Surf fishing is a unique and demanding style of fishing and the selection of surf rods is an important task. The environment is tough and the fish can be even tougher. You will need to pick the rods that fit into most of your fishing situations. In order to make the proper selection you will need to examine the water you will be fishing and the type of fish you will be targeting.
Let’s take a look at the basic characteristics of surf rods.
I would wager that all the rods you own and any rods you may be shopping for is graphite. Graphite is a great fishing rod blank material because of its excellent strength and is very lightweight. The first term that you will probably run across is modulus. Modulus is a term that describes the stiffness to weight ratio of the graphite that’s used to create the rods blank. Basically, this means that a higher modulus graphite can be used to create a rod that is very stiff but very lightweight and also very sensitive. Now don’t get caught up in all the different manufacturers claims of “High Modulus” or “Ultra High Modulus” because these are typically just marketing labels. One point of concern is the higher the modulus the more brittle the blank. So if you tend to be heavy handed and rough with your gear you better rethink getting the super ultra high modulus surf rod.
Length does not sound nearly as exciting as modulus but it is every bit as important. The length of a surf rods is measured from the butt to the tip and can make or break a day fishing. There may be many situations when you wish you could cast 40 yards further. There will also be cases when the fish are actively feeding in the breakers and a shorter rod would be preferred.
Action is how the rod reacts under pressure. If you put one end the typical style of surf rods in a sand spike and bent them from the tip, you will probably see it bending from the middle out to the tip. This would be considered a medium action or regular action rod. Now if you compared this to your bass fishing rods, you will probably see the bass rods bending in the last 1/3 at the tip. This action is perfect for precision casting and sensitivity and is commonly called fast action. The medium action rods are more well rounded for throwing bottom rigs with cut bait while the fast action ones can chunk bait and they are also well suited to cast lures.
When you hear weight you should automatically think power. How strong and powerful will the rods need to be in your fishing situation? Depending on where you are shopping or what brand you are shopping for, you might see weight referred to as line weight or lure weight. If both are labeled that makes the job easy, if they only list one weight you may have to use a little common sense and math. A general rule of thumb is lure weight times 6 equals the line weight. So 17% of line weight should give you the top lure weight.
The handle is your connection to the surf rods so it better be comfortable and sturdy. Sliding in and out of a sand spike can rip a cheap cork handle to shreds. Look for quality cork grip with no seams that could get snagged. Slip resistance is also a good feature for the grip area.
Once a reel seat begins to wear you may as well pitch the rod. The reel seat holds the reel in place and that can be quite a job. Imagine the force the seat receives while reeling in an 8oz surf fishing rig. Not to mention all the salt water and sand that it will be exposed to. Look for noncorrosive materials and heavy threads and tightening screw.
Fishing rod guides do more than break off in the tailgate and bend when stepped on. They are responsible for getting the line out as fast and far as possible. The guide frame should be very sturdy and corrosion resistant if at all possible. The actual eyes will be made from any number of smooth materials from aluminum oxide to silica carbide. After evaluation of the guide material you need to check the length of the surf rod for good guide coverage. Basically checking to see how many feet/inches per guide. An average spinning rod may have 5 eyes while standard 12ft casting surf rods will have 9 guides.