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How to Tie Saltwater Fishing Rigs

Updated on May 20, 2012

Fishing Rigs - Fishing Knots

I’ve spent almost half a century saltwater fishing, and since my husband is eleven years my senior, he’s been fishing even longer than I have. We’ve spent countless hours angling from fishing piers, casting in the surf, trolling, drop fishing, and drift fishing. We’ve picked up on a lot of fishing tips between the two of us, and one of the most important things we’ve learned is that you have to be adaptable with your choice of baits, fishing gear, and angling techniques. What works for one species might not work for another type of saltwater fish. Even among the same species, feeding patterns and other conditions should dictate how you employ your fishing strategies. One often overlooked aspect here is fishing knots and different saltwater fishing rigs. We mostly learned how to tie saltwater fishing rigs through trial and error, and I’m sharing that information with you here.

Your line is only as strong as your knot.
Your line is only as strong as your knot. | Source

Popular Fishing Rigs

There are lots of different types of fishing rigs, and each has its own advantages. You can purchase already-made rigs from bait shops and tackle stores, but it’s not really difficult to make your own. The following are some of the most popular fishing rigs used with saltwater fishing:

Fish finder rig – Fish finder rigs are great for fishing on or near the bottom, with live or dead shrimp, live minnows, crabs, cut bait, or artificial baits. This type of rig uses a single hook, a sliding sinker, a swivel, and a leader. This is a good rig to use for bobbing a bait long the bottom, as the weight can be “bounced.” This is our preferred rig for flounder fishing, but it’s also useful for other species.

Three-way swivel fishing rigs – A three-way rig uses a triple swivel with three eyes. The weight is attached to the very end of the line, and the hook is attached several inches up, to a different section of line. This design keeps the bait suspended just above the bottom. This rig can be used with natural and artificial baits and is often the preferred rig for trolling and drift fishing.

Bottom fishing rig – Bottom rigs are similar to three-way rigs, except that most of them have two hooks instead of one. The hooks are placed about four to twelve inches apart, with the weight at the end of the line. As the term suggests, this is a good way to target fish that feed on or near the bottom. This is also an excellent choice for novice anglers, especially when fishing for schooling fish. It’s not unusual to catch two fish at a time with this rig.

Break-away – This is sometimes used by more experienced anglers in their pursuit of large predators like sharks and tarpon. The set-up is much the same as it is with the three-way rig, except that the sinker is attached with very light line, or in some cases, with regular sewing thread. Once a fish is mouthing the bait, the line attached to the weight will break as the hook is set. That way, the fish won’t have any weight leverage for tossing the hook.

Popping cork fishing rigs – Popping corks are floats that attract fish with noise and movement. Once you learn to manipulate the cork, you can make it sound like and look like a baitfish struggling on the surface of the water. Toss the cork among a school of noisy baitfish, and any predators following the school will be drawn to your rig. This is a very effective method for attracting and catching spotted seatrout, redfish, and blues. Live shrimp and minnows work best with popping corks.

Big fish can really stress your line.
Big fish can really stress your line. | Source

How to Tie Saltwater Fishing Knots

I’m sure you’ve heard that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, right? The same principle applies to fishing line – a fishing line is only as strong as its knot. There are scores of different fishing knots, but I don’t think I’ve ever known an angler who uses every type. If you can learn the basics of a few good fishing knots, you should be prepared for just about any kind of saltwater fishing. The videos below will show you exactly how to tie several different types of fishing knots. After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a how-to video should be even more valuable! The following are some of the most commonly seen knots for fishing salt water:

Clinch knot:

Snell knot:

Palomar knot:

Uni knot:

Bimini twist knot:

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    • adjkp25 profile image


      7 years ago from Idaho

      Very useful information, it made sense to me and I do not do the fishing thing, I guess I don’t have the patience.

      I had no idea there were so many different techniques! I thought you put something on the hook, dropped it into the water and crossed your fingers for a bite.

    • TFScientist profile image

      Rhys Baker 

      7 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      Great videos and easy to follow - I wish I had need of this great information. Voted up and interesting

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Mmargie, I think most of us prolly started out with a cane pole! I know I did. Thanks!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Rox, thanks for sharing my saltwater fishing hub!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Allie. I appreciate that!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Cre8tor, thanks a bunch!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Marcy, thanks for your kind words!

    • Mmargie1966 profile image


      7 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      Absolutely fascinating. I personally have only owned a cane pole, but my husband and his brother are salt water fishermen. I'm happy to pass this on!

      Interesting read...voted up!

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Great hub! I'm definitely going to pass this one along to my husband and father in-law. Voted way up

    • alliemacb profile image


      7 years ago from Scotland

      Great hub. My dad and brother are really into fishing so this will be an interesting article to pass on to them.

      Voted up. Useful and interesting.

    • Cre8tor profile image

      Dan Reed 

      7 years ago

      I love to fish and this will be fun to put to use. Thank you for sharing. Very well done. Up and useful.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      7 years ago from Planet Earth

      This is fascinating! I know so little about this topic, and yet it has always made me curious and it interests me. I think this will be very useful to people who want some specific information for this sport (occupation, etc.).

      Voted up, useful and interesting!


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