Cod Tackle

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CodThe rod and reel combo we recommend for cod should be capable of handling 50lb braid. The rod should be 6’6″-7’6″ with a fast to extra-fast action.  We prefer a rod that has a little more beef to the rod to handle big diamond jigs and large sinkers up to 20oz.  The reel should have at least a 5:1 ratio.  Levelwind reels are certainly easier to use, but may present a handicap when dropping the bait down in fast currents (because the line goes out more slowly).   Do not be confused by the suggested lure weights specified on the rod blanks.  These weights pertain to the size of lures that can be cast effectively using that rod.

Braided Line for Cod

The reel should be loaded with 50lb braid.  The heavier braid is preferred when fishing bouncing sinkers up to 16oz on the bottom.  Since braided lines have a thinner diameter and less water resistance, they provide an added advantage and allow the angler to hold bottom with lighter sinkers.  The lack of stretch transmits even the softest of hits back to the angler.

Cod Rigs

The basic cod bait rig consists of a 4ft length of 80lb fluorocarbon leader attached to the main line via a 100lb barrel swivel. The rig has one dropper loop 12 inches above the sinker and a second loop 24 inches above the first. Dropper loops stand out 3-4 inches. Each dropper loop is tipped with a 5/0 beak baitholder holder hook.  The entire rig is attached to the main line with a 100lb barrel swivel and completed with a sinker ranging from 6-20oz depending on the speed of the drift. 

On most party boats (head boats) there is a “two hook only rule” and anglers can use no more than two hooks at any time except for a diamond jig which can have a hook on both the top and bottom.

cod diamond jig rig consists of a 4ft length of the 50-80lb fluorocarbon leader attached to a 4oz or larger hammered chrome diamond jig.  The rig should be attached to the main line with a 100lb barrel swivel.  The best jigs have the highest width to length ratios.  These “flatter” jigs have a much better fluttering action.  An artificial scented soft-bait teaser on a 7/0 baitholder hook can be added three feet above the jig. There are a variety of colors and shapes that can be used to match the bait in the area which includes mackerel, herring, sand eels, and squid.

Cod Checklist

  • 6’6″ to 7’6″ fast to extra-fast conventional rod rated for 50lb braid
  • Conventional reel with/without levelwind rated for 30-50lb braid
  • 50lb braid
  • 100lb barrel swivel
  • 50-80lb fluorocarbon leader
  • 4oz to 20oz bank sinkers and hammered diamond jigs
  • 5/0 to 7/0 beak baitholder hook
  • Artificial scented soft-baits

Please contact us if you have questions about our recommendations!

Click here to see all of our Cod Shows (video, techniques, tips, and locations)

Northeast Angling YouTube CLICK HERE FOR FREE COD FISHING VIDEO CLIPS!

Cod Fishing Techniques and Tips

Georges Bank Cod - 2004

Capt Andy, Capt Joe Huckemeyer (Helen H), Capt Rich, at Georges Bank

Georges Bank and Stellwagen Bank both have cod year round. Only on very rare occasions, when the water gets extremely cold does the bite slow. The run to the edge of Georges bank from Hyannis is a least 50 miles and is usually accessible only by larger boats or when the conditions are just right.  The shot to Stellwagen is much easier and is less than 20 miles from Boston Harbor.

When spawning in the late Fall on Georges Bank, the cod can be found a little closer (and shallower) on some of the many wrecks that litter the bottom. The combination of strong tidal currents and wind can sometimes create some daunting seas.

In early winter through late winter there can be a very respectable run of fish that can be reached from Rhode Island and Montauk, Long Island.

What to bring

For most anglers, open boats and charters are the best way to experience this fishery. The right piece of bottom can make all the difference. Most captains carefully guard their most productive spots. Rather than take a long ride, burn a lot of fuel, and spend the day trying to find a good piece of bottom, it is both easier and usually less expensive to go on an open boat or book a charter. These captains spend a lot of time in this area and have a very good handle on where the fish are at certain times during the season. Their knowledge of the tides and currents is invaluable. Anglers should bring a cooler and several layers of warm clothes even during the summer months. Cod fishing can get very messy and the decks need to be washed down frequently. Deck boots and skins are a must.

All the boats supply tackle if you need it. If you bring your own be sure to leave your light tackle home.

Cod Fishing Rods

For years many anglers used long heavy cod sticks to handle the weight, provide enough length to work their jigs effectively, and much needed hook setting power. Those days are gone. The new braided lines have a thinner diameter and much less water resistance. The lack of stretch allows the angler to feel every bite and provides for an excellent hook sets regardless of the depth.

Cod Fishing Reels

Stellwagen Bank Cod

Capt John Walker, Capt Rich, and Capt Andy at Stellwagen Bank

Sinkers and diamond jigs weighing from 14-20 ounces are usually required when cod fishing. Even though the fish are often found in shallower water during the cold winter months, be prepared to fish some very significant depths. It is not unusual to be fishing in 200-300ft of water. Reels with very high gear ratios (fast retrieves) are required. When fishing baits at these depths the amount of time and effort needed to retrieve and re-bait a rig must be minimized. A reel with a very high ratio of retrieve will certainly be more productive.

