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I am a long time fisherman but am a newcomer to surf casting. I have been fishing the surf for about six weeks now and have lots of questions. First I would like to say I love the sport, it seems much more rewarding to me than the types of fishing I have done in the past, even if less productive (so far) It also seems much more challenging.

I have read a few books on the subject but would like answers from surf veterens on some specific questions. I am fishing north Florida from New Smyrna Beach to St. Augustine, using an 11 ft Tica graphite rod with an Okuma Coronado CD-90, 20 lb test with 40 lb shock leader.

1) What are the pros and cons of having the bail removed? I have seen some with rubber bands holding the bail. Would it be easier to remove it and manually pick up the line?

2) Wire or Mono leaders? Pros and Cons? What lb. mono?

3) What style/size hook? Or is this specific to the species of fish expected at the beach that day?

4) How can "read" the water for holes, troughs, cuts ect.?

5) Is live bait always better than cut bait? Baitfish, mullet, ect.

6) How far can a skilled surf fisherman expect to cast with a spinning reel w/ 11ft rod on 20 # test? Do conventional reels really outperform spinners that much?

7) What lb. test line would you recommend in the north Florida area? How much diiference is there between 12-15lb test and 20lb test in casting, all other factors being equal? How much less is a thinner diameter line (15lb) line moved around by wind and waves than thicker line like 20 lb test?

8) Even using an 8 oz. pyramid weight, my line seems to wash down the beach less than a minute after casting. Are there sometimes when the current is just too strong? Would a Sputnik sinker help?

9) How effective are spoons/squids, plugs and jigs in the surf compared to bait fishing? What lures are productive on the East Coast of Florida?

10) What is the best all-around rig for baitfishing the bottom? Or is there no "one best"?

Thanks a lot for any input on any of these questions?

Florida Mike
 

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Mike, welcome to the site. Here are some answers I can give you(my opinons really:cool: )

# 1 not sure??

2) Wire or Mono leaders? Pros and Cons? What lb. mono?

I like the mono leaders better than the wire ones because some fish are very picky and will see the wire and be spooked by it, plus you can make these very easily and they won't bend and get kinked like the wire ones. Wire would be more useful if a big school of bluefish come through.

3) What style/size hook? Or is this specific to the species of fish expected at the beach that day?

Circle hooks are the best all around hook now adays. For smaller fish I go with a 5/0 circle hooks on high/low rig. For larger fish I go with an 8/0 or a 9/0 on a fish finder rig.

4) How can "read" the water for holes, troughs, cuts ect.?

Reading the beach takes practice and patience. Click here for an article by Sand Flea on the subject.

5) Is live bait always better than cut bait? Baitfish, mullet, ect.

This is all depending on what kind of fish you are going for. I always say live bait is the best bait because if they are not taking them whole nothing beats cutting them up and making fresh cut bait.

6) How far can a skilled surf fisherman expect to cast with a spinning reel w/ 11ft rod on 20 # test? Do conventional reels really outperform spinners that much?

Very tough question. It really depends on your equipment, type of rig, knowledge of longcasting and form. You should go at least 75 to 100yds(estimate based solely on your equipment) And yes conventionals outperform spinners when it comes to long distance casting. Post on the Long Distance board for more information on this subject.


7) What lb. test line would you recommend in the north Florida area? How much diiference is there between 12-15lb test and 20lb test in casting, all other factors being equal? How much less is a thinner diameter line (15lb) line moved around by wind and waves than thicker line like 20 lb test?

Again depending on what type of fish you are going for. 12 to 20 range should be good. When using a shock leader the 12 to 15 lb will outcast the 20 lb test for sure. A lot of people are going to power pro because it gives you stronger line but thinner diameter. Depending on the wind direction and wave direction I wouldn't say a consideable amount of difference but it may be enough for your sinker to not hold bottom(something to think about there)


8) Even using an 8 oz. pyramid weight, my line seems to wash down the beach less than a minute after casting. Are there sometimes when the current is just too strong? Would a Sputnik sinker help?

