Best Surf Fishing Rods Reviewed: Casting From The Beach
These rods are unmatched in the fishing market and offer the longest casts, unimpeachable strength and tough durability that surf anglers require.
What is the difference between the best and the rest? Are you looking for a great rod at an affordable price? Continue reading!
Here’s a quick look at the top surf fishing rods:
- Okuma Cedros CSX Surf –Our Choice for the Best Lightweight Surfrod
- Penn Carnage II –Our Choice for the Best-Casting surf rod!
- Berrypro Graphite Surf Spinning Rod
- Fiblink Surf Spinning
- Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Surf
- St. Croix Avid Surf
Reviews of the Best Surf Fishing Rods
Okuma Cedros CSX SurfOur pick for the best lightweight surf rod
Okuma was all in on the Cedros CSX series of surf boards, and they are certainly rods to beat for their competition.
Cedros CSX’s 11-foot length is provided with a carbon fiber blank that provides an incredible combination of light weight and great strength. It would be interesting to see how Okuma produces this blank at such a low price.
This rod has unrivalled tip sensitivity. The rod can bend to about 1/3 of its length. You can throw anything at the Cedros CSX: bull reds sharks and massive stripers. It has the power to handle big fish and has been proven bomb-proof in real life.
The Okuma is tough, strong, and featherweight.
Okuma took a different route with his guides for this rod. Instead of the usual large stripper guides, these guides look more like they were taken from a bass rod. It is normal for casting to be affected by line slap. However, the stripper guide can be set a little further down the rod and it seems to work.
Although I would prefer a larger guide, the rod casts well. You won’t be disappointed, I think. But I would give the nod here to Penn.
The eight ALPS stainless steel frames have ultra-hard Zirconium inserts. These frames are tough enough to braid season after season. They’re comparable to the Fuji Ks Penn Carnage II runs.
Cedros CSX has a rubber shrink tube handle with a long length that provides all the space you need for fighting and casting. You can expect the reel seat to grip like a vise.
This rod is ideal for anglers who are very concerned about weight. The Cedros CSX is the best rod for anglers who cast a lot.
Penn Carnage II– Our Choice for the Best-Casting Surf Rod
Penn is a specialist in saltwater fishing tackle. If you are an inshore, offshore or beach angler you will know that Penn is trustworthy. The Carnage II series of surf rods is a great choice, as they are built to fight, cast, and last.
Let’s begin with the blank. Penn has equipped the Carnage II’s Carnage II with a combination of graphite-fiberglass that combines the rigidity and sensitivity with the durability and flexibility of the latter. Comparable to the Ugly Stik Bigwater, which is only 1/4 the price of this rod, you get a lot more rod. And the dollars you spend here really do matter.
The tip is very sensitive and you will be able to sense the movement of the line from the action of a crankbait to nibbles. The blank bends easily for the first 40% or so, before hitting the real backbone this rod offers, which is confidence-inspiringly stiff.
Are you looking for a rod that will allow you to muscle a 6- to 4-foot shark?
As you would expect from Fuji K components, the guide quality is exceptional. Alconite inserts are lightweight, durable, and slick. Quality control is excellent. The price has risen from Okuma, Berrypro and Fiblink. It would be very surprising if an insert is lost or the guide’s durability is compromised.
The rod has a lot to offer. Despite having a few additional guides, the Fuji Ks are able to do their job well. They allow for great casting and equally distribute the load across the blank. This makes the rod very tough. I would place it next to the Ugly Stik.
This is a huge accomplishment!
It has a long rubber shrink tube handle that I love about the Carnage II. It gives you the ability to cast far and manage big fish.
Fuji is also the reel seat, and it will do its job admirably every day, season after season.
Overall, Penn’s Carnage II is a great surf casting rod.
Berrypro Graphite Surf Spinning Rod
Berrypro’s surf rods offer a cost-effective option to more expensive options. However, I am not convinced that they can compete with the Ugly Stik Bigwater for the same price. The Berrypro is a competent rod, but that’s not to suggest it isn’t!
Berrypro uses a IM7 graphite blank for this rod. It is extremely strong and stiff, yet very lightweight. This might be the right option for you if you find fishing with a large rod tiring or can’t manage most 11-footers using one hand.
The rod is strong enough to catch most fish. It also has a fast action so you will feel every strike. You’ll notice any nibble, from blues to bait fish!
The down side?
This rod, despite the guide (almost certainly a nod towards the graphite blank), can be fragile. This is simply graphite’s nature. It’s also a compromise that has been made to increase sensitivity and decrease weight. This means you can easily lose the tip and snap the rod closer to the center without any warning.
