Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Basics of Surf Fishing

Best Surf Casting Rods

How to Select a Surf Casting Rod
Fisherman Surf Casting

The surf casting rod helps solve one of surf fishing's biggest problems, casting distance.

You would think that you could walk down to the beach with your typical fresh water rod and reel and start fishing.

The problem is if you use a regular fishing rod your cast is probably not going to be far enough out in the water for what you need.

Having a proper surf fishing rod will help solve this problem.

So c'mon along and let's see what you’re going to need.

Surf Casting
Letting the surf rod do the work.

Surf Casting how to do it

The idea behind surf casting is to cast the bait or lure as far out into the ocean as possible. Hopefully, the cast will be far enough to land in water deep enough to have larger fish in it.

Casts that are too short will land in relatively shallow water. It is possible to catch fish in shallow water, but they will be smaller in size than those found in deeper water.

One solution to getting a long cast is to use a longer fishing rod or pole. With a longer rod, you can get a greater whip action thereby propelling the lure or bait a greater distance.

The surf fishing industry now uses specially designed surf casting rods that are typically 10-15 foot in length. These long rods are in two or sometimes three pieces that go together.

You will note from the above photo that the rod has an extended handle below the fishing reel for two handed use. Also, note that the flex in the long rod will provide a whip type action when the bait or lure is released.

How to Cast With a Surf Rod
Putting the surf rod to work.

There are a number of different casting techniques, including the ground cast and the pendulum cast.

We won't be going over all of these casts here. However, there are a number of videos online that illustrate and teach the different casts.

Here is an example of a good cast to start off with. I recommend you start with this cast and then move up to more difficult casts as you grow in experience. How to cast a surf rod

Here's a good slow motion example of pendulum casting. When watching the video keep your eye on the weight and you'll see why its called pendulum casting. Pendulum Casting

It may sound strange and you may feel a bit out of place, but I recommend you practice your casting before you go the beach. Chances are when you go to the beach there will be other people walking past or around you. This is no time to be learning how to cast a surf rod. I encourage you to go to an open field somewhere and practice your casting before you go the beach.

The cast shown in the video below is just an easy cast.


Because of the danger involved with casting never practice in a crowded area.

Fiberglass Surf Fishing Rod 

Fiberglass Surf Fishing Rod

Photo Credit: Me
Surf fishing rods can be made of a number of different materials. They are available in fiberglass, carbon fiber, and graphite.

Ideally you want a fishing rod that is easy to handle and yet durable.

A part of my surf fishing gear was the surf casting rod pictured above. It is a 10ft.' Fenwick Fiberglass surf rod.  As you can see in the photo it is rated for 15-30 lb. fishing line and 2-6 oz. lures. As this was my first surf fishing rod I didn't want to spend too much money. The cost a few years ago was only about $50.00.

This is a good two-piece starter rod. It is very durable and easy to handle and I still use it when I'm fishing two lines.

A Good Starter Rod

Okuma Surf Glass Spinning Rod The Fenwick Fiberglass Surf Rod doesn't appear to be available anymore but a suitable replacement would be the Okuma Tundra Surf Glass Spinning Rods.
It's available in a variety of sizes at very reasonable prices.

Graphite Surf Fishing Rod

Graphite Surf Fishing Rod

Photo Credit: Me
After about of year of fishing I moved up to a graphite surf fishing rod. I selected graphite for the lighter weight and greater flexibility which provided more whipping action. I also increased the length to a 12ft. rod.

The fiberglass surf rod is a bit stiffer than the graphite which limited casting distance. With the graphite surf rod, I can cast further and get into deeper water.

The rod I selected, after some research, was an Okuma Solaris 12ft. with a line weight 20-40 lbs. and 3-8 oz. lure weight.

I use 20 lb. line with 4 oz. pyramid weights and 40 lb. leader.

A Safety Precaution you MUST adhere to:

When you prepare your rig add a shock leader onto the line. The reason for using a shock leader is to prevent your line from breaking when you cast it. Here's the basic rules to adhere to.

