On The Water’s Guide to Surfcasting Gear

Chasing striped bass and bluefish from the shore can be a challenge — while boats have free range over the ocean, surfcasters can only fish where their feet will take them. To find success when fishing from dry land, it helps to target your techniques, your approach and even your equipment to the type of area you’re fishing from. Luckily, there’s a ton of surfcasting gear, accessories and toys available to make things more fun and productive, whether you’re fishing from a sandy beach or a rocky coast, chunking bait or slinging plugs. (Note: Prices may vary by retailer.)


Sandy Beach Surfcasting

A. Protect Your Eyes: A pair of polarized glasses will help you stare through the glare and spot structure like sandbars, troughs, bait and fish. (Costa Del Mar Brine 580; $239)

B. Stay Dry: Beach-bound anglers should be prepared for the occasional splash from a breaking wave. A breathable, waterproof jacket with water-tight cuffs at the wrists can help you stay comfortable. (Frabill StormSuit Jacket; $209.99)

C. Cinch for Safety: An elastic wading belt is a great place to hang tools, and it is a necessary safety component when wearing chest waders, even if you don’t plan on going in above your knees. cinch it tight to keep water from flooding in should you take a tumble.

D. Don’t Sweat It: When Picking a pair of waders, consider the amount of walking you’ll be doing. Trudging in the sand can work up a sweat, making a pair of lightweight, breathable waders the most comfortable option. Stockingfoot waders with wading boots will be more comfortable on long walks, but be sure your waders have a gravel guard to keep sand from washing into the boots. (Frogg Toggs Anura Waders; $159.95 | Anura Wading Shoe; $79.95)

E. Stay Sand Free: Saltwater and sand pose great threats to reels, surfcasting equipment and surfcasters who spend enough time plugging on the beach inevitably introduce their reel to both. Reels with a sealed drag will enjoy a longer surfcasting career. (Shimano Saragosa 6000; $219.99)




The Canal/Jetty Rat

A. Keep Your Footing: Anglers that fish the Cape Cod Canal, the Rhode Island breach ways or any number of rocky piers and jetties can remain well above the waterline, so for the most part, waders are not necessary. Rubber or PVC shin-high or hip-high boots are all that’s needed to stay dry. If the terrain is treacherous, strap on a pair of studded sandals to keep from slipping. (Marlin Deckboots; $24.99 | Korkers Casttrax cleats; $99.99)

B. Carry Your Cargo: When fishing in areas with deep water and heavy current, jigs weighing 4, 5, or even 6 ounces might be required to reach bottom. You’ll want a large, durable bag to cart your heavy cargo. (Precision Pak Ocean Shield II; $64.99)

C. Swing a Big Stick: Canal and jetty fishing often requires long casts with heavy lures, so long rods with plenty of backbone are needed. Many anglers prefer stiff conventional gear. (Reel: Penn Squall 15 Star Drag; $149.95 | Rod: Lamiglas XS10 MHC; $290)






The Rock Hopper

A. Toughen Up: Navigating barnacle-encrusted rocks can easily wear down waders and create leaks. Look for reinforced knees and tough, multilayer construction that’s resistant to wearing through. Go for the extra ankle support provided by a stockingfoot wader and wading boot combination if you plan to spend time clambering over rocks and boulders. (Patagonia Guidewater Waders; $399.00)

B. Get A Grip: Rubber-soled boots are ineffective on wet rocks and can be downright dangerous. Felt soles are a better option on wet rocks, but studded soles provide the safest footing on any rocky terrain. (Korkers Chrome Wading Boots; $199.99 boots | $39.99 studded sole inserts)

C. Seal Out Water: A dry top has gaskets around the neck, wrists and waist ti keep water out in stormy weather and rough surf, where a crashing wave could occasionally toss water over your head. (NRS Flux Drytop; $254.95)

D. Cover the Bases: A wide variety of techniques are effective in boulder fields from top waters to swimming plugs to buck tails to live and rigged eels. A rod that performs all of these tactics well is an asset to rock-hopping surfcasters. (Rod: Custom-Built Lamiglas 132 1L; blank $171 | Reel: Van Staal VS250)

E. Lip and Weigh: Keeping your hands clear of sharp teeth and swinging hooks with a lip-gripping tool will help keep you injury free when landing your catch. Some models even have a scale so you can weigh your catch and still release it to swim another day. (Boga Grip Model 260; $249.95)


The Bait Chunker

A. Spike It Right: You can use a basic PVC pipe and sand spike, but you’ll regret being cheap when a big striper knocks it down and you watch your favorite rig rocket toward the surf. A welded metal sand spike that can be driven deep into the sand or mud or wedged between rocks will stay put and ensure your surfcasting gear lasts a lifetime. (So-lo Marine Sand Spike)

B. Slice and Dice: Keep a sharp knife handy on your belt when on the beach for cutting bait and filleting your catch. (Dexter Russel 7-inch Basic Fillet Knife; $7.99)

C. Feed ‘Em: Spinning reels with a bait-feeder feature are very useful for fishing bait in the surf, allowing a fish to take line without feeling resistance. A rod with plenty of backbone will be needed to lob out a heavy “bait and weight,” but a sensitive tip will help detect soft bites. (Reel: Shimano Thunnus Ci4 6000; $269.99 | Rod: Tsunami Airwave Elite 1002XH; $199.99)







The Wetsuiter

A. Extend Your Range: Wetsuits safely extend a surfcaster’s range to include rocks and sandbars beyond the reach of anglers wearing waders. Dive suits are preferred by most for wetsuit fishing because they are thicker and therefore warmer. A two-piece (farmer john and jacket) suit will allow you to swap a heavier top for a lighter one in hot weather. (Henderson 5mm Thermoprene Farmer John; $147.99 | Henderson 5mm Thermoprene Step-Through Jacket; $151.99)

B. Tread Comfortably: Booties with a hard-rubber sole are an excellent footwear option for wetsuiting surfcasters. These are lighter and less cumbersome than using regular wading boots, which is important when short swims are involved. A pair of studded sandals strapped to the booties with provide the most secure footing, while still being lightweight enough for swimming. (NRS ATB Wetshoes; $64.95 | Korkers Rocktrax Plus; $79.99)

C. Secure Your Plugs: While moving through deep water to get to your spot, having a plug bag with large drain holes and a secure outer flap is a must. A large swath of Velcro is preferable to clips so lures don’t float out of the bag. Ample drain holes will shed the water quickly, and keep the bag from becoming waterlogged.

D. Keep on Reeling: A reel that can survive being completely submerged on a regular basis is a must for wetsuit fishing. Unsealed reels will require regular and intensive maintenance, making watertight reels a more attractive choice to wetsuiters. (Van Staal VS250 reel; $769.00 | G. Loomis IMX surf rod; $525.00)

E. Remain Rust-Proof: Tools prone to rusting won’t last long when they are getting constantly submerged in saltwater. Stainless options may be more expensive, but will last much longer than cheaper models. (Van Staal 7-inch Pliers; $359.00)

F. Light It Up: Whether you prefer a neck light or a headlamp, a waterproof model is imperative while wetsuiting after dark. (Streamlight LED 2AA; $21.99)