Rig a Daisy Chain to Bring More Fish to your Trolling Lure!

A daisy chain is simply a string of teasers (hookless lures used as attention-getting decoys) rigged together line-astern for deployment ahead of your trolling lure.

If you're trolling with just one or two lines rather than a full spread, having a daisy chain on one of them - with or without a bird teaser up front - is probably the single most effective thing you can do to improve your strike rate.

This will create visual and sonic disturbance in the water - noise, as it's called - which to a curious predator gives the appearance of a small shoal of baitfish with a straggler (the 'chaser' - your lure) struggling to keep in touch.

It won't take a leap of imagination to guess which one's going to get hit!

How to Rig a Daisy Chain

Putting one together is a straightforward affair.

The usual approach is to use three or four plastic squid lures as the decoys, stopping each one at the appropriate position on the leader by either an overhand knot or by crimping on a sleeve. 

Tie your stopper knots 2 to 3 feet apart, depending on the size of the decoy.

A small bead ahead of the knot will prevent the knot (or crimped-on sleeve) pulling through.

The chaser, which unlike the decoys - and rather obviously - is rigged with a hook attached at the end of the leader. It can be the same size and pattern as the others, or maybe the next size up - but not smaller.

Remember to position the hook correctly within the chaser's skirt by threading on beads ahead of the hook.

Making up a daisy chain for your trolling lineThe decoys catch the fish's attention; the chaser catches the fish!

They're particularly suited for use with trolling handlines. If you do choose to make on up yourself, these two components would work well together. 

Offshore Angler Shell Squid Decoys

Offshore Angler Shell Squid (the Decoys)

These eye-catching, soft-plastic Shell Squid decoys from Offshore Angler are popular for rigging spreader bars and daisy chains.

Offshore Angler Flasher Candy

Offshore Angler Flasher Candy (the Chaser)

Offshore Angler Flasher Candy trolling lure features a cupped nose designed for slow to medium trolling speeds (4-7 knots). Rig with a 4/0-6/0 hook and troll plain or with a rigged natural bait. Great for marlin, tuna, dolphin, wahoo, and king mackerel...

Some of the decoys will occasionally break the surface picking up air and leaving an impressive smoke trail in their wake - a real wake-up call for any predators lurking nearby.

But if you don't want to go to the trouble of making up your own, you could buy one already made up - but there's one version I'd never be without. It features cedar plugs and not only does it catch fish, it's extremely robust and will outlast any soft plastic version.

Got-Cha Cedar Plug Daisy Chain

Got-Cha Cedar Plug Daisy Chain

Traditional cedar plugs are unpainted like the 'Got-Cha' rig shown here, and some fishermen (I'm one of them) will tell you that they are at their most effective when left that way. This rig features three #4 cedar plugs followed by a #6 chaser.

But painted versions are also available - often resembling small dorado - and of course other anglers will tell you that this is the way to go. They are much more durable that skirted lures, and are a great alternative for sailors on long offshore packages.

Tuna in particular really go for them - and so do dorado (mahe-mahe)...

Include a Bird Teaser in the Rig?

For noise of truly orchestral proportions, why not rig a bird ahead of your string of decoys?

This is what we do when making an offshore passage aboard our sailboat Alacazam, where one of our trolling lines is deployed from a Penn Senator reel bolted directly to the pushpit.

What's a bird? It's just another type of decoy that's designed to splash around on the surface, pretending to be a shoal of unsuspecting baitfish.

My 'standard' rig for this is a bird attached to a string of resin-headed 'straight runner' type skirted lures with a slightly larger one as the chaser. It gets results!

But you won't be able to use a bird with a heavy string of decoys - steel jetheads for instance - as the drag will pull the bird below the surface.

To be sure this won't happen, you could buy a complete rig, like the Boone Bird-Rigged Daisy Chain shown below, which comes in three sizes - 12", 9.5" and 7", each with three teasers and an appropriately sized chaser...

Boone Bird Rigs

Boone Bird Rigs

The 12" is rigged with 3 All Eye teasers and an 8oz Boone Sundance Jet using a 10/0 Mustad hook on 10' of 400lb test leader.
The 9.5" is rigged with 3 All Eye teasers and a 3oz Sea Minnow using a 9/0 Mustad hook on 10' of 250lb test leader.
The 7" is rigged with 3 All Eye teasers and a 2oz Sea Minnow using an 8/0 Mustad hook on 10' of 250lb test leader.

Top Tip
~ Use a Snap Link!

Whilst all this hardware is no problem on a trolling handline, it's not ideal -particularly if you've got a bird splashing around up front - on a rod and line outfit. But there's an easy solution:~

  1. Rig your daisy chain on its own separate line;
  2. Remove the chaser and replace it with a snaplink;
  3. Connect your leader a short distance ahead of your lure directly to the snaplink with an elastic band.

Now, when a fish hits your lure, the elastic band breaks leaving you clear to fight it without the daisy chain being dragged around all over the ocean. And this would be a good time to get it back aboard before something else eats it!

Next ~ A Spreader Bar Perhaps?

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