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Best Shark Bait

Best Shark Baits

Shark's have on of the keenest sense of smells in the ocean and can sniff out a few drops of blood from miles away.

The best shark baits will generally be some kind of bait fish that the sharks are already feeding on locally.

It's not uncommon for sharks to repeated come right up to a bait they are not used to and tap it with there nose, circle it for a few minutes and then loose interest in it altogether.

Generally the oilier and smellier the better!

Without doubt the number one rule to follow when obtaining shark bait is that fresher is always better!

Preferably you should be catching your own, however this may not always be possible so you may end up having to purchase some from a bait and tackle store or another fisherman.

Possible sources of shark baits:

  • Catch your own
  • Bait and tackle shop
  • Offer fishermen on a pier
  • Offer charter boats that are finished their charter.

Sharks are scent hunters and the fresher the scent in the water the better. Oilier fish like mackerel are said to have a stronger scent.

But, not all shark fishing baits are created equal, you do not want any kind of bait that is too soft as smaller sharks will end up biting your bait off of the hook which can become very frustrating as the day wears on.

Best Shark Baits

1. Local Bait Fish

Local is always best, matching the hatch is an old saying that is rarely wrong especially when predatory fish are be targeted.

If you are new to the area then ask the locals what's in season and where. Your local bait and tackle shop is regularly one of the very best resources to ask at.

2. Bonito

You'll mostly find bonito offshore and that is where big sharks love to hunt. When one a charter I'll mostly ask that we fish with bonito especially if they are plentiful in the area and sharks are already used to feeding on them.

3. Mackerel

Mackerel are pretty oily fish and give a great scent particularly when fresh. Most sharks at some time or another will have fed on mackerel so they are generally considered a very reliable shark bait especially when fishing from the shore or pier.

Hooking them through the eyes and butterflying the body open with a knife is an excellent tactic as the body then creates a real natural flutter as it moves through the water.

4. Barracuda

Cuda's are extremely smelly when cut and sharks are well used to eating them. Given that they are such a long fish you can usually get two separate baits out of the one fish.

5. Amberjacks

If you have ever fished for amberjack then you may well have had your prized catch stolen from you right at the boat by a shark.

Shark Baits

Shark fishing bait will always be a lot more successful if it is fresh and still has a lot of it's natural scent still on it.

You will usually find that frozen or any kind of processed fish will not retain the same amount of scent and oils that a freshly caught fish will.

This is why catching your own bait will generally be the superior option.

However, if you have a large local pier or docks with a lot of charter boats you can always try to buy some fresh bait from locals.

You can even do this the day before as one an overnight in a fridge will not lessen the quality too much.

Just make sure that you get the whole fish and that it has not been bled or cut in any way.

Also make sure that the is no blood coming from the gills as fish can lose a lot of blood if they have been hooked deep down in the throat and gills.

Always remember that fresher is better.

Frozen fish once thawed can be become a lot softer than if it was fresh and this can lead to it falling off the hook a lot easier especially if you are casting a large bait from the shore.

Tackle Considerations

Given their size and power sharks are clearly some of the strongest and most aggressive fish you will ever likely catch on a rod and reel.

You really need to make sure that your shark fishing gear and tackle is up to the job.

What kind of rods and reels you use will depend on whether you are fishing from a boat of off of a pier or the beach.

The best shark fishing rods regardless of their length will need a strong backbone so should be rated at least 50 to 80 lbs.

The best shark reels need to match the type of setup you have chosen. For example a good surf casting outfit that is used for smaller shark species will be all but useless for larger species offshore and vice versa.

Regulations

Always follow your local rules and regulations when it comes to the use of fish as bait.

Some anglers will always opt to use live bait when shark fishing even when it is prohibited by the local state laws.

Certain fish a specific times of the year are also banned from being used as shark baits.

If in doubt check your local states laws well in advance and be sure to note what species you can use and when they can and cannot be used.

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best shark fishing rods

Best Shark Fishing Rods

Choosing a shark fishing rod will be mostly influenced by how you intend on fishing. 

Will you be offshore on a boat or fishing from the shore on a pier or the beach?

Depending on your where you will be fishing will probably be the number one influencing factor on what type of shark rod you buy.

Regardless of the type the best shark fishing rods all need a strong backbone, rod blank and butt section not to mention high quality components such as reel seat line guides and tip guide.

On a cheap rod the first thing to go is usually either the line guides or the reel seat, it is rarely the rod blank that will fail first.

Regardless of the type of rod you choose it should be rated as a 50 lb class rod at a minimum.

Sharks need a rod that is capable of handling sustained pressure and can run heavy mono or braid at a minimum of 50 lbs breaking strain.

Ideally you will have enough power in the rod so that the fight does not go on for too long, as in most states for the majority of shark species the fishing is catch and release only.

The quicker you can unhook them the better their chances of surviving when released.

Shark Fishing Rods for Surf Fishing

Traditional surf fishing has changed considerably in the last ten years especially for larger species like shark.

A lot of anglers are now using either a kayak or more recently drones to haul their large shark baits out past the breaking surf some as far as several hundred feet beyond it.

This approach no longer requires a long surf casting rod. Instead they can opt to use slightly longer offshore conventional rods as no casting is required.

However, if you are just starting out then a surf casting rod will be the best option.

You can run either a spinning or a conventional as your choice of shark fishing reel on these big rods, but more often than not when fishing for sharks less than six feet spinning tackle is the more popular.

A longer surf casting rod for shark fishing gives has a number of advantages over a shorter rod:

  • Better casting distance
  • Keeps line high out of the waves
  • Will be easier to detect a bite

Line guides should be ring guides only so you can use either mono or braid. Leave the roller guides to the heavier offshore shark poles.

Shark Fishing Rods for Offshore Fishing

A good offshore rod for shark will be a convention boat rod 5'6 to 6 feet with a moderate to fast taper the type that is commonly used with a harness. 

You can choose either traditional ring guides or roller guides.

It is generally considered a bad idea to pair roller guides with braid as your main line because if the line slips the roller on to the side the roller will destroy the braid.

Monofilament is a lot more forgiving when used with rollers, the only downside is a little more stretch in your line making hook sets a little less sharper.

Some prefer a fast taper others a more moderate and this is normally a personal preference thing.

