Top 4 Sheepshead Rigs (To Catch Sheepshead In Every Condition)
By: Luke Simonds on February 6, 2020
Here’s the thing about sheepshead rigs…
There is no perfect rig for every condition.
Each rig has a time and a place.
For instance, if you’re fishing a jetty with lots of current in the morning, and then hitting residential docks in the afternoon, you’ll probably want to use different rigs (or at least different weights).
In this article, we’re going to break down some of the most popular sheepshead rigs, their pros and cons, and when they’re best used.
What Makes A Good Sheepshead Rig
Sheepshead feed on small crustaceans like shrimp, crabs, and barnacles, and can usually be found around structure such as:
- Mangrove shorelines
A good sheepshead rig will allow you to naturally place the bait or lure in front of the sheepshead without it being obvious it’s not just a free meal.
In most sheepshead spots you’ll need to consider ranges of depth and current.
For instance, a bridge near a pass or inlet may be in 20 feet of water and have a lot of current, whereas a dock in a residential canal may be in six feet of water and have very little current.
Both can hold sheepshead, but may require different rigs to get your bait where the sheepshead are feeding.
Now that we know what factors go into tying sheepshead rigs, let’s look at the top few rigs and when to use them.
Best Sheepshead Rigs (Pros, Cons & Applications)
In these next few sections, I’ll share some of my favorite sheepshead rigs, the pros and cons of each of them, and when I like to use them.
Use this info to help determine which rigs to use and when as you target these delicious fish.
By the way, this list is not conclusive and will be an ever-growing list as we test out new sheepshead rigs.
If your favorite sheepshead rig is not in the list below, please leave a comment and let us know what it is so we can test it out.
Weedless Shrimp Rig For Sheepshead
I recently stumbled across this rig when looking for a weedless shrimp rig.
It’s one of the most versatile rigs in this list and has quickly become my new favorite.
- Quick to tie
- Can fish a variety of depths and current by changing weights
- If you want to change the weight you’ll need to retie (unlike some of the other rigs in this list)
- Can cause some missed hookups vs. a rig with an exposed hook point
Since this rig is weedless you can use it in very heavy structure without worrying about getting snagged.
You can change the bullet weight to a heavier or lighter weight for a variety of depths and current.
Dropper Rig For Sheepshead
- Gets your bait near, but not on the bottom
- Loop for the weight allows you to easily switch weights
- Takes longer to tie than some of the other rigs on this list
This rig is great for if you’re fishing a variety of depths or the current is changing and you want to quickly switch weights.
However, if I was getting broken off a lot, I would go with one of the simpler rigs on this list because they’re faster to tie.
High Low Rig For Sheepshead
- Uses two hooks, so you can theoretically catch two fish
- You can test two different baits on each of the hooks
- Very prone to getting snagged on underwater structure
- Takes time and practice to get this rig right
If I was trying to figure out what bait the fish are biting on (i.e. shrimp vs. fiddler crabs) I’d use this rig.
If fishing an area with a lot of underwater structure (rocks, pilings, etc), I would not use this rig because it is prone to getting snagged and takes longer to tie than some of the other rigs on this list.
Split Shot Rig For Sheepshead
- Very quick to tie
- Weight can easily be added or taken away as needed
- Not great for deep water
- Prone to get snagged on the bottom if fishing hard structure
This is the most basic of all rigs and can be effective in most inshore applications.
It’s quick to tie, easy to feel the bite, and I can use it with or without a split shot, depending on depth and current.
I would not use this rig if I was fishing deeper water with a lot of current and I knew the sheepshead were on the bottom.
There is no perfect rig for sheepshead, but by knowing how to tie a few of the rigs above, and knowing when to use them, you’ll be set when it comes to tying rigs for sheepshead.
If you want more information about sheepshead, check out our guide to catching sheepshead here.
Have any questions about sheepshead rigs?
Do you have a favorite rig that didn’t make this list?
Let me know in the comments below!
Now even if you have the best sheepshead rig and the best sheepshead bait, none of it matters if you’re not in the right spot.
If you want the best fishing spots, tips, and strategies, click here to join us and 12,000+ other members in the Salt Strong Insider Club!
Stop Wasting Time On The Water!
Do what the “SMART ANGLERS” are doing and join the Insider Club.
Here’s what you’ll receive today when you join:
- Weekly fishing reports and TRENDS revealing exactly where you should fish ever trip
- Weekly “spot dissection” videos that walk you through all the best spots in your area
- Exclusive fishing tips from the PROS you can’t find anywhere else
- Everything you need to start catching fish more consistently (regardless if you fish out of a boat, kayak, or land).