Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today, for those looking to get themselves started in the fine art of beach/surf fishing I have had a good look around and come up with my 3 best surf fishing rods for beginners. Surf fishing is a lot of fun and to be honest, one of the most relaxing as there is plenty to look at even if the fish are not biting. That said, it is definitely a little more enjoyable if you at least catch something so setting yourself up with a good rod from the beginning can definitely give you a better chance of making this happen.
So, grab yourself a nice cold beverage and a snack and let’s see if we can get you started on the right track rod wise…
My 3 recommended surf rods for beginners
I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:
What should you be looking for?
Ok, this is the part where I tell you that like most things to do with fishing, everyone has an opinion. Me? Well I know what I got for my first rod and how well it worked – and still does – I will talk about this more soon. However just so that I could give you a better cross section of what you might want to look for, I asked some of the old timers in my little village (Steve, John and Ryan) what they would recommend for someone starting out. Their answers (cleansed for a G rating) are as follows:
Ryan: Long and whippy – that way you can flick it anywhere…
John: No way! If it is too whippy you end up with a bird’s nest (where the line spools off the reel too quickly and tangles everywhere) – you want something stiff that can handle thick line.
Steve: You just need a short rod – I like whippy, but short…
John: Is that even possible… You can’t buy those…
Ryan: Don’t listen to them – whippy with light line…
Well that was useless – they were still rambling and arguing as I walked away – but you get the point about everyone having an opinion which I guess is why fishing is such a fun sport. And for the record, they all have the same type of rod – which in all honesty would suit a beginner perfectly – Hahaha…
So, for the sake of those who like to do their research, I will give you a quick run through below on what to look for in a good surf rod. Some of this will determine your purchase and the rest is just an outline in case you have some personal preferences. I will run through it all very quickly below and then run you through what I used when I first started and why…
I am starting with the location as it can definitely have an effect on the type of rod you will choose and will determine your answers to many of the variants I have listed below. If you are going to be fishing at a particular beach more often than others (such as a local beach) then take a quick run down and check out the geography. Look for:
- Gutters: if there are gutters running close to the shore then your casting length will be reduced.
- Holes: same as gutters – if there are any holes on the waters edge then that will also reduce casting requirements.
- Flat surf: some beaches are just flat with no noticeable holes of gutters – this may require you to cast a bit further to get out past the waves to where the fish are.
- Rocks and other obstacles: will you want to cast into them our over them?
- Current: is there a strong current running sideways or out to sea?
There is more to this but from a beginners point of view, longer casting requirements will generally mean a longer rod is required. I like to use a stiffer rod in stronger currents as well. Now, keeping this information in mind, or if you are going to be visiting many different beaches (lucky you), let’s break down the components of a rod to look for…
In general, fishing rods are made from one of three main materials, Fiberglass, Graphite and Carbon Fibre with qualities as follows:
- Fiberglass – Very strong and durable with very little maintenance required (rinse off after fishing is generally all that is needed). Also, very cost effective with many good options available that don’t cost the earth – although these types of rods appear to be less available these days due to the introduction of carbon fiber technology.
- Graphite – Graphite rods are generally more rigid with higher power ratings (see below) however tend to have greater sensitivity than their fiberglass cousins. Their composition also means that a little more cleaning if required over time to avoid them becoming brittle and snapping.
- Glass Tip – Glass Tips or ‘Hybrid’ rods are made from a combination of graphite and fiberglass. These are designed to give the best of both worlds with extra strength of the graphite rod added to the sensitivity of the glass tip. Great if you are using the rod in a number of locations and water types (i.e. not just the surf).
- Carbon Fibre – This is a newer compound in fishing rods being more rigid than the fiberglass/ composite rods but also lighter. These types are becoming more and more popular for all levels of experience due to their toughness and versatility.
In the past, most beginners tended to go for a fiberglass rod due to their durability, low maintenance requirements and favourable prices however good carbon fibre rods have severely come down in price in recent times as well.
When it comes to fishing, size can definitely matter. Depending on your location and cast length requirements (as we discussed in our location requirements above), you can choose from the following lengths:
- 7 – 9 foot – use in gutters or holes to catch small to medium size fish. A very manageable for a beginner or child.
- 9 – 12 foot – if gutters are not always evident, or you are chasing some larger species, this length is easy to manage whilst offering a little more ‘grunt’ for those bigger catches.
- 12 – 15 foot – for long casting where the fish are outside of the surf break. Also good if the waves are high and you want to keep your line above the break.
Many beginners will look at purchasing a combo set but if you already have a reel that you are planning to attach to your rod, then you will just need to make sure that the one you purchase will attach to it properly (most do but still worth checking).
Ok, so this is where the real debate begins, I am just going to give you a quick explanation of what they mean and leave it at that for now…
There are plenty of technical terms for the power settings of a fishing rod but in simple language, I have always known the power rating as a measure of how ‘bendy’ it is. Light power rods bend with little force and heavy need a lot of pressure to bend. So, in short:
- Light – very bendy – even whippy – will bend a lot with even the smallest fish – This is what Ryan was talking about above…
- Medium – needs a bit more pressure to bend – this is a good measure for a surf rod and my suggestion for a beginner.
- Heavy – takes a lot to make it bend – these are a bit harder to cast with (at least that is what I find) but I use a heavy surf rod when there is a strong side current on the beach.
There is also a measurement that some rods have in regards to what they call Action or Speed. This is determined by where the rod bends. Fast action bends from the top third whereas slow rods bend down towards the reel. To be honest, in my simple capacity as an avid but amateur fisherman, I have never really taken much notice of this. For a beginner, I would go moderate or medium, unless to have a need to cast a long way on your beach, then maybe edge towards a fast rod as they allow for heavier rigs.
