Whether you are fishing for buckets full of croakers or targeting the largest cobia in the cove, fishing is always more relaxing when there is sand between your toes and seagulls in the distance.
Surf fishing allows you to catch a wide variety of species, using different lures and baits, without the need to access a boat or pier. It is also a great way to combine family time with fishing time, as most kids love the activity (at least, for a while).
You might have to assist with casting and hook sets for young kids but that’s a small price to pay for the chance to introduce them to the world of fishing. Besides, there’s always the chance that they hook something particularly delicious or noteworthy.
But to have any reasonable chance of success from the shore, you need some gear designed specifically for the job. Start your gear collection by first selecting a good surf rod.
Because different anglers face different situations and prioritize different things, it is impossible to identify any single surf rod as the best for all situations. However, we’ve identified a few of the best options for anglers in different circumstances.
The 6 Top Surf Rods Of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top 6 recommendations for surf rods of 2020:
- Best overall: Okuma Longitude Surf Rod ( Read 330+ Amazon customer reviews )
- Best for the money: Take Tica Surf UMGA Series ( Read 40+ Amazon customer reviews )
- Best rod & reel combo: Take Penn Battle II combo
- Best for long range casting: Take St. Croix Mojo Surf Spinning Rod
- Best for small anglers: Take Ugly Stik Inshore Select
- Best cheap: Take Ugly Stik Surf Casting Rod
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|Rod Weight||7.72 oz||(not specified by manufacturer)||6.2 oz||(not specified by manufacturer)|
|Line Weight||10 - 25 lbs||4 - 10 lbs||6 - 12||6 - 15|
|Action||Moderate Fast||Medium Fast||Moderate Fast||Moderate|
|Power||Medium||Medium Light||Medium Light||Medium Light|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
1. The Best Overall Surf Rod: Okuma Longitude Surf Rod
If you are looking for the best all-around surf rod — one that will be versatile and come at a reasonable price without sacrificing quality — it will be hard to beat the Longitude series by Okuma.
It is available in several lengths (9 to 12 inches) and medium to heavy power, so there is sure to be one that fits your surf fishing needs. Every model includes a graphite composite blank for the perfect combination of strength and weight.
They also include stainless-steel hooded guides with aluminum oxide inserts, cork or cork-EVA grips and come in an easily transportable two-piece design. Both spinning and casting models are available.
- Traditional cork grips aid in securing a tight hold when wet
- Extremely sensitive for a large surf rod
- Come in a variety of lengths to suit different techniques or when targeting different species
- The two-piece design makes transportation hassle-free
- Large, heavy rod
- Long models can be a bit stiffer than some may like
If you are a surf angler with an eye for quality but a tight budget, the Longitude is the rod for you. It offers all the features you need, the quality you want and a price you can live with.
2. Best Surf Rod for the Money: Tica Surf UMGA Series
Everyone would love to use a rod made from the finest materials that has all of the best features that money can buy but only few anglers have a couple of thousand dollars to spend on a fishing pole.
Accordingly, it is important to select something that performs well but lacks the exorbitant price tag of high-end rods.
The Tica Surf UMGA Series includes some great surf fishing rods and their reasonable price tags make them an incredible value. It includes rods ranging from 7’ to 10’ in length, and your choice of two different actions and three different power ratings.
- TC2 Japanese graphite construction provides an excellent combination of strength and sensitivity
- Lightweight blank helps reduce fatigue so you can fish for hours
- Non-slip cork handle is comfortable and highly durable
- High-quality zirconium line guides help increase casting distance
- Available in one- and two-piece designs
3. Best Surf Rod-and-Reel Combo: Penn Battle II Combo
While most advanced anglers prefer a rod and reel separately, others (particularly those who just started with surf fishing) would rather just purchase a rod-and-reel combo.
This helps eliminate the possibility of selecting a rod that doesn’t work with a given reel or vice versa.
The Penn Battle II Combo provides anglers with the chance to hit the beach and get their line wet without having to worry about choosing among dozens of different rods and reels. Additionally, it is very affordable given the quality it provides.
- Graphite composite blank provides a great combination of sensitivity, strength, and performance
- Aluminum oxide guides withstand years of surf, sand, and sun
- 5+1 stainless steel ball bearing reel ensures smooth operation
- Available in several lengths, ranging from 6’6” to 10’
- Compatible with braided or monofilament line
4. Best Surf Rod For Long Distance Casting: St. Croix Mojo Surf Spinning Rod
Bulk of your surf-angling success depends on your ability to put your lure or bait beyond the breaking waves, where most of the fish congregate.
While technique plays a large part in casting distance, some rods are more likely to help you launch lures into orbit than others are.
There are few surf rods that’ll help you cast farther than the 12-foot-long St. Croix Mojo Surf Spinning Rod but you have to pay about twice as much to get this kind of quality.
Made with the same craftsmanship that St. Croix is famous for, you’ll surely love your Mojo rod the first time you cast it.
