Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips What size fishing rod should I buy for the surf?
What size fishing rod should I buy for the surf?

“What size fishing rod should I buy for the surf?”

Anglers ask this all of the time. In the spring, I sell a lot of 12-foot
rods. That’s because the annual run of stripers is coming through and
the surfcasters want to cast as far as they can to reach them. They will
also pick the heavier rods that will throw up to 10-ounces of weight.
In the fall, we sell the long, heavier rod again when the stripers
migrate south.

In the summer months, when we have whiting, Norfolk spot, croaker, sea
trout and snapper blues, a shorter, lighter weight rod will give you
more action and more fun. A 9-foot rod in the 1/2 to 3 ounce or 2 to 6
ounce weight range is all you need. The water is warmer in the summer
months too, so you can walk out there in your shorts and bare feet and
gain some distance as well.

If you surf fish a lot, you will wind up buying more than one rod and
most avid anglers take two rods out on the beach. The “fisherman” will
take the heavier, longer rod and baits up with a large piece of bait
such as a bunker chunk or even the whole bunker head, a whole calamari
squid, or a chunk of fresh bluefish on a large hook in the 5/0 to 9/0
size range. Using a good sized pyramid, hurricane or clam weight sinker
in the 4 to 10-ounce range, the “fisherman” casts out the bait, puts the
rod in the sand spike, and waits. (Remember to always set your drag so a
good strike doesn’t cause your rod/reel to go straight into the

Now the “angler” will take a smaller, lighter rod such as a 9-foot
combination and rig it up with a kingfish rig or small bluefish rig to
see what else is biting! Bait up with bloodworm, Fishbite bloodworm or
Fishbite Crab flavored strips (orange color is popular in our area),
little strips of squid, or filleted and stripped fresh bunker. Many
anglers use combination baits on the small hooks such as Fishbites with
real bloodworm, or Fishbites with a little piece of meat such as squid
or fresh bunker. (I’m a believer of the combination baits!) This spring
anglers were digging fresh sand fleas and putting them on the hook with
the Fishbite Crab E-Z strips. Come up with your own favorite
combination. You can never go wrong with bloodworm or Fishbite bloodworm
with a little strip of Calamari squid. That’s the box squid, not that
thick pre-cut stuff. (Sorry I just don’t like that stuff for the surf
unless you want some skate bait!)

Cast out with whatever sinker will hold the bottom without using so much
weight that you can’t feel the fish bite. Start with 2 or 3 ounces and
only go to 4 or 5 ounces if the surf is washing the sinker back in. Keep
the rod in your hand, but have a sand spike ready in case you have to
put the rod in the holder and quickly grab the heavier rod if it bends
over with a fish on the other end!!!

The smaller the bait, the more often you need to check it. Little crabs
can chew off your bait as well, so it’s necessary to continuously check
your bait. I like to cast out the lighter rod, and ever so slowly,
bounce the baits in towards shore. If nothing happens in 20-minutes or
so, I either put that rod in the rod holder for a while and wait, or
move down the beach a few yards and try another spot.

Make sure you are not casting on top of a sand bar!!! The beach in Ocean
City has been difficult since Hurricane Sandy. In many places there’s a
trough and then an outer bar. At low tide, the anglers can sometimes
walk out to the bar and cast into the deeper water. At high tide, this
may be difficult, so you are best off fishing in the trough. Some
anglers just wait for the tide to be low and get out to the bar. Other
anglers just fish the high tide and stay in close. Just remember, white
water is shallow water. Dark rolling water is deeper water.
Back to the rod sizes! You can buy a rod as long as 15 feet. These rods
will cast far if you are a big guy or gal that can handle that length
and weight. But most people just can’t handle it and do much better with
a quality 11 or 12-foot surf fishing rod. If you are only going to buy
one surf rod to fish with all season long, I would suggest a 10 or
11-foot model.

If you fish primarily in the spring and the fall, go a little heavier.
If you fish primarily in the summer, go a little lighter. Like any other
sport, the more dollars you invest in your equipment, the nicer it will
be. Better quality surf rods have a higher graphite content and better
quality guides that will make the rod lighter in the hand and more
sensitive to the fish bites.

Kids and smaller ladies tend to deal best with a shorter rod. You will
find that the 8 and 9-foot rods have a shorter butt section than the 10
through 12-foot rods. That makes it easier for us smaller, shorter
people to cast. I personally fish with an 8 and a 9-foot surf rod.
Last, but not least, remember this, the lighter the line, the further
you can cast. Weigh that out with the fish you are targeting and your
ability to cast without hurling your rig and sinker to the great beyond!
If you fish with monofilament line in the springtime when the big
stripers are around, I would spool my reel with 17-pound test on the
lighter end and 20-pound test on the heavier end. If you use Spectra
line such as Power Pro Braid, I would go with 30-pound line on the light
end and 50-pound line on the heavy end. During the summertime, you can
go down to 14-pound test monofilament or 20-pound braid on the lighter
end unless you are targeting sharks!!!

Hope this helps and doesn’t confuse you. The best teacher for fishing is
to go fishing! It’s hard to know exactly what questions to ask before
you’ve ever even gone. Once you fish a couple times, you’ll have more
questions. Stop into local bait and tackle shops that specialize in surf
fishing and ask away. That’s what we’re here for!

Good fishing…

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 18:35