Choosing the right surf rod can be challenging without the proper information. Anglers interested in purchasing a surf rod should consider a few very important variables to help determine which rod is best for them.
Surf fishing rods are typically between 9 and 14 feet long, providing a wide range of lengths to choose from. Length is an important factor in the consideration of a surf rod purchase. First and foremost, it's imperative to consider the angler's physical ability. Anglers who are shorter in stature or who may possess physical limitations should consider rods on the shorter end of the spectrum out of pure convenience and comfort when engaging in surf fishing.
Surf rod length is among the most important elements contributing to casting distance. Casting distance is important when surf fishing because the goal is to present the bait or lure past the breaking waves. Additionally, the larger the species of fish anglers are targeting, the larger the rod should be used as it affords more leverage.
Take home point: Choose the longest rod suitable for you. Most anglers will be more than fine with a rod between 10-12 feet in length.
The second most important variable when selecting a surf fishing rod is the power of the rod. Rod power is defined as the strength of the rod or its lifting power and ranges from light to heavy. For most anglers, the best and most commonly used option will be right in the middle of the spectrum at medium-heavy. Medium-heavy rods present the most versatile option for most surf fishing anglers. When choosing rod power, make sure you also choose suitable line. The heavier the power of the rod the better it will perform with heavier line; choose too light of line and risk breaking fish off more frequently.
Take home point: Determine what techniques you plan to use and the fish you plan to target. Most anglers will find medium-heavy to be the most suitable rod power.
Next, consider the action of the surf fishing rod. Action is defined as the bend or taper the rod will display under pressure. A rod with a fast action bends more near the tip, while a rod with a slow action bends from the center. The rod action is most relevant when discussing casting distance. A fast tip rod will provide the most casting distance and is best used when fishing lures in the surf. The fast action rod is best for rigs that have a single hook. The slower action - usually medium action for surf rods - are best suited for treble hooks as they don't need quite the setting power of single hooks.
Take home point: Rod action affects casting distance and hook setting power. Fast action bends at the tip, slower action bends from the center of the rod. Fast action is best for lures.
Reel Seats and Handles
Reel seats and handles are some elements that are often overlooked when comparing rods. The reel seat should be built with a non-corrosive material such as graphite. While metal alloy reel seats aren't bad, they may experience some corrosion over time. The higher end surf fishing rods will use graphite reel seats in most cases. The surf rod handles are traditionally quite long, which is required for two-hand casting used to catapult a bait with some distance over the breaking waves. The handle materials are traditionally cork or foam and is truly a matter of preference for the angler when choosing a surf rod.
Take home point: Reel seats can be subject to corrosion, therefore choose a surf rod with a high quality graphite reel seat. Surf rod handles are long, and the material of the handle is usually angler preference.
Surf Rods for Live Bait
When choosing a surf fishing rod for the intended use of live bait fishing its best to choose a surf rod with a medium-fast action and a fairly stiff tip. These features are most desirable due to the heavy sinkers and large baits traditionally used for live bait fishing in the surf. It's best to avoid rods with soft tips as they bend too much, reducing casting distance and hook set.
Surf Rods for Lures
When choosing a surf rod for the intended use of casting lures you will find it most effective to use a rod with a medium-fast to fast action as it delivers the tip speed to whip the smaller lures longer distances.