Given that I don’t live close enough to the coast so that I can go saltwater fishing every week, I’ve become obsessed with planning for scheduled trips. If I can’t go saltwater fishing, at least I can think about it. Going through my saltwater surf fishing gear and fishing tackle gives me a certain satisfaction in anticipation.
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My fishing reels are the foundation, from my light rigs, to my green monster shark reel with which I hope to catch a man-eater. For my next surf fishing trip the plan is to have big baits soaking on at least 3 lines at all times. The two remaining smaller rigs will be for catching bait (whiting, sand trout, sheepshead, lady fish, and other non-Texas game fish) and slot limit keepers (Redfish, Flouder, and Specked Trout). My smaller fishing reels are my Abu Garcia 6500 level wind reels. I’ve had these fishing reels for years, and as you can see they’ve been injured in battle, but the internals have been well maintained. They aren’t ready to retire; but they are in need of some cosmetic updates. I lost the level knob on my last fishing trip. I keep these reels spooled with straight 20lb mono. I usually fish them with a popping cork rig, where the cork can be adjusted with a bobber-stop, and even removed. To find the fish I can fish a bait at any depth of water, from top to bottom, and everything in between.
The next two fishing reels that I will be using are my Abu Garcia 7000 level wind reels, more specifically the 7000i C3 and the 7000 CS Pro Rocket. These are my casted big rigs. I have them spooled with 300 yards of 30lb power pro braided fishing line and the remainder is a 30lb mono top shot. I estimate about 450 yards of line on each fishing reel. If I catch something big its going to be fun; I might get smoked, spooled, and popped!! Although, I’ve fought huge drum on these rigs, and sharks up to around 4 feet, and none of these challengers have even gotten close to spooling me. I think I’d enjoy the thrill of getting spooled. I’ll be using 12ft casted rigs, made of 400lb mono (weed eater line) and wire cable to a 16/0 circle hook.
Lastly I’ll have my big gun, my new Avet 80 EXW-2. I want to catch a 12 foot shark on this reel, a tiger or a hammer. Given its going to be June on the Texas coast when I break this reel in, I figure my best chance for testing this reel will be a pregnant bull shark. I will be using about a 30 foot leader; 25 feet of 500lb mono to 6 feet of #19 wire, to a 18/0 circle hook.
MY SALTWATER SURF FISHING RODS
The fishing rods that I use for my Abu Garcia 6500 reels are Eagle Claw brand rods. I currently have the Cat Claw 8 foot casting Medium-Heavy rods. They are very economical, I think I purchased them for about $20 bucks each at Academy. They’ve lasted for years, and I’ve haven’t needed to replace them. They’re sturdy enough to handle a bull red and they’re light enough to feel a bite from the smallest fish. I can use up to a two once spider weight rig using these fishing poles.
The fishing rods that I use for my Abu Garcia 7000 reels are Okuma brand rods. I currently have the Solaris 11 foot surf casting rods. These rods are awesome. They are a graphite composite, so they are light but are also work horses. I first had them tested when a giant sting ray gobbled a piece of cut sand trout I had hooked on, and they have some backbone!! Also, they won’t cost you an arm and a leg. I purchased them off Amazon for about $85 bucks each. I can really get distance with these rods. On my rigs I usually use about a 4 ounce surf spider weight, and even with a large bait, I can catapult my rigs out there!!
The fishing rod that I purchased for my Avet 80 is a custom 130lb class rod built by Bar-Bar tackle. I purchased it on eBay. I searched some forums before purchasing it, and I found a few reviews, and they were all positive. The grips feel good in my hands, and I love the hammerhead graphic. I tested my reel maxing out my drag scale at 50lbs and the rod felt really good. I can’t wait for my first large hook-up.
I think I need to invest in an actual fishing rod storage tube. Currently I’m using a vintage shotgun sleeve case. My rods are two piece so it makes storage and transport much easier.
SALTWATER SURF FISHING GEAR TOOLS
The drag scale that I have is a Manley 2012 Brass Fishing Scale with Tell-Tale Ring, with a max drag reading of 50lbs. It seems to be a well made scale, and its easy to read. It’s made of brass so its’s supposed to be corrosion-resistant. I like the cylinder shape, and I think it will be useful for weighing big drum too.
