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The Best Size Spinning Reel For Surf Fishing | What To Look For In A Surf Fishing Reel

The Best Size Spinning Reel For Surf Fishing

You’ve probably already got your rod and reel, but are you sure if they’re  big enough and strong enough for the wear and tear of the salt and the waves?  It’a a fair question to ask, and is one that I asked myself when I first started surf fishing.

If you’re like me, I would go to the beach and see these guys with their 12-foot fishing rods who seemed to be casting for miles.  My fishing equipment didn’t look like anything they had. Did I need a rod that long? What about the reel? What size reel did I need to start surf fishing?

What Is The Best Size Spinning Reel For Surf Fishing

As is the case for most fishing reels, there’s no one size fits all for surf fishing spinning reels either. The size of the surf, the area that you’re fishing in, and what type of fish you’re going after are all important factors  in determining the size that your fishing reel should be.

In the end, the advice I was given, which I pass onto you is that you generally can’t go wrong with a size 6000 reel. This size of reel has plenty of power and line capacity for casting long distances. I’ve also used reels that are size 4000 and as low as 3000 in the surf without any issues at all.

Should You Buy a New Reel For Surf Fishing?

So now that you know that a 6000 size spinning reel is the best size reel for all around surf fishing, you may be asking yourself if you really need to go out and buy a new rod and reel, or if you can just use the gear that you already have?

The answer is….it really depends!  Here’s some of the things you should consider first before deciding on buying a new reel.

When To Buy A New Spinning Reel For Surf Fishing

If you plan on  getting into surf fishing with both feet and plan on spending a lot of time doing it, 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.  This is  a good way to test the waters and see if you really enjoy it. If you do, then it’s probably time to invest in a new reel.

Use Your Current Gear First

The first time I went surf fishing I used my Pflueger President 4500. It did a fine job. 

I still 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’re 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.

Why Use A Larger Reel For Surf Fishing?

A rod and reel that’s larger in size will typically allow you to cast past the breakers. In addition, they also allow you to land a much larger fish than you’d normally be able to with a smaller 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 designed to be used in saltwater and is completely sealed. The last thing you want is for saltwater to penetrate the inside of your reel where it can cause corrosion and serious damage.

Are Spinning Reels or Baitcaster Reels Best for Surf Fishing?

There are basically have 4 different types of reels you can choose from. You have conventional reels, baitcasters, spin-cast reels and spinning reel. While conventional and baitcaster 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

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 kids using when just learning how to fish.

When I first started teaching my oldest daughter how to fish, I started her out with a push-button reel, like the Zebco 33 spincast 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.

Conventional Reels

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 long 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 other types of freshwater fishing.

It’s for these reasons that a spinning reel is the fishing reel of choice in most cases when it comes to surf fishing.

How Do You Know What Size a Fishing Reel Is?

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.

The Numbers

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.

Some manufacturers choose to size their fishing reels by using only 2 numbers instead of 4. But keep in mind, that the reels are the same size. For example, a 4000 would be the same as a 40. And a 1000 would be the same size as a 10.

Almost all fishing reels will have the size printed somewhere on the reel itself.

The Importance Of Fishing Reel Sizes

Absolutely. The size of the reel matters if you are targeting a multitude of different species of fish. If you’re 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 4000-5000 size reel.

However, if you’re 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 the 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.

The Best Brand of Spinning Reel For Surf Fishing

Once you start doing more fishing, you’re going to gradually gravitate towards specific brands of fishing reels more than others. And ultimately the best brand of spinning reel for surf fishing is going to be a matter of personal preference.

I happen to believe that Penn reels, especially the Spinfisher VI Series is the best spinning reel for surf fishing. It comes in a variety of sizes from its smallest 3500 reels all the way up to its 10500 reels. The Spinfisher VI 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 VI, you can check out the most current price and other customer reviews here on

Another quality fishing reel that’s an excellent choice for surf fishing is the Daiwa BG Series of reels. These reels are all metal construction and are very easy to break down and easy to clean. Which is a crucial habit to get into when fishing in saltwater, which is extremely corrosive and can easily damage your fishing gear.

Best Fishing Line for Surf Fishing

Braided Line

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 use 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.

My favorite braided line to use for surf fishing is Power Pro Spectra. I’ve been a fan of this braided line for a long time and it continues to be my go to braid for both saltwater and freshwater fishing.

monofilament Line

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. But on the flip side, you do give up line strength.

The best monofilament line for surf fishing that I use is KastKing World’s Premium Monofilament Fishing Line. I’ve been using it a long time on several of my reels and have not had any issues with it. It’s low memory and thin diameter allows me to cast exactly where I want into the surf.

You could use a heavier monofilament line, but as you go up in line strength, your casting distance goes down. And as you know by now, when it comes to surf fishing, casting distance is king!

Final Thoughts

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.

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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