3 Best Surf Fishing Rod and Reel Combos

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today, for those looking to get themselves started in the fine art of beach/surf fishing I have had a good look around and come up with my 3 best surf fishing rod and reel combos to cast in 2021. Surf fishing is a lot of fun and to be honest, one of my go to options when I just want to relax and let the world go by. That said, it is definitely a little more enjoyable if you at least catch something so setting yourself up with a good rod and reel combo from the beginning can definitely give you a better chance of making this happen.

So, grab yourself a nice cold beverage and a snack and let’s see if we can get you started on the right track…

 

My 3 recommended surf fishing rod and reel combos

I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:

  Rod and Reel Combo Price Get it
surf fishing combos - option 1 KastKing Centron Spinning Reel – Fishing Rod Combo $ CURRENT PRICE
surf fishing combos - option 2 Quantum PT Reliance Spinning Reel and 2-Piece Fishing Rod Combo $$ CURRENT PRICE
surf fishing combos - option 3 PENN Battle II Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo $$$ CURRENT PRICE

What should you be looking for?

Now, when it comes to fishing – and one of the things I love about it – is that everyone has an opinion. I of course have my own opinions and know what has worked well for me in the past and what has not. Admittedly, I purchased my first rod and reel combo as two separate entities. These were an Alvey reel and an 11ft one piece light rod. Since then, I have bought both combos and individual pieces based on my needs. However, for those looking to get started, or just want a good solid setup that will work in most areas, a combo will definitely get it done for you – and usually at a better price.

So, for the sake of those who like to do their research, I will give you a quick run through below on what to look for in a good surf rod and reel combo. Some of this will determine your purchase and the rest is just an outline in case you have some personal preferences. I will run through it all in terms of both the rod and the reel so we know what to look for however in most cases, the matching of rod to reel is usually done for you as part of the combo package. Let’s check it out.

Location

I am starting with the location as it can definitely have an effect on the type of saltwater fishing rod and reel combos that you could choose and will determine your answers to many of the variants I have listed below. If you are going to be fishing at a particular beach more often than others (such as a local beach) then take a quick run down and check out the geography.

Look for:

  • Gutters: if there are gutters running close to the shore then your casting length will be reduced.
  • Holes: same as gutters – if there are any holes on the waters edge then that will also reduce casting requirements.
  • Flat surf: some beaches are just flat with no noticeable holes of gutters – this may require you to cast a bit further to get out past the waves to where the fish are.
  • Rocks and other obstacles: will you want to cast into them our over them?
  • Current: is there a strong current running sideways or out to sea?

There is more to this but from a basic point of view, longer casting requirements will generally mean a longer rod is required. I like to use a stiffer rod in stronger currents as well. Now, keeping this information in mind, or if you are going to be visiting many different beaches (lucky you), let’s break down the components of both a rod and reel to look for…

Rods

surf fishing rod and reel combos - stripe

First we will look at the rod side of things – To keep this post from getting out of hand length wise I have tried to keep things brief here. However if you are after more information you can check out my post on surf fishing rods for beginners.

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Composition

In general, fishing rods are made from one of three main materials, Fiberglass, Graphite and Carbon Fibre with qualities as follows:

  • Fiberglass – Very strong and durable with very little maintenance required (rinse off after fishing is generally all that is needed).
  • Graphite – Graphite rods are generally more rigid with higher power ratings (see below) however tend to have greater sensitivity than their fiberglass cousins.
  • Glass Tip – Glass Tips orHybrid’ rods are made from a combination of graphite and fiberglass. These are designed to give the best of both worlds with extra strength of the graphite rod added to the sensitivity of the glass tip.
  • Carbon Fibre – This is a newer compound in fishing rods being more rigid than the fiberglass/ composite rods but also lighter. These types are becoming more and more popular for all levels of experience due to their toughness and versatility.

In the past, most tended to go for a fiberglass rod due to their durability, low maintenance requirements and favourable prices however the cost of a good carbon fibre rod has definitely reduced in recent times as well.

