Pickerel Rig

The pickerel rig is one of the most versatile pre-tied fishing rigs that you’ll find in most tackle shops. It will catch trout, walleye, perch, pike, carp, bass, panfish and even lake sturgeon. It’s truly a multi-species rig that excels at targeting fish that are close to the bottom, without getting your hooks stuck.

Pickerel Rig

You can tie your own pickerel rig, but these rigs are so inexpensive most anglers will just grab a handful from a tackle shop or order them online before heading to the lake.

Setup and Configuration

A basic pickerel rig consists of two twisted metal arms (pickerel wires) that extend out horizontally in opposite directions from the main line, or from a leader line attached to the main line by a barrel swivel. (Using a leader and barrel swivel setup allows the rig to spin independent of the main line and avoids tangles.) Two beads are placed on the main line, or leader, above and below each metal arm. With the help of the beads the wire arms stays in place, but can still rotate around the main line. In tides or currents, the rotation of this wire helps the bait appear natural.

At the end of each arm is attached an additional 4-6 inch length of leader line with a 1/0 or 2/0 Aberdeen or baitholder hook—along with the selected bait. A 3/4-1 1/2 oz. weight is attached at the tag end the main line, or leader, using a snap swivel. The weight pulls the rig down through the water and holds it on the bottom. You want a weight that is heavy enough to keep your rig on the bottom, but not too heavy that it becomes difficult to set the hook the moment you feel a bite.

Some anglers like to tie the weight onto the line with an elastic. If you’re fishing in terrain where there’s a high likelihood of snagging, using an elastic will ensure you just lose your weight and not your entire rig—if a snag does occur.

Fishing a Pickerel Rig

Pickerel rigs are ideal for fishing from the side of a boat, a dock, or pier where you have water directly below you and can drop your rig straight down. When lake fishing, use your sonor to find where schools of fish are holding, then drop your pickerel rig right on top of them. Allow your sinker weight to settle on the bottom, then take up any slack in the line until only the sinker is touching.

One of the most productive baits for fishing a pickerel rig is a live minnow. Hook your minnows so they won’t die and they’ll create a natural and attractive presentation as they rotate around the main line from the two metal arms.