When to Use the Doodle-Bug Rig

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doodlebug rig

The Doodle-Bug rig is often used by surf fishermen, but few consider when and where it's best applied.

The Doodle-Bug is a common surf rig, but most people clip either a Doodle-Bug or a bottom rig onto the end of the line without giving much thought to which is most appropriate for the situation. Net result? They don’t catch as many fish as they otherwise might, if they instead carefully considered which would be best for the situation at hand.

doodlebug rig

The Doodle-Bug rig is often used by surf fishermen, but few consider when and where it’s best applied.

When you head out to surf fish consider the following as you make your choice:

  • Are bluefish or similarly toothy fish around? If so, a Doodle-Bug is the right choice because it gives the leader extra protection from the fish’s teeth.
  • Are whiting your main quarry? With fish like this, which feed right at or along bottom while looking downwards, a float-free bottom rig often works better.
  • Is it very calm? If so, there’s a good chance of encountering lots of pesky, bait-stealing crabs. When that happens, the Doodle-Bug is an absolute must-have. Without those floats keeping your baits off the bottom they’ll get eaten off in no time.
  • Is visibility poor? When the water’s clouded up a bright colored float can help the fish spot your offering. Most floats are either chartreuse, green, or red. Different colors will work better or worse in different situations so keep a selection of Doodle-Bugs on hand, and when you aren’t getting bit try changing things up. Savvy surf anglers often start out by casting two rigs, with mixed colors in reversed positions. (IE one with green on top and red on the bottom, and a second with red on top and green on the bottom). If a color preference can be established – while accounting for the top hook versus bottom hook variable – then you know to change everything to that specific color.
  • Is visibility good, and crabs are not a problem? The color factor can work in reverse, too – there will be days when for whatever reason, spooky fish prefer a bare hook and are discouraged by the colorful floats.

One thing is for sure: if you hit the beach without a selection of Doodle-Bugs in your box, you need to go hit the tackle store before the next trip.


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