Best Surf Fishing Rod

Best Surf Fishing Rod Reviews: A Buyer’s Guide

If you are interested in starting out in surf fishing, there's a few things you need to know, even if you have already done other kinds of fishing. In this post, we'll talk about the biggest features that make the best surf fishing rod and review five of the best ones on the market. Even if you don't pick one of the rods on our list, you'll learn all you need to know about shopping for surf fishing rods so that you know what to look for and get the most for your money.

Product

Price

Rating

Penn Prevail Surf Spinning Rod

$$

Tsunami Trophy Surf Spinning Rod 11' Heavy

$

Gary Loomis Tactical Series Surf Spinning Rod

$$$

Lamiglas Surf King Series Fiberglass Spinning Rod

$$$$

Daiwa 405G Saltiga Ballistic Surf Rod

$$$$$

Value and Features

There are four key features that you need to keep in mind when it comes to surf rods. Three of them are related to rod performance and we'll cover them in detail. The last one is value for money. Instead of discussing that in this section, we will analyze the value of each rod we review individually to give you a feel for where your budget will get you the most in terms of features and quality.

Lamiglas Surf King Series Fiberglass Spinning Rod

The first characteristic we will discuss is length. Surf rods tend to be longer than other fishing rods. This is for a few reasons. First of all, because the ocean is shallow close to the shore, it's necessary to get a very long cast to reach deep water where the most interesting fish are. That means you need a longer rod to drive a big cast. Next, the longer rod means that you can leave the rod stuck into the sand or a mount and the line will stay above the water. That lets you keep an eye on the line and ensures that it won't get snagged on anything that drifts by. It can sometimes take time for a fish to bite, so having two or even more rods set up in the sand is commonplace in surf fishing.

The second main characteristic is whether you choose a rod that uses spinning or casting as its mechanism. With a casting rod, the spool holding the line is positioned perpendicular to the rod itself, the rings tend to be small, and you will find it easier to make a long cast. A spinning rod uses a spool parallel to the rod and incorporates a shorter cast with more lateral movement. You might already have a preference about which style you prefer. Traditionally, casting rods work better with bait due to the longer casting distance and spinning rods work better with lures because these rods are easier to use. It's possible to find surf rods that use either style and some rods even can support both, so you might not need to choose at all. Keep in mind that even if you use one type of rod in your fishing experience, you might find yourself switching to the other style for surf fishing because of how different surf fishing is. It's a good idea to keep your options open and at least try out both styles before committing to a rod, if possible.

Tsunami Trophy Surf Spinning Rod 11' Heavy

The third characteristic is weight. Surf rods come in a variety of different weights, and again, this often comes down to your personal preferences and goals. The categories of weight for surf rods are light/medium, medium, medium/heavy, and heavy. In general, you probably won't need a heavy rod for most of the possible fish you could catch, and it would be overkill to get one. The key is to carefully think about what fish are in your area and what you want to catch. As we all know, it is incredibly easy to overspend on fishing gear, but it might be a good idea to invest in one main rod and one secondary rod to let you cover a big variety of species.

The easiest way to determine what kind of rod you want is to decide on what fish you will pursue first. There is no objectively best set of characteristics because each combination is best at using a particular set of equipment to catch certain types of fish. That means you should work backwards from the fish you want to catch and then use that to guide your rod's style. That includes whether you want bait or a lure and how that interacts with your choice of rod. Again, having the flexibility of being able to use both casting and spinning in one rod can help alleviate the pressure of this decision.

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Of course, you also need to set a budget. It's way too easy to get attached to an expensive rod and come up with ways to rationalize buying it if you don't have a firm maximum price in mind before you start browsing. Don't even consider a rod outside your price range. That extends to extra purchases as well. For example, it might be a nice goal to have two different surf rods to use at the same time, but don't even think about buying a second rod until you have your first one and you have used it for a while.

Reviews

Penn Prevail Surf Spinning Rod

 Penn Prevail Surf Spinning Rod

The Penn Prevail is one of the best rods on the market due to its sheer value. It comes in many different versions: there is one version in each weight category for both casting and spinning, although the big rings mean you can use either style with either type of rod. That flexibility is big because you can pick the exact length, weight, and configuration you want and still get the same build quality. Speaking of build quality, the Penn Prevail is made of graphite, an excellent material for its weight and casting power. You get all of this for a minimal price: the most expensive version is quite affordable. The rod is quite strong, so you'll be able to take on some fairly large fish depending on the weight of rod you choose.

Things We Liked

  • Excellent value for the quality of the rod, considering that it is as good as some other rods that cost twice as much.
  • Tons of power for casting and the big rings to let you use casting or spinning as you prefer.
  • Well-balanced for a smooth casting motion that gives you great control over the cast, both in terms of distance and accuracy.

Things We Didn't Like

  • There is no guide for the line on the bottom half of the rod, which makes it hard if you like to only set up the top half of the rod sometimes.
  • If you go over about 6 oz on the line, the cast will suffer significantly, so don't choose this rod if you like loads that are larger than that.

