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Best Bait Rigs 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated February 1, 2018
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Edwin GarrettHi! My name is Edwin Garrett. Let’s discuss this topic to help you select best bait rigs for 2018 and take your experience to a whole new level with aerators.

Just read here for my top 3 recommendations. Why are these 3 bait rigs on top of my list? Well read on… Like most products, some outdo others, so use my top three list below to get started on your search for the best bait rigs of 2018.

Best Bait Rigs of 2018

If you’re scouring the market for the best bait rigs, you’d better have the right info before spending your money. You can make a choice based on the my list as you shop.

Many models on the market may be confusing to a person who is shopping for their first time. Based on customer reviews and my own experience with the cowboy method I’ve found the best 3 bait rigs on the market.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
4 points
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5 points
4 points
5 points
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Awards 1
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№1 – Lixada 5 Arms Alabama Umbrella Rigs with Barrel Swivels Fishing Lures Bait Rigs for Bass

Lixada 5 Arms Alabama Umbrella Rigs with Barrel Swivels Fishing Lures Bait Rigs for Bass

4 Packs a set.
Simulation image attractive to fished predator.
Five strong steel arms ensures strength and flexibility.
Not found yet.

Why did this bait rigs win the first place?

I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch!












№2 – Fishcm Luminous Sabiki Fishing Rigs Glow Soft Fish/Shrimp Sabiki lure Saltwater/Freshwater Fishing Bait

Fishcm Luminous Sabiki Fishing Rigs Glow Soft Fish/Shrimp Sabiki lure Saltwater/Freshwater Fishing Bait

Package included: 5 packs.There are 5 Simulation Fish with hook in each pack
Size: 1/0#,1#,2#,3#,4#.1 packs each size.
When we take it in hand,it just seems likes the real Fish and extrodinary Colours
Lacks durability.
Heavy in weight as compared to others in our lineup.

Why did this bait rigs come in second place?

I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. I really liked it. It is amazing in every aspect. It did even exceed my expectations for a bit, considering the affordable price. Seems that the material is good. It has a very beautiful color but I don’t really like the texture.












№3 – Luminous Sabiki Rigs Bait Rigs Fishing Lure Hook with Ball bearing Swivel Snap Connector

Luminous Sabiki Rigs Bait Rigs Fishing Lure Hook with Ball bearing Swivel Snap Connector

RANDOM SIZE: 10#,12#,14#,16#,18#
br>PACKAGE: 10 packs, each pack including 6 fishing hooks
br>TYPE: pink flasher with luminous fishing bead
Extraordinarily expensive.
Small size.

Why did this bait rigs take third place?

This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers.












Bait Rigs Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy bait rigs, right? No!


If you have a water in mind that contains pike, they can often be found in most waterways, then you need to locate them. In 99% of cases they will be where the bait fish are, so look out for any signs of activity, this might be small fish dimpling the surface or perhaps grebes working an area – if the smaller fish are there, then it’s likely the pike won’t be too far behind.

Failing that it’s worth searching the water in front of you. Snaggy areas are always worth a go and so are any areas where depths vary, perhaps where the pike could lay in ambush for an easy meal. This is one reason why float fishing is such an effective method; it’s an extremely mobile way of fishing and enables you to search out a large expanse of water in a relatively short space of time.

Fish-Finder Rig

The simplest rig out there is the fish-finder rig. This rig simply consists of a leader with a hook and a barrel swivel tied to the main line behind a fish-finder weight slide. This rig is well suited for presenting large pieces of bait, because an angler can “drop back” to a biting fish and give it time to ingest the bait. Fish-finder rigs can be effective for everything from fluke to brown sharks, but you’ll want to adjust your hook size and style and your leader length to the fish you’re targeting. Remember, the longer the leader, the more wind resistance, and the less casting distance you’ll be able to achieve.

With fluke, casting distance is rarely an issue, as these fish will generally set up shop right in the breakers. I’ve seen ospreys pluck fluke out of only inches of water at the surfline. For these fish, I’ll use a long leader of about 30 inches to allow the bait to flutter and entice the hungry flatfish.

When it comes to fishing stripers, the location will determine the length of the leader. If a long cast is needed to reach the fish, leaders can be as short as inches (red drum surfcasters down south fish leaders even shorter than that). This will keep the weight and the bait close together during the cast, allowing you to get the maximum distance. If the bass aren’t far from shore, leaders from 2to 30 inches will work best. Though this isn’t always the case, I usually find myself using a longer leader with clams and a shorter leader with bunker. This is because when I’m fishing clams, I never want my bait too far beyond the breakers, because this zone is where the wave activity will naturally break up the shellfish, and bass prowling through this area are often looking for an easy meal of crushed clams. The longer leader will also allow the clam and its trailing pieces to be washed around with the swell, which is a more natural look for the bait.

This rig is well suited for presenting large pieces of bait, because an angler can “drop-back” to a biting fish. Fish-finder rigs can be effective for everything from brown sharks to fluke, but you’ll want to adjust your hook size and style and your leader length to the fish you’re targeting. Remember, the longer the leader, the more wind resistance, and the less casting distance you’ll be able to achieve.

With bunker, depending on the location, a little extra distance usually helps, so I pin the weight right on top of the bait. I find it less important for the bunker to be moving about on the bottom, especially since too much motion might cause the bait to spin, which will look unnatural and unappealing to cruising stripers.

When targeting big bluefish, wire leaders are often necessary to prevent bite-offs. With sharks, a wire leader is absolutely necessary, in conjunction with a long heavy-duty mono- filament leader to protect against the shark’s sandpaper skin.

Whole Mullet Rig

This contraption is quite popular with anglers to our south when targeting big bluefish in the surf. The styrofoam float keeps the bait floating off the bottom, where it’s easier for fish to find, and harder for the crabs. To rig a whole mullet, remove the double hook, push the wire down the center of the bait and out the vent, then re-attach the hook. This rig is perfect for fish like bluefish that are notorious for hitting the tails of baitfish.

Where and When this Approach is Effective

During the spring and fall, baitfish in the Northeast are bunched up and migrating north- and southward, respectively. At these times, the bait schools are easily located and a day’s supply of bait can be captured with a variety of methods. During the warm summer months, on the other hand, forage species take up residence and disperse throughout protected inshore waters, and as a result, gathering bait becomes more difficult. Catching your own bait is still a viable option – you just have to adjust your techniques.

Migratory forage fish will commonly hold around jetties, inlets and along ocean beaches. The natural boundaries created by such structure concentrate baitfish, making them easier to find and capture. A variety of bait can also be found throughout “inside” waters (bays, salt ponds, etc.), but these spots may be inaccessible to shorebound anglers.

New England Baitfish

Our local waters offer a wide variety of forage fish. Silversides (top) are abundant along beaches and estuaries throughout the season, and large silversides (to inches long) make great bait for fluke, stripers and false albacore. Menhaden(middle) are also abundant throughout the region, and adults measuring over 1inches are arguably the best livere bait for stripers and bluefish. Juvenile menhaden, or peanut bunker, show up by the millions early in the fall, serving as a staple forage food for all game fish. Mullet (bottom) appear in southern New England when water temperatures peak in the fall. They make a great bait for stripers and fluke.

Each season offers its own unique variety of prey. In the spring, sand eels, worms, green crabs and fiddler crabs are present in estuaries and coastal river systems, and striped bass are fond of all of them. These baits can be fished successfully along deep marsh banks, over drop-offs and on the flats. Along beaches, sand eels, worms and squid make up the primary forage early in the season, and all make effective baits when fished on the bottom. When using squid as bait, you can even live-line them.

