Skip to content
Sheepshead Rig- 8 best sheepshead fishing rigs

Sheepshead Rig: The 8 Best Sheepshead Fishing Rigs You Have To Try

Our Sheepshead Rig Guide For The Best Sheepshead Fishing Rigs For Catching Convicts 

When you set out to go sheepshead fishing, you will realize many sheepshead rigs claim they will catch fish. One of the main reasons for this is that anglers face many conditions when trying to catch sheepshead fish. Sheepshead fish are found all over the place, from inshore to offshore. They are found in and around docks, jetties, rocks, live bottom, and many more areas. These areas often can see harsh conditions like heavy currents, bottom that is prone to hook up or line fraying from oysters or barnacles. By knowing the different types of rigs, you can determine when and where to fish it. We will go into more depth about the best sheepshead rigs that every angler should be used when fishing for sheepshead.

What Makes A Sheepshead Fishing Rig Successful

Sheepshead Fishing Rigs 

Catching Sheepshead On Different Styles Of Rigs

Sheepshead fish are a tricky species of fish to catch because of their mouth makeup. They are known as convicts because of their bait stealing habits. They have sheep-like teeth that are often mistaken for human teeth and a pallet full of grinders. This leaves very few soft spots for a hook to penetrate to catch them but allows for them to chew up barnacles, shrimp, oysters, fiddler crabs, and other small crustaceans with ease. You can find sheepshead on structures like jetties, docks, bridges, and oyster shoals because of this diet. It is because of this that makes it so important to fish with the proper sheepshead rigs. A few things to consider when picking out the right sheepshead fishing rigs is presentation, depth, current, and the bait. Sheepshead wants to see the bait presented naturally, as they will find in nature. The best baits for sheepshead are fiddler crabs; keeping them upright and floating down to land on their feet is crucial for getting them to bite. If you have the right presentation, the next thing you must consider is the depth and water current. Having the properly weighted rig will be needed to place your fishing bait in the area; it needs to be devoured. When it comes to current, there are so many variables. Sheepshead fishing around bridge pylons in the main channel can yield some of the strongest currents and require heavier weights; fishing around docks farther inshore is less severe on currents, and you can get away with lighter weighted jigs and rigs. There are areas like the jetties that have both extremes, and as an angler, you should be ready for anything. Knowing the different factors that will influence your choice of best sheepshead rig you should be using will allow you to be prepared on your next fishing trip. Let's look in detail at the different rigs that will allow you to catch more sheepshead.

Why Fish The Best Rigs For Sheepshead

We have spent countless hours targeting sheepshead and have compiled what works and what doesn't. We have consulted many of our top sheepshead fishermen in our everything sheepshead group on facebook that has over 20K+ anglers who live and breathe sheepshead. By going through each rig, we hope it will educate you as to what you should be using for sheepshead fishing.

Best Sheepshead Rig For Shrimp

Shrimp Rigs

Best Shrimp Rigs For Sheepshead Fishing

One of the best baits for sheepshead fishing is shrimp. Live shrimp always catch some of the biggest sheepsheads around. They are perfect for fishing in most conditions and around structures. You will have to keep the other fish off your shrimp, but if you can put it in the face of a sheep, more than likely, you will get a bit. To get your shrimp near sheepshead, we have a few trusted shrimp rigs that are perfect to use when fishing for sheepshead.

Freeline Shrimp Rig

Freeline Shrimp Rig

Free Floating Shrimp Around Docks And Pylons 

The free-floating shrimp rig is precisely as it sounds. It is a hook on your line with a shrimp that is free to swim around. The best sheepshead hook is an octopus hook. The smaller, the better when it goes to get a hook up in the sheepshead's mouth; we recommend a 1/0 or 2/0 octopus sheepshead hook. One of the best times to use this method is to have sighted sheep in and around pylons or on oyster shells. Many times looking around bridge and dock pylons, you will see sheepshead actively feeding on barnacles. If there is little to no current, float a shrimp down the pylon and catch your next monster sheepshead.

Popping Cork Rig

Popping Cork Rig

Popping Cork Rig Works Well For Sheepshead

The next best sheepshead rig when using live shrimp is with a popping cork. This technique is best when there is a current. Tie an oval or 5" cupped popping cork to the line and attach a leader with a hook. The leader line will be set appropriately according to the depth you are fishing. Use a live bait sheepshead hook or octopus hook. Attach your shrimp and float it down the current across the structure that is holding the sheepshead. Two areas that this works best is at the jetties and along bridge pylons. When the tide is right, you can float a shrimp down the jetties to get a bite. This also works great when there are multiple pylons. You will be able to float your shrimp down them under the cork at the depth you desire.

