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The Essential Beginner's Rigs

Tackle - Stock up the following items, but no need to over do it!!!

Swivels - The first advice is to always use a swivel above the rig.  The "eggbeater" type of reel is the most common and easiest to use, as long there is a swivel to release the twist imparted every time the line is cast and retrieved.  Beginners will have no end of trouble with tangles at the reel if the twist builds up. Two swivels will be even more effective (see Paternoster rig below).

Hooks - Begin with a #2 Baitholder hook and if there are bites and no hook ups, then drop down in size to a #4.  However if the majority of fish are undersize, then move up in hook size. If you are targetting fish with smaller mouths eg Whiting or Luderick then begin with a #4. If you are after Garfish you will need #10 or #12 hooks in the tackle box.

Sinkers - Small sinkers allow better presentation of bait to wary fish, however generally for beginners a heavier sinker will cause less problems. Don't go so heavy though, that the tip of the rod is over loaded.  Smaller ball sinkers  are handy to get a float weighted right.  Split shot are good for Garfish rigs.

Line -Standard monofilament line is recommended from about 6 -12lbs breaking strain.  This line will perform well  on most fish in most circumstances, and also allowing many snags to be beaten. With a smooth drag setting on the reel and a flexible rod tip this line will catch most fish.  Most importantly the simpler knots will tie easily, so fixing rigs is easier and quicker.  Later this allows  the kids to set up their own rigs which is much more desirable.  Avoid fancier highly flexible or braid lines to begin with unless you just love fancy knot tying.

Basic Rigs - begin with these and explore the others as needed. If you are not sure how to tie a strong knot then check the Knots Information.

Running Sinker - Easily the most popular rig.  An all purpose approach that can catch nearly any type of fish, but does best with bottom feeding fish such as Flathead or Bream. Change the hook or the sinker or lengths of leaders for a wide range of similar set ups.  The swivel is essential as it will release twist.  The sinker will allow the line to run through if a fish moves the bait (and the line) and not immediately feel the sinker.  Least complicated and easiest rig for beginners to cast and retrieve. (Black Bream, Sea Bream, Flat Head)

Running Sinker Rig

Paternoster - The sinker is at the end of the rig and one or two leaders are attached above it.  Good for avoiding crabs around jetties that will quickly pinch bait lying on the bottom. Allows two types of bait to be tried on the two hooks to see which performs best.  Nibbles or bites can be seen/felt directly as the main line is set under tension. (Snapper, Tailor, Trevally)

Paternoster Rig

Floats - These are a little more trouble, but are worth it if you are after Luderick or Garfish.  

The Luderick rig needs a properly weighted float.  Set the flotation bulb of the float so it is just submerged, and only the stick tip is out of the water and  is vertical.  The float then operates as the most sensitive nibble detector.  Use a #4 or #6 short shank hook and one or two small split shot along the leader to get the bait to the chosen depth (most important if there is any current around).  Luderick are noted fussy level feeders, change the leader length to find the depth they are at.
Luderick Rig
Luderick have small mouths, but grow big and are real fighters. Best skinned and filleted.
The Garfish rig is similar but use a cigar shaped float that lies horizontal on the water and is best rigged with a #10 or #12 long shank hook.
Garfish Rig
  They are surface feeders and only a couple of small split shot on the leader are required to assist with casting.  As you gently retrieve the rig the bait will tend to come to the surface behind the float.  This is ok and the gar's will love it.  Small fish but beautiful flavour, butterflied and shallow fried in bread crumbs!!!

NB The colours of the floats here are just to highlight the differences, in reality they can be any colour, even transparent, though red and white is traditionally popular..