Salt Water Rigs
Salt Water Rigs
(By Ali H Husaini)
Salt Water Rigs
Bait fishing from salt water is gaining popularity in India and gradually new methods and techniques are finding application with today’s anglers. The term bait fishing is not singular and different situations and target species require different techniques. Here we will try to catalogue some specific rigs and methods which when mastered, will give the angler an added advantage. Here are some methods and rigs:
A very simple, balanced float setup with a small hook, as described in the illustration is very effective to catch Mullets from pier, Jetties, rocky dropoff or esturies. The bait used is either shrimp or bread flake. Ground-baiting the area and maintaining silence while fishing for these easy-to-spook fish is essential. Ground-baiting is done by mixing sand and shrimps together in a ratio of 5:1 in volume. The best way to Ground-bait is to go on throwing small quantities of bait mix at regular intervals throughout the session. It is quite pleasurable to fish for this fish while your main rods are out and you are waiting for a strike.
This rig is very versatile and can catch you many species of fish, especially from an estuary. The ball sinker allows the rig to drift with the current and literally take the bait to the waiting predator. The illustration only shows use of 4/0 hook but one can use different size of hooks paired with this method to target different species of fish. This rig works best to target Breams, Snappers, Flatheads or an occasional Barra. This rig also works well to target Rays and Shovelhead from sand bars and coves in beach or from an estuary mouth.
This is a very good rig for beach fishing and can catch you almost all the species of fish from a beach. The aerodynamic sinkers used with this method are designed to cast far and grip the sand so as to keep the bait stationary. The only disadvantage of this rig is that with the drifts and current of the beach, the hook length entangles with the line, used to attach the sinker. Keeping the line connecting the swivel and sinker short and covering it with a rubber tube solves this problem up to some extent.
The best hooks to use with this setup are Circular Hooks as use of it avoids gut hooking. Generally the hook length is Mono or Fluoro but in case toothy predators like sharks are feeding, one can also use wire leader. Using a bait-runner reel, and keeping the rod in a holder, one can sit and admire the overall scenery till the rod is almost yanked from the holder and the reel starts to scream.
Pulley rig is a modified version of the Paternoster Rig and is designed to target fish from rocky stretches. As one can see from the illustration, while casting, the sinker slides down the swivel and remains as it is inside the water. As the fish pick up the bait and runs, it literally picks up the weight from the bottom and avoids any snag in rocky terrain. This is a very good rig and can catch you some really good fish. This rig is best suited for rocky beach or estuary fishing. You can catch almost all the fish, from Bream to Cobia, using this rig. Here also use of circular hooks is recommended. The line connecting the sinker with the swivel should only be enough that it does not crack while casting.
Almost all of us must have encountered spots which are almost impossible to fish. Commonly referred to as graveyard, the bottom or structure of this spot is very rocky and almost all the time the angler loses his rig due to snag. The above rig can be an answer for such kind of spots. By using a sand sinker, which is simply a cloth tube, filled with sand and tied on both ends, one can design his required weight. These are environmentally friendly, sacrificial weights tear open when the fish runs and the sand falls out, leaving only a line and some cloth which does not snag. It is of importance to understand that while using a weight on the line, like previous rigs, the line stays down while the fish is running. Even if the fish swims above a structure, due to weight the line remains down and is bound to get snagged on that particular structure.
By using these weights, once the sand falls out, there is no weight attached to the line and the line remains taut from rod tip to the fish. It is recommended to snag the weight after casting and keeping the line taut so as there is no slack in the line.
This rig can further be advanced by using buoyant baits, either by using a Styrofoam ball as shown in the illustration or by inserting a Styrofoam strip inside the cut piece of a bait fish.
As the hook is floating, and moves with the drifts and currents, the chances of a take increase considerably. The probability of hook snagging on rocks also reduces while the angler retrieves the line to replenish the bait. One can also mix mash fish or shrimps etc with the sand filled in the cloth tube to create a smell trail but this often does not work as the crabs and other small fish cut the cloth and render the presentation useless.
Who says that the hair rig is only used by carp anglers? The above rig is one of the best methods of catching snappers from an estuary or beach. Bend a S.S. wire as shown in the illustration and tie a hair rig using #2~2/0 hooks. You just have to insert the cut piece of the bait fish on the wire and pull it back so as the bend portion of the wire goes inside the flesh and takes hold. To secure the bait further, one can tie it with the wire using a bait floss or thin thread. The potential of this rig is unlimited and with small modification of the S.S. wire, this rig can be used for presenting different baits. Even a live shrimp, crab or bait fish can be presented by little modification and this rig can catch you any fish!
Live Baiting for Barra:
Those who have targeted a Barra on live bait will vouch that it is very difficult to hook one and it is common to lose good fish even after prolonged runs. The above rig is very effective for targeting Barra with two distinct features. The first being that the use of small hooks to secure the live bait does not injure the fish too much and keeps the bait alive for much longer time. The second advantage being that, the main hook remains open and away from the baitfish, and turns easily to bite in the mouth of the target fish when it turns and moves. The 8~10 feet free run allows the Barra to suck the bait in before the hooking force of the bait comes into play and thus increases the probability of hookups many times. This is one of the best rig for live baiting from Estuary or Structures where Barras are known to feed and where one does not have to cast too far. Though designed to use for Barra, this rig can catch you any predator fish and is one of the most successful method for saltwater fishing.
Gang Hook Rig:
Gang hook rig is generally used to target some big fish and the bait used is dead bait fish. This rig is more common for trolling but can be used for bait fishing also. It is recommended to remove or break the spine of the bait fish so as the body becomes supple and move with the current mimicking a live fish. The multiple hook rig is made by passing the beak of the hook through the eye of the preceding hook and for the sake of safety putting a rubber stopper before the eye is also recommended. To attach the bait, tie the hooks with the fish using bait floss or thin thread as shown in the illustration.
While using these rigs, it is also necessary to master how to rig baits, dead and alive. Below are some illustrations describing ways to attach the bait to hook for good presentation.
Dead bait (Shrimp):
Dead bait (Cut Bait Fish):
Live bait (Shrimp):
Live bait (Crab):
By no means are the above methods exhaustive and many other rigs and methods can be adapted to suit different conditions and different fish species but the above rigs cover the spectrum of basic rigs and can be the base for further modifications and improvements to suit ones style of fishing. This is what I have to offer to you right now but I will surely try and post few more methods and rigs later on. Till then, go beside the water, explore, experiment and catch some good fish.