Best Surf Fishing Reels for The Money in 2024 – Top 5 Reviewed

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I’ve been a surf angler for over 4 decades. I didn’t think it would be so challenging to identify the best surf fishing reels for the money.

The sheer volume of contenders presents the first problem. Every manufacturer has a couple of reels that deserve a place here.

Many brands have a long list of contenders, Penn comes to mind.

Then there are target species, from Whiting to White Pointers. This means you can deploy anything from a 1000 spin option to a huge Penn International game reel.

Then there are variable weather conditions, not to mention coastal geography, that will impact reel suitability.

A simple change in the wind can render your reel useless.

To make things easier I have only considered reels between the 6000 and 8000 size (including overhead equivalent).

These are the most common sizes used at the beach. With these sizes, you can chase smaller species without too much overkill.

Let’s discuss the 5 best surf reels for the money.

Firstly, I’ll reveal my selections. Secondly, we’ll address what to look for in a good surf reel. Third, are the product reviews followed by my top of the list selection.

5 Best Surf Reels for The Money in 2024

Here are the best surf fishing reels in 2024:

PENN 1403989 Slammer III Spinning
PENN 1403989 Slammer III Spinning
Full Metal Body, side plate, and rotor; CNC Gear technology; IP67 Sealed body and spool design
Daiwa Saltist H-C 6.1:1 Levelwind Right Hand Casting Fishing Reel - STTLW30H-C
Daiwa Saltist H-C 6.1:1 Levelwind Right Hand Casting Fishing Reel - STTLW30H-C
Rugged, all metal construction with rigid, one-piece aluminum frame; Four CRBB shielded, corrosion-resistant ball bearings and a roller bearing
Daiwa BG6500 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel
Daiwa BG6500 BG Saltwater Spinning Reel
Black Anodized Machined Aluminum Housing ("Hard Bodyz" Body & Side Cover); Over-sized Digigear (Digigear System)

Last update on 2024-06-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Type of Reel Is Good for Surf Fishing?

Before selecting a good surf fishing reel, here’s a note about the differences between modern complex reels and older, less technical reels relative to surf use.

A very simple reel, such as a side cast reel, has a considerable benefit for surf fishing. They are very simply broken down and cleaned.

They have far less metal and far fewer moving parts. These things can be indestructible and endure for many years.

While modern, technically advanced reels are an absolute joy to fish, the refined moving parts can suffer greatly from saltwater and sand ingress.

Many modern reels have technologies to protect them from the disasters of saltwater and sand ingress.

The bottom line is: A surf fishing reel must be robust and durable.


Make no mistake. The surf and sand hold no respect for your prized fishing reel.

For starters, your reel will get wet and submerged. And then there’s the sand.

You cast, then set your rod in a rod holder wedged in the sand, waiting for a strike.

Sometimes your rod will fall over of its own accord. You then get a sandy and wet reel. Bad.

Other times, an unnoticed tide will work at the base of your rod holder. It washes out the sand, causing your rod holder to fall.

Wave action will do the same. Again, a wet sandy reel. Bad.

Then there’s the classic: Your bait is struck hard when standing well away from your supposedly well set and secured rod.

As you watch your rig head speedily toward the surf, dragged by a disrespectful fish, your reel is fed a wet salt sand slurry into every crevice. Ever so bad.

These things will happen, and it only needs to happen once to relegate an expensive reel to the injury list.

Sand and saltwater devastate modern reels should they get inside.


Look for a heavier gauge wire bail arm for spin reels. Usually, this will be an advertised feature of a reel.

They survive better when dragged along the sand. They also survive better when you hook a fish 10 time bigger than you were chasing.

Importantly, they’re better suited for casting big lead weights, which you will frequently do when surf fishing heavier conditions.


I fish mono in the surf. The reason for this is worth another article, so I’ll not explain it here. While it’s a personal choice, I believe I am with the vast majority.

I fish lighter for a better strike rate. Therefore, I prefer having a big full spool. When I hit something big, it can run as far as it likes. (Within reason).

The mono can degrade pretty quickly in the sun and surf.

I like to be able to rip off and dispose of 30 odd feet without having to replace it straight away.


A strong high capacity drag with great heat dispersion is recommended. Again, you’re often fishing for a mixed bag, and an extra large fish is very likely.

Often you will hook up into something large when casting at something smaller.

If you are fishing lighter, a strong drag will assist greatly in turning your prize to the beach.

Many reels offer a sealed drag system. Clearly, this is highly advantageous.


