After a full season of using Okuma’s new Rockaway SP rods, here’s my verdict on these versatile surf fishing rods - plus real-world-use information that’ll help work out if they’re suitable for your style of fishing.
In this review of Okuma Rockaway SP surf fishing rod range, we’ll cover the pros and cons of the Medium Light, Medium and Medium+ models - ranging from 8’6” to 11’ - plus we’ll offer some real-life examples of our experience in using the rod in our guiding service and tournament fishing that might help you choose the right surf fishing pole.
Okuma Rockaway SP surf fishing rod review page menu:
Okuma Rockaway SP Range Overview
The Rockaway range of surf fishing rods has been around for a few years offering useful versions for bait-and-wait fishing and heavier lure tactics - surf fishing for croaker and perch with bait, or launching big plugs for striped bass, for example.
But the range lacked a truly lightweight rod suitable for the light surf fishing tactics commonly used for species like surf perch, corbina, bass, bonefish, fluke and halibut.
Previous to the 2023 season, my guiding service employed a variety of light surf rods from Daiwa, Shimano and the Okuma SST range - however, since April, the new Rockaway SP poles have seen regular all-round action with the other models reserved very specific occasions.
The SP in the name stands for Surf Perch, and the Medium Light version is the perfect weapon for casting Carolina Rigs, small grub-style artificial surf fishing baits and sand crab or worm baits anywhere on the West Coast.
I’ve now used the 8’6” version for surf fishing from San Diego to San Francisco, and it handled the variety of sinker sizes and tactics with ease. From launching 1oz-plus egg sinkers and grubs for perch and bass in rough conditions in Monterey Bay, to flicking 1/2oz weights and tiny lures around for SoCal corbina and calicos, it’s never felt outgunned by upping the sinker size and still retains a high degree of castability regardless.
Most of the time, it’s been rigged with a ½ to 3/4oz sinker and the Medium Light is perfectly suited to that size of weight. It’s also proven to be a sweet drop shot rod and swimbait pole for light halibut fishing from the beach or boat.
We’ve paired this model with a 3000 or 3500-size high speed spinning reel (the Okuma Ceymar HD 3000HA works great) loaded with 10-15lb braid main line, and find this to be a versatile and effective setup.
Moving up the range, the 10’ and 11’ Medium+ Rockaway SP models are real weapons for launching larger baits and plugs for any sort of predators; chiefly any sort of saltwater bass, or California halibut.
The 11’ version is particularly useful for the serious lure angler who wants a combination of maximum casting distance from the beach when launching 1-3oz baits, and some extra reach when fishing from rocks. This extra rod length allows you to stand a little further back on a jetty or pebbly beach and not slam your lure or live bait into the rocks at the end of every retrieve.
Both the 10’ and 11’ Medium+ versions work well with a spinning reel around the 4500-5500 size loaded with 20 to 30lb braid, with 20 preferred for open beach fishing with no structure, and 30 for rocky areas and bigger fish like stripers. A short 3-4ft, 20lb to 40lb fluorocarbon top shot between braid and bait is a must.
The Medium+ rating means it’ll handle an impressively wide range of lures, and we’ve used it successfully for casting baits like Daiwa SP Minnows up to 150S size, 1oz spinnerbaits, 1oz jig heads with 4-6” swimbaits, Texas-rigged weedless swimbaits and metal colt sniper-style jigs to 2oz. Officially it’s rated for up to 3oz, but something around the 1.5 - 2oz mark feels like it hits the sweet spot with the 11’ pole.
Between the Medium Light and Medium+ versions sit the Medium-rated model - the slightly heavier rating compared to the Medium-Light model makes it a great choice for running a bigger sinker in rough conditions somewhere like the North East Coast, NorCal, Oregon or Washington.
Hardware-wise, the SeaGuide XQ 316-stainless steel guides have held up extremely well with little or no signs of discoloration or corrosion. The reel seat and butt section elements, likewise.
