How to catch whiting – best gear, rigs and tips for whiting on the beach

Whiting is one of the most delicious and easiest fish to catch on the beach.

In this article I’m giving you all the tips and info I know of and have practiced in the past when trying to catch whiting from the beach over the many years of targeting this fish.

I’ll give you my experience with different types of gear, the baits I believe work best, the rigs that tend to lead to whiting hookups for me, and when and how to catch whiting from the beach.

Let’s get into it!

Fishing rod for whiting

For whiting, I like to use very light gear.

Often the whiting are not too far out, so you don’t need a great long fishing pole to reach them.

Look for a lightweight rod in the 7 to 9 feet range.

You shouldn’t need longer than this, and the lighter weight will be appreciated as you walk up and down the beach trying to locate whiting in troughs and holes in the surf.

Whiting can have very small, subtle bites which require a soft but responsive rod tip to help with hook-ups. I opt for a medium to medium-light power rod, with a moderate to fast action tip.

Something like a lighter-weight Ugly Stik rod is a great choice for a beginner who wants to target whiting closer into the shore.

Ugly Stik 6’6” Elite Spinning Rod

Fishing reel for whiting

When it comes to the reel, I use a reel that matches the lightness of the rod. I exclusively fish spinning reels, and a spinning reel in the 2500 to 3000 size range is ideal for whiting fishing.

I find whiting aren’t huge fighters, but you still want your reel to have a smooth drag system to handle the initial runs of a whiting.

Whiting can easily come off the hook if manhandled – kind of like mullet but not as bad! – so I like to have a fairly loose drag set that still creates friction to allow for the hook set. A high gear ratio will also help with quick line retrieval and efficient hooksets.

My o to whiting reel at the moment is a small Shimano Sienna spinning reel. These reels are great value and don’t cost much.

I’ve used it repeatedly in saltwater and I find the drag remains pretty smooth and responsive for whiting fishing.

Check out my in-depth review of the Shimano Sienna here.

Again, a great option for the beginner whiting angler, and you can often get the reel in a combo deal.

Shimano Sienna FG Spinning reel

Mainline for whiting

You don’t need some fancy line options for catching whiting from the beach. Just a simple, reliable lightweight monofilament nylon fishing line serves as a solid choice for your mainline.

As you’re opting for light gear, you want your mainline to match. Line between the 6-10lb range should do you fine, and I’d stick to the lower to middle of that too, it just makes for better fishing.

Some use braided line for whiting but I don’t see it as necessary here because you’re fishing for a smaller species so you don’t need the added strength, plus the visibility of braided line can put whiting off from biting.

This line should work pretty well…

Leader line for whiting

I find whiting can be spooked off the bite sometimes, which can be frustrating when you can see the fish right in front of you in the gutter and you just want them to bite.

I often put the fact they get spooked down to line choice, If they can see the line, I believe they’re less tempted to bite. Whiting can be put off for other reasons but I think line choice is a factor.

Fluorocarbon leader is near invisible in the water, so this makes the chances of ‘line-spook- smaller for catching whiting. Fluorocarbon line is known for its low visibility in the water, which can make a significant difference when fishing for finicky and skittish fish like whiting.

You may not need the added protection if you’re just fishing from a sandy beach, but fluorocarbon has excellent abrasion resistance, which is particularly useful when fishing in areas with rough structures or sharp rocks.

The durability of fluorcarbon reduces the risk of break-offs, but when landing whiting this is not a huge concern.

Best Rig for whiting

You can’t go too simple when fishing for whiting. I don’t like to make too much hard work or fuss for myself when catching this fish. The best rigs for whiting I believe are the simple ones.

Let’s have a look at some options for whiting rigs that make life easy.

The best whiting rig using ball or egg sinkers

Whiting rig Option 1

You couldn’t get simpler with this rig if you tried.

All it requires is a size 3 or 2 long shank hook and a ball sinker – that’s it! When I’m feeling pretty lazy and a little bit lucky, this is the rig I turn to.

  • Just thread the mainline through the ball sinker
  • Then tie on the long shank hook to the end of the mainline
  • Then hook up your bait to the hook.

This rig creates a running sinker type of rig where the sinker runs right up to the hook.

Whiting Rig Option 2

The second whiting rig is a slight adjustment on the above rig if I find my best (and lazy!) whiting rig is not attracting bites.

The main adjustment is the addition of a swivel and a fluorocarbon leader. The reason you may not be getting bites is that the fish may be getting spooked by the visible mainline.

If this is the case, rig up as follows.

