What is Surf Fishing?

It is early morning here and with a cup of tea, I am writing the answer to a question that lots of beginners ask: What is surf fishing, and how it is different than other types of fishing.

What is surf fishing? Surf Fishing is a fishing sport where you catch fish while standing on the shore or going in the water with a fishing wader. While your tactics for surf fishing may change based on different factors such as weather, location etc, surf fishing may or may not involve using a fishing lure, a fishing bait. Surf Fishing may be done on sandy shores, rock jetties, or from a fishing pier.


Surfcasting is a casting technique that is different than ordinary surf fishing. In surfcasting extreme long rods are used to extend the length of the cast, along with using special two-handed casting techniques, that extend the reach of the lure or bait to added distance. Generally, the full-body force is used to cast the lure and bait.

Extreme Surfcasting

Extreme Surfcasting is sometimes also called as Skishing. In extreme surfcasting, you get into a wetsuit and flippers. You then swim into the ocean with a surfcasting pole to catch fish. If you catch a fish, you have to tow it back to the shore swimming. 

Sometimes fishermen have to swim hundreds of yards into the water(while sometimes water floating over their heads) to catch and bring in a great catch.

Beach casting

Surf fishing is often called as beach casting in Britain. Beachcaster uses very long fishing rods sometimes longer between 12 and 16 feet to catch their preys.

Generally, fishermen stand at the shore and cast their lures and baits.

Some common baits that used for beach fishing include mussels, lugworm, ragworm, sandeel, mackerel strip, squid, razorfish or peeler crab. Some artificial baits such as artificial flies or spinners are also used to luring in fishes.

It is important to understand the different points within the beach. Casting a bait over there can be more fruitful than casting at other places. This can take some trial and error to master this important skill to identify such points, which will make your fishing much more productive.

Important Surf Fishing Gear

It is extremely important to know about the fishing gear that you need to carry along with you when going on a surf fishing expedition. Below we are listing some to the important surf fishing gear that you may need to carry along with you.

Lures and Baits

Baits for surf fishing a range from live baitfish, shrimp or small crabs. For catching striped bass you can use live eels. For some other species of fishes, you can use cut baits or sand fleas. 

Artificial baits are also available in the market and they can work pretty well too. Some good artificial lures for the surf fishing include spoons, topwater plugs, and diving minnows and some other plastic batis.

Saltwater Fishing Rods and Reel

You need to get a saltwater fishing rod and a good reel to get most of your surf fishing expedition.


Wader helps you get extra reach into the water off the shore. They provide improved footing and protect feet and legs from the sharp object at the surface or any sting or bite from a stunning/biting fish. Wader helps you maintain good body temperature when you are surf fishing in the cold weather.

Waders come in various designs and styles. 

Integrated foot waders provide protection for the feet along with the rest of the body. 

Chest high waders are good when you are surf fishing in deeper water. A wader belt can help you tighten the wader, and it will help you prevent water from filling in your wader.

Hodgman H3 Stocking Foot
  • Breathable 3-layer upper and lower for sweat vapor transfer
  • Mesh zippered chest pocket for tippet and large leader exit

Cleats Boot Fittings

It can be slippery down in the water. The sand may be software or you may end up getting on a slippery stone. Good cleats can help you avoid slipping when in the waters. 

Night Surf Fishing Gear

Surf fishing is often done at night following the feeding habits of the many target species. It is important to have correct fishing gear for the night surf fishing.

You definitely need to move around when surf fishing at night. A good flashlight will help you get around on the shore or off the shore. A waterproof flashlight might be an even better option.

Tactical Portable LED Flashlight with 5 Modes
  • Bright High Powered Flashlight: XML-T6 Chip Offer High Lumens ; Note: Uoline Led Flashlight Is High-End Version With...
  • Ready For Anything: Full Bright, Medium Bright, Low Bright(POWER SAVE MODE), Fast Strobe, SOS. POWERE SOURCE: 1pc 18650...

