02: Choosing Rigs

Between The Lines - Ch 05: Rigs

The combinations of lures and rigs are infinite. It is one of those clubroom subjects often argued for hours at a time. There is no need for this confusion as it really is very simple. There are thousands of head types and shapes used in lure trolling but essentially they can be broken up into just two categories:


0502_Symetrical_Lure_HeadsSymmetrical Heads are heads that are the same shape top and bottom for the length of the lure head. The leader holes are often through the middle of the head. Apart from cosmetics and colour schemes they have no top and bottom and are rarely weighted. All standard Pakula Lures fall into this category. The way this type of head is rigged is critical as they determine the orientation of the lure. Most of these types of heads have an irregular head shaking action.


0502_Non_Symetrical_Lure_HeadsNon Symmetrical Heads are heads that are not the same topand bottom. They can be any shape, although most often these are heads with an angled front. They do have a top and bottom, although which side that is depends on design and weighting. The leader hole is often offset. Most of these types of heads have a regular swimming action.

Understanding the distinction between the two will help in deciding which rig is most applicable. As with lure heads, there are an infinite amount of rigging options and hook types, sizes and combinations. We can break them all down into just four main rigs, although while dealing with the rigs and their attributes, keep in mind the affect they would have in enhancing or disrupting the desired characteristics of the lure heads.

To know more about the rigs a short video is included in each category to show what the rig actually does underwater rather than what many people think they do.


0502_SingleSingle hook rigs are often used simply tied to the leader spaced anywhere along the length of the skirt with a rubber band at the back of the lure head, known as a slip rig. More complex arrangements including wire are also used to space the hook to where you want it to lie in the lure skirt.

When single hook rigs are run in the water they run point up. This targets the hook point at the top jaw, which is by far the best, as it is the largest target with quite a few areas where the hooks can lodge securely. Unfortunately, the hooks do wander at speed and often run at an angle flat on their sides, so they are not aimed at the best target zone all of the time. However, they are the safest to use for both angler and fish alike, and do result in a fairly good hook-up rate.


0502 Twin110Twin hook with hooks the same size are the most common rigs used. They are generally stiff-rigged so the hooks remain rigid, bound by electrical tape or shrink tubing. They are portrayed as in the photo with one point up and the other down.

When twin hook rigs are run in the water they naturally run flat as the weight of each hook balances out the other. The only place these can lodge successfully is in the corner of the mouth and this can only be done once the fish has turned away from the boat. This rig is also quite unstable at speed, and will rotate in any turbulence, which makes the target they are aiming at a random target.


Due to the nature of these rigs they are of little use with symmetrical heads. Apart from the hooks running flat, the stiff rig drastically reduces the lure action and its effectiveness. They are only of use with non-symmetrical heads and only when they have been weighted to compensate for the hooks trying to turn the lure on its side. The tendency of these hooks to roll the lure restricts the maximum-sized hooks that can be run in these lures as the weight of the heavier hooks will overcome the balance of the lure head and weight balance.


0502 Twin11x10Twin hooks with a combination of sizes and / or types are based on using a large hook near the lure head with a small hook at the tail. They are most often stiff-rigged, but are also often rigid with the large hook taped to the wire, with the trailing smaller hook rigged loosely on a wire loop.

When the combination twin hook rig is run underwater, the interaction of the two hooks sees the larger hook run with the point facing downwards and the smaller hook run with the point up. Unfortunately, this means the smaller hook is aimed at the better target of the top jaw. However, this rig is very stable and will maintain it’s configuration at speed and in quite turbulent conditions, and is therefore ideal in lures with non-symmetrical heads. They are also stable for use in lures with symmetrical-shaped heads, though ideally, the hooks should not be stiff-rigged which will interfere with the lure action.


NB Editors note, As trolling cameras have improved and we can use them at more realistic trolling speeds we have found that this rig is not as stable as we thought, video of this rig at 7.5 knots:


0502_ShackleThe Pakula Shackle Rig was invented to overcome the problems of rigging symmetrical-shaped heads. Both hooks are angled at 60 degrees so both hooks are separately allowed to balance with both points aimed at the top jaw. All connections are loose, the hooks on loops are allowed to swing freely on a shackle, which in turn gives the lure maximum freedom of action and effectiveness. When run underwater the Shackle Rig is very stable, as each hook runs as an individual, maintaining its own balance. They are by far the best for symmetrical-shaped heads as they act as a keel to keep the lure oriented with the part of the lure between the hook points running uppermost. This rig is also quite good for non-symmetrical-shaped heads as both hooks are pointed towards the best target. Also note if the other types of twin rigs are running as they were supposed to, that is, one hook up and the other down, a fish would have to open its mouth twice as far to engulf them as the 60 degree shackle rig.


0502_KeelPlease note that the following section on the 'Keel Rig' will be updated in the new version of the Between The Lines DVD set "Revelations" due for release in 2011. Articles and clips may be put on-line before it's release.

The ‘Keel Rig’ is a way to overcome the natural imbalance of many of the traditional systems. This modification to rigs was developed many years ago as part of the shackle rig to increase hook-up rates regardless of the hook configurations used and to overcome the effects of rough seas unbalancing even the best rigs. The rig modification is based on lowering the center of gravity of the rigs by suspending weights below the bend of the hook. The weights used are generally lead net weights with a cut in one side and an open tube core which allows the rig wire freedom of movement.

The main considerations are that only enough lead should be used to meet the conditions. The lead should be attached in such a manner that it will fall away easily on hook up so it cannot be used as a pendulum. Methods such as a light rubber band or light heat shrink are fine.

Rigs should be tested by pulling them through clear water, such as a swimming pool for balance. Several rigs can be prepared and with the use of small shackles are easily changed over.

The short video shows several keeled rigs: Firstly, the single hook rig is now very stable. Secondly, the twin hook back to back is not weighted enough to stabilise it. A bit more lead would accomplish this. The third is a shackle rig in turbulent waters maintaining its 60 degree set-up.

The keel rig increases hook-up rates significantly. I hope it will be used for tag and release.



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