Fish Finder Rig - With or Without Floats

Fish Finder Rig is a type of fishing rig commonly used in surf/beach fishing using rods and reels. Also, it can be used as strong and heavy handline rig for fishing from the boat or from the shore.

General construction of fish finder rig is:

- the hook is tied or connected to leader line - leader is usually strong and durable monofilament or even wire. Length of leader vary, depending on location, sea conditions, intended catch etc., but it is usually anything between 20cm (8 inches) and 3m (10 feet), or it can be even longer. In order to avoid bait being eaten by crabs, some fishermen put a float on the leader line/wire, to get the bait off the bottom. Unfortunately, some crab species can swim and get to the bait few feet above the bottom. However, such bait can be seen from larger distance and can attract game fish to grab a bait - especially, if there are crabs and small fish feeding on the bait.

- using swivel, leader line is connected to main/shocker line with sliding fishing weight. Be sure to use swivels that are strong and sturdy enough - it is useless to have swivels that can hold 25 pounds on a 100 pounds line.

- fishing weight is connected directly (fishing line goes directly through the sinker) or using fishing weight slider. If you are using braided line for the main line, use sliders that are designed for use with braided lines.

In most cases, I assemble fish finder rig on the fishing spot, but I have few of them assembled, ready to be used right away and they are all intended for - handlining!

Why handlining? As said before, I like to assemble my rigs on the spot - it takes only few minutes (even less) and such setup allows me to change hooks, weights, lines etc. during fishing, thus adapting to the current situation in no time. But, I also like to throw into the water few lines that I don't want to think about too much - put a bait on the hook(s), throw the bait often as far as possible (away from other fishing lines), tie it to something (bollard, cleat, tree etc) and let it be. If something grabs it, line is elastic enough not to be broken by few first fish strikes and that gives more than enough time to react - and pulling out a trophy fish on a handline is something unforgettable - expect lots of sweat and even some blood on your hands - gloves anyone? :)

Fish finder rig number 1:

basic fish finder rig

This rig is pretty basic fishing rig:

basic fish finder rig- it has single hook - Gamakatsu octopus offset forged needle point nickel-silver-black finish hook (5/0 size) - single hook, but one of my favorite for situations where I really don't know what to expect to grab my bait.

- hook is connected with 30 cm (1 foot) metal wire to the main 1mm mono-line. Swivel is part of the metal wire and this combination is supposed to endure 50kg (110 pounds).

From time to time, I hear some criticism about this setup as being unreliable, but I have never lost a fish/hook due to connection between hook and the wire - if you have concerns, than feel free to solder snap connector after connecting the fishing hook. This is what I don't do - you do it on your own will :)

basic fish finder rig- I am not using fishing weight slider, but egg-shaped weight with line going through the weight. Also, there isn't any kind of protection between fishing weight and the knot that makes a loop for attaching the swivel - hole in the weight is just big enough for the line to go through and I have left little bit of extra line on the knot, so there is hardly any chance for that weight to damage the line or knot.

If you are afraid that sinker can damage a knot or a line, use soft plastic bead between the sinker and the knot. Again, if you are using braided main line, use fishing weight slider that is intended for braided lines.

Note: if you are fishing on hard and rocky bottom, you can make setup using wire leader, 3m of shocker mono-line with egg-shaped sinker and main line being your favorite braided line. This will prevent rocks or any other sharp objects getting close to the braided line - although modern braided lines usually have some protective coating, it is better to play it safe. Such rigs are often used for deep sea fishing, when fishermen don't know exact bottom configuration and type of game fish.

Fish finder rig number 2:

large fish finder rig

This rig is similar to the first one - it uses same hook(s), but wire leader is somewhat thicker and longer (60cm - 3 feet), line is 1.5mm mono-line and weight is little bit heavier. Everything else is just as same as with first fish finder rig.

Again, if you are afraid that snap connector is weak point, solder it.

Fish Finder Rig Variations

These rigs are great, but don't be afraid to experiment and to try few new things, at least from time to time.

Two hooks, one after another:

fish finder rig combo

As one can see in the picture, two hooks are used, spaced by the length of the added leader wire - this leader wire can be anything between 10cm (4 inches) and 30cm (12 inches), or even longer.

fish-finder-rig-combo2This rig can be assembled in seconds and it is great when you have an extra garfish, horse mackerel (or any other mackerel), smaller bonito and similar smaller fish suitable for bait.

Note: additional wire leader can be of the same thickness as main wire leader or somewhat thinner. There is really no point in using thicker additional wire.

Of course, same rig can be made using mono-line ('ordinary' or fluorocarbon), but using ready-made wire lines with loops and connectors make it so easy to adjust and/or to test new setups.

Two hooks, next to each other:

fish finder rig comboIn this setup, I use two individual hooks, next to each other. This setup holds 'softer' bait better than one hook and I prefer it over normal double hook.

Note that these are not 'bait' hooks type (they don't have barbs on the shank) - such hooks hold the bait better than hooks without barbs.

'Softer' baits would be: whole squids, fish chunks, whole big prawns (usually dead ones - one prawn per hook) or my favorite - octopus, squid or cuttlefish arms. Such bait is soft to touch, but tough on the hook, can't be eaten by smaller fish and when grabbed by larger fish, hooks' needles easily penetrate soft bait and set them into the prey's jaws.


Fish finder rigs are one of the most common bottom rigs that can be used in many situations. Size of the hook(s), thickness of lines, weight of fishing sinkers etc., should be according to any given situation.

Everybody is talking about large game fish that are landed using fish finder and other rigs on rods and reels, but until you land a game fish using a handline, you will not know what fishing is actually all about :)

Remember - many species are endangered, so after taking few photos, release them unharmed ...