For a surfcaster, the wading belt goes from accent to important. In waders, a belt creates a seal round an angler’s midsection that slows down water intrusion if he takes a misstep into deep water. This provides a fisherman who’s been knocked down by a wave or swept off a sandbar additional time to get better earlier than an uncomfortable scenario turns into life-threatening.
Along with the protection part, a wading belt additionally gives a handy solution to hold instruments shut at hand within the surf. Kitted-out surfcasters benefit from the restricted actual property they’ve between the plug bag and belt in order that they don’t have to go away any vital gear again within the truck.
The final pair of waders you obtain in all probability got here with a belt. It was doubtless a kind of stretchy elastic ones that’s fantastic for fly fishing within the Catskills however downright ineffective within the surf. Not solely are these belts much less efficient at stopping water from filling your waders, they lack the durability wanted to move a number of kilos of drugs with out sagging or flipping.
Two-inch nylon webbing is the usual materials for surf belts. It’s sturdy, inflexible, and doesn’t take in water. Most surf-fishing-specific equipment are made with loops to accommodate 2-inch belts, so fishermen can combine and match equipment and belts from quite a lot of producers—and since “tactical” surfcasting belts are so distinctive to our space, most of these producers are proper right here within the Northeast.
Such belts can be found with a variety of totally different fasteners. My first correct surf belt had a big plastic clip, which fixed securely, however wanted adjustment once I switched between waders and wetsuit due to the elevated bulk of the thick neoprene over the breathable wader materials. Adjusting the belt between journeys was a minor inconvenience, nevertheless it additionally left room for error that may create an imperfect seal when clipping on a belt that was only a bit too free. A bonus of the plastic buckle is that it’s almost not possible to by chance open. For added safety, some high-end belt producers even use plastic clips which have a number of launch factors.
Many severe surfcasters use a belt with a big metallic dive clip. This enables the belt to be tightened to the right stage with none changes, that means an angler doesn’t have to elongate or shorten the belt relying on what number of layers are underneath the waders—or in my case, how a lot weight I’ve placed on within the offseason. These belts can nonetheless open by chance, however are backed up with Velcro to forestall them from tumbling into the surf.
Another choice is the curler locking buckle on the Z-Belt. This operates underneath the identical precept as a D-ring soccer belt, however is safer and, is backed up with Velcro. It’s much less cumbersome than the dive belt buckle and fewer prone to open by chance.
A well-equipped surf belt often features a fish gripper—both the plastic sort or a metallic scale/lip-gripper. These hold fingers away from hooks and enamel when touchdown and releasing unruly stripers or blues.
Most surfcasters don’t go away residence with no pair of sturdy, stainless pliers on their belts. Some fishermen purchase an upgraded sheath that holds the pliers securely, gained’t degrade, and suits the 2-inch webbing on a surf belt.
A necessary device that too many surfcasters do go away residence with out is a dive knife. Whereas it in all probability gained’t come into play on each journey, and even each season, having it will possibly get you out of a sticky scenario, equivalent to getting tangled in discarded braided line or rope. A knife can be useful for bleeding fish destined for the dinner desk or slicing bait. Search for a knife with a locking sheath that loops securely onto the surf belt.
Belt attachments like D-rings and carabiners serve a variety of capabilities, equivalent to lanyard attachment factors, holders for fish-grippers, and even a hands-free rod holder.
As kayak fishermen say, “For those who find it irresistible, leash it,” and the identical is true within the surf. To keep away from shedding an costly set of pliers right into a tumbling surf, connect it to the belt with a lanyard. Ensure that the lanyard is lengthy sufficient to permit full use of the device.
Transporting the Plug Bag
Many surf fishermen additionally use their belt to move their plug luggage. I’ve all the time carried my bag over my shoulder utilizing the strap that got here with it. In response to a ballot of On The Water’s Instagram followers, I’m a part of a slim majority who put on the plug bag that manner (58% shoulder strap vs 42% belt).
After I considered why I’ve all the time carried the plug bag over my shoulder, I couldn’t provide you with a great motive. I attempted to consider the benefits, and one of the best one was having the ability to take off the bag and place it on land behind me whereas fishing. Whereas I don’t do that on open seashores or in boulder fields, I commonly take away it on jetties or on the Cape Cod Canal as a result of I can go away it excessive and dry with out worrying that it is going to be claimed by a rising tide or rogue wave—and carrying a bag stuffed with 4- and 5-ounce jigs makes my shoulder ache simply desirous about it.
Carrying a bag over the shoulder appears to have extra disadvantages than benefits, one which the belt-carrying crowd are fast to level out. As an example, the uneven distribution of weight taxes the again after a couple of hours within the surf. A plug bag hanging off a shoulder strap swings freely, each through the solid and when bending over to land a fish, whereas a belt-mounted bag holds regular. The after-cast, plug-bag readjustment has grow to be so ingrained in my fishing program that even once I’m not sporting a plug bag, I’ve caught myself reaching to readjust it after a solid lands. Lastly, the strap is a possible level of failure. Whereas it’s often made out of the identical, or almost the identical, webbing materials as a surf belt, the clips, that are most frequently plastic and metallic, are the weak factors. I’ve had a number of clips fail in the midst of an evening of fishing, forcing me so as to add my bag to my belt—the place it in all probability ought to have been within the first place.