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Ben's Red Drum Surf Set Up - Spinning


About the Rig Creator

Ben Verner

Two words required to describe Ben Verner - Surf Nut!
Ben treats fishing like an art - studying / practicing / exploring / catching / and teaching as he goes. He's not the kind of guy who is going to grab a rod and kill an afternoon in the surf - he's going to get up at 2 AM, drive 3 hours, take a small boat to a remote location, set up camp for 36 hours and fish a couple tide cycles while he's out there. And make sure all pictures protect his secret locations. Locations are to be protected, but lucky for us, Ben's a good friend who is happy to talk about rigs all day long.
About the Rig

Ben's Red Drum Surf Set Up - Spinning

The illustration to the right shows Ben’s set up for Mid Atlantic Red Drum in the surf. If you’ve heard the expression – 8 & Bait – this is what we’re talking about. This is basically a fish finder rig with a 6-10 ounce sinker and bait. For baits, Ben will use fresh mullet, bunker or spot. In the Spring, north of North Carolina, if you can get your hands on some peeler crabs - these trump all.

Similar to the Striper rig, the set up is a version of fish finder (sliding sinker) rig which allows the bait to move freely for a more natural motion, allowing the Drum to grab the bait without feeling immediate tension. 


The heaver. Ben has been fishing our Cove Surf Series rods almost exclusively for the past year, tweaking them in to the point of production readiness. For the summer and Fall of 2010, we will be hand building rods on our new production blanks as we dial in optimal set ups. We will have a conventional and spinning model available.


You can go down 2 paths for launching your baits – spinning or conventional If you are new to the game, spinning is the safer path. Conventional reels can launch a little further with practice, but you have the challenge of managing the spool and the risk of the dreaded bird's nest.

For spinning – the new Shimano Bait Runner 12000 works great for these rigs. The Bait Runner Series has been a long time favorite in the surf because of the secondary drag system which allows baits to move freely with the bail closed. The picture below the illustration to the right is one of the new Bait Runner 12000s.

We also now carry Daiwa Emcasts – if you are looking for a reasonably priced, solid reel that will hold up for years – this is a great choice.


Ben uses 60 Pound braid for the mainline. We recommend the new Daiwa Samurai or Power Pro Spectra. This sounds a little heavy to some folks, but Ben launches bait far and catches big fish.

If you prefer mono, Sufix has a great product on the market, a copolymer they call Tritanium. It handles and feels like a mono, but has less stretch than traditional mono and casts extremely well.

As you can see in the illustration, Ben ties 150 lb. mono to the braid using an Albright knot. This leader is tied to the barrel swivel. then a second section of 150 lb. mono is tied to the other end of the barrel swivel and then snelled to the hook.
Terminal Tackle 

Start with a 150 lb. Coastlock swivel to hold the sinker. And then a 150 lb. barrel swivel between the leader lines. 150 lb. is a little stronger than actually needed, but the larger barrels are a little easier to work with as you are messing around in the the sand and surf.

Hook and Bait

Ben snells a 10/0 Big Eye Gamakatsu Circle on the end of each rig. Circle hooks can be tied to the leader with a palomar knot or snelled.

Check out "Animated Knots by Grog" within the Resourcespage - or simply click on the link below - for a slick, animated how-to on knots including snelled hooks, the albright knot and the palomar knot. 

Grog's Fishing Knots

As we mentioned above, the absolute bait of choice in the Spring is peeler crab. Ben goes to extraordinary lengths to find live peelers whenever possible. Each crab will be cut into quarters. Take the hook through a good chunk of meat first, then exit the hook through one of the leg sockets. Ben will break off most of the length of each of the crab legs to allow for better casting aerodynamics - no joke.