Not so quick my friend, not so quick. A lifelong fisherman, I spent a dozen years as a serious surfcaster on the Rhode Island coast. Moved back to Virginia, got a bird dog and now spent what few days I have hunting rather than fishing. Still, I think I may remember enough to get you started.
Originally Posted by 73mountaineer
The most important tip I can give you is to befriend the locals. Gear and techniques can vary wildly depending on the location. For instance, in Rhody, we all used spinning gear on 9-11 ft one piece poles (the serious guys, that is) and most of our method was artificials except at night when you'd hunt big bass with live eels. Down in the Carolinas, most of the hardcore guys I met fished with levelwind reels and did much, much more bait fishing than we did. They also used longer poles, heavier line and terminal tackle. The problem you face is that surfcasters are notoriously secretive...especially the knowledgeable ones. It took me years to become part of the gang.
Are there any local tackle shops near the section of beach you plan to fish? If so, stop in there. If they have decent quality tackle, buy it from those guys. That dramatically increases their willingness to share the sort of info you need to catch fish. It will cost more, but it's well worth it. If you've never fished with a level wind reel, then go for a spinning reel. Don't cheap out on the reel, surfcasting is absolutely brutal on your gear. Salt and sand together will destroy a cheap real in a season or two. Meanwhile, the Penn 750 I bought in 1984 could still hit the beach today. The smallest pole you should consider is 9 foot, but 10 or 11 are probably preferable. I've never fished with anything longer than 11ft, so I can't comment on those monsters. Your first pole can be a two piece which will save you money. I no longer know the reliable brands, but that should be an easy piece of research.
You will also need a surf bag. Tackle boxes aren't really practical out on the beach or on the breachways. Fill it up with an assortment of whatever is working that season (again, you'll need a reliable local tackle shop to go to for advice). Some topwater poppers, swimmers, bucktails are all standard, but again, defer to local knowledge. Also essential is a good saltwater grade pair of pliers for removing hooks, trimming line/wire and bending back barbs if you are into catch and release. Trust me, if you get into a bluefish blitz, you will not want to remove those hooks with your fingers. I nearly lost a tip of one to a 12 pounder one year.
For clothing, I cannot stress enough the importance of a GOOD pair of waders. I've settled on LL Bean because of their warranty. Don't know if they're the best, but I've been through quite a few in the last 30 years and Bean's unconditional warranty makes them the best value. Remember, ALL waders will/can leak. They have this in common. What they don't have in common is what the manufacturer will do about it.
The last thing before you hit the beach is learning a good assortment of knots. This isn't freshwater fishing for bass or trout. There are some toothy critters here and some of them get quite big. The bible for me on this was Lefty Kreh's and Mark Sosin's book on knots. Don't know if it's still available (and you can't have mine), but you'll need to know a good basic mono knot, a mono to wire knot, a wire to lure knot and so on.
This is just a beginning and if you head out to the beach with reasonably good tackle and a respectful attitude to your brother casters, then you'll eventually find someone to take you under their wing and teach you a few things. My experience is pretty dated, but if you have more questions, just drop me a note and I'll do my best to answer them.
The Definition of a Gentleman: Someone who is never rude, except on purpose.