Surfcasting with
DJ Muller
                         

Wetsuit Corner.

I set up this is a page for all those interested in wetsuiting. Included here is a list of the equipment you will need to start out. This is equipment that has worked for me to this point, I am always searching for better alternatives in everything I do. So suggestions may change. This is a guideline. My preferences are in paratheses.
Also feel free to read the two articles below. 

WETSUIT CHECKLIST
Undershorts-Lycra or Spandex
Kadence Lycra Shorts - Black (Medium)

Rash Guard



Heater Top-1mm
1mm Men's Hurley ICON Wetsuit Jacket


Wetsuits-3mm and 5mm, full suit (my preference), with smooth skin for wind resistence.
5/4/3mm Men's Quiksilver SYNCRO Full Wetsuit

Neoprene Socks
Image of Cabelas 2mm Neoprene Socks

Korkers (K1100)


Wader belt & pliers


Plug Bags and Pouches by quality suppliers such as MAK.
 



Wading boots

Image of Cabelas Guidewear Pro Rubber Sole Wading Boots

Knife-Deluxe Stainless Steel Knife, Blunt



High quality lights



Drytops



Gloves

Black Thunder Sports Glove



“The Wetsuit Option”

by DJ Muller

 

I am a longtime surfcaster. I have plied the skinny waters from Hatteras to Maine in search of striped bass. I was good dressed in my waders and my drytop, a wader belt for protection from water infiltration and cold. On several occasions the drytop as opposed to a standard rain jacket has saved me from certain doom. Like the night I was washed off a Montauk rock by an unsuspecting rouge wave that left me completely submersed, sitting down and lodged between two big rocks for maybe 10-15 seconds, after a struggle, I was able to finally compose myself and stand up again and get the hell out. Or the night in Rhode Island where I waited too long on the incoming tide and had to swim from my rock back to the shallower water of the point that I fished on, little tense yeah. I was always good with the wader/drytop combination although it did have limitations.

 

But then I heard the chatter and seen those that donned the wetsuit. Although it was something that I had always wanted to do, a few years back I decided it was time to do it so I finally pulled the trigger on a suit. Wow! I have not looked back since. The years I was “wadering,” I felt as though I had reached the outer edges of my surfcasting limits and I was fine with all of it. I now realize that I was coming up short of maximizing my potential. Now that I have gone the way of the wetsuit or as I affectionately call it my seal costume, I have comfort in knowing that I am safe. I also know that one day while wetsuiting a seal will come up to me looking for a life partner or something weird like that. It’s just my luck!

The Wetsuit Advantage.

The wetsuit gives you as a surfcaster a huge edge over the wader-wearer basically because you add distance from the beach, you can now get much closer to the deeper water that you as a surfcaster need to be in. You can get out to the edge of the boulderfield or on an outer sand bar, close to the deep water that you should be as a surfcaster.

The fear of drowning is what limits all of us when we fish. “Man if I fall in here…I’m dead.” This simple phrase could be one of the most commonly mumbled thoughts uttered by a surfcasters throughout the season. One wetsuit advantage is that it is very difficult to drown in a wetsuit. Most divers that wear wetsuits need to add a lot of weights to their belts so that they can dive to the bottom, to where they want to go. I won’t say you can not drown in a wetsuit, but it would be very difficult, some of it would depend on the thickness of the neoprene. The one scenario that I could see would be if you fell in and where knocked unconscious but then again that could happen wearing waders too.

Since going to the wetsuit I have opened up multiple new undiscovered areas to my previous, “spot” options. In places where I was once leery to wade out in the waders/drytop combo, because I was worried that the water might be chest deep water or possibly deeper water, add in a couple waves over the head, I wouldn’t take that chance. Now I reach those areas with little or no extra thought. That said I still scout but day and understand my water depths in relation to my tides, I watch the flood.

My personal rule as a wader/drytop-wearer is never venture into water deeper than the top of my waders. My personal rule as a wetsuiter is never attempt water that is over 6 feet deep. (Call me what you want I need to feel safe, especially at night in hard pulling current). I also try to be familiar with the water in which I am going to navigate. I remember a night wetsuiting on Block Island with some friends that knew the Block like they did their bedroom. It was my first-time to this particular point and one of the guys comes up to me and says, “Wade straight out here 300 yards and you will hit a good boulder.” I giggled to myself and said ‘yeah OK,’ I took the pass that night and wondered on down the beach looking for different options because I was not familiar with anything about the spot!

