Rigging for Tautog Fishing

Rigging for tautog fishing is unlike any other form of bottom fishing. Since I had the chance to fish with a serious die-hard last week, John Unkart (the author of a how-to fishing book, Offshore Pursuit, at www.getgup.com) and get his rigging tips, I thought I’d pass them along. Green crab is the favored tog bait. [...]

5th April 2010.
By Lenny Rudow

Rigging for tautog fishing is unlike any other form of bottom fishing. Since I had the chance to fish with a serious die-hard last week, John Unkart (the author of a how-to fishing book, Offshore Pursuit, at www.getgup.com) and get his rigging tips, I thought I’d pass them along.

Green crab is the favored tog bait. Most folks cut them in half, but Unkart says you’ll do better if you keep them whole, and rig up with a twin-hook rig. Place one of the hooks in each side of the crab, going in the knuckle at the second-last or last fin. The hook point then comes out through the crab’s bib. Here’s a picture, rigging up for tog:

The hook goes through the knuckle of a back fin, and comes out the bib.

The hook goes through the knuckle of a back fin, and comes out the bib.

The leader should be 20-pound test – enough beef to muscle up the fish, but not so much that you’ll break your main line if you snag the wreck you’re fishing on, because this is a regular occurrence. Main lines should be 30-pound test or larger. Use stout rods, so you can lift and pull the fish out of the wreckage as soon as you hook up. Attach your weight to the rig with a short length of 10-pound test, so you can break the weight free without losing the rest of the rig. Again, this helps minimize the losses when snaggings occur.
So, did we catch any last week? Nah – in fact, we didn’t ever drop for them. We took these pictures on the way in from deep-dropping at the Norfolk canyon for tilefish, and by the time we arrived at the tog spot it was too close to dark to give it a shot. Fingers are crossed, for a weather-window next week – stay tuned!!! 


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Lenny Rudow

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Lenny Rudow is Senior Editor for Dominion Marine Media, including boats.com and YachtWorld.com. With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, he has contributed to publications including Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.
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