Snapper Rigs

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Snapper Rigs?

When I’m out in the boat I like to have two rods out. With one I’m targeting the larger fish and the other is a lighter set up that I use to target a broader range of fish size. The first rig is the one I use to target larger snapper. It is a two hook set up with a running sinker.

This rig is designed for targeting big snapper whether fishing from the boat or shore. It is a running rig, which means that it allows the shyer biting big snapper to pick up the bait and swim off with it without felling the pressure of the sinker as it takes the bait. With this rig you fish with a very light drag (or your reel in freespool) that enables line to be released as the fish swims off. Large snapper will often pick up a bait and swim 10 or 20m before finally eating it. This is when you would tighten up on the drag and put the pressure on to set the hook. A 2 hook pennel rig is used for the trace which enables the use of big baits such as whole pilchards. It also gives the added security that two hooks has as large snapper are easily capable of chewing through thick line and crushing hooks with the powerful jaws. When fishing from the beach an advantage of using the ball sinker is for what is called ‘walking the dog’. If there is a current running parallel to the beach you can use the running rig to cover a lot of ground as the rig will roll down the beach with the current. All you need to do is walk down the beach with your rod as the rig rolls a long the bottom. Doing this will mean you cover a lot more area and is good for prospecting. Your rig will drop into any holes or guts where fish tend to hold, which can then be targeted with a rig incorporating a breakout sinker it will hold in the newly discovered hole,

I usually bait this up with a squid tentacle, whole pilchard, strip of fresh kahawai or my favourite a fresh mackerel fillet. It pays to lower this rig to the bottom fairly slowly as it is quite easy for the for the hooks to loop back and tangle with the sinker and mainline as the sinker goes down faster than the baited hooks. The golden rule with sinkers is to use the lightest possible to get your baits down to where the fish are.

Material Needed:

  • 2 x recurve or circle hooks (pick size based on bait you will be using)
  • 1 x bead
  • 1 x geni clip
  • 1 x ball sinker (2 or more smaller ball sinkers can be used to create a more aerodynamic rig)


Main line / shock leader

Thread the ball sinker then the bead onto your shock leader or mainline and then tie on a swivel.
Snapper Rig

Trace / Snood

As i found the Snell Knot rather challenging to tie i have put together a quick video that shows it been tied. As you can see I’m not an expert knot tier but hopefully it helps people who might be struggling with it like i was.

Snapper Rig

How to tie a Snell Knot

The other rig i will have out is a common 2 hook dropper rig setup or ledger rig:

The loop at the top attaches to the mainline. Two hooks (i use smaller hooks and smaller baits than the previous rig) with lumo beads shown, i usually bait them with a thin strip of squid that will wave around in the current and look like a small bait fish. In this case i have used a kahawai lure in place of a sinker. This is great when the current isn’t so strong as it will get your baits down as well as give you another hook to catch fish on. Holding the rig just off the bottom means the lure will bounce on the sand with the swell puffing up sand and hopefully enticing a curious fish to investigate. I usually ‘sweeten’ the lures hook with a small piece of squid. I have found the kahawai lure on the bottom is good for picking up gurnard.

This rig is good as you pick up the smaller pan size snapper and we find it generally out fishes the other rig when it comes to quantities of fish caught.

View how to tie the rig here: Dropper Fishing Rig or Ledger Fishing Rig

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