Master the Pompano Rig for Surf Fishing

The Pompano Rig is a simple yet very effective rig for surf fishing. It works great for catching pompano, but you can also use if for other species like whiting and even shark. Today we’re going to talk about how to make and use a pompano rig for surf fishing.

Pompano Rig Setup

The pompano rig setup is pretty basic. It’s consists of these components:

  • Mono line (25 lb)
  • #2 Barrel Swivels
  • #2 Snap Swivels
  • Snell Floats
  • Orange Beads
  • Circle Hook
  • Pyramid Sinker (3-4oz)

Later we’ll talk about each of these components in detail and some alternatives you might use depending on your situation. But next, let’s talk about how to tie a pompano rig.

How to Tie a Pompano Rig

  1. Cut about five or six feet of line. The rig won’t be this long once you’re done, but that will give you more than enough line to work with.
  2. Tie one end of the line to the snap swivel using a clinch knot.
  3. Tie a dropper loop about 10-12 inches up the line.
  4. Tie a second dropper loop another 10 inches up the line and a third another 10 inches from the second.
  5. String the first dropper loop through a float, then a bead.
  6. Connect hook to end of dropper look using quick switch knot.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the other two drop loops.
  8. Tie the barrel swivel to the other end of the line.

As an alternative to dropper loops, you can use a couple of three-way swivels if you do not have the time to tie the loops.

Should I make my own rig or buy one already made?

Like most things in life, you can save a few bucks by going the DIY route.

Dr. Fish offers a kit that has everything you need to make your own rig. You can make up to 20 double-hook pompano rigs.

If you want to save money or have the ability to easily customize your rigs, then the kit below is probably best for you.

If you’d rather skip the hassle and get right to fishing, then you’re in luck. There are some great options available.
Our favorite pre-made rig is this double drop pompano rig from Sea Striker:

Whether you decide to make or buy, either way works well. It just depends on your preference.

Next we’ll talk more about the different parts of the rig.

Pompano Rig Hook

As discussed earlier, the 2/0 or 1/0 are arguably the most budget-friendly and effective hooks to catch the pompano fish. It is better than other options because of its ability to hold the bait firmly. You will also notice that unhooking them from smaller catches is remarkably easy. You will benefit from 3/0 or 4/0 circles to catch larger pompano.

Learn more about the best hooks for surf fishing.

Pompano Rig Line

Your fishing area is a significant determinant of the fishing line you use for catching this fish. The fish swims near the beach during windy seasons to hunt crabs and other prey. Take advantage of a twelve-pound line during a typical day. However, you may need a sizeable twenty pounder for seasons with excessive turbulence.

A heavy line can accommodate large sinkers, which are essential for stabilizing bait. It would be best if you used a braid weighing six to ten pounds when fishing inshore. That said, you must also consider the environment when choosing the rig line. For example, surf fishers should utilize monofilament for offshore and inshore fishing. However, for turbulent waters, a robust fluoro leader or fluorocarbon with attached hooks would be most handy.

Learn more about the best line for surf fishing.

Bait for Pompano

Sand Fleas

Sand Fleas (mole crabs) are easy to find and they work great for catching Pompano. You’d be surprised by how many sand fleas are in the surf just inches below the sand. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re at the beach, dig both of your hands under the sand in the surf and scoop up a big pile of sand. You’ll soon feel something tickling your hand. That’s a sand crab!

Drop them in a bucket with some sand and water and grab one whenever you need it. Hook the sand flea from the bottom to the top, towards the front of its body.

Sand Fleas are a great bait for a variety of species, including Sheepshead.

Shrimp and Smaller Fish

While the pompano is famous for eating smaller fish, it also hunts crabs, mussels, shrimp, clams, and other large creatures in the area. So, it would be best to target the fish by searching for a deep cut in the middle of a grassy flat and a sand bar. It is an ideal location as the pompano mostly waits for crustaceans and shrimp to catch them as they wash away from the grass and enter the water. The fish swims into glass flats as the tide is moving and catches its food.

It would be best to use the same dead baits that you would use for traditional fishing at the beach. Some experts recommend using fresh dead shrimp as they think it is arguably the best bait to catch the pompano. There is nothing wrong with using frozen varieties, but fresh options are better and have an excellent success rate. Some even argue that fresh bait is heads and shoulders better than sand flees, especially when fishing for pompano.

It would be best to break it into separate baits by pinching off and discarding the head first, followed by breaking the remaining parts of the shrimp is bigger than usual. Add it to the rig or lures to attract as many strikes as you can, particularly when fishing in deep waters. Also, ensure that your bait’s size matches your hook. Utilize a two by 0 hook if it is large, or a one by 0 hook for smaller bait.

Learn more about the best live bait for surf fishing.

How to Catch Pompano

Whether it is early in the morning or the evening, toss the baits into the trough on the beach. It is the perfect location for your first try. Don’t worry if you are not successful in this location, as you can try several places within the vicinity. The pompano moves further away from the beach and moves towards the deep water as the sun rises. It is an ideal time to bring your heavy pyramid sinker and long rod into play.

Don’t let your bait sit for more than fifteen or twenty minutes when casting them. If you haven’t gotten a bit in that time, make sure nothing stole your bait. Then try casting in a different location.

Hooking and Landing

Most fishers typically use circle hooks, and instead of setting them, they reel and apply pressure to place it in the pompano’s mouth. Hooked pompanos mostly run parallel once you get close to the surfing line. It is an excellent indicator to inform you that you have complete control of the fish. 

So, instead of forcing the pompano through breaking waves, it would be best to retrieve it by letting a rolling wave bring the fish to the sand. Doing this will ensure you don’t have to apply pressure to land the creature and will minimize the chances of separating the hook from your rod.

Be Mindful of Water Conditions

The best time to fish for this creature is when the surf is stirring crustaceans up and is slightly active instead of being overly turbulent.

That said, clean water is heads and shoulders more preferable than dirty water. Like many other things, pompano fishing conditions also have a sweet spot. Searching for this fish in rough conditions is not worth the hassle as the pompano will move out of reach. You may still be able to catch this creature in dingy water, but you must use fresh bait for it. Fresh fish bites and shrimp are excellent options during rough surf conditions.

Final Thoughts

If used correctly, the Pompano rig is one of the most effective surf fishing rigs. It’s great for pompano and a variety of other fish. After the fish finder rig, the Pompano rig is my next favorite rig to use.

One of the best things about catching whiting, pompano, and other beach creatures is the convenience of fishing for them. You do not need to travel long distances. Instead, being patient is what will help you succeed in your pompano fishing trips. Sure, you can fish from a kayak or a boat, but there is something special about spending your favorite pastime on a clear and beautiful beach.

Now that you know the importance and fundamentals of a pompano rig, try catching one (or many). It is a ton of fun, and if done correctly, will help you catch lots of fish with ease.