Each type of rig has a different purpose, and some rigs may have several names. Some rigs work well for particular species and are referred to as trout rigs, flounder rigs or catfish rigs. Others can be used for many species. To get started, you’ll need your rod and reel, extra line, a variety of hooks, sinkers, and swivels. If you’re not familiar with your options in this department, check out our terminal tackle page for more details.
Tip: To create the fishing rigs below, you will need to attach your terminal tackle using fishing knots. A standard fishing knot like the Improved Clinch Knot or the Uni Knot will work.
Standard Fishing Rigs
But just because you can tie a lot of different things to a line, doesn't mean that making a fishing rig has to be complicated. Most fishing rigs are designed fairly simply and are used for specific fishing techniques.
Basic Bobber Rig
For still fishing, beginner anglers should try the basic bobber rig. These are very simple fishing rigs, and the bobber will show you when a fish is biting your bait. This rig can be used when fishing for panfish, crappie, perch or any other small fish.
How to make a basic bobber rig: Steps
- Tie a hook on the end of your fishing line with one of your fishing knots
- Pinch one or two small split shot sinkers to your main line about 6-12 inches from the hook to add a bit of weight to your line (this will keep your bait suspended vertically). If there is current, you can add one or two more split shots
- Finally, clip a circle bobber to the rig at least 3-4 feet above the hook. Where you place the bobber can vary depending on the depth of the water, but remember not to make it too long or it will be difficult to cast
TIP: A cork bobber can be used on a basic bobber rig as well. But remember to slide it on your line before you tie your hook.
Sliding Sinker Rig (also known as the Carolina Rig or Fishfinder Rig)
For bottom fishing, anglers should try the sliding sinker bottom rig. It is a popular, versatile rig and is an effective way to fish bait off the bottom, both from shore and while drifting in a boat. Sliding Sinker or Carolina rigs can be used as catfish rigs, flounder rigs, trout rigs or for fishing for redfish or striped bass.
The presentation of the rig allows the sinker to rest on the bottom of the river or in the surf with the bait suspended above. This feature prevents the fish from feeling the weight as the line passes through the sinker and keeps it from getting hung up on rocks or weeds.
How to make a sliding sinker rig: Steps
- Start by threading the main line through the hole in an egg sinker
- Tie a swivel to the end of your main line using one of your fishing knots, so it stops the sinker from falling off
- Attach a 6- to 12-inch piece of leader to the swivel
- On the end of the leader, add your hook or artificial bait like a soft plastic or a jig
3-Way Fishing Rig
Another rig that works for bottom fishing is the 3-way rig (it can also be used when fishing from shore in current). These rigs are typically considered catfish rigs and is frequently used in surf fishing as well. They are designed to keep your bait off the bottom by using a 3-way swivel. The idea is that when the three-way fishing rig is dropped, drifted or trolled, the lure or bait on the longer piece of leader hovers just over the bottom.
How to make a 3-way rig: Steps
- Start with tying a three-way swivel to your main line
- Then tie a short piece of leader (or cut fishing line) to one of the swivel eyes using one of your fishing knots
- Then tie a longer piece of fishing line to the other eye
- To the shorter piece of leader, add a sinker (pyramid sinkers work best but other shapes work too)
- To the longer piece of leader, tie your hook or lure
TWO-HOOK BOTTOM RIGS (ALSO CALLED SPREADER RIGS)
A two-hook bottom rig is probably the most versatile of all fishing rigs. Two-hook bottom rigs can be used as flounder rigs or really to catch everything from panfish to giant grouper. This particular rig is commonly pre-made and sold at tackle shops, but you can tie your own. If you choose to purchase, you will notice that the rigs made with spreader bars instead of fishing line, this can help prevent your hooks from getting tangled.
How to make a two-hook bottom rig for smaller fish:
- Start with an arm's length of 30- to 50-pound monofilament fishing line as a leader
- Tie four 2- to 3-inch dropper loop knots 3 to 4 inches apart
- Attach a sinker to the bottom loop using one of your fishing knots
- Tie a hook to each of the two middle loops
- Lastly, tie your main line (or the line running from your fishing reel) to the top loop
How to make a two-hook bottom rig for larger fish:
- Use 50- to 100-pound fishing line (any type) for leader, a snap swivel, two three-way swivels and a regular swivel
- Add the snap swivel to your main line
- Tie a 6- to 8-inch piece of leader to the snap swivel using one of the fishing knots
- Tie a three-way swivel to the end of the above mentioned leader
- Attach an 8- to 10-inch piece of leader to another eye on the three-way swivel mentioned above
- Tie the second three-way swivel to the end of the 8- to 10-inch leader
- Attach another 6- to 8-inch piece of leader to the second eye of the second three-way
- From each of the remaining eyes on the three-way swivels, tie a short piece of leader snelled to a hook (see snelled knots for instructions)
- Make sure the leaders are short enough that the hooks don't become tangled. You can also add bucktail hair, beads, spinners or floats to the hooks to attract fish.
TIP: When using two-hook bottom rigs as flounder rigs, consider adding a spinner blade or beads for flash to help attract the fish.
POPPING CORK FISHING RIGS
A popping cork is a fishing rig that preys on a fish's keen sense of sound and features a piece of terminal tackle called a popping cork. A popping cork can be purchased at most tackle retailers and is made up of a short piece of stiff wire threaded through a foam or cork float and a couple of metal or plastic beads. These are some of the best fishing rigs for redfish or they can be used as trout rigs for speckled trout.
How to create a popping cork rig: Steps
- Tie one end of the popping cork to your main fishing line using a loop knot
- At the other end of the wire extending from the popping cork, tie a piece of leader 3-4 feet long or long enough to dangle a jig or natural saltwater bait just over the bottom
- A quick snap of the rod tip makes the float pop against the beads and causes the bait to hop below. Let the float settle before popping it again. This rig works best where shrimp or baitfish are active on the surface
Specialty Fishing Rigs
Some fishing rigs are a bit more complicated and are used for specific situations like catching bait. Here is one to know:
Sabiki rigs are designed to catch baitfish, and are rigged with tiny hooks. The hooks are typically jigs tipped with feathers. Baitfish feed on plankton, so a sabiki rig has to imitate the very small prey of a baitfish, and fit in their modest mouths.
Sabiki rigs usually come pre-made with 5-10 hooks and can be purchased at tackle shops. While you could make your own, they are relatively inexpensive, and are difficult to keep untangled when stored.
Whether you are creating catfish rigs, trout rigs, or any other rigs, make sure you secure all your terminal tackle tightly to ensure the rig does not come loose when you have a fish on the end of your line.
Once you have created your fishing rig, you are ready to begin casting. Learn more.