Having fresh bait can be the difference between a full cooler and hours on the water with nothing to show for it. Of course, buying bait is both expensive and does not guarantee the bait you buy will be fresh or even local. For the best bait, you need to catch your own from the very water you will be fishing. The easiest way to do so is the sabiki rig.
Every successful angler knows there are times when fresh, local caught bait will be the best option and allow for a great day of fishing. The gamefish you will be pursuing are already searching for- no need to match color patterns, shapes, or actions. But purchasing live bait can be expensive, primarily if you fish a lot. Plus, the bait you get at the local shop may have been in stock for days or longer and sometimes have the tendency to die. The only valid means of ensuring that your bait is fresh and ready to catch big fish is to find it yourself where you will be fishing.
How to Catch Bait?
Some anglers think the only way to catch enough bait quickly is to use a cast net. Unfortunately, not everyone can throw a cast net with the skill needed. So, what is the answer? The sabiki rig. It is cheap, easy to master, and can be used from a boat, dock, fishing pier, or even the water's edge. With a little practice and a few valuable tips, you can be well on your way to never purchasing bait again.
There are two options when it comes to sabiki rigs – you can purchase pre-tied rigs from your local tackle shop, OR you can make your own. Don't think you can tie a multiple hook rig? Wrong, it is much easier than it appears.
- Hooks, 3-6 plain for use with bait, or feathered for bare presentation. (make sure to check local regulations for hook limits)
- Line, 5-6 ft
- Swivel, snap
- Swivel, barrel
- Weight, 1-2 ounce depending on water conditions
- Bead, slightly bigger than your rod's first guide (prevents rigging from entering guides when retrieved)
1. Thread hooks onto rig line
2. Attach triangle bait weight and snap swivel
3. Double 10-12" of fishing line and wrap around two fingers of the left hand
Pass hook under wraps twice
4. Wet and pull tight
5. Repeat with each hook
Once all hooks are attached, trim line to the appropriate length and connect to a barrel swivel. Watch the YouTube video below, showing step by step instructions on how to create a capable sabiki rig at a minimal cost:
Rod & Reel
One of the most common mistakes by first time sabiki rig users include: Using gear far more significant than necessary. All you need is the right rod/reel combination capable of detecting bites. A 3000 series reel spooled with 10 LB test paired with a 7ft extra fast reel.
Using the Rig
Now that you have learned to tie a sabiki rig it is time to catch some bait. Light gear is vital.
As stated earlier, you can use this rig with or without cut pieces of bait. If using bait, we recommend shrimp. Pinch off a small piece of meat, no shell, and thread onto each hook. If you opt not to use shrimp, make sure your rig includes hooks with a feather attached as this is what attracts the baitfish.
The easiest way to deploy the sabiki rig is to open the rod's bail and let it sink to the bottom. If you need to cast this rig, it is recommended you keep your casts short and utilize an underhand technique to avoid tangling. Remember that some species will show interest during the descent, so be ready once it hits the bottom jig the bait until you detect a bite. The goal is to jig the hooks/bait without lifting the weight from the bottom. Now slowly retrieve the line. You do not want to pull it in too quickly because many times, other fish will be attached to those you have already hooked, thinking it is a feeding frenzy. Here is a great video on how to use the sabiki and catch more than enough bait for a successful fishing trip:
Where to Catch More Bait with the Sabiki
You may or may not have figured it out yet, but baitfish like to hold to structure, more specifically bridge pilings and markers around deeper water. For great success, drop your rigs near the base of bridge pilings and slowly jig the hooks. Once you feel a bite, allow it to sit for a second to catch multiple fish at once. Tip your hook with shrimp to capture your fair share of pinfish, grunts, and whiting.
Once you master the sabiki rig, you will be able to catch your bait that is fresher than anything available at the tackle shop. But that is only one of the benefits. You know it is what the local gamefish are eating. You can refill your supply as you go without returning to shore. Having the freshest local bait will cost you nothing more than the few bucks it takes to purchase the minimal supplies needed to tie one.