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Weighty matters: make that sinker stay put for best results.

Most soft bait techniques in Florida demand the use of a fixed sinker--one that doesn't slide up the line. This provides better casting accuracy and keeps the rig intact as it falls through vegetation. Let's look at a few ways to rig up:

Splitshots and rubbercore sinkers: Lead splitshot sinkers work "in a pinch," so to speak, but monofilament and fluorocarbon lines may be damaged by the crimping. A rubbercore sinker--which comes with a rubber insert that you twist around the line--cushions the line. Both sinker types can also be placed on the hook shank rather than on the line just above the hook (or swivel in the case of the Carolina rig). When on the shank, the rig will sink more horizontally, rather than head down nose first. A third option is the D.O.A. Pinch Weight, which clasps the hook shank where you like.

Screw-lock bullet sinkers: These sinkers can be affixed directly to the bait. Gambler, Bullet Weights, Cabela's and other companies make screw-on or screw-in weights that feature a stainless steel screw and a protective sleeve for the line. Gambler's black screw-on weights are made of lead. Bullet Weights' screw-in sinkers are available in natural, black, watermelon pepper green, transparent red and transparent purple. Cabela's Screw-In bullet weights come in four colors.

Pegging: Slip a regular bullet weight on your line, and then insert a standard wooden toothpick into the hole to wedge the line. While most toothpicks are round and are inserted into the nose end of the sinker, a flat toothpick is even better since it won't pinch or crimp the line as much. Some anglers push the toothpick into the hole at the wide base of the sinker, break it off and then slide the weight back down against the knot.

Knots and rubber bands: If the sinker has a wide hole, another option exists: Take the tag end of the line at the hook knot and thread it back into the weight. Then tie an overhand knot against the nose of the weight before you trim the tag end. Another innovative way to fix the sinker is to use a standard rubber band and employ an overhand knot just above the nose of the bullet weight. Then paint it with a black magic marker, trim it or let the two tag ends dangle like legs or barbies of a forage item. Want to allow some slide? Move the rubberband knot up a few inches. Want to fix it there? Place another rubberband knot just below the sinker.

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Some Florida-Style

Sinker Rigs

The TEXAS-STYLE worm or tube rig is especially productive when tossed to and retrieved along dense vegetation edges and pockets, over points and down underwater drops or humps. The standard rig, with a 3/0 or 4/0 worm hook turned back into itself to make it weedless, and a bullet-shaped 1/8- to 3/8-ounce slip sinker, is the most popular of all.

Almost as popular in Florida is the FLIPPIN' RIG and sinker--the resulting line control are the keys to success. The rig often employs a long worm or plastic lizard and a 4/0 to 6/0 wide throat flippin' hook, with a 1/2- to 5/8-ounce sinker that is pegged with a toothpick to prevent it from sliding up the line and wrapping around dense stalks.

Another soft plastic/weight rig used by some anglers is the CAROLINA RIG, which consists of a buoyant bait that is usually rigged self-weedless on a 2/0 or 3/0 hook attached to an 18-inch leader and a swivel. Above the swivel is a sinker weighing 1/2 to 1 ounce. For deeper structures, longer leaders and/or casts, the pegged sinker may be best.
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Author:Larsen, Larry
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Mar 1, 2010
Words:631
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