Going about ballyhoo rigging the right way is vital, or your hook-up rate will be pretty dismal. Their beak, and elongated shape does means that a special approach is required.
Most important is the position of the hook. If it's too far forward you'll be retrieving half a ballyhoo more often than not. This rig will put the hook well towards the tail of the ballyhoo, and well into the mouth of the predator.
First though, as with all baitfish, the ballyhoo must be prepared before the rigging procedure can begin, otherwise it won't wriggle convincing - and worse, it will probably spin.
Here's how to make sure it will behave as it should ...
To resemble their living brethren, dead bait fish must swim convincingly they should wriggle, but not spin. And for a lifelike wriggle, the bait fish must be flexible. And here's how to make it so ...
This is an essential part of the ballyhoo rigging process. Now your baitfish is limp and flexible, and ready for rigging.
Having loosened it up, the ballyhoo rigging process can begin. But just one more thing. Break off its beak leaving a stub of about an inch (25mm) - you'll see why shortly. If this is done by snapping carefully downwards, a useful groove will be left on the underside of the stub.
The ballyhoo rigging technique described here uses a head spike (or head-pin) which is a vertical spike of single strand wire, incorporated into the extended haywire twist used to attach the hook in a single-strand wire leader. So let's get started ...
Artwork by Andrew Simpson
Properly rigged, the bait will be towed by the head spike and wont spin. If it does, tweak the rig until it doesnt or start again.
Rigged in this way, your ballyhoo will skip along, or just under the surface. If you want to troll deeper, slide an egg sinker down the line to the head of the bait, and secure it in place with soft wire.
The final embellishment is to slide a lure - such as sea witch, trolling feather, straight runner, clone, jethead or simply an octopus skirt - down the leader so that it locates against the egg sinker if youre using one, or the nose of the bait if youre not.
But if your target fish is dorado or tuna, you may want to take your chances with wahoo and their toothy chums, and go for a less visible mono leader. 80lb breaking strain is as light as you should go, using one crimp to secure the hook and another to attach the separately formed L-shaped spike in the appropriate position. A chin weight can be incorporated into the crimped hook connection if required.
A Nose Spring can be used instead of rigging wire or an elastic band. This a conical wire spring that can be wound onto the protruding spike until it fits snug tight. Many anglers say that these low-cost devices greatly simplify the ballyhoo rigging process.
In the USA
In the UK
Downrigger ~ The cranelike device incorporating a line-counter reel often seen on the sterns of sport-fishing boats, which lowers a trolling weight on a wire line to a pre-determined depth. The trolling line is attached just above the weight, which gets the lure down to depths that would otherwise be unachievable.