Paternoster Coarse Fishing Rig – Ideal when windy and after dark

Simple Paternoster rig used in coarse fishing.
Simple Paternoster rig used in coarse fishing.

The Paternoster

Simple Paternoster rig used in coarse fishing. Lineart drawing of paternoster fishing rig showing the parts.
Simple Paternoster rig used in coarse fishing.

An old-fashioned and unusual name for a simple technique. It developed from a legering background although the float fishing enthusiasts adapted it as well! The paternoster works well for perch but used in the right conditions will catch tench, rudd and carp.

The basic principle is a legering weight tied to the end of the mainline. The hook is then attached to another length of line (hook length) which is tied onto the mainline above the legering weight (fixed paternoster). The hook length can vary as also can the distance from the weight to joining of the two
lines. The diagram shows a very basic fixed paternoster rig incorporating a water knot. A swivel can be used instead of a knot. However, the swivel has the slight disadvantage of possibly picking up weed or rubbish and thus making bite detection a bit more difficult.

The weight can also be on a swivel so that it can slide along the mainline (running paternoster). A split shot or leger stop can be used to adjust the length of the tail i.e. distance between the weight and the stop. A swim feeder can be used as a weight substitute and will certainly allow you to place sample hook bait in the vicinity of the hook The length of the hook length and tail can vary to suit conditions and a good method to use is as follows. At the end of the mainline form a large 1-metre loop.

Tie a surgeons knot i.e. double loop knot and then simply cut the loop once to form a hook length and a tail.

There are many variations of the paternoster rig. Here are a few of the main ones.
1). Short hook length / long tail. This setup is used for catching fish at midwater. The tail can be up to 2 metres long and the hook length can be as short as 150mm. This method basically suspends the bait at a predetermined depth depending on the tail length.

2). Long hook length / short tail. This is the basic setup for fishing over weed or silt. A bit of trial and error is needed initially to get the tail length right. The hook length is usually set at one metre. The concept is to have the weight sink through the weed/silt and the hook length sitting on top of the weed/silt exposing the bait to passing fish.

3). Long hook length / short tail on a swivel. This is called a running paternoster. The line is cast out. The weight is allowed to settle and the line is then tensioned. When a fish takes the bait the line will pass through the swivel – to which the weight is attached – and the angler can strike.

The three setups mentioned are all leger rigs. However, the anglers who prefer float fishing have adapted the three methods by using a sliding float rig. The angler simply attaches a sliding float onto the mainline. Ties a sliding stop knot onto the line. Checks the depth a couple of times, adjusts the knot position on the line and simply uses a float for an indication of bites. Simple but very effective.

The Paternoster has been one of the more neglected techniques of coarse angling but used in the right conditions can be deadly. It can be used in windy weather when float fishing is not suitable. It can also be used after dark when the fish are a little bit more adventurous at talking a bait. It is a method well worth giving a go when float fishing is slow!

Otaki Angling was established in November 2020 by Hutt Valley Coarse Fishing Club member, Mark Mees, with the goal of making high quality, value-for-money coarse, carp and match fishing tackle available to New Zealand anglers. You can get your Coarse, Carp and Match Fishing Tackle from Otaki Angling.