The 4WD is packed, the family is ready to go, and the fish are biting along the coast. What a dream! But is your fishing rod and tackle the right kind to land the big one? We offer advice on choosing the right surf fishing rod.
There are numerous considerations when buying the right gear for surf fishing including – wait for it - your age. That’s great isn’t it – even fishing can make you feel older.
Basically, you have three categories of surf fishing rods from which to choose: lure rod, bait rod, and a combination of the two.
Lure fishing rods
Lure rods are specifically designed and used for casting lures.
This is an extremely effective and rewarding way to fish in the surf because a lure fishing rod can be cast at least twice the distance a bait rod can.
If casting lures is your thing, you will get good results with a medium to fast action rod as it will deliver the tip speed you need to cast long distances. Full graphite rods often have medium to slow actions, but they still make good lure rods because the stiff tips help to create lure speed at the beginning of the cast.
Bait fishing rods
Bait rods can be used for casting lures, but they are primarily designed for fishing with bait.
Rods with medium actions and fairly stiff tips make good tools for casting the heavy sinkers and large baits used in surf fishing.
Avoid using fishing rods with soft bendy tips because they tend to over bend on the cast. This diffuses the power from the cast, decreasing the speed of the bait as it leaves the rod tip. The end result is a shorter cast, which is not what you are after. The aim is to fish with a rod that will help you achieve your best possible casting distance.
Casting style, strength and experience
Now, let’s look at your casting style…
Casting is comparable to serving a tennis ball or hitting a golf ball. Doing it well requires a balanced combination of power and timing.
Like golf swings and tennis serves, some people have natural ability and some do not, and your own personal casting ability can be another key factor to help you make the best decision when selecting a surf fishing rod.
If you are a beginner, or feel as though you have limited casting ability, you may find that a medium action fishing rod of relatively light weight and modest length of no longer than 10-11 feet will work to your advantage.
Fast action fishing rods require a higher level of timing in order to reap the rewards. Very long fishing rods require physical strength combined with a strong, balanced casting style, otherwise the extra length and weight will only work against you.
Someone with experience and a good understanding of casting principles can take a look at your cast and help to pinpoint what you are doing wrong, the same way people do in other sports. It is better that you practice to develop the right casting style instead of persisting with a bad one.
Your height, weight and general fitness – hence your age - are key factors to consider when selecting a surf fishing rod.
When you are young and strong you can pick up just about any type of rod and adjust to it, up to a point. Having said this, a 17 year-old of slight build is not going to have much success trying to load up a heavy 12-14 foot eight-wrap fibreglass fishing pole.
Choose a fishing pole that you feel you can confidently punch through the air quickly, without losing any control or grip.
Experience says many people are under the illusion that buying a longer fishing rod will automatically increase their casting distance, but this is not necessarily the case.
Age is a big factor because of general deterioration in muscle tone. One solution is to retire the heavy gear and capitalise on technology by using the lighter, thinner rod blanks that help take some of the work out of casting.
Good tackle shops employ people who have the experience and understanding to help advise you and ensure that you are using the rod that’s right for you.