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The Essential Surf Fishing Tackle Guide

Put together the surf fishing tackle assortment of essential gear that works and saves yourself the aggravation of buying and trying new surf gear.


Surf anglers who have been fishing for a number of years have reduced their tackle selection down to the necessary effective things to have on hand. They know what they like, what surf fish they want to target and what works for them. Their tackle collection only contains what they want to use and what works.

This should be the goal of all new surf anglers. Unfortunately, if you are just starting out you don’t have the advantage of knowing what works or what you need. This article will help you solve that problem.

Every surf angler should be setup for live bait. When fishing with live bait you should have two different surf rigs on hand. They can be purchased or made yourself. The first rig is called a fireball rig and the second is called a free lining rig.

You’ll want to have a few extras of each on hand. When purchasing or making these rigs, size the hooks to the bait you plan to use. For example, bloodworms will probably be used on smaller sizes like #6 or #8 hooks, shrimp or mullet hooks will be larger and cut bait hooks will be larger yet. Circle hooks are the best because they are designed to hook the fish in the mouth which makes it easier to remove the hook and saves the fish if you plan on practicing catch & release.

These rigs are available in monofilament or wire. Keep in mind that some of the surf fish have very sharp teeth and some of your surf rigs will need to be made of wire. Don’t forget to add some sinkers to go with the surf rigs. Start with a few 3oz or 4oz pyramid sinkers or sputnik sinkers for extra bottom holding power. You’ll want that size to get the surf casting distances needed.

If you are using live bait and run out, plan on having some artificial bait in the tackle box. Keep it simple. Don’t buy every type of artificial bait in every color and size on the market. It just isn’t necessary. In my opinion, D.O.A. Lures makes the best artificial bait you can buy. Your first choice should be artificial shrimp in two sizes of natural color. Since most any surf fish will take shrimp, that’s the only artificial bait I need to have in my box.

You probably will want to add some saltwater surf lures also. Lures for consideration can be spoons, jig heads, floating poppers and swimmers. I’m not going to recommend that you go out and purchase some of each. I’ll leave that to your preference but in the surf lure choices I would at least have some spoons.

Surf spoons are excellent because they are very effective and cast well because of their weight. With the different shapes available and the swimming action they produce they attract a wide variety of game fish. I like Charlie Graves Tins. They are available in different shapes and sizes that imitate sand eels, mullet, bunker and other surf bait fish.

Depending on your budget I suggest purchasing a small assortment of spoons in different shapes and sizes and that’s it. Just be sure you are getting saltwater spoons which will be designed for the saltwater environment.

You can add any other type of surf lure I’ve mentioned (jig heads, floating poppers, swimmers), but it isn’t necessary. My suggestions pretty much cover the essential surf tackle list. If you keep your surf tackle box stocked with the items mentioned, anything else you add won’t help you catch more fish. In order to catch more fish you need more knowledge not more tackle.

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