It is necessary to use at least 12-13 foot medium to heavy rods and rod holders if you target catching sharks and rays from the surf. I recommend using Penn #500 Jigmaster or Penn Squidder for conventional reels, since they are capable of casting long distance even with a large bait. Use at least 20-30 pound test line. For a terminal tackle(see a picture below), use 30-40 pound test line for making a leader. Attach snap swivel at both ends, and make a drop loop and attach a surf leader hook through the loop(a size of hook depends on a size of your bait). You could attach a short wire leader instead of a surf leader hook. But make it short because when you cast it, short one is definitely easy to cast with almost no air friction. Using a (long) surf rod also makes it easier to cast a large bait on a longer leader with 4-5 ounce sinker at the end. Change the weight of a sinker depending on the capabiity of your rod. Repeating trial and error solves the most of problems in casting long distance.
Since using a live bait is not practical for surf fishing (unless you cast from a big rock), dead bait is a best bet. Catch a small fish and make fillet for a bait, or simply use a half or a whole squid. Use a bait that stays on the hook.
Tricks for casting long distance
For those who aim at casting long distance could improve their skills by installing magnets on Penn squidder and 500 Jigmaster, and changing the way of casting.
Breakaway is a good site for learning casting skills. Advice and instructions regarding how to install magnets on your conventional reels can be found by searching the messages at St Augustine Fishing or Florida Surf Fishing. These are excellent sites for improving your skills.
For more pictures for surf fishing, please click on the following pages;