Surf Casting Florida

Learn how to catch more fish off of the beach.

What is the best reel for surf casting?

The best reels for surf casting depends upon what species of fish that your are targeting and your abilities. You will need different reels based on the types of fish that you are going after in the surf. You will also have to decide whether to use a conventional bait casting reel for the surf or a spinning reel. There are pros and cons of each type of reel.

The bait casting types of reels are more efficient because they have less moving parts and less friction BUT they are very hard to cast without getting huge bird nests of fishing line on your reel. Spinning reels are less efficient but they are very easy to use.

I am a FISHING CHARTER CAPTAIN on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I have fished the beaches, mangroves, grass flats and just about every other place in Florida for more than 40 years. In the article below I will teach you the pros and cons of the various types of surf casting in different scenarios.

Let’s get started.

Watch the video below to learn how far your reel need to be able to cast to get to where the fish are.

What basic qualities do the best surf casting reels have?


The best surf casting reels must be durable. The surf fishing environment is very hard on fishing gear. The salt air alone will corrode your reels in no time if you don’t wash them down after every trip to the beach.

You can expect your reels to get dunked in salt water every now and again. You can also expect to get beach sand all over your reel too. That sand can ruin a reel if it gets into the crank case. You can expect to bang your reel on rocks and other structures. This corrosion and abuse can really take a toll on a reel.

The most durable reels are made of all metal bodies and have sealed bearings made of corrosion resistant metal or ceramics. Your perfect surf casting reel will need a thick and sturdy metal bail wire or it will get broken or bent up when used a lot.

Ease of Use:

You obviously need to be able to cast a surf casting reel a long way without any problems if you plan on fishing off of the beach. A conventional bait casting style of reel is very hard to master. They take skill to use and a novice or beginner will definitely have problems with a conventional surf casting reel.

They take quite a few hours of casting to master. Once you do master this type of reel you will be able to cast farther because there is less friction on the line. That lack of friction is exactly the problem with bait casting reels. The spool spins easily and will create a backlash and bird nest on your reel if you aren’t extremely careful when you cast.

You also will have to guide the line back onto the reel evenly as you reel your line in with your fingers. Spinning reels do this for you so you will not have to worry about an uneven line on your spool.

Spinning reels have more line friction and therefore do not cast as far as a conventional bait casting reel. BUT they are much easier to use for beginners and novices. Spinning reels very rarely have any backlash or bird nesting of the fishing line.

Many brand name reel companies also offer a “long cast” version of their standard spinning reels. The long cast versions feature a taller spool for more efficient casting and more line holding capacity. Look for something like this on your surf casting reel choice to ensure it is a long cast spool. (5500 LC vs. 5500)

Drag Strength:

Drag strength is a very important to consider for certain conditions and and certain species of fish. When the surf is big and the current is strong, you will need to have a strong drag to get a decent size fish out of the surf in those conditions.

If you are going after sharks or tarpon in the surf, then you will need some serious drag to get those fish to the beach. Most of the decent surf casting reels will have at least 25 to 30 pounds of drag. That will be enough to battle the elements and larger fish species off of the beach.

If the only fish that you like to target are pompano and whiting, then drag is really not an issue for you unless there is a lot of current in your area.

Watch the video below and learn more about catching pompano with lures.

Corrosion Resistance:

The best surf casting reels are made from corrosion resistant metals. The beach environment is very hard on fishing gear. Your reel will get dropped in the sand. It will get dunked in saltwater. It will be covered in salt spray the entire time that you are surf fishing.

A reel that does not have a lot of corrosion resistance won’t last you 2 fishing seasons before they stop working. The gears inside will also need to be corrosion resistant.


If you like to use lures when you are surf casting, then lighter weight reels are an important factor. It is already hard enough to cast lures with a huge rod but the added weight of a heavy reel can be very tiresome.

Big Handles:

Big handles give you that extra leverage that you will need to get in those big fish off of the beach. They make it very easy to retrieve your line, bait or a fish on the other end of your line. Get a surf casting reel with a big handle. Trust me on this one.

Large Line Capacity:

You will need to have a reel with at least 200 yards of line capacity to get at those fish on the outside sand bars during the lower parts of the tide. You will also need that extra line capacity if you are going after big fish like sharks and tarpon in the surf or you will get spooled.


I personally cannot use a conventional bait casting reel. I have tried a few times and given up after dozens of bird nests and back lashes. I was never willing to put in the necessary hours to learn how to use one effectively. If you are one of those patient people who like to master new skills, then a conventional reel might be best for you.

If you are just beginning or a novice surf fisherman, then you might get discouraged with a convention reel and stop fishing. There is very little learning curve with a spinning reel. Within a couple of dozen casts you will be proficient enough to consistently catch fish off of the beach. A conventional bait casting reel will take a couple dozen hours to master.

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