  • Start similarly to rig option 1 with a ball sinker on your mainline.
  • Tie a small swivel to your mainline – as small as you’re comfortable going!
  • Then get about 40-60cm of the fluorocarbon leader line and tie one end to the swivel you just attached to the mainline.
  • Then tie the size 3 or 2 long shank hook to the fluorocarbon leader.

Whiting Rig Option 3

You may have noticed by now that I’m a bit of a lazy angler at times 🙂

So my next choice for a whiting rig is a done-for-you pre-made rig.

I use these when I have minimal time at the beach and want to try something different to the rig in option 1, that doesn’t involve lots of tying in the sand.

Something like this two-hook rig can also give you extra bait in the water potentially increasing your chances of a hook-up.

Choosing hooks for whiting

Small hooks = small bait = small fish. This is true for whiting!

Often anglers underestimate how large a bait a whiting can go after, and often opt for really tiny baits. This means you’re likely to miss out on catching larger whiting that would make great table fish!

If you’ve got a nice big fresh beach worm on a size 3 or 2 long shank hook, you could be in the money for hooking up some great size whiting.

Worms are the bait of choice for me if I can get them, and long shank hooks help retain the bait on the hook even after smaller whiting have tried to have a go at the worm bait.

Check out our article on hook sizes for whiting and other saltwater fishing here.

Choosing bait for whiting

As touched on above, I believe the best baits for whiting are worms – specifically the ones that are local to the area, preferably that you’ve caught on the beach, or that you’ve bought from a local tackle store.

It’s a sign of a good local tackle store if they have an array of the local beach worms!

The fresher the better, but even frozen worms tend to attract bites very quickly.

Whiting have a strong affinity for beach worms due to their natural presence in the whiting’s environment.

The scent and movement of live beach worms in the water act as a powerful attractant, enticing whiting to strike.

I find using beach worms as bait for whiting increases the chances of me getting bites on the day, and as mentioned can also help you target larger specimens.

Just be sure that you present the beach worm on your hook in a way that allows it to move naturally.

If worms are not available, then local small shellfish, crustaceans, and as a last resort, try pilchards.

Check out our more in-depth article on choosing the best baits for whiting.

Burley for whiting

Now, each seasoned angler will have their own burley mix for attracting whiting to bite… and will probably never tell you the recipe either!

But, the basic foundations which are often in the mix are:

  • Smashed pilchard
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Any spare shells from baits you’re using
  • Any old bait you’re not using on the hook
  • Sometimes a fish oil

You can take this burley and slowly chuck it into the surf bit by bit, or stuff a mesh bag with it and peg it into the sand to be splashed by the surf and let little bits of burley and scent to enter the water.

I typically opt for just chucking the burley bit-by-bit into the surf as I walk up and down the beah to locate the fish.

Other considerations for catching whiting

Weather and swell conditions

The great thing about whiting is that they can be caught pretty much at any time – they are very accessible as a species.

The most important thing to remember about whiting is that they seek food where there is movement and disturbance in the water. Small waves, whitewash, rips and the like are all good places to target whiting in.

The whitewash and waves moves bait and food around in the water, making it easier for whiting to find a meal. Whiting often use their noses to sift through sand too, so the movement helps loosen the sand for them to seek our bait.

Whiting fishing is best on fine days, where the water is fairly clear yet with waves still beaking against sandbars or across gutters close in to shore.

You want little to no wind, small waves, and avoid rain because it sucks. Overcast conditions though have been held up to be more productive than blistering sun.

Tide times

I find like most other fish, whiting tend to feed better on a rising tide. Aim to fish around high tide or during the tide changes for better chances of success.

Locations in the surf

Whiting find food in sand where there is moving water and disturbances. When you arrive at the beach, have a look for where there is more water activity creating movement and disturbance.

If I spot areas like this, I’d start there.

I’d cast in a few spots in that area to see if I can get a bite. The most successful whiting fishing is on the move – don’t stay in one place.

If one spot is not seeing bites, I might try a bit of burley or I’ll move up or down the beach.

I’d look for the next best area of moving water, whitewash, gutters, breaking waves on the shores or sandbanks close to the shoreline.

Keep casting, moving, casting, moving. Adjust your distances and locations as you move around the shoreline.

How to catch whiting – the summary

Catching whiting on the beach requires the right gear, rigs, and techniques.

Choose a suitable fishing rod, reel, and line, and experiment with rigs, hooks, and baits to find what works best in your fishing location.

Consider weather conditions, tide times, and target specific areas in the surf to increase your chances of success.

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