The fall season is the most effective time of year to use the live-lining approach. Many prevalent baits – including mullet, menhaden (large and small), needlefish, anchovies, silversides and sea herring – form concentrated schools as they embark on their southerly migration. Whether stalled in strong shoreline currents (such as inlets) or on the move along beaches, these forage baits attract the attention of migrating stripers, bluefish, weakfish, bonito and false albacore. Fall bait schools typically travel close to the shoreline, making them readily available for capture while at the same time drawing predators in tight.

Shark Fishing Tackle

Big game tackle has really evolved over the last few years. The size of the equipment that we used to use for striped bass, we now use for school bluefin tuna, and what we used for school bluefin tuna, we can now use for sharks. This is primarily due to today’s thin-diameter braided lines and the changes tackle manufacturers have made to keep up with the braided line. PowerPro 80-pound-test is the same diameter as 18-pound-test monofilament. We can spool 600-yards of 80-pound test braid onto reels that would only be able to hold 150 yards of 80-pound-test monofilament. This allows us to use smaller reels but have the same amount of line that we had on larger, heavier reels.

Adding a skirt above the bait will often entice more bites.

The advancements in fishing lines have pushed reel manufacturers to produce lighter, stronger, smaller and more powerful reels. The tackle manufacturers have beefed up the drags on the smaller reels to accommodate braided lines and powerful fish. On the Insufishent Funds charter boats, we traded in our large 50-wide reels for much smaller Shimano Talica 25s loaded with more than 600 yards of 80-pound-test braided line with a 50- to 100-yard topshot of 80-pound-test monofilament. This is a difference of almost pounds in the weight of the reel alone! This not only cuts the weight of our outfit in half, but it also gives us the ability to set the hook with much more control and a lot less stretch than when we used straight monofilament. Now my anglers are fighting the fish and not the rod and reel.

The rod advancements have changed dramatically, as well. We are now able to use much lighter rods that have the same line ratings as the older, heavier rods. We use Shimano Terez TZCX66XXH rods which are designed specifically for braided line. These rod and reel combos, partnered with a good fighting belt and harness, have drastically reduced our fight times. That is good for the angler and good for the shark, especially if you plan on practicing catch and release.

Our standard shark rig on the Insufishent Funds is fairly simple. We use 1feet of 480-pound-test American Fishing Wire multi-strand cable connected to a 500-pound-test AFW Mighty Mini Swivel with feet of AFW 240-pound-test single-strand wire connected to the hook. For our weighted rig, we add a 3-ounce weighted swivel in between the multi-strand and single strand. If drift conditions are faster than knots, we add additional weight to the rig with a rubber band. Mustad 7699d hooks work the best in sizes ranging from an 8/0 for small baits, all the way up to the 11/0 for our largest strip baits.

Where To Fish

Finding the right place to set up your chum slick is critical. When we are looking for a good place to set up, I find it to be a lot like hunting. First, we start with areas of structure – ledges, holes, and wrecks.

Once in these areas, we start looking for rip lines or any disturbances or changes in the surface waters. These can even be slick lines from a feeding frenzy that may have happened before we arrived or may be happening under the surface. Sometimes they can be small pockets of baitfish or flocks of birds in an area. We like to see any of these signs coupled with water temperatures between 6and 6degrees.

On the Insufishent Funds, we always drift, in order to cover more ground. Once we set our slick, we are constantly looking for sharks to engage. Sometimes you see the birds that are sitting in the water all of a sudden take flight, or you notice that the bluefish that were hanging out in the slick have all of a sudden disappeared. The birds and bluefish both know not to stick around when a shark comes to visit.

Chum Slick

We also bring a 75-quart cooler full of bluefish or bunker to use for chumming. We add in some fresh cut bunker and bluefish chunks to spice up the slick, but are careful not to overdo it. The goal is to attract the sharks, not feed them.

Shark Fishing Baits

On the Insufishent Funds boats, we fish with many of the standard shark baits, such as mackerel and bluefish. These oily baits really attract the sharks. One type of bait that I think is overlooked for sharking is a bunker, live or dead, rigged through the lips. This streamlined baitfish allows for a very easy hook-set. Another plus is that bunker are readily available. You can use a cast net to gather a large number of live bunker. If you cannot find a school of bunker, or just do not want to throw a cast net, fresh or frozen bunker are available at almost every bait and tackle store in the Northeast.

When bluefish are in your chum slick, however, bunker is definitely not the best choice of bait. You will wind up catching bluefish all day instead of sharks! When blues overwhelm our chum slick, we switch our baits to large bluefish fillets. These will usually keep other bluefish off of the baits.

Mackerel is another favorite food of sharks. When we rig our mackerel, we butterfly the bait by cutting out the backbone, which gives it a better fluttering action and makes the hook set easier. This is done by filleting the mackerel from the tail to head on both sides while leaving both fillets attached to the head. We then remove the spine, which includes the tail. Once we have prepped the bait, we hook the mackerel through the eyes or through the bottom lip up to make the bait more streamlined and stop it from spinning.

Adding a skirt over the bait has really worked for us over the years, both as a means of attracting the shark’s attention and of concealing the hook.

The Spread

On the Insufishent Funds boats, we typically run three baits at a time, and we always have a pitch-bait ready. A lot of the largest sharks we have encountered followed the chum slick right up to the boat. When this happens, we grab the rod with the pitch bait and drop it right in front of the shark. Nine times out of ten, we get an immediate hook-up.

Our two longer rigs are on a shark float with the third bait being a flat-line. Our long bait is set 250 feet away from the boat and is usually our deepest bait at about 50 feet down with the 3-ounce weighted swivel rig. This keeps the bait in line with the chum that is floating down in the water column. The drift speed will dictate if more weight is needed. It is critical to have the bait at the same level as the chum. Once 50 feet of line is let out, we attach a float and send it out from the boat 22to 300 feet. The middle bait is set out next, 150 feet from the boat at 30 to 40 feet deep. Depending on drift conditions, we use either a 3-ounce weighted swivel for fast drifts or no swivel for slow drifts. The close bait is flat lined just out of sight from the boat, usually with no float and no added weight.

The Battle

The crew of Crimson Tide Charters attempts to subdue a big mako. Every crew member needs to know their role when a shark is brought boatside. (photo by Matt Rissell)

Once the fish takes the bait, we give it a good 5- to 10-second count before we set the hook. This gives the shark time to get the bait set in its mouth. We set the hook by first reeling tight and then giving two hard pumps to make sure the hook is through the thick part of the jaw. Once hooked up, the most important thing to remember is to stay tight on the fish. With braided line, setting the hook and keeping the line tight is much easier than it was with monofilament and its inherent stretch.

When we have a good fish on, we get the motors started in case we need to make a move to keep the fish away from the boat. Sharks are notorious for making sudden lunges for the engines. It is also critical to have flying gaffs or harpoons ready to go before a fish is hooked. Preparation is the key. As soon as the fish is hooked, we clear all of the other lines and move the rods out of the way of the fight.

End Game

Mako muzzle: The crew of Insufishent Funds ties a 5-gallon bucket over the head of a big mako before hauling it into the cockpit.

When the fight is finished, we find one of the most important parts in the end game is to have the boat moving when bringing the shark to the gaff. This is particularly true with large sharks. Everyone on the boat must know what their role is during the gaffing, where they should be standing, and to make sure that there are no limbs in the way of the flying gaff or harpoon rope. When the gaff is set or the harpoon is thrown, the shark will come back to life and can go out of control.

