Important Choosing Factors
There is a considerable variation among surf rods so it is important to choose one that works best for your circumstances. This primarily means considering three fundamental aspects:
Usually, you want to get your bait or lure out past the breaking waves when surf fishing. The water past this point not only contains more catchable fish, but it is also easier to work your lure or bait in this relatively calm water.
But this means you need to be able to cast these often impressive distances and maintain some semblance of accuracy when doing so.
The two most important criteria factoring into casting distance are:
- rod length
- rod action
When all other factors are kept the same, a longer fishing pole improves your casting distance so most surf rods measure between 9 and 14 feet in length.
The flip side of this coin is that a shorter rod is easier to use and is more accurate; so as with every other aspect of angling, everything is a tradeoff.
Likewise, when all other things are consistent, those with slower actions increase your casting range. This occurs because slow action rods bend farther than those with faster actions. So the slower the action, the more help you get from the rod.
However, as with increased rod length, slower actions reduce casting accuracy.
Target Species and Size
You obviously need different gear to drag in a 400-pound blacktip compared to a 2-pound jack. Consider the species you are targeting before selecting your fishing stick.
The more specific you can be, the better. But you can have a good all-around surf rod by simply splitting the difference. Of course, you get peak performance by having specific rods but real-world considerations often require anglers to compromise.
There are a million exceptions, but the basic rule of thumb is to select heavier powers and longer lengths when targeting larger fish. The additional length and power let you set the hook more quickly and play big fish more efficiently.
But the longest rods are more tiring to use and they are difficult for smaller people to handle. If you are only fishing for small species, you may as well make things easier and go with a slightly shorter and lighter rod.
Preferred Baits or Lures
The type of bait or lure you like to use should also influence your selection. If you like to use lures, particularly light-weight plugs or small spoons, have a lightweight rod with a fast- or extra-fast action.
By contrast, if you like to chuck a 4-ounce hunk of lead and a 6-inch baitfish out into the water, you need a slower action and heavier power to get the best results.
You may also want to give consideration to the style of rod and reel you use, based on your preferred bait or lure.
For example, if you prefer to fish by repeatedly retrieving small lures and you are not comfortable tempting fate with hundreds of casts of a baitcasting rig, you may have more fun fishing a spinning rig.
You’ll lose a little casting distance in the process, but you’ll avoid backlashes entirely.
Any of the rods or combos mentioned above can help you catch more fish at the beach. Just be sure to consider your circumstances and preferences so that you can select the fishing stick suited for you.
Do you have a favorite surf rod? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
If you want to learn more about fishing rods in general, check our “Choosing The Best Fishing Rod & 6 Picks Reviewed“ guide.