The Best Surf Fishing Rods 2020

Looking to get your very own surf fishing rod? Don't miss our guide to the top rods available right now!

surf fishing rods

When it comes to surf fishing, anglers have to contend with a roaring ocean that often puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to trying to catch fish.

Which means, that to truly be a successful surf fisher, you need the best rod on the market to help you out.

For most surf anglers, a rod needs to be light – as these fishers spend a long time on their feet holding their rod, which can lead to fatigue. Yet, in order to catch the massive game that sweeps through our oceans, you also need a rod that is strong enough for you to battle with these big fish hunts. Which means you need to find the right balance for you.

So, if you want a chance of bringing home some delicious fish for dinner, how do you choose the perfect surf fishing rod for you?


Model

Details


St Croix Legend Surf

Our Top Pick

St Croix Legend Surf

- Integrated Poly Curve® (IPC®) tooling technology
- Advanced Reinforcing Technology™ (ART™).
- Off-set, slim-profile ferrules on two-piece models provide one-piece performance.

Lamiglas GSB Surf

Lamiglas GSB Surf

- Lightweight and powerful 2 piece angler rod
- Built of high fiber density 24 ton IM6 carbon graphite
- Stainless steel, black painted Fuji K Frame

Penn Battalion Surf Casting

Budget Choice

Penn Battalion

- 2 piece graphite composite blank
- Fuji® aluminum oxide guides
- Fuji® reel seat
- Rubber shrink tube handles provides a secure grip

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod

Shakespeare Ugly Stik

- Ugly Tech blank construction with a combination of graphite and fiberglass
- Clear Tip design
- Lightweight EVA grips

PENN Battle II Combo

PENN Battle II Combo

- Full metal body and sideplates
- 5+1 stainless steel bearing system
- Graphite composite blank
- Aluminum oxide guides

Our Surf Fishing Rod Reviews

In this section you can take a closer look at our recommended rods. Find out exactly why each rod is deserving of a place on this list.

St Croix Legend     * Our Top Pick *

St Croix Legend Surf

One of the biggest advantages of the St Croix Legends line of rods, is that this manufacturer really listens to the feedback from its customers in order to improve their future rods.

This means that, with every rod released, these tools are featuring increased performance and durability – especially when compared to its competitors on the market.

Which is why the Legend Surf Spinning rod is such a wonderful buy. As not only has it been developed to be stronger and better performing than past models, it’s also a lot lighter than other models, making it far easier to use for longer.

Even better, the St Croix Legend Surf Spinning rod comes with a load of cutting-edge additions, like the Fuji Torzite solid titanium frame surf guides and the SCIV graphite blanks (which is both high-strain and high-modulus).

No surf rod review would be complete without looking at the handle of the rod and, thankfully, the Legend has one of the best handles on the market. Made from neoprene, this handle not only prevents your hands from slipping – essential when bringing in a big catch – it also very comfortable to use for long periods of time.

Grip is especially important for surf fishers, who might need to send a long cast out to reach the fish that they’re hunting. Which is why we like the Legend’s use of neoprene so much, as it provides comfort while still giving superb grip to its user.

While many rod manufactures fail to remember that a rod used in surf is going to be subjected to corrosive saltwater day after day, and merely give it the same coating as a freshwater rod. Thankfully, with the Legend, you rod is now equipped with non-corrosive elements. This means you won’t have to subject your rod to as much maintenance.

The Legend comes in three different sizes, ideal for different kinds of surf fishers. Here the 10-foot LGSS100MM2 is ideal for surfing close to the beach, the 11-foot medium-heavy is incredibly versatile and will even handle catching eels and the 9-foot LGSS90MM2 is perfect for catching stripers.

Perhaps the greatest plus-point for the Legend, though, is that this rod comes with a mammoth 15-year warranty. Which means you’ll feel safe in the knowledge that you made a safe choice for your surf fishing outings. While this rod certainly isn't cheap, knowing that you'll get at least 15 years out is a huge plus point.

The Legend offers high performance and like every St Croix rod is extremely well built.

Pros

  • 15-year warranty
  • Non-corrosive materials and cutting-edge additions

Cons

  • It's not exactly cheap

The Bottom Line

If you want a high-quality rod with lots of brilliant features, you can’t go wrong with the St Croix Legend. Plus, you really can’t argue with that 15-year warranty!



