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  HOW TO VIDEOS / ARTICLES


 

How To: Splicing 3-Strand Rope Demonstration




How to Prep Ballyhoo & Rig for Underneath an Islander






How To Rig a Sword Squid





Grouper Rig

By Capt. Steve Anderson

(andsteve1@bellsouth.net)

 
Description: This rig was designed for yanking big grouper from bottom structure while riding at anchor. It targets eating-sized fish, and eliminates the typical host of pesky bottom-dwellers.


Materials needed: First, choose a rod and reel appropriate for the task: I use a Shimano Tekota 700 reel filled with 80 lb. Power Pro and a Shimano 5-foot 8-inch Tallus TLC-58XH SB rod. For terminal gear, you’ll need two 150 lb. black barrel swivels, a 150 lb. three-way swivel, 7/0 -9/0 4x circle hooks, 8 feet of 150 lb. mono leader, 15 feet of 100 lb. mono leader, 5 feet of Surflon 7x7 90 lb. camoflaged nylon-coated knotable stainless wire and a selection of bank sinkers in the 10 oz. to 48 oz range.. I use the 32 oz. most often. A good fighting belt is helpful here.

 
Start by taking the 80 lb. braided line and doubling it, using a Bimini Twist or Double Surgeon’s Knot. Attach the doubled line to the 150 lb. barrel swivel using an Improved Clinch Knot. Next, tie 5 feet of the 150 lb. mono leader from the barrel swivel to the three-way swivel, using the No-Name Knot (see last month’s column). Then, at the bottom end of the three-way swivel, tie the last 3 feet of 150 lb. mono leader, again using the No-Name Knot on the swivel end and forming a 5-inch loop, using the Double Overhand Knot, for attaching the sinker.
         
Tie the 15 foot-long 100 lb. mono leader to the last eyelet on the three-way swivel using the No-Name Knot, then tie a150 pound-test barrel swivel to the tag end, using the same knot. Tie 5 feet of coated nylon wire to the other end of the barrel swivel, once again using the No-Name Knot, before attaching the hook with the same knot. Now you’re ready to add a large live or dead bait.
         
You don’t want a long rod for this type of fishing, so stick with one that’s short and stout. Set the reel drag at 16 to 18 lbs. for the initial strike, and once you have the fish well off the bottom, back-off if needed. It’s important to get the fish off the bottom quickly before he finds something to get around. As for your sinker, both the size of your bait and current speed will determine what size lead to use. You’ll want the rig to be as straight below the boat as possible, in order to eliminate slack and help get the fish away from any bottom structure quickly.
         
Let the bait out behind the boat, and then slowly let the sinker down, so as not to wrap the leader around the main line. “Rodney the Rod Holder” makes himself very useful at times like this, as you’re not fishing with the type outfit you’ll want to hold all day. Just watch the rod tip and keep a finger on the line while you sit on the gunwale, as a live bait will become nervous before a strike, and you’ll actually feel a dead bait getting picked-up. In fact, a grouper will sometimes take a bait and then come up-current, leaving less pull on the line, so be prepared to pick up the rod and reel and start winding.
         
Large grouper are not shy, and typically they’ll hook themselves. You just need to reel and be prepared for an intense, if brief, physical battle.
         
My favorite live baits include large mullet, blue runners, porgies, pinfish, yellow tail snappers, and grunts. My favorite dead baits are “butterflied” blue runners, Spanish mackerel, mullet, small bonito, and ladyfish. Whether using a live or dead bait, run the circle hook up underneath its lower jaw and out the top of its head in front of the eyes to make sure it stays on the hook. Incidentally, whenever I’m fishing heavy structure, I prefer to use a dead bait, since a live bait is more-likely to become tangled.
          
To “butterfly” a bait, cut off its tail, and from the tail end filet along both sides of the backbone two thirds the way towards the head, while snapping-out the backbone in the process. If the current’s really fast, I’ll sow the gills shut with a rigging needle and waxed line.
         
Spring and fall along Florida’s east coast are the peak times to fish large grouper - especially gray grouper, which are also known locally as “gags.” Keep in mind that with a little patience and the right piece of bottom structure, fried “Grouper Fingers” could be on your menu tonight.


                                                         



 

 

THE TWO-MINUTE EYE SPLICE
"Relief at Last for the Weary of Hand"
 By Steve Kantner
      
Fishermen are forever finding uses for eye-splices, which are nothing more than loops formed at the end of a rope without benefit of a knot.  Most boaters already recognize that nylon rope comes in two basic types: braid and twist. Or I should say “line,“ since that’s nautical terminology? Either way, a properly-spliced loop affords strength and resistance to slippage, while avoiding the bulk and bumps of a typical knot. 
 
So far, so good. Splicing twist (the easier of the two) involves carefully unwinding a section of line and meticulously re-braiding it. Splicing braid is more difficult. Neither process, to be honest, is a job for beginners, a reality that keeps many of us from giving it a try.
      
But before you throw-in the towel, consider an alternative that makes eye-splices do-able. It takes less time to complete one than to read this article, and you don't need any prior experience. Or have the finger strength of Bruce Lee. All you’ll need is a length of nylon twist, a roll of electrical tape, a piece of shrink-tube, and a sharp knife. And of course, a copy of the following instructions. Here’s how to do it:
 
 1) Obtain the required length and diameter of nylon twist. It helps if you keep the ends from unravelling by wrapping them both with electrical tape.