Good guide quality. You can expect stainless steel with ceramic inserts. However, quality control can be difficult and inserts may pop out. I would give the thumbs up to the better rods here, including the similar priced Ugly Stik. However, the customer service is excellent and they will quickly resolve any problem.
The rod casts well but fiberglass could be added flexibility to improve performance.
This rod has a very nice handle. The long, continuous rubber shrink tubing is very useful and will give you plenty of space for casting or fighting. The reel seat is the same: it’s very secure, well-constructed and tight.
The ferrule quality is excellent and the rod locks up like an vault.
This rod is sensitive and light, which makes it ideal for those who don’t like the weight of composite or fiberglass.
Fiblink Surf Spinning
Fiblink’s surfrods set a new standard in quality and many anglers have been impressed by the fact that these inexpensive options can compete with much more expensive alternatives.
The 12-foot rod’s heart is a high-modulus graphite plain. This makes it a great choice for composite and fiberglass users who are concerned about their weight. As I mentioned above, weight reduction often comes with a compromise in durability.
It seems that the Fiblink factory does not follow the laws of physics. The rod is lightweight, as you would expect, but it’s extremely durable. Graphite is very strong so I was expecting this rod to withstand a lot of weight. But what I didn’t expect was that it would be able to do so without cracking. This rod is strong enough to withstand anything, from sharks to large, angry stripers, to huge rays.
You can count me impressed!
However, some anglers have experienced problems with broken tips due to user error. A graphite blank must be babied.
The real strength of the blank will be evident at the 1/3rd mark. At that point, it’s almost like iron. You will feel the tip’s sensitiveness and be able to sense ripples in sand with your sinker.
The guide quality is great, but the inserts can sometimes come loose. This is where I have to give the thumbs up to the Ugly Stik Bigwater. Single-unit construction seems to work well for surf rods. The “stripper guide”, located closest to the reel, is another problem. Casting suffers because it’s not quite right-sized.
Casting is good but not exceptional. The culprit is most likely the small stripping guide.
The Fiblink’s handle is superb. Expect continuous rubber shrink tubing, plenty of space to cast and fight.
Ferrules and reel seats are excellent; you will have no problems with either.
This is a great lightweight rod for those who find the Ugly Stik Bigwater to heavy.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Surf
Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik is known for its bomb-proof toughness. This may not matter to the average angler but it is important for surf casting.
This might be the best option for you if your casting rods are breaking or you are frustrated by them.
The Bigwater series comes in many surf lengths, including 8, 9, 10, 11, 11 and 15 feet. My recommendation is the 11. This rod is made from a composite blank of graphite/fiberglass and has the ability to load on casts and to pull a large shark onto the sand.
The rod has the same clear tip as an Ugly Stik. It is sensitive enough to fish flounder, skate, and croaker. However, it only shines when you hook a larger fish like a redfish or striper. The full power of this blank will be felt in your hands about a third from the tip.
It’s enough to say that this rod was put up against some real brutes. But, by the end, the weight of the rod will be obvious in your arms and hands.
This blank’s line and lure weight ratings are outstanding, so you can throw anything from lures to heavy sinkers to live bait. Flexible fiberglass and rigid graphite combine to make casting easier across all ranges. The handle of EVA foam is long and comfortable, further enhancing this advantage.
Although I didn’t expect much for the money, I was pleasantly surprised by the guides. They are tough, tough and tough. There are no worries about them hitting something hard in the parking lot. These guides are also made of polished stainless steel and have a very smooth finish. They were completely unaffected when I sawed with mono-weighing 6 pounds.
The reel seat is made of graphite and, while it may not be visually appealing, it’s secure and tight. No wiggle, no trouble.
The Ugly Stik Bigwater comes with a split EVA foam handle that is generously long. While I can live with this, I prefer rubber shrink tubing and continuous designs. There’s ample space for fighting and casting. There aren’t many things to be unhappy about the foam.
Shakespeare’s ferrules are great and the rod pieces will stay in place when assembled correctly. Although a rod with a high-powered motor is not expected to have flexibility at the joint, I find that the handle has a lot of sensitivity.
The Ugly Stik is a great deal if you are looking for a long-lasting surf casting rod.
St. Croix Avid Surf
St. Croix is a legend rod company and the Avid Surf lives to that reputation for unparalleled quality–if it’s possible to pay for it!
It’s important to note that this rod is a single-handed operation.The price is approximately three times as highThe next-most expensive option on our wish list. Its real question is, does it perform three times as well?
St. Croix is a huge fan of mine, but I have to say no.
