Deciding on what fishing tackle you need for surf fishing is one of the hardest things to do if you are still learning. With fishing tackle, we usually refer to all the equipment you may need on your fishing journey.
When I first got into surf fishing a couple of years ago, I wasn’t sure where to start. I had many questions and not enough answers.
So, I remember doing a lot of research to figure out where exactly I should start. Today there are many things that I know which would have helped me back then.
This is why I decided to create this introductory article where, hopefully, I will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made.
What Does a Surf Fishing Tackle Consists Of?
The basic surf fishing tackle you will need is, but not limited to:
- Fishing rod and reel;
- Bait and lures;
- Hooks, weights, and swivels;
- Measuring Tape;
- Knife and pliers;
- Fishing License;
- A cooler for bait and fish;
- A towel;
- Waist Live Bait Storage
- Sandcrabs net;
Some of these, like the rain jacket, sunglasses, etc. are self-explanatory. So, we will focus on the more important stuff that you need to know as a beginner.
I don’t want to overwhelm you with endless lists of items and accessories which you may never end up needing anyway.
The more you get into surf fishing, the better you will be able to judge for yourself what you need. So, what I want for you here is to start off the right foot.
For now, you just need to cover the basics.
Before We Begin
Before we start, let me begin with the most crucial part. Without this you cannot, or should I say, shouldn’t fish at all. I am talking about having a fishing license. It may seem like a simple thing, but I have to mention it, nonetheless.
Getting a fishing license is very easy nowadays, and you can even apply online. For more information, you can check the website of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by clicking here.
What Surf Fishing Rod Should I Go With?
The rod length is an essential aspect of your fishing rod. This is even more true for surf fishing.
The length of the fishing rod determines how far you will be able to cast, and while surf fishing, you will frequently need to cover 50, 100, or even 200 yards. So, the longer – the better.
You will be fishing from the beach, from the pier, or you will get into the water. As a result, frequently, many anglers end up going with two different surf fishing setups.
The ideal surf fishing rod is very long and is typically between 8 to 12 feet in length with medium to medium-heavy action. That capable of handling 1oz to 4oz weights, this type of rod is generally used for a “pluggin”.
For a second fishing rod, which can be used for short-distance casting, you can go with something light, typically between 8 to 10 feet with a medium-fast action.
What Reel Is Good for Surf Fishing?
There is an ongoing polemic about which fishing reel is better: the bait caster or the spinning reel. If you are new to fishing, you definitely want something beginner-friendly.
For beginners, I recommend a spinning reel. It is much easier to operate and use, and it is ideal for anyone new to surf fishing.
I have been Surf fishing for several years now, and I still use a spinning reel on most of my fishing setups.
A spinning reel can also be great for casting light lures and bait at longer distances because the reel will not apply any drag to the line while casting.
Generally, you will need a spinning reel with larger capacity; 4000 to 8000 size spinning reels will be ideal for surf fishing.
Again, I am going for a mid-level surf fishing gear that will potentially give you as much versatility as possible.
This may not necessarily be the lightest surf fishing tackle you can possibly have. But with a very light tackle, you are sacrificing versatility for less weight.
Make sure that the spinning reel you go with is suitable and rated for saltwater fishing because the salt and sand can wreak havoc on a standard freshwater fishing reel.
What Surf Fishing Line Do You Need?
If you are going to be doing regular fishing and trying to catch the smaller fish, I would recommend braided line with a test of 20 to 30 lbs. It can be more than enough in that case.
However, for the bigger boys in the water, you may want to go with a minimum of 30 lbs. — braided line.
Additionally, you may want to have a leader line for your surf fishing gear in which case, which typically is fluorocarbon or monofilament line in the test range of 30 to 50 lbs.
The leaders are used as a shock absorption fodder, something that can be very noticeable with long-distance casts.
While we are on the subject of fishing lines, it is advisable to always have a second spool with line handy as a replacement, just in case. You can also use a line with a different test which you can use, for example, to target smaller or bigger fish.
What Kind of Rigs Should You Use?
So far, so good. But now you need to decide on what rig you will be using. I would recommend starting with either the fish-finder rig or the high-low rig.
1.Fish Finder Rig
It is one of the easiest rigs that are both easy to make and at the same time, super effective. It is a good rig for casting and presenting heavier baits.
The single hook is attached at the very end of the line, which goes through a sliding sleeve that holds the weight. This allows you to feed the fish some line if you need to.
The nature of the rig allows for the fish to take the bait and not really feel any resistance from the weight. If a fish tries to ingest the bait and feels the resistance from the weight or the line, it will get scared away immediately.