At another of my favorite “island” spots loaded with great boulder fields and rocky points, a place that I was very comfortable and am quite familiar with, a place at which I had done considerable time accompanied with very good results, I was able to expand my possibilities to unbelievable new levels. The first time I wetsuited there I found a solid 5 new extremely high quality spots, by high quality I mean deep water with good moving current, an area that a big bass would have no problem moving into, that I would have in no way otherwise have found. Two of the spots paid immediate dividends the other three I feel very confident with for the future as well, plus I know I will find more as I continue to work the areas over.

The Wetsuit Objective

As stated the objective to the wetsuit is not to be better than the next guy but rather to bolster your own personal game on a level that you feel comfortable in attaining. This level is one that you would want to do as a surfcaster, with no threat of trying to compete with some one else. You want to work within your comfort zone but also working to get close to deep water. For me it is getting to the edge, of a boulderfield or sandbar-safely.

The idea behind a wetsuit is one, safety. It is so much safer than the wader/drytop…waders rip, wetsuit don’t, and if they do so what? Second it is access to otherwise impossible positions. Like they say in real estate it is all about location. “Location, location, location.” Surfcasting is no different. Deep water, moving well, close to shore is the surfcaster’s objective in a nutshell.

For me, the ideal situation, my objective, is finding a rocky point in proximity to deep water, common all along the New England coast and Long Island’s east end, as well as jetties such as those in New Jersey.

I like to target these areas at night with good moving water and bass in the area. I do all my planning and scouting by day and all my fishing at night or in low-light conditions. I work hard at collecting information before I fish so that I will have an idea as to how the fishing has been, what bait has been present, what I will throw, and what the tidal stages are, along side other things.

 

This Is Not A knock!

I want to be absolutely clear on one thing: this article is not a knock on the wader/drytop fisher by any means. What I am stating here is strictly my opinion and another option or level for a surfcaster that wants to climb the ladder and move his game to a higher level. The seal costume is well worth serious consideration for the surfcaster looking to elevate his game.


Wetsuit Dress and Equipment

By DJ Muller

 

There is little in writing on wetsuit garb so I want to put some things down in detail about how you want to dress for venturing out in a wetsuit. There is a lot of interest in wetsuiting because after all it gives you a huge advantage when it comes to catching fish. It also adds a little more excitement to fishing as wetsuiting is never boring. The information here is my opinion, there are various options, but this is what has worked for me. The rest you will figure out as you develop your wetsuiting approach.
Any of the above photo's from the list can used for visual reference.

 


What you wear is vitaly important. Don't be cheap, better quality equals added comfort.

Under shorts
- Let’s begin with the undergarment. Your first option is nothing. Some guys wear zilch under their suits and that is fine, I have done it many times. For “drawers” I like to go with a pair of spandex shorts. They help keep “things” in line and they also prevent chafe to the inner thigh area that comes with a mix saltwater and cotton underwear along with extended walking and crawling around the rocks. These I ould highly recommend.

Under tops-
On the top, you have a few options. The first is what is called a rash guard, a thin lycra top, you will see the kids wearing them at the beach quite a bit. I wear this under normal conditions. The top works as a “lubricator” between your suit and skin and prevents possible chafe under your arms and chest area.

When you need another layer of warmth, when the nights get cold you can add what I call a “heater top,” or a wetsuit jacket (dumb name). This will give you another layer for warm when the nights get chilly. As a rule I will put this on before going out, based on how I think the night will be. If the night will get windy and cold, I will wear it. One of my buddies carries a “hoody,” a sleeveless, hooded, 1.5mm neoprene vest that he will put on when needed.

The wetsuit jacket or what I call the 'heater tops' come in different forms, sometimes a sleeveless vest, 1.5 or 2 mm, or they can come as a 1, 1.5, 2 mm long or short sleeve crew neck-type top. Be sure it fits you very snug (don’t wear it loose), I feel like a sausage in mine but that is what makes it work. It adds degree of warmth options for you.

