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By Tackle Tactics Pro Angler Gary Brown
First published: Sep 11 2017

A writer for over 25 years, Gary has written 5 books and continues to write for national fishing and boating magazines.

Running Sinker Rig

To successfully use this rig, you will need to have a reasonable amount of current running and the size of the sinker that you use will be determined by the amount of flow that is in the water. It’s the sinkers job to anchor the rig in position, while allowing the bait to move about a fair bit with the water movement, attracting the attention of a passing fish.

I find that when you use a circle hook you will get many of the fish gut hooked. If this happens and you need to break off and retie your hook the leader length will get shorter. Once it has reached a length of about 50 to 60cm I will re-tie a new, longer leader on, as this extra length will allow the bait to move around more freely.

This rig is very effective over a sandy bottom or where there is broken shell or rubble. It is not as effective over a reefy area as the sinker may become lodged in the reef.

The longer the rod length that you use, the longer the leader you can effectively use.

I find that the trick to using this rig is to keep the bait types small and lightweight as it tends to keep the bait away from small snapper, catfish and pickers. When the tide slows down I will change to the running sinker down onto the bait. Sometimes there will be no sinker at all. Bream, trevally, snapper, tarwhine, mulloway, barra, mangrove jack and just about any reef or estuary species will take a liking to this rig.

Technique 1 – Basic Technique

When at anchor in my boat, bait fishing for bream, tarwhine, silver trevally and snapper, I will use two rods. The first outfit would be cast (on the shore side of your boat) out about six to seven metres from the back of the boat and allowed to slowly sink through the berley trail. You would then put this rod into the rod holder.

The second outfit would also be cast out of the back at about the same distance and placed into a rod holder on the opposite side of the boat.

What you will find the hardest when using this technique is to NOT touch the rod until you have a solid hook up. Then you can take the rod out of the rod holder and start fighting the fish.

You will need to have a range of sinker sizes so that you can keep changing the weight as the current picks up or slows down. I would suggest that you have a selection of sinker sizes and 1, 2, 3 and 4 ball or bean sinkers will generally do the job. Not enough weight in the sinker and it will tend to roll around all over the bottom.

The length of the leader can vary with the length of the rod that you are using at the time. If I am using a 7’ rod, the leader length will be no shorter than 50cm and will extend up to about 120cm long with longer rods. I prefer to use a number 1 to 2/0 Owner circle hook and either a peeled prawn, half a pillie, fillet of pilchard or garfish, a live pink nipper (saltwater yabby) or one whole whitebait.

If I am fishing for whiting, I will change my hook to a number 4 to 1/0 Owner longshank bait keeper hook, baited with either beach, blood, tube or squirt worms.

Technique 2 – Picker’s Doom

This technique I have heard called the ‘Pickers Doom’. Once again you need to be fishing while at anchor and have a small and steady berley trail going. It could be as simple as chicken pellets or mashed up old pilchards.

The rig would be set up the same with a sinker, swivel, leader, hook and bait, however this time the sinker would be a channel sinker. First off you would drop the baited hook over the back of the boat and allow the fast-running current to take it out about 7 to 10 metres.

It is then that you would lower the channel sinker to directly below your boat, until it has reached the bottom. Once again, the rod would be in the rod holder and would NOT be touched until you have a solid hook-up.

Using this technique will allow you to have a leader length of somewhere in the range of 10 metres, which you would never be able to effectively cast. The bait can move around with minimal resistance, and this is a great way to fish for bream, trevally, whiting, flathead and flounder in the estuaries.

You could also try using this technique offshore for a number of fish species over those close offshore broken rubble grounds. Instead of using a channel sinker you can substitute it with a larger snapper sinker and remember to still have a swivel on the line.

Technique 3 - Breakwall

If you find yourself fishing off a breakwall and once you have cast out the rig tends to come back into the rock wall, then you need to change your sinker type when using this rig. This can also happen while fishing off the beach when you have a lot of sideways current.

This is where a star or snapper sinker comes into its own as they tend to bury into the sand and allow the leader to flow around freely in the current.

To make using this technique work, you will need to cast the rig up current at about 45 degrees and just before the sinker hits the water you will need to stop the sinker by grabbing hold of the line. This will cause to bait to continue on.

Then it’s just a matter of allowing the sinker to slowly drop down to the bottom. Once this has occurred you will need to re-engage the bail arm and then set the rod into a hole in between the rocks. Once again don’t touch it until you have a solid hook up.

Suggested Combos


Okuma Barbarian Spin Rods - BN-S-702NT, X-Light, 7'0", 2-4kg, Nibble Tip for the boat.

Okuma Barbarian Spin Rods - BN-S-802NT, Light, 8'0", 2-4kg, Nibble Tip for the boat with an extra-long leader.

Okuma Barbarian Spin Rods - BN-S-1162NT, Med/Light, 11'6", 2-6kg, Nibble Tip for off the rock breakwall or beach.


Okuma JAW SPIN Reels - JAW-30 for the boat.

Okuma JAW SPIN Reels - JAW-55 for the rock breakwall or beach.

Okuma Epixor XT Spin Reels - EPXT-20, 30 and 40 would be ideal for the estuaries, off the shore or out of a boat.


Platypus Pulse Mono Premium Nylon Monofilament.


Platypus Stealth FC Fluorocarbon Leader.

Running Sinker Rig | Download


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