Top 4 Sheepshead Rigs (To Catch Sheepshead In Every Condition)

By: Luke Simonds on February 6, 2020
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best sheepshead rigs

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:

  • Docks
  • Bridges
  • Jetties
  • 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

how to rig a shrimp weedless

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.

Pros:

  • Weedless
  • Quick to tie
  • Can fish a variety of depths and current by changing weights

Cons:

  • 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

Applications:

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.

Click here to see the step-by-step instructions for how to Texas Rig shrimp here.

Dropper Rig For Sheepshead

dropper rig for sheepshead

Pros:

  • Gets your bait near, but not on the bottom
  • Loop for the weight allows you to easily switch weights

Cons:

  • Takes longer to tie than some of the other rigs on this list

Applications:

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.

Click here to see the step-by-step instructions for how to tie the dropper rig here.

High Low Rig For Sheepshead

how to tie a high low rig

Pros:

  • Uses two hooks, so you can theoretically catch two fish
  • You can test two different baits on each of the hooks

Cons:

  • Very prone to getting snagged on underwater structure
  • Takes time and practice to get this rig right

Application

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.

Click here to see the step-by-step instructions for how to tie the high low rig here.

Split Shot Rig For Sheepshead

simple sheepshead rig

Pros:

  • Very quick to tie
  • Weight can easily be added or taken away as needed

Cons:

  • Not great for deep water
  • Prone to get snagged on the bottom if fishing hard structure

Applications

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.

Click here to see the step-by-step instructions for how to tie this simple sheepshead rig here.

Conclusion

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.

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Marsh HippieBob JacksonJim EsherLuke SimondsJoby Recent comment authors
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Marsh Hippie
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Marsh Hippie

I like the weedless shrimp rig with the bullet weight being used. Looks quite versatile for not only sheeps but other structure dwelling species. If you haven’t checked them out yet, look at the bottom sweeper jigs. I’ve been using these for general structure fishing for awhile now and by far provide the best results.
Tight lines,
Hippie

Robert Jackson
Member

WOW! Check out the “Jail Bait” rig from Eye Strike Fishing/Z-Man. Awesome rig for thieving Sheephead fish! Go get e’m. eyestrikefishing.com

Jim Esher
Member

I’ve had some luck around docks with a bottom sweeper jig, usually around 1/8 oz with #2 hook. Break the shrimp in half (use the head on split shot rig) and thread the back half (tail) onto the jig head. Gets the hook closer to their mouth before they have a chance to steal it. Easy to tie and or replace with simple canoe knot.

Joby
Guest
Joby

I’ve had a lot of luck with a shrimp under a cork.

Rick Daniel
Member

J hooks or Circle hooks?

Robert Bigelow
Member

Man, you guys are really hitting the Sheepshead info hard lately and I love it! It’s not something I’ve really targeted much in the past so I didn’t know a whole lot about how to fish them.. BUT… After all the recent posts from you and Tony and Joe, I feel really confident in my ability to target and catch them. I’ve learned more about Sheepshead fishing in the last month than all my previous years fishing combined. Thanks Luke!

Jack Waters
Member

Jig heads also work great, easy to tie , quick to change weight’s and can use a variety of hook sizes. As you indicated there is no one best rig.

Beau Gardner
Member

Ck out the bottom sweeper jigs! Me and the wife have been tearing the sheep up with them. I can’t find them anywhere but Tackle Direct. Here’s the link: https://www.tackledirect.com/bottom-sweeper-jigs.html

Have had great luck with every color so far!

BG

Jim Esher
Member
Sean Paschal
Member

Bottom jigs and Carolina rigs are the only things I can think of to add to this list

Shannon Allen
Member

Mangrove Snapper Mastery Course: Module 2: Fish Finder Rig: Double Snell Rigging 7:05. Doesn’t get any better than this! Effective and easy.

Bradley Smith
Member

Carolina rig works really well to.

Sean Paschal
Member

That’s usually my go to since I’m usually fishing deep water bridges for sheep’s