Rig it right for wade fishing

Surf rigs vary greatly, but this trio of setups will handle the majority of what you’ll encounter at the Gulf’s edge. Just vary the size of your tackle components to match the species you’re seeking.

• Double dropper rig (aka hi-low rig) — Use your preferred loop method (dropper loop knot, spider’s hitch, 5-times overhand knot) to form two droppers spaced about 8 to 12 inches apart and hang a 1/0 to 3/0 hook from each. You can attach hooks by tying a short leader to each loop or simply by passing the loop through the hook eye (back to front), passing it over the point and bend, and snugging it up to the eye.

Dress each hook with colored beads for visual attraction, and vary the baits until you find what the fish prefer. Also try small “pill” floats to elevate baits in the water. Start by floating only the rig’s top arm to offer the fish different looks.

Some fish tend to feed closer to the bottom, while others look higher in the water column. Preferences can vary daily and you might just find a particular species abounding in numbers. In any case, experiment with double dropper configurations, note any patterns in what the fish bite and then double up on what’s working.

• Carolina rig — With the same setup as a bass rig, this is a good choice for calm water or in really rough surf when a more-complex rig would be prone to tangling. Carolina rigs are ideal for slowly working a finger mullet across the sand for flounder or letting that pogy head walk through that trough until a redfish finds it.

In-line weights (swivel at each end) can work here, but a slip sinker allows a fish to move off with the bait before feeling immediate pressure; this can increase your hook-ups.

Option A: As with the double dropper, you can raise your C-rigged bait off the bottom by slideing aslip float flanked by red beads onto your leader, securing this package with crimps before tying on the hook.

Option B: The Owen Lupton rig adds a slip sinker flanked by red beads below the swivel and secured with crimps 3 to 5 inches above the hook. This compact rig benefits bull red and shark efforts, as the shorter leader typically ensures a quicker hook set. It also facilitates catch-and-release by minimizing deep hookings.

• Fish finder rig — A good choice when fish are spooking from the weight on the Carolina rig, this outfit puts the weight (usually a pyramid style) off to the side with a sinker slide that fits onto the leader. Note that, while plastic slides are fine with monofilament or fluorocarbon, braided line will cut through the slide — so use a nylon slide for your super lines.

For a different presentation, tie a 6-inch leader with a hook at one end and a swivel at the other. Slip you main leader through the eye of the shorter leader’s swivel and attach a weight to the end of your main leader.

Another setup involves attaching the main line to the top loop of a three-way swivel and tying a hook leader to one of the lower loops and a sinker leader to the other.

NOTE: This rig is prone to tangling in active surf, and the multiple attachment points increase your break-off potential, so lighter applications are usually best.

About David A. Brown 323 Articles
A full-time freelance writer specializing in sport fishing, David A. Brown splits his time between journalism and marketing communications www.tightwords.com).