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How To Choose The Best Surf Fishing Rods? The Complete Guide

How To Choose The Best Surf Fishing Rods
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Surf fishing has always seemed like an exciting adventure for you, but you’ve been hesitant in trying it out. But with the right gear, you can have an amazing experience and get some great fish to take home.

Action matters when it comes to fishing rods. Action determines the distance of your cast and how the rod works for you. You want a nice bend in the rod because this means you are working less for the fish, and your rod is doing the work for you.

If you’re a beginner at surf fishing, you’re going to want to read on to learn about selecting the best surf fishing rods. Your fishing experience is going to only be as good as your fishing equipment.

The Ultimate Guide to Surf Fishing Rods

There are a lot of options for surf fishing rods on the market, which can make embarking on this journey a more daunting adventure than you may have thought.

The goal is to educate yourself before you go out there so that you can buy the best surfing rods for your needs.

What Are The Different Types of Fishing Rod?

The first part of this guide will be about understanding the different materials that these fishing rods are made from.

Surf fishing rods are typically made from:

  • fiberglass,
  • graphite (also known as carbon fiber),
  • or composite.

Each of these different materials offers specific benefits to the user.

Fiberglass rods.

Fiberglass fishing rods are typically the more affordable option, but that shouldn’t be a determining factor in how good they are.

If you want a medium-to-slow action rod, you want to stick with fiberglass rods.

These are the least sensitive of the rods as well as the least powerful, but they are still durable and useful rods.

Beginners tend to prefer graphite rods when they are just starting because they are durable enough to take the beating as you learn the best techniques for fishing.

Plus, since they are less expensive, you won’t be as hesitant to replace it.

Graphite rods

Graphite rods are often the most expensive surf fishing rods. You get the most power when carrying the weight and the most sensitive as well.

Graphite rods are fast action rods, offering the fastest action on the market.

However, the problem with graphite rods is that they are much more likely to snap than fiberglass rods.

This can be stressful, especially since they are so expensive.

They are also so sensitive that you may accidentally set the hook when you feel even the slightest bit of a bump, particularly if you are a beginner.

Composite Rods.

Composite rods are constructed from both fiberglass and graphite (or some other similar type of materials).

This means that you can get a more sensitive rod than a fiberglass one, but one that lacks the power of graphite.

Some may consider this rod the best of both worlds, but you may not get the ability to catch those larger fish. (ShopKarlOpens in a new tab.)

These types of fishing rods have different kinds of action depending on where the fiberglass materials end and the composite materials start.

By looking closely at the fishing rod, you can see the area where these two materials meet to create the rod. This is the place where the fishing rod will flex.

For the most part, these fishing rods are in the range of medium to medium-fast action. This means that these rods will bend around 1/3rd and ½ of the way down.

Composite fishing rods are considered the “new generation” of fishing rods.

Is this the right option for you? Some people enjoy that composite fishing rod is extremely durable, but it lacks the power that you want when fishing for larger fish.

It can depend on the quality of the rod you are looking at.

The highest quality composite rods can often be rated for up to 200lb lines, despite the fact that they are the size of 15lb or 20lb baitcasting or spinning rodsOpens in a new tab..

Which option is better? Unfortunately, this isn’t about which one is better overall. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so it will ultimately come down to your specific needs and preferences.

The idea is that you want to find something that feels right and works well for you.

As you become more skilled, you may find that you prefer one option over the other for various fishing trips.

The fact is that buying a surf fishing rodOpens in a new tab. is a personal choice, and there’s no right or wrong. (Coastal AnglerOpens in a new tab.)

Understanding The Length, Action and The Power of the Rod

It can help to better understand what the various terms mean before getting into how to choose the right surf fishing rods.

By following these terms, you can have an easier time when you begin shopping for your equipment. This section will take a closer look at these terms. (Tackle WarehouseOpens in a new tab.)

The Length of The Rod

There is a wide range of sizes when it comes to fishing rods. Fishing rods can be as small as 4ft. or as long as 14ft. The length of the rod is measured from the tip of the rod to the butt.

These sizes can depend on what type of fishing you are going to be doing. For instance, if you are bass fishing, this can often be between 6ft. and 9ft.

Longer rods tend to be the preference for saltwater anglers who tend to cast for a longer distance. This is especially true for those who fish from the surf or on a pierOpens in a new tab..

The reason for this is that with shorter rods, you get less of that bend you are looking for when you are surf fishing.

How can you tell what fishing rod length is the best for your surfOpens in a new tab. fishing needs? The most popular lengths that anglers opt for are between 7 and 12 ft.

To choose the best option for you, you need to consider not only the environment you are fishing in but also the type of fish that you want to catch.

