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Rigs & Knots
Get the most out of your trolling lures with these expert skirting tips.
Rooted in Hawaiian tradition, blue marlin fishing was revolutionized when Kona skipper George Parker's hand-made lure skirted with Naugahyde captured the first recorded grander in U.S. waters. Today, trolling lures are more commonly crafted with clear urethane and adorned with silicone squid skirts. However, cloth-based vinyl skirts have proven their worth across big-game fisheries worldwide and offer several key advantages.
Lure maker Andy Moyes doesn't have a website or employees but his offerings are in such hot demand that he creates nearly 20,000 lure heads a year with his own two hands. While a majority of Moyes Big Game Tactical lures are shipped with silicone skirts, Andy confirms that vinyl is showing a resurgence in popularity. While vinyl skirts were once painstakingly fabricated, Fire Tailz (firetailz.com) offers pre-cut vinyl in 7-inch x 17-inch panels with 3/8-inch fringe.
"The most important aspect of skirting a lure is making certain you do not impede the head shape's running characteristics. To add a bit of contrast to lures skirted with vinyl, and also build up the body without adding too much bulk, I like to use Mold Craft Tuff Tails as inner skirt material," says Moyes. Start by trimming two individual sections of four tentacles from a red and a green skirt. Cut a length of 50-pound wax line and make a loop in one end. Place the loop alongside the lure head and make five wraps around the back collar. Arrange the first section of Tuff Tails on top of the lure and secure with a few wraps.
Position another cropped Tuff Tail, take a wrap, and continue until all four pieces are spaced symmetrically.
Execute seven tight wraps with floss, then flip the tag ends of plastic and continue winding. Hold the floss tight and insert the tag end through the original loop.
Pull the opposite tag to withdraw the loop, then make an overhand knot to lock it all in place.
Carefully trim the excess plastic.
"To make certain there's a clean transition from lure head to skirt, and not a wavy bulge that will catch water, I typically have to trim about a quarter inch from the top end of the vinyl," says Moyes.
With length cut to size, it's time to determine the width needed to adequately cover the lure head. Align the skirt material inside out and upside down so the seam sits on the top of the lure. Trim accordingly, leaving one full tentacle overlapping.
Tightly stretch the vinyl around the top collar. Fasten with wax floss by creating a loop puller and finishing with an overhand knot (same method used to attach the inner skirt material).
Fold the skirt down, then pull tight and check the alignment. Secure the overlapping tentacle with a dot of super glue to prevent the seam from flaring out.
Trim the underlying skirt tentacle for a clean finish.
Size the overall length to the hook-set and then cut the ends to a point. Skirting with vinyl is somewhat of a lost art, but vinyl compresses more uniform as fish attack to reveal exposed hook-sets. The textured material also produces a dramatic smoke trail created by the rough underside that catches increased air compared to the slick texture of squid skirts. Additional benefits include enhanced durability and sheer, while also proving less likely to snag up.
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