Length

When it comes to a surf fishing rod, size can definitely matter. Depending on your location and cast length requirements, you can choose from the following lengths:

  • 7 – 9 foot – use in gutters or holes to catch small to medium size fish. A very manageable for a beginner or child.
  • 9 – 12 foot – if gutters are not always evident, or you are chasing some larger species, this length is easy to manage whilst offering a little more ‘grunt’ for those bigger catches.
  • 12 – 15 foot – for long casting where the fish are outside of the surf break. Also good if the waves are high and you want to keep your line above the break.

Power

There are plenty of technical terms for the power settings of a fishing rod but in simple language, I have always known the power rating as a measure of how ‘bendy’ it is. Light power rods bend with little force and heavy need a lot of pressure to bend. So, in short:

  • Light – very bendy – even whippy – will bend a lot with even the smallest fish.
  • Medium – needs a bit more pressure to bend – this is a good measure for a surf rod and my suggestion for all round use.
  • Heavy – takes a lot to make it bend – these are a bit harder to cast with (at least that is what I find) but I use a heavy surf rod when there is a strong side current on the beach.

There is also a measurement that some rods have in regards to what they call Action or Speed. This is determined by where the rod bends. Fast action bends from the top third whereas slow rods bend down towards the reel. For general use, I would go moderate or medium, unless to have a need to cast a long way on your beach, then maybe edge towards a fast rod as they allow for heavier rigs.

Handle/Grip

This has nothing to do with the art of catching fish rather than the comfort of it. Some common options include:

  • Hard foam – sort of like a very hard version of a pool noodle.
  • EVA – Soft Rubbery stuff.
  • Cork.
  • Rubber Shrink Tube – soft and extremely durable.

I like the Rubber shrink tube handles myself as they are comfortable and will last well in ‘beachy’ conditions. Cork is great if you want a light rod (probably more relevant to estuary rods or for use in a kayak etc. but if you are planning one to use in both locations then something to think about).

Split/one piece

When it comes to surf rods, whether you have a full piece or a split piece (where the rod pulls apart into two or more pieces) is, in my opinion, a matter of circumstance… I have used both and if I am being brutally honest, I really don’t see enough of a difference when it comes to catching fish.

Ask yourself how you are going to transport the rod to your preferred fishing spot? If you are walking or have a rod holder on your SUV etc., then a full piece will be fine. If you need to put it in the boot or back seat of the car, then go the two, or three-piece…

Reels

surf fishing rod and reel combos - stripe 1

And now for the reels. Again, I have included a lot more information in my post on surf fishing reels for beginners so here are the basics to consider for your combo…

Types

There are three main types to look at here:

  • Spinning Reel – Also known as ‘open face’ reels or ‘eggbeaters’, these reel types wind the line onto a front spool which is held on by a ‘bail’. Line is wound in via a handle on the side which is ratioed to bring the line in faster than the handle is turned.
  • Baitcaster – Often referred to as a spincast reel as well, these are upside down models where the reel sits on top of the rod. Functionality can vary from the simple beginner models where the cover or closed face keeps all of the essential parts of the reel protected to the more complicated ones where casting speed etc. can be adjusted dependent upon the environment. Harder to use but popular with friends of mine to like to cast further in the surf.
  • Surf – Surf reels are a totally different type of reel that I have always known as being produced by a manufacturer called Alvey. These are an institution here in Australia with increased availability and popularity worldwide. They are a big round reel which winds in on a 1:1 ratio and turned sideways to cast (think oversized fly-fishing reel with normal fishing line).

As I mentioned in my other post, in terms of a good surf fishing combo that will work in a good number of environments, you could do a lot worse than the simple spinner reel. They are simple to use without a lot of maintenance and can be purchased over a good number of line strength specification ranges.