The shark has a “motor” just like our boat – and that motor is its tail. After the gaff or harpoon has been set, our very next step is to get his “motor” out of the water using the tail rope. We use a 15-foot rope with a loop on one end to lasso the tail and then we cleat the opposite end to the boat. The fish is not really ours until it is tail-roped and tied to the side of the boat. We like to leave the fish tied to the side of the boat for up to an hour before bringing it in the boat. The last thing you want is a thrashing shark in your boat! Sometimes, due to tournament weigh-in times, we are forced to bring a shark into the boat before it has been completely subdued. On those occasions, we tie a bucket over the shark’s head. This seems to quiet them down.

What you need…

To begin fishing the method you’ll need, of course, some method feeders. It’s always worthwhile having a couple of size options with you, depending on how far you’re going to want to cast.

It’s a good idea to have a couple of different sizes at your disposal

I always opt for a short, soft braided hooklink with a simple knotless knot. If you’re a little unsure, you can actually get ready-tied PVA bag rigs now, which are ideal for using alongside the method.

The approach…

TOP TIP: Don’t make your mix too hard or you could end up with your bobbins dancing to the tune of fish bumping and knocking your feeder as they try to get to the mix which hasn’t broken down

Don’t be lazy when fishing the method. Pull your finger out, knock up a quick and easy mix that will mould around the feeder and test it in the margin. You want it to be pliable without breaking down as soon as it hits the water yet not too hard that it doesn’t break down at all.

I use small braided hooklinks with a balanced hookbait meaning that I don’t necessarily have to push the hookbait into the mix that’s around the feeder. Due to the size of the ball of bait around the feeder there’s no chance of the rig flicking behind it and tangling. A rig of around 4ins in length is ideal. 

When using the method you are simply fishing for a bite at a time as you are creating a single feeding situation in which the hookbait is positioned alongside a ball of attraction. It’s very much like a solid-PVA-bag approach.

If you’re unsure on tying rigs, then ready-tied offerings like these are ideal.

Nuisance species…

Just because you’re using the method doesn’t mean you’re going to be encountering more nuisance species. It may be used a fair amount within match-fishing circles but don’t be fooled, it isn’t exclusively reserved for matchmen. 

Obviously if you’re on a water that has a large head of nuisance species then be conscious of this and possibly tweak your hookbait size a little or opt for a wafter rather than the likes of imitation corn. You can play around with hookbaits until your heart’s content.

Play around with hookbait size to ward off nuisance species

The method is a highly effective angling method and if you take it to a water that is very much match orientated then you will experience a mixed bag of fish, but take it to an out-and-out carp water and you’re in with the same chance as everyone else using more common carp-angling tactics.

In use…

From the off you need to get the mix of your choice sorted. Once this is done (it’ll take you all of five minutes, tops) you’re away.

Mixes straight off-the-shelf are quick and easy to use, you can be up and running in no time.

When fishing two rods on the method on day sessions I like to use one as a static rod while the other I roam around the swim and fish it against the clock.

This means that I generally tend to have a re-cast on the roaming rod around every 20 minutes. It may not seem a long time to leave it out there, but if I’m re-casting and land it on a fish or even a shoal then it’ll be away in no time. On many occasions I’ve had instant bites fishing like this.

Roaming around and fishing against the clock requires discipline. It’s worthwhile setting your timer

The static rod is wrapped up between the Distance Sticks and clipped up at a set distance and lined up with a horizon marker on the far bank, so I know I’m going to be hitting the same spot every time.

Ball it up…

One very effective way of baiting the swim is to create yourself half a dozen or so balls of the mix you’ve made and throw or catapult them around the general area you’re going to be fishing. This creates a totally different feeding situation to help drop the guard of the fish.

Creating balls like this and getting them out to an area creates multiple feeding situations to help catch the carp off guard.

In theory you are creating a larger area in which the carp can graze, seeing each ball you throw or catapult in as a food source. As they go around mopping up these round areas of bait their guard will be dropping, enjoying the free meals until ultimately they pick the wrong one, or the right one if you’re the one who has got a screamer!


Thanks to the Far East, our fishing tackle is no longer expensive, and, although quality is totally controlled by price, the most basic tackle will enable you to fish, allbeit at a starter level.

You can purchase a rod and reel for as little as £50, but this will offer limited casting range and durability. Spending £150 on a better quality outfit is a better option if you are serious about taking up shore angling. The cost does not end there, because all the other tackle will cost as much, if not more, than your rod and reel.

Basic shore tackle, suitable for cod and other species, includes a beachcaster 12ft to 15ft in length, rated to cast between 5oz and 8oz. A wide range of rod lengths and casting ratings are available, and most novice buyers will benefit from advice from a dealer or an experienced angler.

Two types of reel are used for shore fishing – the fixed-spool and the multiplier. The former is the easier of the two for the beginner to operate because its spool does not spin, so there is less risk of an overrun and line tangles.

Tackle for fishing from a clean shore (no rocks) involves the use of line of 12-18lb breaking strain (0.33mm-0.38mm diameter) and a lead weight of 5-6oz (150-175g), so your reel needs to be of a suitable size and capacity to make it capable of maximum distance casts with this combination. Heavier line (25-30lb) and a larger capacity reel is required for rough ground. Line as light as 15lb breaking strain will not cast a 5oz-plus lead weight safely, so a short (two-rod) length of stronger line called a shockleader (60lb/0.70mm) is essential to take the strain of casting.

Other required items include a seat/tackle box to sit on and store your spare gear in the dry, as well as warm waterproof clothing and a tripod to position your rod. The latter can be invaluable to position the rod tip high above the waves and prevent wind and swell hitting the line or gathering weed. You will require a headlamp if fishing after dark.

Various accessories are needed, such as terminal tackle, a knife, scissors, bait cotton, spare line, hooks, links and swivels. Terminal gear includes a selection of rigs in a rig wallet, plus lead weights, both breakout and fixed wired, to combat strong tide and wind.

Rigs can be complicated, but the simplest is the one-hook monofilament paternoster, and most tackle dealers will have these in a range of hook sizes.


You do not require a licence to fish for sea fish from the shore. You can fish from almost any shore venues, but exceptions include MoD firing ranges, HM Customs-controlled areas and docks. There are few private beaches.

There are no laws governing tackle, so you can use as many rods as you wish and as many hooks. Most anglers prefer two rods and a maximum of three hooks per rod, but cod fishing is often done with one bait held by two hooks, called a Pennell rig.

UK law determines the size of the fish you can remove from the sea, with legal minimum sizes for lots of species set by DEFRA and the local sea fisheries committees. The minimum size at which you can remove and kill a cod from the sea is 35cm. This is not just for competition anglers. Measured from nose to tail, fish under this size must be returned. Keeping undersized fish is against UK law and carries a considerable fine.

What is a realistic target for the cod angler? Much depends upon where you live and fish, but a double-figure cod from the shore is a prize indeed.

It is a fact that the odd large fish that is dying is often caught from the shore. Called a ‘slink’ among other local names diseased and emaciated cod are not suitable for eating, so check your fish over before taking it for the table.

Where to look

The easiest fishing is done at anchor, and this may well tie in with a safe anchorage that you might be using. These areas tend to be relatively shallow, clean ground and not too snaggy, which is perfect for a spot of fishing.

Fish still feed well at night, some better than during the day, like this thornback ray.

A 12/20lb boat rod and suitable multiplier reel is a great starting point.

