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Rod Jump to the top of this page

Ugly Stick Tiger Rod

When choosing your rod it is important to pay attention to the tip.  You will want to use a soft tipped rod so that you can detect the subtle bites that sturgeon produce.  You also want the tip to be soft so that the fish can't feel the resistance during the bite.  A strong backbone is a must when choosing a rod, since white sturgeon can grow to lengths in excess of twelve feet.  A good choice is a 7.5' to 8' light to medium action rod that is 15-30 lb test rated.  I prefer composite fiberglass/graphite rods because of they have a soft fiberglass tip and a strong graphite backbone.  I'm currently using an Ugly Stick Tiger model BWC 2200 7'5" Light 10-30 lb line.

Reel Jump to the top of this page

Choose a reel with a fast gear ratio that can hold 300 yards of line.  I'm currently using an Abu-Garcia BG-7001-HS.  If you use Abu-Garcia reels that are older than 2006, replace the drags with Carbontex carbon fiber drags and add some Shimano drag grease.  This will keep the drag operating smoothly for years.  Penn International 975 reels are also popular, as are the Penn 320 series reels. Abu-Garcia Big Game BG-7001-HS Reel
I prefer the Abu-Garcia reels because of they have a decent gear ratio, are easy to clean, and are durable.  Sturgeon will frequently run right at you when hooked, so a high gear ratio is important to take up the slack to prevent lost fish.

Main Line Jump to the top of this page

I've been using 65 lb test Power Pro super braid spectra for my main line.  I've heard of break offs when using heavy sinkers with braid, but I personally haven't had any problems.
After you catch a fish using braid, you should cut off a section of your main line that is longer than the fish that you just caught.  The reason for this is that sturgeon are notorious for rolling in the line when hooked.  Sturgeon have sharp spines along their bodies and also have skin that feels like sandpaper.  Abrasions are hard to detect when using braided line.  I personally would rather be safe than sorry and just cut off the damaged line. Power Pro Super Braid Spectra Line
If you prefer to use monofilament, use at least 25 or 30 lb test.  30 lb test P-Line CXX is a good choice.  Some people believe that the stretch in monofilament line helps to cushion the bite so that fish can't feel it.  Braid has no stretch so fish feel the tension.  This could result in the fish dropping the bait before you set the hook.

Leader Line Jump to the top of this page

I've been using 60 lb test Maxima Ultragreen monofilament leaders.  I tie my leaders to 18" in length to make them as short as legally possible.  You want a short leader because you want the bait on the bottom.  Sturgeon are scavengers that primarily feed on the bottom.  Another choice of monofilament leader is 50 lb test P-Line CXX.

Some people use wire leader because it is heavy and keeps the bait on the bottom.  I don't like wire because it gets kinks in it.  A good choice for wire is 60 lb test or 40 lb 7-strand wire.  If you buy a pre-made wire leader shorten to 18”.

Maxima Ultragreen Line

Sinkers Jump to the top of this page

I use pyramid sinkers for sturgeon because they stay put.  Clip your slider to the flat side of the sinker.  Your goal with sturgeon is to keep your bait resting on the bottom at all times.  I normally use 4 to 6 ounce sinkers.  Adjust your sinker size to the current.  Use the lightest possible sinker that will hold the bottom.   Pyramid Sinker
Be sure to carry a variety of sinker sizes, because in deep areas you may need as much as 16 ounces to hold the bottom.  Change sinker sizes with tide and current changes.

Sliders Jump to the top of this page

You will want to use a slider to attach your sinker to the main line.  I like to use a plastic slider.  Point the short end of the slider towards the rod tip and the long end towards the leader.
Be sure to check the slider for grooves or cracks prior to casting out.  Braided lines can wear grooves in plastic sliders, so pay extra attention if you use braid. Sinker Slider
Some people use metal snap swivels for sliders.  This works, but I've had problems with the leader wrapping around the main line with this setup.  Go with whatever works best for you.

Hooks Jump to the top of this page

Be sure to use barbless hooks.  This regulation change in now in effect!

I like to use quality chemically sharpened octopus hooks.  The size of the hook will vary depending on the size and type of bait that you use.  Generally, I use sizes 6/O to 8/O hooks.  Be sure to change your hooks if they become dull.  Some people even discard their hooks after hooking a few fish.

I normally tie egg loop snell knots to my hooks because I use roe for bait.  If you don't use roe tie a surgeon’s knot to the hook.

octopus hook

Setup Jump to the top of this page

Here is my setup:

  • Rod: 7.5' light action Ugly Stick Tiger rated 10-30 lb test
  • Reel: Abu-Garcia BG-7001-HS
  • Main Line: 65 lb test Power Pro Braid
  • Bead
  • Slider with a pyramid sinker
  • Bead
  • Snap swivel rated to 350 lbs
  • 18" 60 lb test maxima monofilament leader with a swivel tied to one end and a 7/O hook using a egg loop snell knot tied to the other

Sturgeon Setup

Chapter 7 >