spinning reels. This combination allows more play than the standard snagging rig, which typically is as stiff as a broom stick.
Attach a large, teardrop-shaped, 8- to 16-ounce sinker to the end of the line. Use the heavier weights in deep water or where there is current. Use lighter weights in slack water or when the fish seem to be suspended, instead of close to the bottom. Bank anglers also tend to use lighter weights.
Attach No. 8 to No. 14 treble hooks to the line. Anglers usually use two hooks, one about 18-24 inches above the weight, and the other 2 feet farther up. Rigging so that the hook or hooks ride upright helps you hook more fish. (See “getting hooked up” on Page 7.)
Have plenty of extra hooks and weights in the boat because you will lose a few. Many snaggers pour their own weights. It’s cheaper than buying them.
Heavy line doesn’t break easily. You will probably have to wrap your line around the handle on a paddle or gaff and use the boat’s power to free stuck hooks. Be careful at this because when the line breaks, you might be thrown off balance.
Bring leather gloves. They give you a better grip and protect your hands from the line.
Landing gaffs are useful. You can land small fish by hand, but the large hooks require extra caution. Paddlefish tend to roll, often at the side or on the floor of the boat.
Heavy needle-nose pliers are a must. You will need them to remove hooks from the fish’s tough skin and to reshape bent hooks.
Small metal files are important, too. Out of the box, some large hooks aren’t sharp enough for snagging. Sharpen hooks before snagging and resharpen throughout the day.
You also need some way to measure the fish. Length limits vary across the state. Paddlefish length is measured from the eye to the fork of the tail.
Bring along short pieces of heavy nylon or cotton rope, cut into 4-5 foot lengths, to tie fish too big for livewells alongside the boat.
Getting Hooked Up
How to set up your tackle to catch a paddlefish
Create a loop in the heavy line using an overhand knot. Thread the loop through the sinker and pull it tight.
Double the line about 2 feet above the sinker and run it through