A rig (also called a trace) is simply the end tackle (hooks, swivels, links etc) which is attached to the line and cast into the sea. Rigs are made up of various items of terminal tackle with anglers either creating their own rigs or buying them ready made from a tackle shop or an online retailer.
There are links to suggested rigs and components for sale on Amazon or Sea Angling Shop which will open in a new window. Reading sea fishing magazines, books or some websites can give the impression that making rigs is complicated and difficult but this is not the case – very simple rigs can catch fish, and simple rigs will often outfish complicated ones.
Making and Using Sea Fishing Rigs
Many sea anglers create their own rigs. This is because a self-made rig can be designed in exactly the way the anglers wants, it is more satisfying to catch fish on self-made rigs. Most rigs used in sea fishing are based on the paternoster rig. This is a simple design where the line terminates in a weight and the hooklength (snood) branches off from this further up the line. Once rigs are completed they are stored and carried to the fishing venue in a rig wallet, although there are a number of winder-type devices which are becoming increasingly popular to store rigs on. The vast majority of sea fishing rigs used in the UK will look something like this:
- A swivel at the top – This is essential as line-damaging twist caused by the weight and rig rolling around on the seabed will be eliminated by the swivel. It also provides a point to clip or tie the rig onto the mainline.
- A link at the bottom – This is used to clip the weight onto the rig and is also essential as failure to include this link would lead to line damage and safety issues when casting.
- A number of snoods (also known as hooklengths) branching off from the rig body – generally sea fishing rigs have one, two or three snoods. The best way of attaching them to the rig body is with a trapped swivel, although in cheaper, simpler rigs a dropper knot can be used.
- Strong line for the rig body – The rig body should be made with strong line (of at least 60lb breaking strain) to resist abrasion with rocks and the seabed. Furthermore, if crimps are used they can damage weaker line.
- Memory free line for the snoods – Line such as Amnesia Snood Line is the best choice for snoods as it is memory free, meaning it stays straighter and is much less likely to tangle than normal monofilament.
- A range of other components and accessories can be added to a rig such as impact shields, cascade swivels, bait clips and rotten bottoms/weak link releases.
Types of Rig
Rigs are either flapping (with the snoods and hooks free to flap around during the cast), or clipped down (where the hooks are clipped behind an impact shield or some form of bait clip). Clipped down rigs are used where distance is key, such as when casting on a clean beach where the deeper water is far away, and flapping rigs are used when fishing closer in – for example when casting into deep water from a pier, or when fishing from a beach for species which come close to the shore such as flounder or Dover sole. When fishing over clean ground rigs can include up to three hooks as this will create a stronger scent trail and allow three different baits to be used. When fishing from a rough ground mark anglers generally use simpler rigs with less components as this means there is less metalwork to get snagged, and if rigs have fewer components they are cheaper to construct and losing a lot of rigs is less costly to the angler. In rough ground rigs the link is always replaced with some kind of rotten bottom or weak link release such as a Breakaway Escape Link, Gemini Breaker or other form of rotten bottom clip. This is a device which cuts down on tackle losses by allowing the weight to break free if it is snagged and the rest of the rig (and any hooked fish) to be retrieved.
General Advice on Making Sea Fishing Rigs
Swivels and hooks should be tied to line using the uni knot, as this is the simplest, strongest and most streamlined knot that can be tied with monofilament line. When it comes to attaching snoods to the rig body the trapped swivel method is the best method. This involves using crimps which are gently pressed in place on the rig body line. Specialist crimping pliers should always be used as they are specifically designed for this job and using normal pliers runs the risk of damaging the line. Crimps should not be fitted to line less than 60lbs breaking strain as they can damage weaker lines. Most of the rigs featured on this website also have a sequin and power gum/neoprene stop knot on the hooklength. This is because impact with the water can sometimes force baits up the hooklength and away from the hook – a stop knot and sequin ensures that this will not happen, and the sequin also offers added attraction to fish (click here to read how to make stop knots with neoprene). More information on other components and accessories which can be added to rigs can be found on the terminal tackle page on this website, while further information on hooks can be found on this page.
