What Equipment Do I Need For Surf Fishing?

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Hey there my fellow fishermen and welcome to my post where I will try and give you an insight into one question I often get asked – What equipment do I need for surf fishing?  And as always, this is not to say that you will not catch fish if you don’t have each of these, however in my experience, you will need at least some of them.

So for those of you looking to get out and wet a line in the surf, I have listed the staple gear for beach fishing that I like to take with me below.

Let’s check them out…

1. Rod

Choosing the right rod for surf fishing is important for maximizing your casting distance and ability to handle the size of fish you’re targeting. A surf fishing rod should be long, usually between 9 and 12 feet, to allow for longer casting distances and to keep the line above breaking waves.

I personally like a rod with a fast or medium-fast action to provide enough power for setting the hook and fighting larger fish, while still allowing for good casting distance. When it comes to power or stiffness, the rod should be matched to the size and species of fish you’re targeting. F

For smaller fish, a medium-light rod may be appropriate, while larger species like Halibut, Striped Bass or Shark may require a heavy or extra-heavy rod. The reel seat and guides should be corrosion-resistant to withstand the saltwater environment and it’s also important to consider your own physical capabilities when choosing a rod, as a longer or heavier rod may be more difficult to handle for some individuals.

Check out these: Fishing Rods for Surf Fishing

2. Reel

A spinning reel is the most common type of reel used in surf fishing, as it allows for longer casting distances and easy casting for beginners. When selecting a reel, you should consider its size, capacity, and gear ratio. And this probably goes without saying but the size of the reel should match the length and power of the rod (you may want to consider purchasing a rod and reel combo to be sure), with larger reels being used for longer and heavier rods.

The line capacity of the reel should be able to hold enough line to accommodate the size and species of fish you’re targeting and the gear ratio, which determines the speed at which the line is retrieved, should also be considered. A higher gear ratio will retrieve the line faster, but may sacrifice power, while a lower gear ratio will provide more power but retrieve the line more slowly.

And again as with the rod, it’s important to choose a reel that is built to withstand the saltwater environment and has corrosion-resistant materials as well.

Check out these: Fishing Reels for Surf Fishing

What Equipment Do I Need For Surf Fishing - man setting bait on beach

3. Fishing Line

As with the rod and reel, fishing line for surf fishing needs match the reel size you are using as well as to be able to handle the weight of the fish you’re targeting and the rough conditions of the surf. The most commonly used fishing lines for surf fishing are braided or monofilament lines.

  • Braided lines are popular for their strength and low diameter, allowing for longer casting distance and more line capacity on the reel.
  • Monofilament lines however are more forgiving and easier to handle, making them a popular choice for beginners.

When selecting a line, you should consider its strength, abrasion resistance, and visibility. A line with higher strength and abrasion resistance is better for handling larger fish, rough conditions or if you are fishing on a reef, while a line with lower visibility is less likely to spook fish.

Additionally, the line should be able to withstand the saltwater environment, with materials that are resistant to corrosion and UV damage as well.

4. Fishing Hooks

When it comes to surf fishing, circle hooks are a popular choice as they tend to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth, making it easier to release them. The size of the hook should be based on the type of fish you are targeting. Smaller hooks are better for catching small fish like perch, while larger hooks are needed for bigger fish like Sharks or Striped Bass.

A second factor here is the size of the bait you plan to use as well. For smaller bait like sand crabs or small pieces of shrimp, a smaller hook like a size 2 or 4 may be appropriate. For larger bait like whole squid or mackerel, a larger hook like a size around the 3/0 or 4/0 mark may be necessary.

And finally, if you are not familiar with the area, it’s always a good idea to consult with local experts or experienced anglers to get recommendations on hook size and other gear for the specific surf fishing location that you intend to visit.

surf fishing equipment - man casting on beach

5. Sinkers

The weight of the sinker you use will depend on the strength of the current and the size of the bait being used. Pyramid sinkers and egg sinkers are commonly used for surf fishing, and are designed to hold the bait down in the water where the fish are.

A good rule of thumb is to use enough weight to keep the bait on the bottom, but not so much that it can’t move around just a little bit along the ocean floor.

Check out these: Sinkers for Surf Fishing

6. Bait

Common baits for surf fishing include sand crabs, clams, mussels, squid, and shrimp. Artificial lures can also be effective, such as soft plastic grubs or metal spoons.

Obviously the type you choose will vary based on local conditions however when it comes to using live bait, I would stick to the following two rules:

  1. Use local bait if possible – If you use what the fish eat naturally, you stand a better chance of them taking your hook
  2. Go to a local bait shop – In most cases, the local bait shop will sell bait that is good for local conditions. If in doubt, ask the shop keeper or a local.
What Equipment Do I Need For Surf Fishing - man surf fishing in waders

7. Backpack

Now I know everything I have listed above is pretty much a must have to be able to fish in the surf, but in my humble opinion, a good surf fishing backpack should also be on this list. The function here is pretty simple in that you are looking for something that will hold all of your gear in the spot and allow you to carry it all at once down to the beach – obviously having it on your back keeps your hands free as well.

At the end of the day, there are a number of surf fishing accessories that I believe you should always have with you on your surf fishing expeditions including:

A backpack will help you keep all these protected and in the one spot.

Check out these: Surf Fishing Backpacks

8. Chair

This isn’t a must have but trust me, if you have a chair and can get it down to the beach, it is well worth it. You can thank me later!

Check out these: Chairs for Surf Fishing

What Equipment Do I Need For Surf Fishing - man sitting in chair


There you have it, my thoughts on the equipment needed for surf fishing. Let me know what you think below of course.

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.