Tsunami Trophy Surf Spinning Rod 11' Heavy

Tsunami Trophy Surf Spinning Rod 11' Heavy

Despite the name, the Tsunami Trophy is not really a heavy rod. It falls more into the middleweight category, being unable to handle more than 6 ounces on the line. Unlike the Penn Prevail, this rod comes in only one model, which is very inexpensive. It is eleven feet long, which is on the shorter side for a surf rod but still in the right range. It is made of graphite and graphite composite, similar to the Penn. Tsunami is not a very well-known brand, which might make you concerned about the quality, but when it comes to surf rods there are often great deals in the lower end of the market. This is such a case: Tsunami's Trophy Surf is not quite as versatile as the Penn, but it's still a great rod with a lot of upside that can compete with more expensive rods. It is a spinning rod but you can use it as a casting rod as well if that is what you prefer.

Things We Liked

  • The graphite construction is durable while still allowing for great casting distance, allowing you to reach depths where larger fish swim.
  • Once you reach those fish, the action and the rod itself can haul them in through the sometimes choppy water of the ocean.
  • The rod comes with Fuji guides, which are among the best, especially at this price range.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Not quite as flexible as the Prevail because it only comes in one weight and length.
  • The Tsunami is not heavy enough to pull in the top end of the fish you can catch from the shore.

Gary Loomis Tactical Series Surf Spinning Rod

Gary Loomis Tactical Series Surf Spinning Rod

The Gary Loomis is another middleweight rod. In fact, it is a little bit undersized for a surf rod because it is only 10 feet 6 inches long. Usually, the shortest rods are 11 feet long in surf fishing. The Loomis is made of stainless steel and is stronger than you might expect considering its shorter length: it is the only rod so far on this list that can cast a load over 6 ounces. In fact, it has no problem with a nice 8 ounce load, and you'll get a nice cast out of it. In another difference from the other rods on this list, the Loomis is a spinning specialist: it won't really work as a casting rod. The rod is a little more expensive, but makes up for that with superior build quality.

Things We Liked

  • As a specialized spinning rod, you'll do well with lures, especially heavier ones that the other rods so far won't be able to handle.
  • The build quality lives up to the price tag, with the stainless steel construction providing big casts even when there's 8 ounces on the line.

Things We Didn't Like

  • A little more expensive than some other good rods of the same weight and length, so it might stretch your budget.
  • The lack of versatility means you can't turn this into a casting rod, so if that is the style you use normally this rod won't work for you.

Lamiglas Surf King Series Fiberglass Spinning Rod

Lamiglas Surf King Series Fiberglass Spinning Rod

Lamiglas offers their Surf King rod at a new height for pricing, because this rod is a big jump up from other options, but take note, because there is a big jump in quality as well. First of all, this is a true heavy rod, and it's 11 feet long. It has a fast action and graphite construction. The rod will easily handle an 8 ounce load, and while it's listed as a spinning rod, it can work as a casting rod too. It has an extremely long cast, and if you can manage the weight, it will reward you with a strong and smooth pull.

Things We Liked

  • As a true heavy rod, it gives you access to a whole new class of fish to target and gives you more casting range to work with.
  • The rod comes with a 1 year warranty just in case anything goes wrong early on.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Moving to the heavy weight class brings with it a significant price increase.
  • This doesn't perform as well as a casting rod as other versatile rods, so you should view it as more specialized.

Daiwa 405G Saltiga Ballistic Surf Rod

Daiwa 405G Saltiga Ballistic Surf Rod

Daiwa is a well-known brand in rod production. Their 405G is another heavy rod that you should view as a budget reach. It is significantly pricier than other rods on this list and is the most expensive one on this list. At 13.3 feet, this rod is very large, and it's composed of three pieces: most other rods are made of just two. It's made of graphite with top-tier Fuji guides and can easily work with either casting or spinning configurations. This is the nuclear option, the big bad rod that will haul in anything. It's not just the power that stands out. This rod is very sensitive and you'll feel every nibble, so you'll have the precision to capitalize on every opportunity.

Things We Liked

  • This is a very big rod where you can use a heavy bait and line to go after the biggest fish you can reach.
  • The rod is surprisingly delicate for its size, making it more accessible.

Things We Didn't Like

  • When you reach this price point it is hard to justify spending that much on a rod alone.
  • The size of this rod can make it hard to manage if you aren't used to the weight and length.

Final Pick: Penn Prevail

When it comes down to it, it is hard to recommend anything other than the Penn Prevail, especially if you are first starting out. It just offers such great value that you can't find a better beginning surf rod. The more expensive heavy rods are quite attractive if you are already experienced with surf fishing and you have the money to spare, because they really do offer a significant upgrade in quality. Remember, set your budget first before looking at any rods in detail. In the end, the Penn Prevail fits the best into most people's needs for a best surf fishing rod.