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Planning on doing some surf fishing this September in the Outer Banks. Will be my first time surf fishing and I'm not really sure on what sizes and types of hooks I should be using. I plan to just soak some bait (cut mullet, FB's, shrimp, sandfleas, etc.) in the surf on some double bottom rigs and/or fish finder rigs. Not really planning on heaving a big setup way out, just plan on doing more close to the beach surf fishing. That time of year I should be expecting specks, spots, mullet and maybe some puppy drum. So what would you guys recommend for a good all around hook style and size? How about sinkers for the setups I'm thinking of using? Pyramids? I know it will depend a lot on the weather, current, etc., but how much weight should I expect to be chucking to keep my rigs in place in the surf? Any other tips/recommendations are welcome. Thanks!!
 

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I've done well with long drop fluoro bottom rigs with #4 Owner Mutu circle hooks and fleas, shrimp, and Fishbites catching sea mullet/whiting, pompano, spot, croaker, short black drum, small blues, etc. For cut bait I'd go up to 3/0-5/0 circles depending on size of bait and what you're targeting.

2-3 oz pyramids (I use storm sinkers) should work fine, but definitely have some 4-6 oz just in case. Frog tongues work great up there too. If it takes much more than a 4 oz I'd go to a pier or sightseeing.

You don't need to go heavy but you need to be able to hit the 2nd bar and go past it if needed if you're serious about catching.
 

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First time surf fishing, cool!
I will second what SmoothLures recommends, Owner brand, light wire mutu circle hooks in sizes #4 and #2 are going to land you fish, guaranteed! Keep it real simple to start and use double dropper rigs and your choice of small pieces of fresh bait and work up from there, cool? Until you get in some beach time, don't overthink it, just try to catch fish and build on what is successful. Use enough weight to hold bottom, and fish close in. Goood luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've done well with long drop fluoro bottom rigs with #4 Owner Mutu circle hooks and fleas, shrimp, and Fishbites catching sea mullet/whiting, pompano, spot, croaker, short black drum, small blues, etc. For cut bait I'd go up to 3/0-5/0 circles depending on size of bait and what you're targeting.

2-3 oz pyramids (I use storm sinkers) should work fine, but definitely have some 4-6 oz just in case. Frog tongues work great up there too. If it takes much more than a 4 oz I'd go to a pier or sightseeing.

You don't need to go heavy but you need to be able to hit the 2nd bar and go past it if needed if you're serious about catching.
Thanks. I think we'll be mostly targeting mullet, spot and other smaller fish in close. I'll be sure to keep my hook sizes appropriate for my double bottom rigs for those types of fish and the accompanying bait. For cut bait I have 4/0 - 6/0 in both kahle and circle. I like the kahle for large channel and flathead catfish. Do you find the circle hooks work better in the surf than kahle? Also, I'm thinking fish finder rigs for cut bait. Should I be considering another type of rig for that?

Sounds good on the sinkers. Was planning on picking up some 2, 3, 4, and 5 oz pyramids. Like you said, if it takes any more than that we'll find something else to do.

When you say I need to be able to hit and go past the 2nd bar if I'm serious about catching, is this in general or more for if we are targeting something like red drum and other larger fish? I have a fairly light setup, for surf fishing anyway. I have 3 setups I'll be using. All 3 are Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 5500 C3's matched with 7' M/H Ugly Stik Catfish rods. I know they are not the most ideal setups for surf fishing, but it's what I use chasing large channel cats and flatheads in my local river so I'm going to make them work rather than purchase additional equipment for a week a year of surf fishing. I can chuck 2 ounces of lead with a large bluegill a ways, so I think I'll be alright with distance, but line capacity on my 5500's might be an issue. Thinking of going with 15# mono instead of the 20# I typically use for catfishing to increase my line capacity. Will 15# be enough, or should I stick with 20#?

Thanks again for the tips/advice. Really appreciated!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
First time surf fishing, cool!
I will second what SmoothLures recommends, Owner brand, light wire mutu circle hooks in sizes #4 and #2 are going to land you fish, guaranteed! Keep it real simple to start and use double dropper rigs and your choice of small pieces of fresh bait and work up from there, cool? Until you get in some beach time, don't overthink it, just try to catch fish and build on what is successful. Use enough weight to hold bottom, and fish close in. Goood luck.
Yes, first time surf fishing. Looking forward to it!!

Sounds good on the hook sizes and double drop bottom rigs. I'm planning on keeping things simple and laid back. Of course, I want to catch fish, but don't want to stress over it either. I do that enough chasing smallmouth and catfish on my local river!!

Thanks for the help!!!
 

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Big fan of khale hooks here. #1's for mullets and pomps. Your 4/0 and 5/0's will work for flounder, drum, blues, etc...
 

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We use circle hooks ,#1 to 5/0 depending on what is biting. Smaller hooks for whiting, pomps etc, larger hooks for drum ,flounder and blues.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
In relation to sinkers and hooks, what # test line would you guys recommend? I'm thinking 12-15# mono (Berkely Big Game) for my 2 double bottom rigs targeting spots, specks, mullet, etc. These rigs will be casted out to the first holes, troughs and cuts. Then 15-20# mono (Berkely Big Game) for my one bottom rig/fish finder rig baited with cut bait. This one will be tossed out to the further sandbars, cuts, holes, etc. for the chance at a larger red or similar fish. I don't plan on heaving either setup with all my might as far as the eye can see, so I don't think any sort of shock leader will be necessary. I plan to tie my bottom rigs and fish finder rigs all with 20# mono. Thoughts?
 

