Surf Casting Florida

Learn how to catch more fish off of the beach.

What equipment do you need for surf fishing?

This depends upon a lot of factors. You will need different equipment for surf fishing depending upon what you are trying to do.

What species are you trying to catch?

Are you using lures, live bait or dead bait?

Are you fishing high tide or low tide?

Are you stationary or walking down the beach?

Do you want to fish with one rod or multiple rods?

Are you fishing for a couple of hours or all day?

I am a FISHING CHARTER CAPTAIN on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I have been fishing the beaches, grass flats, mangroves and just about everywhere else in Florida for over 40 years. Surf fishing is something that I have done since I was a small child.

In the article below I will teach you everything that I know about the right equipment for surf fishing. This article will help you if you are a minimalist like me or a surf fisherman that likes to bring 5 rods and half of his kitchen with him to the beach.

Let’s get started.

Watch the video below to learn the best equipment for surf fishing different zones to find the fish.

What species of fish are you targeting when you go surf fishing?

You will need different equipment when you go surf fishing depending upon the species that you are going after. Your gear is very different if you are going to catch sharks off of the beach versus fishing for whiting.

Sharks and Tarpon:

Let’s say that you are going after sharks and tarpon with your surf fishing adventures. In that case you will need some heavy equipment. Your rod will need to be medium/heavy and your reel will need to be at least a 5500 series or higher. Higher is better for bigger fish. You might need a 7500 series or even an 8500 series spinning reel for fish that are 100 pounds plus.

Your fishing line will need to be a heavy braid that is 80 to 100 pounds in strength for the big sharks that are a few hundred pounds. You will need 50 to 80 pound braid for the tarpon up to 100 pounds. You have to upgrade your fishing equipment for the serious fish that you can catch surf fishing.

You will need a cooler to keep your dead fish in that you are using for catching those sharks or they will rot in the sun. Your equipment list is getting larger and larger.

I like to target sharks and tarpon off of the beach with large top water lures. If you go after them my way, then you can get away with much less gear. I bring a backpack that has wire leader, 4 or 5 top water lures, a hook removal tool, wire cutters and a couple bottles of water. That is what works for me anyways.

They just changed the rules in Florida for shark fishing.

1) You cannot fish for them without a special permit.

2) You cannot chum for them off of the beach. This means that you cannot use dead bait to fish for them anymore.

3) You cannot bring them up onto the beach after you hook them.

4) You have to have wire cutters to either cut the hook or cut the line if you do catch a shark.

There are other rules but those are the main ones that I can remember. The bottom line is that they don’t want any fishermen to attract sharks to any of the beaches where people like to swim.

Watch the video below to see the equipment that I use when I go surf fishing for sharks.

Pompano and whiting:

You will need a different set of surf fishing equipment for catching pompano and whiting. Again it will depend upon whether you are a minimalist or like to bring everything that you’ve got. I usually only bring one 10 foot surf rod and reel if the tide is on the last half of the outgoing or the first half of the incoming.

You will need the big surf rod to get your baits out far enough to find deep water when the tide is low. You need to find water near the sandbar that is at least 24 inches deep to find the schools of pompano and whiting.

You will need some 6 or 7 pompano and/or whiting rigs, a half dozen pyramid sinkers from 1 to 3 ounces and some bait. The bait that you use will determine if you need to bring more surf fishing equipment.

I like to use Fish Bites. They are a man made bait that smells like clams, shrimp or sand fleas. Pompano love clams, shrimp and sand fleas. I usually grab a bag of the clam and sand flea flavors. That’s two bags total and about $12 spent.

All that goes in my backpack along with a couple of waters and I am good to go for a few hours of fishing during the lower parts of the tide. During the higher parts of the tide I will usually leave the surf rod at home and just use my medium/heavy action 7 foot rod with a 3500 series reel.

You don’t need to cast as far out during the higher parts of the tide to get at the fish. They are often within 30 feet of the beach during the high half of the tides.

If you want to use natural baits, then you will have to buy or catch them. If you want to catch sand fleas, you will need a sand flea rake. That is an awkward piece of surf fishing equipment that won’t fit in a backpack. That means that you will probably need a beach cart.

Beach carts are a great piece of equipment for fishing off of the beach because you can carry 6 rods, a cooler, a tackle box, a cast net, an aerator for live baits, and anything else that you might need for a day of surf fishing.

Once you get past the minimalist stage of surf fishing that I use, then a beach cart is a necessity for fishing off of the beach.

Watch the video below to learn the best baits and lures for catching pompano surf fishing.


You can spend a lot of money on surf fishing equipment if you decide to go all in and fish multiple rods for multiple species with multiple baits and lures. Surf fishing is a great past time and anyone can learn how to do it effectively. You just have to practice and see what works best for you.

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