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What Is The Best Rig For Surf Fishing?

what is the best rig for surf fishing?
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Surf fishing can be a fantastic way not only to enjoy the ocean and your favorite hobbies but also to provide some unique fishing opportunities if you know what you are doing. What Is The Best Rig For Surf Fishing?

The best rig for surf fishing is the fish finder rig. It is a very popular set-up among anglers because, its a beginner-friendly and so easy to set up. This rig is set-up with a sinker, swivel, leader, and a hook.

As the name implies, the fish finder rig straight finds and catches fish. It is easily one of the most effective setups, especially when surf fishing. But how do you set up a fish finder rig? And what kind of equipment do you need?

We are going to talk about all of it, and make sure you know how to properly set up a fish finder rig and start catching more fish than you ever have before!

What is a Fish Finder Rig?

A fish finder rig is a basic fishing rig that you tie onto the end of your fishing line and cast out into the water.

It is everything from the hook and line to the weight and is where you will attach your bait in order to catch fish.

Not only is it super effective, but it is a very simple rig. This rig set up is well suited for using large pieces of bait and allowing an angler to give a fish time to ingest the bait before pulling it in.

Fish Finder rigs can be set up in many different sizes and can accommodate all types of fish, from things like fluke all the way to brown sharks.

Setting up this rig is very easy, and once you do it a couple of times, you will never forget how to set it up.

It might even be the only type of rig that you use afterward, because of how effective and deadly it is in the water.

So, what type of materials do you need to set up a fish finder rig?


It would not be fishing without some sort of hook to catch a fish. The size of the hookOpens in a new tab. you use will largely depend on the species of fish that you are wanting to catch, as larger hooks are obviously better for bigger fish, and vice versa.

Circle hooks are also the choice of many surf fishing anglers, as they are much easier to hook into a fish. They are also much easier to remove from a fish once caught.

While surf fishing, if you are after average-sized fish, you should be using around a 5/0 circle hook, while bigger, trophy-sized fish (over 40 inches) will require at least an 8/0 circle hook or bigger.

Again, go off of the size of the fish that you are trying to catch and try to match the hook size with the size of the fish.


Next on our list of equipment on a fish finder rig is the leader. A leader or leader lineOpens in a new tab., as it is sometimes referred to, serves two basic purposes, and is the small portion of the fishing line found on the end of your main fishing line.

The first is to attach all of your fish finder rigs together and provide a space to present your bait to the fish.

The second is to provide tough and durable protection against breaking your fishing line.

Leaders are a very important part of any fishing setup and should be used in the majority of all fishing situations.

On a fish finder rig, the leader will have one end that is tied to the hook, while the other end is attached to a swivel.

Leaders can be different lengths depending on the setup and the species you are after, as well as different types of line and poundage.

Barrel Swivel

Speaking of a swivel, a basic barrel swivel is next on our list. The purpose of a swivel on this rig is to prevent the line from twisting, whether it is from the water currents pushing your rig around and especially when you have a fish on the hook.

Fish tend to thrash around quite a bit when caught, and this can twist and tangle a line very easily. A swivel helps avoid any of these problems.

A barrel swivel gets its name due to its barrel-like appearance and is a popular choice among many anglers due to its strength and versatility.

You will definitely want to include a swivel on your fish finder rig, as you will want to avoid the line twisting and potentially breaking or getting tangled.


The bead on a fish finder rig may seem fancy or serve some important purpose, but the truth is that you put a small bead on your line in order to protect the knot on the swivel so that the sliding sinker does not break or damage it.

Pretty simple right?

Either way, you don’t want to forget it, or else you run the risk of your sinker breaking your line and losing a fish.


Sinkers are very basic fishing tackle and do what their name implies: they sink.

A sinker on the end of your line will give your set up plenty of weight and enable you to cast further and keep your bait down in the water, instead of allowing it to float.

Sinkers can come in all shapes and sizes, but many of them are made of dense metal such as lead in order to give them plenty of weight.

Slider Sinker

A sliding sinker is an essential part to a good fish finder rig, and they are very simple.

We have already discussed what a sinker is and what it does, and a sliding sinker is no different.

A slider sinker, however, will have the ability to slide around on your fishing line.

This will allow the line to move freely underwater when the sinker rests on the bottom, and a fish can take the bait without realizing it is connected to anything.

By the time they do, it will be too late, and they will be at the end of your hook!

How Do You Set Up a Fish Finder Rig?

Once you have all the right pieces for a fish finder rig, you are ready to set one up. The process is very easy, and once you do it a few times, you will never forget it.

All you have to do is take your fishing line and run it through a slider sinker, then through a bead.

You then attach the line to a barrel swivel, where you will also attach a leader with a hook.

Once you get all of these pieces put together, you are done! The fish finder rig is super easy and only takes a minute or two to set up properly.

How Long Should a Leader Be on a Fish Finder Rig?

The length of a leader will largely depend on a few different factors, such as the target fish species, water conditions, and the type of bait that you are using.

