This is an information note for those who have an interest in learning to fish the surf using long rods.
Long distance casting is a sport and a fishing technique. As a sport, the world record is about 300 yards throwing a five-ounce weight. And like the sport of car racing, fishing suppliers apply lessons learned on the track to their line of mainstream products sold to the public.
A key element in distance casting is rod length—i.e. casting distance increases as rod length is increased. (Surf rod lengths are generally between 10 and 16 feet.) Still, rod performance is affected by factors controlled in the rod manufacturing process, which leads to an array of product offerings and prices.
The array is illustrated in following list of 12-foot surf rods available from Bass Pro Shops.
•$39.99 – Offshore Angler Power Plus Trophy Class Surf Spinning Rod (3 – 8 oz)
•$54.99 – Offshore Angler Brawler Trophy Surf Spinning Rod (5/8 – 5 oz)
•$74.99 – Ugly Stik Surf Spinning and Casting Rods (3 – 8 oz)
•$99.99 – Offshore Angler Breakwater Surf Spinning and Casting Rods (4 – 10 oz)
•$129.99 – Offshore Angler Power Stick Surf Spinning Rod (4 – 8 oz)
•$164.99 – Tsunami Airwave Series Surf Spinning Rod (4 – 6 oz)
•$189.99 – Offshore Angler Ocean Master Surf Spinning and Casting Rods (6 – 12 oz)
•$229.99 – PENN Carnage II Surf Spinning and Casting Rods (4 – 10 oz)
•$289.99 – St. Croix Mojo Surf Spinning and Casting Rods (6 – 16 oz)
•$399.99 – St. Croix Avid Series Surf Spinning Rod (6 – 16 oz)
•$689.99 – St. Croix Legend Surf Spinning and Casting Rods (2 – 8 oz)
Other than the 15-foot PowerPlus and Ugly Stik rods and a few custom rods, rods greater than 12-feet are difficult to find in the USA but they are available in Europe if you are willing to pay upwards of $100 for delivery.
The list also presents the range of lure weights the rod is capable of handling. In general, casting distance increases as lure weight is increased within the rod’s design range. Distance generally decreases when outside the design range.
What is not obvious in this list is the rod diameter and the rod weight. For example, Ugly Stik and PowerPlus rods are both large diameter rods relative to all others. The PowerPlus rod made of fiberglass is considerably lighter than the Ugly Stik.
The Power Stick is the smallest diameter and most lightweight rod but is unavailable as a baitcaster. A nice combo for throwing artificial baits pairs the Power Stick with a lightweight saltwater Shimano spinning reel. The lightweight is desirable for all day surf casting of artificial baits.
The rod diameter and weight, lure weight range, and price differences are clear differentiations to consider when making a purchase.
Similarly, there is a large array of reels designed for use in surf casting. You can choose either a spinning reel or a barrel-type bait casting reel sometimes referred to as a conventional or continuous reel. And like rods, there are variances in design and price of the reels.
And then there is a need to select line, rigging, hooks, and weights, all of which affect your ability to successfully fish the surf safely.
And then don’t overlook the bait. Artificial, live, and cut bait are all possible selections. In the case of cut bait, there are techniques for securing the bait that minimizes loss due to cast-offs and nuisance fish and critters.
Once you have your surf fishing equipment in hand head to the practice field before you head to the surf. You need to practice your cast and become familiar with your equipment. Otherwise, your first trip to the surf will end in frustration as you battle the equipment and your casting ability. Worse case is you give up as it is too difficult.
I made three or four trips a week to the practice field for 6-weeks before I made my first trip to the surf. I tossed a 5-ounce weight 15 to 20 times in each practice session. I could barely throw 40-yards at first and the direction was anywhere within 120-degrees of where I was standing. And I suffered a line break every other cast, which lead to problems finding the weight and splicing the broken line. And this is where I learned that the power generated in the rod and released with my fingers during the cast can painfully injure my fingers unless some type of protection is used.
Between sessions, I would review instructions available on YouTube. Then I would attempt the instruction. Unfortunately, I experienced little progress—i.e.breakoffs, direction, distance, and backlashes—until I found the teachings of John Holden.
For about $8.00, you can download John Holden’s book “Long Distance Casting” in pdf format. It has embedded film strips as well as written word and pictures. The web address for obtaining the book is http://johnholden.co.uk/store/.
In addition, he has a series of articles in Sea Angler
which provide further details not found in his book (see https://www.seaangler.co.uk/fishing-tips...-fishing-series
). Together, you will have what I consider to be the best instruction available on long distance surf casting. Applying his instruction will get your casting distance to 100-yards and with practice 150-yards as limited by your equipment selection and ability.
While John Holden focused on the casting process, I needed information on surf fishing in general. Randy Myers’ book “Surf Fishing -The Quick Start Guide to This Exciting Sport” provided a reasonable starting point. It is available for $19.95 at https://gumroad.com/l/usll.
Examples of other websites that helped me become a long-distance surf caster are:
How to tie Knots – https://www.netknots.com/fishing_knots
Best Knots - https://www.saltstrong.com/articles/fishing-knots/
How to Crimp - http://www.leadertec.com/tipsandtechniques/crimp_techniques.html
How to build Rigs - http://fishingrigz.com/
Purchase Rigging Components - https://www.breakaway-tackle.co.uk/index.php?route=common/home
Purchase Surf Rods and Reels - https://www.veals.co.uk/index.html