Back in the days when a bucket of livebaits was always with me when I was piking I settled on a very simple paternoster set up that eliminated tangles from lively baits and any chance of a bite off. I didn't invent the rig I just adopted it. When I say rig, there are two variations that I have used.
In the rig's simplest form all you do is tie your lead link to the eye of the top treble of a two hook trace. I know that this looks like it will restrict the bait's freedom. But that's kind of the point. It cannot swim up above the trace. It's lateral movement is limited, but not as severely as you might imagine. When fishing a sunk float a lively bait will be able to drag the float down as it swims away from its tethered position. It does have a circle of movement. With a surface float in use this is limited, but provided the float is set a little overdepth the bait will not be stuck in one spot. Watch the float and you'll see it move around in a small circle.
The link being tied to the hook doesn't deter pike from taking baits, and, perhaps surprisingly, doesn't result in a lead being lost every time a pike is hooked. I'm tight, and if I'd lost a lead every time I hooked a pike on this rig I'd have stopped using it after two fish. I lie. After one fish!
Where this rig really scores over the traditional paternoster is in casting. It casts more smoothly, without the 'bolas effect' associated with longer hook traces,and gives you greater accuracy. When faced with a strong headwind this set-up, using two ounce leads or heavier and a small bait hooked head up trace, can be punched out further than a big bait on a normal paternoster. It comes in handy for fishing baits tight up to stands of reed. Not only because it casts accurately, but because the bait can't swim too far from the reeds, or into them, once everything is set.
Sometimes I vary this rig by tying the lead link to the trace itself using a stop-knot knot a few inches above the hooks. I have done this when fishing livebaits, but mostly I do it with deadbaits. I don't have a logical reason for this, it just feels right to let a deadbait dangle away from the lead link. There is a drawback in that tied like this the link does get tangled with the hooks. More so with deads than lives for some reason. This is why I prefer to fish deads on a different paternoster rig. One that I've also used for trolling.
|One that fell for a paternostered sardine|
These two rigs served me well for years. They are simple and don't involve making special traces. All I have to do is make up plain old snap tackles and I can use them for legering or paternostering deads, or by tying a link to the trace they can be used to paternoster lives. They're cheap on swivels and snaps, and they aren't tangle prone.
However, if you are into making dedicated paternoster traces, I have recently redeveloped one from my early days of rig making. It incorporates the anti-tangle properties of a boom, with the bite-off resistance of the link-to-hook rig. At a pinch it can be used as a a leger trace too.
|Another to the Roberts Boom paternoster|
back in the Dark Ages
All you do once you have the trebles attached to your trace is thread on a Fox Braid Stop followed by a leger bead and a second stop. Then finish the trace as normal. Okay, so getting the stops on to the wire isn't easy, it helps to soften them in boiling water to get them onto the trace wire, but that means they grip well. Once in place they can be moved up and down the trace to give the bait more freedom if it's a livey, or to keep it from the link of it's a dead. I've not had the stops slip on the cast, and unless you are really belting the rig out using a heavy lead I think they are most unlikely to move. As it's the bottom stop that would slip it wouldn't affect the uptrace properties of the rig in any case. Superglue would stop slippage, or you could try using two stops below the bead. However it isn't likely to be a problem needing solving.
Although I haven't tried it, I can't see any reason why this trace set-up couldn't be used for legering livebaits – with a short link tied between leger bead and lead – at least at close range. A poly ball or bait popper tied to one of the trebles was always my preferred presentation when legering lives on similar rigs in the past. To use the trace for legering or wobbling deadbaits simply slide everything up to the swivel and remove the weak link.