Paternoster Rig & Variations

The paternoster rig and its variations are a popular and easy rig to create. It can be created with single or multiple hooks and with or without a running line – depending on personal preference, conditions and/or location. This is a simple and versatile setup for all levels of fishing.

It’s a highly effective rig as it keeps your bait off of the bottom, away from potential snags and in the strike zone.

The basic setup includes: Sinker on the bottom of your leader, with hooks above the sinker, swivel and then mainline (see diagrams).

When to use this rig:

Ideal for most types of inshore or offshore fishing.

  • In freshwater near rocky areas, wood debris and areas of weed. Adjust leader between your sinker and first hook to clear snags.
  • In saltwater this rig is ideal for estuary, mangroves, beaches, channels, rocky & reef areas.
Best species to target with this rig:

All bottom dwelling fish and some opportunistic pelagic’s

  • Popular freshwater fish include: Trout, Redfin, Perch, Eel, Catfish, Murray Cod, Barra, Carp & Bass
  • Popular saltwater fish include: Snapper, Bream, Flathead, Flounder, Whiting, Trevally, Jacks, Jewfish, Kingfish, Gummy Shark & more (most bottom or near bottom fish species).

Variations of the Paternoster Rig

Double Paternoster Rig:

Sinker and sinker trace/leader up to a 3-way swivel (dropper leader and hook on one swivel end), add another leader up to another 3-way swivel (dropper leader and hook on one swivel end), 3rd leader up to a single swivel and then mainline. Some anglers don’t use a 3rd leader and will tie their mainline directly to the second 3-way swivel.

Single Paternoster Rig:

Sinker and sinker trace/leader up to a 3-way swivel (dropper leader and hook on one swivel end), add another leader on the last swivel end up to a final single swivel and then mainline.

Running Single Paternoster Rig:

Sinker and sinker trace/leader up to ring or single swivel, add another leader with a running swivel, dropper leader and hook attached. Then tie off to another swivel and then mainline. The running swivel should be able to slide up and down on the leader between your first ring or single swivel and the second swivel tied off onto the mainline.

*Other variations include the use of dropper loops instead of 3-way swivels + dropper lines. Another option that some anglers use a single swivel between 2 beads and sleeve crimps.

See FAQs for more tips & details on this rig.

Tackle needed to create a Paternoster Rig:


Line strength should be determined based on targeted species. Leader length should be between 60 cm (24 in) to 100 cm (40 in).

3 kg (6 lb) line for Whiting, Bream, Mullet or other lighter fish.

6 kg (12 lb) line for Flathead, Trevally, Jacks, midsized Snapper & other larger fish.

8 kg+ (16 lb+) line for larger reef fish, Jewfish, large Snapper, Salmon, etc

(single and 3 way)

Size should be based on leader strength/size. Swivel break strains differ by brand. Be sure the weight matches or is slightly above leader weight.

Size 10 – 14 for lighter line, such as 3kg or less

Size 8 for thicker leader, 6 kg

Size 6 or less for heavy line, 8 kg+


Type & size is determined by species.

Bait holder sizes 2, 1, 1/0 and 2/0 are good for inshore fish under 3 kg in weight

Long shanked sizes 1/0 and 2/0 are good for Flathead and 4/0 for Whiting

Kirby hooks size 6/0, 7/0 and 8/0 are ideal for larger species such as Jewfish, mature Snapper, Kingfish & larger reef species.
8 kg+ (16 lb+) line for larger reef fish, Jewfish, large Snapper, Salmon, etcType & size is determined by species.


The general rule of thumb is lighter weight for lighter tackle.

Star, Snapper, Teardrop or Grapple/Grapnel sinkers sizes 1 to 4 oz depending on depth and current.


Which variation of the Paternoster Rig is the best?

This comes down to preference and location. Here are some benefits of each type.

The running single version is ideal for live baits as the can move around more. The fixed versions allow for multiple hooks providing more opportunity. The slight variations on the dropper lines can help with reduced tangling – Dropper loop vs 3-way swivel vs single swivel with beads & crimps.

Snag reduction and improved catch rate?

When fishing areas of high snags such as rocks, reefs, or wooden debris, use a very light sinker trace/leader. Allowing you to break that off and maintain your catch or hooks should your sinker get snagged.

Increase your bite rate?

As the sinker is on the bottom of this rig, when fishing from a boat or pier, you can bounce the rig up and down of the bottom…like jigging. This movement can increase your strike rate.

Other Fishing Rigs

Bait Jig Rig
Running Sinker Rig
Unweighted Rig
Live Bait Rig
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