Two Surfcasting Rigs - Slider Live-Bait Rig & The Pulley Rig (2009)

Kane Wigglesworth discusses two surfcasting rigs, seldom used by many beach anglers. The two rigs are similar in that baits can be fished at distance, yet they are fished in different ways, both of which can be very rewarding, even on slow days.

The Imp Pulley Distance Rig

The rig, as its name suggests, is designed for long casting applications. When it’s hard to cast your conventional two-hook ledger rig or running rig over the back of the sandbar in front of you and into the deep, potentially fish-holding channel beyond, it’s time to bust out the Imp Pulley Rig. Easily created and modelled on similar distance rigs using Impact shields and bait clips, Imp clips – like Impact shields – are a Breakaway Tackle product bought in by Tackle Tactic,  but a little more user-friendly and less fiddly. 

All you need to make your own Imp rigs are: small but very strong barrel swivels (I recommend Black Magic 4 to 8kg Rolling Swivels, which have 80lb of breaking strain); some genuine Genie swivel’n’link clips; several 5mm soft-rubber beads to act as stopper-knot protectors; your Imp clips; some sharp-as 4/0 circle Gamakatsu hooks; approximately 900 to 1000mm of 40/50lb fluorocarbon line for your main rig body; 600mm of the same for your traces; and last, but not least, an adequately weighted BOS break-out sinker. It is important that the trace length be shorter than the main rig length for the rig to work and act as a pulley, tensioning under the weight provided by the sinker. Your traces can be blinged up at this stage for extra visual fish stimulation with either shiny beads, sequins, lumo beads or tubing, small squid or needlefish skirts, as shown in the photo. It works, and I swear by the bling! 

As for the rig body, it has a small swivel at one end, then a knot-protecting bead free-sliding on the rig body (fluorocarbon trace line), another swivel, also free sliding, which will be tied directly to your mainline or shock leader, followed by another knot-protecting bead, then your Imp clip tied to the other end of the main rig body. From here you attach your sinker to the Imp clip, and your trace with the Genie clip to the first swivel fixed at the top end of the main rig body. The reason I prefer to use Genie swivel’n’link clips is that they are easier to push on and off the main rig, especially on cold mornings and nights when you’re all fingers and no thumbs. They are also smaller, creating less drag whilst casting, very strong, and a lot quicker to change, meaning more bait-soaking time. 

As for the fluorocarbon trace, I was admittedly a bit slow to use this as trace material at first, mainly due to its cost and the frequency with which I cut and retie rigs. However, since using it, I don’t need to retie traces as often, mostly because it holds its shape much better than normal trace monofilament, which after a day goes very springy and tangles more frequently. Its abrasion resistance also means it lasts longer, it’s stronger and stands up to large fish better. I don’t buy flourocarbon for its so-called ‘invisibility’ properties, because I fish in all water colours, and anyway, in the surf it doesn’t matter what colour trace line you use. Two brands of fluorocarbon have stood out for me: Stren Coral Mist and Black Magic fluorocarbon. 

Okay, so you’ve made up your rig and got a few spare traces ready for your hot-bite periods. The traces I prepare are assorted, from single 4/0 rigs to two-hook rigs – a 4/0 main and 2/0 keeper hook – and even the odd trace with a small bait-rig float to lift the bait off the seafloor away from crabs. This rig also allows the bait to be seen by predatory fish such as snapper, kahawai, kingfish and trevally. As far as baiting up goes, don’t overdo your bait size. Thumb-size pieces of skipjack tuna (bonito), strips of squid or occy, half a small pilchard, or a small blob of cray tail are perfect, but in all cases make sure there is plenty of the hook-point exposed   – enough to sit securely under the ‘arm’ of the Imp clip during casting, but easily releasing upon impacting with the water. Tie your baits on with bait-tying thread or elastic; even if the baits are firm, it helps keep the baits firmly on the hook, preventing them slipping over the point of the hook and covering it, greatly reducing your hook-up rate. 

As shown in the photo, once your bait is rigged correctly, the gape of the hook sits neatly under the arm of the Imp clip, and it’s a matter of getting your body positioning right for casting. I have the rig positioned a metre from the tip of my rod, suspended in mid-air before casting. If you lay the rig on the ground, the bait will instantly disconnect from the Imp clip due to the lack of tension on the pulley rig, so avoid contacting the beach before casting or you will have a premature release. And my friend, there ain’t no nasal spray that will fix that problem! Don’t try thrashing the rig out to sea; just get your body positioning and release point right, and a smooth cast will gain the extra metres needed to land your bait in front of prospective victims. This rig worked so well for me, that in two consecutive nights at Matata I managed limit bags of good snaps to 3kg, with my mate Shane grabbing the best, a nice fish of 4kg

Slider Live-Bait Rig

This is a very, very simple but effective way of setting a live bait from the surf. 

When the daytime fishing was upon Shane and I at Matata, the snapper vacated the close-in waters for the darker, sheltered depths, but we spotted a few bait fish being harassed and chased by something rather large. Some of the splashes were huge?– too big to be kahawai, I thought – so set about catching a livie on some Wasabi sabiki bait flies to put on my sliding live-bait rig. I hoped this would yield what I suspected to be a good kingfish. The first step in setting out your sliding live bait is to put a fair-sized lumo bead onto your shockleader, which acts as a knot protector. Then attach your chosen BOS break-out sinker, in my case a 5oz model. Make sure the wire grapnels are tensioned nice and tight by bending the wires inwards at their elbows, then snap them firmly into place against the lead before casting the sinker out as far as you can. 

In my case this is around 150m (which is far further than I can cast a baited rig). The next process is to have your sliding live-bait rig ready. This consists of an extremely sharp, strong hook, such as a Gamakatsu Octopus circle 4/0, the size chosen to suit your live bait (which in my case was a 20cm yelloweyed mullet). Also, a good strong trace – about one-metre of 50lb fluoro line should do the job here – and a good quality coastlock ballbearing snap-swivel (gamefishing size swivel about 15kg) to complete the rig. 

Once your live bait is caught, don’t waste any time hooking it up. Insert the hook 5mm under its skin in front of its dorsal fin facing forwards on a 45-degree angle. A kingie or kahawai will always swallow your livie headfirst. Nor should you take too long getting it back in the water, or it will look pretty lifeless and be less attractive to a predatory fish. From here attach the live-bait trace to your mainline using the snap-clip at the top of the trace, ensuring you close the swivel snap properly before sending it on its free flying-fox ride (hence the term slide-baiting rig) down the mainline into the surf. Then lift your rod nice and high, aiding the livie over the crests of the surf offshore into slightly deeper water. It will swim away attached to your mainline, all the way down to the break-out sinker. 

Then it’s a matter of setting your rod in the holder, setting your drag, and awaiting that almighty rod bender! Such was the case for me and a couple of friends at Matata. While the bottom bait fishing was slow to non-existent, the livies managed three kingies, with a fourth lost, which was a whopper. James Benge managed a nice 11kg fish, while Chad’s was a rat throwback – ­before being dealt to by a big fish, which cleaned him up, busting him off after making him run down the beach for 500m in pursuit! 

Then I managed a very nice, one metre-long 16kg kingfish. Boy, was I stoked.So when the fishing is slow on conventional rigs, or you want a bit more distance, or maybe just a change of pace, try one of these rigs. They’re a helluva lot of fun, but remember to watch out for premature releases!

2009 - Kane Wigglesworth
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