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Where to Cast When Surf Fishing

Where to Cast When Surf Fishing

Surf fishing involves the use of many tactics that are vastly different from any other form of angling. The crashing waves and the foam created by them create a chaotic and somewhat unpredictable environment, but knowing when and where to cast when surf fishing is key to catching fish along the coast.

Some fish species can be caught within 20 feet of the shoreline while others are farther out and require you to cast out past the breaking waves.

Understanding how far out you should cast when it comes to surf fishing starts by understanding the fish you’re going after.

Once you develop an understanding of how the fish feeds and its habits, you can typically predict their behavior and know where you need to cast.

In this article, we will cover everything you should know when it comes to the question of how far to cast when surf fishing and what type of saltwater fish species you can expect to catch at varying ranges from shore.

Types of Fish Close to Shore

There are a few types of popular game fish species that are usually caught closer to the shoreline than others. This often happens at specific times of the year, but you should know that some fish come very close to the water’s edge as they feed on bait fish or other creatures in the surf.

Casting in the Surf

In most cases, the fish that come up close to the shoreline will do so as the tide is rising or falling since this causes certain conditions that are favorable for them to have an advantage over their prey.

Fish species like pompano and redfish will usually use the rising or falling tides to chase bait fish towards the beach.

Doing this often allows the fish to pin their prey into tight windows of water that make it easier for them to catch bait fish as there is less water for them to swim in.

Also Read: Surf Fishing for Pompano

Some fish also feed more vigorously in rough surf conditions because the surf can cause small bait fish to become disoriented in the rolling and crashing water.

You might occasionally catch other types of fish close to the shore, but it’s important to know whether the species you’re going after will venture very close or remain out in deeper water past the breaking waves.

If you do plan to fish close to the shore, cast your line out about 20 feet into the water where the waves form white, foamy suds as they roll in.

Surf Casting Farther Away from the Shore

Most surf fishing beginners start out by fishing for the species that are easiest to catch.

It’s common to make the assumption that you can catch most types of saltwater fish near the shore, but for fish like mackerel, striped bass, flounder, sea trout, and even sharks, you’ll need to fish much farther than you might expect.

Also Read: Surf Fishing for Sharks

Catching these fish requires getting your bait out as far as possible since most of the popular types of saltwater fish cruise along the coast just past where the waves are breaking.

Surf Casting

In order to get your bait out far enough, you’ll need to have a rod that’s capable of casting out to such a distance. You’ll also have to use things like a shock leader and heavier weights to get your bait out as far as you can without snapping the line.

Most surf fishing rods are made to be heavier than your average fishing rod and longer because it’s designed to allow you to cast it harder, which launches it out as far as you’re able to cast.

It’s important that you try to vary the distance you’re casting out into the surf as the fish might be closer to the shore on some days and farther away on others.

It’s also a good idea to pay close attention to the times of day at dawn or dusk, as well as the rising or falling tides as this plays a major role in where you can expect to find fish at specific times.

Reading the Beach

One of the most useful tips you can learn when it comes to understanding how far to cast when surf fishing is being able to read the beach.

There are a number of different variables and scenarios depending on the beach you’re fishing at and being able to read the water helps you decide where to fish and also exactly where you should cast.

Surf Fishing from the Beach

This is one of the hardest things for beginners and novice surf anglers to do, especially if they do not regularly fish in the surf.

Being able to spot sand bars, breaks in the waves and areas where small or large schools of bait fish can be expected is key in understanding where you should cast.

Sand bars are perhaps the most important aspect of being able to read the beach as you can usually expect there to be bait fish nearby, especially if it’s out very far from the shore.

Most novice anglers can’t tell where sandbars are located unless they’re protruding out of the water, but you can typically spot one by watching how and where the waves break as they roll in.

Rip currents or tides are another very important element that surf fishing anglers can use to determine where they should cast their fishing bait.

A rip current is often formed in locations where a sand bar breaks and water is sucked out toward the ocean at a much more rapid pace.

While these tides are extremely dangerous for swimmers, they are often a fisherman or woman’s friend as you can usually expect to find bait fish nearby.

Also Read: Surf Fishing Rigs

Smaller fish will stay near the rip tide and use it, waiting for other creatures to pass by that they can feed on.

Finding an area of the beach that has a deep hole is also a big advantage as you can expect there to be big fish in or near the hole. Fish will often stay in holes as they can hang out near the edges and ambush any unsuspecting bait fish that are passing by.

It’s very hard to find where holes are in the surf just by looking as you won’t be able to see them. However, you can typically identify them by looking for large deposits of seashells or coarse sand that looks different from the usual sand that’s more fine in quality.

Look for Darker Water

Looking for areas that are darker than the rest of the beach is another solid method used by surf anglers to find schools of bait fish or various game fish species along the shore.

The darker color is caused when the surf is rough enough to disturb the sea floor and disperse sediment into the water. Smaller fish and many other creatures that game fish like to feed on will be attracted to these areas as they are rich in food opportunities.

Fish will mostly be searching for various species of crustaceans in these areas. It’s common for a number of different surf fish species to feed on sand crabs, and many variations of crabs and other prey that are frequently found when the sandy bottom is swept away and exposed.

Watch the Birds

Seagulls and other types of birds are a surf angler’s best friend in most cases because they can serve as your eyes in the sky.

These fish are naturally gifted with the ability to spot areas where there are abundant numbers of bait fish and you should pay close attention to exactly where there are flocks of seagulls making dives into the water.

These areas that birds swoop down into might move or even start and stop very quickly as the fish will move around to different areas once they no longer feel safe.

Be sure to cast your surf fishing bait out directly into the area where the birds are diving or focusing on as this will also be the spot where you can expect to find fish.


Finding out how far out you should cast your bait when surf fishing often requires a bit of homework and knowing what to look for. You can often get a head start and go to the right areas by watching and looking to see where other anglers are fishing.

Be sure to use proper fishing etiquette and don’t get close to any other angler, but once they leave the spot, you can move in and claim it for yourself.

You can also ask staff or patrons at your local bait shop for tips on specific locations that are good to fish. Using these tips will get you in the right location and allow you to make the best decision on how far out you should be casting when it comes to surf fishing.

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Light Tackle Surf Fishing

Light Tackle Surf Fishing – Tips and Tricks

There are an abundant number of different fish species you can catch along the surf at any beach. Some of the larger varieties of fish require the use of large, heavy tackle to not only cast your rig out as far as possible, but to also bring in your catch.

Surf fishing with light tackle is also very popular as there are plenty of smaller fish species that are considered excellent table fare, or just fun to catch.

Light tackle surf fishing is a great way to test your angling skills and truly challenge yourself when it comes to catching fish in the waves.

There are several unique techniques and tactics you can make use of with light tackle when surf fishing and some of them are highly productive for the most sought after saltwater fish species.

In this article, we will cover the basics when it comes to light tackle surf fishing and also explain the best strategies you can use and why they work.

Surf Fishing with Light Tackle Overview

Surf Fishing with Light Tackle

There’s nothing overly complicated about light tackle surf fishing. It mostly requires that you stick to the basic rules and techniques that most anglers are already accustomed to using if they’re well-versed in freshwater fishing.

