Finicky Tuna Demand Subtle Presentation – Or Not

Continue reading “Finicky Tuna Demand Subtle Presentation – Or Not”

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!

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How to Rig a Spanish Mackerel as a Trolled Bait

FREE YETI GIVEAWAY!!!

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:

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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.

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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:

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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:

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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).

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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!

Circle Hook Rigged Ballyhoo

You have lots of options for baits when trolling, but one of the most productive is a rigged ballyhoo.  There are lots of ways you can rig your ballyhoo.  The first choice is what kind of hook you will use.  You can rig a j-hook or a circle hook. The advantages of a circle hook rig include:

  • It’s the law when tournament fishing
  • It’s a requirement for all tournaments when fishing natural baits
  • Circle hooks save fish so you or others can catch them again

Circle hooks are designed to catch in the corner of a fish’s mouth so that the fish does not get gut hooked.  See, like this:

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This makes releases easy.  It also gives you a fighting chance on toothy critters even though you may be fishing a mono or flouro leader.

The video below shows you one way to rig a ballyhoo with a circle hook. There are lots of ways to do this.  I made this one up (probably the same as some others have done) and like the way it works.  I think it’s what we caught our first blue marlin with on FN Pair-A-Dice.

I note in the video we are rigging this up as a pitch bait. (This is a good video on how to pitch bait.)  We put it on a heavy spin rod and pitch it at fish we see in the spread.  I also like to “prospect” with this rod and bait. I think I learned this approach from an article in Saltwater Sportsman or Marlin Magazine.  You drop the bait back into the spread with the bail open and it looks like an injured bait falling out of the school.  I can’t tell you how often we have gotten hits while rearranging baits in the spread. There is no question it draws the attention of hungry predators.

You can use this same rig as a trolled bait.  The one in the video is “naked.”  That just means it does not have a skirt on it. One thing I like about this particular circle hook rig is it simple to add a skirt.  Just drop it on over the wire before you attach the hook.  It looks and runs great.

One disadvantage of a circle hook rig is that you may miss some hookups if the fish does not eat the entire bait (Known as a short strike).  For that reason I tend to like to rig smaller baits like pee wee or dink size ballyhoo. That said, for billfish, you will never miss a hook up based on this rigging vs a j-hook rig.  You can rig up a horse ballyhoo with this system and if you get a hit from a billfish I think your odds of hooking up are as good or better than any other hook or rig.  The billfish is going to take this bait, turn it around, and take it in its mouth head (hook) first.  As the line comes tight, that circle hook will find the corner of the mouth and you will get a nice solid hookup.

So, rig up your circle hooks and try it out.  Now go catch ’em up.