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Surf Fishing Reels - Okuma Ceymar HD spinning reel review

Updated: Jan 25

In this review of the Okuma Ceymar HD - a popular choice amongst surf fishing reels in the sub-$100 category - we’ll cover the pros and cons of this popular range of spinning reels, plus we’ll offer some real-life-use examples based on a season’s beach fishing, guiding and tournament fishing.

Okuma Ceymar HD saltwater and surf fishing reel review

Okuma Ceymar HD Review Index


Okuma Ceymar HD Saltwater & Surf Fishing Reel Overview

A light spinning setup for pinging small lures and baits around the surf, harbor or bay is an essential tool for any serious saltwater angler, and the backbone of this setup is a reliable spinning reel. 

A popular choice in the mid-budget price category for this purpose, the Okuma Ceymar HD comes in some useful sizes and configurations - perfect for the aforementioned light line surf fishing tactics on any shoreline. 

Next some specs, then we’ll dive into real-world uses, pros and cons, plus my verdict on the Standard Speed vs High Speed reel issue.

yellowfin croaker caught surf fishing on the Ceymar HD 3000H
A croaker caught using the Ceymar HD 3000H

Featuring 8 stainless-steel ball bearings and a multi-disc, oiled felt drag system capable of delivering up to 20 lbs of stopping power, the Ceymar HD runs Okuma's HDG-II High-Density Gearing, coupled with a double ball bearing-supported machined brass pinion gear to ensure smooth operation.

I'm happy to report it runs silky smooth straight out the box and has some effective sealing tech to keep sand and salt out. From a technical aspect, so far so good. Reliable and solid, and without often-unnecessary mega-bucks features to complicate things and inflate the price.

Complementing the upgraded HD internals is a solid aluminum bale arm, and machined aluminum, 2-tone red and black anodized spool that not only enhances functionality but also adds a touch of color.

The reel's versatility is further enhanced by an interchangeable screw-in handle system, allowing for easy transition between left and right-hand retrieve configurations. The rigid machined aluminum screw-in handle is as solid as they come, which is a good summary of the build of the reel for its size.

Choose from models in 1000, 2500, 3000, 4000, or 5000 size, featuring standard gear ratios of 5.2:1. For those seeking High Speed reels (more on this later), the 2500H and 3000H boast a 6.0:1 gear ratio, while the 4000Xa boasts a supersonic 6.2:1 gear ratio. 

Smaller sizes will work great for ultralight work and ice fishing, whilst the 4000-5000 models offer more for heavier braid and bigger lure users.

Next, let’s look at the pros and cons of buying and using these neat little reels…


Okuma Ceymar HD - the Pros & Cons

Price - For a reel that you can pick up for well under $100 all-in delivered to your doorstep, the Ceymar HD feels surprisingly smooth and has demonstrated a durability above its price point over hundreds of hours on the sand. In a crowded light surf fishing reel segment, this is one of the best for its blend of durability, smoothness, reliability and lightweight qualities.

Longevity - The guiding reels get dunked in sand, drenched in saltwater, boil in the sun, sit in hot cars… and yet the Ceymar HDs are the ones that keep going, week after week. The bail-arm roller doesn’t quit when faced with sand, either, unlike some more expensive rivals. I’m happy to recommend this reel to kids, beginners and families because of its reliability.

corbina caught on Okuma Ceymar HD surf fishing reel
The Ceymar HD has been a reliable performer for all sorts of light surf fishing - including corbina fishing

Versatility - For almost every light surf fishing scenario you’ll come across on Light to Medium-rated gear, a Ceymar HD will do the job. I’ve used mine for striped bass, California halibut, surf perch, bass corbina, croaker and even the occasional rogue shark or ray, and the reel has always felt solid and the drag smooth and consistent even under considerable pressure.

Easy to find and service - Inevitably, a saltwater reel will need servicing and I’ve found Okuma’s service center to be fast and affordable for basic repairs and servicing needs.

The only downside to this reel is the slightly unnecessary Anti-Reverse lever. Flip the little lever under the spool on the bottom of the reel and you can wind backwards, if needed. But this is rarely needed whilst saltwater fishing so it’s not that useful a feature in this context.


Okuma Ceymar HD - Best Real-World Uses

The main use for our set of Ceymar HDs have been handling light line surf fishing duties for species such as surf perch, halibut and corbina, rigged to a Light or Medium Light rod in the 8-10’ length range and rated for 4-12lb line. 

striped bass caught on okuma ceymar HD surf fishing reel
A bonus striped bass caught surf perch fishing with the Ceymar HD 3000H

With this combo, I’ve found the 3000-size to be the most useful and versatile. At 8.3oz in this size, it’s light enough to be usable for hours on end if held constantly whilst fishing in the surf, but the line capacity and gearing are spot on for a wide range of tactics and species up to double-figure poundage fish. It’ll handle East Coast fluke, croaker, bonefish and similar species with ease, too.

Loaded with 10-15lb braid main line or 6-8lb mono, this Ceymar HD 3000 reel and rod combo has proven to be a sweet setup for running Carolina rigs with sinkers in the ½-1.5oz range and light lure fishing with small hardbaits or jerkbaits in the 90 and 110-size (½-1oz) category for critters like bass and flatfish. Good light drop shot or small swimbait reels, too.


Okuma Ceymar HD - Standard Speed or not High Speed?

I’ve used both the High Speed (designated by an H after the size number) 6.0:1 ratio'd reel, and standard speed with 5.2:1, and would offer the following advice to anyone wondering which one to buy.

The High Speed model offers a definite advantage if you’re fishing in relatively fast moving surf with multiple waves and sizeable swells. This is because, in my experience, a lot of fish are lost due to a fish finding slack line and shaking the hook out when a wave or current brings the fish towards you, or it swims in the angler’s direction. 

A reel with a faster ratio allows you to catch up with the fish coming towards you a bit faster and reduces the chance of the fish shaking the hook out before you’re tight again.

In recent tournaments, I’ve ended up preferring the the higher speed reels because of this - especially when catching lots of smaller samples when it’s even more important to stay tight to the hooked fish.

A tournament-caught california corbina on the Ceymar HD 3000H surf fishing reels
A tournament-caught corbina on the Ceymar HD 3000H

So, if you’re doing some Light to Medium-weight surf fishing in open ocean with waves and current, buy the High Speed model in 3000H configuration. Or, if you’re targeting species like stipers, the 4000Xa model will be a good choice with a rapid 6.2:1 ratio for really adding some speed to a lure presentation.

If you’re fishing in a calm environment like a harbor, bay, jetty or any place the fish aren’t prone to fast, wave-riding movements, the standard speed non-H designated reel will work just fine and is a good choice.


Further Thoughts...

To sum up, the Ceymar HDs have been reliable, fun-to-use everyday reels in my surf fishing for some time and one of the best performers for the money. I can let a beginner youngster use it one day, wash it off and use it myself the next day in a tournament and it’s as smooth as ever. 

For a sub-$100 spinning reel, the Ceymar HD offers great value and can be used for a wide range of tactics and species. It's one of the most robust and refined reels at this price-point, and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone looking for a light saltwater spinning reel.

A beginner surf angler with a surf perch caught on a Ceymar HD 3000H reel
A beginner surf angler with a surf perch caught on a Ceymar HD 3000H reel


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