How to

Gear & Rigs for the Beach

Fishing School

Selecting user-friendly gear and tackle, and using the right rigs and terminals, will definitely increase your beach fishing success.

AFTER finding and reading beaches (as detailed in last month’s issue) and then working out where and what you’ll fish for are the main factors that influence what gear you use for surf fishing.

Let’s talk about rods and reels first. Most people realise that beach rods are usually long (3m+) and pretty strong but they don’t realise why. Beach rods need to be long to allow them to cast big distances and also to keep the line clear of the shore break. Having your line caught in waves and current can cause drag on your sinker, causing it to move unnaturally and creating slack in your line. Slack line will make it much harder for you to feel bites. Beach rods need to be powerful, not so much to catch big fish but more to cast the heavy sinkers commonly used in many beach fishing scenarios. You can use shorter, lighter rods, especially for lure casting, but if you want to get serious about beach fishing, you’ll need to get hold of a purpose designed beach rod.

There are few reels more synonymous with Australian beach fishing than the Alvey sidecast. Their simple design and robust construction makes them almost indestructible. If a sidecast is your current reel of choice then I’m not going to talk you out of it. Alveys are great reels. But if you are new to beach fishing, I’d suggest you look at a suitable threadline reel. Modern threadlines are robust and corrosion resistant. Provided you take the appropriate preventative maintenance measures, a quality reel will last you many years of use. One reason I recommend a threadline for beach fishing is that they are pretty easy to use. However, the most important reason I like these reels is due to the line that I recommend you use for your beach work. I’ve been using braid from the beach for more than two decades now and am totally convinced that it completely out-performs traditional mono. The fine diameter of quality braid means you can cast it farther than mono. Also, it offers less resistance in the water, meaning less line drag. You can also considerably downsize your reel from the 8000 size commonly used in the old days to a 4000 or 5000 size. This reduces the overall weight of the outfit, allowing you to fish more effectively. Braid is also low stretch, meaning that it’s very sensitive, giving you a better feel for bites. Without wanting to downplay the effectiveness of sidecasts, unless you take great care using braided line on these reels can create huge line twist and tangle problems. I’m sure there are some anglers who manage to use it effectively but for beginners, I suggest sidecasts and braid are not a great mix!

Your choice of rig links directly back to the previous column on finding and reading beaches. Let’s keep it simple and break beach rigs into two simple types: a paternoster and a running sinker rig. A paternoster rig has the sinker at the bottom of the rig on a trace leading up to a three-way swivel. The mainline attaches to the top eye of the swivel and a short trace to the hook comes off the right angled eye. See the illo opposite for more detail. I mainly use a paternoster when fishing for predatory fish because when I put my bait in a good spot I want to keep it there because predators like salmon and tailor will be moving and looking for food. A paternoster rig with a star or other type of “anchor” sinker will keep my bait in the strike zone. Forage fish, like bream, whiting or dart, will often be in one spot waiting for the food to come to them. For this reason, I use a basic running sinker rig initially with a reasonably light ball sinker so the rig can move. I’ll cast out and allow the rip to take my rig to the fish. Once I have a few bites, I’ll up-size the sinker to slow it down and cast it to where I am getting the bites.

Check out the Fisho TV section on the Fishing World website for handy vids on rigs and rigging up for beach fishing.

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