There is much debate in surf fishing circles as to which surf rigs work the best. Many surf fisherman use artificial lures and plugs, but after many years of trial and error, I believe that natural baits will always catch many more fish. Detailed here are two surf rigs that have taken more fish than any other.
The High-Low Rig
To tie the high low surf rig you will need about a 5 foot length of 40-60lb monofilament leader. At one end of your leader attach a weight snap. The choice of weight is a personal preference, pyramid sinkers work well in the surf, but if a heavy current is running a sputnik style weight would be better. 12 inches up from your snap swivel tie two dropper loops roughly 15 inches apart for your hooks. Shorter dropper loops tend to work much better for bite detection. Size and type of hook are again a matter of preference, but if you use circle hooks the fish will hook themselves and stand less chance of being gut hooked. 15 inches above the top loop tie on a barrel swivel to connect to your main line. Using the high-low rig will help keep the bait off the bottom, and has the advantage of having two baited hooks in the water.
The Fish Finder Rig
There are two main fish finder surf rigs, one is fixed and the other is free running. For the fixed rig tie your hook to one end of a length of 18 to 25 inch 40lb leader. At the other end tie on a three way swivel to which you attach a weight snap and your main line. For the free running version of this rig shorten your leader length to around 15 inches, and put a weight slider on your main line before you tie it to your three way swivel. The free running fish finder rig casts slightly further than the fixed version, and the fish will feel little to no resistance when the bait is picked up.