2) Next, form the desired size loop. But rather than reverting to standard procedure, simply untwist a portion of the line, before passing the taped end under one of the strands and out again. Then pull several more inches through the opening.

3) Repeat the procedure four inches from where you started. Then, after you’re finished, trim away the excess. Now it’s time to secure the splice by pulling against the loop with the line. This ensures that everything will be nice and tight. Now comes the easy part.

4) Slide a five-inch piece of the appropriate-sized shrink tube over both mini-splices.

5) Finally, heat the shrink tube to lock the splice in place. Elapsed time from start finish? Two minutes if your materials were waiting and ready.

Once you know how to make them, you’ll find more uses for eye-splices. One common application is in the making of safety lines, which are employed in offshore trolling. In the classic situation, the safety line loops around the fighting chair and attaches to the rod or reel with a snap. This keeps the outfit from being jerked overboard by a fish

Shrink-tube is available at marine, as well as bait and tackle stores. It comes in different colors, so anglers can distinguish between various lines without having to measure length or diameter.


                                                                          

 

HIGH-SPEED WAHOO TROLLING RIG

“Hit Me with Your Best Shot”

By Steve Kantner

 

           Let the experts argue whether wahoo are the world’s fastest game fish. But at speeds that approach 50 miles per hour, these streamlined members of the mackerel family will target whatever prey they want. Lately, fishing for ‘hoos has become a highly-specialized pursuit, but the most-effective strategy still involves covering as much water as possible, while trolling a wahoo-specific bait or lure.


            That’s quite an order. However, there’s an approach that allows anglers to overcome the problem by presenting lures that other game fish simply can’t catch: You’ll cover the distance, but at speeds ranging from 12 to 17 knots, you’ll need plenty of weight just to keep your bait in the water. There’s no drop-back, so no room for error, but somewhere between the heavy gear required and the trip-hammer strikes, there’s a fish-on-the dock ratio that ranks second-to-none. And for a fish that’s famous for its flavor, as well as its fighting ability, that’s a definite plus. 


 

            The bait, so-to-speak, consists of a stainless steel and nylon trolling lure, rigged ahead of a 12-inch narrow plastic skirt into which a three-ounce egg sinker has been inserted. In order to give the bait the added length that wahoo like, lure and skirt are separated by several fluorescent beads.




This combination is then rigged with a pair of Mustad 7691S 10/0 hooks, which are straight-wired in series (the pros call it “zero degree” or “double-down”), and held in place with shrink tubing. In order to keep everything IGFA-legal, the hooks are rigged at least a shank-length apart, and positioned so that they don’t extend beyond the tail of the skirt.


            In order to make this rig, start-out by connecting the hooks with a short piece of 3/32 inch, 980 pound-test 7X7 stainless steel cable. Be sure to use zinc or nickel-plated copper sleeves in order to prevent any galvanic corrosion. When you’re finished, slide a three-inch piece of 3/8 inch semi-rigid shrink tube over the lead hook after securing the shank to the cable with electrical tape. Semi-rigid tubing contains epoxy, which helps protect the rig from the wahoo’s teeth. Afterwards, heat the connection with a heat gun. Like shrink tube, it’s available at hardware or electrical supply outlets.

             The actual leader consists of four to six feet of 1/16-inch, 480 pound-test cable. The lure’s attached to one end and there’s a loop at the other. Once again, use nickel or zinc-plated copper sleeves, because moving dissimilar metals through an electrolyte like seawater produces an electric current that can weaken the set-up.



            We know it as the Battery Principle. Think about outboard motors that spend time in salt water: Without the sacrificial “zincs,” their lower units would corrode. But getting back to the rig

            The cable loop is joined to a 350 pound-test ball bearing snap swivel that’s attached to 30 feet of 400 or 500 pound-test mono. Afterwards, the mono shocker is attached to a 24 to 48-ounce trolling sinker, which is then joined to the line.

            According to offshore professional Josh Brown, who works at LMR Tackle (WWW.LMRTACKLE.COM) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida:

            “With a set-up like this, I can fish four lines at a time. I’ll drop the short one back 100 feet - measured from the rod tip to the sinker. I’ll fish the next one at 210. Then I’ll drop a third one back 240 feet, and the long one back 300.”



            At these high speeds, the leader is critical: The heavy cable is really necessary because of stresses on the lure. At the same time, a good reason to keep the cable portion short is to prevent the lure from sliding up the leader to where a second wahoo can cut it off. As Josh Brown puts it:

            “I don’t want the cable any longer than the fish. In the Bahamas, where I do most of my wahoo fishing, that means six feet.”

            The high-speed rig has gained a great deal of popularity, despite recent increases in the cost of petrol. While most offshore fishermen aren’t interested in trolling at flank speed, those who run to and from the Bahamas (or who make other long treks across wahoo-rich waters) view the situation differently. Pre-assembled double hook rigs like those pictured here may be commercially-available. However, you have them custom-made or rig your own.

            As a final note, I asked Josh Brown and several other captains for tips on setting the drag. The general consensus was to apply just enough resistance to keep spool from slipping. A good way to monitor this is by marking the line with waxed floss, but that’s another story.