Yes, sometimes there is times when the current is too strong. You have to go higher than 8 n bait. Sputnik sinkers usually help but I wouldn't recommend going any higher than your pole is rated for because then you might break it or snap the line and hurt someone around you. I have used upwards of 14 n bait on a pole that was rated for 6 to 12 ozs.

#9 not a real big lure fisherman yet so no decent opinion on that yet.

10) What is the best all-around rig for baitfishing the bottom? Or is there no "one best"?

Your best rig for smaller to medium fishing would be the standard hi/low rig. Economical, and easy to make too. It casts well and gives you two chances to get to the fish. Now for bigger fish I would go with the Fish finder rig. One hook but you are able to put bigger bait on it. It is harder to cast but is a proven rig for bigger fish.


I hope I have helped.:) I am sure other people will chime in and give their opinions. Again welcome aboard!
 

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Reels are kind of my specialty so I'll hazard a comment about your bail question.

Back in the early days of Spinning reels, the bail trip mechanisms tended to be somewhat delicate. The bail springs were often very weak, and the latching devices that hold the bail open, wern't very posative.

They had the very annoying habit, of snapping shut in the middle of a cast, causing the line to break, and the rig to sail off into oblivion.

Longer rods, with heavier sinkers, just aggravated this condition.

So many of the "Serious" Surf Fishers, started taking the bails off thier reels.

Modern, good quality Spinning reels have virtually eliminated this problem. It can still happen, but when it does, it's usually due to the failure of an individual component. Not a fundamental design flaw.

Still, many guys just like the simplicity of a "bail-less" reel.

As to your question about Conventional reel performance, versus Spinning reels.

Yes, in the hands of a very skilled Surfcaster, a Conventional reel will cast heavier line further than a Spinning reel.

But, those "Long Range" outfits, are very specialized in thier applications, and are not always the best choice for every situation.

You'll find a Spinning Reel to be much more forgiving, while you're still learning.

And finally, in reguard to your problems with getting your rig to hold bottom.

There are a couple of factors to consider.

Yes, lighter line offers less resistance to wind and current.

Also, keeping your line up, out of the breaking surf, is important. I use the "tallest" sand spikes possible. 5' or even longer, depending on how tall you are. This is a simple, inexpensive trick, that really helps.

It's not always neccessary, or desirable to cast as far out as possible. Many times the fish you are trying to catch, are right in the "soup", at your feet.

Pompano, Flounder, Kingfish and many other, very desirable species, are more likely to be found within 50' of the beach.

Many experienced Surf Fishers will "Put Out a Spread" when they first hit the beach.

By this I mean, setting up several rods, with different baits and rigs, at various distances.

Even if you're fishing with 1 rod, it's a good idea to start casting in close, and keep working your way out, until you find the fish.

Good Luck
 

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A FEW THOUGHTS

Mike,
I fish the east central florida area also (Playalinda to Sebastian. Your rod, reel, line sounds pretty good to me. You could easily use 12# to 15# line for many species (pompano, whiting, flounder) (please note when Smoothbore refers to kingfish, he is using the northern name for what we call whiting in florida).

I agree a very good rig for these smaller species is the high-low (I call a double dropper) rig. Walmart carries these already made. The Boone double or triple pompano rig is what I buy. Tackle crafters has the same type rig with small float attractors at each hook. These rigs have kahle hooks that work well.

I am surprised to hear that 8 oz does not hold for you. I can use a 2 oz in good conditions, 3-4 oz in heavier and a 4oz spider for heavy conditions. I think if an 8oz is getting dragged, you must have seaweed on your line. When the weed gets on it will carry along almost anything.

Mono works well for most species, but you may get cut off with larger blues or spanish mackeral. Then you may want to use some light wire.
 
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