Weedless Shrimp Rig

Weedless Shrimp Rig

Weedless Shrimp Rig Is Perfect For Fishing Around Structure

The last great way to fish with shrimp for sheepshead is the weedless shrimp rig. This method allows your rig to be embedded in the shrimp, keeping it from catching on any structures. This sheepshead rigging method is easy to tie and pretty simple. It uses your best sheepshead hook and weight. We prefer the octopus hook or live bait hook with an egg weight or bullet weight. Your lead weight size will be according to the currents you are fishing. It is best to remember that the lighter the weight, the better you will feel the bite. Always try to go lighter if you can get away with it.

2) Sheepshead Rigs That Work Best For Fiddler Crabs

One of the best baits for sheepshead fishing is fiddler crabs. They are known as sheepshead candy because sheepshead eats them like they are skittles. When you go sheepshead fishing, make sure you have a couple of quarts of fiddler crabs because a school of sheepshead will chew through your bait. There are several great rigs to use when fishing with fiddler crabs. Your rig's goal should be to keep the fiddler crab presentation correct and get your bait onto the bottom in front of hungry convict fish. Our top sheepshead rigs will work time and time again and help you catch more sheepshead on your next fishing trip.

Carolina Rig For Sheepshead

Carolina Rig For Sheepshead

Carolina Rig Works Well For Sheepshead Fishing

One of the most popular ways to catch sheepshead is with a Carolina rig. The Carolina rig is also known as the sliding sinker rig because it consists of an egg sinker that can slide up and down the line. Place the egg sinker on the line and attach a swivel to it. On the opposite end of the swivel, attach your fluorocarbon leader line with a hook. We recommend using a 15lb to 30lb leader depending on the structure you are fishing. Attach your sheepshead hook, then add your fiddler crab bait. This completes the rig, and you're ready to catch fish. Many sheepshead anglers prefer the Carolina rig due to its ability to allow anglers to feel the bite. The sliding egg weight allows for a feeding sheepshead to eat the bait without feeling resistance. The bite is so light some times this sheepshead rig gives anglers the edge. Adjust the amount of weight being used depending on current and water depth. A general rule is to use the least amount of weight possible to get your bait to the bottom. This sheepshead rigging method is guaranteed to catch fish, and we would bet it will be your new favorite rig.

Tournament Sheepshead Rig

Proven Tournament Sheepshead Rig

One variation of the Carolina rig is our tournament winner sheepshead rigs. Our ultimate sheepshead rigs are about a foot long and are pre-rigged with your favorite size egg weight and sheepshead hooks. These pre-made sheepshead rigs have placed in the El Cheapo, the largest sheepshead tournament on the planet. If you haven't tried them yet, then pick yours up today and start catching more fish.

Knocker Rig

Knocker Rig

Knocker Rig Gets Your Bait To The Bottom

The cousin to the Carolina rig is the knocker rig that is perfect for catching sheepshead fish on the bottom and around heavy structure. The big difference is the weight can slide right up to the hook. This gives anglers the advantage of knowing exactly where their bait is on the bottom. If the sinker makes it to the bottom, you know the bait is sitting on the bottom. This is the go-to rig for fishing around heavy structures. This rigging type helps reduce the number of snags that will occur on the bottom. Because the weight is free to hit the eye of the hook when snagged on the bottom, a simple jerk of the rod tip will free your line most of the time. This knocking action is where it gets its name. This makes it one of the best rigs for fishing for sheepshead. 

Dropper Rig For Sheepshead Fishing

Dropper Rig For Sheepshead

Dropper Rig Works Best When Drifting For Sheepshead

One of the best bottom rigs for sheepshead is the dropper rig. You will hear the dropper rig referred to as chicken rakes because it has multiple hooks coming off the line. The weight is found at the bottom of the line with your multiple hooks north of it. This allows for your weight to make it to the bottom and keeps your baits up off of it. You can set the depths at which you want your baits to be suspended. This type of bottom fishing rig has been used for sheepshead for a long time and keeps producing time after time. When offshore fishing for sheepshead, this is one of the preferred rigging types. The weight that an angler will choose is a bank sinker. This is because it is the perfect weight for drifting and allowing your rig to bounce across the bottom. The amount of currents will dictate the amount of weight you will use. Try the dropper sheepshead rig today and start catching more fish when offshore sheepshead fishing.

Split Shot Rig For Catching Sheepshead Fish

Split Shot Rig For Sheeps

Split Shot Rig For Sheepshead 

Another great inshore fishing rig for sheepshead is the split shot rig. This takes the simple free line rigging method and adds a split shot or two to get your bait to the desired depth. This is one of the simplest yet effective sheepshead rigs that catches fish. One reason it is so effective is it allowed anglers to feel the bite. This is essential for catching sheepshead because of how tricky they are too hook. This rig will not work in heavy currents or at deeper depths. Use this on calm days when sheepshead fish are shallow or feeding around structures.