There really is nothing like a super-smooth crank. The more bearings, the smoother the crank and the stronger the crank.

This is desirable.

As a rule, more bearings equals a more expensive surf reel. Make sure the bearings are sealed, ceramic, or stainless. Corroded bearings are a serious liability.


Again, strength and corrosion resistance are essential. Look for strong alloy, stainless or brass gears, and pinions.


This can be tricky. I like to cast big metal slices in the surf. This requires a pretty fast ratio, so you don’t have to crank like a man possessed to hit appropriate speeds.

However, when the sea is heavy, the fish are heavy, and your lead is heavy, a cranking speed will feel better.

Something to keep in mind is that often, you are casting prodigious distances. With all that line out, a faster ratio helps you retrieve it quicker.

Generally speaking, a more expensive reel with a higher ratio will have you covered for speed without compromising a strong crank.

The best ones for this are the Saltiga and Stella.


These days even some entry level reels offer sealing. Each manufacturer has their own take on the technology.

As you move up to higher price points, expect more sealing and more advanced waterproofing.

As I have clarified at the beginning of this article, keeping the sand and water out is critical.

Talk to others about their experiences with sealing and waterproofing credentials of the reels on your shortlist. This is a very important feature of a surf reel.

The only exception is the angler, who is very skilled and disciplined in regularly breaking down and cleaning reels. They’re not in the majority.

Ask yourself if you are, and be honest.


Look for strong, rigid, and corrosion-resistant. Obviously, you want this in any reel, but for the surf, it’s critical; if you want your reel to last longer.


Bigger is better. Usually, you will get this with a reel over 6000 size. You will be casting and cranking a lot; solid ergonomics has a huge impact on warding off fatigue.

Top 5 Surf Fishing Reels For The Money Reviewed

1. PENN Slammer III 6500HS Spinning Reel.

The 6500HS has a whopping 40 pounds of sealed Penn Dura-Drag. Add to this a spool capacity of 345 yards of 15-pound mono, and you have some serious fish stopping power.

The 6500HS has a ratio of 6:2.1, which will be great for cranking metal slices and reeling in oceans of line quickly.

The CNC brass gear system is corrosion resistant and PENN strong. You have speed and the cranking power you need for heavier applications.

The big news is the independently tested IPX6 Seal rated body & Spool.

With care, your Penn Slammer will handle all the surf can throw at it and for countless sessions.

This is a feature-packed spinning reel built for the surf. It’s very popular with surf anglers, and for good reason.


  • Outstanding sealing against the sand and saltwater
  • Whopping drag capacity and the system is sealed
  • Excellent spool capacity
  • Strong corrosion resistant gear system
  • I like the independent sealing verification and rating
  • Great pricing for such a feature-rich, quality reel
  • It’s as though it’s built specifically for the surf angler
  • The handle and grip are brilliant


  • There are no cons. This is a quality reel in every way and true to pricing

>>Check Latest Price on Amazon<<

2. Daiwa Saltist 30 H-C 6.1:1 Levelwind Overhead Fishing Reel

The first thing to mention is that the Daiwa Saltist H-C 6.1:1 is an impressive looking reel. And that’s just the beginning.

The gear ratio is ideal for all types of fishing. At 35 inches per crank, you get a lot of line in fast.

Fish lures of all types and cast heavy live baits big distances. Casting the Saltist is straightforward with a little practice.

There are 20 pounds of Daiwa’s famous Automatic Tournament Drag. More than enough considering you can spool up with 210 yards of 20-pound mono.

The 4 bearings are corrosion resistant , and the reel has a protective anodized finish. The frame is rigid aluminum and highly corrosion resistant.

The helical cut gears are incredibly strong. The crank feels buttery smooth, yet you can feel the power, particularly under load.

The gears are stainless. Again, even more anti-corrosion features.

The accessible pricing makes this a brilliant surf overhead that’s difficult to beat.


  • Great looks
  • Excellent corrosion resistance inside and out
  • A strong crank, yet super smooth
  • Powerful drag system and great mono capacity
  • I love the gear ratio and the handle. It’s built to crank
  • Casting is easily mastered with practice. Rip in without the fear of backlash
  • Stainless gears offer strength and protection
  • Accessible pricing considering the quality


  • It’s a little heavy (By no means a criticism. I’d happily cast it all day)
  • Right hand only

>>Check Latest Price on Amazon<<

3. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 7000 C Round

This is a noteworthy inclusion. It gets my approval because of its simplicity and robust construction. I caught my first Barramundi on the older 6000 model.

Importantly, it has the right features for catching fish on the beach.

