How to tie a running ledger rig for conger eel

 Issue 15 (Mar-Apr 2017)    Gary Blake


Rigs for shore-based conger fishing do not need to complicated, in fact, as you’ll see, they are incredibly simple. Simple yet very strong. Few species will give you a tussle quite like a big eel and any weaknesses in your tackle will quickly be found out. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t play a conger like you would some other fish – it’s more a case of pull with all your strength! If you give them an inch they will take a foot and really a conger battle is often like a brutal tug-o-war. You win some, you lose some but allowing the rig to come off if (or when) it gets snagged is a huge bonus.

conger eel rig

  • A heavy duty mono leader is essential to stand up to the snags that will be present on practically every conger mark. Rocks, pilings, piers, breakwaters, scrap metal, you name it – your leader needs to deal with these kind of obstacles. Choose a leader of at least 60-80lb.
  • The important thing to remember with the lead arrangement isn’t the size or type but that you need to set it up so you can lose it in the event of it snagging up. This will happen a lot when conger fishing! You can tie it on using a ‘rotten bottom’ (weak line) but I find a paper clip works just as well if not better. It bends out easily under pressure and leaves you in direct contact with the eel.
  • Your trace needs to be two things; short and very strong. 1-2ft is perfect length-wise as you don’t want the eel to swallow the baited hook and you want good bite indication. Congers typically nibble baits and are not as ferocious as you might think. I’d recommend some very heavy mono like 150lb to combat the abrasive nature of the eel’s teeth.
  • Hook size isn’t something to really worry about, so long as it is big, strong and can cope with big baits like full or half mackerel. Usually a 6/0 is fine.
  • Another tip is to use a very strong cross-lock clip for your trace. This allows you to change traces quickly and helps to maximise fishing time at certain stages of the tide etc.
  • Congers are tricky to land! Bring a drop net for piers/high rock marks or a large landing net for where you can get access to the water. It is much safer for you and the fish!