Fundamentally, saltwater fishing rigs must be designed and constructed such that they present your bait, or lure, in a manner which looks natural to a fish.
And they won't do that if they tumble on their flight through the air, or tangle on the drop to the seabed.
One way to ensure that they your bait rigs do as intended is to
follow proven designs when you make them up or alternatively, buy them
as professionally made-up rigs from your tackle supplier.
Many anglers choose this latter approach, saying they'd rather spend their time fishing than making up rigs.
And that's fine of course, but if you want to cut down on your spending the smart thing to do is to buy a few rig making accessories together with a small selection of ready-made rigs just to use as patterns - and then copy them shamelessly!
Some ready-made rigs come with fully dimensioned sketches in the packaging, which is very useful.
Of course once you've made each of the popular rigs a few times it will become second nature, and the rig making instruction will be no longer required.
But in the meantime...
Bait Rigs are generally designed around one of two basic forms:~
Most of the popular bait rigs - flapper rigs, pulley rigs, wishbone rigs, clip-down rigs etc - are all derivatives of these basic rig patterns and are designed to place the bait on the seabed, where the fish would expect to find it.
All the popular paternoster and ledger rig variations apply here, but most bottom fishing rigs designed for boat fishing feature longer hook traces than would be practical for surf fishing rigs.
This is because these boat rigs can be lowered to the seabed without tangling, where the long traces will flutter around enticingly in the tide.
One exception is the conger rig, which should always present the bait fixed firmly to the seabed. Conger eels seem keener to hunt down your bait by its scent alone, and show little enthusiasm for chasing it around.
The essence of a good surf fishing rig is not only that it must present your bait enticingly on the seabed, but also that it must:~
... which is why bait clips and impact shields were developed, and how clip-down rigs have so benefited surfcasters on both sides of the Atlantic.
Some of these rigs, particularly multi-hook rigs like the two-up and one-down clipped-down rig, are quite complex and need to be tied accurately to specific dimensions if they are to perform properly. But at the other end of the scale is the simple fish finder rig.
It's worth taking a look at the tandem hook versions of these bottom fishing rigs - the stinger rig for short-biting fish and the pennel rig for those 'awkward' baits for example, and colourful flashy versions such as flatfish rigs.
When you don't want to present your bait on or close to the seabed, a float rig (or in the US, a 'bobber' rig) is what you need.
It's an ideal fishing rig for casting from harbour walls and piers, and a sliding float rig lets you present your bait deep without compromising the long casting abilities of this rig.
Using live bait is seen by some people as being unnecessarily cruel, but providing you can come to terms with rigging a livebait and committing it to a slow but certain death there's no doubt that it's a very effective way of catching predatory fish.
So live bait, dead bait
or lure? The debate continues, but the decision is yours to make. Personally, I'm not keen on it.
The effectiveness of today's soft plastic fishing lures is beyond question - but not if they're incorrectly rigged...
There's a simple rigging innovation that will decrease your plastic squid lure losses and catch more fish.
It's all about having the right kind of hook.
Well, not just that, you'll need to know how to rig it. Especially two highly effective variations on the basic rig, the Texas Rig and the Carolina Rig.
Leadhead Lures have separate heads and replaceable plastic tails. These must be assembled with care to make sure that the hook emerges on the centre-line and in the right place.
Think of offshore trolling and you picture a high-powered gamefishing boat, festooned with outriggers and sporting electrically operated downriggers on their stern. It doesn't have to be like that...
Unlike trolling plugs and spoons, skirted lures are made up of three individual components - a skirt, a hook and a lure head. So they need to be rigged.
First you've got to get your baitfish. You can buy it of course, but nothing beats fresh-caught bait - and this is where sabiki bait rigs excel...
Sardines, mackerel, sprats, herrings - they all make great offshore trolling baits and this bait rigging method suits them all.
Just like rigging a sardine, except for one final tweak.
Of course you cut remove its 'wings' - they're only over-developed pectoral fins afterall. But why not take advantage of them, with devastating effect?
Ballyhoo, or halfbeaks as they're also known, are the offshore trolling baitfish rig of choice for most big game sportsfishermen.
Its unusual shape and the presence of a beak (or more correctly, the bottom half of one) requires a special bait rigging technique.
Exuding a strong, oily-scented slick and with its tentacles fluttering enticingly behind the hook, a properly rigged squid will often catch when nothing else will.
Properly rigging your bait or your lure is essential if it's to fool the fish into thinking that grabbing hold of it is the natural thing to do.
Just follow the above links to see these proven fishing rigs explained in words and pictures.
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