Starting out beach fishing – terminal rigs


It’s an ironic name “terminal tackle” because what a majority of novice sea angler’s tie on the end of their line is often likely to be terminal!

The abysmal concoctions of the average angler and its not only novices that get it wrong, are a major cause of their failure to catch fish! I really get annoyed because I have spent much of my life trying to spread the sea angling gospel, but then it could be that my readers do not lose their tackle!

There are so many variations possible of terminal rigs that for the novice the whole subject is a minefield. The three common pitfalls include, using the wrong dimensions which results in the rig continually tangling, a lack of streamlining which reduces casting distance and most common, the use of the wrong diameter line and or components which increases the rigs chances of snagging or breaking off. In between other mistakes include leaving long ends of line hanging off knots and using duff knots that slip or break.


If there is a problem with terminal rigs it is in choice of the most suitable the for a given fishing situation because there are so many variations. Many have the same build characteristics with options of different dimensions, hook sizes, line breaking strains etc. Whilst the novice may choose a couple of simple rig designs, the more advanced angler will want to cover every possible situation quickly and that means carrying upwards of 6 different types of rigs. Each design etc depending upon the venue, species, conditions, casting range required etc. The different bait selections also affect the choice of hooks on rigs and these can be included on a range of ready tied rigs although another option is to add the hooks prior to fishing. Many experienced anglers would consider thirty as the minimum number of rigs required to cover all the options.

With all these factors in mind here is a list of some of the popular terminal rigs designs and their priority features etc.

Mono Paternoster (Flapper rig): The most efficient and effective shore fishing rigs are constructed completely from mono line in what is called paternoster style. This involves the hooks coming off the rigs main body line, via swivels trapped by beads, crimps etc. These are rigs with one, two or three hook snoods. They are called flapper because the rig does not include bait clips so the hook baits flap around on the snoods when cast and they are generally preferred for short or medium range. Various hook sizes, rig body lengths, snood lengths and breaking strains may be required

Mono Paternoster (Clipped rig); Rigs with built in bait clips also come in one, two or three hooks paternoster design with different hook sizes, snood lengths and diameters. A range of bait clip devices are available to pin the hook bait close to the rig line and or behind the lead for streamlining and this increases casting distance by upwards of 25%. The Breakaway Impact lead and Cascade swivel combination is the most recent and most failsafe. This set up is more streamlined and therefore casts more smoothly, with less damage to baits and further than most of the other bait clip ideas.

Single hook rigs: Front line single hook rigs include the Pulley rig, or the one hook mono paternoster which are both preferred for big fish, large baits and rough ground. (Fewer hooks minimise the risk of snagging) The Pennell rig is included in this category – it is a single snood with two hooks which both go in the same bait giving better presentation and a great chance of hooking fish with large mouths.

Extreme range rigs: The Loop rig enable three hooks to be cast to a maximum, whilst the Wishbone and Bomber rigs are both long range two hook paternoster rigs. Tucking hook baits close behind the lead as well as shortening or compacting the rig’s body length and length of hook snoods all serve to increase casting range.

Boom rigs: Rigs with one, two or three booms in plastic or wire enable finer diameter hook snood line to be used tangle free and are preferred for small refined baits and small species like flatfish. Fluorocarbon lines is increasingly popular for the lower diameter hook snoods (10lb to 15lb)

Match rigs: Ranging from light rigs with adjustable snood positions to specialist long range two and three hook clipped rigs like the Loop rig. This selection is wide and can also include variations of all the rigs previously mentioned as well as specialist rigs for catch and release fishing.

Pier rigs: These trend to be shorter, stubby because the rig is being fished more vertical so that hook baits are near the sea bed. Flowing traces, French booms, free line rigs and float rigs are also included.

PRO RIG TIP: When casting a flapper rig the bait is pushed up to the hook snood to the bend of the hook by the air pressure and this gives better bait presentation, especially for small baits and smaller fish. Baits clips on the other hand, allow the bait to be forced up the snood by the air pressure taking them away from the hook. Bait stops on the snood are used to prevent this happening, but the bait will never presented as well as it is on a flapper rig. Only chose clipped rigs when maximum range is a priority.

The hard facts are that terminal rigs have to be made up within a set of basic dimensions. You just cannot go totally your own way with terminal rig design, especially with multi hook terminal rigs and must stick within a few designs and dimensions. The old standard mono paternoster designs and a few improved variations are still the best. Crucially get the dimensions of your rig wrong and the complete rig ends up in a bundle on the sea bed, or offers so much resistance to casting it goes nowhere.