Rods and reels

If you are new to the sport, or you simply want to catch a few mackerel for your tea, I suggest purchasing a cheap 12/20lb class boat rod and suitable reel, which you can load with 20lb line. If you fancy having a bit more fun and maybe targeting a bass or pollack, then a medium/heavy lure rod and fixed spool reel loaded with 20lb braided mainline is a good option.

Again this does not apply so much if you are after smaller species using lighter weights, when you will be able to get away with a fixed spool reel and a lighter rod.

Keep rigs simple. Thread a link swivel and bead onto your mainline (left) and then tie on a swivel to connect you trace line.

Keep it simple

When it comes to rigs for downtiding I find that keeping it very simple often pays dividends. A simple running leger rig with one or two hooks is really all you ever need to use.

All you do is thread a small link swivel onto your main line, which will carry the lead weight. Then thread on a bead to protect your knot, and tie on a small swivel (this helps prevent your line from tangling). Then, tie your rig to the other end of the swivel. A length of three to four feet of 20lb clear line with a single size 1/0 or 2/0 hook is probably the most effective rig to cover the most species.

The method

It really doesn’t get much more relaxing than downtide fishing. Once you have anchored up, simply drop your baited rig over the side and send it down to the sea bed. Once it’s there, lift the rod and let your lead hit the bottom once more, then slacken off the drag on your reel so a big fish can take line if it needs too, put your rod in a rod holder or rest it up against a grab rail, then sit back – that’s it!

It’s worth checking that your lead and rig are still holding fast on the sea bed every now and then by lifting the rod tip and lowering it back down, feeling for the ‘thud’ as the lead hits bottom.

If your lead isn’t holding, then simply let off a little more line until it does. If you’re still having problems, then you may need to add more lead. Trial and error will soon have you fishing like a pro.

When the mackerel are feeding, you can catch them five at a time on mackerel feathers!

The running sinker rig

One of the simplest set-ups you can use for whiting is the running sinker rig. It requires only the use of a blood knot and is simple to tie. It requires a ball sinker running down to a swivel with a leader length of around 70-90cm from the swivel to your hook; 5kg monofilament leader will be fine in most scenarios. The advantage of this rig is that your bait will spend most of its time wafting around the bottom of the sea floor, where whiting are often feeding. The disadvantage is that if you’re fishing over weedy ground you may get snagged easily, or your bait is getting covered in weed, thus preventing hook-ups or making the bait undesirable or undetectable to fish.

If you are fishing over this kind of ground, a paternoster rig has some distinct advantages.

The paternoster rig

The paternoster rig will serve you well in life. Whether you’re targeting whiting, snapper, gummy sharks or you’re miles offshore somewhere chasing down an exotic bottom-dweller, this rig has a million applications, regardless of fish size.

The paternoster allows you to keep your hook just off the bottom. The big advantage here is that your hook isn’t getting caught up in weed or reef and your bait is presented well with great visibility. This rig works by having either a bomb or small teardrop sinker at the bottom and your hook hanging off a dropper loop midway up your leader. It also allows for easy sinker changes, which can be highly advantageous as the current ebbs and flows, or as you change depth. You can still tie the hook at the bottom and put the sinker midway up, so you can keep your bait on the seabed, but have the option of being able to easily change sinker.

The only knot you really need to learn aside from the blood knot for this rig is the dropper loop, or dropper knot. It isn’t hard to tie but takes a bit of practice, so jump on YouTube with some leader and start practising. Otherwise you’ll be like my old mate at close to 50 not knowing how to tie it.

You can also buy pre-made rigs if you want to get out and target whiting before you learn the knots properly. You can buy both running sinker and paternoster-style rigs with Black Magic, Mustad and Wilson all producing quality pre-made rigs.

The Black Magic rigs feature flies on their KL Circle hooks that come in both running sinker, called Whiting Whackers, and paternoster, called Whiting Snatchers. These can be highly effective in deep water or when there is a slower bite and you want to leave a few rods in their holders. They are very well made and affordable.

In closing

The right rig and the right hook is going to dramatically increase your catch and strike rate. So take time to learn your knots and spend time pre-tying some rigs before you head out – it will improve all aspects of your fishing, regardless of species.

Local knowledge

Study your local area and speak to other fishermen before you decide where to set up. As Simon Parsons tells us on Facebook: “You could have the best bait, the best rigs and the sharpest hooks in the world. If you’re not there at the right time for that particular place neither will the fish.”

Strong and simple

Keep your tackle strong and simple. Casting into rough water or around rocks means it’s important to minimise the chance of breakage. And remember you’re looking for big fish in deep water, so your tackle needs to be up to the challenge. Heavy lines, hooks and weights are a must.

Cod might not be strong fighters like pollack or bass, they can still be a struggle to reel in. Christopher’s advice for shore anglers: “Use a 12ft beachcaster which is capable of casting at least 6oz, along with a powerful multiplier or large fixed spool reel.”

Rigs and hooks

Try using a circle hook for the top hook of a pennell rig, says Fishtec’s Ceri Owen. Cod are known to swallow baits right down, and these can be difficult to unhook, causing unwanted fatalities. Ceri continues: “The circle hooks tend to hook in the corner of the cod’s mouth. I realise that they can still swallow the one Pennell hook; however getting one hook deep down is better than hooks, which results in more fish being returned.”

Want to know what a pennel rig is? Check out the images below. A clipped down pennell rig (left) is a good rig for fishing for cod from sandy beaches. For fishing for cod from mixed or rough ground, try the popular pennell pulley rig (right).

Staying safe keeps fishing a relaxing sport

Do take safety seriously writes Fishtec’s resident sea angler, Ceri Owen. If the weather’s really bad wait until the end of the storm, before you go fishing. There were 38accidental drownings in 2013, according to ROSPA. Don’t become a statistic

Tight lines!

So there you have it – some tips and tricks to help you catch one of the nation’s favourite fish. With a little work you’re sure to improve your chances of catching one of these beautiful fish, either for the thrill of the chase, or for your own table.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Feb 2015


Before picking up the bait prepare a standard 2-hook trace as pictured. It is essential both hooks be fixed, as the bait cannot be correctly prepared with a swinging keeper hook. The first hook is attached with a uni-knot while the second is snelled to the trace.

Firstly place the point of the first hook on the lateral line of the pilchard, about three centimetres in front of the tail. Push the hook firmly through the spine line of the pilchard until the hook point and barb are clear on the other side. Rotate the hook to sit neatly against the bait with the eye of the hook at the head end of the bait. 

The second snelled hook needs to be pushed through the bottom jaw of the pilchard vertically all the way up through the pilchard’s head. The ideal line is to have the hook pass almost touching the front of the pilchard’s eye socket, as pictured.

To finish load the trace for the appropriate sinker for the application (it may not require a sinker at all), tie to the mainline. 

Note: This rig fishes well in all conventional applications and is particularly well suited as a quick and deadly cast-and-retrieve bait targeting kingfish around structures like channel markers and buoys.

Ledger rig

These are best used for ‘bottom bashing’ in moderate to deep water. The advantages is that the baits are above the sinker and the bites are easily detected. Also, the sinker can be easily changed as currents and depth changes. Ideal for snapper fishing in the channels around Auckland. 

Soft baiting

The use of artificial soft bait lures and modern braid line technology has certainly changed the face of New Zealand sport fishing, and with good reason

The classic target species we love to chase; snapper, kingfish, trevally and even bottom feeders such as blue cod, John dory and gurnard, are all suckers for these colourful rubbery baitfish imitations. Not only is this method of fishing extraordinarily effective, it keeps you constantly active, and can offer the saltwater angler a hint of the fly fisherman’s thrill when a fish grabs a nicely presented lure.


