by Jarrod Day
We often lose focus on the little things while fishing, mainly due to being impatient while in a hurry to get a line in the water. This may mean that your bait presentation goes un-noticed causing the bait to fall off the hooks during a cast or worse yet, a fish steals it off the hooks altogether. Bait presentation is a key element to being successful while fishing and can be the difference between catching a fish and not? Other reasons why bait presentation is so important is when fishing in high tidal locations.
Pilchards on a double hook rig are ideal for most species.
Baits will spin if not rigged on the hooks correctly in high tidal locations and a fish trying to eat a spinning bait is like trying to get a sausage from a ceiling fan, its not going to happen.
So with that, better attention to detail needs to be taken when attempting to rig baits before they are tossed into the water.
Whole baits: Whole baits come in a variety of sizes and styles from whole pilchards to whole calamari but all need to rigged correctly.
Whole baits are one of the most popular to be used for a variety of species from marlin to snapper although when targeting marlin, more specialized rigging techniques are involved.
As easy as it is, a running hook rig or snelled hook rig is the most widely used for this type of rigging.
Rigging whole baits can be done in four easy steps:
1. Pass the bottom or fixed hook into the bait right through the mid section and bring through the other side.
2. Insert the hook into the top of the head and rotate through until the hook point exits the brain cavity.
3. Pull the mainline tight and insert the second (sliding) hook into the skin of the tail section and rotate around so the hook point protrudes back through the skin.
4. Place two half hitches around the tail to keep the hook in place and cast out.
Calamari: Squid or calamari is one of the easiest and most versatile baits that can be used.
They can be used in a variety of ways from whole baits, strip baits, heads, tentacles or even just half a hood.
The only problem to using calamari or squid for bait is that it is very soft meaning it is prone to spinning in the current as well as prone to having the hook fold over or be pulled out of the bait.
Special baiting techniques are required to have a piece of calamari rigged correctly to avoid any problems with such a bait.
Strip bait: Calamari can be cut into a long strip approx 1cm wide; this can be from the hood or just a length of one of the tenticles. This is the easiest bait to cut and rig without having it spin in the current providing your top hooks is pinned into the very tip of the strip.
Heads: Using heads all depends on the size of the calamari it has come from. With larger calamari, the head can be cut in half while smaller calamari the heads can be used whole. Calamari heads fit really well on a snelled two hook rig providing the head’s weight is held by the top fixed hook. The bottom hook is then threaded around one of the candles or larger tentacles.
Hood: The hood of the calamari can be cut into a variety of ways but can also be used whole if it is not too large. It is recommended that the hood be skinned leaving only the white coloured hood. The hood can be cut in half leaving the top section of the hood and the bottom section can be divided into smaller rings.
Again, a snelled hook rig is to be used with the top hook pinned right in the very tip of the hood. The second hook can then be inserted just into the hood and be rotated around with the hook point exposed.
Fillets baits: Fresh fish fillets are one of my all-time favourite baits and can be used as strips or as whole fillets. These are ideal for gummy sharks, snapper and most bottom dwelling species.
Strips of tuna are quite soft and fall off the hooks easily unless rigged on a two hook rig.
Fillets baits can be cut from any bait species including: salmon, Tuna, trevally, scad, pike, snook etc: Pilchards can also be filleted and used when targeting large King George Whiting or barracouta and salmon.
To cut a fillet bait, simply remove the side of your chosen bait. An incision is made into the gill area of the fish and the entire fillet is removed. The fillet is then cut in half along the bloodline on the inside of the fillet separating the fillet into two baits.
They are best rigged with either a sliding two hook rig or snelled. The very tip of the bait needs to be placed onto the snelled hook to hold it in place.
These baits are also prone to spinning in current so it pays to hold it next to the boat before casting to check to see if it spins. If it does, the bait will need to be trimmed down to prevent the spinning from occurring. This could take several times but is detrimental if you want to catch fish.
Pipi/Mussel:Softer baits such as pipi or mussel are very popular but still require some attention when placing on the hook. While they are soft, they can easily be pulled off or fall off the hook. When threading them on it is important to wrap the bait around the shank of the hook while continually passing it over the hook point. This will turn it into an almost tight ball of bait onto the hook.
There’s a myriad of baits available, each with its own way of rigging correctly to stay on the hook and look as natural as can be. With a little more time and correct hook placement, you too can have better success when hooking fish.
The dis-advantage to using whole baits. Somehow asnapper managed to escape the hooks. Maximum hook exposure is paramount when rigging whole baits.
Garfish cut in half are great baits for snapper.
Even pip or mussel baits deserve attention when placing on the hooks.