A Comprehensive Guide to Surf Fishing for Beginners

Introduction to Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is a popular and exciting pastime for both beginners and experienced anglers. There’s something incredibly satisfying about standing on the shore, casting your line, and reeling in a prize catch. This comprehensive guide aims to provide beginners with all the necessary information to embark on their surf fishing journey. Plus, we have an exciting offer for you – enjoy free shipping on all orders over $49, with a delivery time of 5-7 days! So let’s dive right in.

Choosing the Right Equipment

Surf Fishing Rod

For the best surf fishing experience, you need a rod that’s designed specifically for this purpose. Surf fishing rods are typically between 9 and 14 feet in length, allowing for longer casts to reach the fish further from the shore. Longer rods also provide better leverage when reeling in larger fish. Look for a rod with medium to heavy power and moderate to fast action.


A spinning or conventional reel with high line capacity is essential for surf fishing. Spinning reels are easier to use, especially for beginners, while conventional reels offer more control and can handle heavier lines. Make sure your reel has a high-quality drag system and is corrosion-resistant, as you’ll be dealing with saltwater and sand.


Braided lines are the best choice for surf fishing, as they offer better casting distance, higher strength-to-diameter ratio, and low stretch, which means increased sensitivity to bites. Opt for a line with a 20-50 pound test, depending on the targeted species and fishing conditions.


  • Hooks: Circle hooks are a popular choice for their self-setting capability. Use hooks sized between 1/0 and 5/0, depending on the bait and target fish species. You may also want to have some smaller hooks (size 4 to 6) for baitfish.
  • Weights: Pyramid sinkers are ideal for surf fishing, as their shape helps them grip the sandy bottom and prevent them from getting dragged around by currents. Choose weights from 2 to 6 ounces, depending on surf conditions and targeted species.
  • Rigs: Fish-finder rigs and high-low rigs (also known as double-dropper rigs) are two popular setups used in surf fishing. Beginners should start with these before experimenting with more advanced rigs.

Choosing Your Bait

Live bait is the most effective option for surf fishing, as it closely imitates what the fish are naturally feeding on. Some popular choices include shrimp, crabs, and baitfish like mullet or sardines. You can also use cut bait (strips or chunks of fish), artificial lures, or soft plastic baits designed to imitate prey species.

Reading the Beach

Learning to read the beach is essential for a successful surf fishing trip. Look for sandbars, points, troughs, and channels where fish are likely to congregate. A higher vantage point, such as a dune or pier, can help you spot these features. Pay attention to birds diving into the water, which may indicate a school of baitfish being chased by predators.

Tides and Timing

Tides play a crucial role in surf fishing success, as they affect the movement and feeding patterns of coastal species. Generally, the best times to surf fish are during the first two hours of an incoming tide and the last two hours of an outgoing tide. Fishing during early mornings and late afternoons is also suggested, as predatory fish are more active during these hours.

Practice Catch and Release

Surf fishing is an enjoyable hobby, but it’s important to remember that we must preserve our marine ecosystem. Catch and release is an ethical and sustainable practice, ensuring that future generations can also enjoy fishing and the thrill of reeling in a prize catch.


Surf fishing is an enjoyable and accessible way to enjoy the great outdoors. Hopefully, this comprehensive guide has provided you with valuable insight and knowledge to begin your surf fishing journey. And remember, to make your experience even better, take advantage of our free shipping offer on all orders over $49!

Tight lines, and happy fishing!

What is surf fishing?

Surf fishing is a popular recreational activity where anglers fish from the shoreline, typically in the ocean, using relatively long fishing rods and casting into the breakers. It offers the unique experience of fishing in the often powerful surf zone, which can be both challenging and enjoyable for new and seasoned anglers alike.

What equipment do I need to start surf fishing?

To get started with surf fishing, you will need the following essential gear:

  1. Surf Fishing Rod: A longer rod, typically between 7 to 12 feet in length, will enable longer casting distances and help keep the line above the crashing waves.
  2. Appropriate Reel: A spinning reel or baitcasting reel that can handle saltwater conditions with a suitable line capacity for the distance needed.
  3. Fishing Line: A braided or monofilament line of appropriate strength (test), influenced mainly by the targeted fish species and surf conditions.
  4. Terminal Tackle: Hooks, sinkers, swivels, and leaders that match the type and size of fish you are targeting.
  5. Bait or Lures: Live or fresh baits like shrimp, sand fleas, or cut bait, as well as a selection of artificial lures such as plugs, jigs, or spoons.
  6. Sand Spike: A rod holder designed to anchor your fishing rod in the sand securely.
  7. Tackle Box: To store your terminal tackle, lures, and other accessories.

