Recommended Rod and Reel Combos for Surf Fishing

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Written By Russ Egan

Russ is a professional fisherman with over 20 years of experience. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ comprehensively tests and reviews all his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing he prefers than heading down to his local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test.


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The best surf fishing rod and reel combo should have a reel with a high gear ratio, sturdy drag system, and corrosion-resistant construction. The rod should be long (9-14 feet), have medium to heavy power, and medium to fast action. Graphite rods are generally lighter and more sensitive.

The Daiwa BG Surf Combo is my top choice because it is durable enough to handle the harsh saltwater environment but also gives a long casting distance to get past the breaking waves. It features a large line capacity and high max drag to handle large saltwater species. It is ideal for anglers looking for a rod and reel combo that is versatile, robust, and affordable.
Best Surf Combo
Daiwa BG Combo

Daiwa BG Combo

  • Smooth Digigear technology
  • 1-piece, 100% graphite rod blank
  • Traditional cork handles
Best Value for Money
Penn Pursuit IV Combo

Penn Pursuit IV Combo

  • Solid construction
  • Handles heavy lures
  • Good value for money
Best Offshore Combo
Penn Squall Conventional Combo

Penn Squall Conventional Combo

  • Dura Drag Washers
  • Lightweight Graphite Frame
  • Stainless Steel Gears and Guides

1. Daiwa BG Surf Combo

Daiwa BG Combo
  • Smooth Digigear technology
  • 1-piece, 100% graphite rod blank
  • Traditional cork handles

Daiwa is a reputable brand, and the BG Surf Combo lives up to their standard. I’ve experienced its exceptional durability while handling some serious surf fish species. The rod offers excellent action and sensitivity, perfect for detecting subtle bites amidst the rough surf.

I remember the first time I tackled the surf with the Daiwa BG combo. The rod felt substantial in hand and easily cast my bait beyond the breakers. I was impressed by the reel’s sturdy construction and smooth drag system. With this combo, you can confidently handle a range of surf species and enjoy long casting distances.

daiwa bg surf combo


  • Gear Ratio: 5.7:1
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Line Capacity: 470 yards of 14 pound mono
  • Max Drag: 22 pounds
  • Rod Action: Moderate Fast
  • Rod Power: Medium Heavy
  • Length: 9 to 10 feet


  • The reel’s build is robust, suitable for handling saltwater environments and big catches.
  • High sensitivity and action of the rod offer great feedback and better hook sets.
  • The casting range is impressive, reaching beyond the breakers with ease.


  • I found the combo to be heavy after prolonged use.
  • Daiwa’s premium quality comes with a slightly higher price tag, but it’s an investment that’s worth every penny.

2. Penn Pursuit IV Combo

Penn Pursuit IV Combo
  • Strong, yet balanced graphite and fiberglass construction
  • Durable one-piece stainless steel guides
  • 7-year warranty
  • Comfortable EVA handle

I found the Penn Pursuit IV combo to be a sturdy and reliable choice. It’s a well-balanced rod and reel, ideal for hurling heavier lures or bait into the surf.

Using the Penn Pursuit IV combo has always been a satisfying experience. This combo truly shines when casting heavy lures into the surf, thanks to its stiff rod and reliable reel. With it, you can expect an impressive performance that exceeds its price tag. It’s especially effective when targeting larger species, but it might take some time due to the rod’s stiffness.


  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Ball Bearings: 4+1
  • Line Capacity: 135 yards of 20 lb mono
  • Max Drag: 20 lb
  • Rod Action: Moderate Fast
  • Rod Power: Medium Heavy
  • Length: 8 to 9 feet


  • Solid construction ensures longevity, especially when frequently exposed to a harsh saltwater environment.
  • It handles heavier lures exceptionally well, making it great for targeting larger surf species.
  • It offers good value for money, considering its performance and durability.


  • I found the rod a bit stiff, affecting sensitivity to smaller bites.
  • The reel’s drag system could be smoother to fight fast and powerful fish better.

3. Penn Squall Conventional Combo

Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo
  • Dura Drag Washers
  • Lightweight Graphite Frame
  • Stainless Steel Gears and Guides

If you’re looking for a rod and reel combo to tackle monster fish in the surf, the Penn Squall Conventional Combo is a go-to choice. I’ve found its ability to handle heavy lines and big fish unmatched.

The Penn Squall combo is a powerhouse. I could feel its strength and resilience the first time I used it. When you’re targeting larger, harder-fighting fish, this combo will not disappoint. It requires some practice to handle, especially if you’re new to conventional reels, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s an absolute beast.