This has nothing to do with the art of catching fish rather than the comfort of it. Some common options include:
- Hard foam – sort of like a very hard version of a pool noodle.
- EVA – Soft Rubbery stuff.
- Rubber Shrink Tube – soft and extremely durable – this one – get this one!
I like the Rubber shrink tube handles myself as they are comfortable and will last well in ‘beachy’ conditions. Cork is great if you want a light rod (probably more relevant to estuary rods or for use in a kayak etc. but if you are planning one to use in both locations then something to think about).
When it comes to surf rods, whether you have a full piece or a split piece (where the rod pulls apart into two or more pieces) is, in my opinion from a beginner’s perspective, a matter of circumstance… I have used both and if I am being brutally honest, I really don’t see enough of a difference when it comes to catching fish. After all, on the days I have not caught anything or worse, lost a big one that I had managed to hook, I guarantee that the fact that my rod comes in two pieces had nothing to do with it…
Ask yourself how you are going to transport the rod to your preferred fishing spot? If you are walking or have a rod holder on your SUV etc., then a full piece will be fine. If you need to put it in the boot or back seat of the car, then go the two, or three-piece…
What did I use?
Now, as I have always maintained within this site, I am certainly not a professional but I do have some experience in this arena. You see I bought my first rod as a beginner on the advice of a friend’s father who was fanatical about his fishing. That was 25 years ago and I admit to having some good success with it in a lot of different beaches and conditions and I still use it today. Here are its specs:
- Length: 11ft
- Power: Light/Medium
- Action: Moderate
- Composition: Single piece
- Handle: Hard Foam
I have used this rod with a number of reels including spinning (eggbeater) and surf with line ranges from 6 to 20 lb and sinkers of all shapes and sizes. I will say however that the rod does struggle with extra heavy sinkers due to the lighter side of its power rating.
What size rod should beginners use for surf fishing?
For those starting out with surf fishing, I would recommend a rod of around 9 – 11ft. If you plan to use it in a lake, river or estuary as well then maybe go 8 – 9ft. Keep it at medium power and fast action for ease of casting as well.
How many pieces should a beginner surf rod be?
To be honest, I have not found the number of pieces that the rod comes in to have a great bearing on success. The question here is how are you going to transport it to and from the fishing spot. If you are going in a car, then a two, three or four piece rod will break down enough to fit.
My three recommendations broken down
So based on the information above, and my own experience, I recommend the following for beginners:
I have chosen this first rod based on the fact that is the best I have seen for the budget minded beginner. There are three different length options and it breaks down into 3 pieces making it easy to transport. It is a good, solid and durable product that is light to hold with specifications as follows:
- Length: 9, 11, 13 or 15ft
- Power: Medium to Medium heavy (in longer rods)
- Action: Moderate – Fast
- Composition: 3 piece
- Handle: Rubber Shrink Tube
Other advantages include:
- Lightweight carbon fiber composition.
- Stainless steel mixed with ceramic guides for smooth casting and reeling.
- Plastic wheel seat with stainless steel tapered hood transitions.
Why have I chosen it?
As mentioned above, this is a good little rod for a good price. I would generally like to see a lighter power rating but to be honest, there is enough other advantages that I don’t see this one being too hard to handle – especially if you stick to the 11ft models. It will take a good range of line strength (10 – 20 lb) and should be able to handle some heavier sinker weight if the conditions require it.
2. OKUMA Cedros Surf CSX Graphite Surf Fishing Rod
My second rod is a good one for the beginner who is planning to do a little more fishing and hence wants something that will do the job with great durability and usability. At just under 11ft and in two pieces, it is a great rod for the beginner as it can handle most locations and line/tackle requirements (10 – 50lb line). It is also not at expensive as some of the other graphite models on the market with specs including:
- Length: 10 ft 6 inches
- Power: Medium
- Action: Moderate – Fast
- Composition: 2 piece
- Handle: Rubber shrink tube
Other advantages include:
- Lightweight composition 30 Ton carbon fiber blanks at the core.
- Stainless steel guide frames with super hard Zirconium inserts (for longer casting).
- High corrosion resistance (claims to have been tested over 1200 hours (50 days) of continuous salt spray and emerging completely corrosion free).
Why have I chosen it?
I like this one as it is a good, durable rod for a decent price. I like carbon fiber and its specification range would allow it to handle most beach conditions including the ability to cast a bit further if needed. Again, stick to the 11ft models as they will handle well and handle any line and tackle setups requirements that a beginner would be using.
3. St. Croix Mojo Surf Graphite Surf Rod
The third rod I have chosen is a little more expensive but for a beginner, it is almost the perfect rod. It doe3s come in a number of lengths including a smaller 7ft option making it a good one for those who are planning to fish in the surf and lake/estuary. Its lighter line specs make it highly versatile and able to cast a little further than you might expect. The graphite construction is part of the reason for the higher cost but it also means that it can handle the bigger catches whilst maintaining the sensitivity that inexperienced anglers need. Its specs include:
- Length: 7ft – 12ft
- Power: Medium – Light
- Action: Moderate – Fast
- Composition: 1 or 2 piece (dependent on length)
- Handle: ‘x-wrap’ composite
Other advantages include:
- Mid-modulus graphite fiber with a higher strain rate than common fiber.
- Off-set ferrules on two-piece models provide one-piece performance.
- Specialized, weight-saving surf guides with zirconium rings and black frames.
Why have I chosen it?
As I have mentioned above, this rod is a great one for beginners who a looking for a little quality over price. The graphite build and specifications make it a very versatile rod for most conditions and needs with the ability to handle most applicable line strengths as well. Stick to the 7 – 11ft models unless you need to cast longer or fish on a high-shore break beach.
And there it is – my 3 best surf fishing rods for beginners. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time