Bottom Float Rig
Some folks was curious about the rig I was using (april 2005) so I drew a little diagram of it with photoshop and this rig is for muddy, silted in, bottoms for boat fishing but can be adapted to other styles of fishing from shore as well. I used to use balloons for this but since they've started making those split floats I like using those because you can put them on and take them back off the line without cutting the line. The way I came up with this idea was back in the mid 80's I was down at Corpus Christi, TX and a guy was fishing and he had a balloon tied on his rig. I asked him what the balloon was for and he said the cross current covers up your bait when fishing on bottom. Since then I've used balloons quite a bit in different ways.
This rig that I've been using recently has been very successful in producing fish. The reason I use this rig is because of the boat swaying back and forth. If you anchor the boat down so that it won't sway and you get a big fish on, you're in trouble because most of the time if you can't get everything up in a hurry the big fish will wrap around it. With this rig all you have to do is pull the anchor up and land the fish. This rig is designed to keep the bait from being pulled into the mud when the boat moves. When the boat moves it moves quite a bit and if the reel is locked down it drags the sinker into the mud and also pulling the baited hook under the mud. This results in very few bites. So, what you want is a rig that'll suspend off bottom and won't move and if it does move then it can right itself when the slack comes back in the line. the float picks the line up off bottom and the sinker holds it so that it doesn't move. On this rig the float isn't for bite detection at all cause you don't see it ... the 3oz to 6oz sinker will be holding it under the water but the float keeps the line upright and off the bottom keeping the hook suspended.
I use a 2ft drop from the threeway swivel to the sinker. 8" drop to the hook and the float is attached to the mainline above the three way swivel. You keep slack in your line so that the float can hold the baited hook up. The photo shows about how it looks.
Revision: May 30, 2006
After using this rig with my clients all spring I've come to the conclusion that the threeway swivels aren't a good idea ... the dropper loop works much better as the swivel sometimes cuts the line and that's no fun when you get a biggun on. So in the picture, substitute the threeway swivel with a dropper loop. You need to use 50 lb test on the terminal gear also ... all below the swivel else the line will twist up badly and weaken easily ... using the 50 lb test will prevent this and will take a lot of abuse so that you can catch a lot of fish on one rig before having to re-tie.
This top diagram shows the bottom float rig with the crappie float near the sinker ... the float will actually be sitting on top of the sinker when you get ready to cast this rig. When it hits the water the float will slide up to the Dropper Loop. You then let out about 2 to 3 yds slack so that the float will pick the baited hook up out of the mud.
This shows the float slid up the line to the dropper loop .. this is where the float will be after you've casted the rig out. be sure to let out some slack or you'll just pull the float down and the bait will be in the mud
This third picture shows a little different style
rig which I sometimes use when I'm fishing in waters less than a foot deep ...
this rig works well out in deeper waters too but you can actually tightline this
rig if you want but I always let out a little line to allow the fish to move a
few feet and allow them to get the bait inside their mouth really good.
I've recently altered this rig when fish are biting some way that my hookup rate gets down pretty low for whatever reason and that's to tie a snap swivel on the mainline where the dropper loop is in the two pictures above this bottom one. then tie a 1 ft to 8" leader on a 4/0 treble hook and use an crochet hook to stick the hook leader through the eye of the embroidery needle then push the leader up through the shad head or cut chunk of shads body section so that one of the points of the treble is sticking in the flesh of the cut bait and the other two hook points are sticking out on both sides. Then with a loop tied in the top of the leader you take the loop and snap it to the line on the snap swivel. This rig is super deadly like that but it's a little more involved when baiting up. The big plus is that you won't miss hardly any hits like this if they're nice sized fish ... this won't help if you've stopped in an area where there's a lot of little bitty fish.