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Saltwater Rigging Basics

Chunk Bait Bottom Rig Setup

To create a setup that will allow you to present cut bait (herring, Atlantic mackerel, or clams) to predatory fish patrolling the surf:

  1. Attach a 3-way swivel to the main line using a clinch knot
  2. To the bottom-facing swivel ring, tie a stretch of monofilament (1 to 3 feet)
  3. To the end of this line, tie a pyramid sinker
  4. Tie your leader line and hook to the remaining swivel ring

This configuration will allow the bait to remain near the bottom where the pyramid sinker is resting, but the swells and current will pull the chunk bait a few feet up in the water column.

Bait rig F.psd

By keeping the bait above the bottom, its movement imitates a swimming prey fish and helps to keep it out of reach of bottom-dwelling crabs and lobsters.

Hint: When fishing around rocky shorelines, use a lower pound test monofilament than the main line and leader, so that in the event of a snag in a rock crevice, only the weight is lost and will need to be retied.

Alternative floating setup: Helps keep crabs at bay. Tie a circle hook on your line, using a clinch knot. Attach a bobber about 3 feet above it. Clamp a small weight on the line in between, about a foot above the hook. Bait the hook with a live fish hooked through the lip or the back just below dorsal fin.

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Please Use Circle Hooks

C hook.psd
To conserve fisheries, many sport anglers now release the fish they catch. Using circle hooks instead of standard J-hooks can significantly reduce mortality. Experienced striped bass anglers find that baited circle hooks, because the point is turned inward, almost always hook fish in the lip or jaw. Points on J-hooks, in contrast, are more exposed and can lodge in the gills, throat or stomach—internal organs where injuries can be fatal.

Because of its design, you don’t need to “set” a circle hook as you would a J-hook; simply let the fish “take” the bait and then start reeling to get a hook-up. Many longtime anglers believe they actually catch more fish with circle hooks than J-hooks, once they’ve learned to use them properly.

Basic cod rigging setup

Cod rig F.psd

Spool your reel with more than 200 feet of monofilament or dacron line, at least 50 pound test. With dacron, use a metal swivel to attach a monofilament leader to the terminal end.

Tie a Norwegian cod jig to the end of your line or leader, using a clinch knot.

About 12 inches above the clinch knot, tie in a dropper loop (see below) with a 4-inch length extending from the line. Attach the bait hook to the dropper loop by feeding the end of the loop through the eye of the hook, then passing the loop down over the barbed end of the hook and pulling the loop tight against the other side of the hook eye.

Finally, thread a plastic curly tail grub, plastic shrimp or plastic tube onto the dropper loop hook; this is called the “teaser.”

Bait setup: For cut baits like clams and herring, replace the Norwegian jig with a large sinker, 8 oz. or more. Tie two dropper loops into the line or leader, the lower one about 12 inches above the sinker, and the second loop at least 6 inches above the first. Tie both loops with bait hooks. Use this setup for catching haddock and smaller cod.

Dropper Loop Knot

(use to attach a second hook)

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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