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You don't have to get even close to the "second bar" to catch sea mullet and pompano. Find a decent rip current and fish the edges of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
You don't have to get even close to the "second bar" to catch sea mullet and pompano. Find a decent rip current and fish the edges of it.
Thanks. That's what I've gathered as far as distance goes. But figured I would rig up my third rod with cut bait and cast it further out for a chance at a drum and other fish.
 

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re read what Smooth lures and Gorge said...
I don't follow. I read and understand both of their posts and they make sense. But what I'm now trying to figure out is what # test line would be best for my plans. Hence my post below from earlier.

BigTerp said:
In relation to sinkers and hooks, what # test line would you guys recommend? I'm thinking 12-15# mono (Berkely Big Game) for my 2 double bottom rigs targeting spots, specks, mullet, etc. These rigs will be casted out to the first holes, troughs and cuts. Then 15-20# mono (Berkely Big Game) for my one bottom rig/fish finder rig baited with cut bait. This one will be tossed out to the further sandbars, cuts, holes, etc. for the chance at a larger red or similar fish. I don't plan on heaving either setup with all my might as far as the eye can see, so I don't think any sort of shock leader will be necessary. I plan to tie my bottom rigs and fish finder rigs all with 20# mono. Thoughts?
 

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You will be fine wth your 12-15 for both set ups. I only use 17lb on my heavers with 8 n bait. Additionally, I use a shock leader on all of my set ups. 50lb shocker for aanything over 4 oz., and 20lb for 1-3 oz.
 

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We use circle hooks ,#1 to 5/0 depending on what is biting. Smaller hooks for whiting, pomps etc, larger hooks for drum ,flounder and blues.
Yes, circle hooks! They were intended to hook fish in the mouth, not in the gut. The sizes suggested is what i use in Hawaii from Scads to Trevally. Good suggestion.
 

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Thanks. I think we'll be mostly targeting mullet, spot and other smaller fish in close. I'll be sure to keep my hook sizes appropriate for my double bottom rigs for those types of fish and the accompanying bait. For cut bait I have 4/0 - 6/0 in both kahle and circle. I like the kahle for large channel and flathead catfish. Do you find the circle hooks work better in the surf than kahle? Also, I'm thinking fish finder rigs for cut bait. Should I be considering another type of rig for that?

Sounds good on the sinkers. Was planning on picking up some 2, 3, 4, and 5 oz pyramids. Like you said, if it takes any more than that we'll find something else to do.

When you say I need to be able to hit and go past the 2nd bar if I'm serious about catching, is this in general or more for if we are targeting something like red drum and other larger fish? I have a fairly light setup, for surf fishing anyway. I have 3 setups I'll be using. All 3 are Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 5500 C3's matched with 7' M/H Ugly Stik Catfish rods. I know they are not the most ideal setups for surf fishing, but it's what I use chasing large channel cats and flatheads in my local river so I'm going to make them work rather than purchase additional equipment for a week a year of surf fishing. I can chuck 2 ounces of lead with a large bluegill a ways, so I think I'll be alright with distance, but line capacity on my 5500's might be an issue. Thinking of going with 15# mono instead of the 20# I typically use for catfishing to increase my line capacity. Will 15# be enough, or should I stick with 20#?

Thanks again for the tips/advice. Really appreciated!!
Yes they are certainly in close often. It's one of the things I always tell new surf fishermen: fish at your feet. But when they are on the bar and you can't reach them, it's pretty frustrating. In SC I just take 7' rods just like yours and fish in close because there is no structure, but in the OBX one of these setups aren't going to reach the bar. My first OBX trip I had a day where I was getting the fingerling sea mullet in the suds, but the bigger eaters as well as a nice pomp despite the dirty churned up water came off the bar. I now carry a magged Abu and a Squall 12 on lighter 8-10' rods to get out there.

If you just want to sit on the beach and enjoy your day and catch some fish then I wouldn't bother, but if you're targeting dinner or wanting to take fillets home it might be worth your money. Up to you. If you have a 4WD you can also just keep driving to closer structure like Gorge's recommendation. I walk with a cart so I'm limited.

Fishfinder rigs are perfect for cut bait. Saltwater fish usually hit hard and keep going making circle hooks perfect. I do a lot of catfishing myself for big blues up to the 70 lb range and I know they can be frustrating getting them stuck with circle hooks when they're not hitting aggressively. You can use kahle hooks if you want just use something that will rust out because drum love to swallow the bait deep to their crushers.

12-15 lb or even 10 lb line is great for your 7' bottom fishing rods. I use clear 14 lb personally. You can even use 20. I've never needed a shock leader until moving up to heavier gear including throwing 7' Ugly Sticks with 14lb mono as hard as I can with 3 oz sinkers. I use 30 lb clear BBG as a shock leader when I need one on the bigger bottom fishing rods throwing 2-4 oz and 50-60 lb BBG shock leader on my heavers throwing 4-6 oz + bait.

15-17 lb on your designated cut bait rod wouldn't be the worst idea. 20 lb probably won't give you enough line on a 5500.

Yes to tying your bottom rigs with 20 or 25 lb mono, if you can swing it getting a spool of Seaguar 25 lb fluorocarbon is an A+ idea as well. No to fishfinder/cutbait rigs out of 20 lb especially if using kahle hooks where the line is likely to rub on teeth. I'd go 40 bare minimum. 50-60 is better.

That should get you going...there are many different ways to do it, this is just mine. It works for me.
 
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