Essential Deep Sea Fishing Gear You Can’t Go Without

By Tom Keer

Oct 04, 2017

Heading offshore on a deep sea fishing trip requires some prep.  Whether you're trolling up a sailfish, jigging for cod, or looking to hook up a tuna you'll need stout tackle, sea legs, and a strong back.  Fishing far from land is magical, so follow these 6 tips and have the time of your life.

There are lots of different types of fish to catch when you go deep sea fishing.  Fish living in depths over 100 feet deep can be big and fast just as they can be small and slow. So before you set up your deep sea fishing gear, you should think about these 6 questions first:

1. What’s your fishery?

Offshore water in the Northeast can mean cod and haddock as easily as it means sharks and tuna.  Anglers fishing warm Gulf Stream water might target mahi mahi as easily as marlin. Match your deep sea fishing equipment to your targeted species.

2. Ground fishing or sport fishing?

Ground fish like Atlantic or Pacific cod are caught by dropping bait or jigs on the bottom.  Sport fishing can mean setting a chum slick, fishing live bait or trolling so make sure you have all your fishing gear and tackle separated by each type of fishing you are going

3. Do you have deep sea fishing rods?

You're in big water with current and waves.  Rods need to be short and stout, typically in the 5-8 foot length for 50-80# line.  Graphite blanks offer strength while being light weight, a helpful feature if you're fishing a fish for a long time.  Roller guides are important for heavy monofilament or wire lines.

4. What about deep sea fishing equipment?

Pool conventional reels spooled with wire, mono, or braided lines sohooks for bait fishing should be larger than 2/0.  Don’t forget you'll need swivels to attach mono leaders to braided line and have a variety of sinkers over 3 ounces.  Pack warm clothes for water temperatures offshore are cooler and waterproof boots with a rubber sole adds traction in a rolling sea.

5. Are there specific types of deep sea fishing lures?

Saltwater fishing gear can change depending on what type of fishing you do. Ground fish favor heavy jigs, tuna like bluefish or mackerel, sharks like bloody chum, and marlin and mahi like skirted lures with different shaped heads.  A variety of darters, jet heads, slants or cups work well. You can also use different types of deep sea fishing lures depending on the fish species you are trying to catch. 

6. How to deep sea fish?

You'll need a big boat to handle the open ocean, large fish, crew, and massive amounts of deep sea fishing gear.  If  you get sea sick then take anti-nausea medicine before you go.  Drink plenty of water!

For fishermen used to having boots on the sand or fishing in sight of land, a fishing trip offshore is an experience.  From boats with flying bridges and pulpits, the view, like the fishing, is unparalleled.  Check for more on how to deep sea fish and have fun!

Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at