The Best Rigs For Winter Sea Fishing

One of the reasons so many shore anglers fail to catch much during a session is down to the poor quality of the rigs they are using. Sea rigs that are built to the wrong dimensions, with incorrect components coupled with light line snoods, can be loaded with bait and chucked out for 20 minutes, only to come back in a tangled mess.

Fisheagle Assorted Bait Rigs
The first basic rule when shore fishing is to target a species that will realistically be feeding in front of you, rather than what you’re hoping to be there. Size 6/0 sea hooks filled with bulky baits won’t work on a flatfish venue, so use your knowledge of a mark to determine what rigs to use.

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For example, a rough ground mark with gullies and kelp will require a rig with one large, strong hook with perhaps a rotten-bottom link. On the other hand, a flat, featureless shallow sandy beach may be better approached with a rig armed with three small match-type hooks and perhaps using balanced bait clips for distance casting.
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If you decide to fish from a shingle bank that gives way to deep water with a fast running tide, a two or three-hook flapper rig offers the best chance of success. Strong hooks are best for these venues to save losing fish as you play them up through the tide.

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A neat idea is to buy ready-tied bait rigs, and the packaging on most of these informs you what species they’re intended for. It may state what components were used in its construction, so use this to your advantage.

Finally, safety should always be a priority, so use a rig that has a body stronger than your shockleader. If a shockleader of 70lb is used, then rig bodies of 80lb monofilament will be extra safe. There is no such thing as being too safe when tying rigs.

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Below is a list of sea rigs to cover common situations:

The one-up, one-down rig
The most commonly used rig for inshore fishing because it is easy to construct, and having two hooks, it doubles your chances of success.

One-Up One-Down Rig
With a hook below the sinker and a hook above, it is a great pattern for beach, pier or promenade fishing.  Use a size 1 hook on the top snood for trapping smaller species like whiting, but use a bigger 1/0 or 2/0 hook for bottom-feeding fish such as codling.

Simply by adding an extra snood you can create a two-up, one-down (three-hook) flapper to maximise catches when fish are feeding.

Species: Codling, whiting, coalfish, dogfish, bass and various flatfish.
Construction: Easy.

The Pennell pulley rig
When the sea is rough and cod are around, this is probably the favourite rig for many shore fishing locations. Use the same strength snood as the rig body to keep it safe.

Pennel Pulley Rig
This rig casts well when clipped behind the sinker and can help you get a large bait out to feeding cod. When a fish swallows the bait, it will run until the snood is pulled hard against the sinker, which will help to set the hook. Choose hooks of size 1/0 and upwards.

Species: Cod, bass and various rays.
Construction: Easy

Rotten-bottom (weak link) rig
When fishing over rough ground, an option is to use a rig where you can retrieve a fish but lose the sinker if it gets trapped.

Rotten Bottom Rig
By attaching a weak link device, you can tie a short piece of lighter mono to the sinker. Clip the sinker into the weak link device before casting. The sinker will be released on impact with the sea. If the sinker gets trapped, the lighter line can be snapped which releases the rig. Bigger cod or bass are often the targets over rough ground, so use strong hooks from 1/0 upwards.

Species: Cod, bass, rays, huss, congers and hounds.
Construction: Medium.

Single-hook clipped rig
This rig is used to gain optimum distance from the beach, especially when conditions are calm and clear. If the water is clear near the shoreline, then it is a good bet that any feeding fish will be located at extreme range.

Single Hook Clipped Rig
This rig allows you to present a single worm or sandeel at extra distance to help you locate some deeper water.

Some anglers prefer these rigs tied with shorter bodies and snoods so they can use a more powerful cast and gain extra yards. It also works well when extra distance is required to cast over breakers and crashing waves.

Species: Cod, whiting, flatfish, rays and smooth hounds.
Construction: Easy

Two or three hook loop rig
This is a match angler's favourite. Clipped versions, which enable a rig with longer snoods to be secured behind the sinker, cast a long way, and have the bottom hook fall below the lead weight once it rests on the seabed.

3-Hook Loop Rig
This rig can be used to target many different species and in many fishing conditions.  Choose hooks from size 6 upwards and try using different baits on each hook to target more species of fish.

Species: Cod, whiting, dogfish, flatfish, bass and pouting.
Construction: Difficult

Safety Advice
Don't lose fish through rig failure. Strong swivels and links keep a rig safe, while good quality beads ensure it works effectively. A small piece of silicone tubing pushed over a knot is perfect for a little extra protection, especially from abrasion on the seabed.

Keep a constant check on rigs during a session. By running snoods and rig bodies through your fingers you can feel for wear or damage. If you find any nicks or clicks, change it.  Also, take damaged and used rigs home and strip the components from them to re-build others.

This article was brought to you in association with Sea Angler Magazine.