Where once comparatively heavy rods and reels were used, soft bait rigs are scaled right down to be lightweight but still incredibly powerful. The typical soft bait outfit is a spinning or ‘eggbeater’ style combo, spooled with – 10kg braid line and a metre fluorocarbon leader.  

Attach the trace to the braid with an Albright knot (see breakout) and the end of the trace to the jig head with a loop to allow the lure free action. The Rapala loop is most common but the perfection loop will work well too. 

NZFW sotbait expert Scott McDonnell prefers using Gulp in a 5” jerk shad.  These are available in a vast array of colours, many of which defy any resemblance to a living organism, but they sure work nonetheless.  Scott favours using natural colours, but great results are often self-perpetuating.  Use your favourite all the time and it will naturally reap greater rewards!

In close

With this style of softbaiting, using stealth like a ninja is your key weapon and you need to actively work the boat along the coast in close to the rocks. It is also one of the most exciting methods as often a big snapper smashes your softbait and screams off into the weed, trying to bust you off. 

Hot tip: Once you cast, don’t let the softbait sink to the bottom in the shallow water. As soon as the lure hits the water, flip the bail arm and start retrieving the line at a medium pace. This will help prevent it snagging in the shallows until you get several metres out into deeper water and you can slow the retrieve, which allows the softbait to sink.

Open water method

As with all softbait fishing, your softbait needs to be on or near the bottom to consistently produce snapper.  As you fish with them drifting in the boat you always need to cast ahead of the boat as it moves along.  This will ensure the jighead reaches the bottom and you then work the lure along the seabed until the boat catches up and you drift over it.  You can let more line out as you move past to keep in touch with the bottom but when there is too much line angle with the lure out the back you need to retrieve and cast out again.

Slow pitch jigging

Micro-jig lures are usually designed to spark a reaction from fish, (they also tend to spark reactions from fisherman in shops). However, when used properly in slow-pitch jigging, they can be one of the most productive ways to target snapper and kingfish.

Fishing with metal 

The local incarnations of micro-jigs we see here in New Zealand have been adapted to fit with our unique fishing conditions. This means that while they are still called ‘micro-jigs’, they are designed to be larger than in other countries where the water is calmer and clearer.

Slow pitch jigs have two sides to them; the concave side is called the scallop, and the convex side is called the hull. These two opposites cause the jig to “flat fall” and sway from side to side when the line has no tension. This design leaves the jig in the strike zone for longer.

Mechanical jigging by comparison, is different because knife jigs are generally danced to the surface and don’t flutter as much.

Vibration is another element that can attract and draw fish to strike a lure. The lateral line of a bony fish is designed to sense electrical stimuli in the fish’s environment, either as a method of finding prey or of avoiding becoming lunch for a bigger fish.


Most micro-jigs are rigged with assist hooks at the head and are generally small when compared to other kinds of lures. The design is intended catch the fish’s lips and surrounding jaw instead of deep within the mouth. Carefully playing the fish is important to avoid the hooks being ripped out of the fish’s lips.

Lighter line can help impart better action to a lure as it  offers reduced drag, allowing for a more natural presentation. It also allows deeper water to be fished, speeding up a light lures decent into the strike zone.

The motion 

The ‘motion’ or ‘rhythm’ is the most important part to the formula of mechanical jigging. Many of you have probably seen this motion being completed in some way, shape or form. 

A good starting point to practice this technique is sit in the lounge with a rod and reel and practice the rhythm over and over while you are watching television. 

Fighting the fish 

Once you feel the initial hookup, keep jigging for or strokes to ensure you set the hook deep. While completing the extra strokes try to emphasis the stroke each time to set the hook home.

This is where the pain starts. If it’s a solid fish you will find yourself glued to the rail not being able to do much. Try and get a bit of line back before you switch to the gimbal. 

Never lift the rod past 4degrees as this diminishes the rod’s power and you could point load and break the rod. Work out how much you need to drop the rod to make one turn on the arm. Continue for as long as your arms will hold out.

Drag settings 

Manufacturers of rods and reels will state what the maximum drag rating or setting the gear can take so try your best to stick within these guides. The general rule of thumb is to set your reel’s drag to one third of the line’s weight.

Lines and knots 

Braid When it comes to jigging, using coloured braid that changes colour every 10m is a must. The purpose for this is for you to be able to calculate the depth your jig has dropped to. Braid strength for jigging is usually 24-37kg with the leader ranging from 37-60kg.

When choosing the correct hook size you can float between 11/0 and 13/0 sizes.

There is a lot of competition in the jigging market here in New Zealand. There is a large variety or styles and colours to choose from. The size of your set-up will determine the weight of the jig to buy. It might sound obvious but the general rule is to use a 300g jig on a 300g rated rod.

You will see the rod is held relatively high with the arm of the reel at 1O’clock. As you drop the rod or start the stroke you will then start to turn the handle (this retrieves the slack line on the drop of the rod). 

Now the rod is near horizontal and the reel arm should also match the rod being horizontal.

We continue to drop the rod and  we are now at the bottom of the stroke and the reel arm should be at O’clock. So from the top of the stroke to the bottom of stroke equates to half a revolution on the reel. Moving from the bottom of the stroke back to the top of the stroke we complete another half a revolution of the reel from the O’clock to 1O’clock position back to picture 1.

This is one stroke or cycle. You then repeat this action smoothly with only a quick pause at the top of each stroke.

Cast at a target.

Wind the line up tight with your rod tip pointing at your lure. 

With a small amount of slack line left, jerk the rod tip to have the lure dive under the surface followed with sweeping the rod back in one motion. 

Wind up the slack line while moving the rod tip back to pointing at the lure. This will allow the lure to stop moving and sit upright on top. 


The depth to be fished and size of live bait offering will govern the size of sinker to use. Generally an 8-oz sinker does the trick. NZFW kingfish expert Aaron Levien prefers to use a sliding sinker on a leader followed by a game swivel (heavy duty), then a leader again to a large circle hook. This is usually around to 1.2-meters in length. To attach the swivel he uses a four-turn uni-knot or crimp thimbles, and to attach to the hook he uses an improved clinch knot. (see image)

Hot tip If you are targeting kingfish for sport then a circle is the best and safest option as it is less likely to gut or gill the fish. 

Deep water

For dropping into deep water, like at the Mokohinau Islands or White Island, it is hooked through the nose so the sinker pulls the bait down head first. The last thing you want to do is hook it on the back so it sinks sideways through the water.

Docking rings with cable ties or rubber bands through the eye socket both work well. Aaron’s preferred method is to press the hook through the nostril cavity of the bait. 

Shallow water

The balloon rig is an excellent rig for shallow water live baiting and live baiting off the rocks.  

This set up isn’t much different from the nose rig except instead of a sinker we attach a large blown up balloon to the swivel eye (top eye) with dental floss. The hook is then placed through the back or top of the bait. This allows the live bait to swim directly under the balloon. 

Deep water fishing

Bass and hapuka are the deepwater beasts of recreational fishing in New Zealand but knowing how to correctly target them can be difficult. Get the basics right, and you may be surprised by the results

Finding deep-water targets is the first challenge but then bridging the great chasm of water between you and the bottom is the next. Jeff Strang, ex-charter fisherman tells us how.

Fishing method 

The two most popular methods for targeting bass and hapuka are dropping dead baits and, more recently, jigging.

Use a heavy trace, around 300lb is not unrealistic; with big hooks up to 14/0. Recurve or circle hooks are the preferred style. 

