Surf fishing is one of my passions. I’ve been a surf caster since my early teens and, boy, have things changed. My first real surf casting rod was a heavy ten foot fiberglass rod with three guides and an oak handle. The reel was the reel everyone I knew used, a Penn 9 levelwind casting reel. There was no casting control, I really don’t believe the Penn 9 was designed as anything other than a pier reel, but I managed to make casts of probably about 50 or 60 yards which were respectable at the time.
Later, the rage was spinning reels and whippy fiberglass rods. I had several Mitchell 302 reels and they were quite good at the time. It was possible to cast further with a 302 than a Penn 9 and there was never a backlash.
Now, surf rods and reels are designed for distance using technology beyond the comprehension of anyone on Kure Beach in 1965. Casts with bait and sinker over 150 yards are common. Modern graphite rods weigh less than the handle of my old rod and reels have centrifugal and magnetic casting controls. The world has changed.
At some point, I figured out a casting reel will outcast a spinning reel and learned to use a casting reel again. I progressed through several different reels and then I bought my first Daiwa, a SL30SH that Carolina surf anglers lovingly refer to as a slosh, since the designation looks like the word.
The “slosh” was a great reel, better than anything I’d used. It had a wonderful drag, a 6.2 to 1 ratio, and it cast really well. It had a line capacity of about 300 yards of 20 pound test, about perfect for a surf reel. The only problem was the high speed gear box that protruded from the right side plate. It rubbed my index knuckle almost raw after about a week of hard fishing. The reel was so good otherwise, I didn’t dare complain.
When I saw the Saltist STT30H, I knew this was going to be a winner. The Saltist had the same retrieve ratio, an even smoother drag, and a gearbox that’s rotated 90 degrees from the bottom of the reel to the front of the reel. My first cast convinced me that this reel would eclipse the SL30SH. The Saltist STT30H is smooth both in casting and in drag.
With rugged, all-metal construction and a rigid, one-piece aluminum frame this is a solid reel. It has four ball bearings and a roller bearing, high-strength alloy gears, dual anti-reverse systems and a dual-position handle. This is the best surf casting reel I’ve ever used.
Image courtesy Dick Jones