While all fishing is fun, there is something special about standing on the beach and casting your line as far out in the ocean as your skill, strength, and laws of physics will allow. Setting the hook in that big fish and setting in for a little fight as you reel it into shore is exhilarating.
Like most types of fishing it’s important to have the right gear for the job. There are some really great rods on today’s market that are sure to appeal today’s demanding anglers. Here are the best surf fishing rods we could find.
In this article we’re going to review the following surf fishing rods:
How To Choose A Surf Rod
Selecting the best surf fishing rod for you is going to depend on a number of factors. You’ll want to consider the type of fishing you’ll be doing and what species of fish you’ll be going after.
We’ll expand on the topics in the sections below, but you should think about a couple of things first. Are you going to be spending your time working the jetties or making lots of shorter casts fanning the surf or are you a long caster looking to get your bait as far out as possible?
Once you have a good idea of what you’ll mainly be using the rod for, you can further narrow down your options based on length, action, power, materials, and of course price.
Rod length is one of the most important things to consider. If you want to make the longest casts possibly, you’ll need a longer rod. A 7 footer isn’t going to get the job done. Likewise, a long rod isn’t suited for fan casting the shore or working the jetties.
If you are a beginner or want a rod the can full multiple purposes, you may want to consider something in the 10 – 12 foot range which makes a good all around surf rod.
The following guidelines are a rule of thumb to help with your decision making.
- 7 – 9 Foot – Good for making lots of shorter casts while working the shoreline and jetty fishing
- 10 – 12 Foot – A good all around rod size for fishing jetties and making longer casts from the shore
- 12 – 15 Foot – Long cast rods that are best suited for casting out past the breakers where the big fish lurk
In the most basic terms, rod action is how much and how far from the tip a rod will bend. The faster the action means the rod bends closer to the tip. An extra-fast action rod may only give you 4 or 5 inches of bend before transferring power to the blank.
Some surf fishermen love the fast action because they get a little more distance on their casts and works well with heavier baits. While other anglers find fast action too taxing and tiring when fighting and reeling in fish. A lot of it will come down to personal preference.
If you are a beginner, you’ll most likely want to go with a moderate action, also called medium action by some manufacturers.
Where action is how much and where a rod bends, rod power measures how much weight or force is required to make the rod start to bend. The heavier the power, the more effort it takes before the rod starts bending.
For surf fishing rods, they will usually be in the medium-light to medium heavy range.
Graphite makes for light, sensitive, and rugged rods. Most of the top tier rods will be graphite.
Note that the graphite in rods is really carbon fiber, and you may see that term used interchangeably in descriptions.
You’ll also see many manufacturers use different designations for their graphite rods – IM8 or SCII for example. It’s a way for them to classify their different grades and strength of rod blanks and the type of material they are using. There isn’t an industry standard, so using this to compare across brands would be difficult. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, it has more to do with good marketing than what makes a good rod.
Fiberglass has been used to make fishing rods for decades. You don’t see many pure fiberglass rods anymore, although fiberglass is still used in a lot of composites.
A composite rod is made up of multiple materials, namely graphite and fiberglass. The design and manufacturing process is going to differ by manufacturer, but they are usually some combination of both materials.
Not everyone can afford an all graphite rod and these composite surf rods make a good trade off for a lower price. Some anglers actually prefer them in certain situations.
Surf Spinning vs Surf Casting Rods
If you’ve been searching around for a surf rod for a bit, you may have noticed there are two options – spinning and casting. There is a big difference between these rod types and didn’t want to assume everyone reading this knows what that is. One is designed for use with spinning reels (spinning rod) and the other for conventional or baitcasting reels (casting rod).
I won’t go into which is better for surf fishing as everyone has their personal preference. I know some guys that switch back and forth depending on what type of fish they are after or what type of bait or lures they are using. Some used to only use casting reels, now they exclusively use a spinning setup.
It is really what you are comfortable with.
Product Reviews And Buyers Guide
I’ve researched a selection of surf fishing rods and reviewed the highest quality, most affordable, and highest rated models. No matter what your goals or budget, there are models that should fit your needs.
If you want a top quality rod then you’d be hard pressed to look further than the St. Croix legend. This is their top of the line rod manufactured from their latest designs and technology.
It’s made from a strong and durable graphite blank with titanium corrosion resistant Fuji guides. It’s custom neoprene handle provides a good, comfortable grip that improves when it gets wet.
The Legend is backed up by one of the best warranties in the business at 15-years plus St. Croix’s Superstar Service.
Rod lengths range from 7′ – 12′.
- Graphite construction make this rod light, durable, and sensitive
- Latest design technology
- Corrosion resistant guides
- Comfortable and secure grip in wet conditions
- 15-Year Warranty
- Price is on the high end
St. Croix has been making industry leading fishing rods since the 1940’s. Their gear has come a long way since that first bamboo fishing pole and they currently make some of today’s most well known fishing gear.
