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KNOTS & RIGS – Offshore Bait Rigs with MARK WILLIAMS

ONE of the biggest changes in recreational fishing that I’ve witnessed during my lifetime so far has been the boom in offshore fishing. I remember as a young boy thinking that you had to be really rich to own a boat capable of deep-sea fishing.

Back then owning a decent sized boat was definitely something of a luxury. These days in coastal suburbs around our country you’ll see offshore capable boats parked in yards and sheds of everyone from battlers through to millionaires. The coastal boat ramps are as busy as shopping centres on weekends with the keenest anglers getting up at sparrow’s fart to secure a parking spot before they’re all gone. There really is special sense of freedom about going offshore in your own boat and getting a feed of quality table fish is a tremendous bonus.

This month we’ll look at some basic offshore rigs used by Fisho regular Dave Hodge. To view an instructional video on these excellent rigs conducted by Hodgie go to

Running Ball Sinker Rig

A classic inshore rig for pursuing a wide range of species. Hodgie employs this rig with two snelled hooks to fish baits such as pilchards, squid and slab baits for species such as snapper, mulloway, cobia and yellowtail kingfish. A separate video demonstration of snelling hooks to a leader can also be seen at the “Fisho TV” section of It’s a time proven method of rigging multiple hooks on a leader. I recommend that the lightest possible ball sinker be employed with this rig to ensure the most natural presentation. A quality barrel swivel will ensure that line twist is minimised. When fishing pilchard baits with this rig, Hodgie recommends removing the pilchard head from the bait and adding it to the berley trail. A simple yet effective rig that can be varied through the use of different leader and hook combinations to pursue most species that will take a flesh bait.
The Running Ball Sinker Rig detailed in the article and in the accompanying illustration is ideal when presenting squid baits to kingfish.

Paternoster Rig 1

This is a time proven deep-water rig that has been used by offshore anglers for generations. This rig employs a three-way swivel. These provide a number of advantages, although you need to buy quality terminals if you plan on chasing serious fish like kings or samsons.

Three-way swivels will help reduce the risk of tangles and lost fishing time through line twist. Also, the inclusion of the swivel allows you to vary your leader/ mainline combinations to suit the specific target species and circumstances. For example, if you’re targeting larger species such as mulloway, yellowtail kingfish or cobia you may decide to use a heavier, hard monofilament leader for improved abrasion resistance.

Most anglers these days use braid when deep bottom bouncing as it gives far greater sensitivity than mono. I recommend you tie a Bimini twist in the braid mainline before tying off to the three-way swivel with a Uni Knot to achieve maximum knot strength.

To attach your snapper lead to the line tie a loop knot such as Lefty’s Loop Knot or a Perfection Loop in the line coming off the three-way swivel as demonstrated in the illustration above. You can then simply loop your snapper lead onto the line. The added bonus of this system is that it allows you the flexibility to switch to a different weight snapper lead if conditions change while fishing. It’s recommended that you attach your snapper lead to the three-way swivel with a lighter line than your mainline. That way if you get your sinker snagged up in the reef, then you’ll only have to tie another sinker and line to your three-way swivel when you bust off, which is heaps preferable to a total re-rig.


Paternoster Rig 2

This version of the Paternoster rig employs a dropper loop or matchstick knot to replace the three-way swivel. It can be tied quite easily in a main line and results in a loop which stands out at right angles to the main line. A hook or leader can then be attached to the loop created in the main line. As per the previous paternoster rig, a loop knot can be tied in the end of the main line to allow for the attachment of a snapper lead to the rig. I would only recommend this rig for use with reels spooled up with monofilament, for gelspun loaded outfits I’d recommend the previous paternoster rig which utilised a three-way swivel. This is a quick, simple method to rig up for deep water bottom bouncing that has been used by both recreational and commercial fishers for many years.

The rigs described in this column are time proven fish catchers. They provide an angler with options for fishing the inshore shallow grounds as well as deeper water locations. For any anglers who are venturing forth offshore for the first time I’d recommend you check out Hodgie’s informative video demonstration of these simple, effective rigs on the Fisho website at

Dropping baits down deep is a great way to get a feed of fresh fillets when fishing offshore.

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