5 Must Have Tools For Surf Fishing

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts. Today we are going to swap the tackle box for the tool box to check out my 5 must have tools for surf fishing. I mean these are the tools that if you don’t them have with you, then frankly, you will not be able to catch any fish! Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but trust me when I say that things will run a little smoother if you do.

I will list a few others worth mentioning at the bottom of this post, but to me, these 5 are the ones that allow me to spend as much time as possible doing what I am there to do, which is stand around with my fishing line in the water. So with that, let’s check out my 5 tools options below:


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1. Pliers

First on our list of tools is a good set of pliers. These are used for any number of reasons whilst on the beach including to:

  • Remove hooks from fish
  • Create gang hooks
  • Fix equipment
  • Hold fish
  • Change lure hooks
  • Hold line whilst you tie it to tackle etc.
  • Cut line
  • Straighten bent hooks or swivels
  • And the list goes on and on.
tools for surf fishing - pliers

I like the long nose option myself however if you have a set of normal, ‘every day’ pliers in your garage, grab em! Although if you are looking for fishing specific pliers then I recommend some made from sturdy aluminium (they are light and won’t rust) with a cutting bar incorporated as there are also times where you might need to cut a hook.

If you take no other tool, take pliers!

2. Scissors

Scissors are also one area that I recommend going for options made for the purpose of fishing. This is for a number of reasons including:

  • Normal scissors tend to rust – really fast
  • Handles are usually made to not slip off your hands
  • Many come with a belt loop or clip for easy access
  • Fishing scissors are generally made for the purpose of cutting line whereas normal scissors are not and tend to fray the ends making threading through hook eyes etc. way more difficult

And if you are going ask whether fishing line cutters would fit into this category – as a backup, I would say yes!

3. Knife

Our third option is probably obvious (and maybe should have been promoted to item #1) however it never ceases to amaze me how many fisherman on the beach come up to me and ask if they can borrow my knife. I mean come on, how did they think they were going to cut up their bait, their line or even humanely put their catch to sleep. Apologies for the rant and I of course always lend it out with a smile as after all, we are all still fishing together hey!

And when you are in the thick of the action with rods going one way and fish the other, no matter how good they are a pair of scissors is simply not going to cut it – pardon the pun haha.

A second point here too. Knives used on the beach tend to suffer from some fairly rugged use so I would suggest not using your favourite filleting knife for this job – unless you like minced fish fillets of course.

tools for surf fishing - knife and board

4. Cutting Board

This next one is definitely a requirement I learned the hard way. We often use pilchards and/or squid for bait where we fish and will cut them in half if we are using a two hook rig. After trying to cut this stuff on the sand, on my tackle box or on top of a bucket, I eventually remembered to steal one from the cupboard and sneak it into my fishing back pack – “no honey, I haven’t seen that little cutting board… maybe it is in with the camping gear??”.

They also come in handy if you are trying to lean your catch on the beach as well however if you can’t manage to pilfer one from the kitchen then don’t spend a fortune here. Go to your supermarket and buy a small plastic one like mine below. I think the replacement one I bought for the kitchen cost me $3.

5. Ruler

And finally, let’s talk about rulers. This is probably more of a fishing accessory than a tool however one great thing about fishing in the surf is that it can often throw up a number of different species types with different legal limits.

Where we fish, fines for undersized fish can be steep so add a ruler to your tool list as well. This doesn’t have to really be an exact science – I mean if it is that close then maybe just throw it back anyway – so anything that will measure the length of a fish will do.

I admit to liking the fit for purpose hard plastic option however one of my fishing buddies uses a sewing tape that he keeps in his pocket. School rulers, fish stickers or even a pre-cut length of string will work here too. If the fish is longer than the string – it is legal!

Others worth a mention

As we discussed at the top of this post, the items listed above are what I believe to be ‘must haves’ when it comes to tools for surf fishing on the beach. However, there are some other options here that you may prefer, or feel should be added to this list. These include:

  • Hook remover – Hook removers are like extra long pliers that are designed purely for removing hooks from fish – especially if they have swallowed it. Again, pliers will work here but I actually carry one of these and to be honest, I almost put it as must have number 6 above
  • Fish lip grip – These are specialised tools designed to grab the fish by the lip as you remove the hook or carry it up the beach. Pliers will do this job as well but these are worth it if you are dealing with particularly spiky or ‘toothy’ fish. They are must haves for the boat or kayak too if your species is good at throwing the hook.
tools for surf fishing - lip grip
  • Multi-function knives – A.K.A. Swiss army knives – can be helpful as they tend to have all the basics above (pliers, scissors, knives etc.) as well as other tools such as screwdrivers (see next) and other stuff too. They tend to not be as effective as the really thing but can definitely work in a pinch.
  • Screwdriver – I needed one the other week when the bale came loose on the surf reel. I have never needed one in the past but did this time. Luckily my little knife-less friend up the beach had one on hand. Also good for humanely dealing with fish as well.
  • Fishing scales – For bragging purposes only.


And there they are – my 5 must have fishing tools for surf fishing. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences or any other tips you may have.

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

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.