What Are Sabiki Rigs? How to Use Them (And Make Your Own)

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Sabiki rigs have become increasingly popular for catching bait fish among both novice and experienced anglers in recent years. These multiple fish-catching rigs are the easiest method to fill up your bait bucket and consist of a series of small hooks with tiny pieces of bait or small lures tied to a mainline

Sabiki rigs are commonly used to catch bait fish from small bait fish schools such as herring, sardines, and mackerel, making it an essential rig for anglers who want to catch larger predatory fish with their own prepared fresh baits instead of having to buy bait fish from a shop. 

In this article, we will explore the basics of Sabiki rigs, including how to use them effectively for catching live bait fish and the materials needed to make your own. Whether you are a seasoned angler or just starting out, learning about Sabiki rigs can help you improve your catch and make your bait fishing experience more rewarding.

What Is a Sabiki Rig?

Sabiki rig
The Sabiki rig is a versatile and effective fishing tool with multiple branches of small hooks and bait.

A Sabiki rig typically consists of a mainline, multiple branches of smaller lines and small hooks with tiny pieces of fresh bait or small lures. This rig holds multiple hooks along its length to provide multiple options for catching live bait fish at once. 

Sabiki rigs are commonly used in saltwater fishing but can also be used in freshwater fishing in some cases as well. They are easy to use, highly versatile, and can be extremely effective, making them a popular choice among anglers of all skill levels.

How to Use a Sabiki Rig

Using a Sabiki rig is fairly simple and straightforward.

  • Attach the Sabiki rig to your mainline.
  • Add weight to the end of the mainline.
  • Drop the rig into the water.
  • Jig the rig up and down.
  • Reel in the rig when you feel a bite.
  • Remove the bait fish from the hooks.
  • Repeat the process.

What to Look for When Buying a Sabiki Rig

Colors

Different colors are meant to mimic the natural prey items of the bait fish you are trying to catch. Some common colors of Sabiki rig lures or tinsel attractants include:

  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Green
  • Red
  • Glow-in-the-dark

Hook Size

Generally, smaller hooks are used for smaller bait fish such as minnows, shiners, and anchovies, while larger hooks are used for larger baitfish and small panfish.

Here are some common hook sizes for Sabiki rigs and the types of baitfish they are typically used for:

  • Size 8-12 hook. Used for catching anchovies, smelt, or small herring.
  • Size 6-8 hook. Used for catching medium-sized herrings or sardines.
  • Size 4-6 hook. Used for catching bigger fish such as large mackerel or squid.

Type of Fish

Here are some common types of baitfish that are caught with shrimp or squid on Sabiki hooks:

  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies

Durability

When looking for a durable Sabiki rig that can handle the bite power of multiple small fish, here are some factors to consider:

  • Hook quality. The hooks on a Sabiki rig should be made of durable and corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel.
  • Swivel quality. The swivels on a Sabiki rig should be made of high-quality materials and should be strong enough to withstand the weight of the rig and the fish you are targeting.
  • Main line quality. The main fishing line on a Sabiki rig should be strong enough to handle the weight of the rig and the fish you are targeting.
  • Construction. The overall construction of the Sabiki rig should be sturdy and well-made, with all of the components properly attached.
  • Brand reputation. Choosing a reputable brand can also ensure that you are getting a high-quality and durable Sabiki rig.

Strength

Here are a few factors to consider when looking for a strong Sabiki rig that can meet your needs:

  • Main line strength. The strength of the main fishing line is an important factor to consider when you want to catch fish in larger numbers. Look for a rig with a main line that is strong enough to handle the weight of the hooks and the target species.
  • Hook strength. Choose a rig with bait or lure hooks made of strong and durable materials such as stainless steel. You can find these in any tackle shop.
  • Swivel strength. The snap swivel or barrel swivel on a Sabiki rig should be strong enough to handle the weight of a fully loaded rig. Look for swivels made of high-quality materials such as brass or high-carbon steel.
  • Leader strength. Some Sabiki rigs come with a monofilament line leader between the mainline and the hooks. Make sure it’s strong and free from abrasion so you can catch more bait easily.

Our Fave: The Hayabusa Mix Flasher Sabiki Hot Hooks

The rig consists of six or eight small hooks attached to a main line with a flasher and beads to attract more fish. The hooks are small and sharp, allowing for easy hooksets on small baitfish in shallow or deeper water. The flasher and beads on the rig create a visual attraction that can entice fish to bite, while the small hooks increase the chances of hooking multiple baitfish at once.

  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Designed to be durable and long-lasting
  • Ultra-sharp hooks made of high-quality materials

How to Make Your Own Sabiki Rig

Sabiki Rigs
Customize your Sabiki rig by choosing lure colors, fishing line types, and hook styles.

Instead of buying premade rigs, you can easily make Sabiki rigs on your own. This is a great way to use your own lure colors, fishing line type, hook styles, and more.

Materials

  • 6-10 lb test fishing line
  • Small hooks at #8 or #10 size
  • Swivels size 10 or 12
  • Beads of various colors
  • Flasher material (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1

Cut a length of main line to your desired length, typically 3-4 feet long. Tie a swivel to one end of the line using a knot of your choice, such as a clinch knot.

Step 2

Slide a bead onto the main line and tie a small knot just above it to keep the bead in place. Tie a small hook to the main line using a knot of your choice. Repeat this step until you have attached each hook you want on your rig.

Step 3

If desired, tie reflective or lighter colors of flasher material, such as tinsel, above the branch line near the top swivel to add visual attraction to the rig.

Step 4

Trim any excess line, and your Sabiki rig is ready to use directly off the boat or cast into a specific area.

When to Use a Sabiki Rig

Sabiki rigs are versatile enough rigs that can be used in a variety of situations, such as:

  • Catching live bait fish
  • Fishing in grass flats
  • Shore fishing
  • Boat fishing
  • Vertical jigging
  • Ice fishing

How to Fish With a Sabiki Rig

Fishing with a Sabiki rig on your next trip is a fairly simple process that can be broken down into the following steps:

  • Select the appropriate rig. Choose a Sabiki rig with the appropriate hook size and number of hooks for the fish you are targeting. Be sure to also consider the depth and water conditions where you will be fishing in case you need darker colors.
  • Attach the rig to your main line. Tie your Sabiki rig to your heavier main line using a swivel or other connector and a durable knot. Be sure to adjust the length of your leader to match the depth of the water you will be fishing in.
  • Bait the hooks. Thread small pieces of bait onto each hook, such as small pieces of squid, shrimp, fish, or other food items. Make sure the bait is securely attached to the hooks. Shrimp and squid are extremely popular choices for most of the best bait fish to take.
  • Cast your line. Cast your line out into the water and let it sink to the desired depth. You can also jig the rig up and down a few times to attract fish.
  • Reel in the line. Once you feel a fish biting, slowly and steadily reel in your line to hook the fish. Do not yank the line or reel too quickly, as this can cause the fish or bait to fall off the hooks.
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AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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