How to Crimp a Mono Leader

Sorry its been a while since I posted, but lots going on, most of which unfortunately has not involved fishing.  I was prepping to get back on the water this spring and thought some folks might like a little primer on how to properly crimp a leader, so I made this little video.  There are few things more frustrating than hooking up a nice fish only to have the crimp connection fail.  I had it happen once on a nice tuna and have not allowed a repeat.  Hope you find this video helpful.

In the video I eyeballed the right slot in the crimping tool to match the sleeve I was using.  I have done a bunch so was pretty comfortable I had the right size.  I highly recommend that you follow the recommendations on the packaging until you get the feel for the correct pairings of leaders to sleeves and sleeves to crimp tool slots.  Its important to use the right sizes to assure a proper connection that is not so tight that it damages the leader, but tight enough to assure the connection will not slip under pressure.

Good luck out there, and catch ’em up!

P.S. Please enter your email in the box on the right margin to subscribe to my blog.

Deep Drop Rig

The other day I blogged about a recent trip we took to do deep drop.  You can read that here and check out the grouper, tile fish and bass we caught:

I was asked about the rigs we were using to catch those fish so I created a short video to show you how to make them up.  They are pretty simple and while you can buy them already made up, it’s a lot cheaper to do yourself.

First, a little side note to remind you to sign up for a chance to win a free custom powder coated and etched Yeti cup.  Read all the details here:  Its simple.  Just put your  email address in the “subscribe” block over there ——->.

Once you do that you will get an email (make sure it’s not in your spam folder) that asks you to confirm you want to follow the blog.  Do that by Jan 30 and you are registered.

If you received an email telling you about today’s post, you are already registered.  If not, you are not.  Send me a comment if you have questions.

Here is the video of building the deep drop rig.  I had a little help from my K9 buddy.  He didn’t seem very impressed.

For deep drop, you really need an electric reel.  Cranking up five to eight pounds of weight 800 feet to check your bait would get old really fast. These used to be particularly expensive, but they have come down in price significantly in the last couple of years.  You can get some really nice ones, but you can also go budget.  I have a Diawa Tanacum Bull 1000 that is really nice but relatively lower priced.  I also have a Fish Winch that is at the low end of the price spectrum, but that I have found to be like the turtle, slow and steady.

The rod on the Fish Winch is just a trolling rod with roller guides.  Works fine and I switch it back and forth between trolling and deep drop so I don’t need two separate rods.  The one on the Tanacum is a really nice dedicated deep drop rod my wife bought me and you can also see in the picture a kite rod (also a gift from my wife. She keeps me well outfitted!). This allows me to switch the Tanacum over for kite fishing duty rather than having two separate reels.

Hope that all helps you to get out there and catch ’em up.

P.S. Please enter your email address over on the right margin to subscribe and register for a chance to win your free custom powder coated and etched Yeti cup on January 30.  Good luck!

Snowy Winter

Before we get started, make sure you sign up to win the FREE CUSTOM POWDER COATED AND ETCHED YETI CUP from Precision Powder Coating. Click the link to see some examples.

Just sign up as an email follower by putting your email in the Subscriber box over there —-> and down a little ways                                                   and clicking the link in the authorization email you will get.  For full details read my last blog entry here.   I have hundreds of followers that signed up but did not click the link in the email and if you don’t do that you will not get notifications when new blog entries go up and I can’t reach you to let you know you won the Yeti.


Man, we had some ugly weather last week.  It felt like we had lightening hitting in the yard for hours.  80 MPH winds in Gulf Shores.  8 inches of rain at home.  It was no fun.  Then this crazy cold front blew in last night with snow in Mobile and 28 degree low temp here this AM.  But, in between, there was Thursday. Oh, Glorious Thursday!  Man, she was begging for us to head offshore, so we did.

With the Pair-A-Dice down for maintenance I was fortunate to get an invite from Frenchy and we headed out of Pensacola on The Blue Spirit. Joining us for the trip: Noah, Andrew and Nick “the Lure Guy,” a solid crew.

We had a smooth ride out and set up the deep drop rigs in search of some denizens of the deep.

Nick scored a nice Yellow Edge early.  (Subscribe over there ——->)

We also got on some Long Tail Sea Bass.  These are some really cool looking fish. Reminds me of a quote from film director David Lynch (DUNE, Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet…):  “If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water.  But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.  Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”  Well, he wasn’t really talking about fish, but, regardless, the words had some credibility in the world of deep drop this week.

We moved to some deeper water and got on some Tile Fish as well.  Both Blueline Tiles and Golden Tiles.

The Man-O-War were out in force.  Lots of tentacles coming up on the deep drop lines.

Stumbled on this Snowy Grouper while looking for tiles.

Before he ate my bait, he ate this little guy that I found in his mouth.

We also had this Oil Fish fall in our laps.

He has cool eyes.

We also tried for some swords to no effect.  Had two separate hits, but nobody ate the bait.  All good, we packed up and headed for the barn.

Make sure you sign up to be an email follower so you can get a chance at the free Yeti cup.  Good luck, and until next time, catch ’em up!

How to Rig a Spanish Mackerel as a Trolled Bait


That is right, a freebie for my registered email followers!  I am going to give away a custom powder coated and engraved Yeti cup from Precision Powder Coating.  Your choice of a 20oz Rambler, a Colster, or a Low Ball powder coated and engraved to your specs by Josh at Precision Powder Coating.   These guys are based in Texas and do cool work.  They are not sponsors of this blog or advertisers (this is not a commercial blog), but I bought some custom Ramblers from them a few months ago and thought they were great, so I decided to give one away to my loyal followers (that’s you!).  Click their link above to look at lots of examples, but here is a pic of one they did for me before:


Here is how it will work.

Sign up to follow this blog and click to get email notifications each time a new blog is posted.  You won’t get advertising or anything it’s just once a week or so when the blog goes up it will email you that a new blog has been posted.  I will pick one winner from everyone signed up on January 30, 2017.  You can unsubscribe after that if you want, that is fine, but it’s the only way I have to notify the winner.

To sign up to follow (and to make sure you have elected email notification even if you are already a follower), just put your email address in the box over on the right margin where it says “SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG VIA EMAIL.”  Its over there —->

You will get an email asking you to confirm you want email notices.  You have to click the link in the email to activate.  There was a glitch in the software that runs this website that resulted in many of existing followers not getting that email or being de-listed from notifications and so, while you may be a registered follower, you may not have authorized the email notices.  You can fix that by re-entering your email and then clicking on the link you are sent.  You should check your preferences on the page you go to when you click the link to make sure it shows you have authorized email notice of blog posts.

If you have any trouble or are not sure if it worked, send me a comment on the blog and I can check for you or help you out.  I’ll announce the winner with a blog post that will notify all the followers that register for email notification.

Now, Back to Business.  Lets Talk About How to Rig A Spanish Mackerel as a Trolled Bait.

Well, I have not been able to get offshore recently, but I have been using my time wisely.  I have been catching all sorts of bait and getting ready for future trips.  There have been lots of LY in the bays and bayous and they are filling up the freezer.  I also have been getting big mullet and I’ll rig one of those up in a future post.  I also caught some Spanish Mackerel and made up a video of how  to rig that up with a J-Hook and a mono leader.  It comes out like this:


These are not as tough to rig as mullet, but for sure more of a chore than ballyhoo.  You need a deboning tool to get the backbone out.  This makes the fish limber so it swims nicely in the water.  Its a two piece tool that looks like this:


You debone with the larger tube and then insert the smaller dowel inside to clear the bone out of the tube.


You also need a rigging needle. I have done a few of these before, but not a lot so one thing I learned is that the open eye (bottom one in below image) needle I used was a bad choice.  I should have used one with a closed eye like the one on top in the below photo.


Generally I prefer the open eye as it is easier to thread the floss on, but here I was using the floss to sew the belly of the Spanish closed and as I went over prior threads, I was catching them with the needle.  You will see in the video.

The day before I rigged up the bait, I put it in a saltwater brine to toughen it up.  It’s just ice water and a commercial brine mix (Bionic, Baitmasters etc…).  I have also just used kosher salt before and that works fine.  What is really good is to mix saltwater brine in your ice box on the boat and put the fish in there immediately when you catch them.  It really locks in their natural colors. Here is the mullet in the brine solution:


OK, so here is the video of the whole process.  Hope you enjoy.

Now you know how to rig a Spanish for trolling so no excuse not to get out there to catch ’em up!

Don’t forget to register as an email follower and get your chance at a custom powder coated and etched Yeti cup.

Ballyhoo Dredge

Man, it’s prime white marlin season in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, Hurricane Matthew has it stirred up out there like a Maytag washing machine.  So, let’s talk about how to rig a bait dredge that can really increase your chances of getting one of those white marlin as soon as things settle down enough to get out there and back without knocking out all the fillings in your teeth.

I found this cool video on YouTube that shows a mullet dredge in action. We will do a ballyhoo dredge, but they are very similar. I don’t have a dredge cam to take video like this, but its pretty slick  and it gets my blood moving.  Especially check it out at about 1:25.