                                                                        

           

 


 

 

 

 

KING MACKEREL (KINGFISH) STINGER RIG

By Captain Steve Anderson

andsteve1@ bellsouth.net.

 

Stiff Hook Stinger Rig:

 

Materials: You’ll need 3 feet of 25 pound-test  fluorocarbon leader, a roll each of #6 and #7 single-strand tinned wire, a 4/0 # 98414 Gamakatsu (or similar style) hook, a #4 VMC 4x-strong kingfish-style treble, and three #4 green Owner soft glow beads.

   

            Start-out by tying a suitable loop knot (try a Double Surgeons Loop, if you don’t already have a favorite) at one end of your fluorocarbon leader. Then attach the other end of the fluorocarbon to a 9-inch piece of #6 wire with an Albright Knot.  When you’re finished, join the other end of the wire to the single hook with an ordinary Haywire Twist and Barrel Wrap combination.

            Next, wrap 6 inches of the #7 wire to the hook eye, while making sure that the loop you make remains on the opposite side of the eye from where the eye closes against the shank. Wrap as close as possible to the eye, then pull the wire back along the shank. 
            Now it’s time to slide the first glow bead over the hook point: Once you’ve done that, hold it firmly in position just past the barb, while bending the wire around and forcing the free end of the wire through the hole in the glow bead. Pull the wire around until it follows the curve of the hook, before sliding the bead up to the eye of the hook.
 

            Repeat this procedure with the second bead, and position it at the start of the hook bend. Then wrap one end of the #7 wire to the eye of the treble hook before you slide a third bead onto the hook shank and position it at midway through the bend.

            This third bead prevents the hook from doubling-back into the bait. At this point, the rig’s complete. Now comes the easy part:

   

            Obtain a dead Spanish sardine, thread herring, or similar bait. You can hook it sideways through the nose (just in front of the eyes) and allow the stinger to hang free, or insert one of the hook points into the body. While this rig is tailor-made for dead baits, it works equally-well with live baitfish, such as any of the ones mentioned above.

            If you plan to slow-troll a livebait, insert the lead hook under its chin so that the point comes out on top of its nose. Incidentally, you can modify this rig in order to fit the size bait you’re using by simply changing the hook size, or the length of the stinger wire. Meanwhile, it’s a good idea to make-up several rigs (in several sizes) ahead of time, so you don’t get caught in that proverbial piscatorial pinch.

            Incidentally, the nice thing about using a loop knot is that you can throw a flopping fish into your cooler, unsnap your leader, and immediately be able to snap another leader on. 

 

                                       


        

 

 

SURGICAL TUBE LURE

Big medicine for reluctant barracudas

 

By Steve Kantner
 

            No matter how you look at it, the barracuda has become one of Florida’s most sought-after game fish. If you consider the cuda’s lightning moves and year-round availability, this comes as no surprise.

            Cudas can accelerate to incredible speedsin short bursts which explains their appetite for fast-moving lures. However, sometimes they display a stoic indifference that frustrates even the most patient angler. Then it’s time to bring out the big guns, which in cuda parlance means a rubber tube lure.

            I’ve read plenty about catching cudas on tubes, seen the pictures too. But nowhere amid all the runs and leaps have I found a decent set of directions for putting these monstrosities together. Yet for consistent action, exact measurements are important, as are the lure’s weight and color. So through trial and error I came up with a version that gets plenty of strikes, while hooking the majority of them. 

            There’s nothing more to fishing the tube than just reeling fast, which is where its natural curl comes in. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to look like (maybe a needlefish?). But I fine-tuned my version to work under demanding conditions like those you’ll find on a fishing pier, as well as on pristine flats. In addition to targeting those monsters that appear on magazine covers, my version is great for harassing little five-pound mini-cudas that save many a day on the flats.

            If you’d like to make a tube of your own, obtain a foot-and-a-half of green chartreuse surgical tubing (It’s available from most tackle shops and from retail catalogs), a short length of #10 leader wire, two 4/0 reinforced treble hooks, a 3/4 ounce egg sinker, and a small black swivel. You’ll also need a knife with a sharp point, as well as a pair of pliers. Read on and I’ll show you how I do it.

1) Surgical tubing comes on a roll. First, I measure off 14 inches and slice away the excess with a sideways cut. Then I measure back four inches from the forward end (you pick it) and make three evenly-spaced, lengthwise slices. Each should measure approximately one inch in length. After cutting the tube, I attach one of the trebles to an 18-inch length of wire with a haywire twist. Since you’ll be pushing the wire through the tube, be sure to neatly clip it rather than kinking it off. When I'm finished, I repeat this procedure with the second treble and a shorter, 10-inch length of wire.

2) At this point I carefully insert the longer wire into the rear of the tube (the farthest end from the three lengthwise slices) and push against it until the free end protrudes from the opposite end. Once I’ve completed this step, the treble should be securely, with the wire inside the tube. Now it’s time to position the second treble by slipping the shorter wire inside one of the lengthwise cuts and sliding it forward until the free end protrudes in a similar manner. Now, using your pliers to gently pull on the wire, position the second treble inside the tube.

3) Finally, I slide as 3/4 ounce egg sinker (or lighter, if I plan to fish from a boat) over the two protruding wires while snugging the lead against the tube. Then I haywire a small swivel in front of the sinker. That’s all there is to it.

