Pier Fishing Rigs That Work Best in California Waters

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Many pier anglers love to hook their target fish with effective pier fishing rigs in different piers around SoCal and other places.

Pier fishing is and should be enjoyable to all anglers- children, adults, beginners, and pros alike. Learning the most effective pier fishing rigs for your quick trip will help you bag your catch. 

pier fishing rigs
Pier fishing is serenity. Source: Diana Robinson

Here are a few tried and tested pier fishing rigs that will come in useful for anglers like you. 

Pier Fishing Rigs

Paternoster Rig

Paternoster Rig

The Paternoster rig is a traditional rig that works neat and well for pier fishing. It’s great for bottom fishing from a pier or an anchored boat as it is rigged to allow the bait to be taken some distance freely without pressure.

To tie the paternoster rig, take about a meter of your main leader and a pre-cut 10-inch dropper. Tie a granny knot with your two lines and go back through the loop three times before pulling and tightening the knot.

Pull your mainline on one side and the dropper line on the other, and give it a yank before cutting the tag of the line.  

Carolina Rig

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Carolina is one of the most versatile rigs in fishing. And it especially works well in pier fishing and proves to catch many pier-dwelling species.  

Carolina Rig

To tie a Carolina rig, start by cutting a leader line (about 18 inches). Tie your hook to your swivel with a Palomar knot, Uni knot, Jam knot, and Improved Double Clinch knot. At the other end of your leader, tie on your swivel with a Palomar knot.

Make a loop to attach your leader to your mainline, then pull your whole line through the loop. First, pull your hook, then your swivel through the loop of your mainline. Moisten your finger and knot to make it flat before tightening. 

Monster Rig

Monster Rig

This rig is ideal for targeting larger species from the pier. To rig this monster, run a sinker of 2-4 ounces directly down to your hook (16/0 or 20/0). Then, hook a live bait of two pounds before casting it out. 

Floating Rig

Floating Rig

The floating rig is a versatile rig that just puts more fish in your bucket when pier fishing. Time and again, it proves to be more useful to anglers fishing in-shore where the bait will float naturally with the tide. 

To tie the floating rig, slip one of your plastic beads onto your line, then slide the float. After, slide the second bead and tie the line to one end of your sinker, attaching a small split ring to the opposite of your sinker with a black barrel swivel fastened to the split ring.

Take a 3-foot mono and tie one end to the swivel and the other to your Kahle hook. Most importantly, tie a stopper knot onto your light with a short mono above the rig.

Fish Finder Rig

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For a more pro experience at pier fishing, the fish finder rig is the choice to free-line live bait or fish cuts to bait many pier species. This rig is a versatile rig that works for surf fishing as well. 

Fish Finder Rig

To tie a fish finder rig, cut around 18 inches of your leader line and connect one of its ends to your hook with a Palomar knot. On the other end, secure your swivel with the same knot type. With your mainline, fish the line through the pyramid sinker and bead before tying it to the other side of your swivel.

Saltwater Pier Fishing Tackle

Pier Fishing Rod and Reel

Choosing a pier fishing rod depends on the type of pier fishing you’re after. Essentially, a graphite or fiberglass spinning or casting rod works best.

As for the pier fishing rod length, a good rod size is around seven to eight feet. Any rod that is longer works best for casting, and short ones are best for jigging and dropping bait vertically. 

Pier Fishing Bait

Choosing a bait does not necessarily depend on whether you’re pier or surf fishing, but it depends on the fish in the area or the fish you’re targeting. Asking your local pier shops what lures they offer will often give you an insight into which ones work best.

Although bloodworms, shrimp, squid, anchovies, and sardines are typically what you’ll find in most pier and tackle shops.

Pier Fishing Hook

Your tackle hook will mostly depend on your targeted fish, but usually, with pier fishing, having a 4 to 10/0 hook will handle most pier fishing situations. 

Pier Fishing Tips

Pier fishing can be one of the simplest yet most memorable fishing experiences. Here are some tips you can note to make the best of your pier fishing trip. 

  1. Know which part of the pier has more fish.
  2. Gear up for the right target fish (have the right tackle, bait, hook, rod, and reel).
  3. Think comfortably and bring anything that will maximize your comfort during pier fishing. This includes a chair, bucket, rod holders, water, sunscreen- anything to help you get the best out of it.
  4. Know and follow the rules. Nothing good will come out of getting in trouble with the authorities. Check out your local pier fishing guidelines to keep everything legal. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to fish off a pier?

Essentially, fishing off a pier works best in the early morning or sundown as the moving tides attract many baitfish to the area. This, in turn, brings out big and hungry fish. However, if you’re pier fishing in colder regions or during winter, fish will not be as active from dusk to dawn as in the daytime. But in warmer areas or during summer, fish are active after sundown. 

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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