5 Best Conventional Reels for Surf Fishing ( Top Picks for 2024)

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Surf Casting involves catching fish when standing on the shore. Choosing the right gear for surf casting can be quite challenging. The gear has to be very specific to ensure your fishing success.

The reels for example should ensure long casts approximately 400 to 500 metres long. That’s why, some people will opt for conventional reels as they have a lot of power and cast far. With them, you will achieve accuracy and precision and you will be boasting species like bass, rock fish and mackerel. Most people, however, will have a hard time choosing the right conventional reel for surfing. Well, let that not worry you anymore. We are here to help you choose the best reel

Best Conventional surf fishing reels (Comparison Table)

Best Premium Choice Reel
PENN Fathom Lever Drag

PENN Fathom Lever Drag

  • Ball Bearings : 5
  • Gear Ratio : 4.8:1 - 7.1:1
  • Weight (oz) : 14.7 - 27.3
  • Max Drag (lbs) : 20 - 40
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Best Budget Friendly Reel
Piscifun Chaos XS Round Reel

Piscifun Chaos XS Round Reel

  • Ball Bearings : 6+1
  • Gear Ratio : 5.3:1
  • Weight (oz) : 11.2 - 12.7
  • Max Drag (lbs) : 18
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Best Overall Reel
Daiwa Seagate Star Drag Reel

Daiwa Seagate Star Drag Reel

  • Ball Bearings : 4
  • Gear Ratio : 6.1:1, 6.4:1
  • Weight (oz) : 14.3 - 21.9
  • Max Drag (lbs) : 15.4 - 19.8
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Best Level Wind System Reel
Penn Squall II Level Wind

Penn Squall II Level Wind

  • Ball Bearings : 3+1
  • Gear Ratio : 4.0:1, 4.9:1
  • Weight (oz) : 16.8 - 21.3
  • Max Drag (lbs) : 33
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Best High End Reel
Shimano Speedmaster II Conventional Reels

Shimano Speedmaster II Conventional Reels

  • Ball Bearings : 4
  • Gear Ratio : 5.2:1, 5.7:1
  • Weight (oz) : 25.7 - 44
  • Max Drag (lbs) : 40 - 44
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1. Penn Fathom Lever Drag

The Penn Fathom Lever Drag is one of the best surfing conventional reels. Built with a full metal body and side plates, you are assured of maximum strength and durability. In addition to surfing, you can also use the reel for bottom fishing, jigging and live bait fishing. The stainless steel main and pinion gear ensure maximum durability of the gears.

Anglers who’ve used it attest for the super powerful drag that lets you fight even the largest species. You do not have to worry about your handle reversing as Double –dog ratchet anti-reverse keeps it steady. The five ball bearings also help ensure maximum smoothness in all your applications. Additionally, you can easily tell how much line is left because the line capacity rings make every fishing adventure worthwhile.

Key Features

  • Full metal body and side plates
  • Stainless steel main and pinion gear
  • Double-Dog ratchet anti-reverse
  • Line capacity rings
  • Dura-Drag washers
  • Spool Material Aluminum

2. Piscifun Chaos XS Round Reel

This is our most affordable product, don’t confuse its cheap price for agility. Its performance compares to most high-end conventional reels. With this affordable reel, you can be assured of superior performance and maximum durability. The aluminum body and concave aluminum spool make the reel the perfect choice for surfing.

The 6+1 shielded anti-corrosion ball bearings offer the smoothest feel and leave you confident enough for different water bodies. Moreover, you will be confident when dealing with the largest species owing to the premium carbon fibre drag system with a Japanese Hamai-Cut brass main gear.

You will never miss a fish as the sensitive clicker line out alarm alerts you immediately after the fish gets hooked. An “s” reinforced thumb bar provides a comfortable touch, making it easier to control your line. Additionally, a 6-pin centrifugal brake and an extended handle give you maximum casting control and provide additional torque. The stainless steel riveting reel foot helps increase sensitivity while level wind ensures even line lay.

Key Features

  • Premium carbon fibre drag system
  • Stainless steel Riveting Reel Foot
  • Comfortable thumb bar
  • CNC Concave aluminum spool
  • Sensitive Clicker Line out alarm

3. Daiwa Seagate Star Drag Reel

DAIWA SeaGate  Star drag conventional reel will make surfing easier and more fun. The aluminum frame and side plates are super strong. Therefore, you are assured of your reel’s maximum performance and durability even in saltwaters. The spool also consists of aluminum construction, and it starts fast and is kept in control by the centrifugal braking system

Backlashes and bird nests are a thing of the past, as this reel comes with an infinite anti-reverse. Additionally, you can be assured of maximum smoothness due to the 3 ball bearings. The Ultimate carbon drag system gives you confidence and courage to deal with the largest species. The power handle adds more torque giving anglers the leverage needed when surf fishing.