           

            While the 14-inch length works best for attracting them, this positioning of the hooks takes maximum advantage of how they grab the lure. When the tube's been properly assembled, the heavy wire gives it a pronounced curl. This causes it to snake through the water when retrieved.

While some anglers may argue that it's the length, or even the color that triggers strikes, you can take my word for it that it's the curl that counts.      

                                                                       

 


            

 

 

NIGHT TROLLING FOR SNOOK IN THE INLETS

By Capt. Steve Anderson (www.andsteve1@bellsouth.net)

 

            Snook season opens in the spring and fall, giving anglers an opportunity to battle this legendary game fish while putting a fillet or two on ice. While we missed several seasons due to record cold, the fish are back and willing to cooperate.

            Snook are typically pursued around bridges and beaches, or in bustling inlets during daylight hours. Meanwhile, nighttime trolling provides a welcome interlude from the usual rat race, as well as respite from the heat.

 

    Materials Needed: 30# braided fishing line, Spro swivel size 3, 4 feet of 50# fluorocarbon leader material, Rapala X-Rap Slashbait in a one piece version (like the SXR14 GGH Glass Ghost) or the X-Rap Xtreme Action Jointed Shad XJS 13 HS  “Hot Steel” finish, which is my personal favorite).

      No-Name Knot:

            Pass the line through the swivel eye before pinching it and the swivel between your thumb and forefinger. Afterwards, wrap the tag end three times around the tip of your forefinger and the main line, while pinching it between thumb and forefinger. Try to keep the loops in an even row.

            You’ll want to slide the loops off the tip of your finger while pinching them as before. Keep the three loops lined-up as much as possible as you pass the tag end over the top and back through the center of the loops. At this point, use your other thumb and forefinger to pinch the tag end and main line together while you pull down on the swivel with hand number-one.

            Make sure that the loops stay lined-up until you’ve drawn the knot down tight. And keep in mind that it’s critical that the three loops remain in line and not crossed over.

            Practice this knot a few times at home, and you’ll be able to tie it at night in the dark.

 

Tying-up the rig:

            Attach the 30# braided line to the Spro swivel by passing it through the eye of the swivel twice and tying a Uni-Knot. Now tie the 50# fluorocarbon leader to the other end of the swivel by using the No-Name Knot. You can leave an approximately ¼- inch tag end.

            Next, tie the opposite end of the fluorocarbon leader to your lure with another No-Name Knot - once again, leaving a ¼- inch tag end. Incidentally, if your lure isn’t equipped with a split ring, you should add one prior to rigging.

            A commercial fisherman taught me the No Name Knot over 35 years ago, and I haven’t found a better one. One benefit is that the tag end lays parallel to the main line, meaning that it leaves no air bubbles as it passes through the water. And it doesn’t collect weeds as readily as other knots, as you can imagine when you look at the illustration.

            Meanwhile, I recommend setting your drag on the light side, while keeping in mind that you can increase the pressure once a fish is hooked and running. As far as lures, I prefer a Rapala that runs within 3 feet of whatever bottom I plan to cover, I troll against the tide, while using the current to pull my lure to its maximum depth.

            I suggest you run your lures 100 feet behind the boat, with the rod tips pointed out to the side and just above the surface of the water. The boat should move just enough to barely make headway (watch the shoreline) against the current, while it’s at its strongest. With braided line, you’ll feel the vibration of the lure and if you don’t, that means you’ve picked-up trash or debris.

            The best way to clear it is by jerking on the line, or by reeling-in the lure and physically removing whatever it is that fouled it. And don’t forget: The slightest amount of grass will prevent a strike.

            On the other hand, if you feel your lure bumping bottom, bring your rod tip up until you can drop it back again. Or, as you move along, jig your rod tip no more than a foot and a half at a time, which causes the lure to make occasional surges ahead, and drives fish crazy. Then, as the tide slows down, increase your speed in order to keep your lure down.

            As far as the best time to fish, I prefer the last 4 hours of incoming tide and the first 4 hours of the outgoing. But if all I do is end-up fighting weeds, I call it a night. The feeding behavior of snook is similar at night to what it is during the daytime, so they’ll eventually turn-on. You just have to be patient and figure out the best time for your particular area.

            You’ll discover that nighttime’s a great time to fish, with no worries about sun-screen, catching bait or crowds. Plus, now’s a good time (April) to start enjoying it!

 


 

 

 
 

 

LIVE BALLYHOO RIGS
Three approaches to a “pointy” solution

By Capt. Steve Anderson (email Steve at andsteve1@bellsouth.net or call him at 561-601-2371)
 
For the most part, this rig is designed for catching sailfish, since the only wire I’ll add is a 6- inch piece of #4 or #5 that I attach to 30# fluorocarbon leader with an Albright Knot. You’ll get nearly as many strikes as with mono. This rig is used from Broward County through the Keys, due to the availability of live ballyhoo. In fact, I’m amazed with this resource how few anglers take advantage of such a highly-productive technique.

