The slinky drift rig is one of the two most common rigs used for drifting bait in moving water. The other is the floating drift rig.
The slinky drift rig is most used for salmon and steelhead fishing in the Great Lakes and along the West Coast of the United States. It is also used a lot in Alaska, perhaps the greatest salmon and steelhead fishing location of all. It can be utilized in any moving water to catch fish. Fish in rivers and streams are used to watching things flow past them all day long.
This rig can be used with pre-made slinky sinkers or regular split shots. Both work well. Slinkies are heavier and easier to set up. Split shots are easier to adjust and work out of snags.
The basic concept behind the slinky drift rig is that a row of sinkers bounces along the bottom of the river or stream while the bait drifts ahead of it. The sinkers keep the bait down in the water column without unnaturally pinning it sown.
The slinky drift rig can be made in may variations. All are easy to tie.
To tie a slinky drift rig with a slinky sinker you start by passing your fishing line through the loop in the sinker. Then you pass the line through a small bead. After that you tie the line to a swivel. On the other end of the swivel you tie a length of line to serve as a leader. On the end of the leader you tie your hook. This is a lot like the sliding sinker rig used for bass and bottom fishing. In fact it is just another version of it.
You can also tie this version by using a three way swivel with a snap on one side. You tie your line to one of the loops in the swivel. You tie your leader and hook to another loop. The snap is attached to the loop in the slinky weight.
The easiest method to tie this version is to passing the line through the hole in the slinky rig three times, then wrap the line around the loops created to create a knot. The tag end of line is then tied to a hook. This is quick to assemble but it creates a breaking point around the loop in the slinky rig. If the slinky rig gets stuck on the bottom the line will break and the whole thing will be lost.
If you don’t want to use a slinky weight you can simply tie your rig with split shots. There are three ways to do this.
The first is to attach your main line to your leader with a blood knot. Instead of snipping off both tag ends you keep one there to hold your weight. At the end of this tag end you tie an overhand knot. On the tag end you place as many split shot as you need. As the weight bounces along the bottom it can get stuck on rocks and other things. By pulling your line with some force you can slide split shot off of the tag end and release the rest of the rig. So you’ll get your hook and line back instead of losing the entire thing.
You can also tie this rig with a swivel. You tie your main land to the swivel but instead of cutting off the tag end you leave it there to hold your weight. At the end of the tag end you tie an overhand knot. Then you place as many split shot as you need on the tag end. The leader and hook are tied to the other end of the swivel as usual. This is useful if your leader is much thinner than your main line which makes tying a blood knot difficult. It is also useful if you don’t want to tie a blood knot or have problems with line twist.
Finally, you can tie this rig with a three way swivel. You tie your main line to one loop. You tie your leader and hook to another. Then you tie a short length of line to the third. At the end of that length of line you tie an overhand knot. Then you apply as much weight as you need on that section of line.
This method has more knots than the others and the extra size of the three way swivel can sometimes get in the way.
Split shots can be replaced with pencil lead in any of these versions. In places where lead is not allowed you can use tungsten shot or putty though it is much more expensive. Tin shot also works but it is large and light so a lot of it must be applied to get the same effect.