Penn squall lever drag overhead reel on the ocean


  • Gear Ratio: 4.9:1
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Line Capacity: 315 yrds of 20 lb mono
  • Max Drag: 33 lb
  • Rod Action: Fast
  • Rod Power: Medium to Medium Heavy
  • Length: 6 to 7 ft


  • Its high power and durability make it perfect for hunting big game in the surf.
  • It boasts a high line capacity, essential for long fights with large fish.
  • The robust construction of the reel ensures it can handle the strain of heavy catches.


  • It’s a bit heavy and isn’t ideal for prolonged fishing sessions.
  • The conventional reel setup can be difficult to cast long distances for beginners.

4. Shimano Spheros SW Surf Spinning Combo

Shimano Spheros SW Surf Spinning Combo
  • Excellent build quality
  • Smooth drag system
  • Sensitive rod

The Shimano Spheros combo stands out with its exceptional build quality. I’ve experienced the smooth drag system first-hand, which effectively handles those quick, powerful runs by surf dwelling species.

My outings with the Shimano Spheros combo have always been marked by its smooth operation and superior build quality. The reel’s drag system is a dream to operate, offering just the right amount of resistance against aggressive surf dwellers. With this combo, you can expect a premium experience with fantastic sensitivity and casting distance.

However, remember that it requires careful maintenance to keep it performing at its best.


  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Ball Bearings: 4+1
  • Line Capacity: 250 yards of 16 lb mono
  • Max Drag: 29 lb
  • Rod Action: Fast
  • Rod Power: Heavy
  • Length: 9 ft


  • It features an excellent build quality, ensuring long-lasting performance even in challenging saltwater conditions.
  • The drag system is among the smoothest I’ve used, making it easier to fight powerful fish.
  • The rod is sensitive and provides ample casting distance, crucial for successful surf fishing.


  • It’s on the higher end of the price spectrum, but the quality justifies the investment.
  • The rod’s durability could be improved to withstand the demands of surf fishing better.

5. Ugly Stik Bigwater Surf Spinning Combo

Ugly Stik Bigwater Surf Spinning Combo
  • Extremely durable design
  • Can handle rocks and saltwater
  • Affordable price tag

When it comes to durability, the Ugly Stik Bigwater combo has often been my trusty companion. Its ability to withstand rough conditions and intense battles has often been tested and never found wanting.

The Ugly Stik Bigwater combo has seen me through some rough conditions. The durability of this combo is unmatched. If you plan to fish in rough surf or rocky areas, this combo will withstand the abuse. It may not be the most sensitive, but its toughness more than compensates for it.


  • Gear Ratio: 4.1:1 to 4.9:1
  • Ball Bearings: 1+1
  • Line Capacity: 220 yards of 17 lb mono
  • Rod Power: Medium to Medium-Heavy
  • Length: 8 to 10 ft


  • The reel and rod are extremely durable, perfect for surf fishing where gear often takes a beating.
  • It’s designed to handle rough conditions, whether it’s rocky terrain or high surf.
  • It provides a reliable performance at an affordable price point.


  • It may not offer the best sensitivity, making detecting smaller bites challenging.
  • The combo is a bit on the bulky side, which might affect ease of handling.

6. Okuma Tundra Combo

Okuma Tundra Combo
  • Strong, yet balanced graphite and fiberglass construction
  • Durable one-piece stainless steel guides
  • 7-year warranty
  • Comfortable EVA handle

The Okuma Tundra combo has often been my recommended choice for beginners in surf fishing. It’s a great stepping stone to understanding the basics without being overly complex or expensive.

I often recommend the Okuma Tundra combo to those getting their feet wet in surf fishing. It eased my transition into the sport with its simple operation and reliable performance. You can expect a decent casting range and the capacity to handle light to moderate surf fishing demands.

Just bear in mind, this combo does lack enough power if you’re targeting larger species.


  • Ball Bearings: 1
  • Line Capacity: 360 yards of 20 lb mono
  • Rod Power: Medium-Heavy
  • Length: 10 to 12 ft


  • It offers excellent value for money, making it an ideal choice for beginners.
  • The rod offers a decent casting range, allowing newcomers to effectively reach the surf zone.
  • It can handle moderate surf fishing demands, perfect for starting on smaller species.


  • The reel could use a bit more refinement, especially in terms of smoothness of operation.
  • It is not the ideal choice for targeting larger surf species.

