Blackfish Bait Rigs of the CTF Togmeisters

by Mark "fuzzy2u" Sanner


There must be nearly as many variations of blackfish bait rigs as there are blackfish anlgers. Do-it-yourself anglers seem to express their personalities in the tog rigs they tie more than any other bait rig targetting other inshore species.

Whether you choose one of these rigs or a version of your own, they all have one thing in common: They're all effective fish catchers.

Grab a bucket of green crabs, anchor up on a rock pile next fall, and you're in business.


Fuzzy and Captain Hoop tie two-hook rigs with a horizonal presentation. The first hook is snelled to the end of the 30 lb fluorocarbon leader. Add two small red beads and slide them down the eye of the hook. The second hook is attached to the leader with a dropper loop. Capt. Hoop likes to put the second hook well forward on the leader within 12" of the upstream perfection loop to help stabilize the bait in strong current. Fuzzy prefers to put the second hook on the dropper loop about 12" above the end hook. Both anglers like to add one or two small red beads to each hook. A perfection loop on the forward end completes the leader. Rig the main line with a fishfinder sinker slider and ball bearing snap swivel.

To tie a dropper loop with a hook and beads, thread two beads and a hook onto the leader. Make a loop with the hook and beads hanging together. Grap one leg of the standing line and wrap it around the other leg of the standing line, passing it through the loop, maintaining a gap in the middle. Pass the hook and beads through the gap and hook the hook on a peg, cleat or other convenient place. Pull both ends of the leader to complete the dropper loop.



John from Madison's Rig is a similar two-hook, horizontal presentation rig that's tied differently. John starts with about 48" of 30 lb fluorocarbon leader. He ties a 2/0 Owner Mutu Light circle hook on one end and a three-way swivel on the other end. Next, tie an extra long dropper loop in the middle, making 5-6 turns around the standing line. The loop should be about 3-5" long.

Cut one leg of the dropper loop near the knot and tie on another 2/0 Mutu Light hook, leaving about 3" between the hook and the main leader. The overall length of the finished bait rig is about 30".

Attach a duolock sinker clip to one ring of the three-way to complete the rig.

Zippy's No Hardware Rig has a vertical presentation, and he's eliminated all hardware except for a single snap swivel. "I'm basically cheap," says Zippy ("mikek06511" on CTF), "and when you're in the rocks with the blackfish you're going to break off sometimes. That's part of blackfishing." The key to Zippy's rig is a series of loop knots. Hooks and sinkers are attached to short sections of line and connect to the leader with a "loop-da-loop."

Zippy's No Hardware rig starts with 50 lb. mono about 36" long. Tie a perfection loop on each end and a dropper loop in the middle. Snell a 3/0 circle hook to one end of a 12" length of 40-50 lb. mono and a perfection loop in the other end.

The sinker loop is a short piece of 20 lb mono tied with a surgeon's loop. With a rig of this type, it's the sinker (not the hook and bait) that gets snagged most of the time. A sharp yank will break a snagged sinker free, saving the rest of the rig. Replacing the sinker and loop is fast, easy and cheap.

Connecting the "loop-da-loops" is fast and easy, too.

First, insert the leader dropper loop through the hook loop. Second, pass the hook through the leader dropper loop.

Third, pull the hook and knots through. A correct loop-da-loop should look like this.

Pull it tight, and you're ready for bait.

Use a simple surgeon's loop to make the sinker loop, connect it to the main leader with the same loop-da-loop and another loop-da-loop through the eye of the sinker.

Tackleman and JackCCA prefer a two-hook rig using a three-way swivel and two sections of stiff 60 lb. or greater mono as a spreader with wide gap Kahle hooks (2/0 or 3/0) one each end. A fishfinder slider is slipped onto another piece of leader on the third leg with a perfection loop at the end. Use a snap swivel on the end of the main line.