9 Best Surf Fishing Rods Reviewed

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Best Surf Fishing Rods

Hey there fellow angler. If you’re here, you’re probably on the hunt for the best surf fishing rods.

I’ve spent the past 3 days looking through every single surf rod I could find on the world wide web and assessing them based on weight, material, strength, and durability.

The one that impressed me the most was the Penn Battalion II Surf Conventional. It’s high-quality, made with the latest technology, affordable, and gives you the long casts you need. In my opinion, it’s the overall best surf fishing rod in the market right now.

I totally understand that some of us may be on a budget though, and others may be willing to splurge. So I’ve included something for everyone.

All of these surf rods come from various brands used by people all around the world and even in tournaments.

Are you ready to find out which rods will help you successfully catch fish at the beach (and impress those chicks)? Let’s begin.

Our Top 9 Picks

  1. Penn Battalion II Surf Conventional (Best Overall)
  2. Penn Battle III LE Rod And Reel Combo (Best Rod and Reel Combo)
  3. Fiblink Surf 2-Piece Spinning (Best Budget)
  4. Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning (Best For Serious Anglers)
  5. St Croix Mojo Surf Spinning (Best Overall)
  6. Tica UGSA Series Surf Spinning (Best Mojo Surf Alternative)
  7. St Croix Avid Surf Casting (Best 2-Piece Rod)
  8. Tsunami Airwave (Best Avid Surf Alternative)
  9. St Croix Legend Surf Spinning (Best Splurge)

The 9 Best Surf Fishing Rods

Whether you’re on a budget, ready to splurge, or looking for the best there is, we’ve got you covered. We’ve even included both spinning rods and casting rods!


Best For Casual Anglers

1. Penn Battalion II Surf Conventional

  • Blank Material: Composite (Graphite and Fiberglass)
  • Guides: Fuji Alconite
  • Handle Material: Rubber Shrink Tubing
  • Rod Length: 10-12 ft
  • Warranty Period: 1 Year

The Penn Battalion II Surf Conventional is a moderately priced modern and high-quality surf fishing rod. It’s not an overstatement to say that the materials used in every single component of this surf fishing rod are the most advanced and of the highest quality.

First off, using state-of-the-art composite blanks, you get the best of both worlds. The graphite keeps the rod sensitive and light, and the fiberglass makes the rod sturdy and strong. You’ll be able to easily detect when fish bite and you’ll have no trouble handling those large fish you went to the beach for. The lightness also enables you to make casts all day without breaking a sweat.

Next, Fuji’s guides and reel seats have made a name for themselves in the industry. The Alconite used for the guide is strong and smooth, making it great for any fishing line. You’ll never have to worry about your guides breaking. The solid reel seats will also securely hold the large reels you’ll need to make tremendous casts.

Finally, the rubber shrink tube handle provides the firmest grip for fishing rods and maintains this grip even when the rod is wet. Among all the materials used to make handles, rubber shrink tubing performs the best. You’ll find that no fish can make you lose your grip even when it’s wet. Your hands will also thank you for choosing this comfortable grip after a long day of fishing.

The Penn Battalion II is truly a masterpiece, piecing together the very best there is in every component of the rod. It uses only the best quality components and delivers long casts.

Of course, this comes as no surprise. Penn is a brand that’s renowned for its quality and tournament-tested products and rods. They hold about 1,400 IGFA world rankings for their superb performances in various saltwater game fishing tournaments.

The only faults I could find with the Penn Battalion II were that it could be lighter and it can’t handle smaller fish. A necessary evil with composite blanks is that you’ll be sacrificing some lightness and sensitivity to get the sturdiness and strength that the heavier fiberglass brings to the table. 

Overall, since the extra weight is minimal and I’m guessing you’ll be targeting big fish, the Penn Battalion II’s faults can be easily overlooked. 

To top it all off, you’ll love the price. There’s no need to worry about breaking the bank because the Penn Battalion II is very price-friendly. 

If quality matters to you, look no further. You’ll be getting the very best in the market at a much lower price than many other high-end surf fishing rods. 

If you’re not very good at choosing reels to match your rods though, you’ll love the next recommendation on this list.


