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Best Surf Fishing Rigs

Best Surf Fishing Rigs

Surf fishing is quite unlike any other kind of angling. It requires the use of specialized gear and tackle to deal with the strong pull of the waves and the many different larger-sized game fish species that can be caught from the shore.

In some areas, there are saltwater fish species that far outweigh anything you’ll find in freshwater rivers and lakes. This forces surf fishing enthusiasts to use longer, heavier rods than normal for a few different reasons.

Fishing from the surf also requires the angler to have quite a bit of knowledge about the tides and how different species of fish are expected to react to incoming or outgoing tides.

They’ll also need to know how to catch fish when the surf is higher and stronger than normal as well. If you want to be successful at surf fishing, you’ll have to pay close attention to things like the weather, bait, size of your rod and reel, and a number of other factors.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most effective ways to rig your bait when fishing from the surf.

These tips are some of the best surf fishing rigs you’ll find anywhere and will work on most beaches if you tie them and follow the instructions on just how to utilize them to your advantage.

Important Parts of Surf Fishing Rigs

When it comes to fishing from the surf, there are a few main rigs that anglers will usually rely on to target some of the most common fish species that frequently can be found swimming along the shoreline.

These surf fishing rigs require the use of specialized gear and often larger hooks, sinkers and other items in order to execute them properly. Here is some important information about the different parts that will make up your surf fishing rigs.

1. Sinkers

The sinker is one of the most crucial parts of any surf fishing rig. When you’re fishing from the shoreline and casting out into the surf, the waves are going to be pulling very hard on whatever surf bait you are attempting to use.

It’s very important that you use a sinker that will ensure that your bait stays in the place you want it to. Without a heavy enough sinker, the surf can cause your hook to tumble around aimlessly in the surf, which will make it much harder for fish to bite it.

The only place that you’re able to catch fish in the surf is toward the bottom below the crashing waves.

Most experienced surf fishing anglers will typically opt for a pyramid sinker when fishing in the surf because they are designed to burrow down into the sand and can then serve as an anchor for your lure.

You can sometimes use another type of sinker if the current or tide is not too strong, but it’s generally a good idea to go with a pyramid sinker.

You’ll need to make sure that the sinker is heavy enough to withstand the strong pull that the current and waves will have on your bait.

You’ll need to use a sinker that’s at least 3 or 4 ounces in weight so make sure it stays in place. If you’re fishing when the current is very rough, you can go as high as an 8-ounce sinker.

Also Read: Surf Fishing Rods

Some surf anglers will use an egg sinker, which slides onto the line and is free to slide up or down along your line depending on the angle you have the fishing line.

A pyramid sinker will be stationary, so it’s a good idea to have it secured to a swivel that’s connected to your line so that your bait doesn’t get twisted up in the swirling current and waves.

2. Hooks

When it comes to deciding what kind of hooks you should use for surf fishing, most anglers will go for circle hooks. These are usually capable of piercing the mouth of the fish without doing too much other damage.

The circle hook is designed to be easily removed in a way that won’t overly injure the fish in case you need to release it back into the ocean.

In most cases, it’s recommended to use a 3/0 or up to a 5/0 hook. However, if you’re planning to fish for much larger saltwater species from the shore, including sharks, you can use a hook that’s as large as a 10/0 size.

Best Surf Fishing Rigs

1. Dropper Rig

This is perhaps the most commonly used surf fishing rig you’ll find and it works very well with almost any type of fishing bait. The dropper is very simple, but it involves the use of a three-way swivel in order to properly operate in the surf.

The main purpose of this rig is to keep your bait slightly off the bottom and allow any passing fish to easily see or sense it.

1. Start by cutting two lengths of fishing line that are roughly one or two feet in length

2. Tie the end of your main line to one side of the “T” on the three-way swivel

3. Tie the remaining two lines to the other eyes of your swivel

4. Tie the sinker to the other end of the “T” on your swivel

5. Tie the hook on the bottom eye of your “T” and bait your hook.

This rig helps to keep your hook off the bottom and also makes it much easier to change out the bait on your rig without having to re-tie any part of it.

2. Pompano Rig

The next best surf fishing rig we will mention is a bit more complicated than the Dropper Rig, but it has very similar concepts involved. The Pompano Rig also involves the use of swivels that you will use to connect this rig to your main line, as well as the sinker to the bottom of the rig.

The purpose of this particular rig is to have two hooks instead of one that are up off the bottom where fish like pompano can see it. This rig is capable of catching a variety of other fish species, including redfish and many others.

  1. Cut one length of leader line that’s at least 40 pound test in a two-foot section
  2. Tie a two-way swivel to the end of your main line
  3. Tie two 6-inch fluorocarbon lines to this leader line section
  4. Attach hooks to each end of the fluoro lines that aren’t connected to the leader
  5. Tie another two-way swivel down at the bottom of the leader line with a snap swivel on the other end
  6. Connect your choice of sinker to this snap swivel (pyramid is best)

You can also add beads to certain points of this rig and there are a number of different videos online that you can use as instructions on just where to place these beads or floats.

3. Carolina Rig

This type of rig is also very popular in freshwater fishing, as well as surf fishing due to its effectiveness and the ease with which you can create it.

The Carolina Rig is best for fishing with light tackle or using smaller lures or bait along certain parts of the surf. It requires the use of an egg sinker and two-way swivel, as well as your choice of hook.

  1. Start by feeding your main line through the egg sinker and looping it through the sinker’s hole to secure it in one spot so that it doesn’t slide up and down the line
  2. (You can leave the sinker free so that it can slide up and down the line if you want
  3. Tie the two-way swivel onto the main line just below the egg sinker
  4. Cut a 1.5-foot section of line and tie this section onto the other end of the two-way swivel
  5. Tie your hook on the other end of this line and bait your hook


These rigs are among the most popular surf fishing setups you’ll find anywhere and they are each very easy to use.

If you need further assistance in how to properly tie each of these and other surf fishing rigs, you can check out any one of the many videos online that explain in depth just how to tie each of these surf rigs.

If you follow these directions and study the different surf fishing techniques we’ve listed in other articles, you should be well on your way to successful fishing from the surf.

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