Beginners may find that 7ft. Rods are the best as they start because it offers the best balance so that they can practice their casting accuracy and distance better.

As you get more comfortable fishing, you can move on to bigger surf fishing rods. (Dick’s Sporting Goods)

The Action of The Rod

Action is easily one of the most important terms for you to understand. This term refers to the amount of bend the rod has when you add pressure on its tip.

Here is a brief explanation of these different types of rods:Opens in a new tab.

● With a fast action rod, there will be a bend in the rod’s top 1/3 (or less).

● The moderate or medium action will have a bend in the lower 1/3 of the rod.

● The fast action rods mean that you get more power and sensitivity when hook setting. These are better for shorter-distance casting.

Medium to fast action rods give you more distance with your cast, and you still get a decent hook setting.

Each of these options has its benefits to consider. Now it’s time to take a closer look at these different types of actions.

Moderate Action

These types of rods will bend in the top half of the length. This is good because it allows the angler to fish for large and small species, while still getting the hook setting allowances and control that they are interested in.

Moderate action fishing rods tend to be among the more versatile options. You not only get the ability to cast longer distances but also get the right amount of hook setting power.

Slow Action

Slow action rods will bend throughout the entire length of the fishing rod. This means that you get the most flexible type of action with slow-action rods.

You will only want to use this type of fishing rod if you are going after smaller fish.

Fast Action

You will only notice the bend on fast action rods at the top 1/3rd or less of the blank. Because this type of rod has less of a bend, these are an ideal choice for large game fishing.

These are more sensitive and a more flexible tip, which is great for when you need to fight the fish.

Extra-Fast Action

With an extra-fast action, you are going to get a great sensitivity and quick response when fighting fish. The blanks on these types of rods are stiffer than slow action rods.

You will feel powerful vibrations when fishing and more power, which is why some anglers prefer this type of action.

The type of action that you need depends on the type of fishing that you are going to be doing. For larger game fish, you typically want a rod with fast or extra-fast action.

Consider the type of fishing and the fish you are going after to determine the best action for you. Now, let’s move onto the power of the fishing rod.

The Power of The Rod

When it comes to fishing rods, power is used to lift the fishing rod’s power or strength.

The power of a rod can be described as medium, medium-heavy, heavy, and other similar terms. This is related to the line strength.

If you have a heavier power rod, this rod can handle heavier weights of lines and vice-versa.

How calm the water is will determine the power that you need for your rod.

To learn more about fishing rod action and power, watch the video below.

Video credit: Surfcaster’s Journal

Other Things to Consider

Responsiveness This term refers to how well the rod flexes under the load as well as releasing any energy that’s stored in the cast.

Modulus – Modulus is about the stiffness of the graphite, not necessarily the material that was used. The type of modulus that you want depends on what your specific needs are.

Taper – Taper refers to the thickness of the rod as well as the thickness of the blank’s wall. This is often used with action.

These are all important terms to understand when you are trying to pick out the best fishing rod.

The option that is best for you now as a beginner may not be the best choice as you get more advanced.

But by understanding these terms, you can understand the differences between all of your options.

Next, we will take a look at the various components attached to the fishing rod.

What Are The Components Attached To The Fishing Rod?

The various components that are attached to the fishing rod are another important aspect to consider.

Starting at the rod’s bottom, this section details every component for you to understand them better.

Butt and Butt Cap

The first part of this is to take a look at the rod butt, which is also referred to as the “end” or “plug” of the rod. This is typically the thickest part of the rod, located closest to the handle.

This rod may provide a lot of the rod’s aesthetic appeal, but it does offer a little function as well.

The purpose of the butt is that it often has metal parts in it that allow it to be twinned with rod holders. This is great because it takes the strain off of your hands when fishing.

The butt cap is on the bottom end of the rod, typically made of a soft material like rubber or cork.

You want a softer material because this is the part of the rod that ends up against your body as you try to fight with the fish. (Orbit FishingOpens in a new tab.)

These are components of the fishing rod that many people don’t consider important.

They do provide both function and aesthetics to the fishing rod, so you should consider these things as well—one reason why it’s important to feel the fishing rod before you invest in one.

The next part of the fishing rod is the rod handle.

The Rod Handle

Handles generally are made from either EVA foam or cork, which are both great materials for offering a comfortable and quality grip on the fishing rod.

It’s not just about the materials used for the handle, but also the length of the handle.

If you want longer casts, you need a longer handle. The length of the handle can have a significant impact on how well the fishing rod performs.

With shorter handles, you are able to make a more accurate cast at shorter distances.