The rig is tied the same as a conventional snapper ledger rig would be, although some fishos prefer to use three hooks. Remember that retrieving your line from 400m to re-bait it takes a lot of time. Sinkers up to a kilo are not uncommon depending on tide and depths.

Paddling technique 

Here’s a quick paddling technique from Jason Walker to help you get the most out of the paddle without wearing yourself out.

Step 1: Reach forward with a straight leading arm, rotate your core in the same direction and place the paddle blade in the water by your foot.

Step 2: Keeping your arm straight, the paddle stroke is a combination of rotating your body to pull the paddle towards you whilst at the same time pushing with your opposite hand ñ you want to punch forward at eye level.

Step 3: As the paddle blade reaches you hip your arm will now naturally bend and the blade is lifted from the water as you start to line up the stroke on the opposite side.

Now it is just a matter of repeating these three steps. 


Cloudy, rainy days mean there is less light penetrating the water column and because of this, fish tend to be less wary and more inclined to accept the angler’s offering. Likewise a bit of wind or chop is far more preferable for snapper fishing than a glassy day, as it not only affects the light but creates natural noise and in shallow water, can stir up the bottom to release food.  

If the wind is howling, find somewhere in the lee or at least somewhere you can get your back to the wind.

Land-basers are at the mercy of tide and swell as they influence not only how a spot will fish but if it can be fished at all. Access is key and tied to this is safety, if you plan on exploring a new area then fishing three hours either side of low is a safe option.


Areas with lots of current are often excellent producers of all species, especially kingfish. The most successful areas seem to be where rocky points or ledges run into current lines. These can be distinguished by lines of foam, rougher water and even bits of floating rubbish. 


Reef systems and kelp forests are at the top of the list when finding the right land-based location, however harbours with shellfish beds and crustacean habitats are important to consider as well. Google Earth will give you a wealth of info on where you will be able to fish and what you can expect below. 

Rod: When shore fishing, a three-metre (10ft) rod is ideal for many places but rods as short as 2.1m (7ft) are also useful.  For beach fishing, longer 3.5m-plus rods are favoured. 

Reel: A spinning reel is easiest to use for casting and models that have the secondary clutch system are good for bait fishing, often referred to as baitrunners. 

Line: Monofilament of 10kg is a good standard line strength but if you are fishing areas that have lots of sharp rocks and big fish, 12.5kg is probably a better choice. 

Rigs: Using a weightless rig with just a leader and hook tied to the main line is a good rig for rocky and kelpy areas. However, a ledger rig is useful when you need to cast some distance to where the fish are. 

Hooks: 5/0 Octopus-style hooks are a good general hook for legal edible-sized fish as smaller ones are less likely to swallow them. 

Landbased fishing will challenge your abilty to solve problems; that’s part of its appeal. Just remember to stay safe.

Bait: Frozen pilchards are an easy and yet relatively effective bait to use. Fresh kahawai is sometimes better when small snapper and reef fish, such as sweep, are ripping your pilchards to pieces.  

Hot tip Land-based expert Scott Cushman’s favourite chum option is salmon berley, which is oily and highly visible in the water.

Safety: Fish with a friend and if you are fishing potentially dangerous areas, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. 

Look at the sea conditions and think through what your game plan would be if you did fall in, could you get back out again and where would you exit? 

A diagram of a simple paternoster rig on the seabed.

Many sea anglers create their own rigs. This is because a self-made rig can be designed in exactly the way the anglers wants, it is more satisfying to catch fish on self-made rigs. Most rigs used in sea fishing are based on the paternoster rig. This is a simple design where the line terminates in a weight and the hooklength (snood) branches off from this further up the line. Once rigs are completed they are stored and carried to the fishing venue in a rig wallet, although there are a number of winder-type devices which are becoming increasingly popular to store rigs on. The vast majority of sea fishing rigs used in the UK will look something like this:

A paternoster rig with all of the major components labelled.


Cronus Black Nickel Swivels are ideal for rig making. They are high quality and available in the above sizes, with prices start at just 79p for a packet of twenty. View and purchase by clicking here.

All Other Terminal Tackle items (with links to purchase):

Sets and Collections

Sets of terminal tackle are available which contain a selection of different terminal tackle items. As well as providing a saving compared to buying the all of the items individually, terminal tackle sets allow anglers to quickly and easily buy all of the items necessary to make a range of rigs:


Any angler aged 1years or over, fishing for salmon, trout,

Coarse fish close season – 15th March to 15th June inclusive.

The coarse fish close season applies to all rivers, streams and drains in England & Wales, but does not apply to most stillwaters, however, there are some exceptions that retain the close season.

Recent byelaw changes mean that the coarse fish close season does not apply to most canals in England and Wales; again there are some

Preferably use barbless hooks as these do less damage to fish. They are a lot

Handling fish.

All fish are covered with a protective layer of slime and this acts as the first line defence against parasitic infections, bacteria, and other diseases that a fish may contract.

When you catch a fish you must make sure you don’t remove too much of this protective coating, so always wet your hands before handling the fish and never use a cloth to hold a fish. ALWAYS unhook fish quickly but carefully and return them to the water as quickly as possible. If

Never pull on the line to remove a hook from a fish – this WILL NOT is too large to hold in one hand then lay it on an unhooking mat for removing the hook (unhooking mat = padded cushion to protect fish from being injured on the ground)

If the fish is lip hooked you may be able to remove it using your fingers. If the fish is hooked inside its mouth and you can see the hook, use a disgorger (a thin plastic or metal rod with a slot in the end). Hold the line tight and put the slot of the disgorger over the line and slide it along the line until you reach the hook. Push the hook in the opposite direction to the way it went in until it is free and then carefully remove it. If the fish is deeply hooked and the hook cant be removed safely it is better to cut the line as close to the hook as possible.

The hook will dislodge itself or will eventually rust away. If its a throw a fish back into the water. Always get down close to the water to release a fish and let the fish swim away. If it is a large fish, especially Barbel, it may

Back to the rig.

In order to optimise hooking and bite indication, I always use my Beausoleil carp rig lead setup.

To do this, push the tail rubber over the swivel to the distance shown in Figure Then slide the lead over just hard enough for it to stay in place when you lift the rig by the baits. A quick shake of the baits should see the lead drop off and turn into a running rig. This will confuse the catfish and it will move off with the rig.

The Inshore Fishing Tips Library!

Consider this your ULTIMATE FREE inshore fishing resource covering everything from:

Note: Make sure to BOOKMARK this page as we will update it throughout the year with more inshore fishing tips.

If you look online or do a Google search for  most of the sites out there will tell you that:

Inshore fishing is any saltwater fishing occurring in 30 meters or less.

For those of you not good with math, that means inshore fishing is anywhere from inch of water all the way to 98.425feet deep!

In this section of

Inshore Fishing 10, you will find some of the best inshore fishing tips on the web.

The focus is on the most popular inshore fish from Texas to North Carolina such as:

Simply click on any image or link to go directly to the full blog post (and video in most cases).

One of the most popular inshore fish in the south is the redfish (aka red drum).

These inshore fish have been caught from Texas all the way to Maine, and they range in size from 1inches to 50+!

Find out three of the top tips to catch redfish like a pro in this post below. has been read by over 20,000 inshore anglers from Texas to North Carolina.

The free PDF reveals three huge breakthroughs that most weekend warrior anglers need in order to start catching more consistent snook, redfish, and trout (without ever needing to rely on live bait).

If you want to start catching more inshore fish on artificial lures, then this PDF is a must-read.

Want to be able to consistently find new inshore fishing spots?

