The Fish Finder Rig for Surf Fishing: Easy Setup and Tips

Want to find out how best to use the Fish Finder Rig for surf fishing?

The main goal of this article is to teach you how to use the Fish Finder Rig for surf fishing adeptly and customize it for various situations and species.

The Fish Finder Rig provides a natural presentation of your bait, which makes it highly appealing to different fish species, including striped bass, red drum, flounder, and many more.

By the end of this article, you’ll become confident using the Fish Finder Rig to land your next big catch.

Click here for our article on the best rigs for surf fishing.

Key Takeaways

  • Learn to utilize and customize the Fish Finder Rig effectively for surf fishing
  • The rig offers a natural bait presentation, appealing to a wide range of fish species
  • Gain confidence in your fishing skills for an increased catch rate

How the Fish Finder Rig for Surf Fishing Works

The Fish Finder rig is a brilliant setup for surf fishing. Let’s have a look at how the Fish Finder rig works in the surf, and why it’s such an effective choice:

  1. The pyramid sinker anchors the rig in place against the current and waves, and creates puffs of sand that attract fish.
  2. The sinker slide allows the main line to move freely through the sinker, so that the fish can take the bait without feeling any resistance or tension.
  3. The circle hook ensures a secure hook-up and reduces gut-hooking and injury to the fish.
  4. The leader line protects the main line from abrasion and provides some flexibility and shock absorption.
  5. The bead prevents the knot from being damaged by the sinker slide.

What makes the Fish Finder rig so effective in surf fishing is the natural and enticing presentation of the bait. Here’s how it simulates a tasty morsel for fish in the surf:

  • The bait bounces up and down along the bottom, mimicking a wounded or struggling baitfish.
  • The bait can drift with the current and cover more ground, increasing the chances of finding fish.
  • The bait can be adjusted to different depths by changing the length of the leader line or adding a float.

Its adaptable and lifelike presentation of bait helps trigger more bites.

Fish Finder Rig Tackle

To successfully use the Fish Finder rig for surf fishing, you’ll need to gather the right tackle.

Let’s have a look at the essential components to assemble your Fish Finder rig:

Let’s have a look at each piece of tackle in a little more depth…

Sliding Sinker

A sliding sinker allows the sinker to freely slide along your main fishing line without affecting the rest of the rig.

This means a fish can pick up your bait and run with it without feeling any resistance from the weight or the rod. This significantly increases your chances of hooking a fish, as they’re less likely to suspect that they’ve encountered something unnatural.

Here are a few pointers to help you choose the right sliding sinker:

  • The sliding sinker should match the size and shape of your sinker and fit snugly on your main line. You don’t want it to be too tight, as this will impede the sinker’s movement and could decrease the effectiveness of your rig.
  • A smooth surface is essential. If the sliding sinker has any rough edges, it can potentially damage your line, which could lead to a weaker rig that might fail when you need it most.
  • Finally, the snap or clip must be strong and secure, ensuring that the sinker stays attached and doesn’t come off, especially during rough surf conditions.


The primary function of the bead is to act as a buffer between the sinker slide and the knot, preventing them from rubbing against each other and causing wear or damage.

Consider the following when choosing the right bead for the Fish Finder rig for surf fishing:

  • The bead should be large enough to stop the sinker slide from sliding past it, but not too large that it interferes with the casting or retrieval of the rig.
  • Finding that sweet spot might take a bit of trial and error, but it’s worth it for a good catch, right?
  • The bead should be brightly colored, such as red or orange, to attract fish and contrast with the bottom. These eye-catching colors can make all the difference when it comes to luring in your target species.
  • Don’t be shy – choose a bold and flashy plastic fishing bead to give your rig that extra appeal!


A swivel’s main function is to allow the lines to rotate independently without twisting or tangling, allowing the bait to move naturally with the current and waves, which is crucial for surf fishing.

So, how can you choose the right swivel for your rig?

  • When selecting a swivel, make sure to match the strength and diameter of both your main line and leader line.
  • It’s essential to have a smooth surface on the swivel as you don’t want to damage or weaken your lines.
  • In addition, the swivel should be corrosion-resistant and durable, able to withstand saltwater and abrasion from sand and rocks.
  • Lastly, while picking a swivel, consider its size and appearance. The swivel should be small and inconspicuous, so as not to spook the fish.


The main role of a leader line is to serve as a buffer between the main line and the hook, protecting the main line from abrasion and cutting by fish teeth or sharp objects.

It also gives flexibility and shock absorption, allowing the hook to set properly and preventing the fish from breaking off.

Now, let’s talk about choosing the right leader for your Fish Finder rig.

  • The leader material can be monofilament or steel, depending on the target fish and water conditions.
  • Monofilament is more flexible and less visible, but it’s more prone to abrasion and stretching.
  • On the other hand, steel is more durable and resistant, but more rigid and noticeable.
  • A general rule of thumb to follow is: use a leader that is 10-20% stronger than the main line.
  • A typical length for a leader varies between 12-36 inches, depending on the depth and current of the water. Consider using a longer leader when targeting fish like flounder or when you want your bait to appear more natural.
  • Remember that a well-chosen leader can make all the difference when surf fishing with the Fish Finder rig.