7. Daiwa D-Wave Saltwater Spinning Combo

Daiwa D-Wave Saltwater Spinning Combo
  • Good value for money
  • Affordable price tag
  • Easy to use

The Daiwa D-Wave combo is another affordable option that doesn’t compromise on performance. It’s well-suited to surf fishing novices and those working within a budget.

The Daiwa D-Wave combo has often surprised me with its performance despite its affordable price tag. I’ve enjoyed many outings with it, particularly when targeting smaller to medium-sized species. It offers a user-friendly experience, ideal for beginners or those looking to practice their surf fishing skills without breaking the bank.

Just remember, like any other fishing gear, regular maintenance is key to ensure its longevity.


  • Ball Bearings: 1+1
  • Line Capacity: 350 yards of 12 lb mono
  • Length: 7 to 10 ft


  • Despite being affordable, it doesn’t skimp on performance, making it suitable for most surf fishing situations.
  • The reel offers smooth performance, making casting and retrieval a breeze.
  • Its user-friendly nature makes it suitable for beginners and intermediate surf anglers.


  • The rod might lack the power to cast heavier lures or battle larger fish.
  • The combo may not be as durable as other high-end models when frequently exposed to harsh saltwater conditions.

Surf Fishing Rod and Reel Combo Buying Guide

When it comes to surf fishing, I’ve found that the right rod and reel combo can be the difference between a frustrating day on the beach and a productive, memorable outing. Over the years, I’ve been through the wringer with various surf fishing combos and have learned a thing or two about what to look for.

So let’s tackle this together and break down what you should consider when buying a surf fishing rod and reel combo.

SpecificationRecommended Range
Ball Bearings4 to 7+
Max Drag15 to 30+ lbs
Line Capacity200 to 300+ yds
Rod Length9 to 14 feet
Rod PowerMedium to Heavy
Rod ActionMedium to Fast


The first factor I look at is the brand. Reliable brands such as Penn, Okuma, and Daiwa have never let me down and have a solid reputation for durability and performance. I still remember the time when I took my first Penn Battle combo for surf fishing. The heavy-duty performance was just outstanding.

Donny karr surf fishing with his rod in a holder

Types of Reel

Baitcasting Reel

These reels are popular with experienced surf fishers, but I’ve found they can be tricky for beginners due to the risk of backlash. However, they do offer excellent control for accurate casting.

Spinning Reel

Spinning reels are a staple in my surf fishing gear. They’re versatile, easy to use, and handle many bait sizes and types. A well-crafted spinning reel, such as the Penn Battle or Okuma Tundra, delivers an impressive performance and durability in saltwater conditions.

Conventional Reel

This type of reel is perfect for those looking for serious power. Conventional reels have a steeper learning curve when casting but, in my experience, once you get the hang of it, you can fight even the largest saltwater species.

Surf Reel Criteria

The next thing to look at is the surf reel‘s specifications.

Gear Ratio

For surf fishing, I prefer a reel with a medium to high gear ratio. A higher ratio means faster line retrieval, particularly useful when dealing with fast-swimming fish or when reeling in from long distances.

Drag System

When I battled my first big fish, I learned the importance of a strong drag system. It’s the brake of the reel, preventing the line from being pulled out under too much pressure. A smooth and reliable drag system is crucial when fishing in the surf, where large, strong fish are common.

Construction Material

Reels designed for surf fishing need to withstand harsh saltwater conditions. Therefore, I always use reels made from corrosion-resistant materials like anodized aluminum or stainless steel.

Surf Rod Criteria

Now, let’s look at the surf rod.


In surf fishing, length does matter. The longer the rod, the farther you can cast. I usually opt for rods between 9 to 14 feet depending on the surf conditions and target species.


The power of a fishing rod refers to its resistance to bending. For surf fishing, medium to heavy power rods are best. They can handle large bait and have enough backbone to fight strong saltwater fish.


Rod action determines how and where a rod will bend when pressure is applied. I’ve found that a medium to fast action rod works best in surf fishing, providing a good casting distance and better control when fighting a fish.

Graphite or Fiberglass

The choice between graphite and fiberglass usually comes down to personal preference. In my case, I lean towards graphite rods because they are lighter and more sensitive than fiberglass. However, a fiberglass rod might be your best choice if durability is a concern.

Remember, the best surf fishing rod and reel combo is the one that fits your specific needs and conditions. The factors I’ve reviewed here have served as a solid guide for my purchasing decisions over the years, and I hope they’ll do the same for you.

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