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Fishing is a fantastic sport and it is extremely rewarding. Fishing can benefit your body, mind, and soul in more ways than one but be careful, it is addictive! Once you get the fishing bug, your life will be absorbed into this world (trust me). You will try to find every spare opportunity to get out in the boat or on the bank casting for your next biggest catch. If you are the beginner that is just getting started with the wonderful sport, you are going to need to know the basics.
The basics of fishing come down to how to cast, how to set up your rod, and how to tie up your hook and weight to start bait fishing. Most people start with simple bait fishing on lakes, rivers, and streams catching starter species such as bluegill, bass, and perch. These first days are arguably the most enjoyable days of your upcoming fishing career, so why not start with the right foot forward.
In this article, we will be going over exactly how to get your rod ready with a simple hook and weight setup. We will guide you on how to tie a few different rigs and set up your line with a weight and rig that is fit for all kinds of fishing in both freshwater and inshore saltwater. If you are the beginner or the angler that wants to expand to bait fishing for bottom feeders, you will love this read. Enjoy!
The Simplest Hook and Weight Setup
The simplest hook and weight set up for bottom bait fishing in salt and freshwater is exactly what it sounds like – a hook and a weight. This is an extremely basic setup for the beginner that is yet to learn the fundamentals of bait fishing and what it entails. This setup is not going to bag you anything huge, but it will get you started and help you learn how to fish the bottom effectively without having to fill your head with complicated rigs and knots.
All you need to know for this simple hook and weight setup (ledger setup) is one knot, and that knot is the Palomar. This knot is simple to learn, effective, and super strong. In fact, myself and many other anglers learn this knot to start with and never stop using it because it is one of the best knots for securing components to line. Check out this handy video tutorial on how to tie the Palomar knot.
Once you have been over how to tie the Palomar knot, it is time to start learning how to set up this simple ledger setup, so you can get out on your local water and start catching fish today!
Feed your mainline through the eyelets on your rod and get a long enough length of line through to work with.
Slide a rubber bead up the line and secure it with a small lead shot 20 to 30-inches up the line. This will stop your lead sliding up the line too much.
Slide on a lead of your choice up to the bead and shot. Make sure it is nothing too heavy and make sure you use a pear lead, flat lead, or square lead with a swivel. Inline leads can work with this method however they are not recommended.
Slide another rubber bead up the line all the way to where your lead is and secure it with another lead shot. The lead should be secured in one place by the bead and shot on each side, stopping it sliding up and down the line. The bead reduces shock on the shot and the shot holds everything in place.
The next step is to tie your hook on. Remember the Palomar knot? Use that knot to secure you’re your hook to your mainline, tighten it down by wetting the line and creating tension, and then cut off the tag end so everything is neat and tidy.
Hook up your chosen bait and get out fishing. To prevent tangles when fishing with a bottom bait set up like this, always stop your line as your rig is about to hit the water. Doing this will kick the rig out ahead of the mainline so everything is straight and not wrapped up when it hits the water.
The Bolt Rig for Carp and Catfish
The bolt rig setup is a bottom bait setup that automatically hooks the fish as they bite. It works by adding instant pressure to the hook from the lead weight when the fish picks up the bait. This setup is perfect for situations where you will be sitting and waiting for a bite for long periods of time. You can use this rig in conjunction with a bite alarm so you can almost forget about your rods and become alerted when you get a pickup.
When the fish picks up the bait, the hook point turns and pricks the mouth. When the fish feels this, it turns and makes a run. At this point, the hook sets into the mouth because the weight of the lead pulls it deep into the flesh. The fish will most likely shake its head which then releases the lead clip from the rig and allows the line to move freely while the weight stays pinned to the bottom. At this point, your bite alarm (if you are using one) will go off and your reel will start spooling off line as the fish runs.
You then pick up the rod, tighten up your clutch, and put pressure on the fish. This is my main method of fishing when I am targeting specimen carp, catfish, and lake sturgeon because it allows me to leave the rods out all day and all night if necessary.
So, how do you set up this incredible bolt rig? Below we have a handy 7-step guide with some resources that you can use to learn everything there is to know about targeting bottom feeders using this technique. Enjoy!
For the bolt rig to work you will need to make a rig. The best place to start for beginners is the hair rig. This rig allows you to attach a bait below the hook, and it automatically turns and pricks the mouth when the fish picks up the bait. Check out this handy instructional infographic for a step by step guide on how to make this rig. You can adjust this rig to your needs and the fish you are targeting. If you are targeting larger fish such as catfish, then a larger hook and a longer hair can be made to support a bigger bait.
Next, you will need a piece of silicone tubing to prevent tangles during casting and hold the line on the bottom of the lake. Cut a piece of silicone tubing that is twice the length of your hair rig, this ensures that the rig has no way of tangling on your mainline during casting. Slide it onto your line with plenty of line spare for the next steps.
You will now need a lead clip with a silicone sleeve. They allow you to quickly and efficiently clip different wights on to your line without having to re-tie everything. They will also release your lead if a fish gets snagged, this feature has saved me from losing a fish many times and it is essential when you are targeting large specimen fish. The silicone sleeve will be cone-shaped, slide the narrow end on first and attach it to your silicone tubing. Next, slide up your lead clip and lightly insert the narrow end into your silicone sleeve (large end of the cone).
How you can attach the swivel end of your hair rig to your mainline using a knot of your choosing. If you are just starting out, I recommend learning the half blood knot for this stage. It is a simple and strong knot for this kind of application. Check out this tutorial to learn this knot. Cut the excess line off but leave ¾ inch of line spare, this comes in handy in the next step.
Slide your lead clip down over the swivel on your rig. Wetting the swivel first makes it easier for everything to release as it should when you get a bite. Remember that tag end of line you left on the blood knot? Tuck this into the lead clip. Doing this gives you a sneaky way to see whether you have had a “false bite” or a “true bite” when your alarms go off, but you don’t connect with a fish.
If you reel in your rig and the tag end is still inside the lead clip, then it was a false bite otherwise known as a “liner”. If the tag end is out of the lead clip, you know that a fish took the bait and engaged the lead system but didn’t get hooked. If the latter is the case, you may want to double-check that your hook is sharp and working correctly.
Clip your lead onto the lead clip, wet the clip, and slide the sleeve partially over it. This will make sure the lead drops off if the fish gets it snagged up. Now double-check that everything is in order before you move on to the next step.
Attach your chosen bait to the hair rig. Now you are ready to get out fishing. When you cast out, remember to stop your line before it hits the water so everything straightens out as it should. You can now sink your line to the bottom of the lake, tighten up, and place your rod on your rest or bite alarms. Don’t forget to set your clutch loose so a fish can take line if you get a bite!
Tight lines, and happy fishing!
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