I have seen them stripped down and put back together in the middle of a fishing session, and it works perfectly.

If your 7000 C gets a dunking or has a serious encounter with wet sand, it’s easy to pull down, clean, and lubricate.

After trying out this product, I know it can cast long distances. I may be experienced, but I assume that anybody can learn how.

I managed some pretty long casts tossing a 2-ounce metal slice.

It’s a slow, stable, strong feeling crank that’s brilliant for heavy loads. The corrosion resistant brass gears give a strong and reasonably smooth crank.

There’s 15 pounds of drag, which is enough for larger fish. It’s assisted by a spool that will hold 250 yards of 20-pound mono.

The simplicity and strength of the 7000 C make it a versatile utility for surf anglers. What it lacks in protection and sophistication, it makes up for in robust strength and loyalty.

Look after this baitcasting reel, and it will look after you.


  • Robust and easy to service while on the run
  • Capable of long casts
  • Big spool capacity
  • Strong, corrosion resistant brass gears
  • A simple reel that is easy to master. Ideal for the beach
  • Will maintain its integrity when cleaned and lubricated after serious encounters with wet sand and saltwater
  • Affordable quality


  • Better in the hands of an experienced overhead angler
  • Level wind will require regular attention to ward off corrosion

>>Check Latest Price on Amazon<<

4. Daiwa BG6500 Spinning Reel

If you’re on a tight budget but need to hit the beach with serious quality, the Daiwa BG 6500 is a great option.

Some of Daiwa’s flagship technologies are featured, including Automatic Tournament Drag and Air Rotor. Importantly, the (ATD) drag system is waterproof.

For long and consistent casts, ABS II and Twistbuster are ideal inclusions for a surf reel.

On the beach, it’s not the casting frequency but the distance you are casting that this technology helps.

Digigear offers a super smooth crank, and it’s powerful, predictable under load, and very reliable.

The BG has an anodized machined aluminum housing and side plates for further corrosion resistance. The spool is also aluminum.

The manual return bail arm is also a corrosion benefit. The small spring in auto bail arms is notorious for being the first thing to invite serious rust.

A whopping 33 pounds of drag are assisted by a spool capacity of 370 yards of 20-pound line. This is more than enough to handle big surf-dwelling species.

However, spool up with 10-pound mono, and you have a great reel for smaller species, yet plenty of line, drag, and cranking power should you hook up big.

It is very hard to find a better surf reel for the price.


  • Nothing better at this price
  • Very good anti-corrosion credentials
  • Excellent inclusion of technologies for the price
  • Waterproof ATD (drag)
  • Power, rigid, and highly capable against a large variety of saltwater fish big and small


  • Should have included corrosion resistant bearings. A very strange exclusion

>>Check Latest Price on Amazon<<

5. Daiwa SALTIGA Expedition 8000H

Most anglers know all about the Saltiga. This strong quality reel is built to last a lifetime of fishing.

Daiwa is a huge and highly respected global brand and fishing products leader. The Saltiga is their flagship spinning reel and contains their most advanced technologies.

The price may take your breath away, but not as much as the experience of using one. Remember, this is top shelf fishing gear.

It’s fully sealed. Nothing gets in.

There are 66 pounds of Automatic tournament drag, and the spool will take over 400 yards of 20-pound mono.

Check out all of the specs and inclusions here. It’s definitely worth a look. The Saltiga Expedition also looks spectacular.

The downside, however, is the high price you’ll pay for all these top features


  • It’s not only superb on the beach. It’s superb everywhere
  • Power is astonishing, yet it is incredibly smooth thanks to 13 (+1) bearings
  • The massive drag capacity and spool capacity make it unstoppable
  • The sealing, corrosion resistance. and waterproofing is exceptional. It’s built to handle the toughest of conditions and will survive them for countless sessions
  • Anglers can tackle massive fish and win


  • It’s very expensive
  • Probably overkill for small surf species. (spool up with 6 pounds for the pan size)

>>Check Latest Price on Amazon<<

What Is the Best Reel for Surf Fishing?

It’s a tough choice, there’s something great about all of them. If I were only allowed to choose one more reel in my life, and money wasn’t an issue, it would be the Saltiga.

If I were running a charter fishing business, I’d buy the Daiwa BG. I know my clients would love them, and it offers great value.

However, if I had to use any of these reels for surf fishing tomorrow, it would have to be the Penn Slammer.

It’s one of the top saltwater fishing reels out there.

See Also:

Top Baitcaster Reels on The Market

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Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home, and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.


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