The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Gear For Surf Fishing

surf fishing

Fishing the ocean is a popular pastime, and it’s no wonder why. The water offers endless opportunities to catch fish of all sizes, from tiny baitfish to large tuna and even sharks. But before heading out to the beach, there is a lot you should know. For example, what would you do if you get caught up in strong winds or heavy currents, which could make it difficult to cast your line?

If you don’t have the right gear for surf fishing, you could end up coming home with nothing more to show for your outing than a sunburn. And if you do manage to hook something, you may not be able to reel it in without losing your grip or, worse, having your line break. So how can you avoid these problems? Read on for some tips to help you select the best surf fishing gear for making your next surf fishing trip a success.

Basic Surf Fishing Gear Setup

Surf Rod

So let’s begin by first talking about the basic gear that you will need for surf fishing. First off, you’ll want to choose a fishing pole that will work well in the surf. Most surf rods are designed to handle the rigors of casting into waves, so they’re built to withstand the force of breaking waves and high winds. However, you might find yourself needing to use a heavier-duty rod when fighting larger fish such as Tuna or Marlin. Just make sure to use the lightest fishing rod possible based on the size of fish that you are targeting, as a heavier fishing rod will tire you out quicker.

surf fishing rod

When it comes time to purchase your surf fishing rod, you will also need to decide on the length that you would like to use. A longer pole will cast further but takes more practice and experience to use. Beginners are best off with a smaller rod in the 9 to 12-foot range, while experienced fishermen can usually handle longer surf fishing rods that will give them a longer casting distance.

Surf Fishing Reel

Next, you’ll need to consider what type of reel you would like to use. There are two main types of reels available, spinning and baitcasting reels. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll want to take time to research both of them to see which one works best for you.

Spinning Reels

Spinning reels work by spinning an open-faced spool as the line is released while casting. They utilize a line guide that helps to control the line as it comes off of the spool. They are ideal for lighter lures and baits and are great for beginners because although they take practice, they are easy to learn how to use and cast.

spinning reel

Spinning reels also don’t require much maintenance, come in different sizes and colors, and are generally inexpensive. However, they are prone to get tangled up easily. Beginners need to understand that casting takes practice and to be ready for some tangled fishing line before getting it right every time. In addition, they generally have less power and are better suited for catching smaller fish with lighter baits and lures.

If you choose a spinning reel when selecting your surf fishing equipment, you will need to make a couple of decisions, including:

Size –

Reel size is based on the weight and the length of the line that it will hold. Manufacturers classify reel size with either a two or four digit code to signify the amount of line that a reel will hold, with lower numbers holding less line.

Reels should be sized according to the weight of the line you plan to use. For example, if you’re going to fish with a 6-8 pound test line, you’ll want a reel that’s rated for that type of line. 

Speed –

When choosing a spinning reel, how quickly you can reel in your line is another thing to consider. Speed is measured in terms of gear ratio but can be very confusing to a beginner. The ratio is calculated in how many times the spool rotates per turn of the handle. 

Drag Systems –

Spinning reels have two types of drag systems – front and rear. Although there isn’t too much difference between the two, front drag systems tend to be more robust and more durable than rear ones. However, front systems are more difficult to reach, especially when you have a big fish on the line.

Baitcasting Reels

A baitcasting reel is more accurate and heavier than a spinning reel. The way it works is while casting, the line is pulled out straight while the spool rotates and releases the line. Baitcasters don’t allow the spool to move as fast as those on a spinning reel, so there is less chance for backlash or a “bird’s nest” forming.

More experienced fishermen use Baitcasting reels as it takes practice to learn how to cast. They are more challenging to operate because the fishermen must use their thumb to control the spool. In addition, baitcasting reels can be difficult to use in windy conditions.

More experienced fishermen use Baitcasting reels as it takes practice to learn how to cast. They are more challenging to operate because the fishermen must use their thumb to control the spool. In addition, baitcasting reels can be difficult to use in windy conditions.

bait casting reel

Baitcasting reels come in both left- and right-handed models and allow for setting drag, braking, and tension. They also have large spools capable of holding long lengths of line, making them perfect for surf fishing.

Baitcasting reels are slower to retrieve but offer much more control over where your bait or lure lands. However, which type of reel you select ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Surf Fishing Rigs

Now that we have talked about your rod and reel, let’s talk about your surf fishing rig, as it’s an essential part of your surf fishing gear. A surf fishing rig is a collection of surf fishing tackle setups based on the species of fish that you are fishing for, your location, and your preference. Surf fishing rigs typically consist of sinkers, swivels, barrels, lines, and bait.

fishing lures1

There are many different variations of surf rigs that surf fishermen can use, so it’s important to experiment until you find one that works best for you. But rigging your tackle right will significantly improve your chances of catching fish. So make sure that you choose carefully which rig you plan to use.

