How to Rig Live Bait for Saltwater Fishing

How to Rig Live Bait for Saltwater FishingStriped bass, grouper and king mackerel (pictured) are among the saltwater species attracted to live bait as they prowl for an easy meal. Bait fish, including menhaden and shad, can be combined with terminal tackle and fishing line to create rigs in a simple process.


Difficulty: Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Monofilament fishing line
  • Slip sinker (2 ounce)
  • Bead
  • Barrel swivel
  • Fluorocarbon leader (30-pound test)
  • Circle octopus hook
Step 1
Slide a 2 ounce slip sinker--that can freely slide--onto the end of a monofilament fishing line. Use a 2 ounce sinker as the starting point; the weight can be changed based on fishing conditions and personal preference. Position a glass, plastic or metal bead on the main line below the slip sinker.
Step 2
Attach a barrel swivel to the free end of the main line with a uni knot. Tie the uni by feeding several inches of line through one eye of the swivel. Pull the free end up beside the main line, forming a double line. Turn the free end down toward the swivel creating a loop alongside the double line. Wrap the free end of the line around the double line and through the loop three to four times, moisten and pull tight.
Step 3
Cut a 3-foot length of fluorocarbon line from a filler spool with sharp scissors to serve as a leader. Attach the leader to the opposite eye of the barrel swivel with another uni knot. Moisten the knot before pulling tight and trim excess line with scissors.
Step 4
Tie a circle octopus hook to the free end of the leader with a Palomar knot. Form the Palomar by feeding several inches of the free end of the main line through the eye of the circle octopus hook. Turn the free end and feed it back through the eye. This will create a loop on one side of the hook and a double line on the other. Form an overhand knot with the loop and double line, but do not pull the knot down tight at this point. Pull the loop, from where it exits the overhand knot, around the bend of the hook. Moisten the knot and pull down tightly next to the hook eye. Trim the excess line extending from the knot with scissors.
Step 5
Hold a menhaden or similar bait fish in one hand and the circle octopus hook in the other. The front of the live fish should be easily accessible for rigging.
Step 6
Insert the point of the circle octopus hook through the bottom jaw of the live bait and then up and out above the nose. Arrange the live bait fish so that it rests in the bend of the hook.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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