Once you have your coastal recreational fishing license in hand, it’s time to start thinking about gear. Anglers will find tons of options when it comes to equipment for casting into the surf, from custom designed rods and reels at local tackle shops, to name brand varieties that are designed for multiple areas along the coastline.

Here are just a few of the most popular gear options for surf fishermen. Keep in mind that there are endless options available, and your local bait and tackle store staff will be happy to point you in the right direction if you have any questions about what you’ll need for successful surf fishing in any given area along the North Carolina coastline.

We were not provided with free or discounted products to review. These recommendations were not influenced by manufacturers. We did, however, heavily consider customer reviews at retail websites when deciding which products to feature. We like these products, but we took care to make sure other customers agree. Some of the product links include affiliate codes. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

A man surf fishing on the beach

Surf Fishing Rods

Rods can be purchased separately, or as a rod and reel combo. Though the length can vary by beach and surf conditions, local anglers traditionally recommend using an 8′ to 16′ light to medium surf type rod, which can adapt to most conditions and most species. Keep in mind that the rod you choose has a lot to do with your physical size – some rods are heavy, and can tire out an angler quickly after multiple casts.

A Sample of Top Rated Rod & Reel Combos

Sea Striker ST5080 Surf Spin Combo, Multi
$36.99

Available in different colors and sizes to suit your needs * Constructed tough and ready for any saltwater action * Can by used by anglers of all skill levels * Country of Origin:China

Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo,Black/Red/Yellow
$89.95

Ugly Tech Construction * Ugly Stik Clear Tip * Ugly Tuff Guides * Fuji Reel Seat * Durable Rubber Gimbal (select models)

*Prices are updated several times a day, but subject to change at any moment

 

Surf Fishing Line

Your line will literally make or break your ability to reel in a catch. Look for 20-25 test line for the best results in all conditions, and go for Nylon Monofilament, Fluorocarbon, or Braided Line varieties in terms of materials. Monofilament nylon is a great choice for new anglers, as it is fairly cheap, knots well, and has an inherent stretch, which is a great attribute for surf fishermen who are developing their skills.

A Sample of Top Rated Saltwater Fishing Lines

KastKing Superpower Braided Fishing Line,Low-Vis Gray,20 LB,327 Yds
$16.99

Strong knot strength - dynamically incorporated strands in KastKing Superpower braided lines allow you to easily tie a more solid knot; you can even tie an improved clinch knot. * Low memory - helps...

YOTO Fishing Leaders,Saltwater Tackle Rig with Swivels Snap, High-Strength Fishing Wire Gear Equipment for Lures Bait Or Hooks,1Arm and 2Arm
$9.99

????2 arm 12pcs white nylon monofilament leaders,main leader test 90lb, arm leader test 55lb, keep hooks free of leader. * ????When it's time to protect or strengthen your main line, using a steel...

*Prices are updated several times a day, but subject to change at any moment

 

Rigs for Surf Fishing

Like all gear designed for surf fishing, when it comes to rigs and rig set-ups, there are a lot of options, which generally depend on the fish you are targeting, the season, and other conditions and factors that change depending on where along the North Carolina coastline you land. In fact, there is likely a unique and distinct type of rig available for every species of fish, and every type of body of saltwater.

Some experienced anglers attest that the best set-up for beginners is likely a basic two-hook leader with 3-4 ounce pyramid sinker and Khale hooks, which are adaptable for virtually all water conditions and types of fish. In addition, you can opt for the three following popular surf fishing rigs:

YOTO Fishing Leaders,Saltwater Tackle Rig with Swivels Snap, High-Strength Fishing Wire Gear Equipment for Lures Bait Or Hooks,1Arm and 2Arm
$9.99

????2 arm 12pcs white nylon monofilament leaders,main leader test 90lb, arm leader test 55lb, keep hooks free of leader. * ????When it's time to protect or strengthen your main line, using a steel...

Saltwater Surf Fishing Tackle Kit - Saltwater Surf Fishing Rigs Include Fishing Wire Leader Pyramid Sinker Weight Bass Casting Sinker Circle Hooks Surf Fishing Accessories
$19.99

SURF FISHING TACKLE: Includes 12pcs fishing leaders, 4pcs pyramid sinker weight, 1pc bass casting sinker, 10pcs circle hooks * HIGH QUALITY: All of the surf fishing tackle kit are made with the high...