The Reel Seats

One of the most important things to know about the reel seat is that you must invest in a fishing rod that has a good reel seat.

If you cheap out here, you could potentially get reels that bind out or gets rusted.

Ideally, you want a reel seat where you can feel your blank and has a plastic cushion inside the metal hoods, the area where the feet of the reel go.

Cheaper options have cardboard spacers instead of plastic, which can deteriorate easily and lead to the reel rotating on the rod directly.

The Line Guides

The line guides are the frames and rings setups that you find on fishing rods. If you have more guides on your rod, this means that you will cast better.

The more guides that you have, the more power and consistency you get, especially when catching larger fish.

There are several different types of guides that you can choose from, including (On the WaterOpens in a new tab.):

  • Micro Guides
  • Single Foot
  • Double Foot
  • K-Frame
  • Roller Guides

Each of these different types of guides has its benefits. Some people find that the single foot guides don’t impact the rod’s action as much as a double foot guide.

But, if you require something that is more durable and can handle larger fish, you need a double foot guide.

K-frame guides are great for spinning and surf rods, where you use a braided line. This guide will reduce any tangling issues.

Micro guides have rings that are size 7 or less. These guides are the preferred choice for freshwater anglers.

To get the most action out of micro guides, you do need to have 10 or more guides.

What’s good about these is that they are lightweight, but you won’t get the durability that you need with other options.

Lastly, there are roller guides. This is the preferred choice for bait fisher that are looking to get bigger fish like tuna.

These guides are made to minimize the friction that happens between the guide and the line when reeling in big fish.

The Tip

The tip of the rod is the part of the rod where the tip-top is attached. These are often referred to as either soft or hard tips, with the hard tip offering less flex but more durability. Surf fishing generally requires a hard tip.


This is the very end of your fishing rod, where the metal guide is located at the very tip. The tip is important when it comes to the action of the rod.

A fast-action rod tends to have a stiffer end, making it easier to catch more aggressive fish.

Each part of the fishing rod plays a part in how effective your fishing rod is during your fishing trip.

Every detail of each component really does matter, which is why you need to understand the role each part plays in the performance of the fishing rod.

Once you do, you can pick the perfect fishing rod for your fishing trip.

What to Look for When Buying A Fishing Rod?

After learning all of the important terms of surf fishing, you can begin your search for the perfect surf fishing rodsOpens in a new tab..

There are a lot of things to consider before you decide on a fishing rod.

In this section, you can learn about the different factors to look at with your fishing rod.

What Type Of Fish You’re Trying To Catch

One of the most important things to consider is the type of fishOpens in a new tab. you are targeting. You don’t need to have a specific species in mind, but this can help ensure that you get the exact rod you need for your purposes.

This is why many people bring a few rods with them, including a larger rod capable of handling larger fish.

If you’re only bringing one rod on your adventure, you can either bring a more general fishing rod Opens in a new tab.that is more versatile or a rod that is better suited to catch a specific species. (Angler WithinOpens in a new tab.)

Choose The Length Of The Rod That Suits Your Need

The rod length is measured, starting at the tip of the rod to the handle’s butt. The length of the rod does have a major impact on the ability to cast.

If you want to cast for shorter distances, you need a smaller rod. If you want the ability to land a long-distance cast, you need a long surf fishing rodOpens in a new tab..

Shorter rods will have less flex, but this could be exactly what you need to catch stronger fish.

Longer rods give you more distance, which is ideal for deep and open water fishing. Typically, fishing rods come in various lengths between 6 and 12 feet. (Fishing PioneerOpens in a new tab.)

Which rod length is the best choice for you?

If you are using your hands and lures, you should stick to a rod length of between 8′-10′. If you are trying to catch fish like the redfish or sharks, use a rod holder for a longer 11′-13′ pole.

The pole length can determine how much leverage you get when fishing. For instance, longer rods offer less leverage than shorter rods.

Choose The Right Power Of The Rod

When it comes to power, there are primarily a few different categories to consider:

  • lightweight,
  • mediumweight,
  • and heavyweight.

The lightweight rods are typically better for those trips where you’re going after smaller fish. Often, lightweight power rods have a moderate/slow action and are great for shorter distances.

However, if you want to catch fish, larger fish lightweight options aren’t the best choice for you.

If you want something great for long-distance as well as some larger fish species, the mediumweight power fishing rods are the best choice for you.

They have moderate action, meaning that these are versatile options that you can use for most purposes, especially if you choose a 10′ option. You get great casting distance and exceptional power for most needs.

Now, if you are looking to catch those large predatory species of fish, you need a powerful, fast-action rod to keep up with your fishing needs.

The heavyweight surf fishing rods are the best option for catching these much bigger fish.

