How many surf rods do you need?

How many surf rods do you need?

If you’re starting out surf fishing, you’ll need to decide what tackle to bring to the beach. 

You need to be quite tactical about the rods you bring with you to the beach.

You don’t want to bring too many rods and be burdened, or too few rods and miss out on the chance to catch fish in different areas.

Select the right surf rod to bring to the beach here, and catch more fish!

This article outlines how many surf rods you need, whether a complete beginner or a more advanced angler. 

For beginners, you only need 1-2 surf rods at the beach to be successful. Handling more than 2 surf rods is difficult on the sand. Advanced anglers use 2-3 rods to target different species and areas using varying techniques, e.g. bait casting for distance, or lure spinning closer in. 

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Should I use more than one surf rod for beach fishing?

It’s not essential that you use more than one rod when surf fishing from a beach. 

But having more than one rod for fishing the surf can increase your chances of catching a fish, if you use the different rods that you bring with you correctly.

If you’re starting out surf fishing as a beginner, the thought of even handling one rod effectively from the beach can be daunting, let alone two. 

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying new gear or seeing other seasoned anglers on the beach using two or three rods. 

Don’t worry though, that’s always something you can work up to, as you get used to fishing the conditions and environment of the shoreline.

We help you pick the best-performing surf rods here.

However, having more than one surf rod, usually of varying sizes can be beneficial when you want to target different species that gather in different areas in the water. 

For example, if you’re aiming to cast out beyond the surf break and sand bars, you’ll need a long rod – 10-14ft – to give you the leverage and weight to cast your bait far enough to clear the rough water. 

But there is also the opportunity to catch fish much closer to the shore than you might sometimes think. And a shorter, lighter rod can be great for targeting these areas. 

Fish can feed and dwell in gutters running parallel and near to the shoreline, or breaks and holes in the surf where deeper water is closer in. 

Casting a spinner or a lure into these spots can prove fruitful while you’re waiting for your larger rod and bait to hook a monster fish from deeper out.

Can you use too many surf rods while beach fishing?

There is a sensible limit to how many rods you want to take with you to the beach while surf fishing. 

How many can you realistically handle? What happens if two baited rods get struck at the same time and you’re fishing alone?

I think it is possible that you can use too many surf rods while fishing from the beach. Yes, there is a benefit in having more lines in the water to increase your chances of a fish locating your bait, but the beach can sometimes be a difficult environment to fish in. 

Overwhelming yourself with lots of rods to manage may detract from your session on the beach. 

With every rod you bring, you have to keep checking the tautness of your line, whether your bait remains on the hook, re-baiting your hooks, and checking if your bait is still in the right place given the conditions. 

With every rod you bring, you multiply the tasks to do. So it’s best to fish with quality in mind, not necessarily quantity. 

What’s the optimal number of surf rods you should use per person?

The best number of rods to use when surf fishing and the conditions are right is 2-3 rods. I enjoy having bait rods that are cast out deeper, and a shorter rod to do some more active fishing closer to the shore. 

If you get bored easily just watching a rod, waiting for a strike, then bring a shorter rod to entertain you and target fish in the gutters closer to shore.

Before you head to the beach and unpack your arsenal of fishing rods, you should check the legislation in your area for rod limits. These are generally in place to avoid overfishing. So check your local legislation for per-person rod limits before you head out. 


What sizes should my different surf rods be?

Having a range of rod sizes while fishing from the beach allows you to use different methods to target different fish species. 

If like me you want to cast one rod deeper with a bigger sinker and bigger bait presentation, and also another shorter rod to fish closer inshore with plugs or spoons, then the following sizes should work pretty well.

Bigger, longer bait rod: between 9-14ft, depending on how large you are and what you can easily handle. 

Smaller, shorter rod for lures and spoons: between 6-8ft, depending on the size of the species you are targeting and the distance to the nearest gutter or hole that you want to target.

Most surf rods come in 2-pieces and are a great option.

How should I use my different surf rods when at the beach? 

Start setting up and using your rods one by one when you get to the beach. 

Surf fishing can be a demanding form of angling. Generally, the gear and tackle is a lot heavier, and the conditions are tougher to fish in. The sand or stones don’t make it any easier either.

What you want to avoid is expending too much energy upfront by setting all your rods up and baiting them, only to find the fish aren’t really biting.

My advice is to start slowly. 

Start with one rod. If you’ve brought three, why not start with the mid-sized rod, that will allow you to cast a bait out as a trial to see if the fish will start taking your bait. 

As mentioned, the idea is first to conserve your energy for when the big fish bite and the fight is hard. And secondly, to conserve your bait. Bait is a precious thing when on the beach – it’s not a quick trip to go and seek more. 

If you see fish starting to bite, and even better, you start to catch and land fish then it’s time to rig up another rod and cast that out into the water. 

I only have one rod, what should I do?

If you have only one rod, that’s fine! Many anglers fish the surf with only one rod. 

Again, how you use it and where you target your casting depends on the size of your rod. 

If you have a rod that’s 9ft or longer, then it’s better suited to fishing with bait rather than lures. A  long rod can become very heavy and tiring to fish with lures because you’re constantly holding, reeling, and pulling the rod.

With a long rod, you should look for a deeper gutter that’s within casting distance between sandbars, or towards the back of a runout where fish might be waiting for the bait that gets washed out by the waves.

If the only rod you have is a shorter rod, then look for spots closer to shore where you could fish. Gutters, holes, and gaps in the breaking surf can be great places to cast plugs, soft plastics, and spoons into to try to tempt a lurking fish to break from cover and strike.

If you’re in the market for another surf rod – click here for our view on the top-performing surf rods for the money today.

How many surf rods do you need? Summary.

Remember, you don’t need an unwieldy number of rods. Try to keep it simple when you go to the beach for a session of fishing from the beach. 

Another tip is to try to rig up your rods as much as you can before you head to the coast so that you have as little to do as possible when you get there, and can just start scoping out where to target and if the fish are biting!