RIGS – Snell, paternoster, single hook, variations and how to bait
  |  First Published: October 2007

The first part of this series covered the use of gang hooks and how they fit into the big picture when fishing. In this article I would like to show you a number of other ways used to rig and present baits. The important thing is to keep it simple and these methods are simple and easy to use.

It is essential to understand that there are many variations to the snell, snood and other methods of tying rigs (Figures A to F). Adapt your own methods to these ideas and remember to keep it simple. Too many anglers try to complicate knots, rigs and bait presentation and overall the simple methods with the old gear will catch just as many fish.


The use of the snell rig is widely used and is a great solution for live, dead, floating and strip baits. The snell rig allows the opportunity for alteration with different styles and sizes of hooks.

One version is to change the bottom hook to a small treble placing it just behind the gut of the live bait and the main hook through the mouth. If using whole fish baits, put one hook through the head and the other hook through the body behind the gut cavity and make sure the second hook goes around the spine of the baitfish.

Another method is shown in Figure G where the rear hook is put through the tail and the other is put up in the main part behind the head. The idea here is that the fish will hook up no matter which way they take the bait.

When using squid some anglers prefer to place one hook at the tail end and then insert the other under the back just behind the head facing in the other direction. This is the best method for live squid.

Figure N shows the difference between dead and live bait. It shows the top hook taking in the head to hold the entire bait together. The snell and snood rigs come into there own when fishing strip baits. Use the same principles when using gangs and you will fish to great effect.

Two-gang hook

The other successful method of presenting a flesh bait is the two-gang hook method that leaves about 50% of the bait to move like a real fish in the tidal flow. This attracts the fish through movement and a natural berley trail.

Figure H shows how to rig a strip fillet of pilchard. It is a great method to catch big bream, mulloway, tailor, dart and a large variety of other species.

The most important part of rigging a bait both using either method is that the barb of the hooks comes back out through the flesh side. This stops the fish from spooking as soon as it hits the outside of the bait and feels the sharp point of the hook. Figure I indicates how it looks in reverse from Figure H using a two gang rig.

Single gang hook

Now to keep things absolutely simple the only other method that you will need to use is a single hook to rig each of the bait types mentioned. Again, there are many versions to the single hook as some prefer to use a small keeper to assist in holding the bait.

There are some simple methods to fish using single hooks that actually work.

Figure L demonstrates how to rig a 3/4 pilchard, yakka or slimy mackerel bait used for catching everything from big snapper through to mahi mahi. And Figure J shows you how to cut a full pilchard to use for this method.

The remainder of the pilchard can then be used as another bait or berley. The key to using most single hook methods is to use two half hitches on the end of the baits to hold the bait against being pulled from the hook easily (Figures L and J).

This is a great method to use as a floater bait for snapper and surface pelagics. By adding weight to suite the conditions it can also be an excellent bottom bait for stacks of fish.

Using strip baits with a single hook is outlined in Figure K and also shows two half hitches around the tail end of the bait to secure it.

A single hook can also be used when butterflying baits. The hook is simply put through the mouth of the bait, as shown in Figure M, or with the hook up the other way. You would use this method to float down the berley trail or as a lightly weighted bait to work its way to the bottom slowly and very effectively.

Paternoster rig

Recently we spoke about paternoster rig and how to tie them. The paternoster rig is another fantastic rig to use when fishing reef systems or when drifting in mixed areas out wide.

The advantage of this rig is that you can fish with two or three baits at once and that gives you more time in the strike zone. It is very easy to tie and is a real workhorse for fishers.

All of the above are tried and true methods and just take a little practice to gain the necessary confidence to use them on a regular basis. Never be afraid to ask others for advice and what they are doing differently to you.

Next month in part three of the series, we will show you a stack of ideas on how to present bait and what hooks to use when estuary fishing. There are some great ideas in that issue that you may not have seen before, so catch you then.

Figure A-D and Figure E and Figure F

Figure G

Figure H

Figure I

Figure J and Figure L

Figure K

Figure M

Figure N

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