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In fresh or salt water, if you want to win a tournament, catch a trophy or just fill the box in a limited amount of time, live bait is the way to go.
The down side is that if your not ready for a lot more work and developing more skills, stay with the artificial and cut bait.
Cast nets and seines will take care of most of your shallow water needs for catching bait, but once you leave the beach and get in deep water this method won't work. You can catch grunts and pinfish on the bottom with baited hooks. To catch the best bait that swims along the surface and midway down you need a gold hook bait rig. These fish are Spanish sardines, cigar minnows, green backs and thread fin herring to name a few.
You can by gold hook bait rigs for a dollar or two and they will work but they have a short life. The gold hook bait rig is a simple rig and has been experimented with for over thirty years by thousands of fishermen so there is no need for you to waste time trying to make improvements. It is designed for handling without tangling as much as for catching, but you can improve on your technique and feel for using it.
1. Twelve pound test mono filament line. (Twelve pound will pull through eye doubled)
2. One 1 oz bank sinker. (1 oz will help keep bait from tangling line)
3. One small swivel.
4. Six #10 Eagle Claw 089 gold hooks, plain shank, r-eye. (Usually special order)
Tie six drop loops one to two inches long about one hand's width apart in the mono filament line. Leave enough line on both ends to attach the swivel and sinker. The swivel and sinker should be a hand's width above and below the top and bottom loops. Pull a loop through the eye of hook with a short piece of mono, pull the loop over the bend of the hook, twist the loop one full turn and then back over the bend of the hook, pull the hook tight. Twisting of the loop will help lock the hook on. The big problem with store bought rigs is that they don't lock the hook.
I find that the best way to package the rig is to loosely drop them in to a zip lock sandwich bag and leave the swivel hang out after closing the bag. When attaching the rig to the line, tie the swivel on to your line before opening the bag.
These hooks never need to be baited and must always look or be new. Think of them as little jigs. Drop the rig into the bait and move them up and down with short or long stroke. This is the part you need to work on to improve the rig. This rig will work in all bodies of deep water, fresh or salt, wherever you can find bait fish.
The best store bought rigs I have found are: "SABIKI RIGS BY OWNER" & "HAYABUSA SABIKI BAIT RIGS" and I use the "Hag Skin with #10 hook".
Cabela's: Style A, Size 10, #S-068AE-6. On line Ordering
You can mail order them from: Capt. Harry's Fishing Supply , Stock # C89-00272, (800)-327-4088.
To order a catalog only Capt. Harry's SABIKI rig