Stingrays are one of the unconventional catches for fishing rods. They aren’t targeted on a regular basis, but some anglers do aim for stingrays. Stingray is not the favorite food for most people, but they work great as bait. So, what is the best way to catch stingrays with a fishing rod?
The best setup for stingray highly depends on the size of the fish. For a smaller fish with a 2 to 3 feet wingspan, a casual fishing rig will do just fine.
That is, a 6 feet pole with around 15-pound monofilament or braided line is adequate. But having a stronger is required since stingrays are bottom feeders and will try to bury themselves when they sense danger.
Another effective method to catch stingrays is using a fishing gig. But it damages the fish. As for why you would want to fish for stingrays, that’s up to you.
Some people catch them for eating, while most fish them as bait for other larger fish like sharks. Anyway, here’s how to catch stingrays-
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How To Catch Stingrays?
There are three most popular methods of catching stingrays, with the most dominant one being fishing rods. The other two are using fishing gigs and using casting nets. We will mostly focus on catching stingrays with fishing rods.
Preferred Rig For Stingray
In terms of what kind of rig, you should use, that depends on the size and species of the fish you are after. For a fish with up to 3 feet wingspan, a simple fishing rig will suffice.
A standard 6-7 feet long fishing rod will be able to handle the fish. Monofilament or braided mainline is the most suitable.
If you are after a small-sized stingray that is just under 2 feet wingspan, you might get away with a sub-10-pound line. But it will be a stretch if you hook a bigger one. For fish with 2-3 feet width, the 12–15-pound line is the sweet spot.
If you are hunting a trophy-sized stingray, get an 18–20-pound line. Generally, you don’t have to go for a very strong line.
Stingrays are bottom feeders. They spend most of the time hugging the seabed. It is no exception when they are feeding. So, your bait will also need to be resting on the floor.
Meaning, your line will be in contact with the seabed the whole time starting from when you cast to when the fish takes the bait and when the fish starts running or fighting.
So, even though you don’t need a heavy line, you will need a heavy leader. In general, strong, thick, abrasion-proof leaders are ideal. Some people like to use steel leaders or wire leaders, but they are necessary only when fishing for the gigantic rays.
For small and medium rays, they are a bit of overkill. A 2-3 feet long fluorocarbon leader will do just fine.
Stingrays have a considerably small mouth size compared to their body. So, you will not need as big of a hook to hold them as you’d think. As long as the hook is strong enough to bear the weight, it is good. One important suggestion is if the hook is rusty clean it before going for fishing.
Additionally, if you do use too big of a hook, it can backfire if the fish is unable to swallow the bait comfortably.
For a medium-sized ray, a 2/0 or a 3/0 hook is the size to have. If you know that the source you are fishing in only has small to medium-sized rays, you can even use 1/0 hooks.
The best bait for stingrays is squid or cut pieces of squid. But you can also use crabs, cuttlefish, mackerel, broken snails, clams, oysters, shrimps, worms, and most types of fish meat as well as their cut pieces. Putting power baits on hook or lures aren’t really suggestable since they hunt based on smelling rather than seeing.
Stingrays don’t really bite the bait. They simply slurp the food in their mouth and send it inside almost instantly. And their mouth size is considerably smaller than their body, so the size of the bait needs to be small. You are less likely to go wrong with a smaller bait than a bigger one.
Methods Of Catching Stingray
Stingrays are strictly bottom feeder as well as highly nocturnal. They are most active at nighttime, and they glide along the bottom and search for food. As discussed above, when fishing for stingrays, your bait will need to be adjacent to the ground so that the ray can swim above it and slurp the food in.
One method is, casting the bait in a location with a high stingray population and waiting for a bite. Stingrays have an excellent sense of smell. As long as the bait is fresh and retains its smell, rays will have no issue locating it. So, like normal fishing, you simply cast and wait for a bite.
Another method is trailing the bait along the bottom. This method is useful when the population of stingrays isn’t super good. Trailing the bait slowly will cover more ground, giving you a better chance.
How To Unhook Safely
Unhooking the fish is a part of fishing, but it is not as generic when your fish is a venomous stingray. They have a sharp barb on their tail, and a sting at the wrong spot can cause severe pain and shock if not death.
The safest method of unhooking the stingray is to pull it up and put it on the boat or ground upside down. When put upside down, it dazes the ray, and it calms down significantly as a result.
Additionally, their barb faces downward, rendering it harmless. At this point, you can safely hold the fish and remove the hook. Use pliers rather than inserting your hand in their mouth.
However, it is doable as long as the ray is considered “small”. When you hook a big fish, it is not the most practical thing to do. Instead of pulling the fish out of the water and causing it more pain, you are better off cutting the leader as close to the hook as possible. The hook will rust away in a few days.
“Gigging” For Stingrays
Gigging or using fishing gigs is also a method of hunting stingrays. The concept is simple. You will need to locate a resting stingray to begin with. Then stalk and get in reach of a strike.
Take aim and go for it, stab the fish near the center of its body. Keep in mind, the success of this method highly depends on your experience and expertise.
Using a casting net is another method for catching stingrays. But it is not the most optimum option most of the time; neither is it the most successful one. But when the seabed is made of sand or gravel, you can use casting nets to catch stingrays.
Stingray is a relatively unorthodox fish to fish for. Not many people do it. If you are considering giving it a try, I’d highly recommend evaluating the purpose first.
When stingrays take the bait, they don’t examine it or spend time with the bait in their mouth. They slurp it in their mouth and almost immediately send it inside. So, more often than not, the hook stabs pretty deep.
So, unhooking is tough, and the fish has a lesser chance of surviving compared to other fish species.