How do you use sand spikes for surf fishing? Simple guide

Wondering How do you use sand spikes for surf fishing wile Looking at a rod in a rod holder
A sand spike rod holder above the surf

Sand spikes are a godsend when you’re out there on the beach casting all day.

But if you don’t use them properly, they can be a pain!

This article looks at how to use sand. Spikes for surf fishing and how to get the best out of them.

To use a sand spike properly, drive it at least 1 foot into the sand, at the water’s edge. Angle it in an upright position perpendicular to the ground. This will ensure your rod won’t fall over if tugged on by a fish or hit by a strong wave. Cast your rod, place the rod in the sand spike and adjust the reel drag and line tension.

How to Set Up a Sand Spike

Setting up your sand spike isn’t too difficult.

As mentioned, you want to ensure that the sand spike is driven at least 1 foot into the sand.

Most sand spikes will have a notch on them to tell you exactly how far you need to drive it in.

Of course, you can always drive in deeper if you want more stability.

Where you position your sand spike will depend on how you are fishing.

Basically, your sand spike should be placed wherever you make your cast from, and I like to have my sand spike a little back from the water’s edge, just to avoid too much water exposure from the splashing surf.

Want to learn how to make a PVC rod holder? Click here.

Wondering How do you use sand spikes for surf fishing wile Looking at two rods in rod holders
You can use sand spikes to fish in different locations. I was with a friend for this session.
Hence the multiple rods 🙂

There are a few tips for thinking about surf rod holder position:

  • Try to keep your sand spike a little bit away from the waves. It reduces the likelihood of the sand spike being knocked over and your gear being ruined.
  • Try to drive your sand spike into harder sand. Not soft, heavily saturated sand. Again, reducing the likelihood that it will be knocked over.
  • It’s fine to cast at the water’s edge and then walk the rod with the bail arm open to a rod holder that is further back up the beach. Just watch out for passers-by, that they don’t walk into your line.
  • You can adjust the angle of your sand spike slightly once it has been driven into the ground, and most people prefer to use them standing upright. 

Inserting the Fishing Rod Into The Sand Spike Rod Holder

Using your sand spike shouldn’t be too tricky.

As mentioned in the previous section, having the sand spike rod holder stand upright will probably give the most stability.

Click here for information on the best length for a surf rod holder.

It will also ensure that when you cast far out past the breakers, that your line will be clear of the crashing waves.

I’ve had so many frustrating surf fishing sessions when your line gets caught in the surf and you are never sure whether you’ve had a bite or not.

If you are fishing closer to the beach and the surf is small, then you can get away with a slightly angled beach rod holder, but upright is generally best.

Assuming that your sand spike rod holder has been put into the ground correctly, you should be able to angle it slightly, while still maintaining stability (assuming the sand isn’t too soft).

Placing the Rod into the Holder

Place the rod and reel with the reel facing the ocean.

Your reel ideally shouldn’t touch the top lip of the rod holder – if it is, consider adding some rubber or foam to the top lip to avoid damaging your reel.

You just need to feed the butt of the rod into the rod holder until it hits the bottom shelf of the rod holder.

With some sand spikes, there might be two sections for your rod. One at the top, and one a few inches below that.

You want to pass your rod through the top ‘loop’ on your sand spike.

You’ll then be feeding the base of the rod through to the bottom section of the holder.

The bottom of the rod will rest in this section.

If you don’t feed the rod through the top part of the sand spike first, then you’ll lose some stability.

Holding two PVC spikes thinking how best to use a surf rod holder

Checking the Stability of a Sand Spike

Most people notice that their sand spike will lose a bit of stability once the rod is placed into it.

This is because the rod adds a bit of extra weight.

Once the rod is in place, it is suggested that you give the sand spike a quick, light wiggle.

It shouldn’t move out of place.

Keep an eye on the sand spike for the next few minutes, especially if a wave hits it.

If it moves about too much, drive the sand spike a little further into the sand.

This is a pretty epic way of getting a sand spike deep into the sand:

Managing Line Tension and Reel Drag

When you are using a rod holder it is important that you keep the line tension taaught and reel drag slightly loose.

If you don’t, as soon as a fish bites the hook, that rod is going to pop out of the holder or I’ve had it once where th entire rod holder and rod have been pulled over into the ocean!

Plenty of rods have been sucked into the ocean like this!

So, once you have cast, release the drag on the reel a little so that  a striking fish can run with the bait a little.

Just let the line move with the water.