The leader should be long enough that when casting you have 4 or 5 rotations of the leader on your fishing reel. So the leader should be, as a rough guideline, twice the length of the rod.

In addition, the strength of the leader line should be 10 times the weight in pounds. For example, if you intend to use a 4 oz. weight, the leader should be 40 lb. line.

When casting a surf rod there is tremendous stress put on the line by the momentum of the surf rod and weight. You don't want the weight to go flying through the air and injuring anyone. So these precautions must be adhered to for the safety of those around you.

The Okuma Graphic Surf Fishing Rod
   I love this rod

Okuma Solaris Surf Fishing Rod

The Okuma Surf Rod that I own is still available and is in my opinion a fantastic fishing rod. If you really want a great rod even for the beginning surf fisherman the Okuma is a great rod.

I am confident that you will love the Okuma surf fishing rod.
I have had no problems with mine and it is 9 years old.
If I were going to get just one rod this would be the graphite surf rod I would get.

Those are the two types of surf casting rods that I have tried.  After starting with the fiberglass surf rod, I moved up to graphite surf fishing rod and also increase the length.

Surf Fishing Rigs
What makes up my typical rig.
I use a 4oz. pyramid sinker and pompano rig for most of my fishing rigs.

There are essentially three types sinkers used in surf fishing:

1. Casting sinker. The casting sinker is a round teardrop shaped sinker that is often used when casting into rocky areas. This sinker doesn't have any sharp edges or corners that can get caught on rocks. Even though there are no sinkers that will ensure you won't snag on a rock the casting sinker is better than some of the others.

2. Pyramid sinker. This is the sinker I use. It is shaped like an upside down pyramid. The fishing line connects to the bottom of the pyramid in the center. The pointed end of the pyramid digs into the sandy bottom when it lands. The surface of the bottom where I fish is sand and the pyramid sinker anchors itself in to the sandy bottom. This is useful because it prevents the rig from being moved around by the normal wave action. The casting sinker tends to just roll around on the sandy surface and as such is not very useful when fishing over sand.

3. Breakaway sinker. This is another sinker that is good for fishing on a sandy bottom. It has tentacles that stick into the sand and help hold it in place.

Pompano Rig
A pompano rig is a short line with two hooks about a foot apart on short leads. One end of the line is hooked to the weight and the other end to a swivel that is connected to the main fishing line.

Other Surf Fishing Gear
There is not a lot of gear required to surf fish.  You really just need a good sinker, hook arrangement, surf rod and reel properly strung with the correct line.  It is good to have a rod holder also unless you want to hold the rod all the time.  The rod holders are normally called a sand spike because you stick them in the sand.

Other than that a good place to sit is a good thing, so you can wait and watch your line.  It is a really relaxing way to fish and de-stress from life.


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Monday, January 26, 2015

Surf Fishing, Bottom Fishing, Casting Fishing

Basics of Fishing

For me fishing is angling, that is, using a hook and line.  Sure there are a number of other ways to catch fish like netting them, spear fishing, and even trap fishing.  However, for me using a rod, reel, some fishing line, a fishing hook or two and some bait is the only way to fish.

Over the years I have fished, or angled if you prefer, using many techniques including, cast fishing, bottom fishing, and surf fishing.  Angling, by the way, got its name because it is fishing using an "angled hook" that is attached to a fishing line which is usually attached to a fishing rod.  

For those people new to fishing here is a quick description of each of these methods and some of the equipment.

Types of Fishing Reels

There are three basic types of fishing reels, the bait casting reel, the spin casting reel, and the spinning reel.

Bait Casting Reel
Bait Casting Reel
Spin Casting Reel
Spin Casting Reel
Spinning Reel
Spinning Reel
Each type of fishing reel has their own characteristics.  The bait casting reel in my mind is the hardest to master and I have yet to master it.  I continually end up with backspin on the reel and the line ending up in a mess called a birds nest because that is what it looks like.

