Slip Sinker Rig

The slip sinker rig is a popular method used to catch stocked trout. This method can also be used to catch many other kinds of freshwater fish, particularly in lakes and ponds (stillwater).  The reason it works so well is because fish often hold close to the bottom of a lake or pond, especially when the sun is high and the skies are clear. Fish don’t have eyelids so they’re sensitive to sunlight and will tend to relate to to the bottom, especially during periods of high sunlight. A slip sinker rig allows you to put your bait or floating lure close to a  fish’s face, within their field of vision. I’m going to show you how to rig a slip sinker rig and explain different ways of using it to catch not only trout but other freshwater species like catfish, panfish and largemouth bass.

The Slip Sinker

A slip sinker is typically a bullet shaped weight with a hole through the center of it. The kind of sinkers typically used in slip sinker rigs are called worm weights or bullet weights. They’re shaped like bullets and are generally used by largemouth bass fisherman to weight their large artificial worms so that they can cast them out for distance and depth. But they also work great for rigging up a slip sinker rig to catch trout!

Worm weights can be purchased in different kinds of materials. They are generally manufactured out of lead, brass, steel or tungsten. Lead, brass and steel cost less than tungsten. But tungsten has the advantage of containing more mass, which means that the sinker can be smaller and heavier than lead, brass and steel weights of similar size. I prefer tungsten because they can be cast further than lead. Tungsten weights cast farther than other weights because there is less air resistance toward a smaller object versus a larger object of equal weight, allowing it to sail through the air just a little bit further. Whether that’s worth an extra buck or two is a matter of personal preference, finances and your local fishing laws. Lead weights are increasingly being outlawed across the United States so your choices may be limited to brass, steel and tungsten.

What is the best kind of fishing sinkers?

If you’re on a budget then the answer is whatever weight is cheapest. However here are some further considerations before you purchase a load of fishing weights that you might not be happy with.

  • Tungsten
    In terms of mass, tungsten has the most mass and thus is overall the best choice for casting distance, but it’s expensive. A pack of four 1/4 oz worm weights can cost about six dollars.
  • Lead
    The next choice is lead. Lead is the next massive metal but it is being outlawed across the United States. Even if it’s currently legal in your state, the chances are high that sooner rather than later it won’t and you’ll be stuck with a bunch of weights you can no longer use.  Lead has the advantage of being inexpensive but for long term use it’s probably not the best choice. An additional concern is that lead is toxic and can rub off and can possibly get into your system which can cause health problems. This is an important consideration if you’re going to be fishing with children.
  • Brass
    Brass is a good choice for a weight. It’s right in the middle in terms of mass density. Brass weights are slightly larger than lead weights but lack the toxicity of lead. It’s a good lead-free choice that is economical as well.
  • Bismuth
    Bismuth is heavier than Brass, so it makes a good alternative. However bismuth is fragile and doesn’t make a reliable fishing weight. That’s why it’s usually mixed with about 98% tin. Tin is lighter than steel, so take that into consideration. Bismuth is usually found in non-lead micro-jigs intended for use for ice-fishing.
  • Steel
    Steel is less dense than brass, but not by much. It’s a good economical choice.
  • Tin
    Tin is the lightest. So it take a larger amount of it to equal the same weight as a lead or brass weight.

 How to make a slip sinker rig
A slip sinker rig is pretty simple to make. The first step is to slip the worm weight onto the main line with the narrow end pointed back to the reel. Then you slip on plastic bead, followed by a barrel swivel. The bead helps insure the weight doesn’t slide off the rig. On the other side of the swivel you attach the leader which has a hook on the other end. After that you slip on your trout dough, floating worm or other floating lure if fishing for other species. Scroll down  for information on different ways of fishing the rig. The next paragraph is an explanation of why the rig is rigged in this manner.

Why rig the worm weight with pointy end facing back to the reel?
You can probably cast the rig further by rigging it up so the pointy end faces away from the reel. However, rigging it up in the traditional manner described will help the weight keep from getting hung up on underwater structure during the retrieve.

How to catch stocked trout using a sliding slip sinker rig
There are two kinds of bait to use with this rig, trout dough and a floating worm. Trout dough is perhaps the most popular method for catching stocked trout but I find fishing with the floating worm easier and less troublesome. In order to keep the trout dough from flying off the hook when casting it, use just a small amount of it, enough to cover your hook, and roll it into a ball. Then dip it into the water. Dipping it into the water makes it stick to the hook better, keeping it from flying off during your cast. It’s best to use a single hook versus a treble hook because a single hook will float easier than a treble, plus a single hook is easier to remove from a trouts mouth.

The way to rig a floating three inch worm is to take a worm threader and insert it a half inch behind the thick end of the worm, then pop it out about an inch further down the worm. This places the end of the worm threader at about the middle of the floating worm. Next place the hook onto the end of the worm threader and slide the worm onto the hook, like putting a sock onto your foot. The sharp end of the hook should be popping out about a half inch from the start of the thick end of the worm, with the thread coming out around the middle of the worm. This will ensure a lively flapping action in the water.

Lure action catches fish
This is a key point to remember, lure action is what generally catches fish. Everything else, like color and scent are there to catch a fish’s attention. It’s the action that gets them to chase it down and swallow it. Even a ball of trout dough can have action in the water. Both the trout dough and floating worm get action from the underwater   currents pushing and pulling them. This is why the bite generally dies when the water is still and glassy and why the bite picks up when thee water is choppier. It’s the action imparted to the lures by the underwater currents.

I once was fishing a lake with a buddy when the bite suddenly stopped. Swapping colors didn’t help. So I snapped the rod tip up then reeled the worm in, jigging the rod tip irregularly, pausing then reeling a couple turns, jigging the rod tip and reeling it in. I caught a trout on the first try. Our floating worms and trout dough stopped moving around underwater so I forced movement into my trout worm and caught a trout in that manner. If the fishing is slow, your catch rate can be improved by slowly reeling in the rig, pausing it for a minute or two, then reeling it in a little more, then pausing.

How to catch other species of freshwater fish

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