Composition

In general, spinning reels for the surf are made from a corrosion-resistant metal, carbon fiber and/or aluminium body with variations of the following:

  • Bearings – As with a car wheel, the spinning mechanisms inside a spinning fishing reel generally incorporate ball bearings for smoother operation. From my experience, most come with between 3 and 10 and I was always told that the more you can get for the price, the better.
  • Rotation – One advantage of a spinning fishing reel is the winding rotation. This is usually set anywhere for 3:1 up to 6 or 7:1 (often listed as 6.0:1 etc.) This simply means that for every time the user turns the handle a full rotation, the spool holding the line has actually turned 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 times meaning less winding for faster line retrieval.
  • Drag – The drag of a fishing reel is its ability to release a little bit of line when a fish strikes or is being pulled in. This is in place to reduce the chances of a bigger fish snapping the line as it fights. As with anything, the more you pay for a reel, the better the drag system should be however regardless, if the reel you are looking at doesn’t have a drag system on it – put it down.
  • Casing: This is the part of the reel that contains the springs, levers, gear cogs etc. that make much of the stuff above work. For a basic combo, avoid any reel that doesn’t have this all housed in a sealed, waterproof casing. These are low maintenance and the components will not rust.

Line capacity

In this section, we will actually discuss two elements: spool size and line capacity. This is because the size of the spool generally determines the strength of the line that you can load into it. The problem we face here is that manufacturers don’t use a common specification when it comes to their reel capacities.

There is however a simple way to work this all out which via the first number. You see a fishing reel may be rated as a ’20’ or a ‘2000’. If this is the case, the ‘2’ is the common denominator and what you match the line to (this is not an exact science but it works for me). So, then all you need to do is match the line kilogram/pound strength to the spool.

To make this easier, I have whipped up a little table below (I have not included all sizes here but you can see that generally, the lower suggested mono line weight matches the first number of the reel size):

Reel Size Suggested Mono Suggested Braid Suggested Rod Length*
10 or 1000 1- 2 kg/2 – 4 lb 4 – 8 lb 6-7 ft (line rating 1-4kg)
20 or 2000 2- 3 kg/4 – 6 lb 5 – 10 lb 6-7 ft (line rating 2-5kg)
25 or 2500 2.5- 4 kg/5 – 8 lb 5 – 12 lb 6-7 ft (line rating 2-5kg)
40 or 4000 4- 6 kg/8 – 12 lb 8 – 12 lb 8-10 ft (line rating 3-10kg)
60 or 6000 6- 8 kg/12 – 16 lb 12 – 30 lb 8-10 ft (line rating 4-10kg)

At the end of the day, if there is a possibility of a big fish attaching itself to the end of your line, or the need to add a heavier sinker if the current is strong, I would recommend anything that starts with a 5 or 6. That said, I have had some real fun catching medium size fish on a 3000 reel and light line too.

Other Influences

There are some other areas to consider as well when looking at a beach fishing reel. These don’t effect the outcomes as much as the above however they are worth considering:

  • Handle – Most are plastic but make sure it fits comfortably in your hand (more expensive models are carbon fiber).
  • Weight – Fishing can take some time so the lighter the reel, the better.
  • Anti reverse switch – these are usually found in the underbelly of the reel and simply put, will stop the reel going backwards. Some like to reel in reverse to let line out slowly but don’t want this to happen with the rod is in a holder.
  • Line holder – This is the little tab on the side of the reel housing that holds the end of the fishing line if it is not rigged up. These are not often thought of when a reel is purchased but something that is really missed if it is not there.
  • Interchangeable winder – There are not many that don’t do this these days however this is the ability to swap the winder handle around to allow for left or right-handed use.

What Did I use?

Recently my son, who has just turned 8, decided he would like to get into surf fishing so I went and got him a rod and reel combo that would suit him as a child, but also myself if I wanted to play with a second rod. At our local beach we have gutters close to the shore where he will fish into as well as times when there are surface fish running just behind them.

Hence, I wanted something that would work across a number of conditions with the ability to sit in a rod holder when he gets tired. Here are its specs:

Rod

  • Length: 9.5 ft
  • Power: Light/Medium
  • Action: Moderate
  • Composition: 2 piece
  • Handle: EVA – nice and soft for him

Reel

  • Size: 3500
  • Bearings: 7 + 1
  • Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Composition: Stainless Steel, Aluminium and plastic handle
  • Drag: front of spool – 6kg/13 LB
  • Anti-reverse switch: – yes

I love this combo. It is easy to use and I have had some great fun fishing with it. It is extremely low maintenance and has surprisingly long cast capabilities (I do overload the sinker limits admittedly). I have even started taking it instead of my usual rods as it is so much fun to use for a quick fish in light to moderate conditions – my son may not get it back haha.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following combos for general surf fishing use:

