Proper rigging is perhaps the single most important thing you can control that will determine whether or not you catch fish.  When it comes down to it, the difference between an ultra-expensive rod and reel and a basic (but appropriate) rod and reel combo may impact your aesthetic satisfaction in fishing, but it likely will not greatly influence your success and enjoyment.  Using an appropriate and properly assembled rig will!

What's a "Rig"

The rig is what is at the end of your main fishing line.  True, it could be as simple as tying on a hook or a lure.  But usually there is a bit more to it than that, and it will be a bit different depending on the kind of fishing we are doing.  For this discussion, we'll assume that we are fishing with a spinning rod and reel (as opposed to other gear, such as a fly rod, or a bait-casting rod), and that we are still-fishing with bait (as opposed to "trolling" or pulling a lure behind a boat, or casting a lure out, and reeling it in to make it "swim" and simulate a tasty minnow or other food for hungry fish). 

Good news! You do not have to become an "expert" rigger all at once.  In fact, even if you have never fished before, and want to catch a fish or take a child or a friend out fishing with some success, you just need a few basics to have great fun and a lot of success!  Here's my "bare-bones survival guide" of what I think you need to get started with the rigging side:

  • Know these terms/pieces:
    • egg sinker
    • leader
    • treble hook
    • bait-holder hook 
    • snap-swivel
  • Know how to tie a double improved clinch knot (sounds complicated, but it isn't!)

If you are a total beginner, a stop at the fishing tackle store or the dock store of the lake can get you everything you need, lots of free advice and instruction, and pre-tied "rigs" and leaders to make you successful, without breaking the bank or burning too much of your precious "fishing time".

Next Steps for Rigging

  • Learn and practice tying the Double Improved Clinch Knot.  In a pinch, you can just use an overhand (square) not, but this special fishing knot is stronger and more reliable, and you can master it in just a few minutes. 
  • Take a look at the Carolina Rig for Floating Dough Bait page.  You can buy pre-tied "cheese" rigs -- the treble hook with the leader (fishing string) already attached, with a loop at the end of the line that you can simply snap on to a "snap-swivel".   Print out the diagram showing what goes where, and keep it in a pocket as a guide, if you need it as a reminder.
  • Practice opening and closing a snap-swivel.  Chances are, you've already mastered a similar skill, such as opening a jewelry clasp, the hook on your dog's leash, or your watch band.
  • The helpful person at the tackle store can advise you as to the brands, colors, and flavors of baits that are currently working best for the water you plan to fish, and sell you a small supply of extra pre-tied rigs/leaders, egg sinkers, and snap swivels.  You're all set in the rigging department!

Next Steps for Your Fishing Adventure

Okay, with rigging handled, you'll just need some basic understanding and practice on a few more topics:

  • Baiting a hook
  • Casting and retrieving
  • Recognizing the Strike
  • Hooking the Fish
  • Playing the Fish
  • Landing the Fish
  • Stringing (Storing) the Fish Until You Leave the Water
  • Cleaning the Fish 

This may seem like a lot, but most of it is pretty easy -- even intuitive, and most of these "steps" are the fun part of fishing!

Last modified: Thursday, 13 August 2020, 2:39 PM