For the amount of use and fish they’ve seen, their impressively well preserved. A clean and rinse in fresh water is all that’s been required to keep them in great condition.
Despite months of hard use by a variety of kids, hardcore regulars and beginners, there’s zero sign of wear and tear and we’ve experienced no breakages or quality issues of any kind. Impressive for a rod at this price point.
Next, we’ll delve into some more things we really like about the Rockaway SP range…
Okuma Rockaway SP Surf Fishing Rods - The Pros
Versatility - knowing that one rod will handle almost anything you’re likely to come across in a day’s surf fishing is pretty useful. Corbina, surf perch, striped bass, bay bass, halibut, bonefish… we’ll take the Medium Light version and tackle any of these species, no problem. It’ll handle light Carolina Rigs, small hardbaits like a 1/2oz 90 or 110-size jerkbait, and light drop shot duties with ease.
Price - for around $115, the feel and sharpness of the blank is impressive. The fast, flicky action feels like it should belong to a rod with a much higher price tag. Nice low-key decals, too.
Configuration - The combination of the short handle and 8’6” length is a great setup for a light surf fishing rod. The Medium Light weighs in at just 4oz, so it’s a great choice for holding all day or for kids. We’ve had 7-year-olds using this rod with ease, and the dad using the same model alongside.
The only issue is the lack of a true Light-rated, 9-10’ pole suitable for 4lb lines, which means it’s not quite the ideal choice for very light line surf fishing with leaders in the 2 - 4lb range.
But we’ve been using the Medium Light version with 6lb leaders and had zero issues. It feels well balanced with this strength of leader and has more give in the backbone than you might initially think when a turbo-charged critter hits the gas in the shallows.
So, please, Okuma, make a Light version of this rod and a 9-10’ Medium-Light version, too. Both would be welcome additions to the range. Some of the models are also hard to find for sale online and in shops, so please make more of them whilst you’re at it.
Okuma Rockaway SP Surf Fishing Rods - Best Real-World Uses
As the SP name suggests, Surf Perch fishing is the bread and butter of this rod range in the two lighter configurations, with the 8’6” Medium-Light our favorite for the basis of a great all-round surf fishing combo for active styles of beach casting.
Set up with a small 2000 to 3500-size spinning reel and 6-10lb line (braid or mono), it’s a delightful pole to use for flicking light rigs in the ½ - 1oz sinker and lure range around any sort of harbor, pier or surf scenario with leaders down to 6lb.
The SP could also stand for Stripers and Perch for those surf casting in colder climates where stripers are working amongst the surf perch and a longer, heavier rod is required.
The same could be said for California halibut, inshore saltwater bass fishing (calicos, spotted bay etc) and inshore game fishing - all require the casting of a heavier lure, plug or bait. The 10’ and 11’ SP models are ideal for this.
Go for the 10’ if you’re fishing strictly sandy beaches or unstructured water with your feet in our near the surf. The 11’ is the one for fishing off rocks and for maneuvering around pronounced structure like bridges. Even the 11’ only weighs 7.5oz, which is pretty good for a pole at this price, length and rating.
Both longer models will handle lures up to 3oz with something around the 2oz mark the sweet spot, and a 4000-5000 size spinning reel packed with 20 to 30lb braid and a similar strength top shot or rub mono or fluoro leader is a good match.
Further thoughts on the Okuma Rockaway SP range
Overall, the Rockaway SP range offers four brilliant surf fishing rods suitable for a massive variety of applications, with the two standouts for us being the 8’6” Medium Light, and 11’ Medium+.
The fact that, as a guide, I can use the same rod in my tournament fishing and in my guiding service means that my clients and fishing buddies get to use something that I trust to do a great job, every cast.
My clients can also go out and buy, without breaking the bank, the exact same rod for themselves, which is something I suggest you do too!
By the way, the video below features the SP rods extensively if you'd like to see them in action...