For this rig, you will need the following tackle:
- Fluorocarbon Leader A sinker;
- A sinker slider or a sliding sleeve;
- A swivel;
- A circle hook;
- And Beads
This rig is my best set up for Striped bass and Surfperch fishing and other species. I’ve caught a lot of fish using this rig.
[Related] How to catch striped bass from the surf?
2. High-Low Rig
The high-low rig is another very effective, yet very easy to set up.
It is a little different compared to the fish-finder rig as it has the sinker on the very end of the line, and the two hooks are above it.
For this rig, you will need the following tackle:
- A sinker;
- Two circle hooks;
- Fluorocarbon leader
With this rig, the advantage is that you are presenting two baits at the same time, effectively doubling your chances to catch fish. It is a better rig for smaller baits like worms, Squid, Shrimp, or clams.
Since the weight is stationary, you will need to set the hook when you feel the fish taking it.
What Kind and Size of Hooks?
The right hook size and type will depend on where you fish and for what fish species you will be going after. For surf fishing, the way to go is with circle hooks.
Depending on what fish species you go for, you may need a good set of differently sized hooks, ranging from 1/0 to 6/0 and from 1 to 6.
For example, 2/0, 3/0, and 4/0 are the most commonly used ones for bass, and these are the ones you will most likely need on every fishing trip.
On this setup, you don’t have to use beads or slider sleeve. Some anglers preferred this rig for Surfperch fishing and other species.
What Kind and Size of Sinkers Do You Need?
Getting into surf fishing, you will discover that we tend to use a lot of heavy sinkers. There are exclusions to the rule, of course, but generally speaking, we are a bit on the heavier side.
The fact that we will be fishing in rougher conditions demands that.
The high surf and strong tides mean that we need something substantial that will really hold its ground and not just get rolled back to the beach.
If the waters are calm and there is relatively low to regular surf, a 2 to 3 oz sinker is going to be more than enough.
However, if the surf is high and there is a strong current going up to 4 or 5 oz, weight may be necessary. In some instances, the use of a 6 oz sinker may be needed. But that will depend on the type of the sinker you will be using too.
I would recommend getting a good set of at least a few differently sized sinkers so that you can have some variety on your hands.
There are different kinds of sinkers, and each has its own unique use and behavior in the water. I would recommend experimenting with as much as possible in order to find what will work and feel best.
But for starting out, you can’t make a mistake going with few pyramid sinkers, coin sinkers, and sputnik sinkers.
Different Type of Baits You Can Use
There is a variety of different baits you can use while surf fishing. Every one of these is excellent and frequently used for surf fishing.
Live and fresh baits work amazingly well for you, depending on the fish you are after. The first two are my best live bait that I’ve used and still using for my surf fishing trip:
- Softshell Sandcrabs;
Make sure to experiment to find out what works best for you. You will find out that some fish can be caught on almost anything.
What Lures Do You Need?
Since you will be fishing in saltwater, you need fishing lures that are corrosion resistant.
Make sure to choose lures that are designed specifically for saltwater use as not all lures are created equal in that regard.
Here are some lures you may want to try:
- Lucky Craft Flash Minnow;
- Mickey Jigs
When it comes to lures, you will find out that, quite literally, almost everything can work. Just make sure to have some variety and experiment.
Can the Same Tackle be Used for Both Surf Fishing and Pier Fishing?
Additional Surf Fishing Gear and Accessories
Now that we have the basics covered, there are a few more things I want to cover.
Surf fishing, in general, can sometimes require a little more equipment than expected.
If you are going to be casting from the shore, you may want to get yourself some fishing rod holders. While, in comparison, if you will be casting from the water, you will need some additional gear like waders, boots, surf belt, and even a backpack.
Don’t forget to bring a measuring tape to measure your catch. This is essential for surf fishing; you want to make sure your fish meet the legal size before you take your catch home.
Additionally, you will need a couple of weighted leader setups. Don’t worry too much. You need a few setups to get you going and provide you with some flexibility and a backup.
And last but not least, let’s not disregard that you will need some extra circle hooks, egg and pyramid weights, heavy swivels, and some clips as a backup just in case you get snagged and lose your rigs.
How much will the surf fishing tackle cost?
This may be a bit tough to calculate; however, I will do my best to give you some rough estimates so that way, you will know better what to expect.
Depending on your individual needs, how much equipment you may need, and whether or not you will end up going with one fishing setup or two, the general price ranges can vary from $200 to $500 in total.