*Prices are updated several times a day, but subject to change at any moment

Rod holders

Sand spike and other varieties of rod holders will hold your rod in place when you need a break, or just want to enjoy a little downtime relaxing on the beach. This piece of equipment comes in a variety of different materials – such as PVC or aluminum – as well as different lengths, and different price ranges. Rod holders that are made of PVC or ABS plastic are traditionally the least expensive, but if you’re in rough ocean conditions and do a lot of surf fishing, upgrading to a more durable metal rod holder may be your best rouet.

A sample of popular models for sand spike rod holders:

Sea Striker 27-2P PVC Sand Spike
$6.99

Product Type: Sporting Goods * Package Dimensions: 72.39 L X 3.81 W X 5.08 H (Centimeters) * Product Is More Durable And Long Lasting * Package Weight: 0.5 Pounds

Sea Striker Deluxe Surf, Pier and Beach Cart – Outdoor Fishing Rolling Wheel Wagon
$64.99

SURF CART: This all-around, versatile cart has a heavy-duty frame and comes with the capability to hold up to MOST 54 quart coolers. Get this adventure filled piece of equipment that includes a frame...

The Beast Sand Spike Rod Holder / 57 inches/Aluminum/Stainless Steel Hardware
$45.98

Inside diameter 1.65”, 2” angle, 1/8” thick, 57”, plastic reel protector. * 100% Aluminum with stainless steel hardware. * Knee plate is great for pushing the Beast deep into beach sand.

BLUEWING Adjustable Anodized Aluminum Sand Spike Corrosion Resistance Surf Fishing Rod Holder for Beach Fishing Sand Spikes, 1pc
$45.99

Upgraded Adjustable Design: Our adjustable sand spike is specially designed with positioning holes that make it easy for you to adjust the length to accomodate your fishing rod. * Sturdy & Durable...

*Prices are updated several times a day, but subject to change at any moment

Pyramid weights

A pyramid weight is often the preferred weight for surf fishermen, as it can stand up to currents and hold at the bottom. A roughly 2 oz. to 4 oz. pyramid weight should hold strong in most ocean conditions, when used in conjunction with a surf rod. If it’s a rough day, or you are fishing on a beach with large breakers close to the shore, up the weight a bit to hold strong in the surf.

Pyramid Sinkers Fishing Weights Kit Bullet Fishing Weights Sinkers for Ocean Saltwater Surf Fishing Gear Tackle 1oz 2oz 3oz 4oz 5oz 6oz 8oz
$9.99

Fishing drop sinkers can help take your bait down to where big fish lurk. Great drop sinkers to attract bigger fish. * JSHANMEI fishing sinkers hold in strong waves and current extremely well due to...

Pyramid Sinkers Fishing Weights, Bullet Fishing Sinkers Weights for Saltwater Surf Fishing Gear Tackle 8oz 6oz 5oz 4oz 3oz 2oz 1oz
$9.99

Fishing sinkers holds the bottom of rivers,lakes and oceans extremely well due to pyramid design * The pointed tip and flat sides won't let this sinker weight roll with the tide, keeping your rig...

*Prices are updated several times a day, but subject to change at any moment

Cart

A cart will make a surf fisherman’s life infinitely easier when heading to and from the beach. Built to be pulled across the sand with ease, and large enough to hold all the essential equipment and then some, a beach cart is a great way to pack and tote along all the equipment you’ll need for a full day on the sand.

Look for carts that can hold a lot of weight – you may be bringing back plenty of big catches, after all – as well as carts that have larger than normal, sturdy wheels. Larger wheels will essentially transform a standard cart into a 4WD mode of transportation that can easily haul your supplies across soft sand.

A sample of popular models for surf fishing carts:

Sea Striker Deluxe Surf, Pier and Beach Cart – Outdoor Fishing Rolling Wheel Wagon
$64.99

SURF CART: This all-around, versatile cart has a heavy-duty frame and comes with the capability to hold up to MOST 54 quart coolers. Get this adventure filled piece of equipment that includes a frame...

Sea Striker BRSC Beach Runner Fishing and Beach Cart,Multicolor
$99.99

SURF CART: This all-around, versatile cart has a heavy-duty frame and comes with the capability to hold up to MOST 54 quart coolers. Get this adventure filled piece of equipment that includes a frame...

Gorilla Carts 200 Pound Heavy Duty Aluminum Poly Bed Fish and Marine Cart for Fishing, Picnic, and Other Outdoor Activities with Rod Holders, Gray
$199.99

HEAVY-DUTY CART: Poly fishing and marine utility cart wagon with 200-pound capacity for maneuvering heavy fishing gear, picnic supplies, or sporting equipment; Overall cart height of 24.75 inches ...