Ours ends up looking like this.


Here are the pin rigs we will build.  The video walks through how to make these, and then how to rig the ballyhoo onto the pin rigs.  If you do not want to make the pin rigs you can purchase them already made up from most offshore tackle shops.


Check out the video (sorry about the vertical orientation) and see what you think.

In the video we deployed the dredge behind a planer.  You can use a swivel like this to rig the dredge behind a planer or a stretch 30.


It looks like this:



These rigs or just a trolling weight will work, but a downrigger is a better solution. This video is an excellent demonstration of how to deploy your dredge from a downrigger.  This is how we are now managing on our Sea Vee.

O.K., now you have all the info to build your own ballyhoo dredge.  Get out to the garage and get on this while we wait out this weather and then we can all get out there and catch ’em up.

Please remember to register (click on the “register” link in the right margin) to follow



Marlin Provides Proof in Execution

Last week I blogged up how to rig an Ilander ballyhoo combo.  So on Sunday I figured I better see how my prototypes worked in the field.


There was the blue and white one I used in the video and the black and red one I used for the pics.  I decided to pit them against each other with the blue and white on the right short and the red and black on the left short. It didn’t take long for whitey to find them both.  We hooked up on the black and red and Logan made short work of getting him to the boat.  Allen was the wire man and Tom put in the tag for a successful release.







We were able to get a bit of video.  This fish was a little lit up.

As we cleared the lines we saw that the blue and white had also been smacked around.  Could have been the same fish or his brother.  So can’t say if blue and white is better or perhaps black and red, but they both work, that is a fact!

We tried overnight swording, but not a single bite.  There were a bunch of other boats doing the same, but only heard of one that got a fish.  I must say, it’s a much slower more relaxing gig than the tuna fishing at the rigs. Speaking of tuna, we had a bunch of nice ones crashing around the boat in the dark and flying through the lights, but it all happened pretty quickly and we just didn’t get enough baits in the water fast enough.  It was a typical tuna smash and grab job as they were gone before we knew it.

The trolling was pretty slow.  Aside from the white we picked up a few small dolphin and bonita, but not much else.


We tried high speed for a bit and got a big wahoo on.  He took me deeeeep into the 50 wide before we got him turned.  Just as we were about to sink the gaff, though, he shook the hook.  Heartbreak as he was 50+ pounds of sashimi in the making.  Here is what he hit.  Do you think the hoo like this lure?


I might change those hooks out for the big single J Hooks on swivels.  I don’t like them coming unbuttoned like that.

Hope you all had a great weekend.  Until next time, catch em up.

J Hook Rigged Ballyhoo under Blue and White Ilander

A rigged ballyhoo trolled behind a blue and white Ilander lure is probably the single most popular trolled bait there is. This is really the first natural bait presentation you should learn when getting into bluewater trolling. Blue and white is the go to color of choice, but there are many options out there like this black and red (a good choice for wahoo).


I like the mahi colored ones as well as bright yellow and pink.  It’s probably the nice contrast of blue and white that helps make that color effective and particularly versatile.  One consideration on color is to contrast dark skies with light colors and bright skies with dark colors so with blue and white on the same lure you can pet two dogs (I don’t kill birds) with one hand.

Circle hook rigs are required for tournaments and are great to improve survival rates on released fish, but if you are rigging your baits under trolling lures, you are going to need to use a traditional j hook.

These rigs will catch pretty much anything that swims near the surface of the ocean.  They are great for mahi, wahoo, tuna, kingfish, sailfish, white marlin, and blue marlin.  You can rig with mono or wire leader, it will work either way.

One big benefit of rigging under an Ilander is that it is very forgiving of imperfect rigging.  When you rig a naked ballyhoo, it better be right.  If not, it will spin, fail to track straight, or wash out (tear up and start to break apart).  That does not mean it won’t catch a fish, but your chances fall significantly.  Put an Ilander lure over top of the ballyhoo and it becomes the principal driver of how the bait tracks in the water.  You can screw this up so bad not even an Ilander will save the day, but no doubt, you can live with some imperfections in your rigging with little or no consequence when set up under an Ilander or similar skirt.

With a little help from my wife as camera woman and creative director, I put together this video that goes through step by step just how I rig a ballyhoo with a j hook.  I did this under a blue and white Ilander, but the same rig will work under any trolling skirt.  Take a look and let me know what you think.  I know some folks will likely rig differently, and so I would invite you to post up your videos for others to see how your do it too.

If you like what you see, please register to follow the Bluewater How To blog by clicking on the registration link in the right margin.  Hope this helps you catch em up!