Is an 8 foot rod good for surf fishing?

Is an 8 foot rod good for surf fishing?

Typical spinning fishing rods and rock fishing rods are often around 8ft in length.

But when you transfer to the beach, the shorter your rod is, the more challenging time you are potentially going to have on the beach. 

But if you know how to use an 8ft rod effectively in the right conditions, then there should be no problem catching fish. 

Want to catch more fish with the right surf rod? Click here for our opinion on the best surf rods available now.

Want to know if an 8ft rod is good for surf fishing, and how to get the most out of it? 

Then read on!

An 8ft rod works well for specific uses as a surf rod. With a sand spike you can clear surf of 1-2ft to reach sandbanks around 50ft out. Or an 8ft rod is effective for fishing gutters and points within 30ft of the shoreline.

Need something longer for your surf rod? Check out our article on whether you can use a 10ft rod for surf fishing.

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Is an 8ft rod too short for surf fishing?

On the contrary! I use an 8ft surf rod as my regular secondary surf rod at the beach at the moment. It is just a regular spinning fishing rod that I’ve started using for surf fishing, and it casts well from the beach. 

In fact, it seems to be the lucky rod, catching most of the fish I’ve landed in the past month of various species and various sizes (flounder, tailor, even shovelnose guitarfish).

An 8ft rod is not too short, and can be a good choice for the right conditions when surf fishing from your local beach. 

The days an 8ft surf rod performs best is when the surf break is minimal and you can spot some great features to target with it. 

We help you choose the best surf rod for you here.

So it’s not just a case of turning up to the beach with your rod – pick your time and conditions. 

With a sand spike too, you’ll be able to clear the surf and have your line clear of the breaking waves. 

In terms of casting distance, you’ll not be able to cast as far as you might with a 10ft or 12ft beach casting rod.

On average, expect to reach a casting distance of around 50-70ft easily with an 8ft surf rod. This should be adequate though, and will put you in range of some fish-laden surf features you might be able to target if you spot them. 

Let’s have a look at some of the best places to fish with an 8ft surf rod. 

Sometimes a 10ft rod might be better for surf fishing though to give you added length and leverage!

Using an 8ft surf rod: good places to target.

A few weeks prior to writing this article, I took my 8ft spinning rod out for a fishing session at a local beach. 

My friend and I got there right at low tide, so we’re able to see all the bottom of the shoreline and sandbanks that would be covered in a few hours. 

I suggest you do something similar when you go surf fishing next. 

It pays to know what underwater features you are casting into, because those areas are where the fish are most likely to be. 

This makes fishing with an 8ft rod easy and productive. In fact, in that session I mentioned, I pulled in 5-6 fish of multiple species, casting relatively close to shore. 

What to look out for 

Look for features like sandbanks and gutters – these are parallel features that run along the beach and create higher surfaces of sand that then drop into deeper gutters between the peaks of the sand banks. 

Fish love congregating on the edges and right in the center of these places. 

Holes are good to target too – you can spot these closer into shore by noticing any changes in the color of the water. Where there are darker patches of water means the water is deeper there. Fish hang out in the deeper area on the edges, waiting for bait to snap up as it passes by. 

8ft surf rod power and action

Surf Rod power/weight

When choosing a rod power rating for your 8ft beach rod, you want to choose something suited to your target species. 

If you’re targeting larger species, then go for a medium to heavy rod. This will give you the strength to battle those larger catches easily. 

If you’re targeting whiting or pompano, you can go a little lighter to make the fishing more exciting. By going lighter you’ll feel the jerks and pulls of the fish much more. 

I often bring one rod that is medium-heavy for larger species further out, and a lighter rod for those closer to shore species that feel like a fun battle on lighter fishing tackle.

Surf Rod action

Rod action refers to how sensitive the tip of the rod is basically. 

Because you are fishing in moving,  breaking water, you’ll want your 8ft surf rod to be a fast action tip. This means you’ll sense and see bites, but your rod won’t be bending like mad just because of the breaking waves, like a slow action rod would do. 

When to avoid using an 8ft rod for surf fishing?

The situations in which an 8ft rod is not particularly appropriate or effective are if the ocean is too rough and the swell too large, or if the only suitable features to target your cast to are very far out. 

Check out different types of the top surf fishing rod for different applications here.

Rough conditions

In rough conditions, with surf anything over a couple of feet or so, an 8ft rod does not provide so much height that you’ll always clear the breaking waves. 

A sand spike can help elevate you a foot or two, and if your beach is particularly steep then you might be ok, but generally, you’ll want a longer surf rod for getting over and above the surf and out the back to the sand banks. 

Casting distance with an 8ft surf rod

On some fishing forums, you might see people claiming that they can cast an 8ft rod a very far distance, and that rod length doesn’t matter when trying to cast far. 

That goes against conventional surf fishing wisdom, that suggests the longer rod you have, the greater the leverage and energy you can build up to cast out much further than a shorter rod.

With an 8ft surf rod, unless you have some sort of great technique, and are well practiced, you often won’t reach as far out as longer rods. 

Some say to just add more weight to the terminal tackle on shorter rods like an 8ft, so you can cast longer distances, but there is a risk that the load will be too much for the line under the strain of casting and it will snap during the cast.

But don’t worry, if you plan your session at the beach well, there are still great places to cast that are not miles out into the ocean.

What reel is best for an 8ft surf rod?

The best reel for an 8ft rod is between the 4000-6000 size. This should give you enough spool size to cast out as far as you can go, while also balancing the rod size well. 

If you can, try the reel out first in a fishing store on a rod that is a similar length and weight to your 8ft surf rod, to check its balanced well. 

Also, ask the store owner – they should be able to recommend the right size. 

You should also consider the gear ratio of the reel. Generally, the advice for surf reels is to go with a high gear ratio, to increase the speed of your retrieval. 

A lot of fish species in the surf prefer chasing live fast baits. There are species and circumstances you might choose a slower retrieve, but it’s generally a safe choice to go with a high gear ratio. It also means you can reel in your long casts quicker. 

The best terminal tackle for your 8ft surf rod

Now let’s talk tackle. 

All rods have recommended line class and weight ratings for the terminal tackle you should be using. 

Plus there are certain types of tackle that work better in surf conditions. Here are some recommendations. 

Weights / sinkers

Pyramid, star, or “Sputnik” sinkers are great for using in the surf. 

These sinkers all have features or shapes that help anchor them to the sea bed. When the current is often moving a lot where you’re fishing, it helps to keep your bait in the place you intended for maximum chance of receiving bites. 

Check the shaft of your rod blank. There should be some small text that highlights the recommended weight limits for best results. For surf fishing I generally try to hit the middle-upper end of this range because of the more challenging conditions of the surf. 

Surf Fishing rigs

With an 8ft rod, fishing relatively close to the shore, I’ve caught most of my fish recently on a simple running sinker lure. 

It’s so cheap to create, just one weight and one hook. I typically go for a size 2/0 hook and a 2oz weight.

That’s all. And it works! 

Don’t forget – click here to get our insight on the best surf rods money can buy now.

Is an 8ft rod good for surf fishing? Summary. 

After a few sessions of surf fishing, it was clear to me that when used correctly, in the right conditions, to target the right species, an 8ft rod is a good rod for surf fishing. Nice and compact compared to the very long beachcasters and all round good, productive fun.