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Posted 05th April 2023

How to Rig a Rod for Bait Fishing

How to Rig a Rod for Bait Fishing
How to Rig a Rod for Bait Fishing

By Robert Thornton

Setting up your fishing gear to suit the style of fishing you want to do is important if you want to improve your catch rate. It’s perfectly fine and normal to start with a setup to cover your bases, however as you develop as an angler (and you will), things will need to be refined, and it starts with how your fishing gear is set up.

As we all know, one outfit can’t effectively function across all forms of fishing, and this is why many anglers like to set their outfits up for specific purposes to suit their own fishing.

In this blog we’re going to look at bait fishing and lure fishing set ups, and a few different ways to set up an outfit for these different styles. For the purpose of not making it too long or complicated, we’ll be discussing light outfits for inshore, estuary and freshwater style fishing.

Which Bait are You Using?

Before you decide how you’re going to set up your bait outfit, you’ll need to think about what sort of bait fishing you’ll be doing. To make this easier to follow, we’re going to break bait fishing down into a few categories: weighted bait fishing, unweighted bait fishing, and float fishing.

Of course, all of these can be done with one outfit, however to get the most out of each technique it pays to use the tackle best suited to it. 

Bait anglers tend to prefer fibre-glass rods, as they are more sensitive and help for detecting bites, and spin reels are the other weapon of choice because they are easy to use and allow the angler to hold their finger on the line to feel for bites.

The Team Daiwa PMC (pre-mounted combo) range is ideal for anyone looking to dip their toe into a bit of bait fishing.

Weighted Bait Fishing

This style of bait fishing is simply fishing with a hook, line and sinker, where the sinker’s job is to get the bait to the bottom and either hold it static, or in the case of ball sinkers, roll around gently to make it appear more natural. Weighted rigs can include running sinker rigs, paternoster rigs, and variations of either.

For this style of fishing, anglers often opt for monofilament as their mainline, especially clear monofilament. Monofilament is good for weighted bait fishing because of its low visibility (which is useful when the rig spends long periods completely static), its abrasion resistance, inexpensiveness, and ease of use (it’s easier to untangle, and doesn’t usually require a trace). Daiwa’s J-Thread Nylon is an excellent choice of mainline for this style. 

For most light tackle weighted bait fishing, mono between 6-12lb should handle popular species like bream, flathead, whiting, gar, tommy ruff, small trevally, pike, trout, bass, yellowbelly and so on.

Anglers wishing to employ a bit of finesse can tie on a trace, which in this scenario is usually a length (around 0.5-1m) of lighter mono, attached to their mainline with a swivel. A trace will ensure that the line where the terminal tackle and bait is will be almost invisible, meaning there’s less chance is spooking fish with the heavier mainline. A lighter trace may be useful for cluey smaller species such as whiting, gar, bream, trout and more. J-Thread Finesse FC makes an ideal light trace if you’re looking to keep your rig super light and stealthy.

Unweighted Bait Fishing

Fishing a bait unweighted just means to bait fish without any sinker at all, allowing the bait to waft naturally and draw in fish from further away. Fishing this way is ideal when fishing with live baits, in areas where the bottom is too snaggy, when targeting fish you can see, or if bait fishing on the move (fishing your bait more like a lure).

There’s no hard and fast rules, but in most instances unweighted baits are better be fished a braided mainline and leader set up. Braid tends to float, and will reduce the sink rate of the unweighted bait and let it appear even more natural. Braid also aids long, accurate casting, which is ideal if casting to fish you can see with unweighted baits. Additionally, because braid has no stretch, anglers will be able to detect even the faintest bites and be able to react accordingly. Even in strong wind, small bites will transmit through braid a lot better than mono, with the latter being more affected by wind. J-Braid 4 is a great mainline choice for unweighted baits, as it is very thin, yet visible to anglers, meaning they will be able to see bites even if they can’t feel them. Once again, J-Thread Finesse FC is a great trace for unweighted bait fishing, and has great knot strength for tying to your hook.

Most unweighted rigs are very simple: just a hook tied straight to the trace. The weight of the bait and the hook is the only weight in the system, making this style of bait fishing a lot more like lure fishing.

Bait Fishing with a Float

Fishing baits under a float is an incredibly exciting way to bait fish, and provides the angler with a visual cue to strike. There are many designs of floats, including bubble floats, pencil floats, waggler floats and more.

Setting up a rod and reel for float fishing is fairly simple. The key is to use a mainline that floats, as this will make controlling the float and picking up the slack to strike a lot easier. Most braids will float, and monofilaments (excluding fluorocarbon and Nylon) also float. Bright-coloured floating line is ideal for float fishing, where being able to see your mainline allows you to make adjustments and stay in control.

Like most bait fishing, a light trace of Nylon or fluorocarbon helps to conceal the rig. Your trace (which will be sitting underneath the float) doesn’t need to be a floating material.

Floats can be rigged either fixed or sliding. Sliding floats will need a stopper, which can be made by tying a knot with bit of mono or cotton wool around the mainline. You can also buy rubber stoppers, and the beauty of these pre-made stoppers is that they are easier to slide up and down your mainline to adjust the depth of your rig under the float.


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