Best 7 Surf Fishing Lures (Top Picks of 2021)

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Sea Striker Surf Spoon (Click to View)
“A classic spoon that attracts nearly every species of gamefish. It’s got great casting distance for its size and weight.”

Best Budget Option: GOT-CHA Plug Assortment (Click to View)
“A simple and effective lure for any fish that feeds on minnows. A ridiculous cast range and a darting action make it a deadly fishing lure.”

Best Premium Option Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Twitchbait (Click to View)
” Lifelike lure in a wide variety of baitfish patterns. Its twitching motion is hard for any gamefish to resist, and its durability is legendary.

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Surf fishing tends to be a very passive fishing style. Most fishermen toss out baits and then sit and wait on a fish to bite. For anglers that prefer more active fishing styles, lures are the best way to fish the surf. Regardless of your preference, the right lure in your tackle bag can mean the difference between catching a fish out of a passing school or watching it swim past you uninterrupted. 

A good surf fishing lure has a huge casting range, easy to tie on, and only requires simple retrievals to get the most out of them. It’s also helpful to try and mimic the baitfish that are local to your area. If you have a lot of pilchards, pinfish, mullet, or herring in your area, try to get patterns that most resemble those baitfish. 

Whether you want to actively walk the beach casting lures into promising areas or be ready for a passing school, the right lure can make or break your fishing trip. We’ve done the research to find the best lures for surf fishing, and put this list together so you can go prepared on your next fishing trip.

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Product Name
Best For Most Anglers
Best Budget Option
Best Premium Option
Our Ranking
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Sea Striker Surf Spoon, 3/4-Ounce, Silver
GOT-CHA G300GH-3PK Plug Assortment, 3 Pack, Gold
Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Twitchbait Slow Sinking Lure, Mullet, 90mm/3-1/2
Our Grade
Our Rating 92/100
Our Rating 88/100
Our Rating 86/100
Feature 1
Easy tie-on for quickly getting it ready
Balanced weight gives them great casting distance
Quick responses to line from weighted center
Feature 2
Great casting distance for size and weight
Dual trebles snag any fish that strikes
Internal 3D Prism flashes even when body is scratched up
Best For Most Anglers
Product Name
Our Ranking
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
Sea Striker Surf Spoon, 3/4-Ounce, Silver
Our Grade
Our Rating 92/100
Feature 1
Easy tie-on for quickly getting it ready
Feature 2
Great casting distance for size and weight
Best Budget Option
Our Ranking
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
GOT-CHA G300GH-3PK Plug Assortment, 3 Pack, Gold
Our Grade
Our Rating 88/100
Feature 1
Balanced weight gives them great casting distance
Feature 2
Dual trebles snag any fish that strikes
Best Premium Option
Our Ranking
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Twitchbait Slow Sinking Lure, Mullet, 90mm/3-1/2
Our Grade
Our Rating 86/100
Feature 1
Quick responses to line from weighted center
Feature 2
Internal 3D Prism flashes even when body is scratched up

Best Surf Fishing Lures of 2021

Here’s our shortlist of the best lures for surf fishing:

Sea Striker Surf Spoon

Best For Most Anglers: A classic spoon that attracts nearly every species of gamefish. 

Sea Striker Surf Spoon, 3/4-Ounce, Silver
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KEY FEATURES

  • Holographic plate for extra flash
  • Easy tie-on for quickly getting it ready
  • Great casting distance for size and weight

Spoons are an incredibly common type of lure in both fresh and saltwater. The flashy little pieces of metal are great at fooling fish into thinking they’re a tasty snack, and this one from Sea Striker is a great choice for surf fishing. It’s perfect for throwing into promising spots or in front of a traveling school of fish. 

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Lure Details

Like most spoons, this one is pretty simple. The angled shape gives it better aerodynamics for casting distance and gives it a weightier compact shape. The top split ring is perfect for adding on a swivel or directly tying onto it as well. The bottom split ring gives the lure longevity since it makes changing out the treble hook much easier. 

The lure has an additional flash tape on its flat side to help reflect more light in the water. It comes with an extra sharp treble hook for snagging fish that strike at the lure. Finally, both the ½ ounce and ¾ ounce are great sizes for smaller rods that are easier to carry when walking the beach, without giving up casting distance. 

Best Uses

The best thing about spoons is their versatility. You can tie this onto a seven-foot rod and walk the beach looking for schools, potholes, cuts, and rip currents, casting into them to try and find fish. You can also leave it tied on while fishing bottom baits and have it ready to cast into a school of passing fish. It’s a simple lure that is proven effective in either situation, making it an ideal choice for any angler.