If in doubt about terminal rigs the most sound advice in the first instant is to buy a few ready made rigs from a tackle shop and copy them – this gives you some idea of the basic designs, layout, components etc and it wont take long for the novice to realise that a rig made in the Far East by a non angler peasant worker can be improved on. Not least in terms of components, knots, line, etc.

Obviously the more hooks (baits) the more casting distance is reduced, remembering that the more bait the better the fish attracting scent so what is best one hook, two hooks or three? The answer is that there is not one rig or compromise that will suit every venue, season, weather or species and it is necessary to carry a selection of rig types, especially rigs with one or two hooks. Three hooks are often chosen by competition anglers.

The main options are also rigs with bait clips to pin the baits close behind the lead for maximum distance and simpler flapper rigs without bait clips for situations when casting distance was not crucial. Then there are rigs for big fish with bigger hooks.

It starts to get complicated here and whilst I don’t consider myself a tackle tart, I do believe that some of the latest terminal tackle ideas are far superior to many of the past. For years sea anglers made do with make shift gear, but in recent times tackle technology has reached sea angling and a host of great ideas are hitting the shops. Many make life easier or improving fishing results, whatever there are lots of terminal tackle items the sea angler should not ignore and a great new innovation is that many include really detailed diagrams of how to use them.

Impact lead: This, in my opinion, is the most important breakthrough in shore casting of the millennium, I think it’s more important than the original breakout lead its self. The Impact design has a built in fail safe bait clip that offers immediate and simple streamlining for rigs. Despite this many novices see it as an unnecessary expense and view it as too specialist for them. They simply do not realise what an advantage it brings to casting distance and bait presentation.

Cascade swivel: This superb yet simple small accessory item enables rigs to be made streamlined simply by clipping it on.

Lead link: The neatest and strongest lead/ line link around, small, simple and anti tangle.

Rig stops: Just about the neatest item to hit the rig scene, do away with crimps and stop knots, simple slide a rubber bait or rig stop on the rig body and it will hold your swivel etc just where you want it, also great for bait stops.

Pulley Bead: Superb for Pulley rigs because it does not dent, damage and weaken the rig line like a swivel does.

Foam rig Winders: An increasing number of anglers are switching from storing their rigs in small sealed plastic bags to the rig winder. Inside bags rigs can tangle and stay damp or go rusty, on winders they don’t tangle and in the air can dry out.

PRO TIP: You need to learn just two knots to make any terminal rig. The (three turn) Grinner knot for tying swivels clips etc and the (five turn) half blood knot for tying hooks.


Steer clear of very light line for hook snoods. 25lb to 20lb is perfect for the winter angler and the specialist copolymer or fluorocarbon snood lines are slightly stiffer, tougher and less likely to tangle. Rig body line should be the same as that for the shock leader with 10lb per ounce of lead being cast the standard.

Make sure the connecting clip or swivel at the top of the rig is clear of the top snood to prevent it tangling.

Bait stops are essential on the snoods of clipped rigs to prevent the bait travelling up the snood during casting.

Tension springs fitted below the top swivels on a paternoster style rig prevent hooks coming off bait clips in mid cast.

Always use the same breaking strain line for the rig body that you need for the casting shock leader.

Sea anglers use a maximum of three hooks because that is the number that is practically to cast although another reason could be the amount of bait required to bait a rig with more hooks. UK sea anglers have been conditioned to use two or three baits for general fishing and one for big fish.

You can make rigs up without hooks and tie on the hooks when required although most experienced anglers find it easier to simply make up all rig and hook size options ready to use.


Rig winders are mostly made from EVA, the same tough foam like material used for some rod handles and come in a range of sizes (width and diameter) as well as colours so you can separate different types of rigs more easily than with plastic packets. Winders can be purchased loose or in a custom size fabric, Velcro seal, tube. Winders are comparatively a new innovation in the UK and not all tackle dealers have them. Make sure you buy the correct size – Light continental match rigs can be stored easily on a 4cm diameter winder, whilst standard UK shore rigs require a winder of at least 6cm. Wire boom rigs are best kept on the larger 10/12cm plus diameter winders.

An increasingly popular method of storing winders is in plastic tackle accessories box and some anglers even install pins on which to slot each winder on to.

