Gone Outdoors

How to Make a Surf Fishing Rig

by Richard Ludwig

Casting from the beach into the ocean's surf is a peaceful and productive way to enjoy fishing. But to enjoy surf fishing, you need a proper rig. Whether you're fishing from a jetty or directly from the beach, a surf fishing rig has certain requirements to deal with the elements like wind and tide. You can either adapt any saltwater fishing rig or start from scratch when making a surf fishing rig.

Sand Spike

Purchase a 4-foot length of PVC from your local hardware store. PVC comes in a variety of sizes and schedules. The schedule is its rating based on psi and its resistance to certain chemicals--it has no bearing on its usefulness as a sand spike, so go for the cheapest PVC possible. But the diameter of your PVC is important. For most surf fishing applications, a 2.5-inch diameter will be suitable. If you have a very large or very small fishing pole, you may need to adjust the diameter so the pole fits, with some room, into the PVC.

Saw one end of the PVC pipe at a 45-degree angle. This is the end that will be stuck into the sand. A sand spike is an invaluable tool for the surf fisherman, as it allows you to wait on that bite that is sure to come, or hold you rod while you tie hooks, sinkers and leader.

Drill a hole through the width of the PVC about 12 inches above where you make your angled cut. Insert a screw through the hole, and secure it with a bolt. This will keep your pole out of the sand while you are fishing.

Surf Fishing Rod, Reel and Tackle

Purchase a rod and reel suitable for surf fishing. The size of your rod and reel will be dependent on which type of fish you are targeting. Smaller species such flounder are easily caught with a smaller 9-foot rod and medium-action reel. Larger species like sharks will need a larger, 12-foot rod with a heavier-action reel. A 9-1/2-foot rod with a medium-size spinning reel will serve most surf fishing purposes.

Add tackle to your rod and reel. Tackle includes your line, weights and hooks. A surf fishing rig will use 8- to 12-pound test line with a 2- to 8-ounce weight. You should purchase a variety of weights, also called sinkers, so you can adjust to the conditions when you fish. You'll need a heavier weight with windy conditions and fast-flowing tides, while you can use a lighter weight in calmer conditions. Hooks are measured by the gap between the point and shank--the lower the number, the smaller the gap. A good hook size for surf fishing is in the 2/0 to 4/0 range. But hook size depends on the species of fish you are targeting and the bait you are using. If you plan on releasing your catch, use a barb-less or circular hook.

Buy your bait. What you use is determined by the species of fish you are targeting, what is available at the bait shop and whether you prefer live or artificial bait. The most common bait for surf fishing is shrimp, as most species of inshore saltwater fish will eat it, and it requires little work by the fisherman--just cast and wait. Cut bait, lures and spoons are also popular with surf fisherman.

Items you will need
  • PVC
  • Hacksaw
  • Screw/nut
  • Bolt
  • Rod
  • Reel
  • Line
  • Weights (sinker)
  • Hooks
  • Bait

Tip

  • A beach chair, cooler and umbrella, while not necessities, add to the comfort of surf fishing.

About the Author

Richard Ludwig has been a writer for over eight years and has had his work published in "Co-Ed Magazine," the "East Manatee County Observer" and the Disaster and Recovery e-magazine. He received journalism and sociology degrees from the University of South Florida.

Photo Credits

  • beach fishing image by sheldon gardner from Fotolia.com