When comparing alligator gar to other species of fish, it's definitely more intimidating and seemingly mysterious. It doesn't get easily spooked and it definitely gives a good fight. That said, it's no surprise many anglers would want to target alligator gar for recreation. Having several rows of teeth which resemble razor wiring mixed with freshly sharpened saw blades, the armor-plated gar can grow as big as your refrigerator. Its reputation has exploded in recent years so if you're interested in finding out how to fish for alligator gar and the best alligator gar fishing rigs, read on!
Alligator Gar Fishing Rigs
Gar are strong, so they require a strong rig, similar to what you would use with inshore fishing. Alligator gar, in particular, can grow over 6 ft and weigh 100 lbs. It's best to have a tackle that's capable of handling a minimum weight of 30 lbs.
Here's what you'll need to elicit an alligator gar bite and capture this magnificent sea creature.
They can break your line quickly and easily. Use at least a 50 lb mono or fluorocarbon leader.
They are absolutely necessary if you want to keep your fingers. As mentioned earlier, the teeth of gar are incredibly sharp. Treble hooks are typically used in catching them so you'll be getting your hand around and in their mouths.
Note: If you plan to release a gut-hooked gar, then use a small hook to ensure there's minimal damage sustained by the fish. This will also ensure you extend gar’s survival rate upon its release. Don’t use stainless steel as it can degrade over time.
Bait and Lures
Then, they will lash out violently with their tooth-lined bills to snap up baits and minnows. This can be terrifying, but also really cool to watch.
We suggest you try these baits in catching gar as they make up some of the best alligator gar fishing rigs:
- Frayed nylon rope
- Cut bait e.g. chicken or fish chunks wrapped in nylon rope
- Live bait e.g. shiners or perch on treble hook (5/0) under a float
- Crankbaits or topwater plugs w/ treble hooks
An uneven drag will cause several issues with the force on your fishing line at a given time when battling with the fish. It’ll be prone to snapping. We have experienced this firsthand, so don’t use your cheapest reel.
When you hook a large fish like an alligator gar, it would bend and then the fishing line will come flying from the spool as it runs and pulls drag. It's definitely something that you don’t want to experience yourself. A smooth drag will be necessary.
A fishing rod for gar will have to be one that has a backbone in handling strong runs. An excellent starting point would be a 7 ft. rod that has a weight rating of 10 to 20 lbs. on it.
Tactics for Catching Alligator Gar
Some of the tactics can also be downright absurd. However, you need to keep an open mind as they are very effective. Try them out for yourself as they can be enjoyable.
Make sure, of course, that you consult with your area's fishing laws to determine whether or not the following ways are legal for catching alligator gar:
Using Nylon Rope
A successful tactic for alligator gar fishing that lots of people heard of before but never actually tried involves the use of nylon rope that's attached to the wire leader. Get a couple of inches of nylon rope, and then form a lure bucktail-style with a rather fluffy end.
Then, cast near the surfacing alligator gar. They’ll strike your rope, then get the threads all tangled up in their teeth. There will be no hooks required, plus it works really well.
Lasso for Alligator Gar
Fishing for alligator gar will require some creativity and this next approach is a testament to that.
Using a lasso can sound like you're after a horse in Texas, but it actually works. It involves snaring alligator gar using thin wire, a noose, and a baitfish.
The bait will be impaled on your wire's end and the noose will be fashioned around it. As gar takes your bait, your wire noose will close on the bill of the gar, then off it goes.
In states where gar aren't considered game fish, you'll be able to use bows in fishing for them.
Of course, you'll need your archery skills with you and a lot of practice on bow fishing. It’s fun and a different way of getting some experience alligator gar fishing.
To improve your success in landing the fish, target them during hot summer months in any freshwater environment.
Alligator gar don't require high oxygen environments in order to survive. You'll see them swimming to the surface as gar have lung-like air bladders that let them breathe air for supplementing oxygen in their gills.
Alligator gar fishing is fun and exciting, but it can also be dangerous. This is why you need to ensure you have the appropriate fishing gear!