Lamiglas GSB Surf

Lamiglas GSB Surf

It’s no surprise that Lamiglas is a contender on our top surfing rods lists, after all, this manufacturer has been a leader in the market of surf rods for decades now. So, which Lamiglas rod is our favorite? Well, despite many different releases over the years, our favorite Lamiglas rod is still the GSB series

Now the problem with being a popular surfing rod brand, such as Lamiglas, is that some manufacturers tend to take the pedal off their research and development and just stick to what they know. Which means many fishers loyal to a brand can miss out on the newest technologies in their rods.

Thankfully, Lamiglas and their GSB series is different from many other brands, and this company has released their GSB range in a new factory-finished surf rod series. Which includes custom X Flock grips, Fuji K-Series Concept tangle-free guides and Fuji Deluxe double-locking DNPSSD reel sets.

Available in 14 different models, Lamiglas have ensured that there is a specific rod out there that will suit every surf angler. As well as one-piece rods, the GSB series also have two-piece rod sets that will perform and flex just like you would expect from a one piece. These rods range from 8 feet to 11 feet in length.

Perhaps the best surf rod for distance, this GSB series rod uses one of the most popular surfcasting reels along with a custom modified New Guide Concept layout. Which allows for improved fish fighting and casting for those using the rod.

Most notably, all of these popular rods are crafted in the USA and are made from a blend of IM6 high fiber density graphite, which has a slow coated finish for durability and long-lasting protection – even in the roughest of surfs.

One fun feature on this rod is the ‘Mark of the 50’, which is a 50-inch indicator from the Fuji buttcap, allowing you to see just how big your monster catch is!

The GSB series also has a Skinner rod, which was designed by legendary surfer John Skinner. Also, for those who appreciate the history of Lamiglas, there are two Old School (also known as OS) rods, which are throwbacks to the some of the original rods released by the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Reputable company
  • Interesting design and solid features

Cons

  • Some other brands are more exciting

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a rod from a well-established company, then you can’t go wrong with the GSB series. For a more specialized rod, you may want to look elsewhere.



Penn Battalion      * Budget Choice *

Penn Battalion Surf Casting

Considering the Penn Battalion rod is a far more entry level price surfing rod, you might be surprised at just how good this rod is. Indeed, the quality alone of this rod makes it well worth it’s small price tag.

The rod itself is made from a composite graphite material, with the finish looking extremely high-quality. As well as being graphite, this rod also benefits from epoxy moldings and Fuji reel seat, which is all mounted above shrink-tube wrapped handle. This, overall, makes for a slick and stylish looking surf rod.

Measuring in at 11-foot, this two-piece rod can take lures that range from 2-6 oz in weight. The line can also handle weights from 15 to 30lbs, meaning it can handle most medium fish. If you want to go looking for larger catches, fear not, by opting for a braided line, you’ll be able to handle up to 50lbs on your line.

By being a two-piece rod, this means that you can split your rod into two. This makes it far easier to store and carry that other big rods. It’s also light, meaning it can be carried for long trips without causing discomfort.

While the rod is suitable for bigger fish, you need to be careful with some fish types. For instance, in a fish like a snook, which has a softer mouth, you will need to watch your use of drag. There has been some complaint about the rod having too much load on the tip, however, don’t let this put you off, as this can be compensated in your style of casting.

Perhaps one of the best plus points for this rod, though, is the fact it is made by such a reputable company. Penn have been around creating quality rods since 1932, which means you can be safe in the knowledge that your rod will be a good quality one, even considering the bargain price.

Overall, this rod has great strength and balance, meaning if you find yourself in a fight with a certain fish catch, you’ll have a great chance of winning the battle.

Pros

  • Lots of quality features despite low price as well as being a powerful rod from a reputable company

Cons

  • Can load towards the tip in some circumstances

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to try surf fishing and want a cheaper rod that is still high in quality, then the Penn Battalion should be your number one choice.



Recommended Next: Don't miss our guide to the top surf fishing gear on the market right now!


Shakespeare Ugly Stik

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod

If you’re looking for long distance surf casting rods that won’t break the bank, then look no further than the Shakespeare Ugly Stik. This rod, which has been iconic among anglers for decades now, isn’t just know for the unusual name. This rod is actually known more for being tough with a sensitive feel, which is fundamental in catching more fish.

The newly updated design has seen this Ugly Stik get a host of welcomed upgrades, making it ideal for beginners and seasoned surf fishers. Perhaps the most important of these is the fact that this rod has now been designed as a one-piece, which eliminated the popping problem that previous models suffered from.

