Drifting a 3-Way Rig for Stripers
There are some definite advantages to this method of presenting a bait to stripers that are hanging deep as compared to using a basic weight-and-fishfinder rig. The primary one is that by separating the bait from the weight your presentation moves in much more natural fashion. Here’s how it works:
A basic 3-way swivel is used – nothing more than three swivels attached to a central ring at equal angles away from each other. On one ring you attach your running line. On another you will attach your bait using a fairly long section of leader material (fluorocarbon is best, at least 40-pound test). Make that leader at least three feet long and many anglers prefer four feet or even longer. There advantages and disadvantages to a long leader: at four feet or more your bait is well-separated from your weight, but the longer the leader, the more chance of tangling and depending on the force of the current you may not feel it when a fish picks up your offering.
On the other “leg” of the 3-way, attach a section of regular monofilament of considerably lighter pound test than your running line and leader. This way if your weight happens to snag on the bottom you can tug sharply and break off the weight and (hopefully!) not lose the rest of your rig. A piece of mono 12 to 24 inches in length should suffice. The amount of weight you use will depend on the depth of the water and the strength of the current – use only enough weight to find the bottom and allow your rig to bounce along as you drift. This aids in a natural presentation.
The method is simplicity itself – just lower the rig to the bottom and when you feel the weight make contact, turn the reel handle a crank or two to make sure there is no slack in the line. But be sure to constantly let out and take in line so you can feel the weight bouncing along. If you think you detect a hit, let the fish run with it for a few seconds and then set the hook with some authority. NOTE: if you are using circle hooks, simply engage the drag and let the fish start peeling line off the reel.