Surf Fishing Tips
Surf fishing is a very popular form of fishing and there are a few things you
need to look at if you want the best chance of success.
Most Surf fishing is done by standing on the shoreline or in the surf itself, along with the elements of danger that this may present, there are other factors you may want to consider when choosing the gear to use for certain circumstances.
Below are some surf fishing tips that may help.
The first priority for any fisherman should be safety. Being mindful of rising tides, waves and possible undertows when standing in the surf to cast etc. needs to be a constant awareness and re-assessment of potential dangers at all times.
If you decide to use waders during surf fishing, make sure you have a wader belt. This belt will be very important as it will make sure that water does not get into the waders in case you fall into the water, also a personal floatation device (PFD), is also a highly recommended.
Where to fish
To have a successful surf fishing experience, you need to have a proper
reconnaissance of the area you are going to fish in.
Use local knowledge if you have any, or scout out sandbanks, holes, gutters and channels to find where there may be fish feeding or moving around to escape rough seas etc.
Use a high vantage point like up sand dunes, and low tide is always a good time to find where the best spots may be later on when the tide comes in, and always keep an eye out for bird action like circling or diving for bait fish.
The best time for surf fishing is during dusk or dawn. This is the time when fish come out to feed. More care needs to be taken due to visibility restrictions during these times, so wearing appropriate reflective clothing and having a head torch etc. might come in handy
A long rod at least 10 foot and up to 15 feet is best for surf casting if you need to get out wide and up high over waves, but if you have a nice gutter close to shore to fish, and conditions are calm, even a regular 6 foot rod can do the trick.
Some of new rods from Daiwa and Shimano that are specifically designed for surf fishing have the length required but are super light and sensitive enough to feel the lightest of bites in the surf.
The original surf reels were heavy die-cast, wood or fiberglass side-cast reels that were the main choice due to minimal moving parts to corrode up, and heavy duty enough to handle being dragged through the sand occasionally.
Today a good side cast reel is still an option if you are doing a lot of surf fishing (they are now light weight, strong and built to withstand sand and salt water), or a heavier spin reel that is designed to handle beach conditions is also a good option.
<Check out a range of the best surf reels>
The choice of fishing line needs to be considered depending on the conditions you are fishing in.
There are 2 choices of line that best suit surf fishing, braid and monofilament. Monofilament has a much higher abrasion resistance than braid, which is better in rough surf conditions where your bait and line are being dragged along the sand, this can wear and damage braided line quit quickly so monofilament is best in these conditions.
Braided fishing line is good for calmer conditions when fish are a little more cautious and feeling the bite is easier due to the lack of stretch in this type of line, it allows you to feel and set the hooks much easier than with monofilament.
As a leader I would recommend fluorocarbon over monofilament as it is also abrasion resistant and it has the same refraction index as water so it is virtually invisible to fish, and you can fish a little bit lighter using a fluorocarbon leader.
If braid is your main fishing line choice, add 20 or 30 feet of monofilament to the end as a buffer, to limit how much of your braid is being dragged through the sand.
The right rig
The surf fishing rig is probably the simplest rig set up, it usually consists of 3 to 4 foot fluorocarbon or monofilament leader on a running sinker rig.
The idea of the running sinker rig is that as the fish grabs the bait the line runs through the sinker and the fish doesn’t feel the weight of it, this minimizes you spooking the fish giving you more time to set the hook.
If your using worms for bait use a size 4 long shank hook, otherwise vary your hook size dependent on the type of bait your using and the species you are targeting.
Use the lightest set up possible for the fish you are targeting and the conditions your fishing in to maximize the sensitivity you have to feel the fish strike.
The choice of baits you will use for your surf fishing will depend on what you are trying to catch, but usually whatever bait is abundant and live in that location is usually what the fish are coming in for. Live worms, pippies, small crabs or other small fish work best, but if you have to buy bait check with the shop owner as to what has been working locally.
Surf fishing can be fun, very rewarding and really doesn’t require a great deal of fancy gear to get you going.
Look for gutters close to shore where fish are feeding, use bait that is live and collected from the local area, use a light setup to get the most sensitivity you can from your gear, and stay safe by watching the signs and avoid dangerous surf conditions.