GOT-CHA Plug Assortment

Best Budget Option:  A simple and effective lure for any fish that feeds on minnows.

GOT-CHA G300GH-3PK Plug Assortment, 3 Pack, Gold
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KEY FEATURES

  • Pack of three is great value
  • The balanced weight gives them great casting distance
  • Dual trebles snag any fish that strikes

There’s nothing fancy about GOT-CHA Plugs, they’re a simple and effective lure that casts a mile and is very reactive to your rod movements. You can easily get these lures out to any sandbar cut or school within a hundred yards, and coming in a pack of three gives the pack a ton of value. It’s a great choice for both active and passive surf fishermen, and they can be worked in a ton of different ways.  

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Lure Details

The plugs have a colored head for extra attraction and the bodies come in silver and gold reflective metals. The shape helps them mimic minnows, and the overall lure is evenly weighted to get ridiculous casting distance on the proper line weights (ten to twenty-pound braid is ideal).

A welded tie-on point and integral trebles may make it near impossible to swap out hooks, but this won’t be necessary often thanks to the lure’s durability. They also have great sensitivity, darting based on your rod movements, and you can get a variety of actions out of them.

Best Uses

 The best places to use these lures are on bluefish and Spanish mackerel schools passing by since they are mostly chasing minnow schools down the beach. The plugs are still great for other species as well though and can give you a great side-to-side action with a little practice. They’re ideal for casting to schools farther out thanks to their massive casting distance.

Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Twitchbait

Best Premium Option: Lifelike lure in a wide variety of baitfish patterns. 

Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Twitchbait Slow Sinking Lure, Mullet, 90mm/3-1/2
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KEY FEATURES

  • Huge variety of colors and patterns
  • Quick responses to the line from the weighted center
  • Internal 3D Prism flashes even when the body is scratched up

Fishermen who really want to mimic local baitfish and get great responsive action should opt for the Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Twitchbait. A lure that can last a lifetime, they can handle strikes from any surf monster you find and reliably attract fish in any water condition. They’re overall a great choice for any angler, though individual lures run more expensive than others on the list. 

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Lure Details

The overall body of the lure is clear and has an internal foil that gives it all of its flashes. With the split ring attachment points, it means this lure is ridiculously durable, will flash even when scratched up, and can last you a lifetime by just changing out the hooks. 

They come in a wide variety of patterns, with sardine, mullet, and ghost shad working great in the surf. The lures are weighted in the center to give them great darting action and responsiveness and are made out of tough ABS resin materials. 

Best Uses

The best thing to do with these lures is to pitch them into potholes, in front of schools, or into cuts where fish could be hiding. Try to mimic the baitfish that are in your area of favored foods of the species you’re targeting. Ghost Shad is excellent for striped bass and bluefish, while mullet will work better for redfish and jacks.

Gulp! Shrimp

Best for Fishing Potholes: Natural-looking bait to bring ambushing fish out of hiding.

Berkley Gulp! Alive! Shrimp Assortment , 3-Inch
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KEY FEATURES

  • Scented and reusable soft plastic baits
  • Would naturally drift around in surf zone
  • Works great with a jighead

Gulp! Shrimp may have a divided reputation in the fishing community but boy are they still effective. The soft baits are scented and can be recharged in their tub. They’re an excellent choice for surf fishing, as most of your target species feed on shrimp, especially the ones sitting in potholes and waiting for food to be pushed to them.

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Lure Details

Gulp! Shrimp is a simple soft plastic shaped like a shrimp with wiggly appendages. They are scented and can be recharged in the liquid in the jar if you purchase that option. You can run a hook through them or work them with a jighead to give them some extra weight and casting distance. 

Best Uses

Be sure to always pull these with the current. Once you’ve located a pothole that could hold some fish, cast it beyond it to bring the lure in with the waves or allow the current to wash the lure into the pothole. You want to keep it bouncing along the bottom and look like it naturally drifted into the hole so a fish sitting there waiting on food will take it. Especially effective fishing for flounder, lingcod, red and black drum, and big sea robins.

Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Popper

Best Topwater for Feeding Frenzies: A ton of noise and great surface strikes bring excitement to a usually dull affair.

Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Popper (F) 70mm 2-3/4-Inchghost Shad Floating Lure, Ghost Shad
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KEY FEATURES

  • Internal 3D Prism won’t ever lose luster
  • Exciting surface strikes when a fish blows up on it
  • Wide-mouth makes a ton of disturbance

It’s pretty common for passing schools to be feeding on small minnows in a jumping feeding frenzy. When these are passing by, you need something that stands out amongst all the noise and the Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Popper has you covered. With its brilliant flash and wide mouth, it’s sure to attract a strike even in all that commotion.  

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Lure Details

Like most lures from Yo-Zuri, it features their proprietary internal 3D prism. The clear body may eventually get scratched up but the lure will continue to flash brilliantly in the water regardless. It has great spit ring hook attachments and the hooks can be easily swapped out. 

The wide mouth of the lure splashes and churns up a ton of water for the lure’s overall small size, and between this and its flash, it will be sure to attract attention even in a feeding frenzy. 

Best Uses

The best time to use this lure is on a near-surface school of fish passing by. Bluefish, jacks, and mackerel are all prime targets for the lure, as they’re very likely to hit surface baits. Whether you find a passing school or fish feeding, this lure is an excellent choice to pull a fish or two out of the school before it gets past you.

Dr.Fish Bucktail Jig

Most Versatile: Coming in a ton of sizes and colors, a bucktail jig is a great baitfish mimic that works in nearly any situation.

Dr.Fish Bucktail Jig Fluke Lure Saltwater Freshwater Baits Assorted Kit Bass Striper Bluefish Surf Fishing White 1/2oz Pack of 3
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KEY FEATURES

  • Molded jighead with lifelike eyes
  • Hairtail mimics fishtail underwater
  • Integral, extra-sharp hook for snagging on strikes

Bucktail Jigs are a ridiculously versatile lure. From fishing the inshore to offshore, the lures can be retrieved in any number of ways, worked a ton of ways, and catch a huge variety of species. These are an excellent option for any fishermen to keep in their tackle box.  

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Lure Details

Coming in a variety of sizes and colors gives the bucktail jig a ton of versatility and utility. You can target any number of species or hook this up to even the heaviest of surf rods and still get a good casting distance. The molded jighead features an extra sharp hook, a feathered hair tail to mimic fishtails, and reflective body paint to give it a little flash. 

Best Uses

In the surf, bucktail jigs are best used to cast directly to a visible school of fish. You’ll want to use a quick, jerking retrieval to keep it from sinking too deeply. For best casting distances, the half-ounce and one-ounce jigs work best on seven-foot rods, but for heavier twelve-foot rods you should opt for a four-ounce and expect big fish.

4″ Sanddab

Best On The West Coast: Perfect bait for big lingcod, halibut, and flounder. 

4' Sanddab Sanddab Lingcod Jigs Rig Fishing Lure Sand Dab Fish for Halibut Rock Grouper Cod (4' Sole 2/PK)
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KEY FEATURES

  • Lifelike soft-body bait
  • Favorite prey for big lingcod and halibut
  • Weighted for casting and has great bottom action

With the popularity of halibut and lingcod fishing on the West Coast, this 4-inch Sanddab is the perfect choice for surf fishing bait to target those fish. Pulling it across the bottom gives it a lifelike look and works extremely well for those popular species.  

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Lure Details

Shaped like a real sanddab, the lure weighs under an ounce and can be tossed from nearly any rod. They’re durable plastics, with a soft skin that will feel more realistic to the fish striking it. This is extremely important for halibut and flounder since they tend to mouth food before swallowing it. 

Best Uses

 Since flounder, lingcod, halibut, and rock grouper love feeding on these little flatfish, this lure is ideal for targeting them. Try to find holes the fish would be sitting in or deeper water they prefer like shipping channels to make the most out of the lure. Give it time to sink to the bottom and retrieve it in short jerks with pauses in between.


Questions & Answers

What kind of leader should I use?

This is usually dependent on what fish you’re after. You may want to use a flexible wire if you’re after toothier fish, but generally, a short length of fluorocarbon or monofilament will do the job. Try to match the leader to your line size as well, and use lighter lines and leaders than you would for a bottom bait. If you go too heavy you’ll lose a lot of the lure’s action and responsiveness.

What size lures should I use for surf fishing?

Like any fishing, you want to try to match your lure to your rod size and the size of the fish you’re after. Typically on a seven-foot rod, you’ll want a one-ounce or less lure. If you’re casting lures with a long surf rod, you’ll need to upscale the size to around four ounces to keep a good casting distance.