I’ve caught ballyhoo as far north as Palm Beach, by chumming off the Breakers Hotel— south of Palm Beach Inlet. If your area doesn’t offer the same opportunity, some day you may fish where it does. It never hurts to learn a new technique. But first, let’s catch the bait:

We catch our live ballyhoo several ways. By far the most popular is to put out a chum bag (loaded with ordinary, menhaden chum) and wait for the ballyhoo to come into the slick. After they gather en masse’, we’ll throw a small-mesh cast net, or use  #6 or #8 gold hooks tied to 6# pound or 8# test line or leader material that we either free-line or attach to a bobber that’s is positioned approximately 12 inches above the hook. We bait our hooks with a piece of shrimp or fish (preferably bonito or the dark meat from under the skin of a blue runner).

Ballyhoo are hardier than most people think, and keep fairly-well in a properly oxygenated and salt water-controlled live well. They can be fished in a variety of ways, including hanging them from a kite, by slow trolling or drifting on a flat line, or sending them down to the bottom. With a kite, we lightly hook them in the middle of the back with a 5/0 to 7/0 live bait hook.

One of my favorite styles is a 5/0 Gamakatsu style 221415 Octopus in-line circle hook, which I snell to 50# fluorocarbon leader. For the angler who doesn’t kite fish, which along the Treasure Coast, means the majority of captains, I photographed three different approaches to this method—each with different materials. However, all three utilize a Brubaker Knot, often referred to as the No-Name Knot, which allows the tag end to lay parallel to the main leader while you attach your hook. Leave ¼-inch of tag end behind.

           
 
 
The first rig utilizes a 2 to 3-inch section of clear drinking straw (depending on the length of the ballyhoo’s beak), which is then slid up the leader - which in turn has been tied to a 2/0 Gamakatsu style 209412 4x strong Octopus circle hook. Hook the ballyhoo in the lower jaw as illustrated, then slide the straw over its beak and push the hook as far as you can.
 
 
In the second rig, I use a 9-inch piece of copper wire, which makes it resemble a typical dead bait rig. I use the same style hook as before. But starting at the hook bend, I wrap four or five barrel twists of copper wire around the shank. I lay the copper wire towards the eye of the hook before wrapping it around the tag end two times. Having the copper wire this far back ensures that the hook remains below the ballyhoo’s jaw. Once the hook is put through its lower jaw, I wrap the copper wire around the shank, along with the ballyhoo’s beak, while working forward to the end of its beak.
 
 
 
The third rig utilizes two Owner #5 green soft glow-beads, and the same hook we’ve been using so far. Start-out by sliding the first bead onto the hook and positioning it were the shank straightens-out. Then. slide the second bead onto the leader before you make a Double Over-Hand Knot - forming a loop which you’ll attach to a small high-quality snap swivel that’s already on your main line. Grasp the hook where the bead is on the shank, and carefully run the ballyhoo’s beak through the bead while sliding the hook back as far as it will go. Slide the second bead down the leader and onto the beak - positioning it against the knot on the hook with the tag end of the leader inside of the bead. This rig is my favorite, since although the hook isn’t in the actual bait, it remains very secure.

When trolling live ballyhoo, simply bump the engine in and out of gear, while moving ahead nearly as slow as if you were drifting. Of course, it’s important to start where you think you’ll find sailfish.

            Give any of these rigs a try—with or without that piece of wire— and get ready for action.

    


 

How to Prep Ballyhoo & Rig Double Hook for Underneath an Islander

 



BALLYHOO DONE RIGHT

Revisit a trolling tradition

--Steve Kantner

 

The rigged ballyhoo is as integral to trolling for sailfish as the outrigger clip and ten-second drop back. In the days before live bait, knowing how to prepare this bait was pivotal to success with all offshore species. While wire leaders were standard back then, many contemporary anglers are switching to monothereby necessitating some basic changes.

 

  1. Starting with the leader. While some tournament fishermen recommend 60-pound mono, most local captains prefer something heavier, say 80 or 100 pound. Whatever your choice, take a forged ring-eye hook (for example, a Mustad 3407SS) and push one end of the mono through the eye from one side before wrapping a turn around the shank and then forcing it back out the opposite direction. This creates what’s known as a stiff rig. While hooks should correspond to the size of the ballyhoo, they generally range from 6/0 to 9/0.        
  2. After forcing the end of the mono through the hook eye, push it into a sleeve that’s been positioned on the leader. Here’s something to keep in mind: The manufacturers tell you on their packages what size sleeve to use with different test mono. Then, before crimping the sleeve, make a makeshift “pin,” by bending an inch-long piece of 80-pound monel wire, and push it into the sleeve from the opposite end. After crimping the sleeve, wrap a piece or ordinary copper ballyhoo wire around the pin before twisting it off.
  3. Next comes the part where you prepare the bait, by making sure that it’s limber. Start by gently squeezing the ballyhoo’s abdomen, starting behind the gill plates. This evacuates the gut through the vent, which helps prevent distortion while trolling. Now grab the ballyhoo between your thumb and forefinger, and pinch it several times along the lateral line. This helps to separate the meat from the backbone, which creates additional flexibility. Be careful not to puncture the skin.
  4.  Now lay the rig alongside the ballyhoo, and place the pin between the tip of its upper jaw and its eye. After determining where the hook will protrude, use the hook point to make a tiny incision that you center along the ventral midline.
  5. Use your thumbnail to lift a gill plate, while working the hook into the ballyhoo’s throat cavity. It helps if you bend the bait forward at this time to help you force the hook point far enough back that you can push it out through the incision you just made. Then, when the ballyhoo straightens, the hook shank should (ideally) be drawn into the gut, so that all that’s visible is the mono loop with the pin and copper wire attached.
  6.  Next, poke the pin through the ballyhoo’s upper lip, making sure that it’s properly centered. Next, take three forcible turns with the copper wire around both its jaws, sealing the bait’s mouth shut and securing it firmly on the pin. Afterwards, break-off the bill at the mid-point and peel it backwards with a downward motion. This lets you position the mono in a groove that’s located on the underside of the bill. Then, wrap the remaining copper wire forward before folding any excess back against the bill.
  7.  As a final step, inspect the bait while holding it up by the leader. Is the bait is being pulled by the pin or the hook? If it turns out to be the latter, you can remedy the situation by enlarging the hook hole with the point of a knife.