Best Shark Fishing Rods

The Penn Carnage 2 surf rods are available in either a spinning or conventional model and run from a 10' to a 12' in length. Power wise they range from a medium to an extra/heavy.

The medium/heavy is rated for 20 to 50 lbs line and weights in the 2 to 6 ounce range.

The extra/heavy is rated for line in the 50 to 80 lbs range and weights in the 6 to 12 ounce range.

They are specifically engineered for use with braided fishing line but can still use monofilament.

All models are a two piece design.

All rods have a moderate/fast tip action. A more moderate rod action will allow you to load more of the full length of the rod blank to cast heavier weights with more efficiency.

A faster tip will give you more sensitivity and allow you to detect bites easier.

The combination of moderate/fast is the best of both and is perfectly suited for casting weighted rigs for sharks out past the surf.

They are specifically designed with surf casting in mind and if you are looking to get out past the breaking surf then the longer rods will be the better option.

The only trade off with a longer shark rod is that it you hook a very large shark then you will have a longer lever to contend with whereas a shorter rod will give you more leverage to work against the shark.

Longer rods however cast better and once in your rod holder on the beach will also keep your line higher up over the surf and breaking waves making it easier to detect bites.

They are built on SLS3 rod blanks and have Fuij K guides with Alconite inserts, they also come with a high quality Fuji reel seat.


A classic style surf spinning rod that is aimed at performance casting.

The Tsunami Airwave range has been designed with lowering the weight of the rod as much as possible whilst still retaining a lot of backbone, durability and casting performance.

The Airwave is built on high-fiber density blanks that lowers the average weight without sacrificing on performance.

If you find yourself casting a lot throughout the day then the Airwave is a smart choice as a heavy rod can become tiresome after a long day casting through the surf.

The heavy rated rod is rated for line in the 20 to 40 lbs range and can throw weights in the 3 to 5 ounce range.

They come equipped with Pac Bay Aluminum oxide braid friendly guides and a lightweight Fuji graphite reel seat.


If you are looking for a rod that can be used for smaller sharks and still double up for lighter surf casting and other inshore work then the Mojo Surf line from St Croix is a safe bet.

The mojo range covers a large variety of techniques and species for both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

Not all shark fishing is about landing the next jaws and if your local beach, pier or dock has a healthy amount of smaller sharks in the sub 6 feet range then you can forget about needing a dedicated shark fishing rod and buy something that is usable for multiple different inshore fishing techniques.

The Mojo surf range as the name suggests if designed with surf casting in mind. St Croix are known for building exceptional rod blanks and the Mojo range is no exception.

They are built on St Croix's SCII mid-modulus graphite fiber for lighter weight and premium sensitivity through the rod tip and down into the blank.

The heavy rated rods is suitable for line in the 10 to 20 lbs range and weights in the 1 to 4 ounce range, so these rods are clearly for small shark species.

The tip action is rated as a moderate/fast so you get the sensitivity of a fast action tip but still the better backbone and rod blank of a moderate rated rod that allows for more power to be transferred through the rod when casting.

Lightweight line guides with hardened zirconium inserts and a premium Fuji DPS reel seat for the hardware and twp coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish to round out the rods.


If you are looking for a shorter boat rod that is not as heavy duty as some roller/conventional rods then a heavy duty spinning rod can be a great alternative.

Heavy duty  spinning rods are a bit more versatile than a standup roller rod so you can target multiple species with these rods and a broader range of techniques. 

The Shimano Talus is rated for line in the 50 to 100 lbs range and comes in at a length of 6'9" making it very usable on a boat.

The tip section has a fast action for quick hook sets and better sensitivity whilst using single hooks on bait rigs.

They are designed for use with braided fishing line and feature Fuji Aluminum Oxide guides with a Shimano reel seat.

They are built on Shimano TC4 rod blanks which is their heavy duty rod technology for added durability. 


The Shimano TLD A Stand Up is a classic style conventional roller offshore rod for big shark fishing.

Once you start to target larger species of shark a purpose built offshore rod really starts to make sense.

Big sharks put a massive strain on not only your rod blank and reel but also on the line guides and roller guides are one way to ensure that you line moves as smoothly as possible with the least amount of friction when under very heavy loads.

There are four rods available in the range a 20 lbs rod that has normal guides and then the 30, 50 and 80 lbs class rods which all feature roller guides.


Shark Fishing Rods

As we discussed above your choice of fishing rod for sharks will be determined by whether you are fishing from a boat or from the beach/pier.

All rod for shark fishing need to be well built with a lot of power through the rod blank and down into the butt section. 

You also need to make sure that the reel seat and the line guides or rollers are of the highest quality to help reduce any friction between the line and the guides.

Shark fishing gear should last years of use and abuse if you buy quality from the beginning.

Surf Shark Rods

Assuming you are actually casting your bait out and not using a kayak to haul it out over the breaking surf then a long surf rod with a heavy power rating usually in the 50 to 80 lbs range is the best rod for the job.

Length

Personally I would not use a shark fishing pole for this type of fishing under ten feet in length.

A longer pole that is eleven or twelve feet long will have a number of advantages over a shorter rod.

A long rod once set into the rod holder will hold your line up high in the air above the crashing waves.

This also keeps the line high in the water off of the ocean floor free from any snags and also giving you a lot more feedback through the line.

You will also gain a notable amount of distance when casting. A longer rod is basically a much bigger lever and once you load the rod blank that lever becomes a huge spring that will help to whip a large bait and weight a lot further than any short rod can.

Action

Rod action describes where on the rod blank the rod will start to bend naturally once you apply some pressure to it.

A fast action will bend higher up the blank towards the tip.

What rod action for surf casting for sharks ?

A fast rod action is best when surf fishing for sharks from the beach or a pier. This is will give you the best casting characteristics but also a more sensitive tip for detecting bites.

Power

Given their size a heavy rod action is a must for all shark fishing. Look for rods that are rated from 50 to 80 lbs.

Anything smaller and although you may end up landing the shark chances are it will take a long time and a tired shark has a lot lower chance of surviving once released than one that is played quickly.

Offshore Shark Rods

Size

On a boat shorter is nearly always better so look for a good conventional offshore boat rod in that is either 5'5" or 6' in length.

