How heavy should a surf rod be?

Two anglers discussing how heavy should a surf rod be

If you go fishing with the wrong type of rod, you can end up really struggling down at the beach.

Has this ever happened to you? Perhaps when you were a beginner? 

The ‘weight’ or ‘power rating’ of a rod can impact your fishing significantly.

But how heavy should a surf rod be? And why is it important to get right?

Want to avoid the hassle of researching loads of surf rods? Click her for our take on the best rods for surf fishing.

Here is what I learned about choosing how heavy a surf rod should be. 

Surf fishing rods tend to be heavier or have a higher power rating than other types of rods. If you are targeting larger fish species, like sharks, then use a heavy rod. With smaller species, a medium-heavy rod provides strength and flexibility. 

Click here to learn more about when to use medium vs medium-heavy rods.

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Why is surf fishing rod weight important? 

Fishing rod weight or ‘power’ as it is otherwise known, is important because it informs you how strong the rod itself is, i.e. how much weight the rod can handle. 

So a heavier surf fishing rod weight or power will be stronger. Anglers targeting bigger species need more strength to their rods than anglers targeting smaller species. 

It is important to match up the weight rating of your rod to the type of fishing you will be doing, otherwise, your rod will be far too rigid and unsatisfying fighting smaller fish, or will be at risk of snapping if you have a larger fish on the line.

Taking note of your surf rod’s weight or power rating will also guide you on what tackle is appropriate to use for effective angling, things like your line, and sinkers sizes. But more on that later. 

So, surf rod ‘weight’ is important to consider properly if you want to fish effectively. 

Power or weight is not to be confused with surf rod action though!

How to choose the right rod weight or power for you

Fishing rod weight ratings come in seven different categories, and is not to be mistaken for action which refers to the location of where the rod actually bends on the blank :

However, as you can see from the infographic, I’ve highlighted a specific range that is more suited to the conditions of surf fishing.

Surf fishing rods tend to be on the heavier side than other types of fishing.

This is because you are dealing with tougher conditions in the water, but also often faster or larger fish species.

That said, even if you hook on to small to medium-sized ray, they can suction themselves to the ocean bed and require a lot of pulling power to release them and reel in.

A lighter rod might not give you enough pulling power in that situation.

I find the best way to decide on the right weight or power rating is to consider two key factors.

We help you choose the top surf rod choice for you here.

Fish species

Fish species is really the key determining factor for choosing how heavy your surf rod should be. If you go too heavy for the species you are targeting, the rod will feel over the top.

It would be like using a crane to pull the fish out – no fun really.

You won’t feel the fish fighting because the rod itself will be too stiff and strong for the fish. 

And conversely, if you go too light you risk snapping or damaging your rod.

If the fish are too large and powerful for your lighter surf rod, you will struggle to reel them in and will lack the pulling power needed to assist the fishing reel to reel them in.

And because a lot of the strain will be on the reel to do all the work in reeling the fish in, you risk damaging the reel too. 

man holding fish caught with best rod power for surf fishing

The size of the tackle you plan to use

The tackle you plan to use is related to the species of fish but is an important consideration of its own.

For example, red drum can come in a range of sizes, dependent on where you are targeting them and what tackle you use. 

So if you plan to use much heavier lures to tempt larger red drum with then your rod weight will need to be heavier to account for the greater lure weight.  

Check out the selection below for tips on choosing the right weight lure and line for your rod.

Setting up your rod correctly based on its weight/power rating

Helpfully, pretty much all surf fishing rods these days come with numbers and letters and weight guidelines printed on them.

The photo below is of my 10ft rod I use for surf fishing. You can see the different information as it relates to choosing the right sized fishing line and tackle weight too. 

I find personally that the upper weight range of the guidelines for sinker or lure weight tends to work best.

So if a rod weight guideline says 50-70gm lure weight, I might go for a 60gm lure.

It’s enough weight to load the rod with energy when casting, but not too much it becomes cumbersome.

With the fishing line, the weight rating here is super important – get it wrong and you’ll impact how far you can cast if you choose too thick, or you’ll run the risk of the line snapping if you choose too thin and weak.

A tip I’ve learned about choosing the right fishing line too is braid fishing line is thinner and stronger than monofilament, so if you want strength and distance, then you might be better off spooling braided line onto your reel.

Also, always check your own rod to see what the guidelines printed on the rod blank say about what lure weights and line class to use.  

Click here to learn more about when to use medium vs medium-heavy rods.

How heavy should a surf rod be? Summary.

If you are selecting a new surf fishing rod or thinking about whether a rod you already use would work for surf fishing, then rod weight or power ratings are important to consider.

Remember, how heavy a surf rod needs to be depends largely on the species and size of fish you’ll be targeting, and the tackle that you use to do so.