There are many different brands of fishing rods that anglers use. So much so that sometimes things can get very confusing.
Not long ago, I stumbled upon the idea of trolling rods. And I wasn’t sure what does a trolling rod does differently, so I decided to do some research to find out what are they good for besides trolling.
Can you use a trolling rod for surf fishing? Trolling rods are not designed for surf fishing. They are better suited for trolling behind a moving boat or from a pier or jetties. If you try surf fishing with a trolling rod, you will not be able to cast well into the water, and you will have less potential for catching fish.
When it comes to trolling, things may be more complicated than they appear. And some several little details and caveats may sway things in one direction or another.
If you want to find out more, read on, as below, I share with you everything I have learned about trolling rods and how well they will be able to perform when surf fishing.
What Is a Trolling Rod?
Surf fishing and trolling are different styles of fishing. However, almost any rod may be suitable for trolling, so we need to go over some essential details here.
- For small to medium fish species, practically every kind of rod can be used for trolling, except the ultra-light rods; and
- For saltwater and big game fish, the rods are usually conventional rods that are a lot sturdier.
Trolling rods are usually on the shorter end ranging anywhere from 5.5 feet to 7 feet in length. It’s also designed for fishing behind the boat – hence the term trolling – which requires them to meet specific criteria.
When trolling, you are drawing the bait or lures through the water. And most often, you will be going for larger fish species like Salmon, Barracuda, Sharks, Tuna, and more.
Since trolling rods are designed to fight big fish, they are usually heavy power rods with a lot of backbone to them. This means that they will not bend easily.
Another thing that can separate trolling rods from regular fishing rods is that they can be equipped with roller guides. These are very useful when trolling and dealing with a lot of line friction and fighting fast running fish, so most of the excellent trolling rods will have roller guides.
On the other hand, the standard guides can be found on some trolling rods which are used for small to medium-sized fish.
Trolling rods usually have fast action, and this means that they will bend at the tip when under pressure. Fast action rods are generally best for single hook rigs and provide for better sensitivity.
These rods frequently will be rated for use with higher pound test lines, anywhere from 30 lbs. up to even 130 lbs. test line.
What Rods Are Suitable for Surf Fishing?
Now that we have a better understanding of what are the characteristics of a trolling rod, so let’s take a glance at what makes for a good surf fishing rod. And after that, we can compare the two to see how they stack.
The primary purpose of a surf fishing rod is to allow you to cast at long distances. Because of that, surf fishing rods are generally speaking on the long end of the spectrum.
The ideal length that allows for the best versatility of a surf fishing rod is between 9 to 12 feet. However, surf fishing rods can range from 7 to 15 feet in length, as well.
The most commonly used types of fishing rods are with medium power. However, some surfcasting rods can be from medium-light to medium-heavy, too.
The best rods used for surf fishing are usually with moderate up to moderate-fast action. The fast action allows for a quicker hook setting and better sensitivity when surf fishing.
Will a Trolling Rod Do Well as a Surf Fishing Rod?
As you can see, there are differences between the two types of fishing rods.
At the same time, a trolling rod is not that much different from a surf fishing rod design-wise; both can be spinning or baitcasting rods.
What separates them are subtle characteristics such as length, action, power, and a few more things.
I mentioned that for smaller to medium fish, even regular fishing rods could be used for trolling. And these may also prove to be very versatile and easily adapted for surf fishing.
However, below, I will also focus on the standard trolling rods which were designed for trolling in the first place.
Trolling rods are usually a lot shorter, which can severely limit your casting distance from the shore. A shorter rod will give you better accuracy, but you are essentially sacrificing casting distance.
The majority of anglers doing surf fishing may be looking to cast up to and more than a hundred feet, which may prove to be an impossible task with a short rod.
Still, despite being short, trolling rods may do well on beaches where the surf is smaller, and the breaking waves are close to the beach.
Additionally, fishing from piers, jetties, and other man-made structures that extend into the ocean is still doable with a trolling rod. In fact, trolling can be done from such structures quite successfully.
Last but not least, another downside to shorter rods is that you may have less leverage when pulling back the fish compared to a longer rod.
Trolling rods will have more power to them, or in other words, it takes more weight to bend the rod compared to a rod with less power.
The power of the rod needs to be suitable for the type of fish you will be catching.
The bigger the fish you are after (and the bigger the bait you will be using), the bigger the power should be.
For example, a light-powered rod will be a lot easier to bend at the tip and won’t be able to handle big baits and large fish.
Trolling rods are perfectly adequate for catching big and heavy fish; after all, they were designed for that. However, most of the bigger fish tend to be further into the ocean.
So, whether or not you will be able actually to put that substantial power into good use is somewhat questionable.
The action or the part of the rod which bends when under load is also another important factor we need to consider.
Trolling rods are usually a tad faster than what you often would want from a surf fishing rod. This may result in reduced casting distance, but on the other hand, it will allow for better hook setting up power.
So far, so good, right?
It almost seems like a trolling rod may be useful for surf fishing. However, the last thing we need to consider is the guides on the rod comes with.
I have mentioned earlier that many of the quality trolling rods come with roller guides. These are what can make or break your whole surf fishing experience.
Roller guides are good for trolling, but they are not very useful for surf fishing and regular long-distance casting. If you have a trolling rod with roller guides, the chances are the regular surf fishing is going to be out of the question.
The Handle and the Butt of the Rod
And finally, one last detail that may be worth mentioning is the trolling rods is the handle and butt.
The design of the butt and the handle can make trolling rods easily recognizable sometimes. They can come with slotted butts, bent-butts, or conventional straight butt ends.
This makes them easier for placing in the rod holders on the boat. However, they may not be ideal for surf fishing.
If you are surf fishing from the shore and you are using a rod holder, the chances are you may do fine.
But if you like to get into the water, some of them differently designed handles and butt ends may prove to be very uncomfortable.
We have gone into detail what makes a rod suitable for surf fishing or trolling.
The problem is both fishing rods have been designed to meet the requirements of different types of fishing. And this is making them very different.
Admittedly some characteristics overlap between the two. And a trolling rod may be used for short-distance surf fishing or trolling from piers and jetties.
A trolling rod will not provide you with the best surf fishing experience, but it can still be used if you are in a pinch.
And last but not least, although not a rule set in stone, trolling rods can frequently end up being a more costly investment than a good surf fishing rod.