The Mojo family of rods offer good performance for the money. It is a two piece graphite rod that is lightweight, strong, and sensitive. Sizes range from 7′ up to 12′ that should suit the needs of most surf anglers.
The custom x-wrap handle provides comfort and grip when it gets wet or your hands are covered in fish slime.
The rod is backed up by a St. Croix 5-year warranty
- Graphite construction for weight and durability
- Good selection of rod sizes, actions, and power for surf fishing
- X-Wrap handle for good grip in wet or slippery conditions
- Good 5-Year Warranty
- No rubber butt cap which can help a wet hand from slipping off rod
Lamiglas has been a household name in the world of surf fishing for decades. They originally started out making fiberglass blanks but have evolved with the times and now make high quality rods from graphite, composite, and fiberglass.
The GSB surf rod has been a top choice for years and remains the choice for many surfcasters today. It combines a rugged graphite blank with medium action that makes it well suited for fishing jetties and rocks as well as being a good choice for the beach.
The rods come in 14 models, from 8′ – 11′. Lamiglas stands behind their product with a lifetime warranty.
- Durable yet sensitive graphite rod
- Multi-purpose rod that works well fishing canals, rocks, jetties, and the beach
- Stainless steel Fuji K-Guides
- Custom X-Flock handle for a solid grip
- Higher price for this quality of rod
- Many of the models are 1 piece rods which may make it harder to ship or transport
For Those Who Like Fast Action – Tica Dolphin UGSA Surf Series
The Tica Dolphin rods are a series of fast action surf rods designed to give good performance at a competitive price point. They are made from there TC3 graphite material that produces a light rod that can cast long distances.
The rods range in the 7 – 12 foot range with medium to extra-heavy power. While these rods get a lot of positive reviews, the lack of a moderate action option is going to keep this off the wish list of a lot of anglers.
- Light graphite rod blank
- Fuji ring guides and DPS seat
- Good for heavier lures and baits
- Only fast action available
If you are looking for a good surf fishing rod but are not able to spend the money for one of the top models, then the Penn Battalion may be a good option for you.
The Battalion is made from a composite of graphite and fiberglass which allows Penn to keep the cost down while still producing a lighter weight rod with good strength. It is fitted with corrosion resistant Fuji aluminum oxide guides and Fuji reel seat. The handle is made from a tacky rubber shrink tube which provides a good grip when wet.
There are 7 models from 8′ – 12′ in length and the action varies from moderate-fast to fast.
- Appealing entry price – good rod for the money
- Nice grip
- Corrosion resistant guides.
- Graphite composite not typically as durable and strong as a full graphite rod
- A little heavier than comparable models
Best Budget Surf Rod Under $100: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater
Not everyone who enjoys surf fishing or wants to give it a try can afford to buy a high end fishing rod. Up until recently there weren’t a lot of options for anglers on a budget that also wanted a good quality rod. Fortunately several manufacturers have stepped up and started making surf rods that appeal to the budget market.
The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater is one such surfcasting rod and is our pick for a good rod under $100. The blank is another composite of graphite and fiberglass with their clear tip design that is there to add extra strength and sensitivity. Ugly Stik is known for making tough rods and the Bigwater is no exception.
The Bigwater uses stainless steel guides which resists corrosion and isn’t susceptible to guide inserts breaking. The handle is made from comfortable EVA for those long days reeling in the big fish.
The Ugly Stik Bigwater makes a range of rods from smaller near shore to the longer surf fishing models. The 6 Surf rods start at 8′ and go to 15′. For some odd reason they don’t specify the action on these rods.
- Good rod for the money
- Durable and sensitive for detecting even the lightest bites
- Stainless steel guides
- 7 year warranty
- Can be a little heavy
- Composite not as durable as graphite rods
Surf Fishing Casting Rods
We’ve been focused on spinning rods so far, now it’s time to take a look at some of the best surf casting rods. Here are our two top picks.
The St. Croix Legend topped our list of spinning rods, so it should be no surprise to see their casting rod here as well. Most of the highlights apply to their casting model as well. It is a modern design made of the highest quality materials. It’s light, durable, and sensitive.
The length range is slightly different with only four models covering 10′ 6″, 11′, and 12′.
The Penn Carnage II is a light and strong casting rod that has been designed to work with braided line, though mono works just as well. It’s a thin graphite construction but still very strong.
The non-slip EVA foregrip has ridges for a more comfortable feel and to provide a groove for your fingers improving your grip. This is especially handy when it gets wet or your hands have some fish slime on them.
There are four models in 10′, 11′, and 12′ lengths.
Our Picks and Wrap Up
If you need a high quality surf rod that is sensitive, durable, and lightweight, then our pick is the St. Croix Legend. With Legend in its name you can bet that this rod is made from the finest materials and will enhance your fishing experience.
The impressive 15-year warranty shows that the company really stands behind their product and helps make this our top pick stand out from all but the Lamiglas GBS which would be our runner up.