A good thing about fishing live bait at the pier is you never know what you’re gonna get. A bad thing about fishing for live bait at the pier is you never know what you’re gonna get.
Almost any small fish will work as live bait so fish such a white seabass, halibut, calico bass, barracuda, shark, and even rays. Out of several live bait rigs I use, the one’s with the highest hook up ratios have a hook up front and a trap hook at the end. The front hook is typically some kind single hook designed to hook live bait with, while the trap hook is generally a treble hook. You’ll want to hook the bait fish through the nose with the front hook and hook one of the shanks of the treble through the meat of the tail just before the caudal fin.
It may not be obvious but there are a 2 major improvements you can make to the stinger rig depending on your leader material.
For Monofilament and Fluorocarbon Leader Only
1. The Length of the Fish Varies
Ideally, the rig will perfectly match the length of the bait fish so you can both hook it effectively and avoid having extra line hanging off the fish. The problem is the distance between the two points you insert the hooks into the bait fish varies based on the length of the bait fish. Stinger rigs certainly are not the quickest rig to tie so by the time you build a stinger rig tailored for the bait you caught its likely been out of the water too long and will no longer be ‘live’ bait. The solution to always having a properly fitted stinger hook is to build an adjustable stinger hook rig and this will allows you to get the bait in the water as quickly as possible and properly fit the bait.
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For Steel Leader
2. When You Need to Use a Steel Leader
As previously said, live bait works great for many toothy fishes such as barracuda and fish with rough skin such as sharks, and even some rays. These features necessitate the use steel leaders so you don’t get cut off. The adjustable stinger rig is not a difficult rig to tie when using mono or fluorocarbon as leader line when using the knots that I use but with steel leader you of course can’t tie knots for application on the stinger rig. The solution is you need to get fancy with your crimping. There are 2 ways to go about this.
2.1: The Floating Hook Stinger Rig
The leader on the floating hook stinger goes through the eye of the initial hook and then connect to the final hook via a crimp. This allows the initial hook to slide up and down the steel leader to always match the length of the fish perfectly.
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2.2: The Sliding Swivel Stinger Rig
The Sliding Swivel Stinger Rig is similar to the Floating Hook Stinger Rig in its purpose. However, the Sliding Swivel Stinger Rig is different from the Floating Hook Stinger Rig by instead having separate steel leaders for each of the two hooks. The initial single hook is crimped onto the leader attached to the mainline, while the trap hook is crimped onto a swivel which slides up and down the initial hooks leader. So, you could say, instead of the initial hook sliding up and down the trap hook’s leader like with the Floating Hook Stinger Rig, it is now the trap hook sliding on the initial hook’s leader. You can also modify this rig by ditching the swivel on the trap hook’s leader all together and instead of crimping the swivel just create a small loop with a well placed crimp onto the initial leader. The reason you may want to make this modification is because it will give you a better presentation of the bait. However, I feel it kinks up your leader in many places from the combination of the bait swimming and the waves hitting it, and the swivel prevents this by letting the secondary leader spin on the initial one if it needs to. Also, it is not mandatory but it would be wise to add a large bead on the intial leader just before the crimp used to attach the initial hook. This will stop the swivel/loop from getting hung up on the initial hook’s crimp or even possibly slipping off the entire initial leader.
A quick note on how to attach the weight to this rig.
One easy way which can be used for bottom fishing and top water fishing (if you use a balloon) is to set it up as a Carolina rig, so the weight would be some kind of barrel weight. I would not recommend fishing the bottom like this though unless it is in a very snag free area.
Another method to fish a these stinger rigs is to crimp the initial leader onto a 3-way swivel with you main line attached to the to of the 3 loops on the swivel and a pyramid sinker attached to the bottom of the 3 loops by a length of line at least as long as the length of your stinger rig so it doesn’t touch the fish touch the bottom.