Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips What kind of rig to use in the surf....
What kind of rig to use in the surf....

What kind of rig should I use?

There are all kinds of rigs and sinkers for fishing. The first most
important thing to decide is whether you are going to fish in the bay or
fish off the beach. 80 per cent of the time, when you are fishing off the
beach, you want to use a rig with some sort of floats. Most floats on
pre-made surf rigs these days are made out of Styrofoam. A few are made out
of cork or plastic coated corks.

“Why do you use floats in the surf?”

The floats are positioned right next to the hook. You still use a sinker
that anchors the rig to the bottom, but the floats next to the hooks keep
the baits slightly off the bottom. These floats keep the bait away from
crabs that steal your bait. It also helps to keep your bait from getting
buried by the sand. And last of all, it makes the baits more visible to the
fish. In the surf, there is natural turbulence, where sand is swirling in
the white water, and visibility can often be limited. This is where the fish
like to feed; right in the midst of this turbulence, because little crabs
and baby clams are being dislodged from the bottom by the wave action.

“What color floats should I choose?”

Sometimes, of course, there are not choices. Many of the pre-made surf rigs
come with one red float and one yellow float. But other surf rigs, may come
in, red, yellow, or green. Most of the time, it really doesn’t matter all
that much because fish are after the bait and not really concerned about the
color, but here’s the general rule of thumb. Fish see red best on a bright
sunny day. Green is best on a cloudy day. Yellow is best at night.

Hook size!

So many people get so confused by hook size. Going from small to large, hook
sizes that you would use in the surf go like this: 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, 1/0, 2/0,
3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0, 9/0 and 10/0. Size #8 is the smallest and
#10/0 is the largest.

The size #8 and #6 hooks are used for small fish such as Norfolk spot,
kingfish (whiting), sand perch, and pompano. Croaker will also bite on these
small hooks but will also take a size #4. Generally, when you use these
smaller hooks, you will have small surf floats (either round or oblong in ¾
to 1 ½ inches) and you will be using small baits such as half inch pieces of
Artificial Fishbite Bloodworm Alternatives, real bloodworm, half inch strips
of squid, bait shrimp, spot fillet, bunker, or mullet. You can also combo
any two of these baits on the same hook. I like to take a little strip of
squid or cut bait and combine it with a strip of Fishbites. You can also
use real bloodworm. Since Fishbites have come to town I haven’t touched a
bloodworm and will probably never again! (They work just as good; they are
cleaner, cheaper, neater, and last for a whole year or more.) No more
bloodworm squirts on the new white t-shirt!!!! No more screaming when the
bloodworm latches onto your finger when you’re not looking!!!!

Sea Striker makes two kingfish rigs that work great with Fishbite bloodworm
or real bloodworm if you insist. They are the SSSKF with long shank size #6
hooks and little cigar floats and the SSSK-2 Kingfish rig with round floats
and #6 Gold Wide Gap hooks. I love the latter of these rigs, because the
wide gap hooks seem to hook the spot and kingfish better without setting the
hook. They are very sharp when new, but they can dull out after a day of
heavy fishing. The SSSKF-2 also has a clip for the sinker, where as the
SSSKF has a loop for the sinker. I like the clip myself. (Hint: No matter
what surf rig I use, I put a good snap swivel on the end of the line first
and then slip the rig onto the snap swivel. It helps to eliminate line twist
and makes it easy to change rigs.)

Back to hook sizes! Size #4 to #1 hooks are good for croaker, small sea
trout, snapper blues, and little sand sharks. Sea Striker makes some
bluefish rigs with size ¾ round Styrofoam floats that are very good for
these fish. The numbers on them are DT34 (monofilament) and DT34S (wire).
Even though everyone always says you should have wire for bluefish I still
like the DT34 monofilament rig for most summertime fishing because the mono
doesn’t get kinked up as much as the wire. The bluefish are small in the
summer, and usually never bite so far up the leader past the float to chop
the hook off. I have fished with one DT34 rig for three or four fishing
trips in a row and it’s still good. The wire rigs get kinked and usually
only last one fishing trip.

You can also make or buy rigs made out of the basic wire top and bottom rig
with two leadered hooks and surf floats. The all-popular Sea Striker SBR
two-hook surf rig is made with two wire leadered hooks (about a #1 to #1/0
size) with red and yellow two-inch cigar floats. These are ever popular and
good for most all purpose surf fishing when you use any kind of cut bait.

Hook sizes #2/0 to #10/0 are good for larger fish such as sharks, stripers,
big bluefish and large red drum. Generally when you get into larger hooks,
anglers use a single hook with a large 2 ½ to 3-inch surf float for blues
and shark. For stripers, anglers are best to leave off the surf float and
fish with plain leadered hooks. #2/0 to #7/0 size hooks are good for large
chunks of bunker, mullet, or whole small squids. The #8/0 to #10/0 size
hooks are generally used to hook a whole bunker head for big stripers or big
sharks after dark. (In the summer months we do not have many big stripers,
so if action is what you are looking for, do not use big hooks for general
surf fishing!)

Stripers like a rig without floats and also like a rig where they do not
feel the sinker at first. Aqua-Clear rigs have a sliding device on their
rigs so the fish pulls the hook and does not feel the sinker right away. So
do the Long Ranger Pulley Rigs. Both of these are pre-made rigs available in
tackle stores.

The fish finder rig is an all-popular little gizmo that works great in the
surf for stripers, drum, and flounder so the fish do not feel the weight of
the sinker right away. It is simply a little plastic sleeve with a sinker
snap attached. After running your line from your reel and up through all
your guides and tip, slip the plastic sleeve onto your line and attach a
sinker to the sinker clip. At the very end of your line attach a snap swivel
and snap on a single leadered hook. That’s it! It’s so simple! (Note: Fish
finders are made to use with a single hook or single rig. If you want to use
a two-hook rig, forget about the fish finder rig.)

The only other rig to use in the surf, and it can be used all season, is the
“finger mullet rig.” These rigs are made to use a whole finger mullet or
other small whole fish such as a whole spot. These rigs come pre-made and
you can thread a whole finger mullet onto a detachable hook. You won’t
catch the small pan fish such as spot, kingfish, and small trout. But you
can catch the aggressive small bluefish, stripers, flounder, drum, sharks,
and skates. (Skates take everything and anything!)

Sinkers? Use the pointy kinds so they don’t roll in with the waves. Pyramid
or hurricane types work best in the 2 to 5 oz range.

Next week…. Rigs for the bay….

Good fishing….