A shorter rod give you a lot more leverage against a heavy shark and combined with a high torque reel(low gearing) you should be able to exert enough pressure to reel them in quickly.

High quality jigging rods or trolling rods will be required if you are targeting really big sharks.

Short poles are also a lot easier to use on a boat than a long rod unless you are trolling and running a lot of planer boars out wide.

Ring Guides vs Rollers ?

Roller assembly braid mono in rings no chaff

The main advantage that roller guides give you on big game rods is that they reduce the amount of friction between the line and the guide.

But if your line pops off onto the side of the roller it can make bits of your line especially if you are using braid.

Monofilament is the better option if you opt for a pole with roller guides.

Modern ring guides especially the higher end ones are so hard now that they will wear very little and cause very little friction against the line.

There is very little to go wrong with a simple ring guide assuming it is of a decent quality.

You do see a lot of anglers that use a roller guide on the tip and then ring guides on the rest of the rod but in my opinion this is a mistake. 

You should either go all roller guides or all ring guides no mixing and matching as once you use one of the other type you loose the benefits of the type of guide.

Bent Butt or Straight ?

If you are new to offshore fishing then you may never have encountered a bent butt rod before.

These rods are for using in a fighting chair. One thing to remember that this kind of setup if not tournament legal and so if you intend on doing some tournaments then a straight butt rod is the way to go.

Straight butt rods can be used in a belt or harness.

A really high end expensive rods the butt will be solid aluminum and they can be flicked from the straight position into a bent but as there is a pivot point just below the reel seat.

Materials

Fiberglas or some form of modern fiberglass blend with either graphite or carbon fiber but straight up fiberglass is a pretty solid bet.

The standard of epoxy resin will also have an impact of the final quality of the rod.

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shark fishing gear and tackle

Shark Fishing Gear and Tackle

Shark fishing is one of the most exciting types of fishing you can do from either the beach or on a boat. Your shark fishing gear needs to be able to handle these big aggressive fish.

These fearsome predators with their rows of razor sharp teeth and coarse like skin require fishing tackle that is up to the job.

Light tackle is not up to the job and if you have ever hooked a shark accidentally on lighter gear you probably know that they don't tire easily and the fight could last several hours.

You don't want to end up fighting a shark for too long. Larger fish if played for hours can die from the fatigue even if they swim off.

That's why your shark fishing gear needs to be able to handle and control large fish.

Shark Fishing Gear for Beach

1. Rod

A good shark fishing rod needs to match how and where you will be fishing from and also the size of shark you will be targeting on a regular basis.

If you are mostly fishing from a boat then a shorter boat rod is usually the preferred choice.

A shorter rod gives you much better power from a leverage point of view. This rods are short, stout and can handle a huge amount of pressure whilst hauling up from deeper waters.

Just what type of power rating your need and the choice between using a spinning rod or a conventional rod will again depend on the size of shark you target.

For shorter 6 foot sized sharks a spinning rod is more than enough but once you move to larger fish then I would opt for a conventional rod and reel for shark fishing.

If fishing from the beach then clearly a short rod will not be sufficient. Longer rods cast better and a good surf fishing rod will help to get your bait out into deeper water where it belongs.

Lighter inshore fishing rods will not handle larger sharks so best to choose your tackle wisely.

2. Reel

The best shark fishing reel is one that matches your rod and line setup. Spinning reels can be used on smaller species, once you move to the larger types of shark then you would be better to move to a conventional reel.

Conventional reels will always provide a lot more cranking power over a spinning reel.

They can also hold a lot more line and if you are deep sea fishing and trolling on a boat then they are the superior choice every time.

3. Line

Although some fishermen will always stick to monofilament I am a firm believer in using braided fishing line for shark fishing.

Sharks have tough and very coarse skin. That skin can wreck braid when it rubs off of it. The coarse skin will run the braid by cutting through individual strands of the braid which then results in large section of it thinning and then eventually snapping.

The trick is to use a heavy monofilament shock leader that gives a bit of stretch but more importantly mono is more resilient to the abrasive skin on sharks.

You can use up to a ten foot mono leader. And then a wire trace or leader right at the hook.

4. Hooks

Circle hooks are by far the most popular choice for shark fishing as due to their shape they help to keep the line or leader clear of the sharks rows of sharp teeth.

That being said some fishermen quite simply refuse to use them even though they can have a slightly higher hook up rate.

There is also a huge debate in the shark fishing community regarding whether or not you should use a barbless hook.

Barbless hooks make removing he hook from a sharks mouth significantly easier and if you are releasing the shark then you need to make the process of returning the shark to the water as quickly and efficiently as possible.

5. Leader

No discussion around shark fishing gear and tackle would be complete without mentioning a heavy leader.

Although there is an argument to say that circle hooks should help to keep your line away from the sharks teeth in my experience you are always better off using a strong wire leader up to the hook.

As mentioned above a wire leader is pretty abrasion resistant and sharks have very rough skin which can destroy braided fishing line.

You can of course use heavy mono as you leader. Mono holds up better than braid on coarse skin.

A leader also acts as a shock absorber. Running heavy mono to the hook gives you a certain amount of stretch.

Personally I always choose a wire leader as you never know just what type of shark may take your bait and having that extra confidence that they won't chew through your leader is very re-assuring.

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Pier Fishing Gear

Pier Fishing Gear and Tackle

​Fishing from a pier gives you access to a wide range of different species which means there is a lot of different pier fishing gear and tackle required if you want to target every type of fish in every type of water conditions.

If you are just starting out then I would strongly suggest sticking to using bait and targeting smaller species of fish.

This of course will depend on the exact pier you are fishing from and the time of year it is.

Spend a little time observing the locals or regulars at the pier they are usually the best sources of information about what king of pier fishing tackle you will need.

​Pier Fishing Gear and Tackle

​1. Rod 

A good pier fishing rod should be matched to the type of fishing you are doing and what species of fish you will be targeting the most often.

You have a few different options when it comes to choosing what kind of rod you will need for pier fishing:

  1. ​Light spinning rod for baitfish and light jigging work
  2. ​Medium sized spinning or conventional rod for heavier bait and lure casting
  3. Heavy conventional rod for bigger species and larger lures

​Once you've spent a bit of time at your local pier you'll notice that a lot of fishermen will use multiple rods at the same time.

