Beach Fishing Gear: The Essentials

Surf Fishing Essentials

Beaches, sun and surf call to millions of anglers each year. But fishing from the shore is different than calm inland waters and requires special equipment.

A few surf fishing essentials will help any angler get started in this fun and rewarding sport. Here are 10 of them:

Rod and Reel

The first essential piece of gear is your rod and reel. Many surf fishermen prefer a 10-12 foot medium action rod paired with a saltwater spinning reel that can handle the demands of chasing striped bass, flounder and other saltwater species with live or artificial baits.

Reels designed for surf fishing often feature a larger spool, a precision casting brake, and solid construction that can shake off the spray of saltwater. To save money, look for a pre-matched combo that retails below the price of purchasing the components separately.


The idea of strapping on a pair of waders and heading out to the surf is one of those idyllic images that most people associate with beach fishing. But real surf fishing often takes place on cold, windswept beaches and rocky or sandy shorelines.

Waders provide a layer of insulation and protection from the elements. They also keep water out and can protect anglers from sharp objects on the sand such as glass, shells and natural harmful items like jellyfish.

Most surf waders are made of neoprene, which is a soft rubber that provides good durability and insulation but does not offer high breathability. Many feature flip-out accessory pockets, hand warmer pockets and a zippered front pocket to hold plastic tackle boxes or other gear.

Fishing Pliers

Whether you’re taking a tiny hook out of a bluegill or rigging up a big-game lure and rig for your next offshore trip, the right pair of fishing pliers makes all the difference. Getting the best pair for your needs means choosing a product that fits your use case, whether you’re going after trophy marlin or fishing from the shore with kids.

Look for a durable design that includes corrosion-resistant materials, like stainless steel or aircraft-grade aluminum. Look for a set with carbide cutters, which are durable and can be replaced as needed, and a sheath and lanyard that help prevent dropping them in the water.

Measuring Tape

The measuring tape used in More Than Fishing tournaments has a slightly curved metal blade that retracts into a plastic case. This type of tape measure is great because it’s easy to pull out and retract and can be stored in a small pocket.

The measurements on the bottom of the tape are in metric (centimeters and millimetres). Each centimeter is divided into 10 mm, and each mm is a fraction of an inch.

The top of the tape shows inch markings with a foot mark after every 12 inches since 1 foot is equal to one inch. Some tapes may also have a ‘dead foot’ that is unmarked at the end to allow for a true zero reading.

Line Nippers

Nippers are a great tool to have on hand while fishing. They can cut lines and help with flies. The best pair of nippers will have sharp blades that can handle thin and thick lines. They will also have a nail knot tool and a cleaning pin. They should have a comfortable grip and be able to be attached to your gear so they aren’t lost.

Ideally, you want your nippers to be made from stainless steel or aluminum. This will allow them to withstand the harsh environments of salt and freshwater.


Sunglasses are the most common tool used to combat the harsh glare of sunlight that reflects off bodies of water. Fashion sunglasses often don’t have polarized lenses, and even those that do aren’t designed with fishing (or real-world outdoor activity) in mind.

Look for frames that are wide on the sides, which cut the amount of reflected light hitting your eyes. You also want lenses that have a curvature that is close to the lens you wear without glasses to prevent distortions in your vision. Choose a color that works for the types of fishing you do and check if the lenses are polycarbonate or glass.

Sun Protection

As any surf fisherman knows sun protection is crucial. You are constantly exposed to UV rays from the sun and even more from what reflects on the water’s surface. This makes it extra important to cover up with clothing made for sun protection, use sunscreen on any remaining areas and wear a hat or visor when out on the water.

Look for sun-protective clothes that are loose fitting, lightweight and breathable. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going into the water and remember to re-apply frequently, especially after swimming or sweating. Sunglasses with a wide brim will also help keep your eyes protected from the sun.

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