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The Pompano Rig — How To Rig

How to Tie a Pompano Rig for Surf Fishing

Pompano are prized for their delicious meat, one of the reasons why it is considered to be a dream caught by anglers. Since it swims in schools, where there is one, there are plenty more so you won’t have difficulty spotting them. However, fishing for pompano requires an outfit that is fitted with light tackle and hooks that may be smaller than you are used to using. 

Recommended Pre-Made Rigs:

Here’s a guide on how to make a pompano rig.

Tackle and Rigs for Catching Pompano

pompano fish rig
Catch the beautiful pompano. Source: Steve Miller

If you are planning to fish near beaches in Florida, the gulf coast, or on an inshore fishing boat for this fish, you should learn how to set up Pompano rigs beforehand. These are bottom feeders and usually come into estuaries and lagoons. You can catch pompano using the following tips in mind for your rigs and tackle:

Pompano Rig Line

The fishing line strength you use for this fish depends on the area that you are fishing from. Pompano swims closer to the beach when it is windy, and the current washes out their favorite diet (crabs) out to sea.

If you are fishing on a typical day, use a 12-pound line, but you will need a hefty 20 pounder for days when the surf is a bit turbulent. A heavy line will be able to accommodate the large sinkers you will need to use to stabilize the bait. If you are fishing inshore, you can use a 6 to 10-pound braid test line. 

The type of line you should use depends on the environment as well. If you are surf fishing for pompano, for instance, use monofilament for both inshore and offshore. If the water is turbulent, use strong fluorocarbon or a fluoro leader with hook attachments. 

Pompano Rig Hooks

A great low-cost hook to use for pompano fishing is the 1/0 or 2/0 Eagle Claw circle. Besides holding the bait better, it is also easy to unhook from smaller fish or the little mouth of a Pompano. For the larger type of pompano, go for 3/0 or 4/0 circles. 

Pompano Rig Bait 

Even though this species will eat smaller fish, most usually go for clams, shrimp, mussels, and crabs in the area. The best ones include one or two fiddler crabs, shrimp, squid, sand fleas, and mussels. When you are targeting the fish, look for a deep cut between a sand bar and a grassy flat.

This is where pompano usually wait for shrimp and crustaceans to be washed from the grass from the outgoing tide. When the tide comes in, the game fish usually swims into the glass flats for food. The best dead baits are the same ones that you use when you are fishing from the beach.

One best bait is fresh dead shrimp. You can also use the frozen variety in a pinch, but fresh dead will always reign supreme. It can also outperform sand fleas. 

Just break it into two separate baits. First, pinch off the head and discard it. The break the rest in half or three parts if you have a big shrimp. Add it to lures or your rig to attract more strikes, especially if you are fishing in deeper water. Plus, make sure that bait is sized to the hook you are using, so if it is small, use a 1/0 hook and if it is large, use a 2/0. 

Pre-Made Pompano Rigs

Tackles Crafter Pompano Elite (12)
  • EASY TO USE FROM BEGINNER TO PRO: Tie the Pompano Elite Rig...
  • SPEND MORE TIME FISHING: Ready to right out of the package....
  • MADE WITH QUALITY COMPONENTS: The Pompano Elite Rigs are...

Above is a pre-made pompano rig you can try if you don’t want to make them yourself. Below are a few components for making other rigs that are worth trying to catch pompano with.

Sliding Sinker Rig – This rig ensures that the sinker remains on the bottom with the bait suspended on top. It is ideal for surf fishing for this species of fish. It employs a 2/0 circle hook as well as a pyramid weight and a fluoro mainline that can withstand the 12 to 15-pound test. Use sand fleas to lure the fish in.

Popping Cork Fishing Rig – If you are fishing inshore from a boat and above a couple of feet of water, use this rig. It comprises of a shrimp under a popping cork with at least two feet of 12 to 15-pound fluoro line between the cork and the hook. However, you may need to increase the length of the line in the rig, depending on the time of year and current once you arrive at your fishing spot. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the best time to catch pompano?

A: The best time to catch this fish is during the last two hours of high tide or the during the first few hours of a falling one. 

Q: Is pompano good eating?

A: It is considered to be the world’s most edible fish and can be eaten whole, so yes, it is good eating. The silvery skin is edible, and the meat is firm, flaky, and boasts a mild and sweet flavor. 

Q: Can I eat this fish raw?

A: The fish has tasty white meat, which is perfect either grilled or cut up as sashimi or as ceviche. Make sure it is properly washed before serving it raw.

Q: Is it a healthy fish?

A: A single fillet offers about 40% of protein, and it is also a great source of amino acids that are essential for our growth and development. It is also a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, so get fishing! 

Q: Does it have a lot of bones?

A: This fish has an uncomplicated bone structure, so it is easier to eat compared to other varieties. 

Q: How big can these fish get?

A: Pompano that is caught in Florida waters can weigh less than 3 lbs and maybe less than 17 inches long. The largest can weigh 9 lbs and can grow to a whopping 26 inches in length. If you have a saltwater products license but don’t have an endorsement for this species, you can harvest 250 at a time only. 

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing and spearfishing enthusiast. He's been fishing since he was 5 years old in the backcountry of Yosemite for trout and in the surf near his home in SoCal. Over the past 4 years, he's been spearfishing up and down the coast of California. He started Cast and Spear to help inspire others to get outside and chase their dream fish. Notable catches include spearing a 65-pound white sea bass, large grouper, and yellowtail down in Baja. When he's not in the water, he's usually fishing from his Gregor Baja aluminum boat or inflatable Takacat catamaran.
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