Circle Hook

Circle hooks work by catching the fish in the corner of its mouth as it swims away with the bait, rather than piercing its throat or stomach.

This not only reduces gut-hooking but also causes less injury to the fish, making it far more likely to survive after release.

So, how do you choose the right circle hook for your Fish Finder rig?

  • Size and Shape: The circle hook should match the size and shape of the bait you’re using, and be large enough to fit around the jaw of the fish you’re targeting. As a general rule of thumb, try to use a hook that is one-third to one-half the size of the bait.
  • Sharpness and Strength: Nothing is worse than losing a fish because your hook wasn’t up to the task. Make sure the circle hook you choose is sharp and strong, able to penetrate and hold the fish without bending or breaking.
  • Corrosion-resistant and Durable: Since you’re going to be surf fishing, it’s essential to choose a circle hook that can withstand the harsh saltwater environment and inevitable abrasion from sand and rocks.

Optional Float on the Fish Finder Rig

A float is an optional and works by lifting or suspending the bait off the bottom, making it more visible and attractive to fish that feed higher in the water column.

Not only does it add some movement and noise to the bait, but it also creates vibrations and bubbles that can trigger strikes from curious or aggressive fish.

So, how can you choose and use a float for the Fish Finder rig?

  • First, you should look for a small and light float that won’t interfere with the casting or retrieval of the rig. Foam peg floats are an excellent option.
  • Make sure the float is brightly colored, such as red or yellow, to contrast with the water and attract fish’s attention.
  • As for placement, you can decide whether to position it above or below the hook, based on your target fish’s depth and preference.
  • A float above the hook will lift the bait higher in the water column. To adjust the float to different depths, you can change the length of the leader line or add more or less weight to the rig.

With these tips in mind, adding a float to your Fish Finder rig can be an effective way to attract your next big catch, if you’re not getting bites off the very bottom of the ocean floor.

How to Create the Fish Finder Rig

To make an effective Fish Finder Rig for surf fishing, just follow these simple steps:

  1. First, cut a section of leader line about 12-36 inches long, depending on the desired depth of the bait.

2. Next, tie one end of the leader line to a circle hook using a clinch knot or a Palomar knot.

3. After that, tie the other end of the leader line to a swivel using a clinch knot or a Palomar knot.

4. Now, slide a sinker slide onto the main line, followed by a bead.

5. Then, tie the main line to the swivel using a clinch knot or a Palomar knot.

6. Attach a pyramid sinker to the snap or clip of the sinker slide. This type of sinker is perfect for rough surf conditions, as it can hold its position better while still allowing the bait to create a natural movement.

7. Optionally, you can add a float to the leader line, either above or below the hook. A float can help with the desired depth and presentation of the bait, depending on the target fish and water conditions.

Lastly, bait the hook with suitable bait for the target fish and water conditions, such as cut bait, live bait, shrimp, squid, or worms.

Fish Finder Rig for Surf Fishing Pros and Cons

There are a few key benefits and drawbacks to using the Fish Finder rig – let’s cover them off quickly:

Benefits of the Fish Finder Rig for Surf Fishing

First of all, it’s relatively simple to make and easy to use.

This means that even if you’re not the most seasoned angler, you can still put together and use the rig effectively.

Another pro of the Fish Finder Rig is that it’s adaptable to various conditions, baits, and species.

Whether you’re targeting redfish, mackerel, or even halibut, the rig can help you get results.

It’s particularly effective when you’re fishing in areas with little structure or cover, as it can attract game fish that might otherwise be difficult to find.

The Fish Finder Rig can also help reduce snags, tangles, and lost fish.

By allowing your bait to move freely with the currents, you increase the chances of a successful hook-up, while simultaneously decreasing the likelihood of losing your catch due to line breakage or a tangled mess.

Drawbacks of the Fish Finder Rig for Surf Fishing

The Fish Finder Rig may not perform as well in areas with heavy structure or vegetation.

These obstacles can snag or interfere with your rig, making it difficult to fish effectively in such conditions.

This rig may require heavier weights and longer casts to reach deeper water or farther distances.

This can be a challenge, particularly when you’re surf casting, so pairing the rig with a sturdy surf rod and either monofilament or fluorocarbon line can help you achieve the desired distance without compromising effectiveness.

The Fish Finder Rig may attract unwanted species or pests such as crabs that can steal or damage your bait.

This can be frustrating, especially when your goal is to catch those elusive game fish and not waste time dealing with bait thieves.

Remember, like with any rig, adapting and adjusting to your specific conditions and target species are key factors for success.

Check out more top surf rigs here.

Fish Finder Rig Sizes for Different Surf Species

Hey there! Let’s dive into the world of Fish Finder Rigs and help you choose the right components for different surf species. Remember, selecting the correct sizes and specs can make all the difference on your next fishing trip.

