Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips What's a mullet rig? Ocean City, MD
What's a mullet rig? Ocean City, MD

“What’s a mullet rig?” We're surf fishing in Ocean City, MD

When bluefish are biting in the surf in Ocean City, MD mullet rigs become very popular! The
angler can thread a whole finger mullet on a special kind of detachable hook
and fish the mullet whole. The double hook protrudes out of the mullet’s
anal canal, so when the chomping bluefish comes by to take a bite of the
baitfish, it gets a hook along with it!

Of course, bluefish are sneaky and half the time they get the mullet without
getting the hook! Sometimes you catch the bluefish and sometimes you reel in
with half a finger mullet dangling on the end of the rig. But mullet rigs
certainly help even out the odds when fishing for bluefish. The angler also
has the added convenience of not having to cut up the mullet. After mullet
has been frozen it tends to be softer than fresh and if you do not use a
sharp knife to cut it and hook it properly, the bait can fall off the hook
on a hard cast.

There are two basic kinds of mullet rigs. The first is the easiest to use.
There are several different brands including Sea Striker, Jeros, and Chick
Bullen’s locally made “Custom Made Mullet Rigs.” They are all made basically
the same way. The rigs are made with a monofilament leader, a pear-shaped
Styrofoam surf, a three-way-swivel and a sinker snap, a steel rod, and a
“Mustad #7826” detachable hook. The angler feeds the steel rod through the
mullet’s mouth and out its anal canal. Then the angler slides on the double
hook and pulls it tight into the mullet. The two hooks are visible, but the
shaft of the hook is inside the mullet. If you leave it dangling outside
the mullet, it can twist and turn in the wind when casting and you can lose
your hook. The angler attaches a 3 to 5-ounce (on average) pyramid or
hurricane type sinker weight.

The replacement hooks for this type of mullet rig are quite inexpensive and
whenever the angler buys a rig, he should buy some replacement hooks to go
along with it. These hooks can get bent, get lost on a hard cast, fall off
when the bluefish is wiggling on the beach, or simply get rusty or dull
after a hard day’s fishing. Sometimes they are buried in the bluefish and
you might decide to extract it later when you are cleaning the fish. These
hooks also come in a couple different sizes, so you may want to have some
smaller #2/0’s for snapper bluefish and larger #3/0’s for the larger

I always use these rigs with a good snap swivel. A good snap swivel will
help eliminate line twist when casting. Some of the mullet rigs are made
with a fairly lightweight 3-way swivel with a sinker snap attached. When I
go fishing, I take this lighter 3-way swivel and snap off and replace it
with a larger sturdier one. This also helps eliminate line-twist. I also
find that the rigs are easier to cast if I shorten them up a bit. But don’t
make the mistake I have made and shorten them up too much! If you do that,
the crabs can get to your finger mullet!

“They bluefish keep biting the tail off my mullet!!!!”

This is just the nature of the game. The bluefish are out there in schools,
feeding on baitfish. Sometimes their stomachs are full of food but still,
they are snapping at baits. They are not coming back to finish off their
dinner because they are full! I find that if you cast out and slowly bring
your rig in along the bottom, the bluefish will grab at your bait more
aggressively and will more likely hook themselves. Some anglers do well
holding the rod and wait for a bluefish bite. As soon as they feel a bite
they set the hook. Fish bite in a different way most every day. Some days
you may have to hold the rod to catch the blues. On other days you may do
better with the rod in the sand spike! That’s when we say: “Hey, I think I’ll
let Rod-ney catch the fish!!!”

Regardless of which technique works best for you, it is important to be
attentive to your rod tip. If you are not paying attention and a bluefish
comes by and steals your bait and you don’t realize it, you may be fishing
with a baitless hook. You can’t catch fish with no bait!

Some anglers get sneaky and try to outsmart the fish by taking one of the
prongs of the detachable hook and run it back through the tail. Sometimes
this works and sometimes it doesn’t. If the bait gets all curved and
unnatural looking on the hook, then it won’t work. This technique seems to
work best when the bites are frequent.

Another tactic I use is this. Mr. Bluefish comes along and nips off the tail
of the mullet. Rather than put on a new mullet, I throw the rig back out
there and start bringing it in slowly. If the bluefish are hungry, they’ll
hit it again and again until there is only a head left. Every time they hit
the mullet I do a short, sharp jerk of the rod tip and try to hook the blue.
They usually aren’t interested in the head, so when there is less than half
a mullet left, I usually put on a new mullet. One day, the blues were
hitting so “short” that I actually cut the mullets in half before putting
them on the mullet rig. Like I said, every day is different. Some days they
will only hit a whole finger mullet and won’t touch a mullet that has had
its tail bit off. It all depends on how hungry they are!

“What other kinds of mullet rigs are there?”

Another popular mullet rig made in the local tackle stores is the mullet rig
constructed out of the Mustad #9418 hook. This hook is bronze and has a
long, flat shaft with a sharp point on the end of the double hook. The
angler detaches this long shafted hook off a ring and inserts the sharp
point of the shaft in the anal canal of the finger mullet and out through it’s
mouth. These hooks are usually crimped onto steelon wire and are rigged up
with a Styrofoam surf float. Most are made with a three-way swivel and a
sinker snap. Anglers can buy the hooks separately and made their rigs with
mono or Fluorocarbon leaders. They can leave the float off for fishing for
stripers and flounder.

Mullet Rig for Surf Fishing



“Which are better?”

Both are good. The #9418 hooks are more expensive but they are less likely
to fall off. The hook is stronger and more likely to stay on if Mr. Striper
comes along. They do come in a couple different sizes so you can match up
the size of the finger mullet. The only thing I like better about the rigs
made with the #7826 hook is the fact that the mullet continues to slide down
to the hook as the bluefish take bites out of the bait. The #9418 type hooks
are meant to be re-baited after half the mullet is taken. Some anglers like
the “all wire” structure of the rigs made out of the #9418 hooks as well.

“Which rigs do you use?”

I like the first rig, mainly because I think it’s easier to use and I tend
not to poke my fingers with the hook. The sharp point on the #9418 will get
you if you don’t watch out!
In the summer, when I am fishing for flounder, I take a sharp knife and cut
off the Styrofoam float. I cast it and the mullet out and slowly bring it
back in towards shore. This works especially well on a beach with a quick
drop-off and clean water!

“What color floats work best for bluefish?”

Here’s the rule of thumb. Use red floats on bright, sunny days. Try yellow
for overcast or evening. Green is good for overcast or raining conditions.
But remember fisher people, these are bluefish and most of the time when
they are hungry they are not looking at the color of the float but the
finger mullet hanging next to it.

Good fishing in Ocean City, MD….

Need bait and tackle? Come see us at Oyster Bay Tackle, Ocean City, Maryland (410-524-3433) or Fenwick Tackle, Fenwick Island, Delaware (302-539-7766), OR Shop Online!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 09:47