Surf fishing rigs. There are just so many of them. You can find so many different pre-made rigs in the tackle shops and even in some of the bigger grocery stores and department stores. But there are also a lot of different custom rigs that people make. So, which one is best is hard to say.
This is why here I will be taking a more in-depth look at one surf fishing rig that, depending on where you are located, maybe a little more obscure. It is known as the fireball rig.
What is a fireball surf fishing rig? The fireball rig for surf fishing is a bottom rig. It has a standard swivel on one end and a snap swivel attached to a pyramid sinker on the other end. Between the two swivels, two dropper loops are created, on which brightly colored Styrofoam floating balls are attached right before the hooks.
If you are interested in learning how to use and make the fireball rig yourself, read on.
Below I will go into further aspect about the peculiarities and everything else you need to know about this awesome surf fishing rig.
What Is the Fireball Rig for Surf Fishing?
The fireball rig is a type of a bottom rig. And it is more popular on the East Coast of the U.S.
One of the most popular surf fishing rigs is the high-low rig. And truth be told, a fireball rig is not that much different. The concept is kept very much the same, with some minor alterations.
So let us take a look at what exactly makes the fireball rig unique.
In general, the fireball rig should measure to no more than three to four feet in length.
The rig is attached to the main fishing line, usually with a standard swivel.
For a sinker attachment, a standard snap swivel is used, but a duo lock attachment can be used, as well.
The reason you want a snap swivel is so that the sinker is free to move and not twist the fishing line in any way. This allows for a more natural presentation of the bait.
Now the interesting part is what you will find in between the sinker and the mainline.
Usually, you will find two dropper loops where the hooks are attached. The hooks typically are no more than a foot apart from each other.
For attaching the hooks, the best practice is to use a dropper loop. The three-way swivels are just too visible and do not make for an excellent natural presentation of the bait.
So far, it sounds exactly like a high-low rig. But on a fireball rig, you will find small float attachments (one or several styrofoam balls) right before the hook.
This is the gist of it.
But now, let us take a look at each aspect of the fireball rig in more detail.
What Styrofoam Floats Do You Use on a Fireball Rig?
These floats eliminate some problems which are inherent to the high-low rig. For example, the floats will keep the hooks off the ocean bottom, so there is a lot lower chance of crabs eating the bait.
The typical floats that are used are the standard foam floats, which can be found in almost every tackle shop.
You can choose from oval and round ones, and the best colors to use are bright yellow, red, and orange.
You can substitute the foam floats with cork.
A cork float can be made by using the cork from wine bottles, shaping them into the desired form, and spraying them with paint.
This is a good and very inexpensive way to set up your rig. Besides, it is a good excuse to buy some wine.
What Hooks Do You Need on a Fireball Surf Fishing Rig?
The hooks that you will need will depend on the fish you will be after.
As a general rule, you should have with yourself, at all times, differently sized hooks so that you can change and adapt to the fish that is currently more active.
It is advisable to have hooks ranging from 1/0 to 6/0 and from 1 to 6. That way, you will have the whole spectrum covered.
The most widely used hooks for surf fishing are 2/0, 3/0, and 4/0 circle hooks. These are great for striped bass and bluefish, although, for bluefish, you can go up to even 6/0 or even 9/0 hooks.
The most commonly used hooks are circle hooks, although some fishermen prefer J hooks as well. However, both hooks will work well for different fish species.
- Circle hooks are great for fish that are more lively; that moves and strikes quickly, like redfish, cobia, mullet, and others.
- J hooks are good for fish that likes to take things slowly like the striped bass. Unfortunately, with J hooks, there is a higher chance to gut hook the fish or snag in sensitive areas like the gills. This can be lethal for the fish. So, if you are doing catch and release, J hooks should definitely be avoided.
Keep in mind that the use of certain hooks may not be allowed in your area.
So make sure to double-check with your local regulations. For example, in Florida, the use of offset hooks is forbidden.
What Leader Line Do You Need for a Fireball Surf Fishing Rig?
Generally speaking, you want either a heavy fluorocarbon or monofilament line for your fireball rig.
When targeting bluefish, you may want to tie the hooks on a heavier fluoro, mono, or even a nylon coated wire.
The test ranges can vary depending on the fish you will be after, but typically the line should be rated between 30 to 60 lbs.
Although your mainline on the spool is probably going to be a braided line, you do not want a braided line for your fireball rig.
It just does not perform well, especially with fish that have sharper teeth and know how to use them.
Braided line also has very little to no stretch to it. And these rigs often need to provide a little shock absorption, which braided line cannot do.
What Sinker to Use with a Fireball Rig for Surf Fishing?
The best sinker to use for a fireball rig when surf fishing is around 2 to 4 oz pyramid sinker.
If the currents are low and there is not a lot of water movement, you can go down to potentially 1.5 or even 3/4 oz sinkers. However, in very rough water conditions, many of us may need to go up to 7 or even 10 oz.
Overall the best kind and size of sinkers you will need for surf fishing will vary, so it is advisable to have a good set of different sinkers.
The pyramid sinkers are potentially the most commonly used type of sinker for surf fishing.
Pyramid sinkers cast easily, even when they are on the heavy size. And when they fall on the ocean bed, they dig into the sand really well.
This creates a good solid connection with the sand reducing the chances of the sinker rolling over with the waves and tides.
The pyramid sinkers are great for smaller bait and relatively normal water and surf conditions.
There are pyramid sinkers with different shapes and designs like a three-sided and cone-shaped sinker.
Alternatively, for rougher water conditions where the tides and waves are stronger, a sputnik sinker can be used.