Choose The Right Action Of The Rod

You already know that the action refers to that bend in the fishing pole, but you may not be aware that this bend can vary depending on the specific rod you use.

A fast action rod made for simple fly fishing will look different from a fast action rod used for larger fish. That’s an important thing to remember when you are picking out surf fishing rods.

Slow-to-medium rods give you the ability to load the rod while you are fishing and get a better distance when casting.

These are also better choices if you use live bait since you’re less likely to see your bait come off the rod when casting.

Fast action rods are better because they offer you more precision when casting in addition to better sensitivity.

Due to the solid hooksets used with fast action rods, you are also more likely to get those big fish you are trying for. (Catskill FishingOpens in a new tab.)

Choose The Right Materials

As previously mentioned, your surf fishing rodsOpens in a new tab. primarily are made with either fiberglass or graphite. If something says “carbon fiber” on it, but this is the same as graphite is.

There are even some options that are called “composite,” meaning that they use both fiberglass and graphite for its construction.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both, which are important to know before buying.

Fiberglass rods are cheaper but still are often offer more strength and durability than graphite rods. But due to the nature of these rods, they tend to be less sensitive and heavier.

If you want precision, graphite is the best choice for you. They are lighter, faster, and more sensitive so you can catch even the most subtle fishes.

Composite rods are a happy medium, giving you the best of both of these fishing rod types.

The materials that create the fishing rod make your fishing experience.

Think about what type of fishing you are doing and what your preference is to help you determine which material is the best option.

Before you set on a fishing rod, it can be a good idea to go to a store to get a real feel for the fishing rod.

The way it feels in your hand can be a major consideration when choosing the right materials.

Now that you know what material you want, do you want a spinning rod or a conventional one?

Spinning vs. Conventional

This is primarily a decision made based on your preferences.

When talking about spinning vs. conventional, you’re talking about the different reels on the fishing pole.

Traditionally, people preferred conventional ones because this gave you the strongest drag.

However, these days you can get a decent amount of drag and strength with spinning reels that are comparable to conventional ones.

Beginners may find that they prefer spinning as there is much less of a learning curve than conventional reels.

There are pros and cons to each of these options. With the conventional setup, you are getting an ideal choice for casting heavyweights.

If you have enough practice with casting, you can get farther casting distances Opens in a new tab.with conventional reels. Plus, these still have the strongest top-end drag.

The downside with conventional setups is that you get more backlash with it.

If you go with a spinning reelOpens in a new tab., you don’t get the same backlash problems, which makes it a great choice for fishing at nighttime.

There are some issues with spinning reels to consider as well.

You can easily cut your finger when using it on the braided lines, especially when casting heavyweight.

You may also notice more line twists with spinning reels than with conventional ones.

However, this line twist risk can be reduced by ensuring that the reel is properly spooled and not reeling against any drag as you fight the fish.

You may prefer that you love the ease of use you get from spinning reelsOpens in a new tab. and how simple they are. This is especially true as a beginner.

You will just have to take a try and see the approach to see which one suits your needs and specific style of fishing.

One Piece or More

There are fishing rods that are all one-piece, or you could go with a two-piece option.

If you buy a longer rod, it may be better to have a two-piece because it allows you to transport it a lot easier.

These days, 2 piece rods are just as strong as 1 piece rods, so there’s no reason to dismiss one just because it’s a 2 piece.

However, you do have to make sure that you assemble it properly when using it and make sure there isn’t any moisture when you connect the pieces.

Otherwise, you can create what is known as a “vapor lock,” and this will make it more difficult to pull apart.

Top Surf Fishing Rods to Consider

There are plenty of surf fishing rodsOpens in a new tab. on the market to consider, but this section will take a closer look at some great options for you to check out.

  • Okuma RockawayOpens in a new tab.
  • Lamiglas Super Surf
  • St. Croix Legend
  • Penn Battalion
  • Daiwa EmcastOpens in a new tab.
  • Penn Battle 2 Spinning Combo
  • Shakespeare Ugly Stik Big Water Spinning
  • Okuma Nomad Travel Spinning Rod
  • Berrypro Surf Spinning Fishing Rod
  • Fiblink 4-pc Surf Fishing Rod
  • Tsunami Airwave Saltwater Surf Spinning Rod

These are just a few great options to consider. It is recommended that you try out the rod in person before you buy it. This helps you get a better feeling for it to see if it’s the right one.


Surf fishing can be such a great experience, but it is one that many beginners find daunting. Once you pick the right equipment and educate yourself on the best practices, you will be glad that you picked up this incredible hobby. Fishing is a great adventure, especially when you are enjoying beach life.

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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