Sea Striker Balloon Tire Surf and Beach Cart - Outdoor Fishing Rolling Wheel Wagon
$199.99

Surf Cart: This all-around, versatile cart has a heavy-duty frame and comes with the capability to hold up to MOST 55-quart coolers. Carry up to 125 lbs. of beach items and surf fishing equipment to...

*Prices are updated several times a day, but subject to change at any moment

Waders

If you want a longer cast, and you prefer to fish in colder or cooler weather, waders will be your best friend. Waders are effectively worn like overalls, protecting the lower 3/4th of your body from water inundation when you wade out to the surf to cast.

Don’t skimp on quality when it comes to waders! Inexpensive varieties can leak, which can turn a great fishing day into a bad one fairly quickly.

A sample of popular models for surf fishing waders

FROGG TOGGS Hellbender Breathable Stockingfoot Fishing Chest Wader
$81.77

WATERPROOF and BREATHABLE – 4-ply Nylon Upper constructed with DRIPORE Gen 2 material. Breathable, lightweight, abrasion-resistant, 100% waterproof * NEOPRENE BOOTIES – 4mm Waterproof, double...

*Prices are updated several times a day, but subject to change at any moment

Bait and Lures

One of the hardest decisions for surf fishermen is what type of bait, or artificial lure, to use for the best results. Many local tackle shops can direct new anglers in the right direction when it comes to what’s biting, and what bait or lures to use, but here’s a closer look at some of the most popular varieties for fishing along coastal North Carolina.

Bait

  • Shrimp – Virtually all saltwater species are attracted to shrimp, which is why it’s found in just about every bait and tackle store up and down the North Carolina coastline. Fresh shrimp is generally preferred over frozen if you can find it, and it’s recommended that you remove the head, cut the shrimp into 3-4 bite-sized pieces if desired, and hook the shrimp through the dorsal back so that it stays securely on the hook.
  • Sand Fleas – Sand fleas are a great (and effective) on-the-spot option when surf fishermen are out of bait, or out of money. In the summer months, sand fleas can often be obtained by digging through the sand close to the ocean wash. Able to attract a wide array of species, sand fleas can also be purchased at bait and tackle stores when they aren’t plentiful along the shoreline.
  • Mullet – Cut mullet is another catch-all bait that can attract a wide array of species. Discard the tail, and cut into small chunks for the best results. Small bait mullet can also be caught for free in area sounds, saltwater canals, marshes, and other calm salty waters with a bucket or a cast net.
  • Menhaden – Menhaden is a cut-bait fish that is popular with bluefish, sea trout, and striped bass – some of the most prevalent species along the North Carolina coastline. Most bait shops will have menhaden available, which can be easily cut and hooked.
  • Squid – Squid is a frequent option at North Carolina bait shops, as it works well with saltwater species of all varieties, and of all sizes. Use whole smaller squids for targeting the big fish, or cut up squid into smaller piece.
  • Clams and Oysters – Though tricky to hook, clams and oysters can attract a wide array of species. Just be sure and stock up – it’s easy for this bait to slide off a hook in rougher ocean conditions.
  • Bloodworms or ragworms – Bloodworms are also available in most all North Carolina bait and tackle stores, as they work well in all conditions, for all types of fish. (They’re also nicely inexpensive!) Best of all, bloodworms can be used for surf fishing, as well as targeting inland streams, canals, and sound waters throughout the coastline.

Lures

When it comes to lures, there are plenty of options, and what an angler uses is all dependent on where they are headed, and what they are targeting.  Bait and tackle store will provide the best recommendations for lures to use for specific species, weather conditions, and seasons, but there are a few popular varieties to try that can work in most any coastal fishing environment.

Here are some of the most popular types of lures for saltwater fishing.

Bomber Lures Mullet Slow-Sinking Twitch, Walking Saltwater Fishing Lure, Excellent for Speckled Trout, Redfish, Stripers and More, 3 1/2
$8.89

Slow-sinking twitch/walking lure with erratic action mimics prominent in-shore forage and catches all species of inshore game-fish, including speckled trout, redfish, striped bass and more. * Can be...

