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Ledger Rigs and Drop-line Fishing on Reef

The ledger rig is a great way of targeting hapuku, bass, bluenose and a variety of other unusual species in deeper water.

Ledger rigs are also an excellent all purpose reef fishing rig which can be fished directly from a rod, or set and left to fish like a longline.

In shallower water this drop-shot or dropline fishing rig will catch snapper, tarakihi, kingfish, porae, red snapper, trumpeter, john dory, trevally and grandfather hapuku.

Another name for this style of rig is a Dhan Line


Generally no more than three hooks are used when fishing a ledger rig from a rod while up to 20 hooks can be set in very deep water beside high underwater cliffs for deepwater species.

When left to fish the deep water rig is called a hapuku dropper or dhan line. Deepwater Fishing

An example of a typical ledger rig is shown on the right.

Keep the traces shorter than half the distance between hooks to avoid tangles.

All the knots you need to tie including tying a snell can be found here

Hapuku, bass and bluenose can be found in depths ranging from a few metres to 240 metres but are more abundant in the deeper water.

If fishing for these deep water species use only snelled circle hooks from size 5/0 to 10/0.

Long strip baits are good for deep sea fishing as generally the fish suck the whole bait into their large mouth.

Hapuku will take whole fish baits, whole squid, long strip baits, crayfish and crabs.

Paul's favourite was whole fresh or live rock cod (with the barbels) or red cod up to 2kg.

Fish Hook Knots

It is important to use the correct fish hook knot when tying fishing rigs

Again use a hook snell on circle hooks for this rig.

An article with pictures of snells can be found here snelled circle hooks


Always snell hook to trace first, as you cannot snell fishing rigs unless both ends of the trace are free

Articles comparing the catch rates for different fish hook knots can be found here fishing knots snell v/s tied

I have set many 10 hook ledgers in the kelp overnight around the Mokohinau Islands when I was commercially fishing and caught many big snapper up to 12 kilograms doing so.

Surprisingly we also caught many good sized hapuku along with the odd kingfish in very shallow water.

Many of these good fish were taken on the top hook which was seldom more than three metres deep


reef fishing rigs


bass and hapuku

A great catch of hapuka from the Mokohinau Islands taken on this fishing rig in around 110 metres of water.

The 13 fish were taken on three sets of a 5 hook hapuku dropper run from a plastic 10" handspool.

Alan Radcliffe (left), Paul Barnes (centre) and John Drummond (right) relax before trunking and icing the fish.

If you are fishing deep water make sure you have enough weight to hold the gear where you have set it. In deep water if the gear drifts off the reef you are liable to catch sharks and baracouta on every hook.

Also make sure your floats are big enough to remain buoyant against the strong currents found near deep water drop-offs.



Reference - Knot tying tutorial - knots - fishing - dropshot

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