Go Big Or Go Home!
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “bigger baits equals bigger fish, bro!” While this isn’t always true, we believe it’s the perfect mindset when targeting monster lings.
It’s time to learn how to catch big lingcod. Put aside your rockfish jigs and swimbaits for a bit because we’re about to do some heavy duty drifting – with live rock cod!
Drifting Live Rockfish As Bait – Is It Even Legal?
The answer is yes! As long as your rockfish are within the legal size and you count it towards your daily bag limit, go for it. Make sure to check the rockfish regulations for your location to avoid hefty fines.
What Size or Species Should I Use?
First you need to catch the rockfish, duh! For a complete guide make sure to brush up with our Rock Cod & Lingcod Fishing Tips before you start.
The size of rockfish that you drift is completely up to you. This is where using bigger rockfish equals bigger lingcod (most of the time).
We drift rockfish over a foot in length for the biggest results. Our favorite species to drift are Blue Rockfish which are plentiful and usually the perfect size for bait, but any species is fine.
In the featured video you’ll see the team using sand dabs. They’re absolute lingcod candy if you take the time to jig them up! Drag a sand dab rig over sandy bottom and you’ll load up in no time.
Any decent-sized fish makes great drifting bait for big lingcod as long as you comply with the regulations for that species.
How To Drift Rockfish As Bait
Modifying the Three-Way Rig
First you’ll need to know the standard “Drift Rig” aka the “Three-Way Rig.”
Instead of a size 2-4 treble hooks you’ll want bigger 1/0 – 2/0 trebles. I’ve missed a huge amount of big lingcod because the hooks weren’t big enough to nab the fish. The lings would simply hit the bait from the side and “hitchhike” a bit before letting go.
The distance between your treble hooks should also be longer than usual. Instead of a 3-4” gap for squid and smaller bait, extend to at least 6-8+ inches depending on how big your rock cod are. You’ll want one treble in the front of the mouth and the other closer to the tail.
Everything else from the leader line to how heavy the weights are should be the same (as mentioned in the article above). Feel free to go heavier or lighter if it works for you.
How To Rig The Rock Cod
The treble hook closest to the three-way swivel should hook the top lip of the rock cod. Take one hook point and go down between the nostrils, coming out of the mouth on the inside. This leaves two hooks exposed on top for a better hookup ratio.
The other treble should pierce near the back of the rock cod. Don’t stretch the line between both hooks too tight otherwise the fish will arch and spin on the way down, losing action and causing line twist.
Drift Rig Rod & Reel Setup
My drift rod of choice is the Phenix Abyss 808, but a much more affordable option is the Daiwa VIP 870 or Ugly Stik 7’ Medium Casting Tiger Rod. Any casting rod that can handle 6-8 ounces or 20-50lb line is great.
You don’t need the biggest conventional reels for drifting. Even a small levelwind reel like a Shimano Cardiff 300A/301A or Penn Squall 15LW spooled with 50lb braided line is perfect. You’ll most likely be fishing under 300ft deep so a huge reel isn’t necessary.
That’s about it! It’s simply a Three Way Rig made to accommodate bigger bait. Fish it the same way as a basic drift rig and you’re bound to increase the size of your lingcod.
Let us know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments section below. We wish you tight lines and huge limits!