The majority of whiting are found along the beaches, so we will focus on the rods and reels for this occasion. Some fish can be caught along the channels inshore, typically very close to the inlets, but are not as commonly targeted here, more so an incidental by-catch.
Picking Tackle for Whiting Fishing
The type of fishing rod used for whiting will depend on the condition of the surf on any particular day.
A Spinning Rod and Reel for Whiting Fishing
When many anglers think of surf-fishing, they think of the 12-foot surf rods with a large conventional reel, capable of casting several hundred yards into the water. The truth is, you often don’t need that heavy gear for catching fish in the surf on calmer days, especially for catching whiting. On days like this, a medium seven-foot spinning rod, with a light to medium reel capable of 8-to-12 pound test is perfect for catching whiting in the closer troughs along the beach, where many of the whiting will be navigating. Spinning tackle is very simple and easy to use, and very efficient for catching this simple fish on calmer days.
The “Perfect” Spinning Rod and Reel for Whiting:
- A 7-foot spinning rod with fast action. Using a 7-foot spinning rod is plenty big for the days where the surf is calm, and allows you to hold the rod in your hands, as opposed to a sand spike, so that you can feel the bites and set the hook fast. The fast action will allow for a farther cast and stronger hook-set.
- A Spinning reel with a high gear ratio. Whiting are schooling fish. Using a high gear-ratio reel will allow you to land the fish faster, and get your bait out there for another fish before they’re gone.
- A medium spinning reel. A medium reel capable of between 8-and-12 pound test is perfect for light surf conditions. The lighter the line you can use, the better you will be able to feel the whiting bite.
Using Conventional Rods and Reels for Whiting
For the days when the surf is rough, and the fish are farther offshore, a conventional reel may be desired for casting the distance. Although whiting are not the strongest fighters in the sea – and so the added leverage of a conventional reel is not that important here – the farther casting ability of a conventional reel can make a large difference between fish and no fish.
The Perfect Conventional Rod for Whiting Fishing the surf would be:
- A 10-to-12 foot casting rod with a fast action. Coupled with the conventional reel, using a long, fast-action rod will allow for very far casts – up to several hundred yards in some cases. The tall rods are also very beneficial in rough surf, because they will hold your line above the waves, where weeds and current can pull on your line.
- A medium or heavy conventional reel capable of 12-to-20 pound test line. Heavy line is often required during rough surf conditions not because of the fish, but because of the large sinker required to keep your bait from drifting away.
Flyrods for Whiting Fishing
In many areas, such as the calm waters throughout the Gulf of Mexico or northeast Florida in the summertime, whiting can be caught on fly quite successfully. Typically, a larger weight rod will be required for casting the large and heavier flies required to sink to the bottom.
To pick the perfect fly-rod for whiting fishing, consider the following:
- An 8-to-10 weight fly-rod. Using a heavy fly rod will allow you to cast farther, and cast heavier flies for sinking to the bottom. Whiting are bottom-feeders like most other members of the drum family, and a sinking fly is crucial to getting their attention.
- A stiff, fast action rod. Using a stiff, fast action rod will also allow for further casts (important for reaching those troughs where the fish will be, and also for getting a stronger hook set.
A General Comment about Whiting Tackle
Whiting are not necessarily difficult to catch, nor are they incredibly large or strong. The largest factor therefore, is the weather, and the conditions of the beach. On calmer days, a light spinning setup allows you to hold the rod in your hand so you don’t miss anything, and use lighter line and tackle for more sensitivity. Those rougher days however require completely different tackle, often up to a 12-foot surf rod and heavy reel to cast out past the waves.