Ready Made Rigs
Many anglers do not have the time to create their own fishing rigs and therefore buy ready made rigs, whereas some people who are new to fishing begin by using ready made rigs and then start to make their own once their knowledge increases. There are a huge number of ready made rigs on the market with a rig available for almost every sea fishing situation. The cost can vary – simple, single hook paternoster rigs can be fairly cheap but the price rises for more complex rigs incorporating bait clips, impact shields or cascade swivels. The quality of ready made rigs can vary greatly – ones made by quality, trusted manufacturers can be great, but ones which are unbranded or made by unknown companies are often questionable. The range of Cronus Sea Fishing Rigs – all hand tied in the UK – are available at Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.
Rig Damage and Re-using Rigs
Of course all rigs are designed to be re-used. However, after even a single fishing session a rig can become damaged and can even become unsafe to use if the line is damaged. the type of fishing also plays a part on how re-usable a rig is, as fishing a rock/rough ground mark which will take more of a toll on rigs and terminal tackle than fishing on a clean, sandy beach. It is therefore important to check each rig after a fishing session to ensure it is still in a usable condition. Rinse the rig in cold water (to remove salt which will clog up swivels and corrode metal) and dry off excess water with kitchen roll. Check all of the line to ensure there are no nicks or cuts which will obviously weaken it. Never take a chance with damaged line – a snood snapping could lose a good fish, while damaged rig body could snap and send a weight flying down a beach! After this check all hooks to ensure that they haven’t become bent when pulling out of snags or over rocks and ensure that the points are still sharp and haven’t been blunted by being dragged over sand. If the rig gets a clean bill of health then it can be left out overnight to dry fully and then placed back into the rig wallet to use again. Partially damaged rigs may be repairable (i.e. trying on a new hook snood if this is the only part needing replacing), but with rigs with a lot of damage it is best never to use them again. If this is the case then all of the usable components such as swivels, hooks and links can of course be cut off and used to construct a new rig.
Components and Tools Needed to Make Rigs
The following tools are useful when creating and storing rigs:
- Line Clippers – Either specialist line clippers or a set of small scissors or clippers are needed to cut line to the right length and clip away tag ends after tying knots.
- Crimping Pliers – An essential tool to safely and securely press crimps to line. As stated non-specialist pliers should not be used as they can cause damage to line.
- Knot Puller – An inexpensive tool which can be used for pulling knots tight when it is awkward to grip or hold a swivel, hook or other item of terminal tackle.
- Rig Wallet – Very useful for storing rigs once they are completed and taking them on a fishing session. However, rig winders – foam discs which have rigs wrapped around them – are becoming a popular alternative (or addition) to using rig wallets. Look at individual rig winders for just 79p each from Sea Angling Shop.
Most anglers who have been sea fishing for several years will have built up a supply of terminal tackle components which they can use to make rigs. The following list is far from exhaustive, but having all of the components listed below will allow every single rig featured on this website to be made. Click on links to open a new window where item are available on Amazon or Sea Angling Shop to view and purchase.
- Large/Strong Hooks – When fishing for species such as cod, big bass or pollock large and strong hooks should be used such as Cronus O’Shaughnessy hooks, which come in sizes up to 6/0. Alternative for very large species such as tope or conger eels Cronus Conger Traces which feature size 8/0 hooks can be used.
- General Sea Fishing Hooks – When fishing for a range of species size 1/0 or 2/0 hooks are the best choice as they are small enough to catch fish weighing around 1lb such as small bass, coalfish and whiting, but can also handle any larger specimens which come along. Kamasan B940 Aberdeen Hooks are great hooks for this purpose.
- Smaller Hooks – When fishing for smaller species such as flounder, dab and pouting smaller size 1 or 2 hooks should be used. Cronus Black Aberdeen hooks are strong but lightweight and would be a good choice.
