Lure Rigging Tips

Bobby Byrd & John Cochrane
Lure Rigging Tips

The summer bluewater fishing season is off to great start in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite a windy spring, many boats have been able to get offshore and catch some nice fish. Yellowfin tuna have been the main target with reports of moderate success including blackfin tuna. Weather has limited most boats to only a few days fishing so far, but the Memorial Day weekend provided some decent seas for Texas big game fishermen. Several boats have reported hooking up with big blue marlin and the dolphin and wahoo have been steady on some of the weedlines and rips that form this time of year.

Many anglers us ask about lure rigging, so we thought we would cover some of the basics in this article. There are many lures available these days, choose the ones that you or someone you know has had success on. Some of the better skirted trolling lures available are Black Bart, Pakula, Moldcraft, