Back to Basics – Knots and Rigs
  |  First Published: November 2009

With every aspect of fishing, the knot is the most important part of setting up a rig.

It has to be 100% correct every time. It has the most pressure strung upon it and has to stand up to the challenge when a fish takes the bait.

Rigs, also an essential part of fishing, are tied together with a series of knots, joining hooks to leader, line to line or line to terminal tackle.

What I have listed below is a series of fishing rigs that are ideal when fishing in both Port Philip and Western Port for a wide range of species.

These knots and rigs also have Universal appeal in waters across Victoria and Tasmania.


The paternoster rig was developed many years ago: it is said that St Peter used it to catch fish, and mentioned in the New Testament. Whether this is so or not, it has been used for centuries around the world and is one of the more Universal rigs in use today.

The paternoster rig is used to suspend two hooks above a fixed sinker, with hooks each attached to a dropper tied off the main line.

The droppers are tied with a special knot called the dropper loop. Sinkers, hooks and swivels can be attached with a Uni-knot.

The paternoster rig is mainly used for deep-water bottom fishing but is very effective on bream, snapper, salmon, tailor, flathead, whiting and trevally.

Paternoster rigs are recommended for use in the surf for salmon, when fishing for whiting or when drift fishing for flathead and snapper.


Running sinker rigs can be used pretty much anywhere. The running sinker rig allows the bait to be taken without any pressure, the angler can see the bite, and strike to set the hook.

Running sinker rigs are quite easily tied; they are designed to allow the bait to sit on the bottom of the sea floor for those species that may be swimming past.

It is setup by passing the mainline through the sinker or Ezy-rig and attaching it to a swivel. A section of leader is attached to the other end of the swivel and hooks on the opposite end of the leader.

Running sinker rigs are ideal when fishing for snapper in Port Phillip from Mornington to Portarlington and into the upper reaches of the bay where tidal flow isn’t of concern. Though setup with heavier tackle, they are the perfect rig for targeting gummy sharks in the southern sections of Port Phillip and throughout Western Port. They are also good for elephant sharks and any other bottom feeder.


The concept behind the fixed sinker rig is for those land-based anglers fishing for species such as snapper, gummy shark and toothy sharks.

It is made from better than average components to prevent line twist at all costs. This rig is used more so from the beach and in the surf where current and strong waves are present.

The setup of the rig is quite simple.

Three crane swivels are to be attached to a split ring. This creates a three-way swivel. A snapper sinker clip is attached to the bottom swivel for the sinker to be attached. The other two swivels are attached to a section of leader line; one has a swivel on one end to be attached to the mainline while the other to your hooks.


Float rigs can be tied for a wide range of species but in Port Philip and Western Port, it is the squid float rig and garfish rig that are the most popular.

The float rig is set for when a fish takes suspended bait; the float disappears under the water.

Float fishing is great for kids, as watching the float before is disappears a great visual aspect to fishing. This rig can also be used in freshwater applications when fishing for redfin or trout in both lakes and rivers.

When fishing for garfish, a quill or pencil float is threaded onto the line and held in position with split shot sinkers. Split shot sinkers are crimped onto the line in the position you want. The amount of split shot depends on the buoyancy of the float, but they can be added until the float sits correctly on a vertical angle. A hook is the attached to the end of the leader.

When targeting calamari with baited jigs, a bobby cork float is attached on a length of leader between a swivel and a snap swivel. A squid prong or bait jig is then clipped onto the snap swivel.

This rig will be altered each time you fish, as the length of leader will be determined by the depth of water you are fishing.


When tying the dropper loop, it should stand out on a right angle to the main line.

Firstly make a loop in the line and rotate the loop over the mainline several times twisting the loop. Pass the loop back through the centre hole first created and pull tight.

As you pull tight, you will notice the series of twists pull tight creating a dropper.

Repeated this process further up the line to create two droppers overall.


A double Uni-knot is used to connect two separate lines together to form one. Mainly used when joining braid to mono leader, this is the most widely used knot.

When tying, double the braid over on itself. Braid is about half the diameter of mono so doubling it over will make it easier to tie.

Make a loop of line in the braid and pass the tag end through the loop 4-5 times and pull tight.

Do the same in the mono tag end and pull tight in the opposite direction. Hold both the mainline in mono and in the braid and pull both Uni-knots together forming one knot joining the lines.


A single Uni-knot is without doubt the easiest knot to tie; it is also the strongest.

A Uni-knot is used to attach all terminal tackle to your mainline. Simply pass the mainline or leader through the eye of the terminal tackle your attaching. Bring it back on itself and make a loop of line.

Twist the end of the tag through the loop 4-5 times and pull tight away from the terminal tackle your attaching. Hold the piece of terminal tackle in one hand and the mainline in the other and pull tight. The Uni-knot till pull tight towards the piece of terminal tackle you’re using.


Although these rigs and knots are the basics for a large variety of fishing applications, they are the simplest to tie.

You don’t need to go to extremes with fancy knots and rigs just to catch a fish from the beach, pier of even from the boat. What you do however need to make sure of is that you knots are the strongest they can be.

If you’re confident that your rigs, knots and terminal tackle are all in good condition and 100% prefect then there won’t be a problem.

If you’re worried something could break or you not confident in the rig you tied then it might be a good option to re-tie or put on a new hook or swivel.

You don’t what to lose the fish of a lifetime, or even your hard earned catch, just because you didn’t tie the knot correctly or the hook was blunt.

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