The basis of any type of surf fishing, whether you’re going light or heavy, revolves around why type of fish you’re aiming to catch.

If you’re targeting bigger fish, you’ll obviously need larger line, hooks, sinkers, rods and reels, but light tackle is much simpler as you won’t have to deal with so much big, heavy gear.

When using light tackle to catch fish in the surf, there are a few specific areas you’ll want to pay close attention to in regards to your setup.

It’s important to make sure that your rod, reel, line, and other components are strong enough to withstand going up against the might of the waves, as well as the fish that are likely to bite your lure or bait.

When you do catch a fish, it becomes more of a challenge to get it onto the beach using light tackle because you’re more likely to have the line break or have the fish give you a stronger fight against your reel’s drag.

Most Common Species for Light Tackle Surf Fishing

You can use light tackle to catch anything from sea trout to pompano and species like mackerel and many others from the beach. It’s also a bit more fun trying to wrangle these feisty fish species by using lighter rods and reels.

There are anglers who would much rather use light tackle in the surf to catch these smaller species than to lug big, heavy rods onto the beach and try to catch larger-sized fish.

Pompano Fish Caught on Light Tackle

Pompano are arguably the most popular species of fish you’ll catch from the surf with light tackle. They’re smaller than most other saltwater fish you will catch, but pompano are known for being tenacious fighters that will put most light fishing tackle to the test.

If you fish inlets and flats around coastal areas, you’re probably already accustomed to catching sea trout, but these slender fish species can also be caught from the surf. They’re one of the most popular fish along the southern coastal states along the Atlantic and into the Gulf of Mexico.

There are other species like red drum, flounder and striped bass that can be caught using light tackle in the surf. These fish are one of the most exciting to target and fight as they can be found on virtually any beach and have a reputation for putting up a formidable fight against light tackle.

Best Light Tackle Setup

If you’re planning to use smaller bait or lures, you’ll need a lighter rod in order to have the ability to cast out as far as you need.

In most instances, the fish you’re after might be just a few dozen feet into the foamy surf at the edge of the beach, but going after some species requires that you have the ability to cast out pretty far.

You should be aware that these lighter rods are much more likely to snap when you’re fighting a bigger-sized fish, so it’s crucial that you’re very careful if you do happen to hook something larger than what you’re expecting.

Light Tackle Surf Setup

If you’re going after fish and trying to use a more subtle bait or lure presentation, having a lighter rod will also allow you to create more lifelike twitching motions and other movements.

Some lures such as spoons are meant to be retrieved with a twitching or slight movement along the bottom.

Being able to create this type of movement while the waves are pulling and crashing around the lure is tough, but you can manage to attract certain fish if you’re patient and understand just what to do with your rod and lure.

Some of the best light tackle surf fishing rods that you can use are basically the same style that you’d employ for freshwater fishing scenarios.

Brands like G. Loomis, St. Croix, Penn and others are excellent when it comes to making lightweight rods and reels that are perfect for fishing with lighter tackle.

When it comes to the saltwater spinning reels for light tackle, most experienced anglers will use a size 2500 or even as large as a 4000 in some cases.

You’ll be using lighter fishing line, so you won’t need to have the bigger spools that most surf fishing rod and reel combos offer.

Best Lures for Light Surf Fishing

Using a lighter rod for surf fishing opens up the possibility for you to fish with different lures than most surf anglers.

In most cases, surf fishing enthusiasts will use a large rod that’s made to launch bait out as far as possible, but a lighter rod allows you to have a greater amount of control over the lure’s movement in the water.

In most cases, you’re using specific types of lures that are tailored to only catch a certain species of fish. Jerkbait lures are one of the most popular surf fishing lures that are capable of catching a wide variety of fish if used in the right way.

Popper Lure

These lures will stay on top of the water and only dive just a foot or two, in most cases, below the surface. You can jerk or twitch your rod to produce the type of erratic motion that entices many game fish species to bite when they’re cruising along the beach looking for their next meal.

Also Read: Surf Fishing Baits

Spoons are another ideal choice of lure for fishing with light rods and surf reels as you can also use them in a variety of different ways to catch fish.

For many avid surf anglers, spoons allow the opportunity to vary their retrieve and catch fish at different times of the year when they’re more or less active.

Topwater lures such as poppers are another popular choice as they will stay on the surface of the water and produce the telltale splash and bubbling movement that many saltwater fish are looking for along the beach.

Other Light Tackle Tips

Surf fishing with light tackle does have some similarities that you will find coincide with what you’d do with heavier tackle.

Fishing is still best during the low-light hours of dawn and dusk and can even be more productive for light tackle anglers as the lures you can use give you a bigger advantage.

Using a popper or jerkbait early in the morning is an excellent way of attracting the bite of a hungry mackerel or red drum.

Fishing during the early morning or late at night usually means that you won’t have to contend with beach-goers who want to play and swim in the water. Having the whole beach to yourself is the best way to determine which spot is the most ideal location.

Once you’ve decided on the best spot for fishing along a particular stretch of beach, you can go and get set up early in the morning and start fishing before anyone is able to move into the location.


Surf fishing with light tackle is something that anglers of all ages and skill levels can enjoy. It’s much easier to learn and get the hang of since you’re not having to deal with overly-large or heavy gear and equipment.

Using light tackle is also the best way to get young anglers acquainted with surf fishing. By using the tips and information we’ve outlined in this article, you should have the knowledge you need to get started fishing at your favorite beach using light tackle strategies.

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Surf Fishing Gear

Surf Fishing Gear List

Surf fishing requires the use of a certain set of gear items that are mostly unnecessary when it comes to inshore fishing around inlets and flats, as well as offshore angling.

Fishing from the beach means you’re constantly dealing with the waves that are sometimes incredibly strong and able to pull your bait out of position toward the shore, or away from it.

If you want to be a skilled surf fishing angler, you’ll need to have the right gear that will allow you to adequately deal with the surf, as well as the many other factors that play a role in your overall success on the beach.

In this article, we’ve compiled a surf fishing gear list of 11 items that every angler must have before they plan their first surf fishing trip.

Surf Fishing Gear List

1. Rod

Surf Fishing Rods

When it comes to surf rods you’re going to need a one that will be quite different from deep sea fishing or any other kind of angling you might do in freshwater or saltwater.

For most species, you’ll be required to cast your bait well beyond the crashing waves in order to get it to the right spot where certain species are found.

In order to do this, you’ll need a longer rod that is capable of launching the bait and your rig out to a much farther distance than you could with any other rod.

It’s also crucial that you have a rod that is strong enough to withstand the heavy weight and pressure you’ll experience from fighting most of the popular saltwater game fish species.

Even some of the smaller species that are caught in the surf will put an exceptional strain on your rod, so it’s critical that you have one strong enough that won’t break.

2. Reel

Surf Reels

You’ll need a bigger, stronger rod for surf fishing and this concept also applies to the reel you’ll need to use.

Surf reels need to be big enough to hold a decent amount of heavier fishing line, such as 20 or even 50 pound test in some cases.