They may use a light rod for bobber fishing or catching baitfish and a much heavier outfit for using live bait or casting longer distances out from the pier.

​2. Reel

Your reel will need to be matched to your rod and line. Either a spinning reel or a conventional reel.

Either option needs to be capable of handling heavy use in saltwater conditions.

Always remember to rinse your eels thoroughly will fresh water once you get home to help protect them from the corrosive effects of salt water.

​3. Line

The two most common types of line for use on a pier is either braid or monofilament. You would want to use 10 lb monofilament as a minimum and 20 lb braid.

Mono gives you a bit of extra stretch in the line when compared to braid. For lighter work I prefer mono especially on a smaller sized spinning reel.

​4. Sinkers

Sinkers are a crucial piece of pier fishing tackle for getting down to the sea floor when bottom fishing. That is not their only purpose though.

Sinkers also help keep your bait on the sea floor once you have cast out into the spot you have targeted.

There is a choice of either round or pyramid style sinkers.

Round sinkers are best on rocky bottom as there is less chance that they will get stuck in between the rocks when compared to pyramid shaped ones.

Pyramid style sinkers are great for working on sandy bottoms as their shape helps to anchor then in the sand and they are less likely to be moved around in the current or on coming tide.

​5. Hooks and Rigs

Circle and traditional J hooks are probably the most popular type of hooks used when fishing with bait but there are other options also and this will depend very strongly the method or kind of bait presentation that you are trying to use.

Premade rigs are a real time saver especially if you are using something like a sabiki rig. Just pull them straight out of the packer and you are ready to go, a real time saver.

​6. Rod Holder

​If you are using a short rod then a rod holder is quite a useful piece of pier fishing gear.

If you rest a short rod against the pier wall then it will only start to bend at the point where it touches the wall or railing.

With a rod holder you retain all of the action of the rod whilst it is securely fixed in place.

With longer rods this is usually not an issue and they are normally just left up against the railing. Just make sure that it is tied to the rail in some way as you can lose rods even heavy ones if a big fish strikes.

​7. Pliers

A good stainless steel pliers is a must when fishing in salt water. A lot of species have row after row of sharp teeth and you need something that protects your hands whilst removing the hooks.

Pliers are also useful for cutting line and sqeezing on tradional style sinkers onto your line.

​8. Fishing Cart

What pier would be complete without a few carts crammed full of pier fishing equipment.

Once you need to carry multiple rods, a tackle box and a drop net for pier fishing then investing in a decent fishing cart is a wise decision.

They take all of the pain out of carrying lots of awkard and bulky gear around with you.  

9. Tackle Box

When you have lots of sinkers hooks and rigs then a tackle box is a bit of a no brainer.

Once you start using lots of lures and jigs on top of the basic bait fishing tackle keeping then in a separate compartment is the only way to stop all your lures and bait rigs getting tangled.

​10. Net

​A good pier net makes life much easier once it comes time to land your catch. A regular long handled net may not be strong enough or long enough to handle a fish of any serious weight.

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pier fishing rod setup

Pier Fishing Rod Setup

​If you are just starting out fishing on your local pier then you may be a little confused as to all of the advice you will get online about what kind of pier fishing rod setup you should use.

The number one thing to remember is that you need to match you rod to what you will be fishing for and just how exactly you'll be doing it.

If your is to use small jigs then a big beefy rod is not going to give you the type of feedback that you will need.

And, conversely if you are targeting much bigger species that require and rod and reel setup with a lot of backbone then a lighter setup is virtually useless. 

If you can have a chat with the local fishermen that are already fishing there. Some of them may well be fishing on that same pier all their life and their advice will be thoroughly invaluable when it comes to what kind of tackle you will need.

For the most part you reduce down the number of different setups to just three:

  1. ​Light - for jigging, catching baitfish and other smaller species
  2. Medium - for bait work and light lure casting
  3. Heavy - for large species and large lure casting work

​However, if you are just starting out then I would recommend just one rod and reel as your first purchase.

The best pier fishing rod for a beginner roughly 7 feet in length and have a medium power rating. Paired with a spinning reel and 15 lb mono. 

​This is a fairly generic type of rod and reel that can over a lot of species and as ever with pier fishing it really does depend on your local pier and what type of fish you will target regularly.

​3 Pier Fishing Rod Setups 

​1. Light Setup for Jigging/Baitfish

For catching smaller species and baitfish then you are going to need to use some light tackle.

​When using light tackle I would always opt for a spinning rod and reel for pier fishing as they are better at handling lighter lines.

If you are doing a lot of finesse style jigging then you will need to have a lot of feedback from the jig back through the rod, you won't get this kind of sensitivity with a heavy rod.

Graphite is usually preferred over a fiberglass rod when doing lighter work as agin they will have much better tip sensitivity.

Aim for a 6'6" to 7' foot rod with a medium/light power rating and a fast action or a moderate/fast action.

​You'll need to pair a reel to that rod and a size 2000, 2500 or a 3000 depending on the rod and reel choice as each manufacturer is different.

You'll need 10 lb monofilament or 20 lb braid. Mono has a bit more stretch in it but is better suited to beginners. Braid on the other hand has very little stretch which is great for jigging but it can result in wind knots.

​2. Medium Setup for Bait/Lure work

A good medium setup could easily end up being your most used out of all three. When you are targeting fish in the 5 to 10lb range then a good choice is still a spinning rod.

Aim for between 7 and 8 feet in length and a medium/heavy power rating.

That extra length gives you both the ability to cast longer distances and also can help to steer fish away from the pylons beneath the pier which is usually their natural reaction once hooked.

Spinning reel of 3000 or 4000 and you can load that with 12 to 15 pound mono or up to 30 lb braid.

​3. Heavy Setup for Larger Species and Heavy Lure Work

Bigger species mean bigger stronger tackle especially if you are using large sinkers or casting bigger lures.

If you are not looking to cast any great distance then you can use a spinning rod with a heavy power rating or roughly 9 feet in length.

If you are targeting really big fish like sharks then a conventional rod and reel is the better choice.

​A conventional reel gives you a lot more cranking power.