Here’s a list of recommended Fish Finder rig components for several popular surf species:

Surf SpeciesPyramid SinkerCircle HookLeader LineFloat Presence
Striped Bass3 oz5/018″ #40 lbOptional
Red Drum3 oz4/0 – 12/018″ – 36″ #40 lbOptional
Snook2 – 3 oz3/0 – 5/018″ #30 – 40 lbOptional
Shark4 – 5 oz8/0 – 9/036″ #80 – 100 lbNone
Mullet1 – 2 oz2/0 – 4/012″ – 18″ #20 lbOptional
Halibut3 – 4 oz4/0 – 6/024″ #40 lbNone
Tarpon3 – 4 oz5/0 – 7/024″ #50 – 60 lbOptional
Sea Trout1 – 2 oz3/0 – 4/018″ #20 – 30 lbOptional
Bull Drum3 – 4 oz5/0 – 8/024″ #40 – 60 lbOptional
  • The pyramid sinker’s size and weight depend on the current and depth of the water. As a rule of thumb, use heavier sinkers in deeper, faster-moving currents.
  • Match the size to the bait and the fish’s mouth. For instance, smaller fish like mullet might need a 2/0 hook, while sharks will require a larger 8/0 – 9/0 hook.
  • The leader line’s length and diameter depend on the water’s visibility and the fish’s teeth. For Sharks, it is recommended to use a thicker leader line, like 80 – 100 lb. On the other hand, you can use 20 lb leader lines for Mullet. The length can vary from 12″ for Mullet to 36″ for Red Drum and Shark.
  • Consider a float above the hook for species with feeding and swimming habits away from the bottom, like Snook and Sea Trout. However, it may not be suitable for bottom-dwelling species like Halibut and Sharks.

Now you’ve got the information to adapt your Fish Finder Rig for various surf species.

Fish Finder Rig – Surf Fishing Bait

When it comes to surf fishing with a Fish Finder rig, the bait you choose plays a significant role in your success. So let’s explore the different types of bait you can use and their pros and cons.

Natural bait is often the preferred choice for surf fishing as it closely mimics the fish’s natural food source, making it more attractive to your target fish. On the other hand, artificial bait is more durable and convenient, but less appealing to fish.

Now, let’s dive into some examples of natural bait used with the Fish Finder rig like cut bait, live bait, shrimp, squid, and worms.

Cut Bait

Cut bait is an excellent option for surf fishing and can include a variety of fish such as bunker, herring, sardines, and bluefish. You should primarily use cut bait in 1″ x 2″ and 1″ x 3″ chunks. To prepare cut bait, cut the fish into appropriate sizes, exposing the flesh and blood. This helps create a scent trail to attract the fish.

Live Bait

Live bait is another popular choice for surf fishing, particularly for inshore species like redfish, sea trout, and flounder. Common live bait options include shrimp, crabs, and clams. These baits are either whole or partially live, twitching or moving to entice your target fish.


Shrimp has always been a surf fishing favorite due to its versatility. Both live and frozen shrimp can be used with the Fish Finder rig, and it works well in attracting a wide range of fish species.


Squid is a reliable bait option, especially when other baits are scarce. Squid can be cut into strips or chunks and used with the Fish Finder rig. The squid’s consistency makes it a durable bait choice, staying on the hook longer in rough surf conditions.

There are plenty of bait options available for surf fishing with a Fish Finder rig.

Consider factors such as the target species, water conditions, and bait availability to determine the best bait choice for your next surf fishing adventure.

Using the Fish Finder Rig for Surf Fishing – Tips and Hints

Surf fishing with a Fish Finder rig can be a rewarding experience when you know how to use it efficiently.

Here are some tips and hints on how to make the most of your Fish Finder rig in various conditions.

Casting the Fish Finder Rig

When casting your Fish Finder rig, aim for a spot where the waves are breaking, which indicates a deeper channel or sandbar where fish may congregate.

  • Hold your surf rod at a comfortable angle with the sinker hanging a few inches from the tip.
  • Swing the rod back and forth a few times to build momentum, then release the line when the rod is pointing forward.
  • Use a smooth and steady motion, avoiding jerks or snaps that can cause the rig to fly off or get tangled.

Setting the hook on a Fish Finder Rig

Setting the hook with the Fish Finder rig involves using the circle hook correctly.

  • Wait for the fish to take the bait and run with it, feeling a steady pull on the line.
  • Remember, do not jerk or lift the rod, as this can pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth or miss it altogether.
  • Instead, reel in slowly and steadily, allowing the circle hook to do its work and catch the fish in the corner of the mouth.
  • Keep a tight line and a bent rod, avoiding slack that can allow the fish to spit out the hook.

Making adjustments to the Fish Finder Rig based on the conditions

  • In situations with high winds and strong currents, the Fish Finder rig might require some adjustments. Use a heavier sinker to hold the bait in place and counteract the current. Don’t forget to adjust your surf casting technique accordingly to compensate for the added weight.
  • Your rod holder can be a great asset when using the Fish Finder rig for surf fishing. Place it in the sand at a shallow angle facing the water. This position will help you detect bites more easily and assist with setting the hook when a fish takes the bait.
  • The Fish Finder rig can be versatile and effective for different species and baits. By adapting the rig to suit your target fish and the conditions, you can increase your chances of success in surf fishing. So, get out there with your Fish Finder rig, practice, and enjoy the rewards of surf fishing!