Lesson 1, It’s Not The Equipment – It’s Fishing Where The Fish Are…

Sometimes you just do not need top of the line surf fishing equipment.

On our Facebook Group’s page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/Surffishingnorthcarolina/ – an interesting equipment related question was asked. One our members had a friend ask him recommendations on a 7 foot rod and reel combo for pier and surf fishing. The guy had a budget of $130.  To me, that’s a rather generous amount. The person asking for the recommendation was not a surf fisherman and actually brand new to saltwater fishing and didn’t want to invest a lot of money. The posts were mostly typical, you had answers from some that obviously showed the respondents had not paid attention to the initial post and earlier comments, you had some posts that were off base entirely and you had others that were thoughtful and solid advice. Initially, I jokingly suggested a Zebco 808; however, after following the post for a little while, I realized that advice was not too far off. The Zebco 808 saltwater is inexpensive, rugged, good for the inexperienced  and coupled with a respectable catfish rod in the 7 foot range would work pretty well on a pier jigging for sheepshead and the like. In the surf, it would be limited to the close in shore fishing for dinner. If you are focused to inside the first sandbar- it will get the job done. Closed faced reels are not ideal for surf fishing. There I said it. The Zebco 808 does not hold a lot of line, the drag leaves a lot to be desired and added attention to cleaning the reel is a must after a day on the beach. Aside from all that, they are a ton of fun to fish with, and there’s something to be said about the nostalgia factor. Who here learned to fish on a Zebco as a kid? Am I right?

A few weeks ago, I actually spent several hours fishing a Zebco 808SW combined with a 7 foot catfish rod at Ocean Isle Beach. I caught several Whiting on sand fleas and I even managed a Black Drum (it was too small to keep) on the setup. It was an incoming tide. I setup in front of a sandflea nest and a coquina clam colony. Baited my rigs with the sandfleas at my feet and tossed a two hook bottom rig into the trough right in front of me. Yes, I got some looks (and possibly laughs) from nearby fishermen, however I caught fish. You don’t always need the fanciest equipment to catch fish in the surf. Mostly, you need to fish where the fish are located. What’s the old saying? 90% of the fish are in 10% of the ocean, and 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish.

Zebco 808 Spincast Reel, 20 lb

For the most part, when someone asks me about a good overall rod and reel for the first time surf fisherman, I will recommend something in the 10 – 11 foot range rod with a medium-heavy action. Couple that up with a saltwater reel that can hold at least 225 yards of 20lb mono and you will get something for overall general use in the surf. A lot of our members are always praising the Diawa BG or Penn Battle II. Good reels, however I will step out on a limb and suggest to the first time surf fishermen not to spend a lot of money on top rate equipment. There are plenty of inexpensive rod and reel surf combos that will do the job just fine until you determine that surf fishing is for you. Many times, you can find a cheap combo at the local beach shops. Last year I purchased an 8 foot Sea Striker branded combo at the hardware store on Emerald Isle. I was there for a couple of items to make a small repair at a friend’s cottage and bought the rod on impulse, so my daughter could have a rod to hold in between her boogie board sessions in the water.

Sea Striker SEA STRIKER SHUR Spin Combo, Multi, One Size

Honestly, there’s always the possibility (however unlikely) the new surf fisherman may not go surf fishing again or so few times that it becomes hard to justify a several hundred dollar investment. Try it a few times, then go out and spend your hard earned money on a Van Staal Reel and a St. Croix Legend Surf Rod to fuel your new found purpose in life. 

Van Staal VR175 Bailed Spinning Reel

St. Croix GSS90MM2 Legend Surf 2-Piece Graphite Spinning Fishing Rod with Art and IPC Technology, 9-feet

Coming soon…

IF IT’S NOT THE EQUIPMENT, WHERE DO I FIND THE FISH?


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