Key Features

  • Anodized aluminum spool
  • Corrosion Proof composite frame
  • Rugged helical-cut brass gears
  • Ultimate tournament carbon drag
  • Centrifugal spool brake
  • Dual system Infinite anti-reverse

4. Penn Squall II Level Wind Conventional Fishing Reel

If you are looking for unmatched quality and durability, Penn Squall II Level Wind Conventional Reel is the go-to conventional reel for surf fishing. Available in five sizes, you can choose your most preferred size. The two gear ratios of 4.0:1 and 4.9:1 are ideal for anglers targeting larger species. Additionally, the reel features 3+1 ball bearings that ensure smooth casts and eliminate bird nests.

The construction consists of a graphite frame and side plates that are super strong and lightweight. Moreover, a marine-grade bronze alloy main gear and stainless steel pinion gear maintain the gear’s durability. The HT-100 carbon fibre drag system gives you torque to deal with all types of species. You can also easily tell how much line you have left due to the line capacity rings.

Key Features

  • Fast Gear Accessible Side Plate
  • Sizes 15, 20, 30 and 50
  • Drag material HT-100
  • Lightweight Graphite and side plates
  • Forged and machined aluminum spool
  • High strength marine-grade bronze alloy main gear

5. Shimano Speedmaster II Conventional Reels

Shimano Speedmaster II conventional reel is our most expensive of these reviews. Well, let the high price not scare you away. These reels are made for pro anglers targeting the highest price, and the rigid HAGANE body ensures maximum strength of the reel.

You can deal even with the heaviest loads without fearing any misalignment. The cross carbon drag offers high power drag, and there is also a spare drag cam for optimal use with monofilament lines.

The four-ball bearings ensure smoothness and help eliminate bird nests. The 5.2:1 and 5.7:1 gear ratios offer the best retrieval speed. Also, you can be assured of reduced friction due to the super-free spool so that you can cast and fish effortlessly.

Key Features

  • Rigid HAGANE body
  • Cross carbon drag
  • Super Free Spool
  • Spare Drag Cam

What makes a good Surf Fishing Conventional Reel?

Gear Ratio

In all your fishing applications, you need a gear ratio that matches your application. You need a conventional reel with high gear ratios for surf fishing since you need fast casts and retrieves. A 4.1:1 gear ratio and above will be perfect for surf fishing.

Ball Bearings

The bearing count determines how smooth your casts will be, and a high bearing count ensures the smoothest operation as they eliminate friction. Therefore, you need a reel with at least five ball bearings to ensure your smooth performance. Additionally, getting a reel with anti-reverse bearings will be more helpful since you can achieve long casts without experiencing backlash.

Line capacity

High line capacity is essential when surf fishing. You will encounter species like catfish; therefore, you need longer lines and stronger lines. A conventional reel with a high line capacity will help you catch even the largest catfish.


The most common materials in conventional reels include stainless steel, graphite and aluminum. Graphite is lighter as compared to aluminum and stainless steel, but it’s not as durable. Stainless steel and aluminum have the strength to handle even the biggest species. However, they are prone to corrosion in saltwater. Therefore when choosing material, make sure they have a corrosion-resistant coating.

Level Wind or Non-level wind Conventional Reel for Surf Fishing

Level wind conventional reels have a moving line guide that sports a pawl that runs back and forth across the front of the reel upon a worm shaft. A non-level wind conventional reel, on the other hand, does not have a line guide, so it’s the angler’s responsibility to distribute the line.

Level wind conventional reels are ideal for lighter tackle and smaller species, and Non-level wind reels are recommended for bigger species and challenging applications. When surfing, pro anglers will go for non-level wind reels because they cast further and do not slow you down. Level wind conventional reels will not cast far, and castability is essential when surf fishing. However, beginners can use the level wind reels to avoid the work involved in controlling the line with their thumb.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Conventional reels good for Surf Fishing?

When surf fishing, you need a reel that has a powerful drag,  fine casting brakes and has a sturdy construction. This is because you will be casting very far. Conventional reels are a perfect choice as they stand out as the most powerful fishing reels and make the longest casts. Tournament-level anglers prefer them for these applications also because they are accurate.

What size Conventional reel for surf fishing?

When surf fishing, you need to be extra careful about the size of your tackle. The setup will determine a conventional reel’s size. When fishing a very light set up from the beach, you can go with a size 4000 reel. However, the best size is a 5000 or 6000 reel. This size will have enough strength for species like catfish. If you are eyeing bigger species like sharks, then bigger reels will do.

How do you use a conventional reel without a level wind?

Conventional reels without level winds cast farther and are more preferred by pro anglers. However, some people have a hard time using them; hence opt for level wind conventional reels. This is how you use conventional reels without level winds.
Without the level wind, anglers guide the line back and forth with their thumb. Spool up the reel with a  smooth, finished braid. Use reels with a narrower spool as it makes it easier to spool. Using your thumb will seem difficult at first, but it becomes like second nature after you are used. If the line wears off your hand, you can use gloves. Cut off the thumb on the glove that goes to your casting hand. You must ensure the glove still helps maintain sensitivity.

Final Verdict

Whether you are looking for the most affordable or the best-rated conventional reel for surfing, we got you covered. Surf fishing is an enjoyable technique, but with the wrong gear, it can be pretty frustrating. With the many manufacturers and products in the market today, you must be extra careful with your purchase. You might spend too much and get a substandard conventional reel. To avoid this disappointment, we have reviewed some of the best surfing conventional reels.


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