Here are three typical surf fishing rig setups:

Fish Finder

The Fish Finder rig is one of the most common rigs for surf fishing because it is beginner-friendly and easy to set up. It is simple to use and very similar to a Carolina rig, except that it is meant for saltwater fishing.

The Fish Finder rig consists of a hook attached to a leader line usually between 12 and 24 inches long, followed by a barrel, a bead, and a pyramid sinker. The rig uses a heavy pyramid sinker so that, except for moving around in a limited area, it keeps your bait in an exact location. A circle hook works best with this rig and is an excellent choice for all sizes of fish. 

Carolina Rig

Also known as the C rig, another typical rig for surf fishing is the Carolina rig. Although, as previously mentioned, it is similar to the Fish Finder, except it was originally designed for freshwater. This rig uses an egg type or bullet type weight attached to the end of the line with a soft plastic bait. The Caroline rig is ideal for Bass fishing, although it is used for other bottom-feeding species as well. It is also beginner-friendly and easy to set up.

Pompano Rigs

Also known as the Double Drop Leader – Pompano rigs are popular rigs for surf fishing Pompano. Pompano rigs use a weighted sinker and two hooks. The first hook is attached to the end of the line, while the second hook is attached to the leader. It is ideal for the surf and can be used with various baits.

Other rig setups include the Clipped, Flapper, and Looped Rigs, just to name a few.


Surf Fishing Line

We cannot talk about surf fishing gear without discussing your line, of which there are three types – Monofilament, Fluorocarbon, and Braided.


Monofilament is better for beginners because it doesn’t easily break. It is stretchable and handles tension well. It also has better abrasion resistance and is less expensive than other types of lines.


Braided line is the most popular type of surf fishing line and is used by many experienced fishermen because of its durability. It also casts better and will last longer simply because it is stronger. However, it is more expensive than non-braided lines and only gives you a minimal margin of error because it doesn’t stretch.


Fluorocarbon line is almost invisible underwater and sinks faster than monofilament line along with having more memory and abrasion resistance.

Line Test

surf fishing line

When talking about fishing lines, you’ll need to consider the pound test of your line. The fishing line pound test is a measurement in pounds of the force required to break a fishing line. A higher pound test means that the line can withstand more force before breaking. For example, a 10-pound test can withstand up to 10 pounds of pressure. 

This is important for surf fishing, as a broken line can easily result in lost fish or even broken gear. When selecting a fishing line, be sure to choose one that has a high enough “test” rating to not only hold up against the fish but the elements and the currents as well. You want to make sure that your line can withstand all of the forces of surf fishing.

When it comes to the fishing line test, there is no one size fits all answer. Every situation will be different and require a different test. For example, when fishing in open water, you’ll need a heavier line since fish can be larger and the current can be stronger. However, when fishing in a river or smaller body of water, a lighter line will work better.

Lures and Bait

Anglers should carry a variety of lures in their tackle boxes because the ones that work well can make a big difference in helping them catch more fish. Surf fishing anglers use a combination of live bait and lures to attract fish.

Lures are artificial bait, with each type designed to imitate a different kind of natural bait. Just as there are many types of live bait, there are many kinds of lures, each used to catch a different species of fish. Lures can be made from plastic or metal and are cast into the water before slowly being retrieved to attract fish. Fishermen also use cut bait, pieces of fish to catch larger fish.

There are various types of lures and bait used for surf fishing. Some of the most popular include plastic worms, jigs, spoons, plugs, worms, minnows, and crickets.

Common Lures

fishing lures
  1. Spoon – Spoons are lures shaped like a spoon. They come in many sizes and colors. Spoons wobble through the water, imitating baitfish as they are reeled in. They are an excellent choice for night fishing.
  2. Plug – A plug is a wooden or plastic lure designed to resemble an actual prey item. Some plugs are meant to stay on top of the water, while others have a lip that causes them to sink below the surface. While being reeled in, they act in an erratic manner, causing them to attract fish.
  3. Popper – A popper is a type of lure that resembles a dead fish. When pulled through the water, a popper makes noise, splashes water, and causes an attack when hooked by the predator fish. They are also used to catch large game fish such as tuna.
  4. Bucktail Jig – A bucktail jig is another popular surf fishing lure. A bucktail jig consists of a short section of wire with a hook on the end. They come in many shapes and sizes and work best in deep moving water.
  5. Worm – Meant to resemble a live worm, a worm is a type of lure that works great for catching Bass and Trout. Worms are made of plastic and metal.

