Basic Pin Rig
This is the traditional rig to use when trolling Ballyhoo. It’s more common nowadays to use a mono leader with a separate wire pin, and the mono will certainly draw more strikes, but many old hands still use wire, especially in waters where Wahoo or Kingfish are a possibility.
Take a hook of a size suited to the bait. Note that the best hook for this rig is a needle eye type. If a round eye hook is used, special care must be taken to ensure that there is no gap in the eye through which the wire can pull out. Squeeze the eye closed with pliers if there is any gap at all.
Pass the wire through the hook eye and form the Haywire twist as before. However, do not do not break off the tag end after making the Barrel wraps.
Wrap the wire so that the tag end stands up away from the main wire, pointing in the opposite direction to the hook bend. Trim the tag end off to around 1/4″ – 1/2″, this will depend on the size of your bait.
To rig the Ballyhoo, first break off the bill attached to the lower jaw by snapping it off downwards. Then run your thumb along the belly towards the anal vent, emptying the stomach cavity. Finally flex the bait a few times to loosen it up a little. Some crews remove the eyes from the bait to stop them bulging out with the water pressure when trolling.
Insert the hook point under the gill cover and through into the body cavity. Bring the hook point out through the belly, leaving the pin under the bait’s head. Push the pin up, to exit through the top of the head level with the eyes. Some anglers like to bend the pin back to avoid the sharp spike spooking a wary fish. I’m not convinced by this, but I guess it can’t hurt.
Ensure that the bait hangs straight. If it doesn’t, take a sharp knife and carefully cut a slit where the hook exits the belly until it moves freely. This is very important, if the pull is not on the head of the bait it will spin when trolled.
You have several choices for securing the bait to the pin. The favourite among charter crews is to hook a very small rubber band over the pin, take it around the bait’s head, and hook the other end of the rubber band over the pin.
The second is to wrap the Ballyhoo to the pin with fine copper wire. Before attaching the bait to the hook, take 8″ – 9″ of rigging wire and wrap one end tightly around the Haywire twist to secure it. Rig the bait as previously described, then wrap the copper wire up and around the pin then through the eye socket and out of the other side. Pull the wire up tight and take another wrap around and behind the pin. Finally finish wrapping the wire down the broken off bill and you’re done.
The third method, which many purists sneer at, is to use a product called a bait spring. It’s simply a tightly wound cone shaped spring. The wide end faces towards the Ballyhoo and it is simply wound onto the pin. It really is that straightforward and it works great.
I generally like to add an octopus skirt or a small lure head such as an Ilander to help protect the bait whilst trolling and to make it easier to spot the baits from the cockpit.
Like many things in fishing there is no one right answer. Try them all and see which method works best for you.