Best Rod and Reel Combo

2. Penn Battle III LE Rod and Reel Combo

  • Blank Material: Composite
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Handle Material: Winn Grip
  • Rod Length: 6.5-10 ft
  • Warranty Period: 1 Year

Up next is Penn’s solution for beginners and even experienced surf anglers who have trouble pairing reels with rods. I present to you the Penn Battle III LE Rod And Reel Combo.

While giving up only a little ground to the Penn Battalion II in its stainless steel guides, pretty much all other features of the Penn Battle III LE rod are equal to the Penn battalion II.

Both rods use composite blanks. The Winn Grips may be slightly less secure than rubber shrink tubing and the stainless steel guides are also slightly less smooth. If you tried both of them together though, you really wouldn’t notice these until someone pointed them out because the differences are really negligible.

Pairing the wrong rod and reel is likely going to result in you being unable to cast out of the breaking surf. In the worst case, you’ll end up damaging your rod. This rod and reel combo saves you time doing unnecessary research. The reel that comes with it has a smooth drag and will fit the rod perfectly, giving you a silky smooth fishing setup.

Overall, the Penn Battle III Combo can easily match up to the Penn Battalion II. For experienced surf fishermen who prefer to spend time searching for the best reel to match your rod, feel free to stick with the Penn Battalion II. If you’re looking for a surf fishing rod and reel combo though, there’s no better option than the Penn Battle III LE Combo.


Best Budget

3. Fiblink Surf Spinning

  • Blank Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Guides: Stainless Steel and Ceramic
  • Handle Material: Rubber Shrink Tubing
  • Rod Length: 9-15 ft
  • Warranty Period: 1 Year

Fiblink is a relatively new company that is establishing a reputation for good products and reasonable prices.

On to our next recommendation, the Fiblink Surf Spinning Rod. This rod is nowhere near what you’ll get with the previous two rods, but it’s perfect for anyone on a budget. 

The biggest difference lies in its blank material. Despite being half the price of the Penn Battalion II, the Fiblink Surf is surprisingly lighter. This comes at a huge cost. A carbon fiber blank is lighter than composite, but loses all the sturdiness and strength that comes with composite. This means you can only target decent-sized fish, and won’t be able to land the monsters. 

Despite this, no other fishing rod comes close to the value that the Fiblink Surf offers at this price point. For a little over $50, you can get started with surf fishing.

Apart from the material, the Fiblink Surf doesn’t have many shortcomings. The stainless steel and ceramic guides are slightly less smooth than Fuji Alconite, but are still smooth enough that you can retain control over the line.

The rubber shrink tube handle is the same as what Penn uses, so it can speak for itself.

Overall, the Fiblink Surf is the lowest-priced decent surf fishing rod in the market. As a bonus, it’s also portable, being a 2 piece rod. For those on a tight budget, or just looking to try out surf fishing, we highly recommend starting off with the Fiblink Surf Spinning Rod.


Best For Serious Anglers

4. Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning

  • Blank Material: Composite
  • Guides: Stainless Steel
  • Handle Material: EVA Foam
  • Rod Length: 6-15 ft
  • Warranty Period: 7 Years

If you’re a serious angler and you’re intending to go after the biggest fishes in the ocean, you’re going to need the Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod.

Ugly Stik fishing rods are well known for being unbreakable

Despite the blank being the same material as Penn’s, Ugly Stik has its own unique way of constructing rods that makes their rods the hardest. Even though it’s strong enough for the biggest fishes, it’s still sensitive enough for smaller fish. No other rod can bring home the monsters like it can.

So by now you’re probably wondering, if it’s so damn good, why didn’t it make the best overall pick?

Is it the handle? Not really. EVA Foam is still one of the best materials for handles, and will still give you a super firm grip.

Is it the guides? Not exactly. While stainless steel guides are not the best choice, just like the handle, it still does the job pretty well.

Is it the price? Definitely not. The Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod is actually about 1.5 times cheaper than the Penn Battalion II.

So what is it then? 

The real problem is the weight. If Ugly Stik rods were lighter, they would without a doubt be the best in the industry. However, that’s a big if. 