Common Live Baits

  1. Worms – There are many types of worms that can be used as bait to catch fish. 
  2. Shrimps – You can buy shrimp at your local bait shop or even catch them yourself.
  3. Sand Fleas – Sand fleas thrive at the beach and can even be gathered in the sand.

Along with live bait and lures, fishermen also use cut bait to attract fish. Calms, Bunker, Squid, and Mullet all work well.

Sand Spike

A sand spike is a metal or plastic stake that’s gets inserted into the soft sand. This allows for easy access to the surf rod and helps keep it from getting tangled. Many anglers use sand spikes to secure their rods. When using a sand spike, make sure to place it in a stable location where waves won’t easily knock it over.

In addition to helping keep your gear from getting tangled, a sand spike can also come in handy when you need to take a break. Then when you’re done for the day, simply remove it from the sand.

Surf Fishing Accessories


When surf fishing from the beach, waders can be a valuable tool. They are a type of clothing worn by experienced anglers in deeper water to keep dry.

There are two types of waders: chest waders and hip waders. Hip waders are less expensive than chest waders, but they also offer less protection. When choosing between the two, consider the depth as well as the temperature of the water.


Tackle Box

A tackle box is a must-have for any angler. It’s a container that’s used to store gear. It’s important to have a well-organized tackle box, so you can quickly find the gear you need.

There are many different types of tackle boxes available on the market. Some anglers prefer soft-sided tackle boxes, while others prefer hard-sided tackle boxes. When choosing a tackle box, consider the amount of gear you plan to bring with you compared to the size of the box.


Surf Cart

A surf cart can be a valuable tool. A surf cart is a wheeled cart designed to transport heavy items across the sand. It allows for easy access to your gear and helps keep it from getting stuck in the sand. Many anglers use carts to transport their gear from the car to the beach. When using a surf cart, make sure to place it in a stable location where waves won’t easily knock it over.

Additional Surf Fishing Accessories

In addition to the gear listed above, there are a few additional items that can be helpful when surf fishing from the beach. These include:

Sun Protection – When on the beach, it’s essential to protect yourself from the sun. You can do this by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

Bug Repellent – You should also use bug repellent. This will help keep bugs away from you while you’re out on the beach.

Fishing Pliers – You should also bring fishing pliers for removing hooks. 

 Knife – You can use a knife for a variety of tasks, including cutting bait and line.

Cooler – Bringing a cooler will help keep your bait and fish fresh.

A camera for taking pictures of your catch!

surf fisherman


Surf fishing is a challenging sport to get started in and requires plenty of gear. So if you’re just getting into surf fishing, it’s important that you have the right gear for surf fishing from the start! Fortunately, there are a lot of high-quality options for anglers who are looking for their first setup or for those who need new supplies.

What kind of gear you should buy depends on your needs as an angler – but we recommend starting with some basics like surf fishing rods, reels, lines, hooks, and lures. Once you’ve got these essentials covered, there are other products that will make things easier when surf fishing, such as waders, tackle boxes, and carts.

The last thing you want to do is invest in gear that’s not going to work for your fishing style. Make sure that the equipment you purchase will work well with the type of fish that you are going after and the spot where you would like to fish!

Here at Kwaks Trading Post, we specialize in fishing gear and supplies. We offer a wide variety of products, including rods, reels, lines, hooks, and lures.

We also would like to buy all of your used fishing gear that you no longer want. We will even pay you cash on the spot for your equipment. So, if you would like to turn your old gear into cold hard cash, come see us!

We hope that you enjoyed reading about the gear for surf fishing. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us. We are always happy to help our customers find the perfect gear for their needs!

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I bring surf fishing?

Along with a surf rod reel, you’ll also need to bring along fishing line, lures/bait, hooks, and a tackle box to keep it all in. Additionally, you should bring sun protection, a cooler, and a knife.

What size rod do I need for beach fishing?

A short surf rod works best for beginners when fishing from the beach. These rods range between 8′ and 12′. However, most experienced fishermen prefer using longer rods because it gives them better control over their casts.

What is a good rig for surf fishing?

We recommend the Fish Finder rig as it is one of the most basic and it’s great for beginners. However, the rig you ultimately choose depends on the fish you are trying to catch, your skill level, and your equipment.

Where can I surf fish?

Most people surf fish from the beach, but you can also do it from a pier, jetty, or even a boat. As long as there is water and you can cast your line, you can surf fish!