Surf fishing on Alabama's beaches

Choosing The Right Fishing Rod for Success

David Rainer's top tips for selecting the best inshore, surf and pier fishing rods.

Fishing rod technology has come a long way since the fiberglass rods of yesteryear, and selecting the right rod for the conditions and targeted species can sometimes mean the difference in success or disappointment.

Unless you have unlimited funds for fishing tackle, it’s probably wise to select rods that can be used for a variety of species. Most of my experience is with the inshore species of speckled trout (spotted seatrout), redfish, sheepshead and flounder. If you’re an offshore angler, I suggest visiting the folks at J&M Tackle, Sam’s Stop and Shop or the Rod Room to get expert advice on your tackle needs, depending on the targeted species that you’re fishing in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach.

Fishing rods

Best Fishing Rods for Inshore Fishing

For inshore fishing, I have a variety of rods, both casting and spinning, for different fish, different fishing conditions and different line weights and material.

If I’m fishing from a boat for speckled trout with monofilament line, which has more stretch, I’ll choose one of my rods with at least a medium action and a fast tip, usually a 7-footer. The fast tip means that I get to the stronger part of the rod more quickly, which aids in a successful hookset with the inherent line stretch. However, because of the trout’s tender mouth, I make sure my drag is not set too heavy to keep from ripping out the hook. It’s pretty much the same when fishing for flounder.

If my reel is spooled with braided line, which has virtually no stretch, I’ll go with a medium action with a moderate tip that provides a little more flex during the hookset. Again, because the line has no give, I make sure the drag is set properly to be able to fight the fish without pulling the hook loose.

When it comes to redfish, you can have success with a similar setup, but I prefer to go a little heavier. I choose a 7- or 7 ½-foot rod with a medium-heavy action and fast tip. Redfish mouths are tough and can withstand a lot more force than other species, but a good hookset is crucial to imbed the hook. Redfish are epic fighters, especially when they larger than 20 inches, so get ready for several drag-squealing runs before they start to yield ground. The larger rod allows you to apply more pressure to subdue the fish.

Sheepshead is another species with a tough, tough mouth and the ability to steal your bait in a flash. If you don’t set the hook immediately after feeling the slightest bite, you might as well reel it up and put another shrimp or fiddler crab on the hook. I like a 7-foot rod with a fast tip for sheepshead to get the fish hooked and away from the barnacle-encrusted structure in a hurry.

Pier fishing in Orange Beach, AL

Best Rods for Surf Fishing 

If you’re fishing in the surf, the variety of rods and tackle can range from ultra-light to heavy, depending on the tactics. Renowned surf angler David Thornton usually deploys one of each when he’s fishing the Alabama Gulf Coast. If he’s mainly after whiting, he goes with lighter tackle, which usually means more strikes. When the pompano are running, he’ll have a couple of 7-foot rods out. For the occasional redfish or black drum, he may cast a 10-foot rod with 15-pound-test line into the breakers.

Best Rods for Pier Fishing

Pier fishermen will also have different rods for different seasons and fishing conditions. Anglers who fish closer to shore will stick with the bass-type tackle to catch whiting, pompano and sheepshead. Those who are looking for species like Spanish or king mackerel will use a 10-foot rod to be able to cast their baits are far as possible.

Take a look at rods made by Penn, Castaway, G Loomis and St. Croix. Each manufacturer has a rod for every fishing condition and targeted species.

Get outfitted with the right equipment and enjoy the great fishing the Alabama Gulf Coast offers.


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David Rainer Blogger
David Rainer (2 Posts)
David Rainer has written about the great outdoors on the Alabama Gulf Coast for more than 20 years. For 14 of those years, he covered the many fishing opportunities on the Gulf Coast as outdoors…