The reel should also have a good drag system that will help you in maintaining control over your line and the fish when you’re in the middle of an intense fight.

Although there are a number of different reel types for fishing, spinning reels and conventional reels are by far the most popular for surf casting.

3. Line

Fishing Line

The best fishing line for surf fishing is going to be one that’s heavier than what you’ll use for inshore fishing or especially for freshwater angling in lakes and rivers.

It’s recommended that you use monofilament fishing line for fishing in the surf because it has more stretching ability and makes it easier for you to cast farther in most scenarios.

It’s very important to use a shock leader line when surf fishing. The purpose of this shock leader is to withstand the extreme amount of pressure that you’ll put on your line when you make a very hard cast while using heavier surf fishing rigs and bait.

While most fishing lines might normally snap under such pressure, a shock leader that’s at least 50 pound test monofilament line is able to stretch and keep your line from breaking under the immense pressure.

4. Hooks

Fishing Hooks

As you might expect, surf fishing requires the use of bigger hooks if you intend to go after larger-sized fish.

Shark anglers, especially, will typically use hooks that are as big as 8/0 or 10/0 to make sure they are big and strong enough to hold up against a powerful predator like a shark.

Most anglers will use a circle hook for surf fishing. These hooks are usually much less likely to injure a fish and give it a greater chance of survival if you do have to release it.

5. Sinkers

Fishing Sinkers

There are a huge variety of sinkers that are commonly used in surf fishing. Most anglers prefer to use a pyramid sinker because this type is designed to dig into the sandy bottom and hold itself in place much better than a rounded sinker thanks to its pointed end.

If you’re fishing in especially rough water with a very strong pull that might rip your surf bait out of place, you can use what’s known as a sputnik sinker to help provide extra stability.

The key to choosing the right kind of sinker for surf fishing is to understand what type of fish you’re going after and to also have a good knowledge of how the bait presentation will look and function underwater.

6. Sand Spike

Fishing Sand Spikes

Keeping your bait in place and your rod secure is a big part of being a successful surf fishing angler when you’re using a rig that is meant to sit in place in the surf. Using a sand spike is crucial in accomplishing this and will give you a huge advantage on the beach.

Most anglers will use multiple rods and will set them in certain intervals apart from one another, keeping them in place using a sand spike.

Like anything else pertaining to fishing equipment, you can purchase better quality sand spikes, but it will likely cost more than some of the cheaper models.

7. Fishing Cart

Fishing Cart

Surf fishing involves the use of a big variety of different gear, tackle and equipment. Unlike anglers who fish from a boat, anyone who goes fishing from the surf is required to transport their gear onto the beach by hand.

Using a fishing cart is a huge asset in regards to keeping your gear together in one central location and allowing you to move it relatively easily across the sand.

You can’t use any type of cart on the beach and most anglers quickly find out that the sand can render most carts useless unless they have the right kind of tires.

Purchasing a good quality fishing cart for your surf fishing trips will be a solid investment that will pay off greatly in the long run if you plan to do a lot of surf fishing.

8. Pliers

Fishing Pliers

It’s no secret that most of the game fish species you’ll catch when surf fishing will have sharp, pointed teeth that are capable of doing a great deal of damage to anyone who happens to get their hand caught in the fish’s mouth.

Also Read: Light tackle Surf Fishing

It’s very important that you have a good pair of fishing pliers for surf fishing to help you remove the hook from the mouth of your catch. Using a pair of pliers is also better for the overall health of a fish as it means you’ll be less likely to injure it when removing the hook.

Taking the hook out can be a delicate process, but using a good pair of fishing pliers goes a long way in making sure it’s done quickly and easily.

9. Polarized Sun Glasses

Fishing Sunglasses

You might not think that it’s important to be able to see into the water when you’re surf fishing because the waves and the foamy water make it very difficult to catch sight of any fish that might be swimming along the beach.

However, wearing a good pair of polarized sunglasses will give you much more of an advantage than you might think as you will be able to see into the water more easily and will be capable of spotting structure, fish, schools of bait fish, and lots of other things that surf fishing anglers need to know about.

Wearing a good pair of polarized sunglasses will also help to protect your eyes from the harsh sunlight and UV rays that reflect off the water’s surface, which can cause damage to your eyes over long periods of time.

10. Suitable Clothing

Fishing Clothing

Surf fishing involves being out in the sun and wind for long periods of time, which can do quite a bit of damage to your skin over the course of several hours.

As anyone who spends a great deal of time on the beach already knows, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun and the heat if you want to stay comfortable.

Make sure you are wearing a shirt and hat that will not only block the sun’s UV rays, but will also help keep you cool through the long hours you’ll spend sitting or standing on the beach while fishing.

It’s also a good idea to bring along a rain jacket in case a small pop-up rain shower comes along. Most anglers know that fish tend to bite more often when it’s raining and you’ll be able to catch more fish if you are ready and equipped to deal with the rain.

If you dress appropriately, you’ll be much more comfortable and will enjoy your surf fishing trip a lot more than if you decide to wear clothes that are not well-suited for the beach.

11. Cooler

Fishing Cooler

You’ll need to keep your drinks and snacks cool and protected from the heat, which can be sweltering sometimes when you’re surf fishing.

There are plenty of different cooler models that will work for surf fishing to keep these items cold, but you might also want to have a cooler that’s designed for keeping your fish cold after they’re caught.

Just like most other gear and equipment items related to surf fishing, you can expect to pay a bit more for the better quality fishing coolers that are able to hold your fish.

A quality cooler is a good investment and you’ll be able to haul this and your other surf fishing gear if you have a decent fishing cart.

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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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Best Surf Fishing Reels

Best Surf Fishing Reels 2023 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Choosing a surf fishing reel means matching your reel to a rod with the correct power rating and action will allow you to make pin point casts out beyond the crashing surf.

Most anglers will choose a spinning setup but for really long distance casting a baitcast or conventional reel can be the better option particularly if you are using very heavy rigs.

If you are just stating out with surf casting then I would advise a spinning reel as baitcast/conventional reels do have a steeper learning curve than a spinning reel.

A spinning reel will also cast lighter weights easier than a conventional reel assuming you have it spooled correctly with the right line.

What Size Reel for Surf Fishing?

A 5000 or 6000 is the best size reel for surf fishing assuming you are not targeting very large species like shark from the shore.

If you are fishing very light setups from the beach then your performance may be better on a size 4000, but this would be for very light tackle fishing.

Just because you might be targeting smaller species does not mean that a larger species won’t take your bait and having a decent sized reel with a larger spool is the safer option.

Best Surf Fishing Reels

1. Penn Spinfisher VI

Penn have a well earned reputation for building some of the highest quality reels available.

The Spinfisher VI builds on a strong heritage as the sixth and newest update in it’s Spinfisher line of reels

Penn is so sure of the Spinfisher VI’s ability to resist salt water that they say it doesn’t need to be washed in fresh water after usage.

I’m not sure about you, but I’d still rinse any reel as a precaution.

Penn’s build quality has become legendary, and they have almost written the book on how big saltwater fishing reels should be designed.

The Spinfisher VI differs from the V in that it has better CNC gear technology and IPX5 sealing.