As soon as a fish bites, you’ll notice your rod tip move.

That’s when you apply tension to the line, can strike and you start battling your fish.

Selecting the Right Sand Spike – Considerations

While you can make your own sand spike, it is highly recommended that you buy one.

Check out our list of the best sand spike surf rod holders you can buy today.

Not only are they more affordable, but proper sand spikes are so much easier to use.

They give you far fewer headaches too!

There are dozens and dozens of sand spikes on the market. Let’s walk you through some of the things you’ll need to consider when picking one up.

Sand Spike Rod Holder Construction Material

Only ever buy a sand spike made from PVC or aluminum. Fishermen prefer aluminum since it tends to be a bit stronger.

PVC is much cheaper, though. Only use PVC if you are mostly fishing from soft sand. 

The reason why you want PVC or aluminum is that you don’t want the sand spike to rust.

That sand spike is going to get very wet, and it will be constantly battered by salt water.

Buy something made from steel (for instance), and you’ll be replacing that sand spike pretty quickly. 

Sand Spike Adjustability

Not everybody wants an adjustable sand spike, but you may find them handy.

Adjustable sand spikes allow you to control the height the rod sits at, which can make it easier to change up your fishing technique.

I’d personally advise against an adjustable sand spike because you’ll find the mechanism gets stuck from the sand and saltwater after a few uses, which becomes frustrating.

A good solid one-piece aluminum or PVC rod holder is best.

Have a look here (click) at our list of the top rod holder sand spike out there today.

Rigidity and Durability

When that sand spike is driven into the ground, you want it to stay firmly rooted in place.

You don’t want it to knock over easily, and you don’t want it to sway too much in the wind.

Another reason why it is recommended that you pick up a quality, thick PVC or aluminum sand spike. They are sturdy. 

Ease of Cleaning

Most sand spikes should be easy to clean, so this isn’t a massive problem.

As long as there aren’t too many moving parts, it should be easy to clean.

Again, aluminum and PVC work well here. You can just wipe them down after fishing and it’s all good. 

Other considerations for how to use sand spikes for surf fishing

Looking at a beach thinking how to use sand spikes?

Using multiple sand spike rod holders

It’s possible to use multiple sand spike rod holders on the beach, but I’d advise not to use too many.
If you have multiple rods all set up in rod holders and cast way out to see, imagine of a school of bluefish swims past.

There’s a chance more than one of your rods is going to be hit – and you won’t be able to battle them and reel them all into shore.

If I am using multiple rod holders, I usually have a friend with me who can take the other one while I manage one of the rods.

When I am alone, my preference is to have one rod holder set up with the rod cast out far, and then one rod in my hand that I use to fish much closer into shore.

If you’re fishing alone, this is the best way to fish with a rod holder.

Precautions when using sand spikes

Sand spikes are easy to use, but there are just a few things you should be aware of when setting sand spikes up and using them.

Keeping reel clear of water or sand in the rod holder

The rod holder is an important piece of kit to keep your reel and rod out of harm’s way from sand and surf. Click here for tips on the best-length sand spike rod holders.

If you don’t have a proper saltwater reel, you’ll want to make sure it is placed in a rod holder that is high enough out of the water to avoid damage.

I’ve said this a lot now, so hopefully I won’t have to say it again – place your rod holder in a location that is protected from the surf.

You may have to adjust the location of the rod holder to protect your reel from splashes because the tide is always moving.

Bashing reel foot and seat too hard on the rod holder

You want to be careful of bashing the reel foot against the rod holder.

If your rod butt is too short which means your reel rests on the top lip of the rod holder, then be careful placing and retrieving your rod and reel each time.

If you’re continually bashing the reel it will sustain damage over time.

Other people on the beach walking into your line

Be cautious of other people at the beach.

Some beaches get busy with beach-goers and you should considerately share the space with them.

If there are lots of people around, I opt for slightly longer rods, longer rod holders, and angle the rod holders vertically upright, so that the rod tip is as high as it can be.

This means the line is up very high so it leaves room for people to walk underneath your lines without getting tangled.

How to use a sand spike – Final Thoughts

Honestly, using a sand spike for surf fishing isn’t too hard.

It is just a rod holder.

If you want to make your own PVC rod holder – read our how-to guide now.

Assuming you have driven the sand spike into the sand properly, then it should be sturdy.

Make your cast, put the rod in the holder, and wait for a bite.

Remember, ensure that your line tension is loose while waiting for your bite. If it isn’t, you could lose your rod!