What Is a Knocker Rig and How to Make One?

If you’ve got a bottom fishing outing scheduled this season, you need the knocker rig in your arsenal. You’ll catch more fish and win more bragging rights from your fishing buddies. Plus, it is easy to make one!

Knocker Rig: What Is It?

Diagram showing a knocker rig's parts

It is a bottom fishing rig consisting of a free-sliding egg sinker above a circle hook on about 5 feet of mono leader. Then, a barrel swivel attaches the leader. It looks similar to a fish finder rig, except the sinker is below the barrel swivel.

It keeps the bait suspended off the bottom while the sinker knocks around along the seabed, enticing a bite. The sinker sits right on top of the hook when casting but slides up toward the swivel by the time it hits the water. This allows the bait to fall with a natural presentation.

What Is a Knocker Rig Good For?

The knocker rig works for many fish species, especially bottom-dwelling fish. You can even cast it long distances since the sinker sits down on top of the hook when thrown. In return, it creates a compact weight at the end of the line.

If you get hung up, you can usually pop it free by letting out some slack, allowing the sinker to rest on the bottom, then pulling the line tight. This will cause the sinker to slide back down to the hook and knock it free from whatever it snagged.

Pro Tip: This rig is best in saltwater applications, but you can also use it in freshwater.

When to Use a Knocker Rig?

The knocker rig works best when fishing for species that hold tight to structures like reefs, piers, pilings, oil rigs, shipwrecks, rocks, etc. Bottom-dwelling fish use these structures as cover to ambush their prey and avoid larger predators. You’ll see the most bites by running the knocker rig alongside or over the top of these structures.

The sinker stirs up debris as it drags along the bottom and draws the fish off their cover. In this scenario, you’ll like the knocker rig more than the fish finder rig because you can cast it farther, and it’s easier to free if you get hung up.

How to Tie a Knocker Rig

The knocker rig is simple to tie, even for beginner anglers. All you need is a circle hook, egg sinker, barrel swivel, and at least five feet of abrasion-resistant leader line. We’ll get into each component’s specific sizes and weights as we go.

1. Prepare and Cut the Leader Line

Monofilament is the best type of leader for the knocker rig. It offers good abrasion resistance since you’ll be throwing your bait around potentially jagged structures. Some anglers use fluorocarbon, but it comes down to preference. The ideal length of the leader is about five feet.

Remember that the length can vary depending on the type of fish you’re targeting and the conditions, but ten feet is as long as you’ll want to go.

2. Secure the Barrel Swivel

Select a swivel with a slightly heavier test rating than the leader you’re using. Tie the swivel to your main line using a swivel knot and tie the leader to the other eye using the same type of knot. This will serve as a stop for your egg sinker. It also allows the leader to twist separately from your line.

3. Add the Egg Sinker

Next, slide your egg sinker onto the leader. The sinker is the most critical part of the rig. It provides weight for casting and keeps the bait near the bottom. It can also help you free your hook if it gets snagged on plants or debris.

The optimal weight for the egg sinker will vary depending on current and depth, but you’ll usually want to stay between 1 and 5 ounces. A two-ounce steel egg sinker is your best bet for most applications.

If you’re using a lead sinker, be sure to file down any sharp or abrasive edges that could fray your line.

4. Tie the Hook

Once the sinker is on, you’re ready to tie on the hook using a snell knot. Use a 5/0 to 8/0 circle hook to give yourself the best chance to catch a fish.

Pro Tip: An aggressive bottom fish will hook themselves with a circle hook most of the time.

Always double-check that the egg sinker hasn’t slipped off the leader before you start to tie on the hook. Nothing is more frustrating than tying the perfect knot only to realize you have to cut it off to slide the sinker back on.

Knocker Rig FAQ

What Fish Can I Catch Using Knocker Rig?

The knocker rig is perfect for any bottom-dwelling saltwater species. If you’re fishing for snapper, grouper, rockfish, tarpon, amberjack, tilefish, porgies, or any other bottom fish, the knocker rig will work just fine.

What Is the Difference Between Fish Finder Rig and Knocker Rig?

The sinker is above the barrel swivel on the main line of a fish finder rig. On a knocker rig, it’s below the swivel on the leader line. This is most noticeable when casting since the sinker can slide all the way down to the hook on a knocker rig.

What Are the Disadvantages of Knocker Rig?

One drawback of the knocker rig is the limit on the line you can let out past the sinker. If you want to let the bait drift with the current, you can only go as far as the length of your leader.


The knocker rig is an excellent addition to any angler’s tackle box and knowledge bank. The easy setup and tangle-free casting make it one of the best bottom fishing rigs for anglers of all skill levels.