The IPX rating is a standard that defines a product’s water proof and water resistant characteristics.

In contrast, the more costly Penn Slammer III mentioned below has an IPX6 rating.

The 2500 to 5500 have an automated bail trip, which means that after casting, you just spin the handle and the bail flips back into place, while the 6500 and above have a manual bail closure only.

The true draw of the Spinfisher is its HT-100 carbon fiber drag, which is protected by a fully sealed spool and stays silky smooth under strain even after extended usage.

There are also several bail-less models available.

2. Daiwa Saltist

The Daiwa Saltist is one of the most popular salt water reels and you’ll see them used in various sizes for just about any style of fishing.

They are used extensively in the smaller sizes for casting off of piers and jetties.

As a surf fishing reel they are great for light to medium sized setups and due to their fast retrieve can haul in line quickly when needed.

Because of how nicely the Saltist is constructed, the lesser sizes are a bit hefty for all-day casting.

Daiwa has put a lot of effort into making the Saltist as resistant to the corrosive effects of salt water as possible. Once salt water seeps into the housing and bearings of a reel, it will damage it; always clean your reels in fresh water as quickly as possible after usage.

With the exception of the watertight Carbon ATD Drag, the Saltist is almost entirely made of metal. There are no expensive or unusual materials used, just sound engineering and very tight tolerances.

The eight main bearings and one anti-reverse bearing are constructed of a corrosion-resistant stainless steel.

When it comes to surf casting, a 5000 or 6500 is the way to go since you get a lot of line capacity coupled with a significant increase in retrieve rate when compared to the smaller models in the range.

3. PENN Squall II Star Drag Conventional Fishing Reel

If you are looking for a conventional baitcast reel for surf casting then one of the most common reels to use as a beginner is the Penn Squall II Star Drag.

Star drag reels do not have a level-wind system in place that you will find on larger reels that are more geared towards trolling and jigging.

The removal of the level wind system means that there is less friction running on the spool as you are casting.

Ideally you want the spool to completely disengage from all the internal gears when casting, this is often referred to as free spooling.

A free running spool will give you excellent casting performance.

There is a learning curve with no level wind reels as you need to lay the line down in an even manner with your thumb as you retrieve. The better you get at this over time the easier the line will run off the spool when you cast.

Like most conventional beach casting reels with the Penn Squall II you will need to tweak and adjust the drag initially to get the right performance.

If you are new to conventional reels then you should spend a full day tweaking your set so that you have the right settings for the size of weights you will be throwing.

The Squall II has a graphite frame to save on weight unlike the larger Fathom that has an all metal design.

Graphite does not suffer from corrosion in saltwater as metal frames do although they will not be quite as strong as an all metal design, for most surf casters this is not an issue.

The Squall Star Drag employs six shielded stainless steel ball bearings that are protected from saltwater infiltration and intended to resist saltwater corrosion if they do get wet.

To prevent the spool from reversing under pressure, a single anti-reverse bearing is utilized, which is backed up by a quiet ratchet mechanism that employs a conventional dog.

The Squall Star Drag’s magnetic braking mechanism is adjusted through a dial, which is preferred than a slider since it reduces the possibility of seawater infiltration. This is only available on the models 12 and 15.

Penn’s Versa-Drag system is made of extremely durable carbon fiber and provides a very smooth drag. The HT-100 drag washers on these reels give between 15 and 20 pounds of drag.

The HT-100 drag washers have been proven to resist pulling 100 miles of line from the reel, which is a lot of line.

A great conventional surf casting reel for beginners.

4. Penn Slammer III

The Slammer III is the third model in Penn’s highly popular Slammer series of saltwater spinning reels. It is designed with corrosion resistance in mind.

The Slammer III is the third model in Penn’s highly popular Slammer series of saltwater spinning reels. It is designed with corrosion resistance in mind.

Penn has gone to considerable lengths in terms of construction, design, and material selection when it comes to the Slammer’s components.

These reels are designed for both hard surf casting and bigger heavy spinning rigs on offshore charter vessels targeting larger species.

These reels, which range in size from 3500 to a whopping 10500, feature large spools for storing a lot of line and an extremely strong drag mechanism.

The size 10500 is the largest in the series, with a whopping 60 lbs of maximum drag force, which is extremely enormous for an open face reel.

They have 6 stainless steel ball bearings, CNC machined internal solid brass gears, a very strong low flex reel housing/body, and an IPX6 sealing system that keeps virtually any seawater out.

The big versions have a 4.2:1 gear ratio, whereas the smaller ones have a 6.2:1 ratio.

If you’re searching for a tough spinning reel for shark fishing, the Pen Slammer III is the reel for you.

5. Shimano Ultegra XTD Surf Reel

The Ultegra XTD from Shimano is a purpose built spinning reel for long distance surf casting.

These make a great entry level surf reel and as they come with two spools a very versatile one too.

You could run two different surf rods with this reel one for heavier work and one for lighter.

For the price they are not as well sealed as some of the higher end offerings from Penn above so make sure that you do not dunk them in the water or if you do make sure to rinse it thoroughly and regularly clean and service it.

It also comes with a spare spool and spool shims that allow you to add lighter line to the spool without having to load it up with double the amount of line.

The shims make the center of the spool wider allowing you to use the spare spool for lighter surf setups, yet you still get the advantage of the extra wide spool casting performance.

So as an example you can run one spool with 40lb line and the other with 20lb which should cover most surf fishing scenario’s.

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Surf Fishing for Pompano

Surf Fishing for Pompano

Pompano are one of the most sought-after species of saltwater fish that surf fishing anglers love to catch. These relatively small game fish come into the shallow waters near the beach in droves each year at certain times that are referred to as the ‘pompano run.’

They are considered to be among the best tasting fish in the ocean by many and can be caught with relative ease when they are in season.

Experienced surf fishing anglers know that pompano are pound-for-pound one of the strongest fish in the ocean. They have a reputation for putting up some of the hardest fights of any small to medium-sized fish that you can catch in the surf.

In this article, we will discuss pompano and what strategies and tactics anglers should use to catch this unique species in the surf.

Best Time to Catch Pompano in the Surf

Pompano are known as a migratory fish that only come near the shoreline when the water conditions and temperatures are just right.

Pompano will make their way through the Caribbean Islands during the late winter or early spring months and eventually work their way up into the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coastline.

Every movement that the pompano makes is determined by the water temperature. These fish move when the water is more favorable to them and will settle in an area for a short amount of time before moving on.

For the most part, pompano will look for waters that are about 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit as this is the most comfortable for them.

They are also able to find adequate amounts of food in these warmer waters and their diet depends on the many different types of small crabs, sand fleas, and other crustaceans in a given area.

You can usually time the pompano run by keeping track of what the water temperature will be in a certain area.

If you follow fishing reports for certain regions from the Carribean up to the southeastern United States coastline, you’ll see that the pompano will slowly work their way up to their eventual destination, which is along the southern half of the Atlantic coast, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

They will hang out specifically in tropical waters during the cold winter months as this area is much more comfortable for them to stay in.

The best months for most of the southeastern United States are usually around late March, April and into May.

