The pompano rig is one of the most widely-used bait presentation methods for surf fishing. It’s relatively 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 of the pompano rig, including what it is, how to tie it, and when and where you should use it.
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Pompano Rig Overview
The pompano rig gets its name because 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 many 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.
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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 ounces)
- 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 powerful, 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 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 space your dropper loops out 10” apart instead of 12” apart.
Once your dropper loops are set, 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, 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 rig’s top, 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. 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.
Best Bait for Pompano Rig
You can choose a variety of baits when fishing with a pompano rig. These include sand fleas, shrimp, crabs, cut bait, and other natural baits. It’s essential 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 handling messy natural baits, you can use Fish Bites in 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. I recommend you cast your rig 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 holes or troughs near the shore, as these will be hotspots for pompano and other fish species. If you can locate any depth changes near the beach, 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 straightforward to use and is a good bait presentation method for beginner anglers to start with when it comes to surf fishing.