A good pair of cutters is essential for any tackle box. I have a 2-in-1 crimper and wire cutting tool that I bought from Academy. It works perfectly for cutting line and wire, and I use it to crimp up to 80lb wire leaders. But as I started learning about land based shark fishing and the types of leaders that are used to fight monstrosities of the sea, I found out that a swaging tool is needed to crimp shark leaders. I tried to crimp a large a 2.3mm aluminum sleeve with my simple crimping tool, and it barely made a dent. I purchased a swaging tool from home depot for $20 bucks and it gets the job done. I weigh about 190lbs and its pretty cool when I can put all of my weight onto a leader without popping it or slipping the sleeves.
SALTWATER SURF FISHING LEADERS AND TERMINAL TACKLE
For my big casted rigs I’ve opted to purchase pre-made fishing leaders. I ordered my 12ft castable shark rigs from M.T. Pockets Tackle Company at http://stores.mtpocketstackle.com/. The 12ft castable rigs consist of 6 feet of .080 weed eater line (400lb test), 6 feet of 270lb red/black vinyl coated Stainless steel cable, and a 16/0 red plastic coated circle hook. I’ve fished them once before and I can get good distance on my casts.
I opted to make the rig that I will be using on my Avet 80. I purchased 100 yards of Lingren-Pitman red Primeline 500lb monofilament. I also purchased a 1lb coil of #19 Tooth Proof wire, 360lb. For the hook I purchased 18/0 red plastic coated Mustad Circle Hooks. For the weight I purchased 1lb spider weights. I purchased all the fishing tackle online.
For the other terminal tackle I purchased the HiSeas Grand Slam 2.3mm aluminum sleeves to crimp the 500lb monofilament. I’ve read that you are supposed to use aluminum sleeves to crimp monofilament, and brass/iron sleeves to crimp wire cable. For the swivels I purchased 6/0 600lb Rosco barrel swivels. I also bought 2.8mm HiSeas stainless steel thimbles.
You should note that the actual swivel size (e.g. 1/0, 2/0, or 6/0) is important. I read that when making shark leaders that you should use 500lb swivels, and so I did. But once I got them I realized that the eyes on the 500lb swivels that I purchased (511lb 1/0 AFW crane swivel) did not fit the 2.8mm thimble I was using. When making shark leaders I recommend using at least 6/0 swivels to fit 2.8mm thimbles.
The #19 tooth proof wire that I purchased is for the 6ft bite portion of the shark leader. The reason I opted for #19 wire versus a heavy pound wire cable, is solely because of Tiger sharks. I’ve read that due to Tiger shark’s serrated teeth, that they can bite through wire cable. I’ve seen pictures of popped cable, and you can tell that the Tiger shark teeth were cutting the individual strands of the wire cable, which eventually led to it popping. To connect the #19 wire you should use what is called the Haywire Twist. This is my first attempt. I need more practice, but I think my first try looks pretty good. I put a thimble through the swivel to support the mono and double crimped it because I’m paranoid. Better to do it and not need it, than not do it and lose a huge fish because my crimps failed. I believe the only acceptable reason to loose a fish is a pulled hook.
SALTWATER SURF FISHING POLE HOLDERS
I have some short pole holder spikes that I use for freshwater fishing. They’re only about a foot long. I like taking them to the beach to help keep my fishing reels clean. Instead of leaning a pole on a chair or against the tail of the truck, which inevitably means it sliding off face down into the sand, I’ll just throw the rod into a short holder, while I re-rig, re-bait, or grab another beer.
For my standard pole holders I made my own. I bought angled steel and PVC from Home Depot. I drilled holes and connected them with nuts and bolts. They’re sturdy and go into the sand easily, and the angle provides good stability for when a rod doubles over.
MISCELLANEOUS SALTWATER SURF FISHING GEAR
I also bought a hook sharpener. I’ve never really used one, but since a person can fish for days and only get one quality shark bite, I figure I need to do whatever I can to capitalize on that opportunity when it comes. I tested the sharpener on a 18/0 circle hook and the hook was noticeably sharper.
For my fishing tackle box I use a tackle bag with trays. I keep my bag simple; weights, hooks, swivels, mono and steel line, crimp sleeves, beads, corks/bobbers, and bobber-stops. Of course I employ different varieties such as egg weights versus spider weights, and J-hooks versus treble hooks. I have small plastic storage for miscellaneous things like a crimper, wire cutter, slip ties, scales, and other things that might be needed on a fishing trip.
That about does it for my gear essentials. By no means is this an exhaustive post. You no doubt will also need things like an ice chest, bait buckets, and a cast net, and things to make a trip comfortable like chairs and a shade umbrella or tent. I still have to stop by the bait and tackle shop before I hit the sand for a few last minute purchases.
If you think there is a glaring gear omission, drop me a comment.