           

Now you know how to do it......

      

FINAL ROW: Bullet bonito, rigged and unrigged.

 

 



HIGH-SPEED WAHOO TROLLING RIG

“Hit Me with Your Best Shot”

By Steve Kantner

 

            Let the experts argue whether wahoo are the world’s fastest game fish. But at speeds that approach 50 miles per hour, these streamlined members of the mackerel family will target whatever prey they want. Lately, fishing for ‘hoos has become a highly-specialized pursuit, but the most-effective strategy still involves covering as much water as possible, while trolling a wahoo-specific bait or lure.

            That’s quite an order. However, there’s an approach that allows anglers to overcome the problem by presenting lures that other game fish simply can’t catch: You’ll cover the distance, but at speeds ranging from 12 to 17 knots, you’ll need plenty of weight just to keep your bait in the water. There’s no drop-back, so no room for error, but somewhere between the heavy gear required and the trip-hammer strikes, there’s a fish-on-the dock ratio that ranks second-to-none. And for a fish that’s famous for its flavor, as well as its fighting ability, that’s a definite plus.  

            The bait, so-to-speak, consists of a stainless steel and nylon trolling lure, rigged ahead of a 12-inch narrow plastic skirt into which a three-ounce egg sinker has been inserted. In order to give the bait the added length that wahoo like, lure and skirt are separated by several fluorescent beads. This combination is then rigged with a pair of Mustad 7691S 10/0 hooks, which are straight-wired in series (the pros call it “zero degree” or “double-down”), and held in place with shrink tubing. In order to keep everything IGFA-legal, the hooks are rigged at least a shank-length apart, and positioned so that they don’t extend beyond the tail of the skirt. 

            In order to make this rig, start-out by connecting the hooks with a short piece of 3/32 inch, 980 pound-test 7X7 stainless steel cable. Be sure to use zinc or nickel-plated copper sleeves in order to prevent any galvanic corrosion. When you’re finished, slide a three-inch piece of 3/8 inch semi-rigid shrink tube over the lead hook after securing the shank to the cable with electrical tape. Semi-rigid tubing contains epoxy, which helps protect the rig from the wahoo’s teeth. Afterwards, heat the connection with a heat gun. Like shrink tube, it’s available at hardware or electrical supply outlets.

             The actual leader consists of four to six feet of 1/16-inch, 480 pound-test cable. The lure’s attached to one end and there’s a loop at the other. Once again, use nickel or zinc-plated copper sleeves, because moving dissimilar metals through an electrolyte like seawater produces an electric current that can weaken the set-up.

            We know it as the Battery Principle. Think about outboard motors that spend time in salt water: Without the sacrificial “zincs,” their lower units would corrode. But getting back to the rig

            The cable loop is joined to a 350 pound-test ball bearing snap swivel that’s attached to 30 feet of 400 or 500 pound-test mono. Afterwards, the mono shocker is attached to a 24 to 48-ounce trolling sinker, which is then joined to the line.

            According to offshore professional Josh Brown, who works at LMR Tackle (www.blackhook.net) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida:

            “With a set-up like this, I can fish four lines at a time. I’ll drop the short one back 100 feet - measured from the rod tip to the sinker. I’ll fish the next one at 210. Then I’ll drop a third one back 240 feet, and the long one back 300.”

            At these high speeds, the leader is critical: The heavy cable is really necessary because of stresses on the lure. At the same time, a good reason to keep the cable portion short is to prevent the lure from sliding up the leader to where a second wahoo can cut it off. As Josh Brown puts it:

            “I don’t want the cable any longer than the fish. In the Bahamas, where I do most of my wahoo fishing, that means six feet.”

            The high-speed rig has gained a great deal of popularity, despite recent increases in the cost of petrol. While most offshore fishermen aren’t interested in trolling at flank speed, those who run to and from the Bahamas (or who make other long treks across wahoo-rich waters) view the situation differently. Pre-assembled double hook rigs like those pictured here may be commercially-available. However, you have them custom-made or rig your own.

            As a final note, I asked Josh Brown and several other captains for tips on setting the drag. The general consensus was to apply just enough resistance to keep spool from slipping. A good way to monitor this is by marking the line with waxed floss, but that’s another story.

  



BONITO HANDLINE

Steve Kantner

            There’s no better offshore bait than a small live bonito. These pint-sized dynamos are just the ticket for sails, big kings, and monster wahoo. But whatever they offer in enhanced appeal, they more than make up for in reduced ease of handling.