Sheepshead Jigs Can Be A Good Convict Rig

Often times anglers overlook or forget about one of the best sheepshead rig out there, the sheepshead jig. These types of jigs are just as effective or better than traditional sheepshead fishing rigs. It boils down to fisherman preference, which is one reason you must consider sheepshead jigs as a rig. Let's look in more detail at the different types of sheepshead jig heads are available on the market to help you catch more fish on your next fishing trip.

Football Jigs

Football Sheepshead Jigs

Football Sheepshead Jigs Are Great For Catching Convicts

One of the original types of sheepshead jig is the football jig. It has proven to catch fish time and time again. They are perfect for fishing fiddler crabs in and around a structure. The way the hook falls on a sheepshead football jig is ideal for a hook up every time. It will keep your fiddler crab right in the bite path of a sheep and catch in the soft pallet in the corner of their mouth. They are easy to use and can be cast with precise precision. They are available in a variety of sizes from 1/4oz up to over 1oz. They are available in 30+ colors that will have a color for any water condition. They are known for catching sheepshead, which is why every angler needs a swing jig in their tackle box for sheepshead.

Bottom Sweeper Jigs®

Bottom Sweeper Jigs

Bottom Sweeper Jigs For Tog and Sheepshead

Over the last year, one of the tog jigs that has taken the industry by storm is the Bottom Sweeper Jig. This patented jig is designed specifically for catching sheepshead and tautog. They were thought up and designed by the famous Capt Dan Schafer to help all anglers catch fish. One unique feature that makes them so effective is each jig head's symmetrical design to resist rollover with a bait on the bottom. It keeps your bait in the right presentation to entice a bite. They keep it simple with their colors and only off their jigs in 6 colors that have been proven to catch fish. You can find bottom sweeper in weight sizes that vary from 1/4oz up to 3oz. They have a jig head for any sheepshead fishing you will be doing.

Jail Bait Jigs

Jail Bait Reef Jigs

Unique Jail Bait Reef Jigs To Keep Your Fiddler Crabs Alive

One of the jigs that anglers have grown to love is the jail bait jig from Eye Strike Fishing. This is a new take on a reef jig that is perfect for fishing with fiddler crabs. It is a unique sheepshead jig in the sense that you attach the fiddler crab to the hook with a rubber band called Bait BakPak. This keeps the fiddler crab alive the entire time and will keep them moving legs for a more realistic presentation. The jail bait bottom jig features two hooks attached to one of the most prominent eyes on the market. This is truly a custom jig for slaying sheepshead. They are perfect for inshore and offshore fishing, and their hook design limits the amount of bottom snags.


Having the right sheepshead rig for the right conditions can be the difference between a good day of fishing and a great fishing day. There are many types of sheepshead rigs out there to make that will catch fish. We encourage all anglers to try them and see what works for them. There is no such thing as the perfect rig, but the Carolina rig would be the versatile rigging option that most anglers prefer. Get out there and try your luck sheepshead fishing using one of our sheepshead rigs with live bait or sheepshead jigs. Always remember, the best sheepshead rig and bait do not matter if you're not in the right spot.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns on sheepshead rigs, please feel free to leave us a comment below or email us at We would also love to see all of your sheepsheads catches, so make sure you send us all your great catches and rigs to be featured on our social media pages. Maybe you have a rig that didn't make it on here. Comment below so we can field test it and potentially add it to our list of rigs that anglers should be using. Check out sheepshead nation and join the community of like-minded anglers who share a passion for sheepshead fishing today. Find other excellent sheepshead fish information and sheepshead recipes here on We look forward to hearing about the sheepshead rigs you use to catch sheepshead fish.

Previous article Pompano State Records
Next article The 5 Best Mahi Mahi Recipes On The Planet


David LaPointe - June 10, 2023

Thanks for taking the time to produce such an informative page. Have used several of these already and now I know which to use and when.
That Jailbait jig looks awesome and will be getting a few of those. Any idea if they would work with small bait sized blue crabs for Permit or Tarpon?
Again thanks for the great page!
David LaPointe ( crabberdavid )

Dr Anthony Howell - June 10, 2023

Good stuff

Todd Corwin - June 10, 2023

I always appreciate the knowledge shared and the pictures of actual riggings! I’m new to salt water fishing being I just moved here. I’ve yet to catch a sheepshead but feel more prepared now than before!


Jerry Harpt - June 10, 2023

Would Sheepshead bite on fishing spoons like a daredevil?

Jerry Harpt - June 10, 2023

Would Sheepshead go after casting spoons

Jerry Harpt - June 10, 2023

Would Sheepshead go after casting spoons

Billy Prewit - June 10, 2023

Great information I am a rookie at this and have read several articles yours by far the best available rigs how and why very impressive thx so much Billy Prewit

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields



Sold Out

Net Orders Checkout

Item Price Qty Total
Subtotal $ 0.00

Shipping Address

Shipping Methods