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Fish Finder Rig — How to Tie & When to Use

 

The Fish Finder Rig is a popular surf fishing rig used to find where the fish congregates. It’s similar to the Carolina Rig, but it is typically used with a pyramid weight rather than a sliding egg sinker to keep the rig in one area.

This guide will cover what the video above illustrates, including when and when not to use it.

How do You Tie a Fish Finder Rig for Surf Fishing?

To make your life easier for tying a fish finder rig, you’ll need the following tackle.

Fish Finder Rig Tackle

  • Pyramid Sinker (or spark plug, bolt, or something for a weight)
  • Plastic bead
  • Leader line
  • Swivel
  • Sinker Slide
  • Hook

Steps for Tying a Fish Finder Rig

Fish Finder Rig
  1. Start by cutting a piece of the leader line. Generally, around 18 inches will work.
  2. Tie one end to your hook using a Palomar Knot.
  3. On the other end of your leader line, tie on your swivel using a Palomar Knot.
  4. With your mainline, fish the line through your pyramid sinker and your bead.
  5. Tie your main line to the other side of your swivel using a Palomar Knot. The Palomar makes it tricky since you need to pull your entire leader line with the hook through to finish the knot but just take your time.

Weights

Most anglers opt for lead, but there are other options better for the environment when it comes to weights. Instead of buying storebought weights, experiment with steel that will rust in the saltwater environment if you lose it.

When fishing saltwater locations, especially over rocky terrain, be prepared to lose a substantial amount of weight. Weights tend to get caught amongst seaweed or snagged in crevices.

Beads

The plastic bead helps protect your line from your weight in the water. If you choose not to use one, you’re risking an unnecessary breakoff of your line. Plastic beads can also be used to trap swivels in place.

Leader

Depending on the fish you are targeting will determine which leader line you use. If you’re fishing around rocks, you should likely opt for monofilament, which is a bit more abrasion resistant than fluorocarbon.

Hooks

Your hook size should be based on your bait. If you’re going after perch and plan to use sand crabs, your hook will be around a #6. If you’re going after bigger fish and want to use a chunk of cut bait, you should go up to a #2.

We like to use circle hooks since they are self-setting. Self-setting hooks are ideal for bottom-based rig fishing and float fishing.


What is a Fish Finder Rig?

The Fish Finder Rig is a popular surf fishing rig used to catch a wide variety of fish like redfish and stripers.

It involves a sliding sinker that allows the bait to move freely while it anchors itself to the bottom.


How to Cast a Fish Finder Rig

Casting a fish finder rig can be challenging, depending on the weight used and the length of the leader. If you’re using braid and weight over two ounces, we highly recommend using a Breakaway Cannon, so you don’t cut or slice off your finger if you’re using a spinning reel.

A longer leader will also add more wind resistance limiting your casting distance. You can use some innovative rigging clips that keep everything streamlined until they hit the water, making your cast easier.


Fish Finder Rig With Float Option

Sometimes it’s helpful to keep your bait off the bottom and away from unwanted critters like skates, rays, or crabs. Having a small float with beads on either side near the hook will allow that bait to hang up off the ground and hopefully away from the bycatch.


Fish Finder Rig Offshore

In California, using the fish finder rig offshore isn’t as popular as other rigs such as the double dropper loop, single dropper loop, or knocker rigs. Using a pyramid or sinker that digs in would likely cause many unwanted structural hookups.

More minor knots between your hook and your line are ideal, so keeping your rig simple offshore is advised.


Fish Finder Rig for Redfish

When targeting redfish, you will need to beef up your rig. We recommend using a braid mainline with your sliding sinker tied to a 100-300 pound barrel swivel.

Use 1-3 feet of 20-50lb monofilament or fluorocarbon. Tie that leader off to a 4/0 to 12/0 circle hook depending on the size of red you’re targeting. Use a snell knot or whichever knot you feel comfortable tying.


Fish Finder Rig for Stripers

The fish finder rig for stripers doesn’t deviate much from the version for redfish. We recommend sticking with a six to 30-inch 30-60 pound fluorocarbon for your leader, keeping the rest the same as above.


Fish Finder Rig vs Carolina Rig

The fish finder rig differs from the Carolina Rig in that it generally uses a weight that will secure itself against the bottom. In contrast, the egg sinker for the Carolina will move easier.

They both have the disadvantage of using multiple knots between the hook and the mainline, leading to breakage.

The fish finder rig also has the disadvantage of allowing the weight to cause a stress point if they get hung up on the structure or are big enough to toss it around violently.


What Is the Best Rig for Surf Fishing?

The best rig for surf fishing depends on what you’re targeting, the available tackle, and your comfort in rigging it up.

If you’re limited on tackle and don’t have access to swivels, sliders, and beads, you can opt for a rig like the Spider Hitch Rig. You can cut the main loop and double up your hooks if you want more than one hook.

This will allow one knot between your hook and your mainline, which can be safer if you’re not proficient in tying knots.

How Do You Fish a Spec Rig?

Another less common rig to check out would be the spec rig. This is a good option if you want to fish two artificial lures simultaneously. You can fish it from shore, but there’s likely a high probability of hooking up on structure. Using it like you would a double dropper from a boat would be more idea.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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Articles » Saltwater Fishing » Fish Finder Rig — How to Tie & When to Use