            Charter fishermen refer to these eight to 11 inch-long bonito as “bullets.” However, ichthyologists know that not every fish we call a bonito is what the name suggests. If there’s a space, for example, between the first and second dorsal fins, you’re probably holding a bullet mackerel (hence the name?). The list of imposters includes frigate mackerel and several species of immature tuna. What really matters is that all are found in practically the same location, and all behave enough alike to warrant their reputation.

            But they won’t stay live in most live wells. In fact, if they’re not constantly swimming in freshly-oxygenated seawater, they’re quick to give-up the ghost. So anglers are forced to use them immediately - as soon as one comes aboard – and drop everything else they’re doing. At least that’s what I used to think.

            Under the tutelage of the late Scott Boyd, I learned how to make a bonito hand line. If I dragged it along with my regular trolling baits, I had a steady supply of bullets. If one or two came along at once, I simply slowed-down and fished them.

            The beauty of this rig is that it allows me to catch several baits at a time, and to keep the extras alive by dragging them in the wash. I simply shorten the rig and keep it near the transom. Meanwhile, pulling a string of feathers - with or without several fish attached - is bound to attract surprises. With that in mind, I constructed the rig from sturdy materials, while limiting the number of lures to four.

            Follow these instructions, if you’d like to give it a try:

1) Measure-off 20 feet of 200-pound mono before attaching tuna snap-swivels at both ends. You can use an improved clinch knot or a sleeve, but if you choose the latter use the appropriate size. (Most manufacturers furnish this information on spools of the heavy stuff). When completed, clip one snap to the sliding ring on a medium-sized planer, while allowing the other one to remain free. You’re going to attach that end to a cleat.

2) Measure-off feet of 80-pound mono and attach a Marlin snap-swivel at one end. (I use an improved clinch knot.) Next, clip the snap to the planer before sliding three size A-1 brass snaps with their concave ends facing the snap-swivel over the mono.  

Tie or crimp a small Clarkspoon or size 00 Drone to the tag end of this “tail.”

3) Measure-off three 20-inch sections of the 80-pound mono. Position the sleeves approximately three feet apart, starting about four feet ahead of the spoon.

4) Insert the short pieces of mono into the concave end of each sleeve. When only ¼ inch protrudes, crimp each sleeve.

5) Slide a white or blue 1/8 ounce No-Alibi or similar trolling feather onto each short piece of mono before tying-on a size-one Mustad 34007 stainless hook.

            Mention the article in the shop, and you’ll receive a ***discount on all Mustad hooks. This offer is good until Christmas.

            I catch most of my bonito in 60 to 100 feet of water. Frigate mackerel prefer shallower water, while blackfins are usually found well-offshore.

            How do you fish this rig? Simply drop it back and attach the 200-pound mono to a cleat. Make sure to set the planer properly, so the lures troll just beneath the surface. The depth can be adjusted by varying the distance between planer and cleat.

            Whenever you hit paydirt, the planer will surface. Afterwards, you can recover just enough line to unhook one bait at a time, while keeping the others in the wash. Meanwhile, NEVER reach down to grab a bullet, since toothy critters like wahoo and cudas frequently attack them at the transom.                                                         



    BAIT AND SWITCH TUBE
        • By: Steve Kantner

      When it comes to releasing billfish, nobody argues that bait-and-switch rules. Drawing sails and marlin to the transom with teasers is one of the most effective offshore techniques ever devised. Switch-baiting however, isn’t foolproof. A major drawback involves getting the actual bait to the fish without incurring tangles. In tournament fishing particularly, reacting quickly to a “lit-up” fish can make the difference between failure and success.

      Two of my cockpit-savvy friends came up with the perfect solution. They call it a switch-baiting tube. Essentially, what they invented is nothing more than a PVC tube that attaches to a boat’s gunwale for the purpose of storing a rigged trolling bait and some crushed ice. It’s as simple as it is convenient but when used properly, it helps reduce cockpit errors to a minimum. A switch-baiting tube brings everything closer to eye level. Unlike when they uses a cooler or bucket, mate don’t lose sight of the action while tossing a bait in the wash. In addition, compared to the alternatives, tubes take up very little room. Even when they’re used in tandem, twin tubes tuck neatly into the corners of the cockpit where they remain well out of the way. Later when the boat’s in port, this device is easily removable with a gentle pinch. Perhaps the best news of all however, is that you can build one for less than a sawbuck. Here’s how to go about doing it:

       

      1. Cut a two-foot length of 6-inch Schedule 40 PVC pipe. Using PVC adhesive, glue a cap to one end.
      2. Afterwards, drill a half inch hole approximately six inches from each end. Then, while holding the tube in position, drill a second pair of 1/16 holes directly across from the first set.
      3. Obtain two ordinary toilet plungers. First, saw the wooden handles off so that only an inch or so of each remains. Then drill a tiny hole in the center of the remaining handle, using the 1/16 inch bit.
      4. Using a screwdriver inserted through each of the larger holes, attach the plungers to the outside of the tube with a pair of 1/8 inch stainless screws. That’s all there is to it!

      To attach the switch-baiting tube, moisten the lip of the plungers and force the tube against the inside of your cockpit. Be advised that this gadget may slip a little in heavy seas so that one end comes to rest on the deck. This shouldn’t matter but be sure, before putting your own tube together, that the measurements suggested above coincide with the dimensions of your boat.