The Avid is a great blank. It’s made from carbon fiber which is strong, light, and sensitive. This allows it to tell you everything about your ride while turning a 30-pound striper. It’s strong, light, and has everything you need in a surf rod.
This St. Croix is the ideal light rod for anglers looking for a lightweight rod. It delivers top-quality performance in a featherweight package.
The Avid has 10 Fuji K guides. This distributes weight much better than other surf rods. It’s almost certain that the carbon fiber content makes it more durable than other rods with fewer guides.
Casting doesn’t suffer, however. The large stripper guide and Alconite inserts make it possible to throw light lures further than you might expect. Even the heavy stuff seems to travel for ever.
The cork tape handle is the only thing that bothers me about this rod. It’s comfortable, grippy and smooth for what it is. It doesn’t hold up to the real world as well as rubber shrink tubing, which I would prefer by a country mile.
The reel seat is just as amazing as you would expect from St. Croix.
Overall, the Avid is a great surf rod. However, this is to be expected given the price. The question is whether it’s worth three Okuma Cedros.
Despite this being the better rod, I have to say no. Dollar for dollar and foot for foot, you will get more bang for the buck if you buy from lower-priced rivals.
Our Picks – The Okuma Cedros CSX Surf, and the Penn Carnage II
It was tough competition and there are many great options for surf casting rods. My assessment ended in a dead heat with Penn and Okuma battling each other so closely it was impossible to choose a winner.
The Okuma is ultra-lightweight, with excellent components all around. It also has the strength, sensitivity and durability that you need in a surf rod. Only problem? The only problem? The Okuma is a great value for money, and the price is right.
The Penn, however, is a combination of graphite, fiberglass, and edging Okuma in toughness. The Penn is heavier but casting is better for most anglers. The Okuma is slightly more expensive, but the component quality is great.
The most important factor in deciding which rod is right is weight versus distance. It’s a great rod if you are able to take the Penn’s weight. If you intend to fish with your rod in hand all day, the Okuma is the best choice.
Surf casting rod basics
These rods can be used for casting surf, and not just as a spinning tool. They’re made to be extremely strong and long-lasting. They can be used to hunt bluefish, throw for specks or try for sharks.
Let’s start by breaking down the basic components of a surf casting reel to better understand their differences.
The rod’s action is the location on the blank where it will bend under load. The quicker the action, you will feel the rod’s true strength closer to the tip.
A fast action rod, for example, will stay stiff throughout its length and bend about a fifth to a quarter of the way from the end. A slow action rod, on the other hand, will bend along its length and form a long arc starting very close to the handle.
The measure of power is how much force it takes for a rod to bend. Action tells you how much force it takes to bend a rod.WhereIt will bend, power tells itHow much?It will bend under any load.
Action and power together are what describe the behavior of a blank. Heavy rods with a fast action will bend easily, but most of their length will stay straight. A medium-action, heavy rod, on the other hand, will be the same weight but bend closer to the handle. Combining power and action terms can be done repeatedly. In each case you will have a good idea of how a rod that has those descriptions will perform.
This is important for how the rod will perform in a fight, as well as how it will load or cast.
Most surf casting rods are medium-power and heavy, but action can vary quite a bit.
Casting accuracy and distance are affected by rod length, all other things being equal
The more precise the cast, the shorter the rod. The rod’s length determines how far it can cast and how well it can load under a heavy lure.
However, length can also impact how power and action work together. The longer the rod, however, the more it bends at a given power.
The length of surf casting rods is generally quite long, usually no less than 9 feet and sometimes much longer. This allows for excellent casting distances, which is a must-have for surf fishing. Anglers who have the right rod will also benefit from this length.
For all circumstances, I recommend a rod between 10-12 ft, with 11 being my personal sweet spot.
The surf casting rod market is dominated by three materials: graphite and carbon fiber.
- Fiberglass –Graphite is typically heavier and more durable than fiberglass, but it’s also less expensive. Indeed, its chief advantage is strength and durability, and rods like Shakespeare’s Ugly Stiks, legendary for their toughness, are composed of fiberglass.Fiberglass also flexes more easily than graphite, which can be a good thing when you need a rod to load well or cushion a hookset on a treble-hooked lure.
- Graphite –It is typically lighter than fiberglass, more durable and more expensive. It is very stiff and sensitive, which allows heavy rods to have a great feel. Many rods made of graphite are now available, from ultralight ultralights to heavy bassrods.
- Carbon fiber –It is the strongest, lightest and most expensive rod material available. It is extremely light and stiff. If fiberglass can be added to it, it will make a great rod.
- CompositesSome rods have a combination of a carbon fiber or graphite core and a fiberglass wrap to maximize the benefits they provide. The result should be strong, sensitive, load well and tough.
