Surf Casting Rod VS Spinning Rod: Comparison

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Both Surf Casting and Spinning rods have there uses but if you need help deciding on the best option for you the this detailed comparison should help you out.

Let’s look at the each in details so you can make your own decision on a surf casting rod vs spinning rods.


Spinning Rods

Ok, let’s talk about all of the features which make a spinning rod what it is. First and foremost, spinning rods are often used by beginners and children.

This is because they are quite versatile in terms of the type of tackle they can handle and due to their relative ease of use.

Ease Of Use

The way in which spinning rods cast is pretty easy. Here you have the reel and the spool located below the actual rod or fishing pole.

Spinning rods do require a bit of technique to cast, but they really are not all that difficult to use, which is why they are often used by newbies.

With the reel below the pole, and your fingers straddling the leg of the reel, it does actually allow for quite a bit of control.

This amount of control is ideal for people who are not experienced anglers. This is not the best for casting distance or accuracy, but ease of use and control are big benefits here.

Spinning reels are also simple to use because they feature an easy to use bail. When you want to cast, simply open up the bail and let her rip.

Once you have cast your lure, close the bail and start retrieving the lure, hopefully with a fish attached to it.

If you need some pointers on how to attach line to spinning reels the right way then checkout this article.

Weight & Length

Moreover, spinning rods usually are not that long or heavy, another factor which makes them ideal for beginners and even for children too.

The fact that the weight of the reel is below the rod also tends to be more comfortable and less fatiguing, for most people anyway.

They are just more comfortable to hold, and their lower weight means that you can hold them for longer without getting tired.

Although casting accuracy and distance are both not the best with spinning rods, they are easier to use than many other options.

Due to their limited weight and length, you probably won’t be able to cast your lure as far with a spinning rod than with some other options.

Here are some good pointers on finding the right rod length.

Power & Backbone

Due to the fact that spinning rods are fairly lightweight and meant for beginners, they usually don’t have that much backbone and strength to them.

In other words, they usually are not designed for deep sea fishing and for large fish. They will probably snap if you get an exceedingly heavy fish on the line.

On that same note, due to being a little weak, they often don’t allow for that much leverage so you can really muscle a fish back to the boat or shore.

Spinning rods are often designed for the fishing of smaller prey. They just are not designed for very heavy lines, big reels, and big lures.

It’s all about quick action and finesse fishing. Generally speaking, if you are using a spinning rod, you should not be going for prey that requires your rod to have a lot of muscle, backbone, and flex to them.


In terms of rod action, spinning rods can come in all kinds of action ratings. However, as we mentioned before, most spinning rods are intended for smaller fishing purposes.

Because of this, they tend to have medium and fast action tips. In other words, they tend to be really sensitive and ideal for finesse and fast action fishing.

While they don’t produce a lot of power or leverage, their quick action designs do allow for a fantastic fishing experience when going for smaller prey.

The fact that these rods are sensitive is important when going for small fish, as you might not always feel their nibbles with a rod that is not sensitive. A fast action rod is also great for jerking and jigging, as the lure will respond to your movement very quickly.

Overall Durability

Now, spinning rods are designed to be fairly durable. They are usually made out of pretty nice materials.

However, what you need to keep in mind, as we have touched on here a couple of times now, they just are not designed for heavy lines and big fighting fish.

Your average spinning rod is not something you want to use to go for big fish, for heavy trolling, or for deep sea fishing. On that same note, many spinning rods are also not equipped to deal with the effects of saltwater.

Sure, there are saltwater spinning reels out there, but not nearly as many as there are freshwater spinning reels.

Spinning Rod Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Lots of control.
  • Easy to maneuver.
  • Good for finesse and fast action fishing.
  • Sensitive and responsive.
  • Easy to cast with.
  • Good for beginners.
  • Ideal for smaller prey.
  • Usually best for freshwater fishing.

Spinning Rod Cons

  • Limited durability.
  • Not ideal for large fishing purposes.
  • Usually not good for heavy trolling or deep sea fishing.
  • Not always equipped to deal with saltwater (unless you buy a specific saltwater rod)
  • Limited strength and backbone.
  • Limited sensitivity for small prey.

A Quick Word On Surf Rods

One thing that does seem to inspire some confusion when it comes to surf rods, has to do with the spinning and casting varieties.

First off, let’s explain what a surf rod is. Surf rods, generally speaking, are pretty much just oversized spinning rods.

They are meant for longer casting, for more accuracy, to deal with the effects of saltwater, and they can go for some pretty big fish too.

However, keep in mind that these are surf spinning rods. The majority of surf rods are of the spinning variety.

