Surf Perch Rigs — A California Fishing Guide

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California’s coastal waters house different species of surfperch that are available for anglers to catch all year. The many species of surfperch are easy to bait. 

surf perch rigs
A decent surf perch caught during winter in Cali. Source: u/2xsecretprobation

Here are the best surf fishing rigs that will get you your target surf perch. 

3 Effective Surf Perch Rigs 

1. Carolina Rig for Surf Perch

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Surfperch are bottom fish, and using the Carolina Rig to bag these fish species makes more sense. The Carolina rig primarily keeps your lures on or along the bottom of the ocean water. This makes hunting for surfperch effective as they love to forage off the ocean floor. 

To tie a Carolina rig, start by cutting a leader line (about 18 inches). Tie your hook to your swivel with a Palomar knot, Uni knot, Jam knot, and Improved Double Clinch knot. At the other end of your leader, tie on your swivel with a Palomar knot.

Make a loop to attach your leader to your mainline, then pull your whole line through the loop. First, pull your hook, then your swivel through the loop of your mainline. Moisten your finger and knot to make it flat before tightening. 

2. Fish Finder Rig for Surf Perch

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This rig is very simple and effective to use for surf perch. With the fish finder rig, you can cast your bait farther out into the surf and have it settle along the bottom without being washed away. 

To tie a Fish Finder Rig, cut a piece of the leader (18 inches) and tie one end to your hook. On the other end, secure your swivel, and with your mainline, fish the line through your pyramid sinker and bead. You can use Palomar knots throughout this rig. 

3. Hi-Low Rig for Surf Perch

If you prefer two hooks going at your surf perch simultaneously without setting up two separate rods, Hi-Low Rig is the perfect setup for you. This popular surf fishing rig allows you to add a hook further down with a heavy terminal tackle to weigh everything down. 

To tie a Hi-Low Rig:

  1. Make a loop and give yourself enough line to work with, about 2 feet of tag end from the loop.
  2. With the loop, tie about 4 or 5 overhand knots and cross the tag end over the mainline.
  3. Twist the line over itself 4-5 times.
  4. Put the loop through the gap in the line, leaving you with a T knot where your hook goes.
  5. Repeat the process as mentioned earlier 4-5 times several inches down.
  6. Make a simple loop and tie 2 or 3 overhand knots to create a loop for your weight at the tag end, which you attach by putting the loop through the eye and then slipping it over.
  7. Cut a side of the loop and attach the hooks to the end of the leader strands with a snug knot.

Surf Perch Rod Setup

Using a six or 7-foot medium-light rod with a fast action tip when fishing for surfperch is ideal. You get enough sensitivity to light bites without compromising the backbone, allowing you to reel in bigger fish. Using an ultralight or light rod in small, shallow water works best for a solid load-up and long casts. 

Surf Perch Lures

Typically, most anglers, especially those fishing for surf perch in Monterey Bay, use a 2-inch sandworm from Berkley. Its size, shape, and pre-scented composition attract this fish species, making it an effective lure. You can also use the small plastic grubs that are about 1-2 inches in size. 

Surf Perch Hook Size

Many anglers set up their hook size to be two hooks, the #4 and #2. They include swivels and a pyramid sinker, making it easy to cast and roll less in the surf. 

If you’re fishing in the PNW, check out our Oregon Surf Perch Fishing Guide

Surf Perch Tackle Setup

Surf Perch Tackle Setup

Frequently Asked Questions

Are surf perches good to eat?

Perch presents quite an excellent flavor of sweet, firm, crumbly texture. It tastes similar to a walleye but a tad bit better. Many love to include this fish in white fish recipes like tacos, soups, and sandwiches.

What is the best time to go surf fishing?

Surfperch fishing is usually best on an incoming tide. You can try and go out an hour or two before the high tide to take advantage of surfperch fishing in low tide. 

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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