Best Bait for Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is a great way to get out and enjoy the day fishing and hear the sounds of nature with the waves crashing and the wind coming in on the shore. It’s an amazing experience that many people never get to experience. And while this is a great experience, fishing all day and not catching anything can sometimes make it experience a bit mundane and boring.

By using the best bait for surf fishing you can increase your chance of catching the fish you want, faster. There are many things that you’ll need to do to catch more fish but it all starts with the right bait. We’ll list the top baits that you should be using to surf fish.

Best Bait for Surf Fishing

If you want to catch the biggest fish out there and do it relatively fast, then you’ll need to use the right bait. Making sure the bait you’re using is what the target fish you’re fishing for is looking for means you’ll catch more fish, faster.

What is Surf Fishing

So before we get into the different types of baits that are great for surf fishing it’s important to understand what surf fishing actually is. So when you go to the local lake or river and fish off the shore you put that same principle into surf fishing. You simply fish from the edge of the water and throw your bait into the surf in an attempt to catch fish.

Surf fishing can be quite enjoyable and a great way to catch fish. Plus, you’re on a beach, so that makes it even better. Lots of people surf fish and even though you can’t throw your bait miles offshore like with deep sea fishing, you can still catch a lot of fish by surf fishing. That is, if you use the right surf fishing baits. So here are the best baits for surf fishing.

Top Baits Used for Surf Fishing

One of the biggest reasons why fish bite a specific type of bait is because it is what they normally feed on. Consider that if you eat a doughnut each morning and someone wants to lure you into their shop to sell you something. Would you go inside if they were giving away apples or doughnuts? Always use the type of bait that is in the area.

That’s not to say that baits that are scarce in the area are no good. They could be considered a delicacy to the fish. Usually a bait that is scarce can make an excellent choice simply because when it’s available it gets gobbled up by fish swimming about.

Another thing you’ll need to consider is the season for the bait. Some bait are only available during certain months out of the year. For a fish to eat a bait out of season can sometimes be tough because it’s something that is not supposed to be there. Like a bad apple that was left in the fruit bowl for a few months. Not something you would want to eat either.


One of the most used types of baits for surf fishing is shrimp. Almost all bait shops will have live shrimp and dead shrimp ready for fishing. Shrimp can be used to catch a variety of species of fish such as blue fish, red fish, pompano, grouper, and more.


Most areas will have some sort of shrimp in the natural habitat which makes it a perfect bait. If you have no clue what an area has it’s always best to start with shrimp as bait.

Shrimp is sold in a few different forms. The first form being live shrimp which can be hooked whole and through the back plate to allow the shrimp to move. They are also sold dead which you’ll need to remove the head and tails before fishing. You can leave the exoskeleton on to help hold the shrimp on the hook. Smaller size chucks can also be used if you have larger shrimp.

Alternatives to Live Shrimp

There are several alternatives to live shrimp that work exceptionally well. Many anglers use these alternatives to help give them an edge so they don’t need to carry around large amounts of bait which can be tricky especially with live shrimp.

  • Fishbites Fish'n Strips Shrimp
    One of the best alternative shrimp baits on the market. Fishbites shrimp works very well and holds onto the hook like no other bait. It has a mesh inside the bait which is very strong and can withstand the turbulence of surf fishing
  • Gulp! Alive! Shrimp Fishing Bait
    Another great choice for artificial bait for surf fishing is the Gulp Alive Shrimp Fishing Bait. Its made a bit different than Fishbites as the bait is contained in a liquid. As soon as the bait loses its attractiveness simply place it back in a bucket. A great bait that last a long time.


Mullet Surf Fishing Bait

One fish that many other fish eat is the Mullet. Mullet are usually caught by using a cast net and are then cut into chunks to fish with. If you’re in an area where Mullet are plentiful then it is a great bait for surf fishing.



Another excellent bait for surf fishing is crabs. If you’re in an area where crabs are prevalent then fishing with them will likely yield great results. There are several ways that you can catch crabs to fish with and they will stay alive for hours in a container as long as it is not air tight.

Alternatives to Real Crabs
  • Gulp! Saltwater Peeler Crab
    Being able to use the Gulp Salterwater Peeler Crab instead of real crabs can be great. These work great but they are a little expensive especially when you’re in an area that is plentiful with crabs.
  • Fishbites Crabs
    Like all Fishbites products the Fish’n Strips Crab is made with a nylon mesh encased bait. This helps the bait stay on for extended periods of time. A great alternative to real crabs and is affordable with one pouch being able to last an entire day of fishing.

Sand Fleas

Sand fleas are a great bait for surf fishing. They work especially well as the tide is coming up and you are fishing within 50 feet of the shore. Sand fleas or sometimes called mole crabs are just that, crabs. They are typically about a dime size in diameter and about one inch long. Breaking the edge of the shell can help to put more attractant in the water for nearby fish.

You can actually catch sand fleas yourself when fishing with a special rake. Check it out here on Amazon. Simply rake up some sand and you may find some sand fleas to fish with.

Alternatives to Real Sand Fleas
  • Gulp! Sand Crab Flea
    Using Gulp! products is one of the best ways to mimic real bait for surf fishing. In fact, with the authentic taste and rapid scent dispersion it can attract fish from farther away. And with a strong body it holds well to the hook where placed and lasts a long time. This product is also biodegradable as well. Each sand flea measures 1-inch in length and 1.18-ounce weight.
  • Fishbites sand fleasAlthough the Fishbites products are not shaped like sand fleas they have a built in attractant similar to sand fleas which work very well. Like other Fishbites products they have a cloth mesh inside which allows them to remain on the hook for extended periods of time.


Squid strips are great to fish with as well because they are found everywhere in saltwater. When using live squid you’ll need to be aware of their beaks which can be painful if they bite you for larger ones. Mostly smaller squid are used when surf fishing and make the best bait for surf fishing.

Alternatives to Live Squid for Surf Fishing

Here are two of the most used alternatives to squid which include Gulp! product and Fishbites products.


Using clams is a great way to fish from the surf. You will need to remove the clams from the shells which can be tough for live clams. Once you’ve opened the clam shells you’ll need to cut the clams into strips to place on your hook. Clams are found though-out the ocean but seem to work better in areas near muddy bottoms such as marsh areas.

Alternatives to Real Clams
  • Fishbites clams
    Like other Fishbites products these baits stay on a long time and have a powerful attractant that many fish simply can’t resist. Having a lot of alternative baits is a great way to determine what works best in a specific area. That way you can find the best bait for surf fishing quickly and without carrying a lot of gear around.

Always Be Responsible

No matter where you fish or what you fish for always take on a more responsible approach to fishing. Harvest only the fish you plan on consuming and leave the area exactly how you found it or in better shape. Be sure to research the local laws and requirements of the area as well for taking fish. We all can make a difference when we fish, let’s make sure it’s in the best interest of everyone.

For surf fishing, there is a likely hood that beach goers will be swimming in the same area as you are fishing. Make sure you don’t leave any lures, hooks, or anything on the beach for someone to step on.

James S. Hankins

James is an expert fisherman who was lucky enough to spend much of her childhood chasing salmon, trout and sea trout..Have a question, need some help, or want to give your opinion? Drop us a comment below!

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