They can also handle a lot more heavy braid than a spinning reel. Low profile baitcasters are rarely used as the casting distances are normally shorter than if you were doing a lot of heavy lure work looking to cover a lot of open water.

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best pier fishing rod

Best Pier Fishing Rod [Buyer’s Guide]

​Pier fishing can b​e one of the best ways to start out fishing in saltwater. There is a huge variety of fish that live in and around the submerged structures of the pier.

​Cobia, Spanish Mackerel, Pompano, Flounder, Tarpon, Redfish even Sailfish and sharks are all available to you throughout the year from a pier.

​Give that there is so many different species that range from smaller baitfish all that way up to sharks then it's pretty clear that the really is no one rod that can handle all of these species.

The best pier fishing rod is one that matches what kind and size of fish that you are targeting.

If I had to be pushed and could only choose one rod for per fishing then I probably go with some along the lines of the following:

  • Type - spinning
  • Length - 7 to 8 feet long
  • Power - medium or medium/heavy

Although not ideal when using a jig rig for smaller mackerel you can still get by with a rod like this and also be able to handle larger species and cast fairly heavy sinkers for bait fishing at the same time. 

You have a choice of either 12 to 15 lbs monofilament or 20 lb braid as your main line.

​What type of Fishing Rod is Best for Pier Fishing ?

​Ideally you would run up to three different types of rods for pier fishing a light and a medium/heavy spinning rods for jigging and bait fishing close in to the pier and a casting rod for throwing larger lures or bait at a distance.

  • ​Jigging/baitfish ​- spinning rod, 7 feet, medium/light power rating
  • Medium Bait/Lure​ - spinning rod 8 feet, medium/heavy power rating
  • Larger species - spinning rod or conventional, 9 feet, heavy power rating

​Materials wise your choice is between a fiberglass or a graphite rod blank.

Fiberglass is much tougher and pier fishing is particularly hard on rods. However, they are also slightly heavier and if you are doing a lot of casting or jigging then a lighter graphite rod is the way to go.

It you are just dropping bait down from the pier then fiberglass is the better choice. Graphite is pretty brittle/fragile and if you are leaning it against the hand rail of the pier it is much more prone to getting damaged.

​What is the Best Length/Size Rod for Pier Fishing ?

​A good length/size rod for an all round pier fishing is roughly seven to eight feet in length.

Longer rods are better casting but not that great up close, shorter rods will be better for jigging and dropping bait down vertically but make it harder to turn a fish if they decide to run under the legs of the pier.

The sweet spot in length allows you to turn a fish away from the pier pylons with out it being so long like a surf rod that it will become awkward and cumbersome to use on a busy pier.

The first three rods below are better suited for lighter work especially if you are a beginner.

​Best Pier Fishing Rod

​Our first pick is actually a pier fishing rod and reel combo, the Penn Battle II spinning combo is an excellent choice if you are just looking to try your hand at fishing from a pier for the first time.

For a beginner a combo is a a real no brainer and it takes out any of the guess work when it comes to making that all important choice.

​Penn are one of the most respected names in saltwater tackle and this pier combo is no exception when it comes to their legendary quality and reliability.

A combo like this gives you a perfectly matched rod and reel for pier fishing and also when bought as the one deal you'll also get a decent saving over buying a separate rod/reel.

The Battle II reel is the real star of the show and although you might out grow the rod, the reel if maintained correctly should still be working away in ten years time.

​For light work the 2500 size is great for jigging and targeting smaller species. The rod is a medium/light power rating and the rel can hold 140 yards of 10 lb mono or 160 yards of 20 lb braid.

For larger species and bigger baits you can go up to a 4000, which would cover you for a lot of different species and different rig setups.

​Specifications:

  • ​Penn Battle II high quality reel
  • Range of reel sizes, rod length and power/actions
  • Aluminum oxide guides

​Don't let the name fool you although not strictly what some anglers would consider a pie​r rod the Mojo inshore series from St Croix are excellent rods for jigging and light lure work around structures.

​If you are routinely throwing a lot of light lures and smaller jigs depending on your location. If that is the case then you will need a graphite rod that has a lot of sensitivity.

​A more sensitive rod with a fast action and responsive rod blank is a must when targeting smaller species on light tackle.

Fiberglass rods will not give you the kind of feedback that you need. Clear and crisp tip sensitivity can make or break your jigging.  

​All of the rods have a fast action and are available in a ice pread of power ratings.

​Specifications:

  • ​Aluminum oxide guides
  • SCII graphite
  • Fuji reel seat
  • Split grip cork handle
  • 5 year warranty

​The Shimano South East Teramar Spinning rods make great all rounders.

They come with very high spec hardware like Fuji reel seats, Hardloy guides and a premium cork handle.

​The 7 foot medium action rod will cast 1 ad 2 ounce lures or weights a mile so if you are looking to get out from the pier this is a solid choice.

​Specifications:

  • ​TC4 rod blanks
  • Fuji Hardloy guides
  • Fuji reel seat

​Pier Fishing Rods

​If you are just starting out pier fishing then I would strongly suggest that you should target smaller fish that are under five pounds and that you buy a pier fishing rod that is suitable for this type of fishing.

Learning how to rig a bait and cast smaller lures is the single best way to improve your knowledge and experience.

Why?

Because you will probably catch more fish than if you are to target larger species. It's all about practice and working your way up from the easier to catch smaller fish eventually to the large ones once you gain the skills and experience.

You can have a lot of fun catching strings of mackerel on a sabiki rig and with a light enough spinning rod you will not need anything like a dedicated sabiki rod that you will see on a lot of boats.

For this I would suggest a good inshore spinning rod as your first pier fishing pole. Spinning reels are more forgiving than a conventional or baitcaster.

Casting is much easier with a spinning setup. Casting should not be a bottle neck that stops you from catch especially when you are fishing right above the fish on a pier.

When you are using a bobber with bait or lure and jigs a good spinning rod can handle all with ease.

Ask around on the pier and look for guidance from the more experienced fishermen. They can point you in the right direction when it comes to what type of tackle and bait to use for that particular pier.

You can choose either a fiberglass or a graphite rod , but if it is your first time fishing then a fiberglass rod will be an excellent per rod for a beginner.

They are all lot tougher and can take a lot more abuse than a graphite rod blank.

