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Florida Surf Fishing Basics - Bottom Rigs

There are many different types of bottom rigs favored for surf fishing, but most of them are slight variations of the typical "double dropper" (two hook) bottom rig. The rig consists of a clip (or snap swivel) for attaching a sinker of your choice, a swivel for attaching the bottom rig to the main line (or to the shock leader), and two hooks. Here is an illustration of the basic configuration of the double dropper rig:

Sinker Clip: This can be a duolock snap (as pictured) or a snap swivel. Personally I don't feel that a swivel is required on both ends of a bottom rig, so I prefer using a simple snap for the sinker attachment. Click here to read our article on surf fishing sinkers.

Swivel: The main line (or the shock leader) from the reel is attached to the swivel at the top of the bottom rig. A Uni knot or a Grouper knot are good choices for attaching the main line.

Main Rig Body: The line used for the main rig body should be forty or fifty pound test monofilament line, as it absorbs the weight of the sinker during a cast. Using line that is lighter may result in the line breaking during a cast.

Hook Traces: Hook traces can be made from a lighter line. Some fishermen prefer to use fluorocarbon line as it is marketed as "invisible" in the water so the fish can't see it. Fluorocarbon hook leaders are favorites when surf fishing for Pompano.

Hooks: For general surf fishing for table fish, I find a hook in the 1/0 to 3/0 size is a good choice. Most of the table fish caught on Florida beaches are Whiting, Pompano, Sea Trout, and Black Drum. My favorite size hook for general surf fishing is a 3/0 circle hook. Click here to read our article on hooks for surf fishing.

Beads or Floats: Some fishermen prefer to use a colored bead or a small foam float slid over the trace line in front of each hook (not pictured in the illustration). For years beads found on commercially made bottom rigs were all the same color; red. Fish attractor beads now come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Pompano fishermen seem to prefer orange beads, because they are the same color as the eggs on a sand flea, which is a food that Pompano seem to like. Some Pompano fisherman prefer small foam floats, which are available in various colors, and are about the size and shape of a Tylenol capsule.



Whiting fishermen seem to prefer a yellow or green bead for Whiting rigs. The jury seems to still be out on what color the fish actually prefer. A good rule of thumb is that whatever color worked well yesterday probably won't work well today, so when you make up your bottom rigs, try a variety of different colored beads. Actually, the jury is also still out on whether you'll catch more fish with any colored bead.

Double dropper bottom rigs can be purchased in most tackle stores, in one form or another, or you can make your own. Traces can be attached to the main rig body using various methods, such as an overhand stopper knot in the main rig body, and a Uni knot to hold the trace to the body. Hooks can be attached with Uni knots or Snell knots. Many stores carry Pompano rigs, which are two hook dropper rigs that have a yellow float on each hook.

An easy way to make your own double dropper rigs is by using a knot called a dropper loop knot. Hooks and beads can be easily changed on this type of rig. Click here to watch our video on making dropper loop rigs.

When you are surf fishing with a double dropper rig, try a different bait on each hook, for example shrimp on the top hook and clam or a sand flea on the bottom hook. This can help you figure out what the fish prefer to eat on the day you're fishing (which probably won't be what they prefer the next day).

Here is a series of pictures to show you how to make a quick and easy Pompano rig.


And here's an example of why we use two hooks for surf fishing:


 
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