Once you dive into the world of surf fishing, there is a lot of knowledge to learn.
One of those is picking the best size rod for surf fishing. What size rod for beach fishing should you use, what’s the best length for fishing the surf?
In this article, we show how, despite common knowledge, picking the right surf fishing rod is not all about going for the longest rod.
Read on for a guide to picking the right length beach fishing rod for you.
Want to make an easy, quick decision?
A 10-11ft surf rod is the best all-rounder length for surf fishing. Surf fishing rods should be anywhere between 9ft-14ft (2.7m – 4.3m). Length provides more leverage and energy that is transferred through the rod to the weight or lure, allowing it to travel further and target fish deeper out.
Now you know the size, find out how many surf rods is the best number to use.
- What size rod is best for surf fishing?
- Are longer beach surf rods better? Pros and cons.
- Pros of longer beach casting rods
- Cons of longer beach casting rods
- Can you surf fish with a shorter rod? Pros and cons.
- What is the best length beach casting rod for a beginner?
- It’s not all about surf rod length: other considerations
- Best rod length for surf fishing? Summary.
- Simple habits to hook up more fish
- Quick and easy to implement on your next fishing trip
- Don't pay any more money on gear.
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What size rod is best for surf fishing?
A beach casting rod is typically longer than other types of fishing rod in order to be able to cast further out over the surf where the fish typically can be found.
That said, the best rod length for surf fishing depends on the type of fishing you’ll be doing.
As mentioned in other articles on this site, how long you need your rod to be, and how far you need to cast it are informed by what fish species you are targeting and what physical features and structures in the water there are at different tide levels.
Let’s have a look at some different length rods and the pros and cons of each size to help decide what size rod is best for durf fishing.
Are longer beach surf rods better? Pros and cons.
Many anglers think that if you’re going to the beach, then you need the longest rod you can find, but simply choosing by length might lead to a frustrating and possibly tiring experience at the beach.
Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of using a longer beach rod. For this article, we’re classifying a long beach rod as anything over 11ft+ (3.4m).
Pros of longer beach casting rods
Longer rods cast further into the surf
As mentioned before, one of the top benefits of having a longer beach rod is the extra distance that it’s possible to cast with it. A longer rod can store a lot of energy in the rod blank as you prepare and wind up the rod to release the cast.
However, longer rods require good casting techniques to really make the most of the additional length.
If you are using a longer rod, watch some videos on rod casting techniques – it will be worth it if you are planning on targeting species like sharks, which tend to hunt a little further beyond the back of the breaking waves.
Target larger fish behind the surf with a longer rod
A further cast means the ability to target more of a variety of species, including the larger species, like sharks mentioned above, that swim further out.
Larger species tend to hunt their prey fish in deeper water, looking for schools of fish to attack and pick off their food. If you can cast a whole bait into an area at the back of the surf where you can see birds hovering or diving, there’s a good chance you’ll be targeting a prime area for striking predatory fish.
This is when a longer rod comes into its own, once you have the right technique to make the distance needed.
Keep your fishing line out of the breaking waves with a longer rod
A longer rod is also a taller rod when standing up in a sand spike.
The additional height of a longer rod, once it’s placed in a spike and stationary on the beach waiting for a bite, means the fishing line isn’t getting beaten about by the crashing surf.
It is frustrating when your line is caught in the breaking tide because it becomes difficult to see whether you are getting a bite, or whether it’s just the waves playing mind tricks on you.
Being clear of the surf gives you peace of mind that if the rod bends, it’s likely a strike from a fish.
Cons of longer beach casting rods
Longer beach rods are heavy
With the larger size comes additional weight on the rod itself. Premium brands and
models put a lot of investment and technology into materials to make a longer rod lighter, but not everyone can afford the expensive models.
Beach fishing is a physical hobby sport. You may be walking a long distance from your parked car, and also up and down the beach to find the perfect gutter or sandbanks to target. Having a heavy rod in tow can be demanding.
Longer rods are difficult to cast and retrieve in the surf
A beach fishing session might last hours depending on the conditions and the bites that are happening.
A long session of casting, winding reels, and re-baiting rods can be tiring. A larger beach rod can make this even more difficult because of the size and weight.
If you’re attempting to use larger, heavier lures with a longer rod then make sure you have the arm strength to match because the constant casting, holding the rod, and jerking it back and forth will be demanding on your arms and back.
There is a lot of drag in the surf, and also objects like seaweed that can get stuck on your hooks making the weight you are reeling in even heavier.
So consider a lighter, smaller rod for casting and spinning lures if you think there are fish within distance – you’ll save yourself a lot of energy and ache.