It is easy to distinguish it as wires are sticking out from the side of the sinker. The wires help the weight to stay in place and not move even in the presence of strong currents.
A sputnik sinker is the preferred type of weight if you will be casting near or around places with lots of structure because it is easier to retrieve and does not snag easily.
The next advantage of a sputnik sinker is that it provides a solid anchor at much lower sinker weight compared to the other types of sinkers, so your rig will be a lot lighter.
Single Drop vs. Double Drop Fireball Rig
Some anglers prefer single drop or double drops for different reasons.
For example, a double drop does not necessarily mimic how the real-life baitfish will be in the water. They will be swimming in schools close to the bottom or top and not stay necessarily in a diagonal fashion.
On the other hand, if you are using big baits, a double drop may add significant weight to your line, thus reducing the casting distance drastically.
Because of that, if you are going to be casting bigger baits, you should go with a single hook.
Some people can argue that using a double drop is just a waste of good bait while not necessarily producing more bites.
With a single drop after a bite and a miss, you know that the bait might be gone, and you need to retrieve the line back to check up on the hook. While with a double drop set up, you will be wondering if you still have bait or not on one of the hooks.
When the crabs become more active, they often can steal away the bait on a single drop rig because the bait is close or on the bottom already.
Although admittedly with a fireball rig, the chances of that happening are significantly lower.
But there is a good reason why many anglers prefer going with two hooks. Two hooks are better than one in the sense that they offer double the chance for presenting a bait to the fish.
If the fish steals the bait on one of the hooks, you can always wait for a few minutes to see if it will come back to eat the second bait.
The next advantage of casting with two hooks is that you can add different types of baits on them. One can go with some fresh cut bait and the other some squid strips, clams, or sand fleas.
As you can see, there are different pros and cons. These are not necessarily set in stone rules but are certainly various aspects of surf fishing that you may want to take into account.
How to Use a Fireball Rig for Surf Fishing?
The fireball rig is sometimes called a bluefish rig because it is often used for catching bluefish.
But you can catch different fish including snapper, striped bass, trout, black drum, mullet, and more.
The fireball rig can be used with a variety of different baits like squid, shrimp, mackerel, herring, clams, and sand fleas, to name a few. All of these are great, and they are some of the best baits for surf fishing in general.
When surf fishing, you can use the fireball rig just like a standard high-low rig or almost any other rig.
Place the bait on the hook(s), and cast the fireball rig out where you think the fish is located.
The good thing with this rig is that even if you have a shorter rod, you may be able to get away with it as the hooks and the bait will not lay flat on the bottom. Because of the Styrofoam floats, they will float in the water.
Some anglers like to fish the bottom while others don’t, so whether this is going to be to your liking or not depends on your personal preferences, fish species you are targeting, and the water conditions.
If you are using bigger baits, make sure to double hook them so that they do not fall off easily.
Make sure that the tip and the barb of the hook stick out from the bait. This will allow for better hook up ratios.
In comparison, if the barb and the tip are buried into the bait, you will have a lot harder time hooking the fish as the bait will act as soft padding.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Fireball Fishing Rig
With all that being said, we can now make a more clearer and educated guess on what are the different advantages and disadvantages of using a fireball rig for surf fishing.
The advantages are:
- You can present twice as much bait if you go for a double dropper rig;
- If one of the baits is stolen there is a good chance the fish will go back for the second bait;
- You can catch a wide variety of different fish species;
- The fireball rig is easy to cast at long distances making it suitable for surf fishing because the line and the baits will follow the sinker;
- There is less chance of crabs stealing the bait;
- There is also a chance for creating twists and tangles with the hooks and the leader line; and
- The bait will float in the water, making it easier to spot by the fish.
The disadvantages are:
- You are dealing with a fixed weight fishing rig. This may scare off some fish when they feel the tension from the line as they bite;
- You will not be able to feed the fish line the same way you can with a fish finder rig;
- When using two baits, it can be harder to hold the bottom when there is a lot of water movement; and
- The bright Styrofoam floating balls may scare some of the more easily spooked fish.
Is Fireballs Fishing, Balls O’Fire, and Fireball Rig the Same Thing?
Many anglers may wonder what fireball fishing is. It sounds very similar to a fireball surf fishing rig, doesn’t it?
However, these terms are not referring to the same thing, and they are very different.
You already know what a fireball surf fishing rig is. It is a fishing rig setup.
But fireball fishing is referring to the use of a specific type of bait that resembles fish eggs. This type of bait is also known as roe bait.
There are fireballs with different scent and different colors. There are even glow in the dark fireballs.
What anglers do is tie several eggs into a piece of mesh, which is then tied into a sack. This little bag of eggs is placed on the hooks; also, even a single egg can be placed on the hook as well.
And let us not forget that there is another bait known as Balls O’Fire. These again are a type of roe bait, but they are a little different than the fireballs.
Final Words on Surf Fishing with a Fireball Rig
The fireball rig is a great surf fishing rig that can produce outstanding results.
It may not be the easiest rig to make by yourself, hence why some anglers may prefer to buy it pre-made, but nonetheless, it is worth knowing and understanding how to use it.
If you already know how to make a high-low rig, then you are in a good spot. The two rigs are very similar, and all you need to do is some minor alterations, and you are good to go.
As with any other rig for the best results, make sure to have a good idea of what fish species you will be targeting.
The fish that will be available to you will depend on where you are surf fishing, the time of the year, and the weather and water conditions.
Knowing all that, you can adapt your fireball rig appropriately, making your fishing trips a lot more productive.