Have you ever had trouble with trying to prepare your baitfish for trolling? Do you find difficulty learning how to rig a ballyhoo? Maybe you want to find a faster way to go through with it? Then you’re going to love this step by step guide we’re going to give you! Less time, less effort, double the efficiency!
When you just can’t seem to get those fish biting a significant factor would be how you prepare your bait.
Using ballyhoo bait fish is a favorite among anglers and sportsmen to catch the big ones! Surprisingly, when I was out there trying to find a game myself, I also once was frustrated due to all the hassle I had to go through and all that time wasted rigging my ballyhoo.
It turns out I wasn’t doing it right! But, with a few tips I learned from my father – a man I respect for his wisdom of the fishing world – I solved my problem. His sure-fire way to get that bait ready in record time. All in a few easy-to-follow steps! The process is easy; even a beginner can master it after a few tries!
Easy Steps On How To Rig A Ballyhoo Under 5 Minutes
Here is quick step guide on how to rig a ballyhooo
Step 1 – Readying The Ballyhoo (Less Than A Minute)
Step 2 – Put The Bait Through The Hook (1-2 Minutes)
Step 3 -Securing Everything With Wire (1-2 Minutes)
Things You Will Need
Preparation is the key to a successful fishing trip; dad always reminds me: “You should always check to make sure you leave nothing behind and that you’ve got everything we need and something extra before you leave for the trip.”
It turns out “something extra” meant to bring his favorite bacon sandwich. But you understand what he means, all the stuff that is essential for the trip has to be complete or else you are going to end up with zero catches and a sad heart. With rigging a ballyhoo, we will need the right stuff.
A good checklist of things you’ll need for this preparation will consist of the following:
- Ballyhoo – (A.K.A Ballyhoo Halfbeak) is considered one of the best “bait fish” around for trolling. Your finest bet would be to get them fresh and well-packaged—the fresher the fish, the better. Consider getting a large number of these and make sure they are also of considerable size.
- Fish hooks – You know these well. The metal hooks are sharp enough to snag your game easily when they take a bite at your bait. Make sure your hooks are durable, piercing, and are just the right size to match your ballyhoo. Bring extra, preferably all new ones too. O’Shaunesy-type hooks are recommended; j-hooks will still do the trick, though.
- Copper wire – This flexible cable will be used to help you attach your ballyhoo to your hook. A few meters of this will be enough for the bait, but it never hurts to bring extra.
- Make sure your copper wire is thin enough to be easily handled but strong enough that it doesn’t break with moderate pressure.
- Everything else – We’re done with the essentials for rigging your ballyhoo. Also, don’t forget to bring everything else, okay? Your rod, line, reel, and underpants.
How To Rig A Ballyhoo- Step By Step Guide
Now that we have everything we need ready and haven’t left anything behind (even taking care of bringing extras just in case) we are now ready to begin our step by step process! A rough estimate of the time you’ll need will be around 3-5 minutes, but the first time might always take longer.
Once you’ve memorized, familiarized, and done everything, all it takes is practice, and you’ll be finishing faster than you can cast a line! Ready? Start!
1. Readying The Ballyhoo (Less Than A Minute)
Pick your ballyhoo and match it with your hook. Once you’ve found the right one, hold it and gouge out both its eyes – you may do it bare handed, or with a tool. Taking out the eyes ensures that you can have a nice hole to secure your wire and it also prevents the eyes from affecting movement while trolling.
Once its eyes are out, you can proceed to manipulate its body. Starting a few centimeters right below the center of its body, you can squeeze and shape the meat towards the end of its tail to tenderize it. Bend it a few times to break the bones.
Test it out by wiggling its whole body holding it by the head. If it moves just like a fish swimming in water (using the tail to move), then you’re ready to go to the next step!
2. Put The Bait Through The Hook (1-2 Minutes)
Now you’re ready to hook in your bait. Make sure to make the bait look as naturally as possible, so you’ll want that hook fixed straight. Hold the hook against the ballyhoo and check where you’ll want it to come out.
The part of the hook attached to the line should be at the edge of the bat’s head in before the start of its beak, and the sharp end should protrude right outside its belly – ready to snag anything that gets close (preferably the fish you want to catch, of course.)
Insert the hook through one of its gills and bend the bait to let the sharp end come out through the belly. If the hook is at a straight angle and is in a straight line with an imaginary line through the spine of the fish, then you can proceed to the next step!
3. Securing Everything With Wire (1-2 Minutes)
This part may prove to be the most difficult of the process. It may take a few tries to get used to, but once you’ve got it down, it’s as easy as pie. First, wrap a portion of the wire around the end of the hook and through the hole for the line snugly.
Then, run it through the soft part right in between the ballyhoo’s head and beak and wrap it around once. Have it now run through the eye socket and the “gills” and wrap it tightly and securely around the hook. Once nice and secure, give it a tug to make sure.
You can now cut off or break the outer part of the beak. Test it out in the water, and when it is secure in its place and moves just like a live fish in water, you’re done with everything! Congrats!
FLSportsman’s “FS Seminar” videos on youtube also have a great tutorial for you to see how an experienced sports fisher does it:
Conclusion- How To Rig a Ballyhoo
Making the perfect bait is a great skill to learn and master. It not only saves you time, but it also improves your chances of landing that game-winning catch!
I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did putting it together! Just as my father helped me learn how to rig a ballyhoo well under 5 minutes, I, too, want to share how to do it with you! Practice makes perfect!
For ballyhoo, use the hooks which range from 7/0- 9/0 in size. These hooks are well suited for large ballyhoo and can handle various fish usually attracted to the bait.
You will need Circle hooks, O’Shaunessy-type hooks, or J hooks to rig a ballyhoo.
With ballyhoo as bait, you can catch various fishes such as marlin, wahoo, shark, sailfish, and swordfish, commonly found in offshore or nearshore waters.