These five rigs are killers for a variety of species, and can be used with natural baits as well as soft-plastic lures. Experience is the best teacher, so anglers should experiment with them under various angling conditions and for different species, using an assortment of baits and lures. Learn to rig them and how to work them, and fish-filled trips are sure to follow.
1 | Slip-Sliding Rig
The beauty of the slip-sliding rig is that it’s fast to tie, works for many fresh- and saltwater species and can be used in countless
situations with numerous baits. Walleye and river smallmouth bass fishermen love to use the rig with leeches; it can also be fished effectively over almost any type of bottom, including gravel and chunk rock. It’s also great with crayfish, shiners and minnows for largemouths, pike, pickerel and even muskies, trout and striped bass. TIP: In weedy and rocky areas, be sure to use a leader several pounds lighter in test that connects to the bullet weight and split-shot. This way, if a weight fouls, the whole rig isn’t lost.
2 | Carolina Jig Rig
A pair of Texas bass anglers who had largemouths eating their heavy, standard Carolina-rig lead weights decided to substitute a heavy weedless bass jig for the Carolina egg sinker, and they started catching two bass at a time–one on the jig, a second on the bait hovering off the bottom above the jig. This basic rig concept works for many species, including walleyes and smallmouths. Natural baits, such as leeches or nightcrawlers, are either threaded onto a trailer hook or onto the bottom-bumping jig itself. TIP: Big jigs fished with a plastic tail and a live eel on trailer hook are killer on stripers.
3 | Jig and Fly
This may be the most effective of all delivery systems for getting small pieces of earthworm baits into the fish zone to tempt panfish, trout, walleyes and smallmouths. The heavier jig helps in casting the rig and getting it deep. But be sure to tip the jig with a worm, too. A small nymph-type fly is best for panfish, while a larger hellgrammite pattern or stonefly nymph is good for walleyes and panfish.
TIP:** Be sure to tip the nymph with a small piece of worm, too, as a tempting treat for fish, and don’t be surprised if you hook two fish simultaneously.
4 | Balloon-and-Bait Rig
This rig was originally designed by shore fishermen who wanted to drift a live shiner or other good-size baitfish far from a bank, bulkhead, dock or bridge, or on saltwater rock jetties. Wind or current pushes a balloon (and trailing bait) far from the angler, toward more open, deep water, where big fish are more apt to prowl. TIP: This is an excellent method for boaters to send baits beneath dock pilings and bridge abutments and even into flooded timber.
5 | Slip-Float Rig
With a slip-float rig, an angler can fish a bait at almost any depth, from 2 to 40 feet. The key to the rig is a sliding “stop knot” (Uni-Knot) tied with 10-pound-test line on the main fishing line above the float. (A tied piece of rubber band can work, too.) TIP: Sliding the stop knot up or down the fishing line above the float determines how much line is pulled through the float and the depth at which a bait is fished. This is a deadly rig for many species, including bass and panfish near docks and pilings, crappies in brush piles and walleyes on isolated reefs.