosive nature of saltwater. The combination of oxygen, salt, and moisture can have a devastating effect on metal that is untreated for saltwater use. Ocean atmospheres corrode metal products quickly, so if you’re considering using your freshwater rod, make sure that it’s prepared with some sort of treatment.
Keep your eyes peeled for the brands mentioned in this article when you’re searching for your next surf rod and reel combo. But even if you decide to go in a different direction, keep in mind that quality, over everything, is key. Enjoy the beach, and furthermore, happy fishing!