When resting your rod up against a pier all day it can take a lot of abuse and a very light fragile graphite rod may not always be the best option, fiberglass however can take a lot of scrapes and knocks without losing any strength.

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flounder gigging lights for wading

Flounder Gigging Lights for Wading

If you don't have a flounder boat available to you or are just starting out in gigging then wading along the shoreline or sandy flats can be the best option. 

Along with the gigging pole the gigging lights for wading that you use are going to be one of the most crucial items of your flounder gigging equipment.

You can find some commercially available AA battery powered lights but they really are no match for an LED light run off of a 12v battery. 

A good battery should weigh anywhere from 5 to 8 pounds and if you have it in a backpack the load can be very easily spread across the shoulders. You'll probably be wearing a pack anyway to hold water and extra gear.

Flounder Gigging Lights for Wading

Below we have listed two ready made solutions both of which will run off of a 12v DC battery.

If you want to make your own custom built gigging light for wading then you will find a list of the materials that you will need lower down the page.

This purpose built flounder gigging light for wading is made in America by Boat Lights US.

It is 50 inches long and weights just a little over 2 pounds so it's quite light and is suitable for use by kids also.

It requires a separate 12v battery which is connected via either alligator clips or spade connectors.

The light head gives out 2200 lumens from 6 high powered LED light. The head is set an angle that's just right for wading in the shallows.

The six LED's are arranged in a flat side-by-side configuration. This gives the best spread of light. You do not want a narrow focused beam when flounder gigging. A large spread allows you to cover a lot of ground more quickly.

The main arm is made high quality PVC which is both stiff and light. Pair this with a small 12v battery in a backpack and you shouldn't real feel any weight even after hours of use.

Specifications:

  • 2200 lumens
  • 18 watt output
  • 6 foot battery cord
  • 50 inch long, weighs just over 2 lbs

The FlounderPro from AlumiGlo is another purpose built solution. It looks a bit more polished than the pole above but has a slight drawback in that the LED's are arranged in a circular pattern.

Ideally they would be flat to give as much light spread as possible. Saying that it is a high quality light with the added bonus of a shoulder strap.

Again you'll need to pair this with a 12v battery. It weighs in at 2.3 lbs which slightly heavier than the Boat Lights US model above but that little weight is hardly noticeable.

Specifications:

  • 2850 lumens
  • 50 inch handle with shoulder strap
  • High grade PVC pole with aluminum light head
  • 2.3 lns in weight

Almost any 12v portable battery will do as long as it runs about 7.5 Ah from a full charge.

The Powerstar unit listed weighs in around 6 pounds and features a well sealed battery housing and external cover.
Chargers sold separately.

Specifications:

  • 12v portable battery
  • 7.5 Ah
  • Battery life 3 to 5 years
  • comes with 2 year warranty

DIY Flounder Wading Lights

If you are looking to make your own LED wading lights then with a few items you can get a custom built wading stick mage up in no time.

A lot of people like to combine the light onto their gigging pole. So if you already have a pole it is something to consider.

Light choice will usually come down to how much power you want. Remember that a larger light spread is quite important but it still needs to be bright enough to be usable. 

Here's what you need to make a flounder light setup for wading:

  • PVC or aluminum tubing 3/4 inch
  • 1/4 inch u-bolt
  • Submersible LED light
  • Marine on/off switch plus cabling
  • 12v Battery

The light will be mounted onto the pole using the u-bolt. Depending on the LED that you get you may need to play around with how it is mounted.

The mounting position will be either at the end of the pole if you are using your gig separately or you can mount the light on your gigging pole about half way up.

You'll need to fix the switch to the LED and then to the battery side of the cable. Try to get a good maring switch as it should stand up to the salt water environment better.

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Best Sabiki Rod

Best Sabiki Rod and Reel for Baitfish

​If you are catching a lot of live bait like mackerel and threadfin herring then the best way to haul a tonne of them onboard quickly is using a sabiki rig. A good sabiki rod or two will make life a lot easier.

The biggest complaints you'll often here about using a sabiki rig is the tangled mess they can become on board when not in use.

That and the fact that you have 6-10 small hooks just waiting to get snagged in something can end up driving you crazy, fast!

​Enter the sabiki rod.

A sabiki rod is a purpose built rod blank that the line and rig run through the middle of the rod rather than through traditional eyes once pulled in. The aim here is to keep the rig and all it's little hooks enclosed in the rod blank so that once on board they can't cause any trouble.

​There are usually only two types of sabiki bait sticks available ones with a line guide before the line feeder and ones without.

The sabiki poles that have an added line guide before the line is threaded into the rod blank are suitable for use with both baitcaster/conventional type reels and spinning reels.

If the rod blank does not have a line guide then it usually best not to use a spinning reel with it.

On a boat I always favor the conventional reel than a spinning reel as you will be essentially vertically jigging the sabiki rig and casting is not an issue.

​Best Sabiki Rods

​The Ahi USA rod is suitable for use with both spinning reels and baitcast/conventional reels. 

So if you are on a pier and are casting opt to pair it with a spinning reel. But, if on a boat and vertically jigging them the conventional reel is the best choice.

​You have the option or either a 7 or an 8 feet model and to be honest the choice should be determined by how long your sabiki rig is going to be. 

Choose the 7 foot model and an 8 foot length of jig then you'll either have to contend with and extra hook hanging freely when all others are covered or just cut off the last one.

​If you are in a kayak the 7 footer may be easier to handle.

It breaks down into 3 small pieces so is easy enough to transport and this also make it easier to thread the line through it when you first set it up.

​Specifications:

  • ​8 foot in length
  • Suitable for both spinning and baitcast/conventional reels
  • Great build quality
  • Available in both 7 or 8 feet options
  • Canvas carry bag included

​This is a 7 foot option from EAT MY TACKLE which makes it more suitable to kayaks or smaller fishing boats.

​It is a two piece rod making transport and storage quite simple.

Unlike the AHI rod above it does not have a line guide before the opening for the line in the blank so it is suitable for baitcast/conventional reels only.

​Not really suitable for casting your sabiki rig any meaningful distance unless you have a fairly heavy weight on the end of the rig.

