The surf, like no other fishing location, is a mecca for the most outrageous rod, reel, and rig combinations you’ll ever see. And, unfortunately, getting it wrong on the beach is a recipe for unnecessary hard work, frustration, and disappointing fishing results.
But building the best surf fishing rod and reel combo takes knowledge and experience many developing surf fishing enthusiasts simply don’t possess. So, are factory surf fishing combos the answer for the less experienced?
At UltimateFisher we don’t think so. Instead of pointing readers in the direction of standard combos, our experienced team has compiled six spin outfits. You can find them below.
Our Surf Rod And Reel Combo Process
UltimateFisher’s Mike Waltman and I have a combined surf fishing experience pushing through 60 years. We’ll keep on learning till our last cast, but we know how to match a rod and reel for great results off the beach. We’ve listened to your feedback, researched common questions, and set about making six great surf combos we would make for ourselves.
We aimed to provide readers with easy, no-brainer choices. If the designated application of the combos below fits your surf fishing MO or desires, look no further, it’s a sure thing – just order it. Our primary considerations include quality, performance, accessible pricing/value, and varieties of applications. We also decided to keep it spin-based for simplicity.
UltimateFisher’s 6 Best Custom Surf Combos
You will need to purchase the following rods and reels separately. They’re not factory/brand combos. We have matched rod to reel in order to present our surf fishing followers with combo options outside of the limited range currently available online.
Best All-purpose Surf Combo On A Budget
I’ve put this rod and reel combo at the top of the list for a reason. I love it. It’s proof that great surf fishing for a wide variety of targets needn’t be expensive. I’d recommend this affordable combo to anglers of all experience levels. It has fantastic versatility, performance, and durability. And with the money you’ll save, you can stock up on terminal tackle.
You have all the grunt you need to wrestle trophy drum or a stray tarpon. Yet it’s not so heavy that you can’t have a great time chasing pan-sized whiting.
Suitable for heavier surf, you can add the weight you need to keep your bait in the zone. For those who like casting metal slices at bluefish or mackerel, the 6.2:1 ratio on the Sedona reel gives you the speed you need. I’m a big fan of Shimano’s entry-level spin reels, and I believe the Sedona is the standout of the stables.
I recommend two spools, one with 15-pound mono, and the other with 25-pound braid for big targets. Fish lures, cut baits, or live baits. You're unlikely to find the equivalent quality in this price range.
- Exceptional value for money
- Hagane gears & stainless steel ball bearings
- Outstanding casting distance
- Durable stainless steel guides (frames)
- Brilliant for set baits or active fishing.
- Limited heavy mono capacity
Best Ultra Light Rod & Reel Combo
There is no better surf sport than working beach-side troughs and holes with super-responsive, ultra light, performance gear. While a gem for panfish of all types, this combo has refined grunt. It boasts compact power and precision that you won't find in any surf fishing buying guide.
Cast hard bodies at trout, ladyfish, reds, and, blacks, and don’t panic should a 10 pound monster take your lure. Be patient, you’re well-armed. The FL 3000 is a very capable reel for surf fishing, and the ODM has plenty of backbone.
The Stradic FL is a phenomenal reel, with a silky smooth drag, exceptionally powerful for its size and weight. Sporting tech features originally reserved for Shimano’s flagship Stella; the FL is a premium reel for the most discerning light sport angler.
The ODM 8-footer is a masterpiece and an ideal selection for working light surf conditions. The ultimate in responsiveness and sensitivity, you can cast relentlessly for long sessions without fatigue. It casts beautifully.
I’ll spool up with 10-pound braid and flick lures, hard and soft, at whatever’s around. Recommended for the light sport surf specialist.
- Fatigue-free surf fishing
- Phenomenal power-to-weight ratio
- Premium build & components
- Refined high-end performance
- Outstanding sport fishing
- Not suitable for heavier surf conditions
Best Big Fish Live Bait Combo
The Saragosa 14000 XG is proof that you don’t need a Stella or Saltiga for heavy work in tough conditions.
For me, the Saragosa is the best-value performance spin reel in the Shimano line-up. Strapped to the superb and powerful St Croix Seage 12’, this pairing will suit surf anglers targeting trophy drum, stripers, tarpon, and others, with live baits, and big cut baits.
This combination will also cast prodigious distances that make it an awesome weapon for hurling heavy lures at mackerel and their pelagic buddies working the top water.
This is the perfect fishing rod combo for a heavy swell and current. You can load up with lead to hold your target zone. With the strength of the Seage, 400 yards of 50-pound braid, and 33 max drag, you’re hauling sharks with this combo. The Gosa has plenty of capacity to soak up the long, determined runs of toothy monsters.
- Exceptional performance
- Outstanding build quality
- Excellent spool capacity
- Sea Guide NPS reel seat
- Powerful, responsive rod blank with aluminum oxide guides (rings)
- A little expensive
Best Surf Fishing Allrounder
I’m a huge fan of the Daiwa BG series. And the SaltX 11’ performs every bit as well as its head-turning profile promises. These products belong together.
The BG, with its full metal body and aluminum spool, is robust, powerful, smooth, and exceptionally capable. The BG series has been a revelation for Daiwa in a heavily contested market segment. Such is the performance and value for money, I bought two.
This pairing will suit those surf anglers looking for a highly versatile, performance, go-to allrounder, without the premium price tag. Target everything that haunts the breakers, small and large, with lures, cut baits, and live baits.
I recommend at least two spools – one with 15 to 20-pound mono, and another with 40-pound braided lines for targeting monsters. This is a classic surf outfit you’ll be proud to fish.
