Surf fishing as a sport is growing increasingly popular around the world. It is an attractive saltwater fishing alternative to deep-sea fishing, which requires a boat – either owned by you or chartered by someone else, because all you need is some standard fishing equipment to participate.
A rod, a reel, and some bait are all you need to get started. However, many different variables will impact just exactly what type of “standard” equipment you buy.
6-foot fishing rods are not generally recommended for surf fishing because they don’t allow you to cast far enough over the breaking waves to land in your desired location. Factors that determine what size rod you use include the type of fish to surf, reel size, line weight, and your size and weight.
The rest of this article explains why a longer rod and larger reel are better suited for surf fishing, but will also give you some tips on how to work with the equipment you’ve got.
How Rod Length Plays a Role in Surf Fishing
Length, without a doubt, plays the greatest role when determining what type of rod is right for you.
Finding the right rod will allow you to cast farther, positively impact your hook setting abilities, and help wield the weight of reeling in your catch with optimal control.
Generally speaking, the recommended rod length for surf fishing is between 9 and 12 feet.
This will allow you the control you’re looking for, without bogging you down as you carry it to your destination, or fatiguing you throughout the day as you’re fishing.
Serious surf anglers may even select a rod as long as 14 feet (426.7 cm) to maximize their cast.
Another benefit of a longer rod is that it can handle more tension than a shorter rod.
This becomes critical when reeling in fish from far distances. The breaking point of a longer rod is further from the center, allowing the increased flexibility.
Of course, the exact length rod you choose is highly specific to you – depending on how much you can carry and how much you can hold throughout the day.
Smaller rods are better suited for those who may not wield longer rods, like a 12 footer, for long periods.
How Reel Size and Line Weight Play a Role in Surf Fishing
Because of the characteristics of surf fishing – combating breaking waves and utilizing heavier tackle to maximize your cast distance, you need to have a reel that is equipped to handle these types of things.
There are numerous reel types available for purchase, but a spinning reel is preferred for surf fishing because it is easy to cast over long distances and easy to control.
Spinning reel sizes vary from 1000 to 9500 class, with the lower class reels suiting the needs of smaller, more lightweight rods.
Reels ranging from class 6000 to 9500 are best suited for surf fishing because they can accommodate the appropriate line diameter and length.
Surf fishing requires a line with the perfect combination of length and strength.
A braided fishing line is recommended in the surf’s often choppy waters because it is smaller in diameter than other common fishing lines.
This allows for better resistance to strong currents and winds and allows the angler more control over the line.
You can use this type of line with a smaller reel and shorter rod, but again what comes into play is the distance you can cast out with this equipment.
How to Choose the Right Rod for You
When choosing your equipment for surf fishing, you need to factor in your size and strength level.
If you’re smaller and don’t feel you can manage the fatigue of casting and holding a 12-foot rod for the length of time you’ll be fishing, you will want to go with a smaller set of equipment.
If that’s the situation, you could go with a 7 to a 9-foot rod and a 4000 to 6000 class reel and still achieve results while surf fishing.
You may want to consider using a rod holder or selecting an area that won’t require you to cast as far out when using this type of equipment.
You can also consider the type of fish you’re looking to catch, and that too will play a role in the size and length of your reel and rod.
For example, if you target big fish such as sharks or redfish, you’ll need to cast much further out than if you were looking to catch surf perch or flounder.
This would be very hard to do with a shorter rod. Try scoping out areas that boast smaller fish and won’t require you to cast out beyond a sand bar or two.
If you are looking to use a shorter rod, consider fishing in channels or inlets.
In these areas, the surf isn’t as strong as it is in the open ocean, so fish can hang out and don’t have to expend as much energy swimming and looking for food.
This will increase the number of fish available for catching.
Additionally, areas like these physically aren’t as wide, so you aren’t required to go out quite as far as you would if casting off the beach.
There are some surf fishers that only fish channels and inlets for this very reason.
What to Do if You Do Have a 6 Foot Rod
While we’re on the topic of capitalizing on smaller rods, some other things can help you be successful if you do need to use a 6-foot rod.
Chest-high rubber waders are a great option for those that may need to travel further into the water (i.e., those with shorter rods) to maximize the distance their cast travels.
If you do choose to wear these, an elastic wader belt is a must-have to keep water from entering your fishing wader suit, should you fall in.
Using medium weight lures and bait will allow you to maximize your cast with a smaller rod.
Because you’ll be at a slight disadvantage for distance casting with a shorter rod, going with a lure on the medium to light range will help propel the line forward as you cast.
Choosing the right time to go fishing will also impact what type of gear you need.
Fishing when the tides are coming in or going out will help you maximize your cast’s effectiveness, no matter what size rod you’re using.
To review, a 6-foot rod is generally not recommended for surf fishing, unless you cannot maneuver a larger rod for long periods of time.
However, there are things you can make to maximize your efforts with a shorter rod. You can go a bit further into the surf to make up for the difference in your cast.
You can also surf different areas that may not be as vast, which won’t require a long cast to succeed. Whatever equipment you choose, you are guaranteed to have a great time surf fishing!