TRUSCEND Fishing Lures for Bass Trout Jighead Lures Paddle Tail Swimbaits Soft Fishing Baits Freshwater Saltwater Jigging Bass Gear Fishing Gifts for Men
$14.99

WIDELY FISHING SPECIES - Using Japan material, the freshwater fishing lures is the perfect size at 3.5in, which ready to take on multiple hits. Whether you are fishing reefs, estuaries, rivers, fresh...

10PCS Saltwater Fishing Lures Shrimp Baits Set, Premium Soft Shrimp Fishing Tackle with Luminous Sharp Hooks, for Freshwater and Saltwater - Syosisny
$9.99

ULTRA SOFT LIFE-LIKE FISHING LURES: Soft plastic shrimp fishing lures set includes 10PCS soft shrimp baits that made of high quality plastic material, very soft body and alive swimming actions...

*Prices are updated several times a day, but subject to change at any moment

Pier fishermen

Other Gear You’ll Need for Surf Fishing

In addition to all of the above essentials, there are some other tools you’ll need to bring along to ensure you have everything you need for a full day (or night) of surf fishing along the North Carolina coastline. Available at bait and tackle stores, sporting goods stores, and even traditional beach shops or grocery stores, look for these items that will make it easier to spend long hours on the beach.

Plano Z-Series 3700 Tackle Bag, Gray, PVC Fabric with Waterproof and Non-Skid Base, Includes 2 3700 StowAway Utility Boxes, Soft Fishing Tackle Storage Bag

Plano Z-Series 3700 Tackle Bag, Gray, PVC Fabric with Waterproof and Non-Skid Base, Includes 2 3700 StowAway Utility Boxes, Soft Fishing Tackle Storage Bag

Anglers can opt for a traditional tackle box that holds all their lines, lures, hooks, weights, and other small pieces of gear, or can use a surf bag, which is a little more lightweight and easier to carry when your hands are already full. Look for surf bags that are waterproof with multiple compartments for organized surf fishing.

$89.84

Piscifun Fishing Pliers, Saltwater Fishing Pliers with Split Ring, Fish Hook Remover, Corrosion Resistance Fly Fishing Pliers with Braid Cutters, Sheath and Lanyard, Fishing Gear Gifts for Men, Black

Piscifun Fishing Pliers, Saltwater Fishing Pliers with Split Ring, Fish Hook Remover, Corrosion Resistance Fly Fishing Pliers with Braid Cutters, Sheath and Lanyard, Fishing Gear Gifts for Men, Black

Pliers will help you remove hooks from your catches, but it’s helpful to find a pair that is both small and waterproof. Shop for titanium pliers which can withstand the effects of saltwater for years to come.

$17.99

KastKing Bait Knife and Fillet Knife, Boning and Food Prep Knives, 5 inch Bait Knife

KastKing Bait Knife and Fillet Knife, Boning and Food Prep Knives, 5 inch Bait Knife

A small knife will help you cut bait, lines, and any other equipment that you’ll require for a day of fishing. Like all surf fishing tools, waterproof is key, or at the very least, look for smaller knives that come with a waterproof case.

$21.99

VIMOV Saltwater Fishing Pliers (2 Pack), Stainless Steel Plating Titanium Multi Tool (Hook Remover, Braid Line Cutter, Split Ring Opener) for Saltwater Angling, Kayak and Boating

VIMOV Saltwater Fishing Pliers (2 Pack), Stainless Steel Plating Titanium Multi Tool (Hook Remover, Braid Line Cutter, Split Ring Opener) for Saltwater Angling, Kayak and Boating

There are a number of modern surf fishing tools that act like a Swiss army knife, and can perform a lot of functions all at once. A multi-use tool is a great option for anglers who don’t want to lug around extra equipment, and who would prefer to stick to the bare minimum of stuff to pack and carry along when it comes to gear.

Flying Fisherman Polarized Sunglasses with 100% UVA & UVB Protection for Fishing, Biking, Golf, Hiking, Beach, Driving – BUCHANAN, Gunmetal Frames with Copper Tinted Lenses (7719GC)

Flying Fisherman Polarized Sunglasses with 100% UVA & UVB Protection for Fishing, Biking, Golf, Hiking, Beach, Driving – BUCHANAN, Gunmetal Frames with Copper Tinted Lenses (7719GC)

Sunglasses are a must on hot and sunny days along the North Carolina coastline, and a polarized pair of sunglasses will help you see clearly through the water – often even better than with the naked eye! Costa is a popular brand for surf fishermen, as their sunglasses are durable, polarized, and are designed to stand up to the salt air.

$21.19

 

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