What Size Spinning Reel For Surf Fishing Is Best?

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One of the most important things to have when surf fishing is a good spinning reel. Now, you might be wondering what’s the best size of spinning reel for surf fishing.

Generally speaking, sizes 5000 and 6000 are considered the best for surf fishing, as they are large enough to handle big fish and to cast long distances, yet also small and light enough to remain maneuverable and easy to use for fairly long periods of time.

surf fishing from a beach


What Does Reel Size Actually Mean?

Before we start talking about what the best real size for surf fishing is, as well as the pros and cons of using large reels, we do want to explain what exactly reel size means.

OK, so in its most basic form, reel size refers simply have to how large the reel is. Specifically, this has to do with how much line and the fishing reel in question couldn’t hold, and quite obviously, the larger the fishing reel in question is, the more line you can put on that spool.

Although it does also depend on the price and the manufacturing question, what a bigger real also means is that you have a stronger and heavier reel that can handle more pressure and punishment than the smaller reels. A larger fishing reel will also contain more bearings, more gears, more plates, and more washers.

Now, in terms of describing the real size, what you need to know here is that they all feature four digits, but with that being said, the last two digits are always two zeros, which means that the first two digits are the really important ones.

Take a look at the list below for an exact description of the different spinning reel sizes for surf fishing, keeping in mind that the smallest numbers are the smallest reels.

  • 1000 or 10
  • 2000 or 20
  • 2500 or 25
  • 3000 or 30
  • 4000 or 40
  • 5000 or 50
  • 6000 or 60
  • 7000 or 70
  • 8000 or 80

Pros Of Using A Larger Reel For Surf Fishing

morning surf fishing

Now that you have a rough idea what the different sizes of spinning reels for surf fishing are, let’s take a look at the benefits or pros that you get with using a larger real, such as a 5000, 6000, 7000 or even a massive 8000 size fishing reel.

More Line Capacity For Distance Fishing & Fighting

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages that you get from using a large spinning reel for surf fishing is the fact that you just have a lot more capacity for line.

Keep in mind that when you are surf fishing, those fish that you want to catch are often over 80 or even 100 yards out from the beach.

As a rule of thumb, you want to have at least twice or three times the amount of line on the spool as the distance to your prey.

Remember, you need to account for the fact that a fish may pull a good deal of line off of the fishing reel spool before you can haul it in.

For instance, an average 8000 size fishing reel can hold around 340 yards of 20 pound monofilament line.

On the other hand, a much smaller size 1000 spinning reel can only hold around 160 yards of 15 pound monofilament line.

Simply put, the more fishing line you think you will need, the larger the fishing reel needs to be.

This is important both for being able to fish at long distances as well As for being able to fight fish.

Stronger Materials

OK, so while this is not always the case 100% of the time, generally speaking, due to the fact that the larger spinning reels are designed to handle much larger and more aggressive fish, they are usually also built much tougher.

Simply put, a spinning reel that is designed to haul in a very small fish just doesn’t need to be very tough, but if you are planning to haul in a monster, something like a big tuna or a shark, then you definitely need to have an extremely large and strong real that is built to last.

The very best and most expensive spinning reels for surf fishing out there will be made out of materials such as high carbon stainless steel, titanium, and other very durable, corrosion proof, and very costly metals.

Once again, although it is not always the case, 100% of the time the bigger reels are usually the tougher ones.

Smoother Casting & Retrieving

If you remember, we did mention that the larger spinning reels tend to come with more gears and bearings.

Well, generally speaking, the more gears and bearings a spinning reel has, the smoother it operates.

Ball bearings are designed to allow the reel to move as smoothly as possible, so the more of them there are, especially high-quality ones, the smoother it will go.

This means that casting and retrieving are both a lot smoother on the larger reels than on smaller reels.

Those ball bearings combined with high quality materials do make quite a big difference.

Faster Casting & Retrieval

Another advantage that you get by using large spinning reels for surf fishing is the fact that not only are they smoother while casting and retrieving, but also much faster, and this is due to two reasons.

For one, because the reel is much larger and wider, the line is able to come off of the spool much faster and also come back onto the spool much faster.

Second, due to the fact that the larger spinning reels usually have way more gears than the smaller ones, it also means that the crank of the handle causes the reel to turn much more, thus allowing for very fast retrieval and fast hook sets.

In other words, the same amount of cranking on the handles on larger spinning reels results in a much faster line retrieval than on the smaller models.

More Power & Durability

OK, so we did already mention that the larger spinning reels are far more durable than the smaller ones, but there is also a little bit more to it than this.

Due to the fact that the larger spinning reels have more gears and are made with more durable materials, you have the ability to apply a lot more pressure to fish, thus allowing for much better hook sets, and it also allows you to tire the fish out much better because you can apply a whole lot of pressure to a rod and the reel.

Stronger Line

The other main advantage that you get with using a very large spinning reel for surf fishing is the fact that not only can they handle a lot more line than the smaller ones, but they can also handle much heavier line.

Obviously, if you’re going for a very big fish, you need to have strong line with a very high test rating.

Well, very small spinning wheels may be able to hold thick line but not very much of it. If you want a spinning reel back and hold a lot of very thick and heavy line, then you need to go for a large spinning reel.

Cons Of Using A Larger Reel For Surf Fishing 

surf fishing spinning reel

Yes, it’s spinning wheels have many benefits when it comes to surf fishing, but there are also a couple of drawbacks that you need to keep in mind.


By far the biggest drawback that comes with using a large reel is the fact that it is very heavy.

Those size 8000 reels and even larger can weigh in excess of three or four pounds if not more.

If you are fishing for hours on end, that heavyweight spinning reel can definitely put a hurt on your arms, and it also makes things a bit less maneuverable.


The other fairly drawback that comes with using a large spinning reel for surf fishing is that they are just very costly.

High quality and very large spinning reels that are designed to handle saltwater can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Spinning Reel vs Baitcasting Reel for Surf Fishing

The simple reality here is that both spinning reels and baitcasting reels are considered to be ideal for surf fishing.

Which one of these you go with really depends on what your experience level and your preferences are.

What is important to note here is that spinning reels tend to be a bit more user-friendly and much easier to master.

On the other hand, while baitcasting reels are harder to use, they do tend to be a bit more durable, and they cast further.

However, what you do need to keep in mind here is that baitcasting reels can usually handle larger line and longer lines (not the case 100% of the time, but usually).

So, if you are looking for something extremely reputable that can hold a heck of a lot of line, you might actually be better off going with a baitcasting reel. Although a spinning reel will definitely work Just fine, especially a larger one.

Best Spinning Reel Brands for Surf Fishing

The other thing that we want to mention before we call it a day is that the brand of fishing reel you go with for surf fishing does make a difference.

Refer to the list below for the best surf fishing reel brands.

  • Daiwa
  • Shimano
  • Penn
  • Okuma Tundra
  • KastKing


Summary: What Size Reel is Best for Surf Fishing?

When it comes down to it, if you want the best possible spinning reel for surf fishing, you want to go with either a size 5000 or 6000. These are generally not all that expensive and more than lightweight enough to use for hours on end, but are also large and powerful enough to handle those big fish and long distances that you will be faced with.

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.