- Graphite blank provides unmatched sensitivity for detecting even the lightest bites
- Weight-saving surf guides help prevent fatigue and provide better rod balance
- Moderate fast action enables rock-solid hooksets even on the longest casts
- Custom X-wrap handle provides a secure yet comfortable grip
- Offset ferrules allow these two-piece rods to perform like a one-piece model
5. Best Surf Rod for Small Anglers: Ugly Stik Inshore Select Spinning Rod
Surf fishing presents particular challenges to those on the shorter side especially youngsters. A 5-foot tall person usually struggles to control a rod that is more than twice their height which can make it difficult to achieve suitable casting distance.
However, there are a few surf rods that are more comfortable for smaller anglers.
Ugly Stik rods are well-known for being both durable and affordable, and the Ugly Stik Inshore Select Spinning Rod is not an exception.
Made in both 7’ and 7’6” lengths, this is great for those anglers who can’t comfortably wield the extra-long rods used by other anglers.
- Stainless steel guides feature a one-piece design to eliminate popped out inserts
- Graphite and fiberglass construction provides a great combination of sensitivity and durability
- Super-durable EVA grips are comfortable and lightweight
- Comes with a 7-year limited warranty so that you can purchase with confidence
- Clear-tip design improves sensitivity so you don’t miss light biting fish
6. The Best Cheap Surf Rod: Ugly Stik Surf Casting Rod
While high-quality surf rods have usually been quite expensive, a few manufacturers have begun producing capable surf fishing rods for very reasonable prices.
The Ugly Stik Surf Casting Rod is a great example, as it is very affordable, yet it provides the type of quality serious anglers demand. In fact, the Ugly Stik Surf Casting Rod outperforms many rods that cost twice as much.
Made from a combination of graphite and fiberglass, the Ugly Stik Surf Casting Rod provides plenty of durability and strength, while still giving anglers the sensitivity to detect light strikes from small fish.
The Ugly Stik Surf Casting Rod comes in 10- and 12-foot-long models, in both heavy and extra-heavy powers.
- It comes with corrosion-resistant Ugly Tuff 1-piece stainless steel guides and durable EVA grips, the Ugly Stick Surf Casting Rod is built to last.
- Backed by the manufacturer’s 7-year limited warranty.
Important Choosing Factors
There is a considerable variation among surf rods so it is important to choose one that works best for your circumstances. This primarily means considering three fundamental aspects:
Usually, you want to get your bait or lure out past the breaking waves when surf fishing. The water past this point not only contains more catchable fish, but it is also easier to work your lure or bait in this relatively calm water.
But this means you need to be able to cast these often impressive distances and maintain some semblance of accuracy when doing so.
The two most important criteria factoring into casting distance are:
- rod length
- rod action
When all other factors are kept the same, a longer fishing pole improves your casting distance so most surf rods measure between 9 and 14 feet in length.
The flip side of this coin is that a shorter rod is easier to use and is more accurate; so as with every other aspect of angling, everything is a tradeoff.
Likewise, when all other things are consistent, those with slower actions increase your casting range. This occurs because slow action rods bend farther than those with faster actions. So the slower the action, the more help you get from the rod.
However, as with increased rod length, slower actions reduce casting accuracy.
Target Species and Size
You obviously need different gear to drag in a 400-pound blacktip compared to a 2-pound jack. Consider the species you are targeting before selecting your fishing stick.
The more specific you can be, the better. But you can have a good all-around surf rod by simply splitting the difference. Of course, you get peak performance by having specific rods but real-world considerations often require anglers to compromise.
There are a million exceptions, but the basic rule of thumb is to select heavier powers and longer lengths when targeting larger fish. The additional length and power let you set the hook more quickly and play big fish more efficiently.
But the longest rods are more tiring to use and they are difficult for smaller people to handle. If you are only fishing for small species, you may as well make things easier and go with a slightly shorter and lighter rod.
Preferred Baits or Lures
The type of bait or lure you like to use should also influence your selection. If you like to use lures, particularly light-weight plugs or small spoons, have a lightweight rod with a fast- or extra-fast action.
By contrast, if you like to chuck a 4-ounce hunk of lead and a 6-inch baitfish out into the water, you need a slower action and heavier power to get the best results.
You may also want to give consideration to the style of rod and reel you use, based on your preferred bait or lure.
For example, if you prefer to fish by repeatedly retrieving small lures and you are not comfortable tempting fate with hundreds of casts of a baitcasting rig, you may have more fun fishing a spinning rig.
You’ll lose a little casting distance in the process, but you’ll avoid backlashes entirely.
Any of the rods or combos mentioned above can help you catch more fish at the beach. Just be sure to consider your circumstances and preferences so that you can select the fishing stick suited for you.
Do you have a favorite surf rod? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
If you want to learn more about fishing rods in general, check our “Choosing The Best Fishing Rod & 6 Picks Reviewed“ guide.