Free lining refers to a rig that has not hardware other than the hook. This type of rig is used for live bait and can be very effective for top water predators like trout, snook and tarpon. But will also work well for many other species. The idea behind it is to not weigh down your bait in order to have a more natural presentation. This is very useful when you are fishing in an area where there is already an abundance of bait swimming around or when fish are under heavy pressure by other anglers, such as in popular piers or other locations frequented by fishermen. The most common type of baits used to free-line are shrimp, pinfish, greenbacks, sardines, finger mullet and crabs, however, anything alive can be freelined. I regularly use a small balloon or bobber around 4-5 feet from the bait in order to keep track of where the bait fish is. If you don’t do this, you must be vigilant to prevent the live bait from swimming around pylons or other structure and getting your line stuck. You frequently have to reposition by recasting often and keep the line in your hand at all times, since the action tends to be explosive. Casting distance while free lining will depend on the size and weight of you bait, since there is not sinker or weight at the end of the line. Typical casting distances are 20-30 feet for small bait, like shrimp and greenbacks and 40-60 for larger things like pinfish, but with something like the larger finger mullets you can expect distances of up to 100 feet. On future videos I’ll show you how to set the bait on the hook for different fishing techniques.
In order to avoid the use of a swivel but still have the ability to attach a clear mono leader, I used a uni-to-uni knot to attach the leader to the main line. You’ll notice that thought all my howto’s I’ll stick to only a handful of knots and part of the reason for this, is simplicity. Not just because I’m trying to make it simple for you “the reader”, but because it is simpler for me when I’m trying rigs on location. With practice you can tie uni knots without light and I find that to be extremely useful. Having said that, I must mention that another knot particularly useful for free-lining bait is the Rapala knot. This nifty knot creates a small loop that allows the hook to move freely, and therefore the fish or other live bait to move in a more natural way. I’ve found myself many times in places full of snook that will simply not take the bait unless it looks lively, many times they’ll swim really close to it, almost touching it with the side of their mouth and just turn away. But don’t worry, I’ll make a video to show you exactly how to tie this knot.