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Rigs & Knots
The Single-Hook Stiff Rig
How to build a single-hook stiff rig that will increase your catch rate.
Have you ever wondered why blue marlin seem to have the uncanny knack for crashing a lure, running line, then simply falling off despite some lengthy playing time? Most often it is the lure rig that lets you down. Because the vast majority of blues crash the inside position of a lure, whether it be on the port or starboard pattern, you can immediately gain an advantage by offsetting the upright hook position by 10 degrees facing into the wash. This stiff rig will keep your hook fixed and ideally positioned for a clean mouth hook-up.Story and photos by Steve Campbell.
A marlin's "strike and flight" behavior is consistent. When you understand how blues bite you can make a more effective hook rig that will deliver a consistent catch-to-strike rate. These charts showcase real evidence I've gathered of how effective a properly deployed stiff rig can be compared to some other popular styles of hook rigs.
MATERIALS: Stainless steel rod; leader; lure; crimping sleeves that can accomodate two thicknesses of leader and the stainless rod; quality heavy-duty crimping tool. There are a number of options for the stainless steel rod, but after much testing I found the ideal rod is from the inside of Morse-type throttle/shifter cables. I scavenge my supply from the scrap bins at outboard marine shops. When you cut various sections to match lure lengths, make sure you round off both ends with a good file or bench grinder.
Thread the leader through the front of the lure head and then place two large sleeves over the leader end. Pass the leader end through the hook-eye, making sure you have enough leader to work with. Slide the first sleeve up hard against the hook eye, then place the stainless rod in between the two layers of leader, inside the sleeve. Push the rod right to the hook eye and pull the two stands of leader together tightly and crimp. It is important to make this connection with minimal movement at the hook eye area.
Place the second sleeve up over the two leader sections with the stainless steel rod in between. Now twist the sleeve around until the leader is completely twisted to the end of the rod. Making sure the rod is just inside the sleeve, crimp the rod and leader securely.
At the hook-eye section use electrical tape to further secure the rig. I usually make at least 6 to 8 wraps around the eye and shank to make the connection even more rigid and to protect the leader inside the hook eye from potential abrasion from the fish's mouth. You can use heat shrink but I've found the electrical tape to be less expensive and more than adequate.
The rig is now ready to be locked into the back of the lure grommet. If the lure of choice doesn't have a grommet you can create your own by simply drilling the back of the lure 1/2 inch deep so you can slot in a piece of rubber tubing. Fuel line hose is ideal and it comes in various sizes and wall thicknesses. Pull the hook-set into place firmly and be sure to offset the upright hook ten degrees.
Wrap the back of the stiff rig with electrical tape as needed for a secure connection. For leader-to-swivel attachment, use a crimped Flemish eye. It provides great insurance for those hard, sustained blue warrior fights.
Make up a few single-hook stiff rigs for your favorite blue marlin lures, and I bet you will quickly become a believer. A consistent 80-percent strike-to-catch rate is hard to beat and you will be impressed with the high percentage of clean mouth hook-ups. You will drop less fish and, equally important, you will release healthier fish. For more great big-game rigging tips, check out Steve's Campbell's Blue Marlin Magic
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