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Running Ball Sinker or Star Sinker in the Surf?

Running Ball Sinker or Star Sinker in the Surf?

What’s better, the rolling ball sinker or a star sinker? The answer is both are good sinkers in the right condition. Sweep or side current is the best indicator of when to use a running ball sinker rig, not heavy surf. Running ball sinker rigs can quickly end up down the beach on the edge of the water because it doesn’t hold well. This is the time to use a star sinker so your bait doesn’t drift back to land.

The Ball Sinker Rig is a good rig for mild surf. There are several ways to tie the rolling ball sinker. The easiest is to put on the ball sinker and then tie the hook on. This has its’ uses but it is far from ideal. One really good thing about the running ball sinker rig is that it takes line twist pretty well because of the single line and swivel.

Rolling ball sinker or sinker slide

Second is the trapped ball sinker. The mainline is tied to a swivel that has about 60 to 90 cm of line and then another swivel. The leader with hook is attached to the second swivel. This style of ball sinker is good when large bait or wind is causing the sinker to fall back leaving a very long line ahead of the sinker. One drawback to this style is that there is one more knot to fail if you hook a legendary fish.

Most commonly seen is the ball sinker running up the mainline with a single swivel. To this swivel is the leader and hook which is normally 40 to 60 cm in length. It lets light biting fish pick up bait with little resistance and they hold and mouth the bait more. This results in better chances of having a hook up.

All the ball sinkers can be a good asset when you want the bait to move along gutters or drift with the rip current. Mild surf can let the ball sinkers roll around exploring for fish to find. The rolling ball sinker rig has a pretty good bycatch rate for flathead and bream too. If you are fishing light wash a ball sinker would be good for bream or flathead and let the bait move around a little.

Big star sinkers are made to hold steady in the current. Often they are used on a paternoster rig with several hooks. They can be used like a rolling ball sinker with plastic sinker clips that clip the weight to the sinker slide (like pictured above).

Heavy surf or strong current will often bring better results from star sinkers. Star sinkers can be used on sinker slides or paternoster rigs. Sensitive biting species would be more likely to mouth and pickup a bait on a sinker slider than a heavy paternoster. 

Paternoster rigs can be drifted along with lighter sinkers but it’s more prone to tangling. Star sinkers would hold a paternoster in a rip or edge of a gutter much better if you were trying to target fish that stay in these areas and don’t come into the gutters.

Long story short is if you want your bait moving along with the gutter or rip then use a rolling ball sinker rig. If you want your bait to sit tight and target a specific bit of structure like gutter entrances and rips then a star sinker is going to suit your needs better.

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