They will also be moving from north to south in the fall, when there is another pompano run along coastal areas of the eastern United States and the Gulf states.

When discussing the best time of day to catch pompano, the same strategies and tactics that are applied to other fish species will be helpful. Most anglers have the best success surf fishing for pompano just after sunrise or before sunset.

Also Read: Surf fishing at Night

These fish will cruise around the surf in search of their next meal and ambush their prey before they can burrow down into the sand.

Another very pivotal factor that will determine pompano activity is the tide. These fish will use the rising or falling tides to hunt for their food, which can be found in the small stretches of beach that are subject to the rising tide.

In fact, pompano are known to swim up very shallow, almost to the shoreline of any beach as they repeatedly try to corner sand fleas, crabs and other creatures.

Pompano are more active when the surf is higher and a bit more rough than usual. This is because the harder-hitting waves help to expose small creatures that are easy prey for these fish.

Also Read: Tide for Surf Fishing

As the rising tide rushes in and catches some small crabs and other hard-shelled or soft-shelled species, pompano like to take full advantage of the opportunity and hunt in this rushing tide along the beach.

Best Locations for Catching Pompano in the Surf

Having success when surf fishing for pompano depends on a number of factors that can quickly change. Pompano are known for being a very finicky fish, meaning they will only try to eat certain types of prey at specific times.

They are continuously moving to other areas depending on whether the water along a particular stretch of beach has the right salinity level, pH balance, and many other factors.

Pompano usually visit the same locations at the same relative time each year, due to their migratory behavior. If the local anglers already know when to predict that the pompano will show up in their given area, you can usually rest assured that this information will be correct, or very close to the specific time and place where you can catch pompano.

Once the water temperature reaches about 70 degrees in a given area, you can bet that it won’t be long before pompano show up in huge numbers.

They will often pick a location clean of certain types of food and will usually move on to a new location where the food source is relatively plentiful.

Pompano will usually remain around the coastline in the surf or very close to the shore along most beaches. They prefer hanging out in or very close to certain types of structure along the beach if there is any.

These types of structure can be anything from a pile of rocks to a steep ledge where the depth changes very rapidly.

If the water temperature gets too hot for them, they might temporarily retreat to the deeper waters near the shore, but won’t usually remain there for very long as their main food sources are closer to the beach.

Also Read: Surf Fishing for Redfish

You’ll almost always find pompano along sandy sea bottoms where there is little or no seaweed or other vegetation. They will roam around an area in a small pack or school, looking for exposed shellfish or other creatures along the bottom that could serve as an easy meal for these fish.

Casting your surf bait along the sandy bottom instead of very close to any sort of structure is likely to be your best bet for catching pompano that are actively hunting and searching for their next meal.

Also Read: Are Pompano Good to Eat?

If you can find sandbars along the beach, you can usually bet that there will be pompano somewhere in the vicinity. This is due to the fact that they will aggressively hunt the small shellfish, crabs and other creatures that live along these sand bars. You also don’t have to worry about casting your line out to a significant distance to catch pompano.

They will most often be found within about 60 feet of any shoreline or shallow sand bar area. Pompano will usually hang around these sand bars and wait for the waves to pound against the sand to expose the small creatures that make up most of their diet.

Best Rigs to Catch Pompano in the Surf

Catching pompano involves using the same basic surf fishing setup you might normally go with for just about any other fish. You can get away with using light tackle and fishing line in some cases, but your choice of bait and hooks is very simple when it comes to catching pompano in the surf.

You’ll want to use a 1/0 circle hook for any type of bait you use when pompano fishing. This is due to the simple fact that their mouths are relatively small and they won’t be able to get larger-sized hooks inside their mouths.

If you’re using a 3/0 or 4/0 size circle hook, you will likely miss a majority of the bites you get as the pompano will usually just pull the bait off the hook.

It’s also very important to use a pyramid sinker that will burrow down into the sand and keep your bait in place. These sinkers can range in sizes from a 1 ounce to about a 4 ounce pyramid sinker.

Be sure to secure your rod with a sand spike or rod holder as these fish will aggressively strike and are known to pull a rod out to sea very quickly if the angler is not paying close attention.

It’s best to rig up a few different rods at certain distances from the shore and have them all set up to catch any pompano schools that run into the area.

If you do happen to catch one pompano on a rod, be aware of your other rigs as these fish run in schools. This means when you catch one, you’re likely to catch a few others in short succession.


Pompano fishing can be one of the most exciting species to catch in the surf. On a good day, it’s not uncommon to catch your limit of pompano in just a couple hours.

Also Read: Permit vs Pompano

You can expect them to fight vigorously and they make for excellent table fare. The key to catching pompano from the surf is knowing when these fish will be making their way through your neck of the woods.

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Best Tide for Surf Fishing

Best Tide for Surf Fishing

In this article, we will take a closer look at the best tide for surf fishing and help explain why certain times of the day or even the seasons out of the year can have quite a bit of bearing on whether you will successfully catch the fish you’re after.

The success of any surf fishing trip is almost always decided by the state of the tide at the particular time when you are fishing.

Regardless of the bait, tackle or tactics you use, it can be rendered ineffective if the tide is not at a suitable level or is shifting in a way that fish don’t like.

The most experienced surf anglers know that most of the different game fish species rely on the changing levels of the surf or its intensity to give them the chance to ambush certain prey.

According to most surf fishing anglers, high tide is usually considered to be the best for just about any species as they will use the heightened water level to devour sand fleas and many other types of small bait fish that are caught unaware by predators.

By waiting on this tide, you’ll greatly increase your chances of success when fishing for virtually any saltwater game fish species.

Understanding Tide Movement

The key to grasping just when you’ll need to time your next surf fishing trip depends on a number of factors that you should pay close attention to. The tide shifts four times per day across the span of the Earth.

How tides work

This shift is caused by the sun and moon, but is actually stronger when the moon is near due to the fact that the moon is much closer and its gravitational pull affects the water’s of the oceans to a slight degree that makes the tides rise and fall.

The tide will be low on both sides of the Earth that are farther away from the moon. The moon will actually pull on the Earth’s gravitational field to such a degree that the shape of this pull appears much like an oval surrounding the Earth with the longest end pointing straight towards the moon.

This basically means that at any given time, there are actually two high tides on the Earth: one that is closest to the moon and one that is on the opposite side of the world.

Knowing which tide is going to be affecting your region at specific times will help you understand when the tide will be higher or lower due to the movement of the sun and moon.

Using the Tide in Surf Fishing

The best way to understand how the tide will affect your chances of catching the fish you’re after is to study the fish and try to understand how they behave during certain tides.

Some saltwater fish species will sit back and wait on the low tide to force small bait fish into shallow pockets where they can corner fish while other species might utilize the rising tide to capitalize on the element of surprise and ambush their prey while they are disoriented.

In either case, the tide always plays a large role in fish behavior.

Also Read: Where to Cast When Surf Fishing

You might not be able to have great success during low tide in some parts of the world, but you can use this time to get a better understanding of what the beach bottom looks like underwater.

The low tide will usually expose some types of structure that are prone to holding fish when the tide is rising. If you take the time to study these structures and depth changes during low tide, you’ll be able to make better use of the high tide.

