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Can You Use a BaitCasting Reel for Surf Fishing?

Can You Use a Baitcaster Reel for Surf Fishing?
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There are two main kinds of fishing reels we use today; spinning reels and baitcasting reels. I would consider spinning reels the more popular and widely used ones.

But this can also lead to a lot of confusion and questions by people that are beginners. Why are baitcasting not used more often? Is there something bad about them? And are they suitable for surf fishing?

So, can you use a baitcasting reel for surf fishing? You can use a baitcasting reel for surf fishing. A baitcasting reelOpens in a new tab. provides for better casting control and distance, both of which are very important when surf fishing. Baitcasting has a lot more line capacity providing for a lot more versatility when surf fishing.

I know it because I had these very same questions at one point in time.

Back then, I went with the flow, and I was using a spinning reel, but after a while, I started wondering if I am missing out on something by not giving baitcasting reels a try. Let’s take a look.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Baitcasting Fishing Reel?

A baitcasting reel is designed and geared towards anglers that have more experience behind their back. Of course, everyone can start with a Baitcasting, even beginners.

However, if this is the fishing tackle you have and you don’t want to spend more money, a baitcasting reel is more than okay.

Baitcasting reels sit on top of a fishing rod, which is designed for these particular reels. Baitcasting rods are a bit different; they have smaller guides, and there is a little trigger grip on the bottom.

Unlike the spinning reels, the spool on a baitcaster is not fixed, and it rotates as you reel in or cast the line.

Baitcasting is designed to deal with casting heavier baits and fighting bigger fish.

1. Baitcasting Reels Offer More Control

The main thing you get with a baitcasting is more control. This is why you will see some of the professional anglers frequently using baitcasters as opposed to spinning reels.

There are several reasons why you will have better control.

First, you will not be using your fingers to hold the line as you cast (like you would do with a spinning reel). This is both a blessing and a curse. It improves control, but it also takes the most time to learn.

And secondly, you can easily thumb the spool as you cast to stop the bait at target. It is a lot smoother and more comfortable to do compared to a spinning reel.

2. Baitcaster Reels and Rods Offer Better Sensitivity

Usually, baitcasting rods have more backbone to them, and as a result, they are a little stiffer.

When you combine that with the tight feel of the line, you will generally have more direct contact with the bait and better feel as to what is happening on the other end of your line.

3. Baitcasting Reels Have a Smaller Profile

Baitcasting reels tend to have a lot smaller and slimmer profile.

But at the same time, they have higher capacity and can hold heavier lines.

4. BaitCasting Reels Are Prone to Backlash

Because of the way the spool rotates on a baitcasting, the line is more prone to backlash and tangles.

The more you practice, the less backlash you will experience, although eliminating it is probably going to be impossible.

5. The Drag of Baitcaster Reels

Baitcasting reels usually have a very high amount of drag, and if for some reason that is not enough, you can always use your thumb to apply even more drag.

This may be more of personal preference, I realize, but one thing that every angler love is to hear the drag.

Unfortunately, not all baitcasting have an audible drag.

6. Baitcasters Handle

Another disadvantage which is typical for baitcasting reels is that they are either right-handed or left-handed. And this may be inconvenient for some anglers.

For comparison, the spinning reel’s handle can usually be swapped from one side to the other within just a few minutes.

7. Maintenance and Price

Baitcasting reels are also typically more expensive compared to spinning reels. They also tend to need more maintenance.

This may be a deal-breaker for many.

Are Baitcasting Reels Suitable for Surf Fishing?

If you know me, you know that I prefer using spinning reels for surf fishing. I find them much better; they are lightweight, versatile, and usually, have good gear ratios (An important thing when it comes to long-distance casting).

Conversely, there is a place for both types of fishing reels. And baitcasting is perfectly suitable for surf fishing as well.

Now let’s take a look at what they are geared towards, and we will expand from there.

What Are Baitcasting Fishing Reels Designed For?

BaitCasting are designed more for precision, control, and catching big fish.

A lot of anglers like to use baitcasting reels for catching sharks and other big boys. But the problem is that they are usually further into the water and frequently you may not be able to get to them from the shore.

Maybe you have heard the stories of South African anglers that can cast up to 1000 yards into the water with their baitcaster reel. This may sound crazy, but their fishing reels are highly modified and specialized. Not all of us have access to these, so we need to make do with what we have.

Baitcasting reels are primarily used for trolling and bottom fishing.

The fact that they can hold a ton of line is making them great for dropping the weight deep.

Additionally, they don’t have bail, like the spinning reels, which can wear with time, especially if you are trolling and fighting bigger fish.

Can You Use a Baitcasting Reel for Surf Fishing?

When you are surf fishing, you want to be able to cover a lot of distance.

And the fact that conventional reels are prone to backlash is making them a bit tricky to use when you need to cover a lot of distance.

This is why most people do not recommend them for beginner anglers.

Once you become more experienced, you will be able to pull it off with as little backlash as possible. And this is when the beauty of these reels starts to shine through.

When it comes to casting at longer distances and casting heavier weights and baits, they are second to none.

If you are casting no more than 5 oz of weight, you can do pretty well with a spinning reel.

What I like about baitcasting reels is that they are typically lighter and smaller while at the same time give me a lot more freedom as they hold a lot more line.

This is especially good if you are deep fishing, casting further away, offshore fishing, using a kayak, or you just want to hold your fishing rod without having your hands fatigue as fast.

Is Using a BaitCasting Reel for Surf Fishing Effective in Saltwater?

Using a baitcasting reel for surf fishing can be effective in saltwater, especially when using freshwater lures in saltwaterOpens in a new tab.. The baitcasting reel provides greater accuracy and distance, making it ideal for casting in the surf. Pairing it with the right lures can result in successful saltwater fishing experiences.

Baitcasting Vs. Spinning Reel for Surf Fishing

Both the baitcasting and the spinning reel are very good at casting different baits and lures. I mean, after all, this is what they are designed to do. But is one better than the other?

Yes and no. Here’s the thing.

Which one is better will depend on where you are fishing, how you are fishing as well as what fish species you are after? And more often than not, you may end up needing both.

Spinning reelsOpens in a new tab. cannot carry as much line, but they are great if you don’t want a sophisticated reel or if you are worried about backlashing.

Spinning reelsOpens in a new tab., also, are more versatile and easier to learn and use. They are also a bit easier to cast, although what you sacrifice to get all of that is mainly casting accuracy and potentially casting distance.

You can still have backlash with spinning reels, although the chances of that happening are significantly low.

For the everyday angler that wants to get just one versatile and easy to use fishing reel, a spinning reelOpens in a new tab. may be the way to go.


In this article, we explored the pros and cons of using a baitcasting reel for surf fishing. As you can see, these reels can perform amazingly well, and the only downside is the somewhat steep learning curve.

Before you go, I want to say a few words geared towards beginners or anyone that is considering getting a baitcasting reel.

A lot of professional anglers use baitcasting reels for surf fishing because of the superb power, casting distance, and control these reels have.

Admittedly there is a learning curve to them, but the chances are that once you get comfortable casting with a baitcasting reel, you may not want to look back.

Don’t be afraid of the tangling problems that many people talk about. The more you practice, the better you will get. Bird nests are part of the whole process and should not scare you off.

Zaldy G.

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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