Sabiki rigs can be used to catch bait right from the surf. For those not familiar with them, they are a special rig with six little jig flies attached. You can by them ready made at your favorite tackle shop with a #4 or #6 hook for the surf. The hooks are very small and sharp but just right for bait fish. It’s a great way to catch the bait you need for surf fishing.
Normally these rigs are used from the pier or a boat. Anglers lower them over the side and jig them up and down to catch their bait. They are usually overlooked as a method to catch bait from the surf. Casting sabikis into the surf zone only takes a little bit of practice to get good results.
The rig itself is very light, so it needs a sinker attached in order to cast it. You will probably want something between 1 ounce and 3 ounces. The rigs usually come with a clip on the bottom to attach a sinker. Use a casting sinker which has a tear drop shape and a brass loop to attach it with. These are smooth sinkers that will slide along the bottom as you work the rig.
A smaller rod & reel is more suited for this light setup. You cast the sabiki’s right into the breakers and jig it in from there. Keep your rod high as you jig and reel them in. This keeps the angle of your line more vertical in the water column. Sometimes you only get one and sometimes you’ll get two or three bait fish on a cast.
My favorite method is to use little pieces of Fishbites Bag O’ Worms to tip the hooks with. Bag O’ Worms work so well because they are scented with a fish attractant. They are very durable and will last for several casts. They attract a wide variety of saltwater species. Mullet, pin fish, croaker, Spanish mackerel, pompano, spot, sardines, bluefish, and perch all like them.
With a little work you can usually catch enough for the duration of your day surf fishing. Bring along a bait bucket with an aerator and you’ll be good to go.