Every cast of a surf casting rod is subject to extreme stress.They will break if the blank is not well-made.This is a common error, even on high-end rods.
Notice:The blank is the most expensive component of a rod. Given how expensive surf casting tackle can be, you should expect rods that are good quality to be quite expensive.
Line and lure weights
The lure and line weights are printed on the side of a blank, near the handle. These weights are based on length, action and power of the rod. Sticking within the recommended range will ensure the best casting performance.
Choosing the right fishing line, mono or braid, is crucial to your success at the beach. There are many myths and rumors about fishing line performance. It’s worth finding out the truth.
We recommend the Trilene Big Game Monofilament (or Sufix 832 Braided Superiorline) as the best line for surfing fishing.
The Best Surf Casting Rods: What are the Components?
These rods can be used to cast surf, and are made tough.
For two reasons, surf casting rods require very long handles.
First, you will need to hook a monster. Longer handles give you more leverage. The long handles also allow you to position your hands farther apart using snap casting, which allows you to launch a lure over great distances.
The handles are usually made of one of the following materials: rubber shrink tubing, EVA foam or cork
- Cork –It is more expensive, has a warmer touch and is often more attractive. It is not as durable as synthetics and does not offer the same grip as rubber shrink tubing.
- EVA foam –This synthetic is tougher and more durable than rubber shrink tubing.
- Rubber shrink tubingIt is an excellent choice for surf rods. It is non-slip and provides both grip and continuous territory for your hands. It is durable, long-lasting and very affordable.
No matter what material I choose, I am looking for high-quality manufacturing and excellent fit and finish. Rubber shrink tubing is a common material and it’s the most suitable for handling this material.
The heart of every rod is its blank.
Manufacturers choose the best materials at the lowest price point, while keeping in mind the intended use of the blank when designing rods. A rod designed to pier-fish sharks will not have the same blank as one that is intended to surf cast for flounder.
In general, high-quality blanks will retain sensitivity while still providing long casts and lots of power in a fight.
I prefer strong blanks that are sensitive and strong. Usually, they should be at least medium power. For surf casting, I prefer rods that have a fast or medium-fast action. I believe you will too.
As long as the manufacturer has chosen the right tools, I don’t care about the components they choose. Fiberglass is heavier than graphite and carbon fiber, but it’s also more durable. It’s also less expensive. What is the tradeoff? It is also less sensitive and rigid.
I will review each rod and provide my general impressions about the blank’s performance. Surf casting rods can be expensive, as a lot of blank material is required for each one.
Although they are often overlooked, reel seats are an important part of any rod. They are essential for locking your reel in place, holding it in place like a vice.
Solid brass reel seats are my favorite, but I have fished and owned tough plastic models.
It is difficult to emphasize the importance of a good guide on a surf casting rod.
Guides not only distribute the strain of big fish along the lengths of the blank but also cause friction during casting and weight the rod. The majority of surf casting rods have 5-6 guides, regardless of their length.
This may sound strange to some anglers, who are used to a standard rule of one guide per meter. However, it is very helpful when you are looking for long casts from the shore. But what’s the downside?Surf casting rods are more susceptible to breaking under heavy loads because the force is not as evenly distributed across the blank.
To accommodate large spinning reels and prevent line slap, these rods need a large “stripper”, or guide before the reel. The stripper guide’s typical diameter is 40mm. Anything smaller risks casting shorter casts.
They must also be strong enough for a beating at the beach or in transit and not break.
Guide material is more important than just durability. This component must do the work!
Your line will be forced against the guides during a fight. This creates friction and heat can quickly break heavy lines. It is ideal to have smooth guides with as little friction as possible. Ceramics and silicon oxide inserts can be found at the top-end.
However, I have tested stainless steel guides and they are very, very good.
You can easily check the quality of your guide by simply sawing at the largest one, which is usually 6- to 8-pounds in mono.
You can always take it off if it breaks!
Each review will include a detailed assessment of the quality of the guide.
To detect light strikes, a surf casting rod must have a sensitive tip.
It doesn’t matter if the tip is fiberglass as many are or a continuation from the graphite/carbon fiber blank. What matters is that you feel a nibble and not lose the last 8 inches.
In each review, I will let you know how the tip does.
Ferrules are where a multi-part rod is joined. They should be as secure as possible and as flexible as they can be.
Ferrules that transmit vibration are well-constructed and can be as sensitive to vibration as a single-piece rod. They can also bend well and act as a solid piece of the blank.
Although it is important to correctly assemble multi-part surfrods, it’s easy to do.
Each rod I reviewed was evaluated for ferrule quality.