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Can You Surf Fish With A Catfish Rods?

catfish rod
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You’re a big fan of catfishing, yet tempted to try your hand at landing a catch in the surf. You only have catfish rods and wonder if surf fishing is possible with such rods.

Surf fishing can offer unique challenges than those you face with freshwater fishing. A catfish rod can meet the demands of surf fishing, but you need a rod at least 8 feet in length. Also, the fishing line should be a minimum strength of 25 pounds.

Primarily catfish are found in freshwater habitats, though some species live in saltwater. Because of the lack of catfish in the surf, you may think that your catfish rod can only handle saltwater environments.

In this article, we will run you through what is required to use a catfish rod for surf fishing. You will be surprised to discover that your current rod may be up for the task.

Can I Use My Freshwater Catfish Rod To Surf Fish?

If you have been fishing primarily in fresh water, your rod may not be up to spec for saltwater fishing. The main considerations are what your rod is made of, the rod’s action, and its power.

Corrosion Resistant

Salt is the main culprit for the corrosion of your fishing gear. Using your catfishing rod for surf fishing, you will want it made from non-corrosive materials such as graphite or fiberglass.

Your Rod’s Power

The rod’s power refers to how much the rod will resist being flexed with a set weight. There are four categories of power: heavy, medium-heavy, medium, and light.

If you want to use your catfish pole for surf fishing, you want to go with at least a medium-heavy ranking. 

This is because freshwater fishing needs to be cast further than you would. Also, the pull of the surf adds tension to your line. 

Another reason for needing a medium-heavy rod is the size of the fish can be bigger than those found in freshwater habitats.

The Rod’s Action

When you hear about the action of a rod, it refers to the position along the rod it will bend. In fishing lingo, the action is either fast, medium, or slow.

Fast-action rods flex mainly at the tip. Medium rods will bend in the middle of the blank. Slow rods flex throughout the entire blank.

What Is The Best Power And Action For Surf Fishing?

If you want to try surf fishing, then the ideal catfish rod is medium-heavy in power with fast to medium action. This allows for better surf casting and flexibility to handle the pull of the surf and the fight from the bigger fish.

Catfish can weigh anywhere between 2 to 4 pounds. Fish in the surf zone of the sea vary from queenfish (which can weigh up to 15 pounds), white croaker (up to 2 pounds in weight), striped mullet (just under 10 pounds for an adult fish), bonefish (depending on the variety, this species can weigh 20 pounds).

The weight differences between catfish and fish in the surf zone can be 5 to 10 times heavier. You will want a catfish rod capable of handling those bigger weights.

How Long Should A Catfish Rod Be For Surf Fishing?

The length of your rod depends on its ability to cast a respectable distance into the surf. The respectable distance is a relative term as it depends on the individual. 

Someone may be happy to cast a maximum of several meters into the surf, while others want further reach with their line.

A 6-foot rod may be sufficient for you if you have a lighter weight attached (no heavier than 2oz), Yet, many prefer rods that are between 7 to 10 feet long.

If you plan on using heavier weights, you must use a longer rod and longer rods. The longer rods have the benefit of allowing you to cast out further with more accuracy. By casting accuracy, we mean having your line land where you intended it to.

Rods that are longer also provide you with better control over the fish. You can certainly use shorter rods to catch smaller fish, but you will need help against those heavier catches. 

So, if you intend to go out surf fishing (remember, surffish can be at least 5 times heavier than a catfish), you should use a rod around 8 to 10 feet. A longer rod makes for easier fishing in the surf.

Should I Think About The Length Of The Rod’s Handle When Surf Fishing?

Try battling against a bigger fish with a short handle rod. Maintaining control of the rod and your grip can be a struggle as you reel in your catch.

Longer rod handles provide you with comfort and control when catching larger fish. Sure, that catfish rod with the shirt handle may work when out on the lake, but try it out for surf fishing. You may find yourself needing more support.

How long should the rod’s handle be? That, like the length of the rod, is a matter of personal preference. If you need help, chat with your fishing buddies and get their opinion. However, the ultimate decision is yours.

What Kind Of Fishing Line Is Best For Surf Fishing?

When it comes to surf fishing, you deal with bigger fish that can drag your line over a great distance. The last thing you want to experience is running out of fishing line. 

The braided line is becoming more popular. As we just mentioned, it is renowned for its sensitivity with smaller pulls against the line. Another reason anglers opt for this line is because it’s easier to cast with. 

Choose a reel for a generous line (at least 400 yards). Reels are labeled by size (starting at 1,000). Get a reel that is least rated, at least 6,000 in size.

Also, it’s not as sensitive as its braided counterpart. That means you could miss out on those lighter tugs on your line.


Yet, surf fishing offers unique challenges: The pull of the tide on your line, as well as the bigger size of the fish, can have you struggling if you use a shorter rod. If you want the best of both (the ability to catch catfish and go surf fishing), then a rod between 8 to 10 feet in length is the best option. 

Another factor in helping you transition between the two types of fishing is the reel and the line. A spinning reel with at least 400 yards of 20 to 25-pound braided line is ideal. These allow you to cast with ease and reel in those bigger catches. Enjoy taking your catfish rod out to the surf.

Zaldy G.

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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