Tried and True Methods vs Experimentation in Surf Fishing

What pops into your mind when you think about surf fishing? Chances are, if you’re new to the sport, you envision sunny days spent casting your line into the waves and waiting for a big one to take the bait. And while that’s certainly part of it, there’s a lot more to surf fishing than meets the eye.

For starters, there’s the question of what type of equipment to use. Do you go with tried and true methods, or do you experiment? This question plagues many new surf fishers, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one to answer.

surf fishing experimentation
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In surf fishing, there are two main schools of thought – those who prefer to stick to tried and true methods and those who are always looking to experiment.

Every angler has their methods, techniques, and preferences for surf fishing. Some people swear by certain methods while others are always trying new things. There’s no right or wrong answer, but both approaches have pros and cons.

So, which should you choose? Tried and true methods or experimentation?

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Tried and True Methods

Tried and true have been around for a reason – used for a long time and stood the test of time. If you’re new to surf fishing, it’s best to stick with methods that have already been successful rather than experimenting and hoping for the best.

This is what Gary and Kaspar Kazazian, authors of California Surf Fishing: The Hunt for Big Fish, said, “If you go surf fishing, you might find a way to catch fish at a certain spot that is relatively reliable. And you know, if you go at a certain time and certain conditions, you have a pretty good chance of catching that’s tried and true just doing that same thing over and over.” 

For an inexperienced surfer, attempting to ride a wave that’s too big can be dangerous and even fatal. The same goes for fishing; if you’re new to the game, it’s best to stick with methods that have been around for ages.

There are a lot of tried and true methods for surf fishing, and while experimentation can sometimes pay off, it’s usually best to stick with what’s known to work.

Some of the most successful methods for surf fishing include using baitfish, cut bait, or lures that mimic the appearance or scent of baitfish. Another effective method is to fish during high tide when the waves break closest to shore. This gives the fish less time to swim away from your bait before the waves pull it under.

This method may not be as flashy or exciting as the latest and greatest experimental techniques, but it will usually get the job done more effectively. So, before you go out and experiment, make sure you’ve done your research and know what methods are most likely to help you catch fish.

Advantages of Tried and True Method

Some of the advantages of using tried and true methods include:

Proven to Work

Tried and true methods in surf fishing have been tested and proven to work repeatedly. This means that you’re more likely to catch fish using these methods than if you experiment with something new.

Can Be Taught to Others

If you’re teaching someone else how to surf fish, using tried and true methods can make it easier for them to learn. Also, they won’t have to worry about learning new techniques or remembering many different details.


Surf fishing can be dangerous, and if you’re new to the sport, it’s best to stick with safe methods. Tried and true methods have been used countless times and are less likely to lead to accidents.

More Successful

As you head out to try your luck surfing fishing, you want to have the best chance of catching fish possible. Tried and true methods are more successful than experimentations, giving you a better chance of reeling in a big catch.

Easy to Find Information On

With so many different methods of surf fishing, it can be difficult to know where to start. However, sticking with tried and true methods, there’s a wealth of information on the best techniques and how to use them, making it easy to get started and improve your skills.

Disadvantages of True and Tried Methods

Despite the pros, there are also some drawbacks to using tried and true methods, including:


For some people, sticking to tried and true methods can be boring. If you’re the type of person who likes to experiment and try new things, you may find that sticking to proven methods is dull.

Can Be Less Successful in Certain Conditions

While tried and true methods are usually effective, there are some conditions where they may not be as successful. For example, if the fish aren’t biting or the water is too rough, you may have more success using a different method.

“If you go at a certain time and certain conditions, you may have a pretty good chance of catching that’s tried and true just doing that same thing over and over and more or less getting,” Gary and Kaspar Kazazian said.

May Not Work with a Certain Bait

If you’re using live bait, it’s important to make sure that the fish are attracted to it. Some tried and true methods may not work as well if the bait isn’t appealing to the fish.

Can Be Expensive

Tried and true methods may require special equipment or bait that can be expensive. If you’re on a budget, you may find that experimentations are a better option.


The excitement of trying something new is hard to resist. The allure of the unknown can be downright intoxicating, especially when it comes to fishing.

After all, who knows what you might discover? A new hot spot? A secret lure? The possibilities are endless.

It is tempting to want to try out every new method or hot tip you hear about. And while there is nothing wrong with experimentation, as it can lead to some great discoveries, experimentation helps you find new ways to catch fish. Unfortunately, it is not always the most effective method.

