Construct your own rattling cork system.
Rattling corks have grown in popularity the last 5 or 10 years. When the cork-and-beads combination taps together, it mimics the sounds created by shrimp and baitfish schools, drawing species like seatrout and redfish to the area. It’s an effective tool for fishing live baits as well as lures.
There are ready-made rattling corks on the market, but the nice thing about building your own is that you can customize them. There are basically two types of rattling cork systems: those that incorporate metal wire and those that use monofilament. Each has it own distinct advantage and application, and both are easy to construct.
Keep in mind that the size of the cork will affect the casting distance, but also that you can compensate for that by adding weight. Just remember that there are limitations to the weight, as too much will impact the flotation of the rig.
You can use a variety of bead shapes, colors and sizes to build your corks. If you fish a lot of muddy water, you can even utilize a combination of glass and brass beads that will transmit more sound into the water. As a rule, I like the plastic beads because they are lighter and don’t detract from the flotation of the rattling cork.
For building metal rattling corks, start with a 15- to 18-inch piece of No. 10 singlestrand offshore fishing wire. The thick diameter of the No. 10 wire should resist bending when fishing; kinks in lighter wire may lead to tangles with your leader or main line. It’s not necessary to add a swivel to the metal rattling cork, but because baitfish like pinfish regularly swim in circles when suspended, I like to add a single swivel to the end of the metal rattling cork. This is the attachment point for the fishing line.
Start by threading the swivel onto the wire, then bending the wire around the swivel and wrapping three or four loops in the wire and cutting it. Next, thread on your beads—two or three work best, and a variety of different beads will help create more sound.
Just about every tackle shop sells floats, and I like to grab different sizes, putting the smaller corks on small baits like shrimp and 3- to 4-inch pilchards, and larger corks on full-size baits like a palm-size pinfish, pilchard or threadfin herring. Pick the size cork you think will apply to the baits you plan to use, and thread it onto the wires, pushing it up toward the beads, then add two or three more beads below the cork.
You don’t need to add any weight to the cork, but I always like to have some weight on the bottom of the rig for two reasons. First, the extra weight adds casting distance to a rig that is not very aerodynamic. Also, the weight will pull the rig vertical in the water, which forces the cork to push the beads to the top of the rig, making the beads “clack.” As your lure or bait pulls against the cork and your line, it will make the cork move vertical and horizontally in the water, creating sound without you having to impart any action.
For weights, I like the standard bullet weight used for rigging rubber worms Texas-style. On the smaller corks, split shots will work just about as well, but they don’t slide like the bullet weight. Size the finished rig down to about 8 inches and wrap a loop in the wire with three or four wraps. Trim any excess wire and your rig is finished.
I rig the monofilament rattling cork rig with a similar bead and cork ratio, starting with a swivel attached to 30-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon, several beads, a cork, and several more beads, finishing off the rig with another swivel. You want the final rig to be 12 to 15 inches long. The beads clack together as the baitfish pulls the cork down, or as you pull on the line.
Best thing about building your own rattling corks? You can make them up to cater to your daily fishing needs. Simply carry the beads, corks, swivels, wire or monofilament and weights in your tackle box, and you’ll never have to fish without the added feature of a sound attractant. – FS
First Published Florida Sportsman Mar. 2012