Top 7 INSHORE FISHING RIGS (Setup & How-to Guide)
PUBLISHED 6 SEPTEMBER 2023
by Robert Ceran
Are you planning to go inshore fishing, but aren’t sure which fishing rig is best for your purposes?
Inshore fishing covers a wide variety of saltwater habitats and many different target species, which is why it’s essential to use the right fishing setup for your specific purpose.
In this article I’ll walk you through the best inshore fishing rigs, and will also cover how to fish them, and how to choose the ideal setup for your purposes.
What are the best inshore saltwater fishing rigs?
The 7 best inshore saltwater fishing rigs are:
- Fish finder rig
- Jig rig
- Pompano rig
- Slip bobber rig
- High low rig
- Knocker rig
- Carolina rig
Keep in mind that inshore fishing covers any type of fishing within 9 miles from shore, and up to a depth of around 90 feet.
This includes a wide variety of fishing tactics, ranging from boat fishing to surf fishing and everything in between, and this also means you can use a wide variety of saltwater rigs for inshore fishing.
To make things easier, we’ve distilled this down to the 7 best rigs that catch fish almost anywhere when it comes to inshore fishing.
We’ll go over the strengths and weaknesses of each of these inshore fishing rigs below, so you can decide which one is right for your next fishing trip.
Fish finder rig
The fish finder rig is one of the best all around saltwater bottom rigs for inshore fishing, and is the go-to setup for most inshore saltwater anglers.
The fish finder rig consists of a 1 to 6 oz pyramid weight that rides on the main fishing line with the help of a sinker slide, as well as a barrel swivel that connects the main line to a 1 to 3 foot monofilament leader with a snelled hook.
The key advantage of this fish finder rig is that the shape of the pyramid sinker causes it to dig into sandy bottom, which helps to anchor the rig in the strike zone even in the face of a strong swell or tides.
A second advantage of this setup is that a fish can pick the bait and swim away with it without feeling resistance from the sinker.
A fish finder rig can be fished with almost any type of natural bait, including freshly cut fish, squid, sand fleas, crabs, or shrimp.
It catches almost any inshore fish species, including whiting, redfish, sheepshead, bluefish, pompano, speckled trout, bonefish, black drum, fluke, flounder, and striped bass.
This rig can be fished in the surf, or from jetties, docks, piers, harbors, and rocks. For more details, check out our in-depth tutorial on the fish finder rig.
The jig rig is one of the best lure fishing rigs for inshore fishing, and is both easy to set up and easy to fish, making it a great saltwater fishing rig for beginners.
The jig rig consists of a jig head tied to the fishing line (either your main fishing line, or a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader), as well as a soft plastic bait threaded onto the hook of the jig head.
It’s generally best to fish the jig rig close to cover, such as rocks or vegetation, as this is where predators are most likely to wait in ambush. You can also fish the jig rig over shellfish beds, and along drop offs and other structural breaks.
Image source: instagram/@baitshopbeauties
When fishing from rocks or from a jetty, you’ll often get bites very close to the rocks, which means you don’t even need to cast it out very far.
Unfortunately, this also comes with the risk of snags and hang-ups, and unfortunately that’s something you’ll have to deal with.
You can throw this rig anywhere where fish forage close to the shore, such as creeks, grass flats, piers, jetties, and rocks, and you can also throw it from a boat or kayak.
The pompano rig is a double hook bottom fishing rig, which increases your chances of catching fish inshore, and also allows you to test different baits in parallel.
This setup consists of a bank sinker or similar weight tied to the end of the fishing line, as well as two (or three) hooks rigged along the leader above the weight with dropper loop knots.
The key distinguishing feature of the pompano rig are the small colored floats that are threaded onto the snoods, and sit right next to each hook.
The floats serve dual purposes: they lift the bait off the bottom, which protects it from crabs and also makes it easier for fish to find it, and they attract fish through their bright colors.
The pompano rig is a great multi hook setup for inshore fishing, and can be used anywhere that you can target saltwater fish from shore.
For more details, check out our in-depth tutorial on the pompano rig.
Slip bobber rig
The slip bobber rig is one of the most versatile fishing rigs available to anglers, and comes in handy whenever you want to target suspended fish in inshore waters.
This setup consists of a slip bobber (or sliding float) that rides on the main line, and is stopped by a bobber stop above the bobber, and a split shot weight below the bobber.
The main line usually attaches to a leader with a barrel swivel, though you can also tie a hook directly to your main line if you’re using monofilament.
Another reason to use the slip bobber rig is if you want to avoid your terminal tackle getting snagged on rocks or other cover, which unfortunately happens very easily when fishing with bottom rigs close to cover.
I love to use the slip bobber rig as a setup for live bait fishing from piers, jetties, and docks, since it allows me to present the bait close to piles, rocks, or other cover without getting snagged.
My favorite way to use a slip bobber setup for inshore fishing is to bait it with live shrimp and fish it close to rocks. This catches almost all the species that can be found foraging in these locations.
When fishing close to shore, I usually set the depth of the bobber to around 3 to 4 feet, but when targeting suspended fish in deeper water, I’ll slide the bobber stop higher up the line.
If you’re fishing in shallow water that’s less than 4 feet deep, you can also rig a popping cork instead of a slip bobber, which is a fixed bobber setup.
A popping cork rig comes with the advantage that it produces clicking sounds at the water surface when you retrieve it, and this can be great for attracting fish.
Carolina rig for inshore fishing
The Carolina rig is one of the most versatile bottom fishing risg that catches a wide variety of fish both in freshwater and saltwater.
The Carolina rig catches a wide variety of inshore species, and can be used both from shore and for drift fishing from a boat.
This rig consists of a sliding egg sinker and protective plastic bead that both ride on the main line, as well as a barrel swivel that connects the main line to a 2 to 3 foot mono leader.
The basic setup of this inshore saltwater rig is similar to that of the fish finder rig, but it comes with a sliding egg sinker instead of a pyramid sinker.
The egg sinker makes the Carolina rig ideal for actively retrieving your rig to cover more ground, and allows you to use either natural or artificial bait with this rig.
When you retrieve the Carolina rig, you can hop the egg sinker across the bottom, and this stirs up the sand and produces clicking sounds when the weight smacks into rocks, which is great for attracting predatory fish.
For more details, check out our in-depth tutorial on the Carolina rig.
High low rig
The high low rig is another double hook saltwater bottom rig that is extremely effective for inshore fishing.
It consists of a weight tied to the end of the leader, as well as two circle hooks tied to the leader above the weight via T-knots.
T-knots come with the advantage that they cause the snoods to stick out at 90 degrees to the leader, and this is very helpful for avoiding line tangles.
You can use the high lo rig for beach fishing and surfcasting, but it also works very well for vertical fishing from a boat or a pier.
As with most bottom fishing rigs, it’s advisable to use a weaker line for the leader than for your main line. That way, if your rig gets snagged on cover, you can break off the leader without shortening your mainline.
The knocker rig is a great inshore fishing rig that allows you to avoid line tangles more than any other setup.
The overall structure of the fishing knocker rig is very similar to the Carolina rig, butits slip sinker rides up and down on the leader, instead of riding on the main line.
This unorthodox setup comes with one key advantage: it almost completely avoids line tangles during the casting process, which makes it a great option for beginners, or anyone else who’s tired of getting their rig tangled up during the casting process.
The tangle-free property of the knocker rig also makes it one of the best rigs for surf fishing, since surf fishing usually requires long range casting in order to get your bait into the strike zone.