Made from a graphite composite, this makes the Ugly Stik an extremely hard-wearing and long-lasting rod. Which means, despite the reasonable price, you are not compromising on a rod that will only last you a year or so. Indeed, this rod is such good value, it is by the best choice in its price range for surf fishing rods.

If you’re looking for a long-distance rod, the Ugly Stick Bigwater Surf Spinning rod is available in a 12-foot length. Now, when it comes to larger rods, we often find that many of the advantages featured in a smaller rod are not carried over to the longer lengths. Thankfully, this is not the case in the Ugly Stick, which is just as good small, as it is on larger frames.

Even better, this rod has a fiberglass core, which gives your rod the much-needed hoop strength that it needs. There’s even a classic clear tip, which gives the rod stiffness and the rod has 7 guides rather than 6.

One of the most important features of a surf rod is its handle, as fishers need a handle that gives a strong grip, yet is still comfortable over long periods of time. Again, the Ugly Stik comes through here, with a well-designed handle that benefits from EVA pads above and below the reel seat as well as an expanded butt section.

Interestingly, this rod has a larger upper pad than others on the market, which again adds to the comfort as well as helping your grip when wrestling with big catches. Which is reflected in the rod’s superb bending strength.

Pros

  • Comfortable handle
  • Long casting
  • Strong and hard-wearing as well as a very reasonable price

Cons

  • The handle has a bare blank section, which has less grip when wet

The Bottom Line

This rod has an amazing price for the sheer quality you get. So, it’s ideal for those new to the sport and those just looking for a bargain.



PENN Battle II Combo

PENN Battle II Combo

If you’re looking for the best surf fishing rod and reel combo, then let us introduce you to the wonderful Penn Battle II, which has an ideal rod and reel combination for surf fishers. Even better, this rod comes under the Penn name, which has been associated with high quality for decades now.

The rod itself is made with a composite blend of graphite, which makes it a strong and versatile rod. So, whether you’re looking to catch massive monster fish or you need a rod that is sensitive enough to alert you to smaller bites, this rod can do both. Which makes it perfect for a larger number of surf fishers.

The Penn Battle II comes in a number of sizes. This ranges from 6-foot 6 inch medium-light rod right up to a 10-foot heavy design. This allows fishers to pick and choose the rod that’s right for both their style of fishing as well as the type of fish that you would like to catch.

No matter the size you choose, each of these combo rods come with a highly comfortable EVA foam handle as well as guides made from aluminum oxide guides. This rod also includes a body, side plate and rotor made from full metal. This is alongside an anodized aluminum spool.

The rod has a line capacity of around 200 yards, which is enough for most surf anglers. There’s even a heavy-duty drag system, which refers to the resistance a fish on your will feel when it pulls. Here the drag system also has HT 100 Versa-Drag Carbon Fiber Washers. Having a good amount of drag pull will help ensure your rod does not break while wrestling with a hooked catch.

Pros

  • Good balance that holds well in surf
  • Versatile rod that can be used in a number of angling situations

Cons

  • Can be stiff
  • One-piece design is hard to travel with

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for versatility, this rod and reel combo is a wonderful choice. True, there might be other rods which tackle specific surf fishing issues; however, this rod has a good bank of features that makes it a great buy overall.



Looking for a new baitcasting reel? Don't miss our guide!


How to Choose the Perfect Surf Fishing Rod 

The problem with choosing a surf fishing rod is the fact that there is so much choice on the market. With many retailers claiming their rod comes with all the best features to ensure that you’ll be the best surf angler on the beach.

However, to really get the best surf casting rod for you, you'll need to take into account a number of aspects. Here's a run through of what to look for.

Choosing a surf fishing rod

The Size of Surf Rods

Generally, surfing rods tend to be very large. As you want a rod that can go the distance into the ocean, where all the best and most delicious fish are swimming.

On average, you can expect surf fishing rods to be around 10 to 11 feet in length. However, some rods can be as small as 7 feet or as large as 15 feet, with differing sizes being more suited to different surf fishing needs:

  • 7-9 feet – The smallest surf rods, these lengths are best suited to casting into the surf for small to medium fishes. This length is also suited to catching sharks and rays, too.
  • 9-12 feet – This is a very versatile length that will work with many different surf fishing locations. This includes: long casting, fan casting and jetties.
  • 12-15 feet – You’ll need this length for long-casting, which is ideal for those looking to bag themselves the biggest fish in the ocean.

