Particularly when fishing close in, a simple yet extremely effective method of targeting predators such as Bass, Mackerel, Garfish and Pollack, is to free-line baits.
The rig is simplicity itself and consists of a swivel, a hook, and a bit of line in between. That’s it. To make up a free lining rig, simply tie a small swivel to one end of a 4ft length of light line and a hook to the other. Clip this on to the American snap swivel at the end of your main line, bait up, chuck it in and wait for the bites. It’s as easy as that.
With so few components needed to make this simple rig, it’s important to get the few necessary bits of tackle right.
An 8- 12lb trace line. Berkley’s fluorocarbon lines, such as the Vanish Clear or Vanish Transition, are ideal since they are virtually invisible underwater. These are best choice for free-lining by far.
This will depend wholly on the size/type of bait and target species. Depending on what you are looking to catch, consider smaller specimen hooks for scratching and for Mullet and anything from a size 2 Aberdeen (for small Pollack and such) up to a 3/0 Sakuma for Bass.
Everyone has their own preference here, but if Mullet fishing with bread, the Mustad bronzed trebles or the smaller B980 Kamasan Specimen hooks are very effective. For everything else, the B940 Aberdeen pattern Bronzed Hook (excellent worm hook) or the 540 Manta pattern Sakumas (great for bulkier baits) are a sound choice. They’re strong yet not too heavy and, should you snap off or get snagged when playing a fish, it’ll rust out to nothing quickly. It must be said that the 540 Mantas, with their wider gape, make for great livebaiting hooks also.
Chemically sharpened circle or crab hooks are also extremely effective, however, a hard hitting predator may well swallow the whole bait deep down still (and therefore the short shanked hook with it) making it and awkward affair to unhook cleanly should you choose to return it. In fairness though, the circle hooks generally do hook fish more cleanly but you may lose a few more in the process.
Any style of swivel will work, barrel swivel/rolling swivel etc, but match it to your trace/line strength and keep it as small as is practicable.
Main line breaking strain should be the same (or slightly higher) than that of your trace line ie. 10lb mainline for 8lb trace etc.
The beauty of this trace is that it is also interchangeable. In addition to clipping the free-lining fishing trace directly onto your mainline, it can also be used in conjunction with the quick float fishing rig and quick ball weight rig.
The free-lining rig is most effective when used in conjunction with live baits, check out our article on how to bait up with live baits for more information.