Is High Tide the Best for Fishing?

The main question we want to address is whether the high tide is the absolute best time to catch fish in your given area. The answer to that truly depends on the type of fish you’re going after.

There are some species that will use the shifting tides to chase different bait fish and other creatures down and eat them during the changing tides.

Fishing at High Tide

Most fish that do this will typically be on the bottom of any outgoing tides or the first portion of the incoming tides since these waters will be the most likely spot where small bait fish and other prey will get caught up.

Some fish species will wait until the tides are shifting and prowl along the edge of the rising tide, ambushing various types of aquatic creatures as the water continuously rises until it reaches its high point.

Some species that are known for doing this include pompano, croakers, and others that will run bait fish all the way up to dry land in an effort to chase them down.

If you’ve studied the area you’re fishing in thoroughly during low tide, you should be very well acquainted with certain spots that have deep holes, ledges, structure, humps, or really any kind of depth changes that might give you an edge when it comes to specific types of fish.

You can mark these spots on a map, or simply make a mental note of them and return when the tide is rolling in to take advantage of these areas where large predatory fish might frequent.

Understanding what type of creature your target fish will want to hunt will help you in planning when and where you’ll fish.

If you’re targeting pompano that are eagerly swimming up into the brim of the high tide trying to devour sand fleas and small crabs, you can anticipate when and where they will be, as well as using the same type of bait that they are looking for in the surf.

In many cases, anglers who target pompano or croaker that are working into the rising tide will use small crab lures or even live crabs to catch these fish.

Which Tide is the Best for Surf Fishing?

The best tide for surf fishing is when a high tide coincides with either dawn or dusk. That usually means two hours before and after the highest point of the tide.

As any good surf fishing angler who’s worth his salt knows, fishing is always better at dawn and dusk because the fish will be using the limited amount of daylight to target their prey, as well as the tide.

If you’re able to time it just right, you can sometimes catch the high tide moving in right at dusk or just as the sun is setting in a certain area. This is undoubtedly the best time that you’ll have to catch most types of fish.

High Tide Surf Fishing

The high tide during the spring time is also viewed as being significantly advantageous for surf fishing for a few good reasons. The water level will usually be higher during the spring months, which means the water levels will rise even more and sometimes at a more rapid pace than usual.

This high influx of water can cause the perfect conditions for anglers who are willing to get up early and brave the chilly temperatures to target these fish along the beach as the tide is shifting.

Various types of fish species often rely on the changing tides to help them hunt down their prey and find their next meal. Without it, hunting would be much more difficult and they would have a much tougher time trying to survive.

Planning to Fish the High Tide

As we’ve noted, you’ll have increased success by fishing during high tide. This means that you’ll actually need to be on the beach fishing when the water starts moving in and also when it’s moving back out toward the sea.

If the high tide is predicted to be 6 a.m., you should start fishing at least by 5 a.m. or earlier and plan on fishing for a few hours in order to thoroughly fish through the rising of the tide.


When it comes to finding the best tides to fish in the surf, planning is key. By using the low tide to get a good grasp on what type of structure will be submerged during high tide, you can plan accordingly and maximize your efforts.

Pay special attention to charts and other data that might indicate when your area will be experiencing the first high tide, which is the highest, or the second high tide.

The best way to learn how the tides affect your fishing is to practice and take into consideration the lessons you learn as you fish the high or low tides. Doing this will make you a better angler and help increase your catch rate quite a bit.

In conclusion, the best tide for surf fishing will be a high tide at either dawn or dusk.

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Best Surf Fishing Baits

Best Surf Fishing Baits

Surf fishing is nothing like any other form of angling. It requires the use of gear and tackle that are very different from fishing in lakes and rivers, and even tackle that’s unlike what you might use when fishing many miles offshore.

Fishing in the crashing waves creates an environment that makes small bait fish and other creatures disoriented and sometimes confused, making it easier for larger predatory fish to take advantage and make an easy meal out of them.

Most anglers know what bait will work for fishing offshore or even along the inlets and channels near the beach, but understanding what type of baits are best for fishing in the surf can be a bit confusing.

There are a number of other variables that come into play when you’re surf fishing, but nothing you do will be productive if you’re using the wrong type of bait.

Best Surf Fishing Baits

In this article, we will lay out some of the best surf fishing baits for most species of saltwater game fish that are usually caught along most beaches, as well as how to use each type of bait to heighten your chances of catching fish in the surf along your favorite shoreline.

1. Shrimp

Almost any type of fish that can be found prowling the waters along most shorelines will feed one shrimp if they have the opportunity to. In fact, some of the more popular types of saltwater species that are usually caught in the surf prefer shrimp over almost any other type of bait you could possibly use.

They are known to be hard to keep on the hook at times, but shrimp are the perfect type of bait for beginners and novice anglers who are just getting started in surf fishing.

One of the major advantages of using shrimp is that you can catch a huge variety of fish on them. You’ll also likely not have any trouble finding shrimp at your local bait shop or other places that sell bait because they are one of the most readily-available types of bait when it comes to saltwater fishing.

You can purchase them frozen or live, depending on what type of fish you’re going after throughout the year.

Fresh shrimp are much better than frozen shrimp when it comes to surf fishing because the fish that do feed on these small sea creatures will be attracted to the look and smell of the live shrimp in the water.

There are a wide variety of different ways you can rig shrimp and virtually any sort of surf fishing rig will be productive when using shrimp as your bait.

2. Fish Bites

Our second choice is one that most anglers might not select based on the simple fact that they don’t look like what you might typically use to catch saltwater fish.

Most beginner anglers might view this type of bait with suspicion, but they are actually very capable of catching a huge variety of fish in the surf. One of the main advantages of using Fish Bites is their ability to stay on the hook no matter how rough the seas might get.

Fish Bites can be found at virtually any bait shop or online retailer and come in a large variety of different colors. Some colors are better suited for certain species at specific times of the year, but colors like pink and orange are considered a great choice for year-round fishing for fish in the surf.

You can also use Fish Bites with other types of bait on the same hook. Some anglers will use fish bites as a trailer behind other types of saltwater fishing baits.

You won’t have to worry about keeping them alive, or dealing with bloody, slimy cuts of flesh or other types of creatures, which is another major reason why so many beginners should try this type of bait first before moving on to more complicated options.

As for the rigging of Fish Bites, there really is no wrong way to fish with these small slivers of rubbery material.

Some anglers might cut them into small strips or squares if they’re fishing for smaller species while others often use two of the normal Fish Bites strips on their hooks to attract larger fish to bite. Fish Bites are an excellent choice for species like redfish, pompano, and many others in the surf.

3. Sand Fleas

One of the most prevalent types of bait that avid surf anglers will use is sand fleas. These small crab-like creatures are somewhat of a mystery to novice anglers as they can be difficult to find or catch, as well as tough to place on a hook.

However, if you follow certain instructions related to using sand fleas, you’ll be certain to have great success in catching almost any type of saltwater fish species.

These small creatures are what you normally see quickly burrowing down into the sand when the waves recede along the beach. If you’re fast enough and have a solid small net, you can often dig down quickly and catch these critters before they burrow down too far.

