The Bridle rig is the standard method of rigging a large live bait, such as a Skipjack tuna for slow trolling.
Its simplicity makes it possible for an experienced crew to have the bait rigged and back in the water within a minute of being caught.
It’s also a quick way to rig a skipping dead bait if you stitch the mouth and gills closed first. It’s worth practising on a few dead baits beforehand, so that you can get the technique right without the pressure of trying to work against the clock with a live bait.
1) Prepare your leader. This can be mono, cable, or combined mono and cable depending on the species available in the area that you fish. Attach the hook to the leader using crimping sleeves and a swaging tool. A Mustad 7731 is a good choice, up to size 16/0 with a large bait and heavy tackle. The hook should be able to swing freely. Use either an Offshore loop knot or a loop protector to prevent the leader chafing on the hook.
2) Take an 18 —20 inch length of heavy Dacron or heavy rigging floss. It is important that it is fairly thick, as light Dacron will tend to cut through the bait.
Double the Dacron and tie the two ends together using a Double overhand or Surgeon’s knot.
Take the knotted end of the Dacron and fasten it to the bend of the hook with a Cow hitch (Lark’s head knot). Secure it in place with one or two half hitches and you’re ready for your bait.
3) When a bait is caught, quickly swing it aboard and wrap it in a wet towel. Avoid touching the bait with bare hands as much as possible. Kneel on the deck with the bait between your knees, and insert a crochet hook (available from a sewing or craft shop) through the gap in the eye sockets just forward of the eyes, and out of the other side.
Catch the Dacron loop with the crochet hook and pull it back through the eye sockets. Put the hook point through the Dacron loop, twist it three or four times and then put the point twice through the loop formed between the bait and the twists.
Do not try to fasten the hook tightly against the bait’s head, the hook should be able to easily fold flat against the bait when it is swallowed.
Carefully place the bait back in the water and you’re ready to fish. An undamaged bait rigged in this way should survive all day if it is not eaten, but it is important to troll very, very slowly. You should aim for a trolling speed of 1 —2 knots, higher speeds will cause the bait to quickly tire and die.
Always remember to test all knots before fishing