How To Throw A 10-Foot Cast Net The Easy Way

It can also be quite heavy (especially for younger anglers and smaller females).

Well, there is no better angler than Chasten Whitfield to teach the mechanics on throwing a big net with the least amount of effort possible.

How To Throw A 4-Foot Cast Net Without Using Your Mouth

Want to learn how to throw a 4-foot cast net the easiest way possible?

Better yet, want to teach your kids how to throw a 4-foot cast net so they can start getting bait themselves?

There is nothing better than having your kids get involved with fishing (not to mention, getting them catching your bait).

Watch the pinfish tip here.

How To Rig A Live Pinfish For Redfish, Snook, Tarpon, and Grouper

Sometimes the missed hook set is caused due to your bait not hooked the most optimal way possible.

Watch in this video how to properly hook a live pinfish for more hookups (and even see a snook caught on the first cast).

How To Rig A WEEDLESS Berkley Gulp Shrimp

A weedless Berkley Gulp Shrimp (or a live shrimp, of course)!

Essential Saltwater Fishing Lures That Can Catch Fish Pretty Much Anywhere

Do you want to see the best saltwater fishing lures that can catch fish (including inshore fish) pretty much anywhere in the world?

How To Tie Your Own Bucktail Jigs For Redfish, Snook, & Trout

There is nothing better than making a homemade jig or lure and catching a nice fish with it.

And one of the easiest (yet still most effective) inshore lures to tie from home is the bucktail jig.

Not only is it easy to tie, but you probably have a lot of the material in your house already.

Rapala Skitter Walk vs Rapala Skitter V (Plus Underwater Footage)

The Rapala Skitter Walk has been one of the most popular saltwater topwater lures out there for many years.

For countless anglers, this is their go-to topwater plug.

Want to be able to consistently find new inshore fishing spots?

Inshore fish love structure.

From docks to fallen down trees to mangrove tree lines, inshore fish are attracted to structure for protection and to find food.

And the further you can get your bait or lure under the structure, the more hook-ups you will get.

But if you ask most serious anglers (or even professional, full-time fishermen), they will tell you that they usually only use a few knots in any given month.

In fact, most anglers will tell you that you only need three main fishing knots for inshore fishing:

The knot from your braided line to your leader is absolutely critical.

In fact, using an inferior braid to leader knot could be the difference between you landing a trophy inshore fish and losing one.

The great news is we took the time to do a full-on knot contest to see which knot is truly the strongest.

In pretty much all of our knot contests, the FG Knot has continued to win as the strongest braid to leader knot.

Not to mention, the FG knot is super small and pretty easy to tie (once you master it).

Surf Fishing Tackle and Equipment

The right kind of fishing tackle can make or break your surf fishing experience. Below is just some basic recommended equipment to use when surf fishing. This is not a complete list and standard fishing tackle is left out to keep your eye on the important surf related gear.

Salmon Mooching Rod and Reel

Mooching can be done with nearly any salmon-capable rod and reel, so if you are new to mooching but already have a salmon set up, just use what you already have.

Otherwise, here are some quick pointers to get you a solid salmon mooching set up.

There is a special type of reel called a mooching reel, which looks more like a giant fly reel, but the nice ones are quite expensive and serve a limited number of purposes, so for now, I would stay away. If for whatever reason you feel inspired, treat yourself to an Islander brand mooching reel, you won’t be disappointed.

There really is not too much to worry about on this one. Traditionally a to 10′ medium action rod will do here. So choices abound, its really up to you.

For now, do yourself a favor and use a monofilament main line. Given the nature of mooching, line twist is a constant issue, and monofilament is easier to manage in a tangle. If later you want to switch to a braided main line, that’s up to you. So my suggestion:

The only time I would suggest a braided line is if fishing especially deep, or in a particularly strong current (the thinner diameter line will allow you to use less weight).

Mooching is a rather simple technique, but there are a few points that should not be overlooked. One of those is swivels. A good swivel will either make or break a day of salmon fishing. While you have hundreds of choices for swivels, only two will work here. Bead chains, or ball bearing swivels. Bead chains are a series of barrel swivels linked together. Each individual bead still tends to bind somewhat under load, however there a usually or of them, so generally line twist is eliminated. Your other option is ball bearing swivels. They have cheap ones, but don’t be tempted, stick with Sampo ball bearing swivels. Most charter captains I’ve worked with who use mooching on their boat choose bead chains.

Great Salmon Mooching Reels- Shimano Tekota

Shimano Tekota 500 Conventional Reel with Line Counter (4.2:1), 1Pounds/340 Yards

The Shimano Tekota has the line capacity, drag stack, and durability to handle big salmon. The additional line counter is incredibly helpful for accurately managing mooching depth drift after drift.

Salmon Mooching Rig

A salmon mooching rig. The crescent sinker shown can be substituted with a sinker slide and cannonball sinker.

There are two styles of sinkers available for mooching: crescent and cannonball. Crescent sinkers are nice in that they keep the entire rig in-line, won’t move up and down your mainline. However, a heavier crescent sinker is needed to sink your bait as they tend to plane and swim around in the water due to their shape. Cannonball sinkers, which will be attached to a sinker slide above your swivel, add a small degree of complexity, but can be a smaller weight than the crescent sinker. Again the choice is yours, but I prefer cannonballs on sinker slides.

Weight-wise you’re looking between and oz, which all depends on depth, current condition, size of herring, type of sinker, etc. Keep a few different sizes on board to account for any changes.

Rigging the Herring

The idea here is to get the herring to spin in the water. There are a few options here, but I’ll just cover the two most common: plug-cutting, and bending the herring.

Plug-cutting: Here the head of the herring is cut off at a compound angle. You want to cut at roughly a 4degree angle along both axes, so the spine of the cut fish is slightly longer than the belly, and also so that one side of the fish is longer than the other. Its complicated to explain, so watch the video if you like. The herring is then hooked with the forward hook through the spine, and the trailing hook often left to dangle.

Bent herring: Here a whole herring is used. The forward hook is set through the lower jaw of the herring, and passed through the upper part of the mouth as to keep the mouth shut. The trailing hook is hooked though the tail of the herring to hold the herring in a slight bow shape. The degree of bend will control the roll of the herring.

Both methods have been proven effective, and have advantages, so the choice is yours here.

Surfcasting Reels

Reels have also become much less expensive in recent years. A fixed spool (eggbeater) is by far the most popular choice for most surfcasters. An eggbeater reel is by far the best option for a complete beginner to cast and fish with.

Free Spool Surfcasting Reels

This type of reel will be a tough proposition for a novice surfcaster to master. The spool inside the reel spins when you cast making it possible to cast a considerable distance in expert hands. For many years I fished with a Seascape free-spool reel when surfcasting. This thing could cast for miles. This reel was a bit of a strange beast that was also made in Australia. It was manufactured by Wallsend Engineering near Newcastle. It had a very fast retrieve for back in the 1970s of 5.5:It was designed to cast and retrieve big lures for tuna from the rocks hence the high gear ratio. It would retrieve over a metre of line with every turn of the handle. Unfortunately, the pinion gear had only ten teeth and eventually split in half. A local tackle store retailer did his best to manufacture another pinion gear for me but it grates horribly when you wind the handle.

Free-spool reels will deliver excellent long distance surf casting performance. However, you have to keep a couple of things in mind if you intend using one for surfcasting. You need a large model that will hold plenty of heavy line 20-2lb. The lighter line can easily be crushed and nicked on a stony beach. You must have a star drag reel which totally disengages the gears placing the reel in free-spool for casting. Suitable models, I have used include Abu 7000 and 10,000, the robust Shimano Speedmaster TSM4, and the Penn Mag Power. These reels are more expensive. They cost as much as six times the price of a reasonable eggbeater.