        Rigging a Lure – Video: How To Skirt A Marlin Lure
          • Supplies needed: Lure, crimpers, mono, crimp, chafe tube, electrical tape, hookset, ice pick, zap-a-gap glue and, rubber stopper.

          Supplies needed: Lure, crimpers, mono, crimp, chafe tube, electrical tape, hookset, ice pick, zap-a-gap glue and, rubber stopper.

          First: Place stopper on ice pick through hole and place generous amount of zap-a-gap to the surface of the rubber stopper.

          Next: Place rubber stopper ( still on ice pick ) on the back side of lure as pictured and hold for 40 to 50 seconds or until dry.

          Then: take your piece of mono and place the sleeve then the piece of chafe tube on (in that order) and slide it through the eye of the top hook on your hookset. Then crimp the mono sleeve useing the crimpers.

          After that: Take your electrical tape, starting on the shrink wrap on the top hook of your hook set and wrap up to your mono crimp (be generous the more the better). Make sure to end on your mono crimp.

          Finally: Take then end of the mono with nothing on it and place it through the bottom of the lure out the top and pull through until you are at the mono crimp. Then make source your bottom hook is facing down and the back hook is facing up then pull the leader on the top of the lure until the crimp is up inside the stopper. then trim skirt to your taste.

           


            Rigging a Swordfish Squid – Video: Rigging A Swordfish Squid
              • Materials needed: Hook with leader, wax rigging floss, bait rigging needles, bait knife, and squid.

              Materials needed: Hook with leader, wax rigging floss, bait rigging needles, bait knife, and squid.

              First: Take a 18″ to 20″ inch piece of wax rigging line and thread it through the eye of the rigging needle. Then turn the squid on its side and push the needle through the head of the squid starting on the bottom side ( the bottom has the flaps of skin on it ) push the needle out the top and pull the wax line through till there is about 8″ inch left on the side you started on. Then with the needle still threaded push it through the body of the squid about a 1/4″ to 1/2″ inch back from the head and push it through to the bottom side. Next with tag ends of the wax line tie a overhand knot in the waxline and pull it tight. Then put the two pieces together and tie a single surgeons loop in the wax line.

              Then pull opposite directions and pull tight against the squid and cut off tag end.

              Last:  place squid upside down and useing our premade swordfish squid rigs measure up so that the tag end is up to the top of the mantle ( the mantle is the middle part of the squid where the fins meet the body) then where the bend of the hook is make a hole with the tip of the hook, where the bend is. Then start by poking the hook through to the middle of the squid where the top of the crimp is when it was measured up and proceed to where the hole you made is and pull the hook out through that hole and pull until the tag end is through the top hole and push the tag end up the middle of the mantle and pull the leader back tight.

              Finally: Take a 12″ to 18″ inch piece of wax line and thread it through the rigging needle and then find where the chafe loop is that goes through the eye of the hook and push the needle through the squid and through that loop and pull through the other side of the squid. Make both ends of the wax line the same length on both sides and then use a single overhand knot then tie a surgeons loop in the wax line. Then pull opposite directions and pull tight against the squid and cut off tag end.

              BAIT AND SWITCH TUBE

              Steve Kantner

               


              When it comes to releasing billfish, nobody argues that bait-and-switch rules. Drawing sails and marlin to the transom with teasers is one of the most effective offshore techniques ever devised. Switch-baiting however, isn’t foolproof. A major drawback involves getting the actual bait to the fish without incurring tangles. In tournament fishing particularly, reacting quickly to a “lit-up” fish can make the difference between failure and success.

              Two of my cockpit-savvy friends came up with the perfect solution. They call it a switch-baiting tube. Essentially, what they invented is nothing more than a PVC tube that attaches to a boat’s gunwale for the purpose of storing a rigged trolling bait and some crushed ice. It’s as simple as it is convenient but when used properly, it helps reduce cockpit errors to a minimum.

              A switch-baiting tube brings everything closer to eye level. Unlike when they uses a cooler or bucket, mate don’t lose sight of the action while tossing a bait in the wash. In addition, compared to the alternatives, tubes take up very little room. Even when they’re used in tandem, twin tubes tuck neatly into the corners of the cockpit where they remain well out of the way. Later when the boat’s in port, this device is easily removable with a gentle pinch. Perhaps the best news of all however, is that you can build one for less than a sawbuck. Here’s how to go about doing it:


               

              1) Cut a two-foot length of 6-inch Schedule 40 PVC pipe. Using PVC adhesive, glue a cap to one end.

              2) Afterwards, drill a half inch hole approximately six inches from each end. Then, while holding the tube in position, drill a second pair of 1/16 holes directly across from the first set.

              3) Obtain two ordinary toilet plungers. First, saw the wooden handles off so that only an inch or so of each remains. Then drill a tiny hole in the center of the remaining handle, using the 1/16 inch bit.

              4) Using a screwdriver inserted through each of the larger holes, attach the plungers to the outside of the tube with a pair of 1/8 inch stainless screws. That’s all there is to it!

               


              To attach the switch-baiting tube, moisten the lip of the plungers and force the tube against the inside of your cockpit. Be advised that this gadget may slip a little in heavy seas so that one end comes to rest on the deck. This shouldn’t matter but be sure, before putting your own tube together, that the measurements suggested above coincide with the dimensions of your boat.