Advantages of Experimentation

Using experimentation while surf fishing has its advantages. These include:

Improving Your Skills

Going from an amateur to a pro takes time, patience, and a willingness to try new things. By experimenting with different techniques, you can learn what works best for you and hone your skills. As your skills improve, so will your catches.

Widen Your Scope

If you only stick to tried and true methods, you may be limiting your potential. By experimenting, you can explore different surf fishing areas, opening up new opportunities for enjoyment and success.

Wider Variety of Fish

If you stick to the same old methods, you’re likely to catch the same old fish. If you’re looking to spice up your catches, trying new things may help you branch out and catch a wider variety of fish.

“We are always exploring to find new ways to catch different fish or even bigger fish. Right now, we are exploring different ways to catch white sea bass with bait. We caught one legal with bait last year,” according to Gary and Kaspar Kazazian.

Boredom Busters

If you’re bored with your current methods, trying something new may be just the thing to rekindle your enthusiasm for surf fishing. By experimenting, you can find new and interesting ways to fish, keeping things fresh and exciting.

Disadvantages of Experimentation

Experimentation also has its disadvantages, and some of them include:


Trying new things takes time. And, if you’re not careful, you can spend more time experimenting than actually catching fish.

As Gary and Kaspar Kazazian said, “When you do exploration, you might not catch fish. You might be stuck while you’re trying to figure out another method that might be coming.”

Trial and Error

Most experiments don’t work out the way we want them to. You may try a new technique that you think will be great, only to find out that it doesn’t work at all. This can be disappointing and may cause you to give up on experimentation altogether.

Waste of Time

If you’re not careful, experimenting can turn into a big-time waster. If you spend hours trying new things with no success, you could have spent that time perfecting your tried and true methods and catching more fish.

How to Experiment the Right Way

If you want to experiment while surf fishing, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success:

Set Realistic Goals

Fishing is a hobby, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to succeed. When you’re experimenting, your main goal should be to have fun and learn something new if you catch a few fish along the way, great!

But don’t get discouraged if your experiments don’t yield the results you were hoping for.

Start Small

You should not do too much at once. When starting, stick to simple experiments that you can easily execute. As you become more comfortable with experimentation, you can start to branch out and try more complex techniques.

Keep a Record

Document your experiments to track your progress and look back on your successes (and failures). This will help you learn from your mistakes and replicate your successes in the future.

Be Patient

Don’t expect to become an expert overnight. It takes time to master new techniques, so be patient with yourself and give yourself some grace. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a perfect surf fishing technique.

Have Fun

Above all, remember that fishing is supposed to be fun. So, even if your experiments don’t go the way you planned, try to enjoy the process and learn from your mistakes. After all, that’s what experimentation is all about.

Which is Better?

There is no easy answer when deciding between tried and true methods and experimentation in surf fishing. It depends on your goals and what you’re looking to get out of the experience.

Some tried and true methods have been around for years, and for good reasons. These methods may not be the most exciting, but they are usually the most effective.

If you are looking to catch fish, rather than just trying something new for the sake of it, stick to the tried and true methods.

Of course, this is not to say that you should never experiment. Like anything in life, balance is key. Try out new methods sometimes, but always have a few solid, reliable methods in your back pocket that you know will work when the chips are down.

According to Gary and Kaspar Kazazian, “You know, sometimes you’ll just explore, and you’re not catching anything good or new for a while, and then you’re like we need a good fish just to get our up a little bit. And then you got to a little bit to that, 20 percent, and it works out well for you. And then you catch a big fish, and that kind of revitalizes you and like, okay, now it’s time to explore a little bit more and see what else we can pull out.”

That way, even if your experimentation doesn’t pay off, you will still be able to catch fish. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

Remember to have your goals in mind, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Who knows, you may discover the next great surf fishing method.

Final Thoughts

There are cons and pros to both approaches. Tried and true methods offer the benefit of a proven track record. If you find a method that has worked for others in the past, chances are it will work for you as well.

There are many ways to fish and many techniques that can be effective. The important thing is to keep an open mind, be willing to experiment, and never stop learning. Tried and true and experimentation, both have their place in surf fishing.

What works for another may not work for you. There are many different ways to fish the same body of water. The essential thing is to be willing to try new things. You never know; you may find the next big thing in surf fishing!

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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