Live sand fleas are without a doubt one of the top baits you can possibly use, but they are incredibly difficult for new anglers to find and catch.

You can also find sand fleas at most bait shops near areas where surf fishing is popular. Fish that swim along the shoreline and come close to the waterline are usually hunting for sand fleas, so fishing with them will be a major advantage over other anglers who might be using different baits.

You can expect to catch pompano, redfish, whiting, and other fish with these small, but unique creatures.

They can be hard to hook if you’re unfamiliar with them, but you can’t go wrong by boring the hook down through the shell on either the head or the tail end of the sand flea. Once hooked, they will usually remain on the hook better than most other types of surf fishing bait.

4. Cut Bait

Another popular choice is cut bait. This can be virtually any type of bait fish that’s cut into small strips that are more easy to use as they are easy to hook and attract literally any type of fish that are nearby.

One of the only downsides to using cut bait is that they won’t always stay on the hook very well. Avid surf anglers will often salt their cut bait down the day before their fishing trip in an effort to tighten up the skin and meat, which makes them stay on the hook longer.

One of the best types of cut bait are mullet and herring, as well as a variety of other species of small fish. You can fish cut bait in sections that are as large as you want. Using a larger piece of cut bait will obviously be better for catching bigger saltwater species in the surf.

When you’re buying cut bait or using your own catch to cut into strips, be sure that the meat isn’t too soft or it will fall off the hook too easily and be very difficult to cast.

Cut bait is a great choice if you’re looking to catch mackerel, striped bass, black and red drum, snook, and other species.

5. Squid

Another popular choice of bait that is slightly less popular than the ones we’ve mentioned already is squid.

These small creatures are excellent choices of bait for beginners as their flesh is very tough and you’ll have no problem keeping them on the hook as you cast your rig out into the waves.

You will get ink and slime on your hands, so be ready to carry a rag with you or other materials to keep your hands clean so you don’t get your rod and reel too messy.

Also Read: Surf Fishing Reels

You can cut squid into small strips if you plan to target smaller species of fish, or use larger squid and bigger hooks to go after sharks and other big predators that come close to the shoreline.

There are a wide variety of different ways you can rig squid, but some of the most productive methods involve rigging that will keep your bait off the bottom and up where fish can see if more easily.

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Shock Leaders for Surf Fishing

Shock Leaders for Surf Fishing

If you’re not very well-versed in the world of surf fishing, some of the tackle and gear used, as well as the strategies, might be totally foreign to even the most skilled anglers.

There are a number of different strategies and tactics used in surf fishing that don’t apply at all to freshwater or even offshore deep sea fishing.

When it comes to the question of whether or not you need to be using a shock leader for surf fishing, there is no truly definitive answer for every scenario.

In some cases, shock leaders are an absolute must-have item among the rest of your gear and tackle while in others, it might not matter that much at all.

Read on if you’re interested in learning more about shock leaders and are wondering whether you should be using one on your next surf fishing trip at the beach.

What is a Shock Leader?

A shock leader is basically a heavier length of line that’s a few feet long and is used to prevent you from breaking your line when casting out into the surf.

You won’t have to use a shock leader for freshwater fishing or even fishing along the saltwater inlets and offshore reefs out on the ocean. These are exclusively used by surf fishing anglers and they play a major role in the overall function of a surf fishing rig.

Surf fishing often requires making very hard casts to get the bait out as far as possible. Anglers will use surf fishing rods that are longer and better suited for catapulting their rig out well over a hundred feet or more into the ocean.

Having a shock leader helps to absorb the extreme amount of pressure caused by a heavy rig that consists of a baited hook and sinker.

Shock leaders are usually a few feet in length, up to about 40 or 50 feet in some cases depending on what the angler is targeting and the weight of their rig.

Another way that a shock leader helps improve your overall performance on the water is by protecting your main line that is spooled onto your surf reel from developing any abrasions or nicks that could cause your line to snap.

Leader line is often very thick and heavy, with some anglers using well over 100 pound test for surf fishing.

When to Use a Shock Leader

You don’t always have to use a shock leader when surf fishing, but it is something you should certainly consider if you’re using a heavier presentation and trying to cast your surf fishing bait out as far as possible.

Whether or not you’ll need to have a shock leader really depends on what surf gear and tackle you’re using, as well as what kind of fish you’re planning to target.

If you’re using a monofilament line, you’re more than likely going to want to use a shock leader, especially if you’re using a lighter pound test line.

When using any type of fishing line, you want to make sure that your shock leader is at least twice the pound test of the line you’re using. You’ll want to have a shock leader on your rod, unless you’re using a heavier 50 or 60 pound test fishing line.

Mono vs Other Lines

Mono line has more ability to stretch than any other type of fishing line due to its composition and the fact that it’s made of basically one single strand of material.

Having several feet of much heavier line on the end of your main mono fishing line helps to offset the weight capacity and force that you’re putting on the main line and increase its ability to stretch.

This also helps you launch your surf fishing rigs out much farther than you would by simply using only your main monofilament line because the heavier mono leader is usually capable of stretching to a greater degree.

Typically, you won’t need to use a shock leader if you’re using a monofilament line that’s heavier than about 30 pound test. This is true if you’re using a normal-sized rig that’s not overly large or heavy.

If you are fishing with a heavier rig, such as a bigger hook and larger sinker used for species like sharks or other very strong fish, it’s usually a good idea to tie on a shock leader just to make sure you don’t snap your line.

The only instance where you certainly won’t need a shock leader is when you’re using a heavier braided fishing line. Braid is much stronger than mono or fluorocarbon fishing line and is made up of multiple strands of highly durable material.

You shouldn’t expect braided line to have the same stretching capability that mono does, but it is much stronger and will usually hold up well, even if you’re fishing with a heavier rig.

What Size/Length Shock Leader Should You Have?

When it comes to deciding whether or not you really need to be using a shock leader, the answer is usually yes. But how long should the shock leader be? How heavy should the line be?

There are a few rules of thumb that most surf fishing anglers go by to make sure they’re getting the right amount of durability and stretch in their shock leaders.

The first thing you need to calculate is just how much your rig weighs. This includes the sinker, hook, and bait. If you have a solid understanding of the weight, or even just a rough estimate, you can usually count on the fact that you’ll need at least 10 pounds of line strength for every ounce that your rig weighs.

In other words, every ounce you have on your rig translates to an increase in your line test of at least 10 pounds.

If you’re fishing with a 4-ounce rig, you’ll definitely need a shock leader that’s at least 40 pound test monofilament fishing line.

This is virtually true for nearly any rig, no matter how heavy it might be. Always go with a monofilament line as a surf fishing shock leader so that you get the most ability to stretch as you cast.

The length of the shock leader is another common question that anglers have. You certainly don’t want to have a shock leader that’s too short and doesn’t adequately serve its purpose.

Most anglers will use different lengths depending on the type of fish they’re going after or how heavy the line might be, but it’s better to be too long than too short when it comes to shock leaders.