Longer rods take more storage space
Packing up to go to the beach for a good beach fishing session should be an easy task.
You want your load to be as compact and light as possible. So when you throw in large rods to your gear that takes up more space, consider how you’ll transport and store these rods.
Accidentally snapping an eye off the end of your rod on a car roof, ceiling, or tree because you forgot how long it was is an all too common incident, and a frustrating one too – especially if it happens before your session!
Can you surf fish with a shorter rod? Pros and cons.
Shorter spinning surf fishing rods (6ft/1.8m-10ft/3m) can be a fantastic option for casting at the beach if used correctly. Typically, shorter beach casting rods are best for targeting areas closer to the shore that are likely to hold fish, like gutters and holes.
But shorter fishing rods do also come with downsides too due to their size. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of shorter beach casting rods.
Here we’re referencing any rod that’s between 6ft (1.8m) to 10ft (3m) long.
Pros of shorter rods for beach fishing
Shorter surf rods are lighter weight
I always bring a slightly shorter surf spinning rod with me to the beach. The smaller size and length mean it’s much more lightweight, so carrying it up and down the beach is no chore.
The smaller gear is suited for targeting fish closer to the shore that might be hanging out in specific structures like gutters or holes. You don’t always have to cast a country mile to land great fish.
Shorter rods are easier to use
Because shorter rods are shorter, they’re easier to use. You’ll be less tired casting, reeling in, re-baiting, or changing lures on a shorter rod.
This is great if you are fishing the tide as it’s changing and different physical features of the water are present. You can easily chop and change your tackle, lures, bait, position, and distance if you need to test out all the spots that fish might be lurking.
Feel more of a fight on lightweight gear
This, I believe, is one of the top benefits of using a shorter, more lightweight rod at the beach. If you are using lightweight tackle and rod and reel, then even small fish can be really great fun to fight out of the surf.
This is why I typically recommend to beginners starting surf fishing to not worry too much about having a very long beach casting rod, and to have a look at their local beach fishing spots at low tide and see what structures they can see that would make for good fishing closer to the shore with a shorter rod from the beach.
Cons of shorter rods for beach fishing
A shorter rod means your line is in the surf
You don’t have as much height with a shorter rod as you do a longer one in order to clear the surf easily.
Even with a sand spike and the rod elevated, your fishing line will likely be in the breaking waves. If you’re using a lighter-weight rod and tackle this will be problematic because the surf will move your bait all over the place and you’ll think you have a bite every time a wave breaks as it pulls at the rod.
Check out the best spots to target with an 8 foot surf rod.
Shorter rods can’t always be cast as far
Unless you are using a shorter rod with a medium-heavy action that you can really launch well, then with a shorter rod your casting distance is limited.
If you are targeting larger species like sharks or large rays then a longer medium to heavy rod is a better choice.
What is the best length beach casting rod for a beginner?
The best length beach casting rod for beginners is somewhere between 8ft-11ft with a reel suited to match – probably a 6,000-8,000 sized reel will be adequate.
On the reel, you don’t need much more than a 20-30lb braid or a 30-40 mono (which is what I use and it does me well).
It’s not all about surf rod length: other considerations
Rod power refers to where and how the rod bends. Essentially how much weight is required to bend the rod. Heavy rods will bend less and the flex will be spread out over the length of the rod.
For beach fishing, a medium or medium-to-heavy power rod will give you enough strength to fight any larger species you encounter, but also not be too overbearing in its weight.
Action refers to where the rod bends under force. A fast-action bends at the tip of a rod, a slow action bends towards the handle.
Fast and moderately fast actions work well for beach fishing and allow you to clearly see if a bite has occurred. A slow action would just be waving around too much in the current of the swell and breaking ties to be useful.
Rod material can determine the strength and weight of the blank.
If you are a beginner, you don’t need anything more than a starter fiberglass rod – I’ve fished beaches, piers and harbor wall switch fiberglass rods for years and they’ve never broken. I’m sure if you’re targeting sharks you might have better luck at breaking one though!
Graphite rods are available but do cost more. It’s best to figure out if surf fishing is for you first before you go and spend a load of money on new gear.
Best rod length for surf fishing? Summary.
I’ve tried not to answer this question with a glib answer like ‘how long is a piece of string’, but actually given you practical advice for deciding how long your beach fishing rod needs to be.
Remember, there are plenty of areas to target closer in to shore and a 6-8ft rod will do very well here and be a fun experience too.
And if you’re aiming for targeting further from the shore behind a particular sandbank, then go for something over 9ft. Just remember though, that the longer the rods means the less easy to handle.
If you’re wondering how many surf rods you might need, check our article out.