Rigging Situations: Presenting Natural Baits

Rigging is technically the terminal setup for any kind of fishing. But, when most anglers say they were "rigging," they mean baitrigging. Rigging with livebaits, deadbaits and a few new options comprises the foundation of knowledge from which most fishing methodology arises. A Carolina rig, for instance, is basically a baitrig with modest sophistications.

The longer an angler is in the game of creating rigs, the more he or she realizes simple is best. If extra knots serve no ultimate purpose, remove them from the equation. If a certain leader material is difficult to work with, replace it. If one hook is landing as many fish as two hooks, 'nix the extra hook. If a swivel really serves no purpose, it's gone. Rigging takes time, The less time spent rigging, the more time spent fishing.

Baitrigs might be most popular for panfish but serve to catch anything. Trout, pike, walleyes, steelhead, flounder, bass, grouper, redfish, sea trout, tuna -- the list covers all gamefish. At any given moment, without any doubt, millions of basic rigs are being employed around the world for thousands of species. The perfect hook or hooks (tandem- or triple-hook rigs are common for some species), and the perfect sinker, change from one application to the next. Type of bait and the mouth of the predator in question determines hook size and style, while bottom composition, current, depth, and speed decide the most efficient sinker.

Efficiency is the key to all rigging. Time spent freeing hooks from snags, time wasted on fish that shake loose, and the number of minutes devoted to finding hooks, swivels, and weights, then tying the necessary knots, can be compared to how many fish are actually landed. The simpler the rig the better, but the bottom line is: How natural does the rig look in the water, and how successful is it at fooling the targeted species?


Here is, perhaps, the simplest and most effective of all rigs for a wide variety of species. No swivel, no droppers, no leader. Simply, tie the hook to the end of the line, apply split shot to the line, and this rig is ready to be tossed above tangles of logs and other snags where the current can sweep it alongside or underneath the wood. A beaked hook with a downturned eye is essential, because it grabs far less wood than an upturned eye with a straight point. This rig is perfect for deploying live crawlers, small minnows, or spawn bags. In heavy cover, it should be used in conjunction with abrasion-resistant lines like Berkley Trilene XT. Snag up and break off? Tie one knot and you're back in the game.


This basic variation of the first rig employs a dropper for attaching split shot, slinky weights, or pencil lead. With this rig, if the weight snags it can slide off or break free of the dropper, meaning no knots need be retied. The same baits -- spawn, live worms, Berkley Power Eggs -- work best with this rig. Current plus rocks equals abrasion. Use Berkley lronsilk or Trilene XT. These first two rigs are effective for walleyes, trout, steelhead, salmon, smallmouth bass, and other river species.


With the proper modifications, this rig works almost anywhere or anytime for most species of fish. With lighter line and weights, its a trout or panfish rig. Go a little heavier, and it becomes a walleye rig. With 20-pound mono or 60-pound braid, it's a catfish rig -- and so on, up past snapper and permit to fish like tarpon and grouper. The sliding-sinker concept allows fish to take line without feeling the weight. This is one of the best rigs for larger live minnows, shrimp, and "worms" made by rolling a ball of Berkley Trout Bait Twist between your palms to create a thin, cigarshaped bait that attracts fish but won't swim into snags. Slip the hook through the middle or the nose of the "worm."


Dozens of variations exist for tandem rigs. Here, we show you three. Tandem rigs provide the illusion of a "school" or mass of bait, putting twice as much scent and live vibration into the water. These figs work for bullhead, small catfish, crappies, bluegills, and a variety of other fish. Some are designed to have the weight rest on bottom, such as the perch rig The basic and Kentucky rigs are designed for drifting or slow trolling with semi-vertical lines for crappies. The rigs work best with live minnows.

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