What is surfcasting?

The simplest definition: fishing from the shore by casting into the surf...

Surfcasting, surf casting or surf fishing are popular forms of fishing in some areas and are becoming more and more popular in other places lately. The terms surfcasting or beachcasting refer more specifically to surf fishing from the beach by casting into the surf at or near the shoreline. With few exceptions, surf fishing is done in saltwater.

The basic idea of most surfcasting is to cast a bait or lure as far out into the water as is necessary to reach the target fish from the shore. This may or may not require long casting distances. Basic surf fishing can be done with a fishing rod between 7 feet and 18 feet long, with an extended butt section, equipped with a suitably-sized spinning or conventional (revolving spool) casting reel. In addition to rod and reel, the surf fisherman needs terminal tackle and bait or lure. Terminal tackle is the equipment at the far end of the line: hooks, swivels, lines and leaders.

Surf fishermen who use artificial lures, cast and retrieve them to entice a bite from the target species. There are hundreds of different lures effective for surf fishing, such as spoons, plugs, soft plastics and jigs. Most can be purchased from local bait and tackle shops, online tackle retailers, at fishing tackle expositions or specialized surf fishing catalogs. Most surfcasters carry with them a "surf bag" which holds a selection of lures to facilitate fast changes of lures appropriate to current fishing conditions, saving trips back to the beach or vehicle to change equipment.

Dedicated surfcasters usually possess an array of terminal and other tackle, with fishing rods and reels of different lengths and actions, and lures and baits of different weights and capabilities. Depending on fishing conditions and the type of fish they are trying to catch, such surfcasters tailor bait and terminal tackle to rod and reel and the size and species of fish targeted. Reels and other equipment need to be constructed so they resist the corrosive and abrasive effects of salt and sand.

Several other items of equipment are commonly used by surf fisherman and surfcasters to improve comfort, convenience and effectiveness. Among these are waders, used to wade out into the surf to gain distance from shore when casting the bait. Full length, chest-high waders are most popular, in order to provide a measure of protection against a pounding surf that could easily swamp hip-length wading boots. In addition to the extra reach provided by wading out from shore, waders provide improved footing, protection for feet and legs from sharp bottom objects and stinging/biting fish and crustaceans, and protection from cold water temperatures. Most surf fishermen prefer integrated booted waders to stocking-foot models, which eliminates the tendency of sand and rock to find their way in between boot and wader. In areas where the bottom consists of slippery rocks or when fishing from mossy and slimy rock jetties, cleated boots or attachments are utilized to improve footing and enhance safety. Surf fishing is done often at night to follow the nocturnal feeding habits of many target species. Many surf fishermen add items such as flashlights, headlamps, light sticks and other gear to facilitate night fishing.

In Britain, surfcasting is often called beachcasting. It is a popular form of fishing which is carried out all around the coast of the British Isles. Beachcasters use very long fishing rods, usually between 12 and 16 feet. The beachcaster will stand on a beach or shoreline and cast out to sea with either a water filled float, or a lead weight weighing between 120g and 200g. Bait used in this form of fishing might include limpets, mussels, lugworm, ragworm, sandeel, mackerel strip, squid, peeler crab or razor fish. Additionally, artificial flies or even spinners may be used for species such as mackerel or bass. It is a common pastime in coastal areas of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland and often results in the capture of large specimens of many species of fish, including: flatfish, bass, cod, whiting, pollack, black bream, dogfish, smooth hound, bull huss, rays and tope.

Sandy beaches are home to many me species of fish which are highly sought after by anglers. Flatfish are obviously adapted to live on flat sandy seabeds and are a regular catch from beaches. Flounder are often caught very close to the shoreline as they come into incredibly shallow water – they will happily feed covered in just a few inches of water, while plaice and dab are caught on beaches around the country and Dover sole show more to beaches around the south and west of the British Isles. Less common flatfish that occasionally show around the UK include both turbot and brill. Sandy beaches can also hold ray species with thornback rays the most commonly targeted ray species in the UK, but blonde ray, small-eyed ray and even stingray all caught on UK beaches. Cod are a familiar catch to many beach anglers in the winter, while summer can see big bass coming into very shallow water as they feed just behind the breakers when some sea is running. Pouting, whiting and silver eels will all also show around sandy beaches, and anglers fishing on sandy patches which are located next to rocky areas may find themselves having the best of both worlds as species associated more with the rocky ground will also be caught.