Additional items may include pliers, a knife, a cooler or bucket for your catch, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing.

How do I choose the right location for surf fishing?

To increase your chances of success, look for the following features when scouting a suitable surf fishing location:

  1. Rip currents or Tidal troughs: These areas act as highways for fish moving in and out of the surf zone.
  2. Sandbars: Look for channels or cuts between sandbars where fish will be waiting to ambush prey.
  3. Jetties or Piers: These structures provide cover and attract baitfish, which in turn attracts larger fish species.
  4. Seaweed or Debris: Algae beds and other marine debris can hold food sources for fish and serve as a shelter.
  5. Birds: A large number of birds diving or feeding on baitfish is an excellent indicator of fishing activity in that area.

What’s the best time to surf fish?

The prime times for surf fishing are early morning and late afternoon, as fish are more likely to be feeding during these periods. Tides also play a significant role, with many anglers preferring to fish on the incoming tide, about 2 hours before high tide, and the first 2 hours of the outgoing tide. However, fishing during peak tidal movement (strong currents) can also be productive.

What techniques can I use to catch fish while surf fishing?

Here are some popular surf fishing techniques that beginners can try:

  1. Still Fishing: Cast out your baited rig with a pyramid or bank sinker, let it settle on the bottom, and wait for a fish to bite. When using live or fresh bait, periodically check and replace it with a fresh one.
  2. Lure Fishing: Cast out artificial lures such as plugs, jigs, or spoons and retrieve them at different speeds and depths to imitate the natural movement of a baitfish or prey species.
  3. Fly Fishing: Using a specialized saltwater fly rod and flies that mimic local baitfish, crustaceans, or other invertebrates can be an exciting and challenging way to catch fish in the surf.

Remember to always practice good catch-and-release techniques, obey local fishing regulations, and be conscious of the environment and other beachgoers while you enjoy your surf fishing adventure.

Additional Questions

What is the ideal surf fishing rig for beginners?

With my years of surf fishing experience, I’ve found that starting with a surf rod combo that measures between 8ft to 10ft in length is best suited for beginners. Beginners should consider coupling this with a series reel within the range of 6000 to 8000. Furthermore, one should not forget to spool it with a braided fishing line anywhere from 25lb to 50lb for optimum performance. This setup is a great starter pack to get your feet wet (literally!) in the vast ocean of surf fishing and helps streamline the rather broad, yet exciting learning curve.

What would be the optimum length surf fishing rod?

Good question. Surf fishing rods can come in a wide array of lengths, extending from 9ft to 14ft. However, longer surf rods can tend to be a bit challenging for novices to maneuver and won’t bear any necessary practicality unless intended for ultra-long casts. Hence, sticking to surf rods in the intermediate range of 10ft to 12ft is highly advisable, especially for those of you who are just starting out. This affords a decent casting range while still being manageable. Remember, the ultimate goal is to enjoy and learn!

Which bait is best for surf fishing?

Bait is one of the critical aspects of surf fishing and the choice differs based on the target species. For instance, stripers and drum are inclined towards clams, peelers, and sand fleas, particularly during the early season. They are also quite enamoured by fresh bunker (menhaden). However, be sure to also consider other baits like bloodworms, mullet, and squid. In fact, many experienced anglers swear by squid, dubbing it as the universally accepted surf fishing bait. My personal trophy fish was, in fact, captured using squid! So make sure to fill your bait box with diversity.

Which rod and reel are recommended for surf fishing?

In my flat-out honest opinion, the combination of Shimano Sedona FI 5000 & Okuma RA-S-1202M is a match made in surf fishing heaven. This combo tops my list, and it isn’t for no reason. It’s absolute proof that high performance in surf fishing does not have to come at a high cost. From my personal experiences and success with using this combo, I strongly recommend it to both novice and experienced anglers. It is competent to tackle a wide array of targets, while still being light on your pocket. So give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed!

Recent Posts