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.
Recommended Cut Bait: Bunker (East Coast), Mullet (Gulf Coast)
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
July 22, 2022 Bodega Bay, CA fishing update for you. La Nina current kept seatemps below 50F. through May, and fishing was challenging onshore. Now the stripers, red tail and barred perch are biting. The occasional halibut or leopard shark might bite a hook in the surf. from a boat salmon are swarming and rock cod, lingcod limits are the norm. .huge hatch of herring and chovies in the harbor
. monkeyface eels for the taking. looks like a great summer for fishing. If you happen by, hit me up at 7756665461 for the scoop. Thanks for the nice package. I slide a 1 to 3 oz. to a 3 ‘ hydrocarbon leader with a 2/0 jay hook packed with soft mole or ghost crabs. Here they’re known as sand crabs. i’m from south Jersey where they are called sand bugs. Nomenclature stuff. The 5/0 sticks the stripers okay while small enough to hook a surf perch. jig and teaser #2 or 4 hook 2 feet up the line gits em. Hair Razors with a bait teasing is a winner right now, but I grew up with the Carolina setup and bloodworms back home. got to hustle now after this fillbuster. Out
This is the first time I’ve tried the FFR, will fish bites work with this set up?
Absolutely, go for it. Good luck
Tailored tackle team – I am brand new to surf fishing, and after much conversation with surf fisherman, and internet investigation, your kit hits all the check boxes. One question I still have, is what would be the recommended line to put on my reel? I have seen a lot of recommendations for 30lb braided. Would you agree?
Thanks Jarrad! We highly recommend 30 lb braid in hi-visibility yellow. It is the right diameter and strength needed to target the majority of saltwater species. It is the only test our whole team uses outside of chasing big 7+ ft sharks with more specialized gear (100 lb test). We actually developed our own so if you buy the line from us with your kit you will get free shipping. https://tailoredtackle.com/fishing-line/surf-fishing-line-saltwater-braided-30-lb-500-yds-hi-vis-yellow/
Any concerns running the slide directly on braided line or would you recommend a fluorocarbon leader?
Hmm our slides are pretty good on braid and don’t cause too much abrasion. Haven’t had to change them out until after 4-5 trips. Ideally a mono leader would be best because the stretch aborbs shock for bigger saltwater species and there is virtually no way for a slide to abraise the line. In reality though, any more knots or hardware you start working into your rigs adds more risk than the chaffing of weights or slides. In my experience, human error in knots and additional rigging by adding consecutive leaders or more terminal tackle to your rig usually loses more fish than optimizing around chaffing, tautness etc. However, if you are an absolute pro (fly fisherman) at adding fluoro or mono leaders to your surf rigging set up, then the answer is yes that would be optimal.
Hi, I read your article and used it to make the rig for my first time fishing the surf in India. The doubt I have is does the sinker not tangle up with the leader and bait? I am forced to use sputnik sinkers due to heavy currents and is there anyway to avoid this in sinkers like the sputnik where the prongs could tangle with the leader?
I have always had that issue with sputniks, I am not a fan and that’s why they aren’t a part of our tackle line up. I would recommend using a drop shot rigging. Basically you tie your hook while leaving 1-3 ft of line at the tail end. With this extra line, you tie on the sputnik. This way you are just casting the sputnik out and the hook is up on your line so it can’t get tangled as easily.
I’m going to give your gear a shot. Experienced pond fisher, new to shore. I’ll let you know.
Awesome Michael I really appreciate it. Feel free to reach out with any questions.
I just read your article on the fish finder rig and really like the setup. I am getting a bait feeder reel and was wondering if you could provide a few rod recommendations. These are some seriously heavy rigs so I was thinking a jigging specific rod but i do not want to lose the ability to cast. Maybe you could point me in the right direction. Thanks,
Thanks for asking Zachary! So hands down my favorite saltwater reels are Penn, we have a lot of admiration for the brand and they are one of our inspirations for making the quality fishing tackle we do. Saltwater rods and reels are in the works for Tailored Tackle, building on the same quality & features as Penn but with a more simple and easy to use design + resources for beginners. With all that said, I am happy to recommend some gear from other brands to you. If you budget is sizable, the Penn Spinfisher VI Live Liner is the best on the market IMO. If funds are a bite tighter I would recommend the Penn Fierce II Spinning Live Liner. If you are fishing from the Surf, I would actually go with the Fierce over the Spinfisher. Regardless of how well you maintain your gear, beach fishing puts a lot of wear on your reels and you will probably need a new one every 1-2 years if you are hitting it hard or forget to upkeep once and a while. As for rods, there are soooo many niche brands on the market that do a great job but they are tough to find online. I would focus on getting the right specs for your area in a price range $50-150. If you are on the east coast and casting over big surf is important, you need a 10-12 Ft, Slow to Moderate Action, Medium Heavy to Heavy power surfcasting rod. If you are in the gulf coast, 9-10 Ft, Moderate to Fast Action, Medium to Medium Heavy power rod. Hope this helps!