Rig winder tips

* So that you know what hook to detach first to unravel a rig from your winder tangle free it’s a good idea to have a system. Hook the first hook in the centre of the rig winder when you start to wind it on the winder. Place the second hook in the edge of the winder and the third hook on the outside edge the winder. You obviously unravel the rig in reverse.

* Boom rigs can also be stored on winders – Using metal booms wind the rig tightly around a winder, the larger diameter up to 12cm winders are best and allow the booms to be removed for use without curling.


One of the problems with terminal rig management is what to do with wet, salty, bait and weed encrusted used terminal rigs?

Returned to a rig wallet then any moisture etc is trapped and will corrode components as well as smell. Returned to a winder the air can get to the rig and dry it off whilst a good idea is a separate winder tube for used rigs to prevent the contamination of unused ones.



Just about the best rig for casting long distances happens to be the simplest clipped rig to make and that’s the Pulley rig. The clip that holds the hook bait close to the lead can be a simple wire lead link with a built in bait clip, a Bait Shield or you can use an Impact lead which is the version I prefer. Tie the lead link on the end of a 60lb rig body line, slide on a bead, then a Pulley bead, then another bead and then tie on a swivel The Impact lead is clipped on the lead link and the hook length is tied to the swivel it needs to be slightly shorter than the rig body. Clip your main line on the swivel that is on the Pulley Bead, clip the hook to the Impact lead and you are ready to go – No complicated stop knots, no tension springs, the Pulley rig is simplicity itself. Alternatives include the addition of a second hook sliding on the snood to convert the rig into a Pulley Pennell rig.


A more advanced clipped rig for long casting with two baits is the one up one down clipped rig or Loop rig. It is more complicated to construct that the Pulley rig because snood lengths are crucial to its performance. The essence of this rig is that the two hook baits are line astern of the lead for maximum streamlining and therefore casting distance.

Cut the rig body line at an angle so it has a sharp point with line clippers, this aids the threading of components such as beads, rig stops, crimps, etc. Thread on a crimp followed by a bead then the top hook swivel, then another bead. Then thread on a tension spring and another bead and a crimp (Rig stops or stops made of Power Gum etc can be used and these are more adjustable than a crimp. Now thread on another crimp, bead, swivel, bead on the main line for the lower hook length and tie a lead link to the end of the line with a two/three turn Grinner knot. Measure out the length of the rig (Between 4ft and 6ft, is optional and depends upon how long you want the hook snoods and tie on the top swivel/clip. Next close the crimp at the bottom of the rig so that it secures the lower swivel between the beads as close as possible to the lead link.

Tie on a two foot length(optional, how long you want lower snood) of 25lb mono to the lower swivel and to that tie on a Cascade swivel via the curved loop that would normally go on the rig main line. (For neatness you can straighten and shape the wire loop with pliers if you wish) Tie on a short length of line (6 inches) to the Cascade swivel eye.

The top hook snood is tied on to the top swivel (2ft) Next add the 1cm length of silicone tubing to each hook snood. Pass the line through the silicone tubing twice and it locks on the line to form the bait stop, add a sequin and then tie on the hook (s)

The rig snood positions will need to be tensioned and adjusted to allow the rig to be clipped up properly – That is why rig stops or Power Gum stop knots are used, these can be easily moved and adjusted. (You can also use a crimp for securing the bottom side of the swivel).


A couple of spare rigs hung from you rod rest in reserve will keep you fishing constantly, especially if you pre bait one between casts. Once you retrieve, take the old rig off and clip on a freshly baited one! This tactics greatly increases the fishing time and potential because you are not only saving time, you are casting out completely fresh bait every cast.

Hooks become damaged easily whilst you are fishing and it pays to inspect hook points and replace regularly, especially when using small hooks, damage to sharp points from beach stones like blunted or turned over points could cost you a fish. Similarly hook snoods can be frayed by fish teeth, rocks, barnacles or being spun up by small fish.

Q & A:

Q: When and how should I use a Pennell rig for shore fishing?

A: The essence of the Pennell rig is that it puts two hooks in a single bait and is a favourite rig for fishing for large fish like cod with big baits. You can make up a Pennell rig easily, simply slide a hook on the snood line via the hook eye and then tie on a second hook. Bait the hook that is tied on and then slide the second hook down the line towards the bait, wrap it around the line a couple of times and then nick the hook point through the top of the bait. Some anglers use a section of tubing to support the sliding hook on the line. The end product is a bait that is supported and armed with a hook at each end, a combination that proves very effective.

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