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Ballyhoo Bait Prep for Best Natural Swimming Look

The ballyhoo is a surface-dwelling bait fish that, when rigged with the right method, can make for big catches like tuna, billfish, and other pelagic species. Knowing the proper techniques on how to make the best rig is key to a successful fishing outing.

Here are a couple of ways to prepare your ballyhoo bait for a natural swimming look – all to reel in the big ones.

The Pin Rig

Pin rigging is the best choice for first-timers and for those who fish with skirts over their bait. Trolling bigger ballyhoo on a pin rig will also catch larger pelagic predators; however the rig can use medium ballyhoo as well. The only requirement is that the sinker size must match the bait.

To make this rig, you will need 10 feet of 200 lbs test-fluorocarbon, a ½ ounce egg sinker, rigging wire, size G Crimps, a chafe tube, a 1½ -inch 10 single-strand wire, and a 10/0 7691S Mustad hook.


  1. Start by sliding the egg sinker onto the leader. Next, place a crimp on the line followed by a section of chafe tube. Pass the leader through the eye of the hook and back through the crimp.
  2. Push the crimp down toward the hook eye. Before crimping, place the section of size-10 wire into the crimp. After, bend the wire up at a 90-degree angle. Cut the wire so until there is about half an inch extending upwards. Finally, attach the rigging wire to the rig, between the crimp and the egg sinker.
  3. Line up rig next to the bait, positioning the egg sinker adjacent to the eyeball and where the pin will enter/exit the bait.
  4. Use the point of the hook to mark the spot where you want the hook to exit the bait. Insert the entire hook into the body of the bait beneath the gills. Make sure it exits through the spot you marked.
  5. Place the weight precisely between the gills. Next, push the pin up through the bottom and top jaw. To close the gills, first run the rigging wire through the eye socket twice behind the weight.
  6. Make an X shape on the nose of the bait, by running the wire in front of the weight across the nose, and by running the wire across the nose and in front of the weight. Tighten the front of the weight to the bait’s chin. To finish off the pin rig technique, wrap the wire down the bill ensuring that the leader beneath is fastened.

The Circle Hook Rig

The circle hook rig is another technique that allows you to change baits quickly while fishing. It is highly preferred because it significantly reduces chances of “gut hooking,” but this kind of rig is best known for catching the fish on the side of the mouth every time.

To make this rig, you’ll need a 10 feet of 130-pound fluorocarbon leader, a 7/0 non-offset Eagle Claw circle hook, a size-10 barrel swivel, rigging wire and a ¼-ounce egg sinker.


  1. Using tight barrel wraps, attach the rigging wire to one of the eyes of the swivel and slide the other eye of the swivel onto the hook. You should hear a slight clicking sound when the eye pops over the barb of the hook. Then, take the rigging wire and insert it into the mouth and down the soft tissue of throat. Slide the egg sinker onto the wire
  2. Take the end of the wire and run it through the eye socket twice, closing the gills and tightening the end of the weight. Next, rerun the wire through the eye socket twice, this time run it in front of the weight. The gills should be closed and the weight held in position.
  3. To close the mouth and to secure the swivel in place, run the rigging wire through the bottom jaw and out of the top of the nose. While doing this step, run the wire through the eye of the swivel that is inside of the mouth.
  4. To finish making your circle hook rig, wrap the wire twice around the nose and base of the swivel, and wrap in front of the swivel. Don’t forget to trim the excess bill.

Get The Best Ballyhoo Bait at Badass Ballyhoo

Ready to try out these techniques? Order the best ballyhoo bait from South Florida’s Badass Ballyhoo. We catch ballyhoo daily and ship them nationwide, ensuring the freshest and hardiest bait for you! Contact us here, or call (305) 224-8091 for more information.

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