The spin casting reel is the easiest to cast as all you need to do is push a button to cast it. The downside of this reel is that they sometimes get jammed.  However, they are great for beginners and kids as they are pretty easy to use and to be quite honest with you, I still have one that I use every now and then.

My favorite reel is the spinning reel and I own two of them a Shimano and Daiwo that I use for surf fishing.  I wrote a more detailed article about the bait casting reel and the spinning reel at, Surf Fishing Reels, so I won't go into too much detail here.

Types of Fishing

Each type of fishing, bait cast fishing, bottom fishing, and surf fishing have some different characteristics.

Cast Fishing

This method involves casting a line out into the water with a few hooks, lures, sinkers, bait or a combination of them all.  This is often done from docks, land, or boats, on ponds, rivers, and lakes. 

How to cast a fishing rod is not too difficult but it can take a little practice to get good at it. Here is great video on how to cast a spinning reel.

You can see from that video how cast fishing is done as you cast your bait out in the water where you believe there are some fish that will take your bait and bite the hook.

Bottom Fishing

Bottom fishing is just as the name implies.  Typically this is done from a boat or a dock. You let your fishing line, bait and hook sink to the bottom of the water and then you just raise it up a couple of feet so it is not laying on the bottom.  Then you wait and hope a fish swims by and go for your bait.

One of the many types of commercial/recreational types of fishing is what is called "party boats".  These are charter boats that carry upwards of 20 to 30 fishermen on them.  They go out on the ocean,  drop anchor and then the fishermen bottom fish off the side of the boat.  

Party Boat
Ocean Obsession Party Boat
When you go on a party boat everything is provided.  They provide the fishing rods, reels and bait. They will also clean your fish for you at the end of the charter.

Surf Fishing

Surf Fishing is my current passion.  We moved to a beachfront community eight years ago and I took up the sport at that time.

There are some similarities between surf fishing and casting fishing.  That is, you are casting your hooks and bait from the beach.  The main difference between the two is the length of the fishing rod and and the amount of weight used for casting.  When fishing from the beach you want to cast your hooks and bait a much greater distance than you do when just bait casting.

I wrote a complete article on surf fishing, and surf fishing rods at Best Surf Fishing Rod.  If you are interested in surf fishing I suggest you take a look at it.

Types of Fishing Rods

Fishing rods for the most part are differentiated by their use.  For example, a rod used for trolling behind a boat will be relatively short and very stiff as it will not be used for casting, but merely dragging a bait through the water.  A bait casting rod will be medium length and very flexible so that it can provide a whipping action when casting.  A surf fishing rod will be very long and flexible so that it too can whip the bait, hooks and weight a long distance.

The materials in manufacturing fishing rods will also vary some by use, but more by cost. Fiberglass fishing rods will be less expensive and normally stiffer than graphite rods.  There are even the old standby rod available the bamboo fishing pole.  There is no perfect rod. Most rods designed for a specific purpose will function very well for that use.  Surf rods do well for surf fishing and bait casting rods do well for bait casting.

Fishing Rigs

A fishing rig is the combination of hooks, weights, bait and lures that a fisherman puts on the end of his line.  With the massive amount of fishing lures available, sizes and shapes of weights and hooks, and the variety of baits the possible combinations are endless.  Every fisherman's goal is to find that perfect rig that will result in a a fish hookup time and time again.

My favorite beach fishing rig is what is called a pompano rig.  It has two hooks with a couple of bright colored beads to help attract the fish.  I also will use a heavy pyramid sinker as these seem to work pretty well on a sandy ocean floor.

Pompano Rig
Pompano Rig with Pyramid Sinker

The Best Fishing Tip Ever

The best tip I can give you about fishing is to just get out there and give it a go.  If you catch some fish you may have a free dinner.  If you don't catch anything, there is always tomorrow, but no matter what, any time you can spend some time out in the fresh air around a body of water fishing, it makes for a great day.

Have Fun!

A New Fisherman
First Time Fishing

Photo Credit:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/25689440@N06/2707490276/

The author is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com