Small Apollo (Paternoster) Rigs - Boat and Beach Fishing Rigs

Small apollo (paternoster) rigs are universal fishing rigs suitable as boat and beach fishing rigs. Variations are endless, and here are a few of them that I like to have with me - both of them are made for handline fishing.

Apollo (Paternoster) Fishing Rig Construction

Apollo (paternoster) fishing rigs usually consist of:

- main line - type, length and thickness depends on fishing locations, bottom type and configuration, fishing technique (handline or rod and reel), anticipated fish species etc. Main line is not critical, so feel free to use thicker, stronger and somewhat cheaper fishing lines.

- swivel - after main line, comes swivel. If you are using apollo rig for fishing bait fish, close to the shore or your boat and you are using only 10-20m (30-60 feet) of line, swivel is not need - although it is good to have. Anything more than 20m (60 feet) of fishing line, do yourself a favor and put a good swivel.

- leader line is connected to swivel on one side and to fishing sinker (usually) on the other side. Leader line should be high quality coated braided line or fluorocarbon monofilament line. Braided lines are very thin for their strength, but use one with outer protective layer. Length and strength of leader line, again, vary - it can be anywhere between 30cm (1 foot) and 1.2m (4 feet) or it can be even longer. Leader line should be weaker (breaking strength) than the main line, of course.

- apollo rigs usually have 1 to 3 hooks, but sometimes even more. Their size and shape depend on targeted fish and planned baits. If you are going to use 'soft' baits like mussels or paste or anything similar, it is pointless to put more than 2 hooks, since soft bait falls off the hook when fishermen strike back. Only if you are after fish in large and tight schools, adding more hooks can lead to catching more fish - if you stumble on school of fish during feeding frenzy, sometimes all you need is small white cloth on the hook in order to hook the fish :)

- hook snoods are relatively short, 10-20cm (4-8 inches), sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Their length should be at most half their distance - this will lessen the possibility of hooks entangling each other. Snoods can be made out of the same material as leader line, or they can be little bit thinner.

- on the bottom, there is a fishing sinker. Usually :) Size and shape of fishing sinker depends on water depth, current strength, bottom configuration etc. I said 'usually', since I like to tweak my rigs according to the situation, but more on that later.

Small Apollo (Paternoster) Fishing Rigs

These rigs are made for handline fishing from the beach or boat. One of them has 2 small hooks, second one has three hooks.


 2 hooks small apollo (paternoster) fishing rig


3 hooks small apollo (paternoster) fishing rig (one hook is not visible)

Usually, when people see these two rigs, they ask me if I fish sardines with them :)

First thing first - they are both made using cheap monofilament main line. Since main line is relatively short and since I use them in shallows, most of the time there are no swivels between main and leader lines.

Leader lines are made using ordinary monofilament lines, but of higher quality. Hook snoods are made using the same fishing line and they are relatively short. As one can see on the photos, snoods are some 20-22cm apart and around 10cm in length. Such short snoods can spook the fish to release the bait before grabbing it properly, but also short snoods provide excellent signalization to the fishermen that fish is playing with the bait.

Ordinary vs. Fluorocarbon fishing lines - since I use these rigs often on a rocky terrain, good fluorocarbon line is recommended since they have (at least leading brands) high abrasion resistance. Also, they are really hard to spot under water, since their refraction index is almost the same as refraction index of water - great thing for fishing line shy fish. But, these rigs I use to catch bait fish and these fish are usually anything but line shy :) Not to mention issues with knots - fluorocarbon lines are very slippery and knots can come loose (a droplet of superglue and proper knots can mitigate this problem).

Fishing weights are small, but large enough to allow hand casting 10-20m away.

What can these rigs catch? Everything that stumbles upon the baits :) Seriously. Prime target of these rigs are fish less than 0.5kg (1 pound) in weight, sometimes even smaller - especially when fishing bait fish. Any small(er) fish that is attracted to grab the bait is potential prey.

Apollo (Paternoster) Rigs Tweaks

When you find yourself in different fishing situations, adapt to it and you will be more successful. Here are few tweaks that I usually do:

lithognathus-mormyrus2- if you are fishing on sandy bottom, try to add one more hook with leader line behind the fishing weight. This way, when you slowly pull line toward yourself, fishing weight disturbs the sand and attract fish species that like to dig in the sand. They will find your baited hook in sand cloud and grab it right away. In this situation, bait this hook with somewhat resilient bait, since soft bait falls off easily, even if bait hook is used. This is common way of fishing on sandy bottoms for Striped Bream (Lithognathus Mormyrus), red mullets, Common Two-Banded Seabream (Diplodus Vulgaris) etc.

garfish-1- if you remove fishing weight and add a fishing float, this rig can be used for surface fishing with hooks just below surface. Or you can add float to the main line and position the rig vertically in the water - this second method provide better signaling when fish grabs a bait. However, I prefer first method since I like to slowly pull the line in and keep it more or less tight. This tweak is good for fish species that like to spend time and feed near surface, like mullets or gar fish.

saddled-seabream-3- if you remove fishing weight and remove swivel, and add a third (fourth) hook instead of fishing weight, you will get a fishing rig that is relatively hard to cast, but it will slowly sink from the surface to the bottom. It is great way for finding fish, but also for fishing smaller species that are very wary, especially during the daylight, like Oblada Melanura. Of course, for these wary species, fluorocarbon lines are highly recommended, just keep in mind that fluorocarbon lines are heavier than ordinary lines and they sink faster.

Apollo (Paternoster) rigs can be used on rods and reels, too. When you go on a fishing trip, just be sure to have some spare fishing tackle, so that you can adapt your fishing technique and rigs to the current situation.