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Surf Leaders

August 7, 2011

Anglers have lots of rigging options, especially for the shore or piers. One of the most common rigs is using a surf leader. Surf leaders are mono-filament lines about 2.5 feet long. They have generally have two loops tied into them with a metal loop at the top to attach to your line, and a metal clasp at the bottom. The loops give you a convenient way to add snelled hooks. The clasp is for the weight (generally a lead pyramid, also called a sinker.)

Surf leaders effectively double your chances of catching a fish because you have two hooks in the water instead of one. It’s also a great way to try different baits at the same time to see which ones are working best in your fishing area.

Here’s a picture of the surf leader with two loops. The metal clasps are not shown.

Adding hooks is easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy-mac-n-cheezy. Just be sure to buy snelled hooks (hooks with pre-attached lines.)

Then you thread the hook through the leader loop and then around itself.

Adding weights are even easier. Just attach the weight to the clasp. In Southern California the currents can be strong so I prefer 4 oz pyramid sinkers on the shore so when you cast out the weight buries itself in the sandy bottom. On piers I generally use 2oz or 4 oz sinkers. Of course, sea weed is your biggest threat and I’ve caught plenty of kelp monsters using a surf leader setup. It comes with the territory.

This rigging works best for bottom feeders and near-bottom feeders like rays, some sharks, croaker, bass and surf perch. I’d like to catch a halibut using this rigging, but halibut like live bait, and live fish bait such as anchovies or smelt are not recommended for this rig since they tend to swim around and tangle everything up. Surf leaders are great for baits like squid, shrimp, mussels or worms. Gulp! artificial blood worms are like magnets to croaker and perch.

See how I’ve looped the snelled hook through the loop and then itself? Pull it tight and it will hold strong.

By looping the hook on this way, you can also remove it later and reuse your snelled hooks. Handy dandy.

Now get out there and catch dat fish!

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