How to Rig a Needlefish for Trolling

Needlefish and houndfish make excellent large baits for big fish.
Steve Kantner
Start-out by assembling a few double-hook wire rigs that are sized to your baits. The strength of your wire should also correspond to your line test -- in this case #9 wire with 30- to 50-pound mono or braid. You'll want flat-forged hooks, preferably needle-eye (we like the Mustad 3412C), haywired onto the trailer so that their gapes face in opposite directions (one up, one down).
Needlefish or houndfish can be fooled with tiny strips of bait on a rod and reel or cast netted. You're looking for full-sized specimens, preferably at least two feet in length. Prepare your baits by taking both hands and breaking the neck before loosening the spine with multiple S-bends.
Trim both jaws (the beak) back. You'll want a strong-bladed knife for this. Use plenty of pressure but be sure not cut too close to the skull.
Grip the bait firmly and force the front hook through the head from top to bottom, making sure that the hook centered and you'll be able to set it.
Take the trailer hook and work it under the gill plate, as if you were rigging a ballyhoo, before forcing the point back out beneath one of the pectoral fins. Draw both the trailer hook and wire back alongside the body.
Pick a spot just ahead of the vent and force the hook point up and back through the gut cavity.
Force the hook point back out again so it faces downward. You want a small amount of slack in the wire trailer so it doesn't impede the bait's swimming motion or cause it to spin. The bait is now ready to be fished. Rigged needlefish are deadly on dolphin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo, and best of all, the larger baits tend to discourage the small stuff!

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