Description of surf fishing reels

Daiwa Emblem-X 5000 A
State-of-the-art spinning reel with a huge beer-can-sized spool and smooth, fast gearing. There are many fine features on this long-casting $140 graphite surf reel, but the high gearing makes it most suitable for retrieving lures. It is difficult to bottom fish with this reel using pyramid weights because of the resulting high cranking effort. But this is also one of the best for throwing a torpedo sinker into rocky areas where you need to get off the bottom fast to avoid getting stuck. Available from Cabela's.
Daiwa BG 60
One of the best all-purpose surf reels. Strongly made of aluminum throughout, this is among the toughest. An excellent one-only reel that will last a very long time with minimal maintenence, it is worth the $90 that it costs. Somewhat smaller that the Penns, it balances well with just about any size rod, and the medium-fast retrieve makes it usable in any shore or pier situation. Strong teflon drag will fade under really hard use, but will spring back after it cools. Smooth, rugged gears will crank-in any size fish, and the unique anodized finish will not corrode. Available from Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, and others.
Penn 704
The great grandaddy of all surf spinners, the 704 has been around since 1969, and for good reason. It is a longtime favorite of the East Coast crowd, and these guys fish harder than just about anyone else. This is probably the simplest, easiest to use large reel available, and is also a good bargain. It has a special rotor lock that keeps the bail from snapping shut on a hard cast. The gearing is ideal for lures or heavy bottom weights, and all of the furniture is non-corroding stainless steel or brass. This reel is very easy to work on and usually requires little maintenance other than cleaning. New ones were about $75, but they are easily had from Ebay for around $40 or $50 for good ones.
Penn 7500
Another all-time favorite, the SS series of Penn spinners has everything any surfman needs. The 7500 is the best overall size for general shore work, and it is less prone to snapping the bail on a cast, which is the one weakness in the larger SS models. But the advantages far out weigh this, and the mighty 7500 will haul it all in with its superior HT 100 drag washers. Also, there is an extra manually-engaged clicker ratchet for battling really large brutes, and the new softgrip knobs allow a sure hold at all times. Pricy at about $150, this reel is one solid hunk of iron, and it is unlikely that it would ever wear out under normal use. Find them at Cabela's, Bass Pro, and just about everywhere else.
The original surfcasting reel. This veteran was introduced in 1936, long before spinners were around, and is STILL in production. The reason is that it is the best general-use conventional reel out there. Early models used light plastic spools with air brake fins, and these were easy to cast. However, the newer aluminum spools are very difficult to manage on a hard cast. The solution is to install a small magnet inside the sideplate near the spool. This causes a force field to occur during the cast and makes everything much more manageable. Great features of this reel include a good-cranking 3 1/3:1 ratio, optional anti-reverse, and quick take-down via a locking sideplate screw. Used examples of all grades are readily availble from Ebay, going for about $25 to $50.
Ocean City 935
This certainly isn't a common reel, but is a good example of what's available. Purchased in new condition from an Ebay auction, this is a pleasant and easy to operate casting reel, a little smaller that a Squidder. Ocean City was once a serious competetor to Penn, but has long since faded away. However, the company produced many different types of casting reels, and also some spinners. They are of good quality, and operate smoothly and well. The one in the photo is spooled with 50# dacron line, and is set up about the way they were way-back-when, before the advent of nylon lines. It's a fun way to "go retro" once in a while, and clean examples of reels like this hold their value surprisingly well. ( this one got a lot of bids and finally went for $45 )