Wetsuits- When it comes to wetsuits you have more options. There are two basic types, a two-piece combo called a “john or farmer john” which can be bought and worn by itself, or with the second part called the “shorty,” which goes over the john. A shorty can also be worn alone but I wouldn’t recommend it because of the lack of arm and leg protection. This is commonly worn amongst surfcasters. The problem I have is with this combo together is core temperature. If worn together your core may be covered with 6 or 7mm or even higher. This is friggin hot! You will roast. Being too warm will bog you down. It will suck much needed energy from you.

One of my partners wears a farmer John alone and then wears a heater top or a drytop on the top to cover his upper section.

The other option is my preference, a full suit, long sleeves and long pants. One reason I like this is because it covers 95% of my body leaving only the hands and head exposed. I also like the protection from barnacles and other abrasives that you may find out in the water and around rocks.

One good option when choosing a wetsuit is “smooth skin” (see wetsuit photo) on the upper core. This works as a wind inhibitor and it makes a huge difference especially on the 3 mm suit which is thin neoprene. It knocks down the wind and keeps the core warm.

 

The thing you have to remember as a surfcaster wearing a wetsuit is that you will be in the water while getting out to your spot and then you will be out of the water for possibly (hopefully) an extended period of time while you are fishing. What this means is that you will get wet, inside and out, the wet inside is what keeps you warm, and then you will be out of the water in possibly wind while you are on your chosen rock. Your walk out to your location and then your swim/wade out to your rock will get you sweating. It is the cool down you have to anticipate. Once out of the water and you start cooling down anatomically, this can make you cold. You have to over compensate a little on the warmth for this reason.  

The other factor is that when you are out of the water for an extended period you begin to dry, remember what I said, it is the thin layer of water that will keep you warm, once that dries all you have a 3, 4, or 5 mm layer of neoprene and that is it. 3mm is thin for cool windy nights. This is where the heater tops and drytops come into play.

Drytops- Drytops? How do drytops come into play with wetsuiting? Think about this scenario. You walk out at dusk to your spot, you’re going to fish the night tides. The air temperatures are in the 60’s and there is a warm, gentle wind blowing. You walk out with your top down and a T-shirt on. You’re sweating your ass off. You gear up as the light fades and work your way out to your perch in neck deep water. You mount your boulder and begin fishing. The hit starts slow and then builds momentum the darker it gets. The hit lasts for two and a half hours. Now it is midnight and the hit cools but here is enough interest to keep you there, you are waiting for the cow to come by. A stiff south wind picks up and now you get cold. Go home or wait for the slob?

It is these types of unpredictable situations that I always carry a drytop with me. The degree of wind protection it gives me, without cooking me, is invaluable. Now note my drytop is old and worn, I have had for years, it was once my number one drytop. I have new ones now but this one is my wind cutter. No longer used as a top to keep my dry, this tops only purpose now is wind protection. I drag it with me and throw it up in the rocks until needed; I consider it a must-have-with when heading out for a night on the rocks.

Let me also say this, just because it might be summer, don’t think you won’t need it. Summer nights can be frigid.

 The crew ready for action- Here you see four of us ready to head out for the evening. Notice two of the guys are wearing their drytops and two being carried, it is your option. I run warm so I always carry mine out.

Foot Coverings- Feet are important because if your feet go, you go too. Your feet need to be well cared for. You start with a pair on neoprene socks, I like the fleece lined, they make me have happy feet! I also like the ones that I have pictured above because they come up and bit and give the ankle protection from the top of the boots where nasty chafe can happen.
 

Boots vary greatly and a lot of the choice will come down to personal preference. Some of the guys I know that swim a lot more like to wear the low cut Korker Torrent. I like a high boot for ankle support and a thick sole for protection for the feet over rocky, uneven terrain which can be brutal on the feet.

For cleats I favor the Korker K-1100 or I guess they now call then the “Jetty Plus Fishing Cleat.” It’s loaded with studs and ties onto your boot. Isn’t that something I finally remember the model number then they go change the name! I used to wear them where ever I went while wetsuiting, but nothing will dull your studs faster than wearing them for a week in Montauk or Cuttyhunk. Now I carrying them out to my spot by hanging them from a clip on my belt, then I put them on as a part of the “gear up.”