​Specifications:

  • ​2 piece, 7 foot rod
  • Baitcast or conventional reels only
  • Strong fiberglass construction
  • Lifetime warranty

​The Promar Sabiki Stick come in either a 7 or 8 foot option.

They can handle any kind of reel so a spinning reel is an option here if you do not want to use a baitcaster.

​It breaks down easily into three sections and also comes with a storage bag. These rods are very well built and can take quite a bit of abuse.

​Specifications:

  • ​Three piece
  • 7 or 8 foot models
  • 1 line feeder guide
  • Comes with a storage bag

Sabiki Rod and Reel Combo

Purchasing a sabiki rod and reel combo as an all in one deal is a great way to get serious value for your money.

You can also rely on the rod and reel being perfectly suited to each other.

The Eat My Tackle Combo below is the best of the bunch.

​The Eat My Tackle sabiki combo is the perfect solution to your bait fishing needs.

Just spool on some mono, attach your rig to the main line and you are good to go.

This is the eight foot rod  from Eat My Tackle as seen above.

​The reel is a light-weight conventional reel that can hold up to 120 yards of 10 lb mono and is perfectly matched to the rod.

It is a right hand retrieve, has a star drag and a one way clutch.

​Specifications:

  • ​8 foot rod
  • ​Gear ratio 5.0:1
  • Holds 120 yd of 10 lb mono

​Sabiki Reels

​Although you can use spinning reels with sabiki fishing rods my preferred setup when jigging from a boat is to use a small conventional reel.

​The best time to use a spinning setup is when you are casting from a pier. Sabiki rigs can be quite light and casting them any kind of distance from a pier using a conventional reel can be a little difficult.

But on a boat hands the conventional reel the way to go.

You don't need anything to fancy, a plain level wind with a line counter works great.

​Always make sure to rinse your reels in fresh water after use, it will improve their lifespan significantly.


​The Penn Rival level wind conventional reel is a no frills lightweight reel that won't break the bank.
Although it might be priced on the lower end it still comes with Penn's legendary build quality.

These are perfect a sabiki reels and will not break the bank.

​For such a small and light conventional reel the Rival is still built from some very high quality materials. Marine grade bronze alloy main gear and carbon fiber drag washers ensure a smooth operation.

The smaller model is best suited for bait fishing and can hold 475 yards oof 15 lb monofilament fishing line.

​Specifications:

  • ​HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers
  • 2 stainless steel ball bearings
  • Frame and sideplates from lightweight graphite
  • Line capacity rings

​Okuma line counter reels some of the most reliable available. They are use on large freshwater lakes and for trollig at sea for smaller sized sport fish.

The Magda Pro in the smaller sizes make a great little sabiki reel.

With the added bonus of a linecounter builtin you can always be sure of just how deep exactly your rig is.

​Specifications:

  • ​Carbon drag system
  • Built in linecounter
  • 2 stainless steel ball bearings
  • Self lubricating gear system
  • 1 year warranty

​Sabiki Rod

​Sabiki Rods are pretty are a great way to keep your Sabiki rig from becoming a tangles mess. A common complaint with using a conventional rod for a sabiki rig is that once you reel them in and attempt to store them the rig becomes a massive tangles mess.

Not only do the get tangled up on all the rod eyes and main line but usually some of the hooks will end up getting snagged on some thing on the deck of the boat.

For me it was always one of either two landing nets. Hooks just love to get caught in nets and they are a real pain to untangle especially when you could be doing something more fun like actually using your new bait ti catch some real fish.

​A Sabiki rod is essentially a rod that is hollow in which the main line runs through as opposed to conventional rod guides and eyes.

​The design of a sabiki fishing rod is that it is actually wider at the top. The tip of the rod has a large opening. The opening has smoothed sides that allow your rig to enter the tube without snagging. Once the rig is fully enlosed in the rod tube there is no chance of any kind of tangle happening. 

You can usually pair a sabiki baitfish rod with a simple and in-expensive level wind or conventional reel.

Personally I use whatever old reels I have. If a reel has been retired from active duty on my main fishing setup them I'll re-spool it with lighter line and then use it on my baitfish rods.

Most solid reels will last a long time when used as part of a sabiki rod and reel combo. Just remeber to rinse them out with fresh water after every trip whether you use them or not.

Fall and Winter Fishing

Temperatures are dropping, the leaves are turning colors and the fishing is HOT.   These are sure signs that autumn has started in the Topsail Island area.   

That and those little yellow butterflies we see dotting the landscape.  

Old timers will tell you when the yellow butterflies show up, so do the fish, especially spots.    Ask local fishermen about their favorite fishing season and you likely will hear the word fall mentioned more often than not.

It certainly is the busiest time of year for our ocean fishing piers.  Our sounds, creeks and river have a lot of visitors this time of year too, from near and far away.    As the catches of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and pompano begin to taper off, the Spot, Speckled trout and Red Drum bite picks-up.

Spot is one of the area’s favorite catches this time of year.  Fishermen (and fisherwomen) line the pier rails and waterways.  They come armed with fresh shrimp pieces, blood worms and similar baits.  So grab your best rod for pier fishing and get to it.

Many use a typical two-hook bottom rig.  When the bite is hot, you’ll hear that Spot are being caught “two at a time”, meaning both hooks come up with fish on.  Some will fill their coolers with this tasty little fish in just a few hours.

Others are more interested in the Speckled Sea Trout, commonly called “specks” in these parts.   This prized fish is caught year round in our area.  However fall is one of the best times of year to catch them.  They can be found not only in the inshore marshes and creeks but in the surf and from the ocean piers.

Specks are a prized catch and good eating too!  Live bait such as shrimp or finger sized mullet and large minnows are good baits.  Many anglers prefer using artificial baits like Mirrolures or soft plastics on jigheads.    

The live baits are often fished under a popping cork and are retrieved using a jerking motion.  The hard baits and soft plastics are most often retrieved using a zig-zag or jerking pattern and allowing the baits to drop a bit between retrieves. 

Speaking of good eating, another prized fish in these parts is the flounder.  These flat fish are often found in the same places as Specks.  Many of the same baits can be used to target both.   Flounder lie on the bottom and ambush prey when they pass close by .

