Surf Bags, Boots and Waders
by Roger Smith
Edited by Bob D'Amico
Lure "Surf" Bags
So you have gone through the aisles of your favorite tackle shop. You have every plug, jig, bucktail and accessory you could possibly want, right? Well now you have to carry them to the water! Surf bags are a popular choice to do this with, and you have several options. Over the shoulder bags are very handy, as when you walk the beach or hop the jetties you want to stay mobile. Some surfcasters opt for a canvas bag from an Army/Navy store, and load it with plastic "Plano" type boxes. This can work, and is an inexpensive option, but I tend to prefer the "plastic tube" style.
These are often a canvas or cordura/nylon bag with plastic separators inside (sometimes PVC piping), used to safely store plugs in a vertical position. They come in a variety of sizes, and really help to organize your gear. Vertical pouches along the front can store pliers, knives, or "metal" lures. Be sure to have a ventilated bottom, to aide in drying the bag and its contents. I tend to use the side pouches for a plastic box, and keep my hooks, weights, bucktails, teasers and swivels there. One popular brand is by Canyon Products, pictured above left.
With all bags one important thing to keep in mind is don't overload yourself. Even if there is extra space to hold more lures, bucktails or tins, if you don't really need them, don't pack them. Air weighs nothing - it doesn't take many bucktails, tins and lures to total 16 ounces or one pound! Many surfcasters, including Bob D'Amico own three or more surf bags of differing sizes for different needs.
"I use a large bag for extended trips when I want to be sure I have a good supply of lures and tins. Plus I can carry a small camera and an extra spool, light, pliers etc. I keep it permanently in the back of my Jeep, kind of like 'Don't leave home without it.' The Canyon SB 101 is my basic surf bag for NJ it also has lots of room and the model B100 is a small bag I use when I'm going to specific location and know in advance what techniques I'm going to use. For rock hopping or jetty fishing I just use a Belt Lure Bag which has five compartments for small lures and tins."
Other options, especially for carrying more and varied types of stuff, include fanny packs with “Plano” type plastic cases, or as suggested by our own Bob D'Amico, a “rucksack” type arrangement. And I quote:
"LL Bean's Continental Top Load Rucksack (#TA44051 Large @ $39.00), you can fill it with clothing, Plano tackle boxes, a short thermos of coffee, camera, the works. This particular model is ideal for trekking on the beach because there is only one zipper. All the rest of the closures are by snap clips so you don't have to deal with sand fouling a zipper. I've been using mine for years and its great!
Another idea, is a foldable nylon shoulder strap bag for carrying in/out all your heavy gear like waders, Korkers, rain top, belt, etc. when the fishing areas are not close to the parking areas, e.g. Sandy Hook. Some bags can fold into the size of a wallet and be put in the wader pocket along with a pair of light folding shoes.
Waders, as with many other items in surfcasting, come with a number of choices. Let's spell them out for you. There are two basic breakdowns, breathable vs. neoprene, or PVC and boot foot vs. stocking foot.
Neoprene waders are usually 3mm thick, and offer the best protection in very cold conditions. However, they can be a bit uncomfortable as the mercury starts to rise.
Quality breathable waders, expensive a short while ago, have really come down in price. Porous materials allow moisture to evaporate away from your skin, keeping you dry and cool.
Breathables can be used with layered undergarments for increased warmth and comfort. In either case, a belt should be worn over the wader to cinch it snugly to the body, preventing the incursion of excessive water should you be immersed.
The second breakdown consists of boot foot vs. stocking foot. Boot foot waders come with the boot attached. The advantages of this are less items to purchase, carry, and put on. A downside is that you are stuck with the boot size as matched to the wader's size by the manufacturer. They also often make for a clunky walk to the shoreline. Stocking foot waders allow the user to have a separate wading boot fitted over their waders. These are often far more comfortable for protracted walking, and can be matched to the wearer's shoe size. Stocking foot waders very often have a neoprene "bootie" attached for increased warmth. Below are pictured Hodgman® breathable stocking foot, LL Bean® neoprene boot foot, and Orvis® breathable boot foot waders.
With ALL waders a basic safety item is a wader belt! If your waders don't come with one, Buy One and Use It!
Frank Daignault suggests the stocking foot waders as an ideal for jetty hopping:
"An overlooked option that has never taken hold in surf fishing are the stocking foot waders and wading shoes so widely used by freshwater-river anglers…Warmer months stocking foot waders, which weigh only a few ounces, are both cool and lightweight; they cost less than conventional waders and last longer. While my wader clad counterparts are tripping and sliding, encumbered by the weight and bagginess of their surfwear, I can move about as if I were not dressed for it at all"
Frank Daignault Striper Surf, The Globe Pequot Press, 1992 pg.16
Frank does go on to caution that use on a beach may result in accumulated sand between wader and wading shoe. I would offer that "gravel guards" offered on most stocking foot waders will prevent too many large objects getting between wader and boot and damaging the fabric or weighing you down. Whether spending $100, or $400, the most important consideration for comfort is fit: try them on at the store!
Modern wading boots are extremely comfortable and durable. Below left is an example of an offering from LL Bean.
|LL Bean Wading Boot
Wading boots often come with a felt sole, which will help on slippery surfaces, or a rubber sole. Note that it has been determined that felt soles contribute to the transfer of unwanted organisms, spores and larvae of unwanted plants and animals between streams and lakes. Felt soles are currently banned in Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York City, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Neither felt or rubber material may be secure enough for rocky coasts and jetties.
No matter what your choice in waders/boots, be sure to wear some type of carbide studs on your soles if you plan to walk the jetties of the Garden State or any state! This is no joking matter, as those rock piles can be treacherous at the best of times. Always know your tides, and keep an eye on the waves. No fish is worth your life! Above right is the popular K-5000 studded sandal from Korkers Footwear, Inc. There are also wading boots that come with studs built in, or you can get sandals as pictured here. Either way, the studs should be checked and replaced regularly as needed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: None of the companies or individuals mentioned in this article have paid or otherwise compensated the author or StriperSurf.com for endorsement of thier products or services.