In the eastern coast of the United States, the striped bass is highly valued. This species can be fished from shore and ranges in weight from a few pounds to the world record 78.5 lb (35.6 kg). Fish in the 30 to 40 lb (15 kg) range are common on the mid-Atlantic US coast from New York to the Carolinas. Some other available species are bluefish, redfish (red drum), black drum, tautog (blackfish), flounder (fluke), weakfish (sea trout), bonito and albacore tuna, pompano, Spanish mackerel, snook and tarpon. Even sharks can be targeted by surf fishermen. From North Carolina south the redfish (red drum) is one of the most targeted fish by surf anglers. Fishermen use rods 10 to 13 feet to cast to drum using baits like cut mullet, bunker (cut menhaden, or pogies as Carolina anglers call them), and cut bait from spot, croaker, or bluefish. Red drum hit a bait aggressively and are a much beloved surf fishing species. The overfished status of this fish for many years due to the blackened redfish craze of the 1980s led to strict recreational size and creel limits, however, so surf anglers must learn the local rules.

Surfcasting is also expresion describing the casting technique which separates the surfcaster from the ordinary shore, pier, or boat fisherman. Extremely long rods are frequently employed to extend the length of the cast, while specialized, two-handed casting techniques are used to cast the lure or bait the added distances required in many cases to reach feeding inshore fish. In these casts the entire body, rather than just the arms, are utilized to deliver the cast. In addition to standard two-handed casts, veteran surfcasters may also resort to the pendulum cast (derived from tournament casting contests) to achieve added distance - in some cases exceeding 700 feet.

Common beachcasting techniques used in Britain include the common overhead cast, the off-the-ground Cast and the Pendulum cast. There are other techniques used in Britain, but these three techniques remain the more popular ones with the pendulum cast perhaps the most difficult to master and also the one that generally produces more yards to the cast with 250-300 yds becoming quite possible. On top of technique and equipment, streamlines rigs that can take casting strains are also used such as the clipped pennel pulley, clipped down rigs, long n low etc. The rigs are also made with strong 60 lb plus lines to take the strain of the cast. Streamlining of bait too is important. A shockleader is a stronger line attached to a lighter mainline to absorb the shock of a powerful cast. The suggested formula for shockleader selection is as calculated as follows 1 oz weight +10lb shockleader + 10lb, e.g.
Tournament casting is a sport in its own right, with the world record distance of 286.63 meters (313.46 yards).

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Surfcasting rod

Surfcasting rods are specially designed to bear the extra overload forces impacting blanks during long distance casting. They have strong reel seat and reliable handles that provides a secure grip whether wet or dry. Those type of rods are usually between 7 feet and 18 feet long, with an extended butt section that is needed to perform long casts.

Surfcasting reel

There are three main types of surfcasting reel available. These are the fixed-spool (eggbeater), the free-spool, and the side cast. As always, each angler has his own oppinion which type is the best. What is common for all of them? All reels used for surf casting must be strong, durable, salt water and sand resistant - and most important aspect, they should be able to hold up to 200-300 yards of 20-30 lb monofilament.

Surfcasting sinker

Surfcasting weights and sinkers

A fishing sinker or knoch is a weight used in conjunction with a fishing lure or hook to increase its rate of sink and, especially in surf casting, anchoring ability and casting distance. They are formed into nearly innumerable shapes for diverse fishing fishing conditions - like type of the bottom, currents, winds or waves. The most popular surf casting sinkers designs are: pyramid or star shaped and sputnik or spider shaped for anchoring ability and bullet or water drop shaped for long casting.

Surf casting technique

There are three main surf casting techniques. The first is 'Overhead' cast. Trouble is this cast, while being simple and easy to learn, is very inefficient. Two casts that will dramatically increase distance are the 'Off the Ground' and 'Pendulum' cast. Please remember to learn and practice these casts well away from other people, you can do very significant damage if your sinker hits someone. Watch and learn how to cast far.

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