With a fish finder rig, leaders can be anywhere from 6 inches, all the way out to 40 or 50 inches, and everywhere in between.

If you are fishing for smaller species of fish, a smaller leader of 6 to 18 inches will probably be sufficient.

Keeping your leader smaller will also keep your bait and weight closer together, giving you the ability to cast much further than you otherwise would.

For slightly larger or average-sized fish, a leader of anywhere from 15 to 30 inches is usually ideal.

Just remember to adapt your leader to the size of fish you are targeting and the water conditions.

What are the Advantages of Using a Fish Finder Rig?

A fish finder rig comes with plenty of different advantages, which is probably why it is one of the most popular fishing rigs in the world.

The first major advantage it has is its ability to catch fish.

A fish finder rig gives an angler the ability to suspend their bait freely and allows a fish to take it without knowing it is attached to anything.

By the time they realize it is, they are usually hooked and being reeled in.

Another great advantage of the fish finder rig is its ability to cover a lot of ground.

Because it is very easy to rig and to fish with, you can quickly cover as much area as you can in order to find where the fish are and where they are biting.

A simple rig such as the fish finder rig is also much quicker to tie and prepare than others, getting your bait in the water much quicker than others!

Lastly, a fish finder rig will allow roaming and wandering fish to find your bait in the water.

This is especially true if you play around with the length of the leader.

You can make sure your bait is suspended above any bottom structure or vegetation, or super short in order to target bottom-feeding fish on sandy bottoms.

The possibilities are endless, and they all involve presenting your bait in the best possible way to hungry fish.

What are the Disadvantages of Using a Fish Finder Rig?

Honestly, the fish finder rig does not have very many disadvantages. It is a very popular and effective fishing rigOpens in a new tab., especially for surf fishing, and produces good results.

If you had to be picky and find a disadvantage, it could be that it is slightly weaker than some other fishing rigs.

This is because it involves three different knots between the hook and the main fishing line, and if each knot is not properly tied, there is a good chance that they could break.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than losing a fish to an improper knot, and a fish finder rig has more knots involved in it than some other rigs.

I am sure there are some other disadvantages to a fish finder rig that I am not aware of, and even this one is not the greatest of arguments.

As long as you tie your knots properly, you should not have any problems.

When Should You Use a Fish Finder Rig?

The fish finder rig can be used in pretty much all situations and areas, but there are a few different places where it really starts to shine.

One of these is in places that have a little cover and little to no structure.

The fish finder rig visually presents bait better than most other rigs, so anywhere more open where the fish can see it, the better.

Another great time to use a fish finder rig is in poor weather conditions.

This rig can usually be cast pretty far and is great for battling the waves and currents found in poor weather patterns.

If you think that the area or the weather conditions look like a fish finder rig would work well, the chances are that it will!

How Do You Use a Fish Finder Rig?

Just as the fish finder rig is easy to assemble, it is also easy to use. Once you get it all set up and cast out into the water, you simply wait for some activity.

Once you feel a bite, you will bring down the tip of your rod to allow a little bit of slacking out for the fish.

This will give the fish the ability to commit and take the bait fully.

After waiting a few short moments, you will then stop giving the fish any slack and set the hook once you feel the fish’s full weight at the end of your line.

Pretty simple right?

Instead of just casting and waiting, a solid fish finder rig can also be used a little more actively by slowly reeling it in.

You can also give a few jerks with the rod, and these actions will effectively bounce the weight along the bottom, sending up clouds of mud and dirt.

This will attract the attention of any fish in the area, and the movements will also be making the bait move around much more lifelike.

If the fishing is slow, this is a great way to try and force a bite.

Can I Use a Pompano Rig for Surf Fishing Instead of the Best Rig?

Yes, you can use a pompano rig for surf fishingOpens in a new tab. instead of the best rig. The pompano rig for surf fishing is a versatile rig that works well in a variety of conditions and is particularly effective for catching pompano, whiting, and other surf species.

Tips on Using a Fish Finder Rig

There are a few little things that you will want to remember when you are planning on using a fish finder rig while surf fishingOpens in a new tab., and these small tips may just help you catch even more fish!

First, circle hooks work extremely well with fish finder rigs.

Circle hooks are intended to hook a fish in the side of the mouth more easily and be easier to remove once you land the fish.

Because of the design and tactics used with a fish finder rig, this open design of circle hooks makes them the perfect choice for a fish finder rig.

Next, you will want to put special care into your leader.

We have already discussed how important the length of the leader is, but another important aspect is the material.

You will want to have a leader that is not only strong but one that has the lowest visibility in the water.

Fish that can see a leader coming off of bait will be much less prone to biting.

Final Thoughts

Surf fishing can be a lot of fun and a great way to enjoy the saltwater. It can also produce some great fish, especially when using something like a fish finder rig.

You can head to your nearest beach, cast out your line, and wait for some fish to find your bait. If that doesn’t sound like a good time, I do not know what does!

Zaldy G.

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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