Due to the special construction, the Ugly Stik Bigwater is roughly 1.25 times heavier than Penn’s rods. While it doesn’t sound like much, you’ll really start to wish you had a Penn Battalion II instead after a couple of casts. 

As such, the Ugly Stik Bigwater is not for you mere mortals. Only the most serious and seasoned anglers should get this rod. 

The Ugly Stik Bigwater goes all the way up to 15 feet, so for those of you with the skill and the heart to tackle the toughest fish in the ocean, there is no better rod.


Best Overall

5. St Croix Mojo Surf Spinning

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Guides: Specialized Weight-Saving Surf Guides
  • Handle Material: Cork
  • Rod Length: 7-12 ft
  • Warranty Period: Up To 15 Years

The second lightest surf fishing rod we could find was the St Croix Mojo Surf Spinning Rod.

Graphite blanks are the lightest. Combined with St Croix’s specialised weight-saving guides that no other brand has, this rod has no lighter counterpart.

The catch is that the St Croix Mojo Surf is more than 1.5 times as expensive as the Penn Battalion II. And for this exorbitant price, it’s only around 10 percent lighter.

Moreover, the cork handles are less durable than rubber shrink tubing and are less secure.

The graphite blank is also less sturdy than composite blanks, so big fish are out of the question.

All in all, this is the second lightest surf fishing rod there is. If weight is an important factor to you, the St Croix Mojo Surf is what you’re looking for. However, the price can really put you off, so if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, keep reading.


Best Mojo Surf Alternative

6. Tica UGSA Series Surf Spinning

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Guides: Fuji Alconite
  • Handle Material: Cork Handle
  • Rod Length: 7-12 ft
  • Warranty Period: 1 Year

For those looking for a light fishing rod but without the premium price tag, the TICA UGSA Series Surf Spinning Rod will do the trick.

Tica’s Surf Rod uses the same material for its blanks as St Croix, but lacks its brand-specific guides. As such, TICA’s Surf Rod is just a slight bit heavier than St Croix’s but still a fair bit lighter than Penn’s.

They also use the same cork handles, and the only difference is that Tica’s guides are Fuji Alconite, and thus superior to St Croix’s.

As for the price, Tica is about 1.5 times the price of the Penn Battalion II. Frankly, it doesn’t offer 1.5 times the value. Not even close.

Still, all things considered, the Tica UGSA Series Surf Spinning Rod is the best alternative to the Mojo Surf. For those who value lightness in a rod and want to save a bit of money, we recommend getting this rod.


Best 2-Piece Rod

7. St Croix Avid Surf Casting

  • Blank Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Guides: Alconite
  • Handle Material: Cork
  • Rod Length: 10-12 ft
  • Warranty Period: 15 Years

For those looking for a 2-piece surf fishing rod, I recommend getting the St Croix Avid Surf Casting Rod.

While 2-piece rods often have sensitivity and power issues, the off-set, slim-profile ferrules on this rod allow it to perform every bit as well as a one-piece rod.

Furthermore, the SCIII Carbon provides all the sensitivity of a one-piece rod, while the Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) mandrel eliminates transitional points in the rod blank, giving you a stronger and more sensitive rod.

It’s hard to find good 2-piece rods, and even harder to find good surf fishing 2-piece rods, but if you’re looking for a 2-piece surf fishing rod, this is it.


Best Avid Surf Alternative

8. Tsunami Airwave

  • Blank Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Guides: Fuji Hardloy
  • Handle Material: Cork
  • Rod Length: 11 ft
  • Warranty Period: 1 Year

Another 2-piece rod, the Tsunami Airwave is a great alternative to the St Croix Avid Surf.

Like the St Croix Avid Surf, the Tsunami Airwave performs like a one-piece rod. It also has a ton of power, as you can guess from the heavy power rating.

It does fare a tad worse in terms of sensitivity as compared to the St Croix Avid Surf and is noticeably heavier though. If that sounds like something you can live with, you can save over 200 bucks on the St Croix Avid Surf and get this 2-piece rod instead.


Best Splurge

9. St Croix Legend Surf Spinning

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Guides: Titanium
  • Handle Material: Neoprene
  • Rod Length: 11 ft
  • Warranty Period: 15 Years

Remember how earlier I said that the St Croix Mojo Surf was the second lightest rod? Well, the St Croix Legend Surf Spinning Rod is the rod that beats it. In other words, the St Croix Legend Surf Spinning Rod is the lightest rod on the market.

