top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Constant Angler

The Free Rig for Wrasse & Other Species

Updated: Mar 13

Fig 1: Free Rig. Hook, bead and weight running on the line; plus lure of your choice. In this case a Berkeley Havoc Twintail Grub

Having written the title it seems strange to start by analysing another rig; in this case the Texas Rig. I love the Texas rig and everything it brings to my weedless lure fishing, it will always be my go to rig when targeting wrasse in the rough stuff, it just works and can be relied upon, but I think there are times a different rig would/could be better. For example at times I fish areas with lots of small boulders and weed. Wrasse love these areas but I think that the Texas weights with their pointed noses sometimes get dragged all too easily into the gaps between these boulders. The line angle created by the line running through the horizontal lead can even exasperate this, dragging the lead further into the rocks or crevices. Pinging the line can very often free the lead, but far too often it remains stuck. Changing to a more oval shaped lead can lessen this to a degree, but not enough for my liking. We could fish a Jika Rig with more of a vertical line tie thus providing us with a better line angle and more feel to allow us to sense when the weight is getting into snags earlier and lift it out of trouble, but we now have a fixed lead and I do not always want this. One of the Texas rigs main benefits is often overlooked or simply not understood by many anglers that use it. It's the ability of a biting fish to feel less resistance when pulling line through the weight, as long as you fish a touch tight/semi slack line. When you think about how a wrasse generally stuns a bait at first, before coming back to engulf it, the Texas Rig allows that same fish to feel less resistance upon picking up the bait and stunning it in the first place. Perch are renowned for hating resistance and there are times when wrasse can be the same. By the way this is a great perch rig.

So what if i were to tell you there is a rig out there that can offer more feel, a more vertical line angle and has some unique benefits of it own; yes i'm talking about the Free Rig. How do I setup a Free rig? Well instead of putting a texas weight on your line substitute it with a swivel eyed or looped bomb/dropshot weight.

How do I fish the rig.

I fish mine on braid with a fluorocarbon leader. I generally use a long leader when fishing for wrasse as it provides more abrasion resistance, so I have no concerns that a leader knot might impede the separation between lure and weight, but if I was fishing for perch in shallower, less snaggy water I might fish fluorocarbon straight through. I also fish a bead between weight and lure as I don't think it makes much difference, but does protect the knot from the weight. That's it. Quite simple really.

One important thing to remember is different lures once the weight has hit the bottom, react in their own individual way. Some might spiral down, others dart to the side or some flutter. To be honest I know flukes will veer off to the side and bug style lures will sort of spiral or flutter down, whereas a lure such as a rage tail craw will sink slowly with it claws rippling slightly. Use your imagination or better still fish somewhere where you can see what's going on. Secondly depending on the depth and distance you are fishing at you will have more or less slack line between weight and rod tip. Once that weight has hit the bottom slowly wind in the slack without moving the lure. Wait a while before starting to inch the lure towards the weight. Very often fish will take your bait as the lure sinks or before you start moving it. Watch that line carefully for any sign of this. You can then either pop the rig back off the bottom to once again separate lure and weight, fish it as a texas rig or maybe a combination of both.

Below is a video where I use a Free Rig to catch a nice wrasse on a difficult winters day.

Fig 2: A Rage Bug style lure; perfect for the Free Rig.

So let's analyse the benefits of the Free Rig:

The biggest benefit of the Free Rig is the ability to distance your lure from the weight on the fall. Because a bomb or dropshot style weight will fall more vertically than a typical texas weight this means it will sink quicker and faster away from the lure dragging behind. Add non streamlined lures with appendages and you will increase the drag of the lure behind it and therefore the distance between the two. So why might you wish to do this? Well with some lures such as wide bodied, flat craw type baits you can actually get them to flutter down in an enticing manner, settling some distance away from the weight. Obviously the deeper the water the greater the distance between the two. If you allow your weight to sink on a slack line it will sink straight down and increase the distance between lure and weight, rather than arcing back towards you on a tight line.

