Coral trout underwater

Best fishing rig for coral trout

When bottom bashing over heavy structure, the best fishing rig for coral trout in my opinion is a free running rig.

What fishing rig to use in different applications is super important and something few people get right.

Mostly because what happens under the water in different conditions has never been explained.

For example, when fishing from rocks walls or over deep water structure I use the paternoster or dropper rig

A dropper rig with the sinker below the hook reduces snagging on rocks. It also allows you to stay tight to the bait in deep water with little current.

On the other hand, in shallow water with decent current, I use a running rig with the sinker above the leader.

But… if you use this rig in deeper water with no current, the bait can wrap around the main line.

The resulting tangle does not present your bait in the best light and you could lose fish.

The best fishing rig for coral trout hiding in deep cover.

While the paternoster rig is great for fishing around structure, it can get snagged if the bommie or structure is higher than the dropper.

In that case the hook will snag and be very hard to get off.

As you can see, coral trout can hang in tight at times and snagging up is inevitable.


Coral trout in it's coral reef habitat

Coral trout in their natural habitat – snag city

Coral trout in natural reef habitat.

The best fishing rig for coral trout in this situation is a free running rig. You can then use the sinker to bounce on the hook and knock it off the snag.



By using a totally free running sinker, you can sometimes bounce the hook off.

This saves re-rigging. It also saves the reef environment getting covered in broken fishing line and hooks.

Fishing rigs for coral trout: Hook type.

The use of a Kahle pattern hook or circle pattern also reduces snags compared to the J hook pattern.

Just note when using circle/Kahle/wide gape hooks you’ll need to be a bit more patient. Only strike when you really feel the weight.

Letting the fish hook itself is important when using circle type hooks.

Free running rig with the sinker on the hook

In super snaggy reef situations, the sinker on the hook is the best fishing rig for coral trout and other big predators.

Line class

Because coral trout are so aggressive and often hang in so tight to structure, my fishing rig for coral trout typically uses 80 lb leader and 50 lb braid.

If the current is strong I’ll drop down to 30 lb braid as there so there is less drag on the line.

You always want to maintain contact with your bait with no belly in the line.

So when you get smashed you can turn their head up.

Not get dragged into the coral resulting in a lost fish.

Check out the video below as I demonstrate why a free running rig is the best fishing rig for coral trout. Plus some top fishing action with me and my mate Ruffy.



Finding coral trout and other big demersal predators on your sounder.

Learning to recognize big predators hugging in tight to coral is quite an art.

I cover how to set your sounder up for this kind of assessment and what to look for in our Sounder Skills 2 course. 

If you are not familiar, Sounder Skills 2 is part of our Fish Smarter online courses and has been helping anglers set up their sounder and find more fish worldwide.

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About The Author

Karen Rudkin

Karen Rudkin-Moody became hooked on fishing after being introduced to the sport in 1989. Karen is a marine biologist specializing in estuarine marine protected areas, finishing her successful career in Queensland Marine Parks as Ranger In Charge of the Wet Tropics region within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Karen now works with her husband, accomplished fishing guide Ryan Moody, encouraging people to get away from their computers and into the great outdoors.

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  • JosephBoact

    Reply Reply January 10, 2022

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    Reply Reply December 10, 2020

    Thanks for stopping by my page! I’m Nannie.
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  • Steven

    Reply Reply June 11, 2020

    yes caught many salt water coral trout sliding sinker 2foot leader 7/0 triple gang hooks commercially think the best trout was 7.5kg in 3days we had 315kg awesome fish to target they can take ya bait with no bite so sneaky

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