But that isn’t the only reason to buy it. This incredible rod also boasts 3 of St Croix’s groundbreaking technologies. The 3 technologies are the Fortified Resin System (FRS), Advanced Reinforcing Technology (ART), and the Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) technology.

FRS is a special resin that makes your rod 33% stronger than rods that don’t use this resin. ART is an exotic carbon fiber that makes your rod 10 times stronger without any increase in weight or thickness. This means not only is this rod unbelievably strong, but it’s also light because little material is needed to achieve the strength. This makes it the best choice for light tackle surf fishing.

As for sensitivity, as mentioned above, IPC eliminates transitional points in the rod blank, significantly enhancing the rod’s lightness. As a bonus, IPC also boosts the rod’s strength.

Taking all these features into account, the St Croix Legend Surf Spinning Rod is the strongest, lightest, and most sensitive rod on the market. The only drawback with this rod is its price. Being the absolute best surf rod on the market, unsurprisingly, it’s also the most expensive. But if you’re looking for the best of the best and have the money to spare, this is the rod for you.


How To Choose The Best Surf Fishing Rod For You

The most obvious way to choose surf fishing rods is by casting distance. Before you even consider anything else, your surf rod must be able to cast far enough into calm waters where the fish are found. 

However, this is a small consideration. Most of the time, as long as your rod is at least 8 feet, this won’t be a problem.

What you’ll really need to look at are your rod length, rod action and rod power. Getting all these right is crucial to really enjoy fishing in the surf.

Rod Length

The absolute minimum length for surf fishing rods is 8 ft. A shorter rod may not be able to cast far enough into calm water. The question is how far can and should you go?

In a nutshell, a long rod allows for a long cast, until the point where it hinders your casting. There is a wide range of surf rod lengths, but you’ll want to focus on the 8-12 ft range.

For those looking to target panfish closer to the shore, an 8 ft long rod will offer the best sensitivity.

For most of us, we’ll be looking to target slightly larger fish, and that’s why most of the time, I’d recommend getting a 10 ft rod for a fairly long cast.

Long surf rods of 12 ft are reserved for those who are going after the biggest fishes, and need to cast the furthest.

Shorter rods below 8 ft are too short to cast into calm waters. There’s also no point casting past the surf zone where the fish are holding, so anything above 12 ft generally casts too far. 

It’s also best to research where the fish are holding at your location to decide the optimal casting distance and thus the right rod length for you.

Note that I’ve also heard of newer anglers asking about boat fishing. Since to surf fish entails fishing from near the surf, boat fishing doesn’t fall under this category anymore, even though you are still fishing in the ocean. Nevertheless, here are the rod lengths for boat fishing.

Rod Action

Rod action refers to how low down your rod will bend when you apply pressure to the tip.

Why does this matter?

The lower down it bends, the more casting distance and less sensitivity you have.

Rods that bend the furthest down are called slow action rods. Those that bend in the middle are moderate action rods, and those that bend at the tip are fast action rods.

For surf fishing, fast action rods are the best as they offer the most sensitivity. While you will be sacrificing some casting distance, you’ll more than make up for it with your rod length.

Rod Power

Rod power is just a fancy name for stiffness, which in turn refers to how much force you need to bend your rod. 

Obviously, a rod that is too flimsy won’t be able to handle big fish. The heavier your rod power, the more force you need to bend it. This means you’ll be able to handle larger fish.

Essentially, you don’t want to get anything that’s medium light power and below.

For those looking to fish for panfish, you’ll want a medium power rod.

For the majority that are looking to target decent, larger-sized fish, medium heavy power rods are the best.

For the most ambitious anglers, you’ll be wanting heavy power rods that can handle the strongest fish.

Which Material Makes For The Best Surf Fishing Rods

Most modern fishing rods are made up of either graphite, fiberglass, or composite which is a combination of both graphite and fiberglass. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Graphite

Graphite, aka carbon fiber, makes for the lightest and most sensitive fishing rods. With a graphite blank, you’ll be able to feel even the slightest pulls.