- Highly versatile
- Great build quality
- Robust and powerful
- Long working life in tough conditions
- Access all species the surf has to offer
- The Daiwa is a little heavier than the current industry standard
The Toughest Surf Combo
A surf fishing combo list would be incomplete without Van Staal, one of the modern legend surf reels. If there was ever a military-issued spinning reel it would be the Van Staal. The VR151 is a dedicated surf all-rounder with raw power, an incredible maximum drag of 35 pounds, and excellent spool capacities.
Coupled with the Seage 10’ with its medium power, and medium/fast rod action, this combo provides access to all surf fish, but with an edge.
The Van Staal is fully waterproof, corrosion resistant, and built like a tank, It’s designed to handle being fully submerged, dropped in the sand, rinsed off, and cast. I recommend the VR to all surf anglers who are harsh on their gear, fish wet and hike through tide and dune to reach the perfect location.
This is an adventurer's reel in every way. Take a spool for whiting and a spool for 40-pound drum, and there’s nothing you can’t target. While the Van Staal might not be the smoothest reel, it’s unkillable. And it’s a reel that improves with time.
This is the perfect combination for the toughest of surf conditions. It’s ideal for lures of all types, cut baits, and live baits. While this spinning rod combo is expensive, it will pay for itself with many years of reliable peak performance.
- Waterproof design
- Unmatched durability
- Famous surf fishing reel
- Built to handle the worst fishing conditions
- Strong and powerful blank with stainless steel guides (frames)
- Not the smoothest reel at this price point
Best Travel Rod & Reel Combo For Surf Fishing
The four-piece 9-foot Voyager is lightweight and compact – even fragile-looking. However, it delivers high-performance access to the lion’s share of surf-dwelling species, punching well above its tiny blank diameters. Each rod piece connects hand in glove, and there’s no discernible performance decay owing to the multiple joins.
Coupled with the refined strength of the Stradic FL, you’re casting cut baits, live baits, and lures, in surprisingly troubled seas. With a 2-ounce casting capacity, you can use enough lead to hold your ground in reasonably tough conditions.
The Stradic holds 260 yards of 20-pound braid. Backed up by 24 pounds of smooth and predictable Shimano drag, you’re set to tackle your PB striper, red, or black. Change over to your spare spool loaded with 12-pound mono, and you’ll have awesome fun with porgy, whiting, ladyfish, or pompano – depending on where you’ve travelled.
This pairing suits a more discerning surf angler. The kind who takes their fishing gear everywhere, be it on a plane, train, or automobile – overnight, or extended time away.
- Lightweight & compact
- Excellent versatility
- Premium quality rod & reel
- High-Performance combo
- Fatigue free fishing
- No hard travel case supplied
What Is A Fishing Combo?
In its simplest form, a “combo” is the combination of rod and reel. But in the fishing retail market, “combo” has a more specific meaning.
A combo is a rod and reel combination matched and compiled by the manufacturer or retailer. It’s sold as a package – 1 item, not two items and usually the rod and reel are the same brands.
Experts have matched rod to reel so that the outfit is balanced - the rod suits the reel and vice versa. Both rod and reel are (theoretically) equally suitable for the fishing application for which they were designed. The experts also determined the combo with a particular application in mind.
Why Buy A Rod & Reel Combo?
The main reason for buying factory combos is that you don’t need the advanced fishing and product knowledge that’s required to match a rod to a reel - outfit to application. With combos, the reel has been matched to the rod by an expert, and it’s fit for the application intended. Often, there are attractive cost benefits also.
A rod and reel need to complement each other in terms of weight, size, application, and performance. When a rod matches a reel, we call it a balanced outfit. If you use a rod and reel that is not balanced or unsuited to each other, you can expect a disappointing feel and performance. This might range from terrible casting,annoying knots, to a complete inability to fish with it at all.
It’s important to understand that there are degrees of balance. For some anglers, close enough is good enough. For others, fractions of an ounce can make the difference - only the perfect balance will do. At this point, however, it's become personal preference..
That’s why creating a balanced outfit requires a reasonably high level of knowledge and experience. Interestingly, there’s a huge number of experienced anglers who don’t have the knowledge to create a balanced outfit for their intended application – especially the surf.
Final Thoughts On Our 6 Best Custom Surf Fishing Combos
If any of our combos above match your surf fishing applications, jump in and order now. In my experience, it’s particularly hard to get factory surf combos that suit you perfectly. This is compounded by surf rods going out of stock frequently.
These rod and reel pairings were compiled so that all you needed to know is your application and your budget. Quality and performance are assured. If you have any questions, drop us a mail at ultimatefisher.com, we love a chat.
A 5000 spin reel is a brilliant surf all-rounder. Many models offer very generous spool capacities and powerful drag systems. With two spools, you can rig light for smaller fish, and heavy for surf-dwelling monsters.
Like the 5000, the 4000 size is a brilliant surf allrounder. Often you’ll find very little between the specs of 4k and 5k reels. Making a selection between these sizes will come down to your rod choice, and reel brand.
Rod length isn't a key consideration for matching reel size. A 9-foot rod could take a compact 3000 or a gamefish size 30000. Your rod’s power rating will determine the range of suitable reel sizes. Once determined, you can refine a reel choice in consideration of rod length, for optimum balance.
Long rods offer leverage in a surf fish fight, excellent casting distance, and the potential to get over waves. I never fish anything longer than 12 feet. Long rods are cumbersome and create terrible fatigue. I look for any opportunity I can to fish as short a rod as possible. This will be determined by the wave height, and distance I need to cast to hit the target zone.
There are far too many variables in surf casting to indicate a distance. Any number would be purely arbitrary, and of little to no value. It may sound flippant, but the best answer is that a well-balanced 10-foot rig will, by and large, cast as far as you need.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.