Slip Sinker Rig

The slip sinker rig, also known as the sliding sinker rig, is an effective bottom fishing rig for suspending live or cut bait just off the bottom. It works especially well for surf fishing and river fishing when you’re dealing with current. The most unique characteristic of the slip sinker rig is that the egg sinker is not attached directly to the line which prevents a fish from feeling any resistance when it takes the bait.

Slip Sinker Rig

With the slip sinker rig the sinker rests on the bottom while bait suspends just above in the water column. The rig works well for catching a variety of bottom foraging fish including walleye and catfish. Anglers across the United States consider the slip sinker rig the “go-to” presentation for fishing catfish. It also proficient for catching trout. The Carolina rig is a type of slip sinker rig anglers use for targeting bass. The biggest difference between a traditional slip sinker rig and the Carolina rig is the bait.

Simple, yet versatile

Some anglers overlook the slip sinker rig due to its simplicity. It’s not a complicated rig, but it’s effective. One of the reasons this rig is so effective is due to its versatility.

  • It can be fished vertically, while anchored, drifting, or using a variety of techniques including “tight line” bottom fishing, controlled drifting, and surf fishing.
  • It will catch a variety of freshwater bottom foragers including walleye, catfish, and trout, but can be used for bass, perch, and panfish, as well as saltwater species such as croaker, flounder, and snapper.
  • It will catch all three major catfish species: channels, blues and flatheads.
  • It will working in all types of water from lakes, to rivers, to saltwater surf.
  • It can be fished with a variety of live and artificial baits.

How to tie a slip sinker rig

  1. Cut off a 24″ length of monofilament line for your leader.
  2. Tie a barrel swivel to one tag end of the leader using a uni knot.
  3. Tie your hook to the other end of the leader using a uni or palomar knot.
  4. Slide an egg sinker or bullethead sinker to your main line.
  5. Run the tag end of the main line to the swivel and attach with a uni knot.
  6. Make sure that your sinker will not slide over the swivel. (If it does, add a stop bead to the main line in between the sinker and swivel.)

You can also create a slip sinker rig by replacing the barrel swivel with a #7 to #4 slip shot weight. The slip shot weight acts as the stopper for your larger sinker weight. Instead of creating the rig using a leader, you simply thread your sinker onto the main line and then tie your hook to the tag end of the line. Attach the slip shot to the main line below the sinker at the distance from your hook to create the desired rig length. One of the benefits of using slip shot instead of a barrel swivel is that you’re able to adjust the length of the rig but move the slip shot up or down the line.

Materials needed for the slip sinker rig

The following materials are recommended for making a basic slip sinker rig.

Leader line. 30-50lb monofilament of fluorocarbon leader is what I recommend, but you can choose. When fishing for catfish the type of leader line you use isn’t as important. Heavier leaderline weight helps absorb the shock of aggresive strikes and is more abrasion resistant. A 24″ inch leader is standard, but the length of your leader should be determined by the desired bait action. The longer your leader—and greater the distance between the sinker and hook—the more action you provide the bait but greater the chance of getting snagged. Conversely, the shorter your leader—and closer the sinker is to the baited hook—the lower the action you provide the bait and lower the likelihood of a snag.

Barrel swivel. A basic brass barrel swivel will work for connecting the leader to the main line. A ball bearing swivel or crane swivel may enhance performance. Popular swivel sizes are 1/0 – 3/0, but ideal size will depend on your target fish species and size of your rig.

Slip shot weight (optional). #7 to #4 lead slip shot weight. (Used to create a slip sinker rig without a leader and barrel swivel.)

Sinker. Either an egg sinker or no roll sinker is recommended when suspend fishing, fishing on an anchor, lake fishing, or when working light current. If you’re going to be drift fishing the slip sinker rig, a snagless drift fishing sinker or walking slip sinker (such as a Lindy or Slinky sinker) is ideal. When fishing the surf or in heavy current where you need to hold the bait in place, a No-Roll or Pyramid sinker is best.

Hook. Any species appropriate hook will work. Many anglers prefer a #4 or #6 treble hook for targeting catfish. For larger channel cats, blues and flatheads a 4/0 or 6/0 circle hook get’s the job done nicely. Octopus style hooks are also popular with slip sinker rigs.

Slip sinker rig for surf fishing

If you want a simple surf fishing rig that will get the job done, you can’t beat the slip sinker rig. This rig is traditionally a freshwater rig, but it will also pull in the salties. Most anglers turn to the fish finder rig, high/low, or drop bottom for surf fishing, but a simple slip sinker rig is as effective as any of these rigs for surf fishing—and easier to create.

When you compare the slip sinker rig with fish finder rig you’ll notice they’re very similar in design. In fact, the only real difference between the two is the sinker style and attachment. Traditionally, the slip sinker rig uses an egg sinker threaded directly onto the main line. If you swap out the egg sinker with a pyramid sinker attached with a sinker slider you essentially have the fisher finder rig.

When fishing the slip sinker rig in the surf, you’ll want to adjust the weight of the sinker, rig length and possible line size depending on the fish species you’re targeting. For larger fish, such as shark, a leader length of 36″ witha 80 lb steel leader is recommended. As with the fish finder rig, a float can be added to the leader near the hook to keep bait up off the bottom.