Presentation

When fishing bait or jigs it is critical to maintain contact with the bottom. More weight must be used as the speed of the drift and/or the depth increase. As the rig is lifted off the bottom and the scope of the line is increased, the angler must pay out additional line until the rig hits the bottom. This can usually be done a few times until the water resistance from the amount of line makes it impossible to get down to the bottom. The rig must be retrieved and flipped out again just slightly up-current.


Tackle Recommendations
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Rods
Penn Bluewater Carnage Casting Penn Bluewater Carnage Casting
Casting (conventional) rod - graphite composite - 6'6" - 7'10 - multiple models suitable for 10-130lb braid or mono
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Penn Bluewater Carnage Casting
Shimano Tallus Shimano Tallus
Conventional rod - 6'6" to 8' - multiple models suitable for 12-130lb mono and 20-200lb braid - fast action only - medium to extra heavy power
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Shimano Tallus Shimano Tallus
Reels
Penn Torque Conventional Penn Torque Conventional
Star drag conventional reel (no level wind) - models rated for 10-50lb mono and 15-80lb braid - 6:1 gear ratio - 7 ball bearings - HT100 drag washers
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Penn Torque Conventional Penn Torque Conventional
Penn Torque Jigging Penn Torque Jigging
Lever drag butterfly jigging conventional reel - models rated for 12-50lb mono and 20-100lb braid - 5.1:1  5.5:1, and 6:1 gear ratios - 6 ball bearings
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Penn Torque Jigging Penn Torque Jigging
Shimano Torium Shimano Torium
Star drag conventional reel (no level wind) - models rated for 14-50lb mono and 40-100lb braid - 6.2:1 gear ratio - 3 ball bearings - aluminum frame and side plates
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Shimano Torium Shimano Torium
Shimano Torsa Shimano Torsa
Lever drag butterfly jigging conventional reel - models rated for 14-50lb mono and 50-100lb braid - 4.9:1  and 5.8:1 gear ratios - 8 ball bearings
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Shimano Torsa Shimano Torsa
Line
Berkley Fireline Braid Berkley Fireline Braid
Braided line - virtually no stretch - moss green color - very thin line diameter - available 6 to 80lb test and 110, 300, and 1500 yard spools
Learn more and buy at Berkley
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Berkley Fireline Braid Berkley Fireline Braid
Lures
Hammered Diamond Jig Hammered Diamond Jig
West End Fishing Tackle hammerred damond jig available in 4/6/8/10/12/14/16oz sizes with hooks


Hammered Diamond Jig
Berkley Gulp Alive Shrimp Berkley Gulp Alive Shrimp
Gulp Alive! Soft bait - 3" - GAPSHR3 - 15 different colors - looks, feels and smells like live shrimp - extremely durable and long lasting - rig on a jig, dropper, or any way you would with live shrimp
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Berkley Gulp Alive Shrimp Berkley Gulp Alive Shrimp
Berkley Gulp Alive Grub Berkley Gulp Alive Grub
Gulp Alive! Soft bait - 1.5" - GAJJG1- available in black, chartruese, pearl, and white - proven shape and action works well for all fish - use on jigs, dropshots, and dropper loops
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Berkley Gulp Alive Grub Berkley Gulp Alive Grub
Berkley Gulp Sandworm Berkley Gulp Sandworm
Gulp Alive! Soft bait - 6" - GAPSW6 - available on bloody, camo and natural - looks and feels like natural sandworms - rig and fish like live bait.
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Berkley Gulp Sandworm Berkley Gulp Sandworm
Berkley Gulp Squid Berkley Gulp Squid
Softbait - 3" - GSSQ3 - available in 6 different colors - natural action, scent and taste - rig on a jig-head, a dropper loop or a Carolina rig.
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Berkley Gulp Squid Berkley Gulp Squid
Berkley Gulp 6" Grub Berkley Gulp 6" Grub
Softbait - 6" - GSG6 - available in 6 different colors - tough and durable - fish at depths up to 300 feet - wide swimming tail for greater action and visibility
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Berkley Gulp 6" Grub Berkley Gulp 6" Grub
Hooks
Mustad Beak Baitholder Hook Mustad Beak Baitholder Hook
92661-NI - Forged, Reversed, 2 Slices in special long shank, Ringed, Nickel
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Mustad Beak Baitholder Hook
Terminal Tackle
Mustad Rolling Swivel Mustad Rolling Swivel
77900 - Black Rolling Swivel w/round eye - available sizes/rating: 4/144lb, 6/118lb, 8/104lb, 9/77lb, 10/70lb, 12/49lb, and 14/42lb


Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader
Fluorocarbon leader  - invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear  and disappearing pink colors - 4-200lb test and 30/100yd spools
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Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader Yo-Zuri Fluorocarbon Leader
Berkley Prospec Leader Berkley Prospec Leader
Fluorocarbon leader - invisible, durable, max knot/crimp strength - clear, blue, pink, brown colors - 20-200lb test and 25/33/75/100yd coils
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Berkley Prospec Leader Berkley Prospec Leader