If you are moving and using both hands during surf fishing, then you need a headlamp. A Headlamp might be very helpful when you want to keep you hands-free and fully concentrate at fishing. You may want to get a waterproof headlamp if you need to go underwater or might occasionally need to do so.

Fishing Plier

A Fishing plier will come as a handy tool for any kind of fishing. You would need it often to cut the entangled nets etc. Keeping it in your tackle box would be a wise choice.

Piscifun Aluminium Fishing Pliers Hook Remover Braid Cutters Split Ring Pliers with Sheath and Lanyard...
  • Add Piscifun fishing pliers to your fishing arsenal. Make your hook removal much easier. Fish on!
  • Anti-Corrosion Aluminum - The aircraft-grade anodized aluminum delivers excellent corrosion resistance, great for long...

First Aid Kit

Fishing can be unpredictable and at times dangerous. You might get a cut from sharp teeth of a fish, or cut from a lure or hook. It is safe to keep a handy first aid kit in your toolbox to get quick relief in any such situations. 

Surviveware Waterproof First Aid Kit for Kayak, Boating, Backpacking, Snow and Watersports
  • A REAL WATERPROOF KIT! Unlike other kits that find dumb ways to claim they are “waterproof”, Surviveware has gone...
  • A WORLD FIRST! This First Aid Kit is 100% water tight with an IPX7 rating. This means the kit can be kept underwater for...

Some other important gear that you might need to carry along:

  • Surf Fishing Rods
  • Knife
  • Bait Bucket and Air Pump
  • A Spare spool of Line
  • Tape Measure
  • Fishing License

What species you can target when Surf Fishing?

You can target a wide variety of fish species while surf fishing based on the area and available species in that area.

If you live on the west coast of the US, then you can go after California Corbina, the Spotfin Croaker, the Barred Surfperch, and of course, the California Halibut.

On the east coast of the US, striped bass is the loved fish to catch during surf fishing.

Some other available surf fish species are redfish, bluefish, black drum, tautog (blackfish), flounder (fluke), weakfish, bonito and albacore tuna, pompano, Spanish mackerel, snook, and tarpon.

Safety For Surf Fishing

While surf fishing can be great fun and exciting activity, when going for surf fishing, it is important that you take safety into account. There are a few important safety considerations and tools that you can use to improve safety for yourself and others.

If you are going on a rocky surf or slippery sand, it using cleats can help your feet stick to the surf and give you more stability. Stability can help you make more and better catches while being in the water or at the beach.

You can use a wader while going in the water. However, it is important that you don’t let water get into your wader. You can use a wader belt to prevent water to fill your fishing wader.

To keep stay safe, you can keep a personal floatation device(PFD) with you. A Personal floatation device can help you stay afloat in case of emergency or if the situation requires you to stay afloat.

Stearns Adult Classic Series Vest, 3000004475, Blue, Universal
  • US coast guard-approved adult life jacket
  • Great for boating, tubing, and swimming

It is important that you keep yourself and others safe while casting your baits and lure. Since the baits and lures are pointy and sharp, it is very important that you don’t hook yourself or someone else fishing around you.

In case you need to cut a fishing hook, it is important that you carry a fishing plier along with you. A Fishing plier will help you cut the entangled lines, lures or baits. A good fishing plier will be one of the most important tools in your fishing tackle box that will need often, your fishing expeditions.


While surf fishing can be challenging if you are a beginner, however getting the right tools can help in making your trip worthwhile. After all if you catch some good fishes, then you can enjoy it at the dinner table with friends and family and do some bragging too. 

Steve Hudson

I have been an outdoor activities enthusiast from teenage. I have been going out with my parents on different outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. After moving to a town surrounded by three well known fishing spots, I started fishing and started using all kinds of tricks and equipment to make the most out of each adventure I pursued. Over the years I have been camping outdoor, hiking and following my passion of enjoying life at full. Few years ago, I started writing about my thoughts, experiments and ideas about outdoor, fishing, hiking and more. This blog is a compilation of that plus tips, ideas and products that can make life more meaningful, enjoyable and a pleasant.

Recent Content