The Wader Belt- This is an important part of your gear. It is important when you fish at any time but when you are wetsuiting out in deep water and often times wave action hitting you, you need a belt that doesn’t fail. I use a dive belt with a stainless steel buckle. Once locked down, it is locked down, it won’t pop open at he most inopportune time. A lot of fellows favor the quick release buckle, if something goes bad and you have to dump your belt for buoyancy reasons (God forbid) you can do it quickly with one hand. Me? I’m fat and my fat belly will pop the quick release buckle so for now it’s the stainless dive buckle for me.

Now, on the belt goes number one…the pliers, sheath and lanyard. This goes with me every single time I go out fishing, it is as automatic as a rod and reel. I favor the best so I go with the Van Staal  pliers, and the leather sheath and a Dragon Tails Lanyard (the best on the market by far).

Now in 2 words, we can basically cover everything else that I use on my belt, “MAK Surfcasting equipment. www.maksurfcasting.com I have had the regular bags and I have wetsuited with the standard over-the-shoulder plugbag. These, even though good products, are not great for the rigors of wetsuiting but the MAK bags are aces. I need quality and I need a bag that will stay closed in the tough white water, MAK does. The number of bags I wear on my belt depends largely on what I am fishing for and where I am fishing. Example: when I am throwing big needles, big Danny’s and big pencil poppers I like two-tube belt bags. In the two of them I can carry A LOT of stuff.

Another thing I do is I put numerous D-Rings and carabineers for carrying things when necessary, like my Korkers as previously stated, a water bottle. The most important perhaps is the one I keep up front with my Wal-Mart cheapo watch attached, since I carry no phone with me while fishing, it is a tool I use to keep time and to watch tidal stages.

Whew the belt section was extensive.


The Wader Belt-Here is my regular belt, The pliers and watch are always on the belt. The bags change. Two ten-inch bags, one with double round inserts, the other identical bag with triple square inserts. The bucktail/tin pouch is also favored especially when bucktailing is the top option. The bag options are endless!

Lights-
An important piece of equipment when fishing in darkness is a good light system, again there are many options. While headlights are used I opt for the neck lights which basically I make myself. The lights have to be waterproof. I like dive lights-what’s more waterproof than that? One of my heavy hitters is the Princeton Tec lights, I strongly favor the Rage. It is a powerful enough light (41 lumens) so that I can spot a fish out in front of me within 10 yards. I also carry a second Rage with the red lens. The red lights protects your night vision and this is for anything close where I don’t want to get blinded by a white light or when stealth becomes important. Another strong option is the Underwater Kinetics or UK. For the UK lights I really like the 2AAA Xenon Pen Light, or the 2AAA Xenon Mini Pocket Light (both 12 lumens), they are small and light-weight and used mostly for changing lures and close range stuff. You won’t be able to spot a fish in the wash with this light, but you can light your path on the walk.

I usually carry three lights around my neck when wetsuiting, a bright white, a red and a small white. I also carry another backup light like the PT Blast, just in case.

I attach all my lights to surgical tubing with electric tape wrapped very tight. The best size surgical tubing is 3/16” or ¼.”

Gloves- You have to have good gloves for hand protection. Just be sure to get them in your size. I wear gloves every time I wetsuit to protect my hands from barnacles and braid cuts. Your hands cut easy when they are wet.

Other Accessories- Bring a good knife with you just in case. You want a blunt-edged dive knife (see photo), not a machete or stiletto. It is only for emergencies.

 

Well I hope this gives you some direction. As with everything, you will need to work out a system that works best for you. Have fun and take care of your fish.

 

Links to good wetsuit products:

Lights- The Bright Guy- www.brightguy.com

            Red lens for Rage- www.brightguy.com/products/Red_Lens_TEC223RD.php

Korkers- www.korkers.com

Wetsuits- www.wetsuitwearhouse.com  Go to men’s wetsuits (If you’re a man).

Plug Bags-www.maksurfcasting.com

If you have any questions or feedback please feel free to e-mail me at djmull13@msn.com. 

All articles are copyrighted.  For information on copyright laws:  http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html

 

 

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