Fish Finder Rig is the Most Popular Rig in Surf Fishing
The Fish Finder Rig is primarily used in challenging conditions to attract fish in areas with little cover and minimal structure. See our ultimate guide on surf fishing to learn how to identify beach structure and cover. That is what makes the Fish Finder Rig so great for Surf Fishing. You have to battle big waves and high winds over relatively uniform shoreline.
How does the Fish Finder Rig Work?
Fights the Current: A heavy Pyramid Sinker in the front of the rig holds your presentation near the bottom, resisting against the current.
Sinker Kicks Sand: The sinker will gradually move, which is good because it kicks up poofs of sand that imitates a wounded bait-fish in front of your presentation.
Bait Bounces Bottom: At the other end of your leader, your bait will be bouncing up and down off of the bottom like a wounded bait-fish as it reacts against the current versus the sinker.
Lets the Fish Connect: The Pyramid Sinker is threaded to your main line by a Sinker Slide so when a fish does take your bait it connects directly to your surf rod via your line.
What Tackle to use In a Fish Finder Rig?
The above diagram of components is going to cover the majority of what an average angler would target in the surf.
For Average Size Surf Fish (20-40″)
Species: Striped Bass, Red Drum, Flounder, Sea Trout, Bluefish, Snook
Fish Finder Rig: 5/0 Circle Hook, 18″ Steel Leader #40 Lb., 8 MM Dia. Red Bead, Size 5 Sinker Slide, 3 Oz. Pyramid Sinker
Smaller Shark: Same as above, but increase leader length to 36″.
For Trophy Size Surf Fish (40″+)
Species: Striped Bass, Red Drum, Snook, Tarpon, Cobia
Fish Finder Rig: 8/0 Circle Hook, 36″ Steel Leader #80 Lb., 8MM Dia. Red Bead, Size 6 Sinker Slide, 6 Oz. Pyramid Sinker.
How to Bait a Fish Finder Rig?
You should primarily use Cut Bait in 1″ x 2″ and 1″ x 3″ chunks.
Where to get Cut Bait
The Fish Finder Rig is best used with Cut Bait, available for purchase at most coastal Walmarts and tackle shops. Some tackle shops will have fresh bunker or mullet when available. Using a cast-net is another more advanced method for procuring bait for cut rigs. Live Bait is less practical for this rig. The bottom bouncing will kill the liveliness of the bait within a few minutes. If only Live Bait is available, I recommended cutting it anyways into the above mentioned sizes. Cutting the bait will release oils and maximize scents that are more important to the success of the rig than the presentation of a full sized bait-fish.
Peg a Float onto your Fish Finder Rig
If you are having issues losing your bait to countless pickings by crustaceans, or other non-targeted fish species, add a Foam Peg Float a few inches away from your hook. This addition will raise your bait above the sea floor where crabs lurk, and will ward off pests like sea-cats with its larger profile. However, pegging a float on your leader is not ideal for picky species like Snook. I peg on a foam float when the fishing is hot and I want to avoid having a bare hook when there is an opportunity for Sharks, Bluefish, Stripers and Bull Drum. These aggressive trophies will rarely have an issue taking your cut bait next to a foam float.
The Fish Finder Rig and all the other beach fishing tackle you need can be found in our Surf Fishing Kit