When jigging for flounder my favorite way to target is with a Berkley Gulp! ® shrimp on a jighead.  I’ll “bounce” it along the bottom with frequent, short pauses. 

If there is a hungry flounder around this will get its attention. 

Topsail Island is blessed with three ocean fishing piers.  These piers offer good access for ocean fishing and amenities such as bait, tackle, rest rooms and even a restaurant.  Most will even cook your catch for you, adding the sides and a drink for a very reasonable price.  This is fishing’s version of the “EASY” button.  Not that catching is guaranteed but it sure is nice trying from one of our piers. 

Each of our three towns has a pier. So no matter which section of the island you visit or live near, there’s a pier close by.   Seaview Pier is located in North Topsail Beach, (910) 328-3172.  Near the south end of the island in Topsail Beach Township is Jolly Roger Pier, (910) 328-4616.  And last but not least, smack dab in the middle of the island is Surf City Pier, (910) 328-3521. 

And don’t forget about winter fishing.  Our mild winter season provides some of the most serene fishing you will find anywhere.  I love to wet a line on a nice clear, crisp winter day.  There are fewer folks around but still fish to be caught.

Inshore fishing is your best bet this time of year.   The marshes and creeks are the best places to try for catches of flounder, specks and red drum.  Yes, some of each of the species stays here year round.  Not in the numbers found in the fall, but still some to catch for the avid angler.  Just remember a  s-l-o-w  retrieve is key when the water temperatures are below 60 degrees.

So go get ya some. 

Tight lines to all!

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Flounder Gigging Equipment

Flounder Gigging Equipment List – (What You’ll Need)

The minimum basic flounder gigging equipment that you'll need on your first gigging adventure is an actual gig.

But;

There are quite a few approaches to gigging and not all of the gear or equipment that you'll need for one is necessary for the other.

Different ways of gigging:

  • Wading
  • Boat
  • Kayak
  • At night
  • Daytime

Below we'll concentrate on working from a boat and the bare minumum amount of equipment for flounder gigging that you'll need to get started.

Flounder Gigging Equipment

  1. Gig Pole
  2. Gigging lights
  3. Flat bottom boat
  4. Live well/storage bin
  5. GPS
  6. Safety equipment
  7. Fishing license
  8. Bug spray

1. Gigging Pole

The first gigging poles are probably thousands of years old and made out of wood. Splitting a stick at the end into three prongs and using that to catch fish is an ancient method.

Modern gigging poles however are usually made from metal and feature three prongs. Stainless steel is your best choice.

If you are on a budget you can purchase a spear fishing head and mount it onto an aluminum pole or wooden stick if necessary.

2. Gigging Light

The most productive time for gigging is on a still summers night. Locating the flounder using a light that reflects off of their eyes is crucial to your success.

You have a number of options here. Install permanent underwater lights into the hull of your boat. Mount some lights onto the guard rail as discussed below or use a hand held lamp of head lamp.

Personally I favor a mix of all of them. Permanent underwater lights are not absolutely necessary. Mounting them high up on a guard rail is perfectly fine especially if you happen to have a high powered hand held lamp or head lamp.

If you are wading then a torch can get pretty tiresome after a few hours better off investing in some flounder gigging lights for wading. Flounder gigging on foot can be super productive as it allows you to go really shallow all the time.

3. Flat Bottom Boat

Choosing the correct type of boat for gigging is very important. Given the nature of gigging and where you will be doing it a flat bottomed boat with a shallow draft is the only real option.

A standard Jon boat or any decent small flat bottomed stiff is perfectly suitable for entering the shallows.

Ideally you have an electric trolling motor as they are easy to control and will run fairly silently when compared to your normal outboard motor.

A popular modification is to install some thin aluminum or stainless steel guard rails that allow you to mount some lights on and angle them downwards. They also have the added bonus of letting you lean out across them as you are gigging.

Most boats that are used for gig fishing will tend to have fairly low sides so the added rails really can make life a lot easier.

4. Live Well or Storage Bin

You'll need somewhere to store your catch away from flies and other insects. A lot of small fishing boats can come with a live well as part of the equipment list.

Unfortunately flounder are a flat fish and their shape can make them a little awkward to get into a standard live well.

If you use a plastic bucket with the lit cut open to just a few inches wider than your gig you can use the lip of the lid to slide the flounder from the gig as you pull the gig back out of the bucket.

Another lid can then be placed on top of this to seal it.

5. Fish finder with GPS

A fish finder is not only good for reading the depth and navigation but it is also useful for two things firstly safety and then the ability to mark a good fishing spot for future reference.

Gigging at night can become disorientating especially if you are constantly focusing on the bottom right in front of you.

Before you know it you can be several miles along especially if using a trolling motor. Using a gps you can set specific alarms if you have moved more than a certain distance.

Once you have found a good spot it is usually a good idea to mark it on your fish finder for future reference. Being able to find a spot again after being in there in the dark late at night os not always easy.

All you need to do is mark the spot and you'll have no trouble finding it again.

6. Safety Equipment

Just because you are gigging in shallow waters does not mean you can become complacent about your personal safety out on the water.

You can drown in six inches of water if you are some how knocked out so never take a risk even in the shallows where you think you are perfectly "safe".

A PFD(personal flotation device) for every person on board is absolutely crucial.

The boat itself should have all of the necessary onboard safety equipment that is required by the lay in your state.

Even if you have a small boat you should still have at a minimum flares, first aid kit, cellular phone and GPS.

You should also be very familiar with the tides and the area you intend on fishing in.

7. Fishing License 

Depending on where you are fishing a license is almost always a legal requirement. 

Gigging is no different.

Make sure you have an up to date fishing license for your state and that it is suitable for salt water fishing i.e it has a salt water stamp on it.

Keep it with you at all times and in a safe and dry place. I like to keep all my valuables like car keys and wallet in a water tight plastic box that floats. This is where I also keep my license.

8. Bug Spray

Bug spray is something that is commonly forgotten. Bugs love to swarm around vegetation and water and when you are gigging you will be in close to the shallows not always but quite often close to vegetation and small trees like mangroves.

I don't know about you but mosquitoes seem to love my blood and if there are any around I always seem to be the main item on the menu.

A decent insect repellent can help to massively restrict any bites or stings that you potentially may get.

Personally I won't go fishing without it.

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