Pompano Rig 101: How to Fish a Pompano Rig

Updated on April 6, 2022 by

The pompano rig is one of the most widely-used bait presentation methods when it comes to surf fishing. It’s fairly simple, easy to use and is an efficient means to catch pompano, as well as a variety of other species like red drum, mullet and other saltwater game fish

In this article, we’ll cover all the basics related to the pompano rig, including what it is, how to tie it, and when and where you should use it. 

Pompano Rig Overview 

The pompano rig gets its name due to the fact that it’s the best rig for catching pompano. There are a few variations of this rig and you can incorporate certain elements and tactics depending on the type of fish you’re trying to catch or other factors. It’s one of my favorite rigs for surf fishing and I’ve caught a number of pompano, red drum, and other species using it. 

The pompano rig is known by a few other names such as spot rig, float rig, or chicken rig. It consists of a few tackle items that any surf angler worth his salt should have on hand. You can, of course, purchase a pre-tied pompano rig from a local bait and tackle shop or get one online, but I’ve found that it’s better to create my own using different size hooks, sinkers and floats depending on surf conditions, weather, and what type of fish I’m expecting to catch. 

pompano rig

How to Tie a Pompano Rig

To create the pompano rig you’ll need the following items:

  • Monofilament fishing line (12-20 lbs is best)
  • Pyramid sinker (usually 2 or 3 ounce)
  • Circle hooks 
  • Barrel swivels (#2 size)
  • Snap swivels (#2 size)
  • Beads (orange or pink)
  • Floats (optional) 

Start by taking a section of about 5’ of mono line and tying your snap swivel to one end, then connect your pyramid sinker. It’s best to use a heavier sinker if the current is especially strong and I wouldn’t use anything less than 1 ounce weight. 

Roughly 12” above the sinker, tie a dropper loop that’s about 4” long. Go up another 12” and tie another 4” dropper loop. Some anglers like to use a 3-hook presentation, but I typically go with two hooks as there is less of a chance that my rig might get tangled up in the current. If you decide that you want to use a 3-hook pompano rig, you can simply space your dropper loops out 10” apart instead of 12” apart. 

Once you have your dropper loops set, now you’re ready to place your floats, beads and hooks on the loops. On each dropper loop, start with your float (if you want to use one) and push it onto the line, followed by your bead, then the hook. I always use a simple dropper loop knot, which is also known as a quick-switch knot as this allows me to easily take the hook off and swap out my beads or floats if I want to. 

Lastly, tie your barrel swivel onto the top of the rig and it’s ready to go. I usually tie at least one or two spare rigs just in case my line breaks or any other issues occur as this lets me quickly and easily put an entirely new pompano rig on without having to go through the trouble of tying the whole rig on-the-spot while I’m fishing. 

Pompano Rig Schematic Illustrated
Pompano Rig Schematic Illustrated

Best Bait for Pompano Rig 

There are a variety of baits you can choose when fishing with a pompano rig. These usually include sand fleas, shrimp, crabs, cut bait and other natural baits. It’s important to select your bait based on the type of fish you’re trying to catch as pompano usually prefer sand fleas over cut bait or other choices. 

I always use an orange bead when fishing with sand fleas as the orange color looks more like the sand flea’s eggs. Red and pink beads are good to use if you’re trying to mimic certain types of fish eggs. If you don’t want to deal with the usual frustration of having to handle messy natural baits, you can use Fish Bites in either orange or pink color, which will often catch any number of species willing to bite. 

When and Where to Use the Pompano Rig

If you’re fishing for pompano, you’ll want to fish closer to the shoreline than usual. It’s recommended that you cast your rig in between the first and second set of breaking waves near the beach. Some anglers will set out multiple rods with one fishing close to shore and another at a farther distance out. 

Look for any holes or troughs near the shore as these will be hotspots for pompano and other fish species. If you are able to locate any depth changes near the shore, these are usually productive for fishing with a pompano rig. 


It’s common to catch virtually any type of saltwater fish species using a pompano rig and you can even get creative and try different types of bait on each hook. The pompano rig is incredibly easy to use and is a good bait presentation method for beginner anglers to start with when it comes to surf fishing. 

Photo of author

Donny Karr

Donny Karr is a Tournament Angler and writer whose work has been featured in magazines for nearly a decade. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the south-eastern United States, as well as trout fishing in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. He enjoys keeping up with the latest news and gear items in the fishing industry and is always looking forward to his next outdoor adventure. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, The Outdoor Trip, Man Can Outdoors, Global Fishing Reports, and Bassmaster.

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