How to tie a Wolf River Rig

The Wolf River Rig is a classic among walleye anglers in Wisconsin and for good reason. They are an excellent way to ensure your bait stays in front of fish that are hanging tight to the bottom, even when the current is significant.

Whether jigging, trolling, or using dead rods, the Wolf River Rig is a proven way to get on fish.

These rigs can be used to catch a host of other species when fishing dead rods, including carp and catfish. This is a great setup to have in your back pocket and it’s very easy to put together.

Here’s how I tie my Wolf River Rigs:

What you’ll need:

  • Fluorocarbon fishing line (in your desired pound test)
  • A three-way swivel
  • A snap swivel
  • An egg sinker
  • A floating jighead, fly, or single hook
  • A twist tie

Step 1: Cut off 12-18 inches of fluorocarbon and tie one end to the three-way swivel. Then tie the snap swivel to the other end and attach the egg sinker to the snap swivel. You’re simply creating a leader.

The snap swivel is probably optional here, but I like using it because it allows me to quickly change the amount of weight on the rig without having to re-tie.

Step 2: Cut off 18-24 inches of fluorocarbon. Tie one end to the three-way swivel and tie your jighead, fly, or hook to the other end.

18-24 inches is my starting point. I may go longer or shorter depending on depth and current.

Remember, just because you have two feet of leader doesn’t mean you are fishing exactly two feet off the bottom because the leader will not float perfectly perpendicular to the bottom.

Step 3: Tie the three-way swivel to your main line.

Many people use braided line for their mainline with these setups. If I’m fishing a spot with a lot of structure, this is my choice too. But, for carp and catfish that are often found in mud flats, I use monofilament.

Step 4: Secure both leaders to your rod by using a twist tie. This will keep the rigs from becoming tangled when they aren’t in the water.

If you are in the mood for planning, I simply hoard the twist ties that come on my bags of bread and save them for this occasion.

Tips and Tricks

Do you need the fluorocarbon? Probably not. But I like the abrasion resistance that fluoro offers. In a pinch, you can get away with using monofilament for your leaders.

I generally start with a 1-ounce egg sinker and work my way up, if the situation calls for it. I’d rather have too much weight than not enough.

Flies can be a great bait to put on the end of one of these rigs, if you are targeting walleye. They can be tipped with a minnow, minnow head, leach, or nightcrawler. Heck, you can even run the plain fly, if you want.

When I’m after carp or catfish, I prefer a floating jighead or a single hook tipped with half a crawler or cut bait.

Theoretically, you could also tie a snap swivel to the end of your bait leader to make switching hooks simpler. However, I feel this minimizes the action of the bait and the added weight of the swivel takes away the natural buoyancy of the jighead, hook, or fly.

If you’re looking to save yourself some time, add a snap swivel to your main line. This allows you to tie up a bunch of rigs ahead of time with different colors, hooks, and leader lengths. Then, when you want to change things up, you can easily switch out rigs without re-tying anything.

When trolling these rigs, consider adding a spinner and beads to the leader that has your hook on it for added action.

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