Now is the time for offshore fishing tackle preparation, as you look forward to trolling for bigeye tuna, hooking up with bluefin, chasing wahoo, and pursuing those other blue-water species that will push your gear to the limit. In a previous article we discussed how to build a spreader bar for tuna fishing, so now let’s make sure the rest of your coastal and oceanic tackle is ready, with a few standard rigs that should be in the tackle arsenal.

Before we look at individual rigs, remember that the life span of fishing rigs is different for every angler. It depends on type of leader material and how many hours the rigs spent in water, along with the effect of ultraviolet light when exposed to sun for extended periods. The majority of our charter boat's mono rigs were reconstructed every year (and many throughout the season). Keep in mind these rigs were fished on a daily basis. A weekend angler probably can get away with at least a couple years for most mono rigs. Fluorocarbon leaders are not affected by sunlight like mono and has longer lifespan. How long? I normally use fluorocarbon rigs for three years before replacing them (depending on use, condition, nicks, etc). The leaders probably would last longer, but I never want to push the issue and possibly lose a trophy fish. (Murphy's Law says leaders only break while battling trophies!) Let's just say that you need to check every rig carefully, especially for nicks. And any leaders in question (for example, the one that was stressed to the maximum from a three-hour battle with a blue marlin or big bluefin tuna) should be replaced. All swivels/snap swivels need to turn smoothly. Check every crimp, and any signs of corrosion certainly require getting out the crimper and sleeves. Every hook needs to be as sharp as possible. That tangled hair on skirts can be fixed by washing the lure with soap, then brushing and combing; rinse well before drying. Now that your current rigs are ready to go, check the inventory and construct the following “standard” rigs, if they’re missing.

Flounder Fishing Rig

rig for flounder fishing
More flounder have probably been caught on a double bottom rig than any other. However, over the years I've found this single hook rig catches larger fish. Use a 3/0 to 5/0 hook (depending on bait size) rigged on three feet of 30-pound leader material.

Shark Fishing Rig

rig for shark fishing
This is the standard rig which can be used for most sharks. Typically constructed using Malin #12 wire (180-pound test) and Mustad 9/0, 2x strong hooks. The wire leader is four feet in length. This wire leader is crimped to an eight-foot piece of 250-pound mono. The rig can also be constructed using just one hook, which can be a J or a circle hook.

Green Machine Bird Rig

trolling rig with green machine and bird
It is amusing how offshore trolling spreads change over time, but some things always remain the same. This rig was pulled religiously by most boats in the charter fleet back in the 90's. It caught yellowfin and bluefin tuna then – and still catches them today. Rig on 200-pound material and position it in the shotgun position.

Drone Spoons and Cedar Plugs

fishing spoons
If given the choice to pull only one artificial lure, it would be a toss-up between these drone spoons and cedar plugs. Over the years they have accounted for catching just about every pelagic in the deep, for our charters. The Drones are size 5 ½ and used with planners. The cedar plugs are six inches long, in my favorite colors: blue/white and natural. Rig these lures on 130-pound leaders and use 9/0 or 10/0 hooks on the cedar plugs, which can also be rigged as a daisy chain.

Ballyhoo Trolling Rigs

rig for trolling ballyhoo offshore fishing
These rigs are the bread and butter of any offshore spread. The pin rig with nose spring is typically used when ballyhoo are skirted with Sea Witches, Ilanders, or other dressing. This rig makes for quick ballyhoo replacement. The wire rig is normally used when bally are rigged naked, but can be used with skirts as well.

All of these rigs will hopefully get wet in the immediate future! Until then, for additional rigging tips and rig construction, check out my books “Offshore Pursuit” and “Saltwater Tales.”

- By John Unkart