Your shock leader should typically be at least 2 or 3 rod lengths long, or roughly 25 to 30 feet in length. Some anglers will actually measure this length, but most surf fishing enthusiasts rely on a rough estimate to make sure they have the right amount of shock leader for their particular rig.

It’s also very important that you secure your main line to the shock leader very firmly and tie them in a formidable knot to ensure that it won’t break or come loose.


Using a shock leader with your surf fishing rig is not only something that will prevent you from losing your bait, hooks and sinkers. It will also help to make your fishing experience safer for you and everyone around your position.

A line that happens to break when you make a very hard cast out to sea can be extremely dangerous and pose serious risk to anyone that might be in the way.

Shock leaders can save you a huge amount of frustration when you’re fishing around rocky areas with lots of cover as the line will be more capable of withstanding the rough underwater terrain.

By knowing just when you need to have a shock leader, as well as tying on the right kind of shock leader and using the proper amount of line, you’ll greatly increase your angling success along the shoreline and have much more confidence in your equipment and tackle.

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Surf Fishing for Redfish

Surf Fishing for Redfish

Redfish are one of the most popular game fish species along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coast. Many anglers consider them to be among the most exciting fish to catch due to their massive size and aggressive feeding habits at certain times of the year.

Avid anglers will agree that there’s nothing quite like catching bull reds on a topwater plug or other lure during the warmer months when they venture into shallow waters.

Redfish are known by a variety of different nicknames such as red drum, reds, channel bass, spot tails, and many other names depending on the region you’re fishing in.

For much of the coastline along the southeastern United States, redfish can be caught year round in the surf at almost any beach.

Fishing for reds from a boat is a huge advantage as you’ll be able to maneuver back into the inlets and flats where they will congregate in large schools.

However, if you don’t have the luxury of fishing from a boat, you can still have success surf fishing for redfish by using the right approach and the proper rigs.

In this article, we’ll cover the most important tips you’ll need to know when it comes to catching reds in the surf at your favorite beach.

Best Time to Catch Redfish in the Surf

If you’re already familiar with surf fishing, you probably know that it can be quite different from catching fish in the calm, shallow inlets. Redfish will usually venture closer to shore as the weather warms during the early spring.

Having success catching big redfish in the surf comes down to using the right approach and being at the right location at the right time.

Redfish are a migratory species that will move to a new location throughout the year depending on the water temperature. Most of the time, redfish will gravitate toward areas where the water is at least 65 degrees and typically no warmer than about 90 degrees in the midsummer months.

When the water temperature begins to drop, you can expect the redfish to move out of a certain area in search of more comfortable habitat.

In the spring, redfish will begin moving out of the deep water where they’ve been throughout much of the winter months.

As they slowly make their way toward the shoreline of most beaches around the southeast, they will usually stick very close to some type of underwater structure such as reefs, shipwrecks, rocks or other objects.

Grass will begin to spring up in some areas when the water temperature heats up, which creates the ideal spot for redfish to move into. These fish love hiding in tall grass as it allows them to easily blend in and ambush any potential prey at the same time.

Redfish will feed more aggressively during the spring, but the bite will typically slow down when the heat reaches 90 degrees around the month of July.

Once the heat sets in during the summer, redfish will become a bit less active. They will spend most of the day taking cover in or around structures where they can find shade.

They will become much more active in the early morning or just before dark since they will be able to avoid the blazing sun and extreme temperatures.

The fall is when redfish will begin their annual spawning routine. This is widely considered to be the best time of year to target redfish as they will usually feed voraciously on anything they can attack. Reds will venture deeper into inlets and other inshore areas where they will prepare to lay their eggs.

The best time to catch redfish in the surf is anytime from late spring to early fall when they will be roaming the coastline looking for their next meal.

In late fall, when the spawn finally cranks up, you probably won’t have much luck catching redfish from the surf unless it’s a lone bull red making its way back out to the deeper water offshore.

Best Locations for Redfish in the Surf

Like any other stretch of water, you’ll need to be able to properly read the surf in order to determine the best spots where redfish might congregate or pass through.

Since there is rarely any cover for redfish in the surf, you’re more likely to have success in the early morning or late evening when the sun isn’t beaming down on the water.

Avid redfish anglers also know that an overcast day will usually bring cooler temperatures, which can be an outstanding time to catch redfish in the surf.

Redfish will generally prefer waters that are more rough and have harder tow than usual because it’s easier for them to chase down baitfish that can get disoriented by the strong waves and current.

This means that you shouldn’t always assume that the fishing might not be that great when the surf is very high. In fact, the opposite is usually true on most beaches around the southern United States around the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Also Read: Surf Fishing for Pompano

You’ll want to look for areas where the waves break unevenly along the surf, or where there’s a dark spot in the water. This typically indicates some sort of depth change, which usually draws redfish in where they will set up to ambush small, unsuspecting bait fish as they swim by.

You’ll usually have better luck at times when the tides are shifting since redfish will use this time to take advantage of an easy meal.

If you can find any sort of structure along the beach, you can usually bet that there are redfish holding close to it throughout the day and this will be the best possible area to fish.

Surf Fishing Techniques for Redfish

Redfish won’t venture very far away from ledges and structure along the beach, so you’ll want to cast your rig as close as possible to any type of structure that you deem to be a good spot for reds to congregate. If there is no structure, you can expect redfish to be actively feeding in the surf just off the shoreline.

You don’t have to cast the rig out to a considerable distance to have the best chance at catching redfish. In fact, most avid redfish anglers who commonly fish in the surf say that reds will sometimes be about 20 feet off the shoreline at any given time as they hunt in the surf.

For surf fishing, you’ll want to use a pyramid sinker since these will usually do a better job of holding your line in place, no matter how strong the surf gets. Simply attach the pyramid sinker to a snap swivel that you then attach to your main line and you’re ready to hook your bait on the line.

You’ll want to have a heavy barrel swivel tied to the main line that is connected to a heavy leader line using a crimp.

Finally, you’ll want to use a circle hook that’s either 8/0 or 12/0 in size. Anything smaller won’t be able to hook the redfish’s mouth and larger hooks will usually be too big for most redfish to fit in their mouth. The best possible bait you can use is typically cut bait.

According to most avid surf anglers who regularly target redfish, your best bet is to go with porgies, mullet, pinfish, or some other type of small bait fish that redfish will be looking for in the surf. Using these types of bait will appeal to the fish’s sense of smell and they will often work to track down the bait in the surf.

Other Tips

Once you pick your spot for surf fishing for reds, you’ll want to spread your surf fishing rods out about every 20 feet or so, depending on how well you’re able to keep them monitored. Be sure to have the rod holders firmly in the sand as a monster bull red can easily pull the rod holder free and take off with your rod and reel.

Most small to medium-sized reds will run their prey up into the beach to eat them, which means you might see your line moving toward the beach if you have a bite. If this happens, simply wind the slack line up onto the reel and put pressure on the hook to make sure you don’t lose the fish.


Redfish can be one of the most exciting species to catch in the surf. If you stick to these tips and have a good amount of patience, you should be able to land a decent amount of redfish in the early morning, or late evening hours.

Be ready for any size redfish as the big trophy-sized reds will usually be prowling the surf during the early morning hours shortly after sunrise.

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