All my surf gear is almost as old as me. I like bait casting gear like an Ambassador 7000 and some ancient Penn reels and might have a lighter one like a ABU 5500 or 6500 for in close stuff. Do they make those anymore?
I do like circle hooks for the tendency to self set. I think 20 pound mono seems alright just to get a little more line on a reel. The light reels can have thin braid.
We like to catch our own bait, but it might be tough to find in a cold season, I usually start with some thawed out frozen bait and then catch some live mullet. Bigger ones get cut and finger size put on whole.
Between the catching bait, setting rods, checking rods, rigging and hopefully catching fish, it will keep you busy, I like to bring a smaller bait casting rig or fly rod to cast at trout. Sometimes that’s better and more productive that the bait. If it’s a little rough, the bait seems to be easier than taking the beating.
Some folks make a science out of surf fishing. I guess it depends on what you are after. I might fish out to the third bar or so. I’m usually tossing whatever into the bar edges and gut edges. Sharks, reds, whiting, gafftop, it kind of varies what you might get. It’s fun and a change of pace from someone that’s usually fishing in the bay or marsh.