Two fluke fishing rigs that you need to know
When it comes to big-game fishing gear, these two offerings can be quickly coupled and infinitely customized to suit different locations and conditions.
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This modified version of the classic high-low test fluorocarbon rig requires a 40-pound leader, a barrel swivel, two to ¾-ounce jigs, and a cannonball sinker. It is designed to place two baits near the bottom while drifting over an almost unobstructed sand bottom. It’s a popular tackle among anglers in the Nantucket Shoals, known for vast expanses of sand that provide ideal habitat for doormat fishing. The shallow water variable bottom structure allows the cannonball diver to roll over small troughs and grooves carved into the sand by changing the current. These areas are where luck lies camouflaged to catch any unexpected bait drifting in the upstream.
The angle of the bait in the water is everything. When executed correctly, the jigs are tied to dropper rings and swim suspended slightly above the bottom. In heavy current, this jig is effective because the lightweight jigs reduce tangling and add enough weight to keep the baits in the strike zone.
Most perch anglers prefer lightweight jigs with silicone skirts due to their movement, wide range of colors, and durability. Lightweight buckle jigs can also be used in place of silicone skirt jigs, but they tend to fray by fluke teeth over time and have fewer color options. Ultimately, the most important aspect of a popcorn rig jig is the hook. Jigs should have hooks large enough to accommodate large scented lures and/or strip baits, while leaving enough room to get a secure hook on the biting fluke.
Dancing for popcorn pads:
Still water baits and poison tail
Joe Bugs Nantucket Floki Teaser
Berklee Fusion 19 Bucktail Dance
Modifying the popcorn device:
If snags are a concern, or bluefish and dogfish rack up a big bill on missing jigs, anglers can modify the popcorn rig by swapping out jigs for Mylar skirts and soft plastic squid atop large octopus-shaped hooks.
Attach the device as you normally would, using two dropper loops. For each loop, slide it over the squid, then tease the Mylar rivet to flash, followed by the hook. The resulting platform will have a little less movement than a traditional popcorn stand, but is still an effective display.
Transfer weight to bait
Swapping out the sinker for a heavy jig gives the angler an extra chance to lure a big fluke. While more bites appear in teasers, larger bites sometimes come in the form of a clip.
A 2- to 6-ounce jig will cover most bases when fishing a doormat, and minnow head jigs are the most popular style. They swim well through the current, resemble the shape of a realistic baitfish, and come in different sizes and colors.
Make sure to select a fixed hook and avoid using swinging hooks. A jig with a swinging hook increases the likelihood of a fluke gaining leverage to free itself with just a few shakes of the head.
Watch: Three Fluke Doormat Rigs with Captain Jeff Viammari: How to Tie a Popcorn Tool
When the boat is drifting well, a three-way rig can be an excellent option for luring big fluke by allowing anglers to present extra-large lures or live baits in a natural way.
The long leader gives a digging action and keeps the bait away from heavy diving, while Mylar and squid skirts add color, flash and size to the bait’s presentation. A long leader has less tension on the line than mylar and popcorn rigs, increasing the likelihood of a committed strike from a tough or hesitant fluke.
This rig requires a fast drift to liven up the bait on the end of a long leader. In slow drifts, the bait will drag or tangle, making a popcorn rig or jig the better choice.
Avoid pitching or casting the rig blindly as a long leader may tangle the main line. Instead, gently lower the rig into the water and make sure the bait leader is free of tangles or kinks before sending it the rest of the way to the bottom.
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