- Mini Species Hooks – When targeting small species such as rockling, topknot and poor cod Cronus Black Aberdeen hooks in size 4 – 6.
- 60lb breaking strain line for rig body – Trace Builder 60lb Clear Rig Body Line is a good choice for making sea fishing rigs.
- 20 – 30lb b.s. memory-free line (for hook snoods) – Amnesia Snood Line is an excellent memory free line and by far the most popular with UK anglers.
- 10lb breaking strain line (for weak links)
- 10lb breaking strain power gum/neoprene rig tubing – (for stop knots)
- Large swivels (size 1)
- Medium swivels (size 2 to 4)
- Small (snood) swivels (size 6)
Cronus Black Nickel Swivels are ideal for rig making. They are high quality and available in the above sizes, with prices start at just 79p for a packet of twenty. View and purchase by clicking here.
All Other Terminal Tackle items (with links to purchase):
- Cronus Teardrop Links – essential for clipping weights to rigs.
- Simple Rotten Bottom Clips – for making cheap rough ground rigs.
- Crimps – needed to trap swivels when making rigs.
- Micro rig beads (3 – 4mm) – used to trap swivels.
- 8mm beads and 5mm beads can be used as attractors or to trap swivels.
- Sequins – used as a bait stop and attractor.
- Breakaway Impact Shields – used to clip down and protect baits.
- Bait Clips – a cheaper way of clipping down baits.
- Pulley beads – an essential component in the pulley rig.
- Cascade swivels – used to clip down multiple hooks in a rig.
- Drilled Bullet weights or Tube Weights – used to add weight in float rigs, or to add casting weight to a light jelly lure.
- Sea Fishing Floats or ready made Float Kits – if summer float fishing will be carried out.
Sets and Collections
Sets of terminal tackle are available which contain a selection of different terminal tackle items. As well as providing a saving compared to buying the all of the items individually, terminal tackle sets allow anglers to quickly and easily buy all of the items necessary to make a range of rigs:
- Sea Angling Shop New Filled Component Box – This set contains nine different terminal tackle items including size #1 Cronus baitholder hooks, size 2/0 Cronus Black Aberdeen hooks, teardrop links, rig beads, attractor beads, crimps, snood swivels and top swivels. This allows anglers to make their own rigs or to top up their terminal tackle collection with new stock. Available for only £6.49.
- Sea Angling Shop New Hook Selection – A wide range of hooks from sizes #4 to 4/0 are included in this set, meaning that anglers will have everything they need to catch the wide range of species found around the UK. The patterns of hook featured in this set include Cronus Aberdeen, O’Shaughnessy and baitholder hooks and Angling Works circle hooks. In total seventy individual hooks are included in this set. Available for only £7.49.
- Sea Angling Shop Complete Terminal Tackle Collection – This set contains a total of eighteen terminal tackle items including Trace Builder rig line, Amnesia snood line, Cronus hooks, links, rig beads, attractor beads, clips and bait shields. Indeed, this set contains everything anglers need to make all of the major rigs used in UK sea fishing. Available for 24.99.
Making rigs is an enjoyable aspect of sea fishing and one which most anglers develop over a reasonably long period of time. Many anglers start out purchasing ready made rigs and then move on to buying their own components and slowly building up a supply of terminal tackle items so that they can build rigs to suit the type of fishing they are planning. Many anglers take a selection of rigs with them on a fishing trip so that they can change and adapt their tactics depending on how the fishing session develops. For example and angler may start fishing with a rig using a size 4/0 hook to catch cod, but if they are not biting having a supply of rigs will allow him or her to swap to a multi-hook rig with size 1 hooks to target smaller species such as whiting or flounder which may be around. Conversely an angler being plagued with small species such as pouting taking the bait he or she has cast out may switch to a rig with a size 4/0 hook or larger in the hope that smaller fish cannot take this bait into their mouths and it will instead attract a large bass or cod. Creating a selection of rigs and then choosing the correct rig for a given sea fishing situation is an important aspect of sea fishing and one that all anglers enjoy developing over the time they go sea fishing.