Surf: Packing Light - The Fisherman

Surf: Packing Light

You can use your own variation of small belt bags and pouches but the key is to keep it light.

For some casters it is easy to become burdened by large plug bags and extra gear when spending long hours at the surf line. Sometimes this can be a pain—both physically and mentally—while fishing. Carrying a heavy shoulder bag for hours in the surf will definitely wear you down after a while. Sometimes the strap from the bag even leaves black and blues in a worst-case scenario. Also, having a huge array of plugs to choose from will make choosing what lure to throw more difficult than it should be. Carrying just a handful of plugs forces you to get to know these plugs and become a better angler with them, as well as gaining confidence in them.

My basic setup for this consists of a surf belt; pliers; a small Tactical Anglers pouch for soft plastics, bucktails and leaders; as well as a smaller belt bag. This gear is much lighter than my normal go-to setup. It enables me to be more mobile and fish for longer periods of time. You can use your own variation of small belt bags and pouches but the key is to keep it light and resist the temptation to over-pack.

Surf Packing Light
A small Tactical Anglers pouch is perfect for carrying a small array of soft plastics in the surf. It can be slid onto your belt along with pliers and a small plug bag.

What I carry in my bag as far as lures go is completely based on where I plan on fishing and the time of the day or night. My favorite soft plastics and bucktails in a few variations always stay in the smaller pouch with the leaders. The plug selection will change depending on if it’s light or dark out. My day plugs consist of poppers and walk-the-dog style lures while the night choices are swimmers like SP Minnows, Red Fins and Bombers.

Normally when I do carry a bigger bag, the several different colors and styles of lures make decision-making tough. Sometimes you will doubt yourself over and over again when it’s time to make a selection. I found that if I’m forced to fish a certain plug I develop more confidence in that plug. I learn what happens if I retrieve it at various speeds. I notice how it reacts in different currents and learn what jerks and pauses make that plug more effective. This method of carrying only a few plugs will make you a master with all of them eventually. A good thing to do is eventually switch out the plugs you mastered for a new set, which will allow you to develop confidence in additional lures.

A lot of the fishing I do with this setup is based around light tackle and the size of the plugs and plastics I’m carrying. Smaller plugs can only be thrown on lighter rods and that’s what I tend to carry in the light bag. This is totally okay because I found that the number of fish I catch while using light tackle tends to increase, too. They aren’t always big but they are numerous for sure. Lighter gear really allows an angler to dial-in on fish when they are keyed on smaller baits and you must use some finesse to draw strikes. A 7- to 8-foot rod with a matching spinning reel filled with 10- or 15-pound braid usually complements my bags on these trips.

I tend to do this type of fishing either in the beginning or the end of the fall. This is when I find mostly smaller fish and when the lighter gear comes out. Use what works for you but remember to keep it light and efficient.

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