Your gear is probably the most crucial part of hunting striped bass in the surf. Waves are always unpredictable, so you never know when your reel will be engulfed in saltwater. That’s why it’s extremely important to invest in high quality gear, because it’ll help you fish more effectively and last in the long run too.
A motto I’ve learned the hard way is “Buy cheap, buy twice,” and now I make sure to spend the extra cash for quality.
So here’s the breakdown you’ve been waiting for! Five best surf reels for stripers in my own opinion over the years.
(Note: These are completely unbiased suggestions. I am not sponsored by any company.)
The Penn Fierce is an absolute workhorse for its price range. While working at a tackle shop, I’ve sold hundreds of these to customers who were looking for a mid-ranged reel that could withstand the salt. I personally own the 3000 size for surf perch and the 7000 size for sharks and rays off piers.
Benefits of the Penn Fierce
- Amazing Price (retails for around $70-80)
- Solid Body – For its price, the Fierce boasts a patented “Full Metal” body that other reels in its class can’t compete with. This is important when fighting large fish as the reel won’t flex under pressure.
- Rubber Gasket – The drag cap features a rubber gasket that helps prevent saltwater & sand from entering the drag system.
- Smooth Feel – You can feel the quality just by reeling the Fierce. It has a distinct smoothness to it that I absolutely love. You’ll just have to see for yourself!
Penn Battle II
The Penn Battle is a great upgrade from the Fierce. I have sold many of these reels to those who were willing to pay a little extra for better quality and features. If you can afford the extra 20-30 bucks, I’d say get this one instead.
Benefits of the Penn Battle II
- Sealed Ball Bearings – The Fierce does not have sealed bearings, which makes the Battle II more impervious to the elements.
- Better Drag – There are upgraded carbon fiber drag washers in this reel, which gives it a few more pounds of max drag compared to the Fierce.
- Spool Upgrade – The spool on the Battle II is awesome. It features a braid attachment ring so you can spool straight braid with no backing and also line capacity rings that let you know how much line is left.
- Tougher Bail – The bail on this reel is made of heavy-duty aluminum, making it feel and perform better than the more wiry bail on the Penn Fierce.
Shimano Stradic FJ
The Stradic FJ is one of my favorite saltwater spinning reels. The quality on this bad boy is amazing, and their patented X-Ship Technology surprisingly gives you much more cranking power than you’d expect. This is truly a dream reel for any surf angler, whether it be perch, striper, or any other species lurking near the beach.
Benefits of the Stradic FJ
- Durable Body – The full-metal body as compared to the magnesium body of the Stradic Ci4+ means this reel won’t corrode in saltwater. Magnesium does.
- X-Ship Technology – I know I sound like a Shimano rep, but the X-Ship truly helps. It basically supports the pinion gear so that the gears are perfectly aligned. What results is longer durability and 20% extra cranking power!
- Waterproof Drag – The FJ is designed for handling saltwater. It features a waterproof drag system as well as sealed ball-bearings for effective saltwater resistance.
The Cedros is another popular reel amongst my customers. The visually appealing, lightweight body are just bonuses for the other features this reel offers.
Benefits of the Cedros
- Price – For right around $120-130, this reel is fairly well-priced for it’s components.
- Lightweight – The Cedros is light compared to the other reels mentioned. This can help a great deal with fatigue after casting for hours.
- Big Knob – I enjoy the circular, aluminum knob on this reel. It’s perfect for comfortably winding in lures such as poppers, jerkbaits, etc.
- Water-Resistant – With corrosion-resistant ball-bearings and a drag seal, this reel withstands saltwater very well.
Shimano Saragosa SW
If you have the funds, the Saragosa SW will be your ultimate surf reel. This one is in it for a lifetime, boasting many features that even the FJ lacks.
Benefits of the Saragosa SW
- X-Ship Technology – This reel also has the amazing X-Ship technology. This means you’ll also enjoy 20% increased cranking power to lean hard on big fish.
- Fast Retrieve Rate – The SW is able to pick up line at high speeds, which makes working a popper or jerkbait much easier in the surf as you’re able to pick up slack line faster.
- Tough Drag – The drag packs a punch! Enjoy 18lbs of max drag at the lowest size range.
- Extremely Smooth – The X-Ship technology helps with this, and a smoother retrieve means less strain on you as you’re constantly reeling in surf lures.
- Sealed Bearings – Corrosion-resistant, sealed bearings make this reel almost impervious to the elements.