Ledger rigs have been around for years, but they are still an effective way to catch snapper and other popular table species. You can either tie your own or buy the pre-tied rigs that tackle companies produce. Editor Matt Hewetson looks at two good options to consider when fishing.
I started out using the humble ledger rig as my go to snapper rig when I bought my first boat, a Buccaneer 450. I was in my twenties and lived on Auckland’s North Shore and would launch from Browns Bay and head out into the gulf with a bin load of pillies and anchor up over promising sign and send them to the bottom. Typically, my rig comprised of two hooks, heavier mono, a swivel and a 3 or 4 oz sinker on the end.
There was always a few trusty Black Magic Snapper Snatcher Flasher Rigs also on board and they produced fish too. There were no softbaits or fancy sliders back in the early 2000’s and bait was the go to choice. A ledger rig or straylined baits were the two main methods and still are for many Kiwi anglers today.
I remember thinking it was funny to me how some anglers would favour one over the other and vigorously defend their method. Once, when out on a client charter trip and working for another fishing magazine. I was laughed at when I proceeded to rig up with a ledger rig and lowered it into the water. The other anglers from a well-known tackle company, were all straylining and they had an esteemed guest over from Japan out with us that day. Not long after and I landed one of the best snapper of the day and the ribbing rightly subsided, with the Japanese visitor now very intrigued on how I tied my rig!
Most anglers this summer will try to cover all the bases to get a feed of fish for the family to enjoy over the break. Many will have all the gear and lure/bait combos on board and try them all over the course of their fishing.
Here are two good ledger rigs options when snapper fishing;
MAKE YOUR OWN LEDGER RIG
The key to making your own ledger rig is to ensure you use a good recurve hook. This means fish will more easily hook-up on their own and in the mouth, so you can release undersized fish unharmed. I recommend using Black Magic KLT hooks, these have an excellent hook-up rate and are a quality hook. I also use their 40lb Pink Shock Leader, which is supple and strong for tying knots, this is tied to a Black Magic 10kg Rolling Swivel.
Ensure you have over a metre of the leader from the swivel, as you will double the line at the end to make a loop for the 3-4oz sinker to be slipped over. This enables you to change the sinker weight easily when the current increases or decreases.
Then make another loop in the leader close to the sinker as possible. Simply slide over the KLT 6/0 hook and make a third loop near the top by the swivel for your second hook. Often, the hook on the bottom will be hit first as snapper are feeding hard on the seabed.
Bait presentation is also important when using ledger rigs, so cut smaller strip or cube baits. Don’t put whole pillies on, cut them into three pieces and ensure the barb is exposed. Some people like to use elastic cotton which helps keep them on. Hardy baits like mullet, squid or fresh mackerel are good and will stay on your hook better.
TRY SNAPPER SNACKS
Black Magic have produced quality pre-tied flasher/ledger rigs for many years. They have no doubt been used by most Godzone anglers over the course of their fishing life. Recently, Black Magic released another great new product and they have proved popular with anglers and snapper alike. The Snapper Snack is basically a ledger rig with twin lure rigs incorporating high UV luminous skirts, just like those used on all the popular slow jigs or sliders.
These provide an even better attraction for fish and come rigged with their premium PTFE coated Black Magic KLT hooks. Which means they have the ultimate in rust resistance. They are best fished with bait, as any typical ledger rig but they still catch without and we discovered this on our very first time using them when we came across a work-up and sent them down straight out of the packet. The Super Lumo UV luminous skirts provided enough action to encourage a double hook-up on solid snapper and the recurve hooks means most fish are hooked in the corner of the mouth.
The Snapper Snacks are versatile and easy to use, a great option for beginners, kids or even experienced anglers. The come available in 3 sizes; 3/0, 5/0 and the new larger 7/0 hooks, which are good as you will avoid hooking undersized snapper with the larger hooks. While the 3/0 size is best for when targeting tarahiki with their smaller mouths.
The 6 colours available are: Tiger, Super Lumo, Pinky, Banana Smash, Chartreuse and Bleeding Pilly (only 4 colours in 7/0). I’m a fan of the Super Lumo and Banana Smash, but they all work fine, and everybody has their favourites. A good tip for when baiting them is to use the small tentacles of squid and loop them over the hooks. This extra bit of bait gives scent and looks like part of the lure skirt with good action as they move in the water.