Braid or Monofilament Fishing Line

In recent years braided fishing lines have all but taken over the market. Unlike monofilament, braid has almost no stretch which means it is far easier to feel a fish biting. Braid is much thinner in diameter than monofilament for a given breaking strain meaning you can pack more line onto a smaller reel. Fine diameter braid also casts further and cuts through wind and water much more easily than monofilament. Nowadays brain is also much less expensive than it used to be. You have to be careful casting braid with an eggbeater style reel because it can easily cut into your finger under the strain of casting. It is a good idea to wear a finger protector when casting with braid. Another good alternative is to use a heavy monofilament shock leader at the end of the braid mainline.

Surfcasting Hooks

Again we are going to keep it simple. There are many different types, shapes, and sizes of surfcasting hooks to choose from. I suggest you use a size 3/0 suicide style chemically sharpened hook coloured red or black. These will take kahawai, snapper, moki, cod, and big sharks no problem at all. They are all you need.

Bait for Surfcasting

Perhaps the easiest bait to obtain and deal with is a frozen squid. It is available from tackle stores, service stations, dairies and supermarkets. Squid will take big snapper, kahawai, sharks, and almost anything else. If you are targeting fish that normally eat crabs and shellfish, like elephant fish and rig shark, then you are better to use these types of baits. These two species along with moki will also readily take raw or cooked prawns and shrimp available at supermarkets. The best bait for moki and rig is probably crayfish (lobster tail) and crab. This requires a bit of forward planning such as a trip to the New Brighton Pier or somewhere similar to catch small crabs to use as surfcasting bait later.

Crayfish (rock lobster) used as bait for moki during Kaikoura Surfcasting Competition. It worked too!

Targeting particular species with baits they are more inclined to take is a well-proven fishing method that works. However, I have caught at least a dozen or more elephant fish on frozen squid bait. If you are fishing an area where there are plenty of fish, bait selection is less important than having your line in the water. A good strategy is to take along a variety of baits with you to the beach if you can. Either mix baits on the same hook or bait each hook with a different bait to find out which bait the fish are inclined to take. In my experience dogfish will take just about anything that will fit in their mouths.

I like to use yellow-eyed mullet for surfcasting bait. It will out-fish anything for red cod and is readily taken by most species. Yellow-eyed mullet fishing is an enjoyable trip in itself. You can find tuatua on many sandy beaches at low tide. Store them in your freezer and take a few with you when you go surfcasting. The same applies to mussels that can be found on rocks at low tide. Bait catching and gathering are important skills for the surfcaster to learn.

Where to go Surfcasting

In any area of New Zealand, there will be a number of popular surfcasting beaches along the coastline. A good place to start looking for surfcasting beaches near you is in the book Spot X Surfcasting New Zealand by Mark Draper. This book lists 400 surfcasting venues all around New Zealand including quite a few that are in isolated out-of-the-way places few people will fish. there is also a later edition available which lists 56surfcasting spots.

South Canterbury to North Otago

All of the steeply shelving shingle beaches between Banks Peninsula and Oamaru will produce sharks, red cod, elephantfish and kahawai, and other species. Here is a big sevengill shark caught by Wayne near the mouth of the Rangitata River.


The secret to successful fishing is primarily the ability to read a beach by water action, colour and current. This is best achieved from a high vantage point with a pair of polarising sunglasses on, before venturing down to commence fishing.

As you look at a beach, you will discern darker shades in the water where the waves do not break. These are an indication of holes or gutters where larger predators like mulloway are likely to be hunting, waiting for smaller fish to be swept past.

A wave breaking off shore is often due to a shallow point, sandbar or reef. There will sometimes be calm areas on these bars where small fish seek the shelter of shallows, and flathead lie in wait along the drop offs. Rips can be found where waves change direction and the water flattens or swirls.

Tailor like to hunt along the edges of white water. Bigger fish less concerned about shelter are in the clean water away from the zones where the sand is being stirred up as it may agitate their gills.

Peak times on beaches are controlled by tide and daylight. At dusk or dawn, regardless of tide, there is often some action. A high tide with either of these times is the perfect arrangement for fish to feed.

Other than dusk or dawn, the optimum fishing period often occurs during a change of tide. Most anglers prefer the change at the top of the tide although there are beaches that are most productive during low tide, especially when it brings the gutters close to shore, forcing small fish into them and into the waiting jaws of a predator.

The best style of tackle to use on a beach depends on where you happen to be. In the northern rivers and southern Queensland, Australian-owned Alvey sidecast reels and long rods dominate the baitfishing scene. The unique Alvey reel is accepted throughout Australia as being a reliable, efficient product.

Alvey reels owe their origins to Charles Alvey, an English migrant who in 1920 saw the need for a fishing reel that was easy to use, easy to cast, simple to maintain, and solidly constructed to give years of trouble-free angling.

His design allowed the body of the reel to be turned sideways when casting, so the line stripped freely from the edge of a specially shaped spool. This took away the problem of backlash and overrun. When the reel was returned to the fishing position, it had the best positive direct rewind of a centrepin reel.

The Alvey sidecast reel’s simple design, and lack of moving parts that can be fouled by grit or water, make it a truly durable product.

Most surf rods are about 3.5m long and in two-piece configuration. The average surf rod can be used to cast sinkers up to 100g, which is adequate for most fishing situations.

When the surf is light and side drift limited, it is preferable to use a lighter sinker.

My advice is to go for a rod that you can handle in terms of its weight and power. Rod blank taper and construction determine distance, not the actual weight of the rod. How far you should aim to cast on a beach depends on where the channels or gutters are; some days they will be almost at your feet.

You must also decide whether you intend using a sidecast, overhead or threadline reel, as rod runners and reel seat locations are different.

Threadline and sidecast rods have fewer guides and these are mounted higher than those bound on rods for overhead reels. The reel seat on a sidecast reel is closer to the butt end of the rod.

If you are new to surf fishing, then the easiest way to start is with a threadline reel.

Overhead reels can be a problem in terms of getting an overrun when casting. The advantage of an overhead reel is that an experienced angler will cast further and maintain better control in a battle with a big fish.

The rod and reel should be balanced to suit each other and the line weight. An 8-10kg outfit is a good starting point.

Braid lines are all the go at present but I recommend monofilament as the line of first choice. Braid is thinner than monofilament but it also tangles into impossible birds’ nests, and doesn’t have the same degree of abrasion resistance as the thicker monofilament lines.

When fishing for tailor, the rig is a short piece of piano wire attached to a set of ganged hooks, which are inserted into a garfish or pilchard.

Bream, dart and flathead are caught using a running sinker a small ball sinker allowed to run down to a No.or No.hook. Preferred bait is beachworm or whitebait.

Rod holders are used with threadline or overhead rods. No need to buy them, you can make your own simply by purchasing about a metre of 50mm diameter PVC tubing and cutting a 45-degree angle on one end. In the case of the sidecast, the angler generally holds his rod in a rod bucket at his waist.

Spinning is popular, and despite the advances in soft plastic lures, many of the old-fashioned chrome metal lures such as slices and Twisties still produce results.

Pilchards, garfish, bluebait, whitebait, squid, pipi, beachworm and sandworm are commonly used baits.

A small nylon bait board is one of the handiest items you can take, as it can be difficult filleting a fish or cutting a squid strip on sand.





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Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your Bait Rigs wisely! Good luck!

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