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Rigs & Knots
The Ballyhoo Quick Rig
Step-by-step instructions for rigging a favorite offshore bait.
Ballyhoo are extremely popular with offshore anglers around the world and are a go-to bait for many game fish, especially billfish. Aussie crews have developed a very quick method of rigging ballyhoo that can save critical time in the middle of a hot bite.
The key to a well-rigged bait is to start with top-quality fish. We catch our own ballyhoo then vacuum-pack and freeze them as quickly as possible.
For the quick rig you'll need the following items: your choice of leader (for light tackle fishing we use 100-pound leader), single-strand wire (we use 124-pound wire), crimps to match your leader, appropriate size hooks for line class and size of bait (here we use Gamakatsu SL12 in 10/0), bait springs, wire cutters and crimping pliers, and, if you like, you can add squid skirts, Mold Craft bubbler heads or Wog Head for added color and splash.
First, make a small pin out of the single-strand wire bent into an "L" shape. The short section should be about the same length as your crimp and the long section needs to be long enough to go through the head of your ballyhoo. You can always go a bit longer and trim it down later if required.
Attach your hook to the leader with the pin inserted in the crimp so it's locked into place at right angles to the hook shank. I prefer to crimp tight on the hook so the pin is as close to the hook eye as possible.
Slide a bait spring down the leader, and if you choose, you can now add a squid skirt and bubbler head before crimping a loop in the end of the desired length of leader.
You can add an optional stinger hook to the rig by measuring out a length of leader to match the size of your bait and crimping it to the eye of the first hook. The stinger can be very helpful when toothy critters like wahoo and barracuda are around.
To rig the bait, start by opening up a gill plate and sliding the point of the hook towards the gut cavity.
Push the point of the hook out through the gut cavity and push the pin up through the bottom jaw and out of the top of the head.
Slide the bait spring down and rotate it around the pin until it's firm against the bait. If you're fishing the ballyhoo naked, the bait is now ready to go.
You have the option to add a squid skirt for more color. It also helps the captain and crew locate the baits in the prop wash.
You can also add a bubbler head, which adds some extra splash and gives the bait more lure-like performance.
Pictured above shows the completed rig with a stinger hook added. We used mono leader on this rig, but you should use wire if chasing toothy fish such as wahoo.
You can insert the stinger hook wherever you like, but I usually place it in the side of the bait. Bending the bait as you insert the stinger hook allows you to get more of the hook shank inside the bait.
The point of the stinger hook should come out near the tail of the bait.
The stinger hook is in position and ready to deploy. This is the finished rig that we usually troll at around five to six knots in Australia as a skip bait from the outriggers. It works for many species, including juvenile black marlin, sailfish, wahoo and tuna. Rigged on heavier tackle, I have also used the same technique for blue marlin.
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