The Simple Guide to Beach Fishing Rigs

Dawn or dusk, beach fishing has a certain allure. Listening to the waves while you wait for a bite could see you in hooked in no time. With 36,000 kilometres of Australian coastline, there’s no shortage of beaches to try your luck. Just make sure you have done your homework, so you know what fish you are going after and in what conditions. It makes all the difference when it comes to rigging up your line.

Best Rigs for Beach Fishing

The best rig depends on where you are fishing and needs to be set up to suit the conditions. Our coastline isn’t all beaches with crashing waves. Australia has plenty of bays, reef and islands that protect the beach from waves, making it as calm as a lake. The rig you use for calm beach fishing can be much lighter than the rig you need for surf fishing.

The Running Sinker

If you are a beginner a running sinker or ball sinker rig is a simple but very effective bait fishing rig. Ideal for catching forage fish from the shore and fishing off the rocks. A Ball sinker isn’t too heavy and is a popular choice for beach fishing. It allows your bait to move with the current. Best way to tie this rig is with the sinker running on a trace. You have your hook at one end, the swivel at the other and your sinker working between the two. If you’re getting bites but not catching anything try adding another sinker to the rig to slow down the movement and cast in the same spot. Another variation is to attach your hook at one end, put a swivel in-between and the sinker sitting above. Check out this helpful video on how to rig up a Running Sinker:

Surf Fishing Rigs

Predator fish are usually a little further out and actively seeking a feed rather than waiting for it to be washed up to them like the foragers.

The Paternoster Rig

This is ideal for deep water fishing and is used for catching bream, snapper, tailor, flathead, trevally, whiting and salmon in the surf. A paternoster rig with a three-way swivel and a loop lets you quickly change sinkers. A star sinker of about 90 grams is a good starting point, going up to 180 grams if there is too much wave action for the lighter one. If the star sinker can’t hold the bottom, upgrade to a heavier grapnel sinker. Use up to 90cm of line to attach your sinker. Your line can hold two or even three hooks on dropper line lengths of 15-50 cm coming off the main line. The droppers are tied off with a special loop called the dropper loop. The sinkers, hooks and swivels can use the uni-knot. When you get a bite, don’t make the mistake of striking too quick. You want the fish to have a couple of goes, and hopefully, you will get more hookups.

Tailor Rig

Try a ganged hook for your tailor rig. Depending on how far you want to cast your line, a skinner is optional. This three hook rig is suitable for tailor and salmon.

The Fixed Sinker Rig

Very popular for surf fishing. Always use good components in fixed sinker rig, so you don’t get twists when the waves are crashing, and the current is strong. The rig uses three crane swivels attached to a split ring to make a three-way swivel. The bottom swivel holds the snapper sinker clip while the other two swivels are connected to a section of leader line.

Beach and Surf Fishing Knots

Whichever knot you use for beach and surf fishing, make sure it’s well tied. You might get away with a poorly-tied knot in the river but not the ocean. The most popular beach and surf fishing knots are the dropper loop, the uni knot and double uni knot. If you want to learn how to tie these and plenty of other beach fishing knots, check out some of our books and guides including the Waterproof Book of Knots: Sport Fishing and Knots Card.

Know Where to Fish

The most popular fish caught off beaches in Australia are flathead, bream, whiting, tailor, salmon, mulloway, mackerel, trevally and dart. Every state and area have different species. Before you hit the beach make sure you know the best beach fishing rigs and knots. Beach fishing relies on you locating a gutter – a deeper section of water compared to the surrounding part of the beach. If you can stand at a high vantage point, the darker patches of water are usually deeper than the surrounding water. Fish will forage in this area picking up crabs and worms that have been dislodged by the waves. You want to cast near the edge of the gutter rather than right in the middle. A calm, flat day at a beach isn’t ideal, you want some wave action for the fish to stick around there. Apart from the gutters, try fishing in close at the shore break as this is where you will often find the foraging fish looking for a feed. If you need more inspiration for where to go fishing check out our other blog posts on "Perth Fishing Spots- 10 of the Best Places to Fish in the Metro Area" & "9 of the Best Fishing Spots in Brisbane Revealed"

Timing your Fishing Trip

Dawn and dusk are the best times of the day to go, but you should also consider the tidal movement. For forage fish, try the last two hours of the run in tide and the first hour of the run-out tide. You don’t need to be as concerned about the tide with surf fishing for predator fish. Dawn and dusk are the best times. We also stock a wide range of books on beginner fishing including Amazing Fishing Stories and The Ultimate Fishing AdventuresThere’s also plenty of location-based fishing books and guides to help you land a catch where you are. Looking for a particular map, book or guide? No problem, give us a call on (08) 9335 8665 or contact us online and we’ll track it down for you.
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