Now, the confusion comes in when we are talking about surf casting rods. As you probably know, there is a pretty big difference between casting rods and spinning rods.

Casting rods can usually handle more weight, heavier line, they cast further, they are more accurate, bigger, and more powerful.

So, here, we are talking specifically about surf casting rods, not surf spinning rods. This is an important distinction to keep in mind.

Surf Casting Rod

The surf casting rod is a type of fishing rod designed to be fished with from the beach, from piers, or from boats too. Generally speaking, most people only use surf rods from the shore, but with a good model, you can do so from a boat as well, pretty deep out too (if you need some suggestions, we have reviewed our top 10 surf casting rods here).

The main thing to keep in mind is that surf casting rods can be a bit hard to use, but they are designed for power and distance more than anything else.

Just to make it clear, here you need to focus more on the difference between spinning and casting rods, rather than spinning and surf rods.

Remember guys, we are talking about surf casting rods here, and the “casting” part is by far the most important distinction.

In other words, spinning rods and surf rods are not all that different, in the greater scheme of things at least.

However, there is a big difference between spinning rods and casting rods, and therefore also between spinning rods and surf casting rods.

Ease Of Use

One thing that definitely needs to be noted with surf casting rods is that they are harder to use than spinning rods.

Here you have the reel located above the rod instead of below, which does make things harder in terms of control. Surf casting rods are ideal for people who already have some experience with various fishing rods.

Many people will start off with spinning rods, then graduate to casting rods, or in this case, to surf casting rods.

The way in which they are built, although they do have good casting distance, accuracy, and plenty of power, they are not designed for beginners.

The reel being above the rod instead of below does change things up quite a bit.

Weight & Length

In terms of weight and length, surf casting rods, and casting rods in general, tend to be much longer and a fair bit heavier than spinning rods.

Now, this is both a good and a bad thing, depending on who you are and what you are fishing for.

On one hand, the increased weight and length does make the surf casting rod harder to control.

It also makes it harder to handle in terms of your muscle power. All that added weight and length can definitely cause some fatigue.

On the other hand, the increased weight and length does allow for longer casting distances.

Surf fishing rods are designed to be used from the shore, which means that you often have to cast past barriers, sand banks, and other breaks in the water to get to the fish.

The weight and length here goes towards a long and accurate cast, something which spinning rods just are not very good for.

Power & Backbone

One big benefit that you get with surf casting rods is that they do have quite a bit of power and backbone. In other words, they are designed for bigger fish, and often for fishing techniques that require more time and muscle.

Although they often are not very sensitive, they do have a good amount of flex to them, and they can handle some pretty heavy fish and heavy fishing line.

This makes surf casting rods good when you really have to use some patience and muscle the fish back to the shore.

That said, they are not great for finesse fishing techniques. They also do not excel in terms of sensitivity.

You probably won’t be able to feel small nibbles too well with a surf casting rod.


In terms of action, surf casting rods, and casting rods overall, tend to have lower action ratings than spinning rods.

Yes, just like spinning rods, they come in all kinds of action ratings from super slow to super fast. However, there are more medium and slower action surf casting rods than fast action ones.

Once again, this makes surf casting rods ideal for heavier fishing purpose and for heavier line.

No, they are not good if you need the lure to respond very quickly to your movements, but it is ideal when you have to be patient, tire out a fish, and use a lot of muscle to haul a fish back to you.

Overall Durability

Surf casting rods also tend to be more durable than simple spinning rods. For one, they are heavier and more solid.

Yes, they are built for somewhat larger fish and more strength oriented fishing techniques. They need to be strong, especially when ocean currents are involved.

However, the important aspect to pay attention to here is saltwater. Surf casting rods are designed to resist the effects of saltwater, which many spinning rods just aren’t.

Surf Casting Rod Pros

  • Long casting distance.
  • High casting accuracy.
  • Good for big fish.
  • Usually have lots of power and backbone.
  • Good for muscling in big fish.
  • Ideal for heavy lines and lures.
  • Can hold a lot of line.
  • Ideal for experienced fisherman.
  • Great for saltwater fishing.

Surf Casting Rod Cons

  • Long and heavy.
  • Not very easy to maneuver.
  • Hard to control when casting.
  • Can suffer from backlash.
  • Not ideal for finessing and fast action fishing.



When it comes down to it, spinning rods are very versatile and ideal for beginners who want a lot of control over their casting, for people who need a fast action rod, and for people going for small fish, usually in freshwater.

On the other hand, surf casting rods are usually fantastic for saltwater fishing, for strength and muscle oriented and slow action fishing techniques, and for heavier prey, as well as for long distance and accurate casting.

Keep in mind that surf casting rods just are not that easy to use and definitely not ideal for beginners.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.