However, they’re also the most expensive and tend to be less sturdy. 

When catching fish in the surf, graphite is not exactly the best material. Most of the time, you’ll be either targeting big fish or monster fish, and flimsy graphite rods won’t be up for the job. Even though lighter rods do allow you to cast further, even if you cast far enough and a decent-sized fish takes the bait, your rod is going to break, so what’s the point?

The only situation where you’ll be using graphite surf rods is for panfish.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass rods are the complete opposite of graphite rods.

Fiberglass rod blanks are as sturdy and durable as it gets, and you’ll need these sorely in surf fishing, where you’ll be up against the toughest fish in the world.

As I mentioned earlier, fiberglass is the complete opposite of graphite. The toughness of fiberglass comes at the expense of lightness and sensitivity. Fiberglass rods are a lot heavier and less sensitive than graphite rods.

The sensitivity isn’t a very big problem in surf fishing, because there’s no way you won’t feel the tug from those big fish. However, the weight will be an issue. You’ll be recasting several times per hour, and a heavy rod will tire you out quickly.

Composite

It seems that whichever material you choose, you’ll have to give something up. A graphite blank breaks easily, and with a fiberglass blank, you get tired after a few casts.

In the past, this was the case. However, with technological advancements, a new material was born – composite. Composite is a mix of graphite and fiberglass, offering you the best of both worlds.

With composite, you get fairly sensitive and light rods that are also pretty durable. While your rod won’t be the lightest, the most sensitive, or the most durable, you’ll get a pretty well-balanced rod.

Composite rods are ideal for surf fishing because the weight will be manageable, and the rod will be sturdy enough.

How To Cast A Surf Fishing Rod

First off, before casting, tighten your drag so your line won’t cut your finger later on.

Start by holding it close to the bottom. Your other hand should be gripping the reel, with your pinky below the reel and the other 3 fingers on top. Then, hold your rod overhead and it should be pointing directly backward right now. Turn your body 45 degrees to the water so you can add twisting power to your cast. Now bend your back elbow a bit while keeping your front elbow straight.

Finally, twist your body while casting.

Your casting motion should end with your surf rod pointing 45 degrees at the sky.

Once you’re done casting, remember to loosen your drag.

Now that you know how to cast a surf fishing rod so it goes as far as it can, you’re ready to go beach fishing. For those who still have difficulty casting it far enough or just don’t want to exert themselves so much, I recommend getting a cast cannon.

FAQS

Here are some commonly asked questions about surf fishing.

How do I care for my surf fishing rod?

Since you’re fishing on the beach, sand will definitely get on your rod. Aside from the usual fishing rod maintenance, you’ll need to take special care with surf fishing rods to clean off the sand from your rods. Sand tends to get stuck in the smaller parts, so you may also need to take apart your rod and clean each part individually.

Ideally, the rod components should be corrosion-resistant too since surf fishing is a form of saltwater fishing.

What Size Reel Should I get for surf fishing?

Surf fishing requires casting much further distances than usual, so a surf fishing reel has to be much larger too. Surf fishing reels should be minimally size 5000. However, if you’re targeting larger fish, then get a 6000 reel. I would not recommend getting above 6000, because not only is it harder to use larger fishing reels, but they’re also unnecessarily expensive.

You’ll also want to make sure to get a spinning reel for spinning rods and vice versa for baitcasting reels and that the reels have a smooth drag.

My Verdict

Surf fishing is not for the faint-hearted. You’ll be up against enormous fish and you’ll be casting lures again and again.

Only the lightest and sturdiest rods made with the best materials and latest technology will make the cut. And there’s no rod that fits that bill better than the Penn Battalion II Surf Conventional.

P.S. You can’t go fishing with just a rod, you’re going to need the best surf fishing reel too. Lucky for you, if you need a reliable reel, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best surf fishing reels. Note that this is a spinning reel list. If you’re looking for baitcasting reels instead for those long casting rods, here are the best baitcasting reels.

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AUTHOR

Reuben went on his first fishing trip when he was 9. That's when he fell in love with fishing. When he's not fishing, he's searching for new gear and ways to fish better.