Another benefit of the Free rig is the sensitivity you have, as you are basically using a running rig; in other words it decreases the resistance a fish feels when picking up your bait. Yes I here you say but doesn't the Texas rig do this? It does but some feel a weight with a swivel eye provides less resistance than a texas weight with a hole in it? I do know that at least when I use a lead texas weight the whole can sometimes be narrowed by banging around on the rocks and even damage your line. This isn't a problem with the eye type weights we are using for the free rig.

Another benefit is that due to the more vertical nature of free rig weights your lure can sit an inch or two further off bottom; the same as it might do with the jika rig. This enables us to straight retrieve the lure and feel the lead tapping the bottom as it goes. Several different presentations all with the same rig. I told you it was versatile.

Another neat trick is to put a line stop above the weight. It needs to be larger enough not to pass through the eye of the weight and far enough away not to impede the degree of separation you require. Should you then be confronted with deep kelp beds you can simply push it down to the weight and effectively convert it into a Jika rig! You may wish to leave it a few inches above the weight and create some sort of shocker/bolt rig for days when fish are proving tricky to hook? This is something I need to experiment with more. NOTE OF CAUTION: this is fine as long as you are tying an FG knot as your leader which should be of less breaking strain than your mainline should always snap first; thus allowing the semi permanent line stop to slide off, releasing the weight and not tethering a fish. Combine this with a barbless hook and you are doing all you can to ensure the safety of a fish.

Another benefit is you get more feel from the weight as more of its mass is at the base and thus transmitting more information back to the angler. I swear I can feel more when lfishing it at close range but the further away you fish the less information you will get transmitted down the line. Use a tungsten weight and this will heighten the sensation even more. I like those below from nine7tungsten. I also like a weight with a small eye, preferably a swivel eye such as these:

I prefer the cylinder style tungsten weights above as they get hung up less and provide more feel than a bomb style weight. These smaller eyed weights do not slip over the point of the hook should you not be using a bead to protect the knot and eye of the hook.

A big advantage the free rig offers is when combined with a floating lure separation is increased, but after you have wound down to the lead it may be possible if fishing at close range to feed line back out to encourage the floating lure to rise once again.

Something else that I feel might be of benefit is the ability of the weight to bomb through low level weed; by this I'm talking about the sort of blanket weed we get around the south coast of England. I think maybe a free rig weight might cut through this leaving the lure sitting above the weed in plainsight for the fish; especially if combined with a floating lure. I haven't tried this yet and it may not work particularly well, but it's an idea; whether the weight will then get clogged I don't know? Maybe it will work in some types of emerging weed?

I have recently just watched a video where a bobber stopper is placed between the hook and the weight. Obviously this will need to be big enough to not slip through the eye of the weight. In the video the chap is using floating lures to gain separation as usual, but upon tightening to the weight, the bobber stopper controls the distance between weight and lure. It is then possible to keep it at that distance and feed the floating lure back through. Almost as if fishing a free Carolina Rig. It appears to work and I really like the idea of working the lure in a different way, very much adjusting the depth at which we fish the lure and presenting it at a depth similar to a dropshot. If you pop the weight off the bottom we can then increase the distance between lure and bait. In scenarios when the fish are hitting the lure on the fall we can now tighten up to the stop without worrying about effecting its fall adversely but still be in contact with it earlier. Play around it sounded a great idea to me. Check out "DBB fishing" on YouTube.

I'm not saying the Free rig is the be all and end all of rigs, but it sure is a versatile rig and another string to your bow. I particularly like it fishing into deeper water as I feel you get more of a vertical line angle than you might with a texas rig and hence more feel. I can tap the weight against the bottom sending a signal for fish to home in on. I know the wrasse that I regularly fish for are very curious creatures and will come out of their lairs to investigate. I've seen divers tapping their knives or rocks to encourage them out.

Hope that helps, you just might be surprised how good it is.

457 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Narcisse ADJOKPO
Mar 26


bottom of page