How to Use Surf Fishing Equipment

How to Use Surf Fishing Equipment
Surf fishing puts the angler in direct contact with the ocean waves and within striking distance of many fish species, depending on the waters. It is a cost-effective and pleasurable way to enjoy the rhythms of the ocean. Rods at least 10 feet long matched with heavy saltwater reels are necessary to get your rig out beyond the breakers, but casting practice is at least as important as equipment in developing skill as a surf caster. Follow these steps to get started.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Surfcasting rod matched with saltwater reel spooled with 15-20 pound test line.
  • Tackle, including pyramid sinkers and assorted snelled hooks, wire rigs and artificial lures.
  • Sand spike for holding the rod.
Step 1
Rig the surfcasting rod and reel with a wire two-line leader, attaching a snelled hook to each drop wire by pushing the end of the snell through the wire loop and inserting the hook through the loop in the snell line.
Step 2
Pull the hooks tight to secure to secure both snells to the wire leader. A snell is a length of fishing line with a hook tied to one end and a loop on the other for securing to your main line or a wire rig.
Step 3
Attach a 1 1/2-2 oz. pyramid sinker to the bottom of the wire rig using the snap on the rig. A pyramid sinker stays in place on the bottom of roiling surf better than a rounded weight like an egg sinker.
Step 4
Bait the hooks. Thin strips of frozen squid or chunks of bloodworm or shrimp make good surfcasting baits. Squid is a good choice for its durability, but bloodworms and shrimp chunks give off a stronger scent that will attract certain types of game, especially bluefish. The choice is yours, depending on what you're after and the time of year. Check with the locals at the tackle shop to see what other anglers have been using successfully.
Step 5
Stand at the edge of the beach, or wade into the surf no deeper than your knees to maintain balance and leverage for the cast.
Step 6
Look for points behind the breaking waves to cast your rig. Baitfish and other food congregate behind breaking waves that stir up the ocean bottom. Gamefish, in turn, are attracted to the baitfish behind the surf break. Casting directly into the waves will accomplish next to nothing.
Step 7
Plant one foot in front of you and swivel at the hips to hold the rod behind you about a foot off the water or sand.
Step 8
Disengage the reel so the line is ready for casting, using either the lock on a baitcasting reel or your curled index finger to grasp the line on a spincasting surf reel with the bail in the raised position.
Step 9
Choose a target behind the breaking surf.
Step 10
Swing the rod over your head and leverage the power of the pole by turning it upward and over by the handles while keeping your eyes on the target.
Step 11
Release the line at the moment your rod tip is pointed directly at the target -- the point just behind the breakers. Your rig will sail out to the spot where the rod tip is pointing and will splash directly into the water behind the waves.
Step 12
Allow the rig to settle to the bottom, then reel in any slack in the line. You will feel gentle tugging by the surf, but don't be fooled into thinking you have a fish just yet. Let the line rest on the bottom for a full minute, then retrieve the rig with a stop-and-go motion to twitch and jerk the bait.
Step 13
Use artificial lures such as spoons, streamers and jigs when you are comfortable casting the line. Don't hesitate to switch out a rig and use whatever the other anglers are using in the surf -- especially if you are the only one not catching any fish.

Tips & Warnings

When starting out, don't try to cast your rig into the middle of the ocean. Instead, practice casting until you can reliably hit your target, then work on distance.
Let the rod do the work. The snapping motion of the rod will send your rig sailing farther into the surf than any brute force you can muster.
Hip waders are an excellent piece of equipment in the fall and early spring when the ocean is still quite cold, but don't wade into the surf deeper than you can comfortably handle your rod and reel above the water.

Article Written By James Clark

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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