Now, before you instantly choose the biggest rod you see for sale – as bigger has got to be better, right? – it’s incredibly important that you stop and think before you buy.

For one, you need to take in your own height and strength here. As, if you are average or short in height, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to be able to properly cast a very large surf rod.

You also need to take into account how you’re going to store that rod. As, when you buy a larger rod, it’s likely that you’re also going to have larger accessories to match that rod.

This means that you’re going to need a large room to store all your surf fishing equipment, such as a garage. Or, you’ll need to look for a rod that can be folded or taken apart into smaller sections.

fishing rod details

The Material of Your Rod

If you’re going to invest in a surfing rod, you’re going to need a rod that is made out of a material that is durable. After all, every angler knows that when using your fishing equipment out on the surf, accidents can easily happen.

Which is why you should always look for a durable material, such as graphite or fiberglass, that is going to last you years into the future.

  • Graphite

Graphite is a popular material for a fishing rod, as it is both sensitive and light. This sensitivity is particularly important, as being sensitive means you’re more likely to catch your hooked fish efficiently. Which is why many graphite rods will come with different grade ratings – such as IM6 or IM8 – where higher grading means a higher sensitivity.

Graphite itself is made from thousands of tiny strains of carbon that is woven together. When you have a higher number of strains, your rod will be more sensitive – such as the IM8 rods. Of course, many anglers can be hesitant to purchase a sensitive rod, as these are thought to be more prone to breaking.

However, these days, even the most sensitive of graphite rods will not snap unless there is a massive amount of stress put on them. So, they should be absolutely fine for most fishers. Plus, most rods come with a manufacturer guarantee, meaning you’ll be protected if your rod snaps when it shouldn’t have.

  • Fiberglass

If you’re primarily looking to catch fish, then a fiberglass rod is a good all-round rod for a surf fisher. Not only do these rods work well for trolling, they also have a lot of forgiveness when being used in water with rough waves.

While some believe a fiberglass rod to be less sophisticated than a graphite, in actuality a fiberglass rod is often a better choice for anglers if it’s high-quality. Especially when it comes to forgiveness in landing ability and fish fighting. It just needs a lot of practice in order to use it correctly when casting.

two surf fishing rods on white table

Flexibility 

Surf fishing poles don’t just need to be strong, it’s imperative that they’re flexible too. Otherwise, your rod will just snap when you’re trying to reel in bigger fish from the surf. The amount of pressure you need to put on a rod in order to make it bend is referred to as the rod power.

Here manufacturers tend to label their rod power from light to heavy and, if you want to try surf fishing, you need a rod that is medium-heavy or medium-light. As, generally, heavier rods are used on boats and light rods being used in freshwater fishing.

You might find that a rod power rating is described as being from 1-5. Here, 1 is the lightest and 5 is the heaviest. Whether you opt to go towards heavy or light with your rod will be dependent on the fish you’d like to catch. With the heavier rods being more suited to larger catches. Keep in mind, though, that a more flexible rod is easier to use.

As well as the weight of your rod, you need sensitivity in order to detect you have a fish on your hook.

Casting 

Casting is important, as it will tell you how far you can throw your line into the ocean and the type of fish that you’re likely to catch. For surf fishing, you generally need your rod to cast further than you would with freshwater fishing or if you were fishing off the side of a boat.

A longer cast won’t mean you’re guaranteed to get bigger fish, though. It all depends on your level of skill and experience. Indeed, many anglers prefer to stick to a shorter cast for bigger fish as they find it easier to bring them in with this.


Conclusion

When it comes to your surf fishing rod, there might be a lot of options on the market, however, you needn’t let this vast choice overwhelm you. The key to finding the right surf rod is to base your decision on the best choice for your fishing style.

True, other fishers might recommend you a rod that has dealt them some incredible catches. Or, you might be swayed by online opinions like ours. The key to finding the right rod for you, is to take all this advice and narrow your choice down to two or three. From there you can right your pros and cons for each.

Any of the five rods featured on this list will make a superb rod for both those new to the sport and for those who have been enjoying surf fishing for years already. Overall, you should pay most attention to a budget that suits your means as well as looking to pick a size and cast distance that matches what you plan to use your surf rod to catch.

That way, whatever rod you choose – especially those on this list – you’re sure to have got yourself a quality rod that will last you for years in the future. Which means all you need to worry about is what exciting fish you’ll be enjoying at dinner!

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