1. KastKing Centron Spinning Reel – Fishing Rod Combo

I have chosen this first rod based on the fact that is the best I have seen for the budget minded beginner or casual fisher. There are different length options for the rod and the reel is good for those who want to fish a few locations without spending having to change equipment. It is a good, solid and durable product that is light to hold with specifications as follows:

Rod

  • Length: 6 – 8ft (get the 7.6 – 8ft as a minimum for the surf)
  • Power: Medium – Heavy (fast action)
  • Composition: 2 piece graphite
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 5000
  • Bearings: 9+1
  • Ratio: 4.5:1
  • Composition: Aluminium
  • Drag: On front of spool – triple disk system
  • Anti reverse switch: yes
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Lightweight graphite composition.
  • Stainless Steel Guides w/O-Rings – 8+1
  • Contoured handles and fighting butt

Why have I chosen it?

As mentioned above, this is a good little all round use surf rod and reel combo for a good price. I would generally like to see a lighter power rating but to be honest, there is enough other advantages that I don’t see this one being too hard to handle – especially if you stick to the 8ft models. It will take a good range of line strength (15 – 30 lb) and should be able to handle both light and heavy sinker weight if the conditions require it.


2. Quantum PT Reliance Spinning Reel and 2-Piece Fishing Rod Combo

My second rod is a good one for the beginner who is planning to do a little more fishing and hence wants something that will do the job with great durability and usability. At just 8ft and in two pieces, it is a great rod for general surf fishing as it can handle most locations and with decent line/tackle capabilities on the reel. It is also not at expensive as some of the other graphite models on the market with specs including:

Rod

  • Length: 8 – 10 ft
  • Power: Medium – Heavy (fast action)
  • Composition: 2 piece fiberglass/graphite
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 3000
  • Bearings: 5+1
  • Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Composition: Aluminium
  • Drag: On front of spool – 40lb
  • Anti reverse switch: yes
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Heavy-duty Guides: 8 + Tip
  • Stainless steel cushioned hood reel seat
  • Salt guard protection and water tight seal in reel

Why have I chosen it?

This one is very close to the option I purchased above. It is a good, durable rod and reel for a decent price. I like the rod specifications and as a combo it would handle most beach conditions. My only concern here is around some of the reviews in regards to the rod but other page reviews on this brand appear sound. Make sure for the surf you choose the 8 to 10 ft models.


3. PENN Battle II Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

The third rod I have chosen is a little more expensive but for the enthusiastic surf fisherman, it is almost the perfect rod. It does come in a number of lengths including a smaller 7ft option making it a good one for those who are planning to fish in the surf and lake/estuary. That said, I would be sticking to the 9 to 10ft options if being used purely for the surf – the 9ft model also has the best size reel. Its reel line specs are quite large however it would work well for smaller targeted species as well. Its specs include:

Rod

  • Length: 7 – 10ft (get the 8 – 10ft as a minimum for the surf)
  • Power: Medium – Heavy (fast action)
  • Composition: 2 piece graphite
  • Handle: EVA

Reel

  • Size: 6000 (on 9ft rod option)
  • Bearings: 5+1
  • Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Composition: Aluminium
  • Drag: On front of spool – carbon fiber drag washers
  • Anti reverse switch: yes
  • Line holder: yes
  • Interchangeable winder: Yes

Other advantages include:

  • Braid ready reel stock with tailored rubber gasket
  • Full Metal Body and Side plates

Why have I chosen it?

This rod is a great one for those who looking for a little quality over price. The graphite build and specifications make it a very versatile rod for most conditions and needs with the ability to handle most applicable line strengths as well. Stick to the 9 – 10ft models unless you want to use the rod in other non surf locations too. The reel size is on the larger side for general use but again, its lightweight design and specs make is a versatile option for all use types.

 

Conclusion

And there it is – my 3 best surf fishing rod and reel combos to cast in 2021. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

Paul

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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing hobbyists who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to fishing.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome fishing gear that will give you the best chance of catching a fish for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Paul

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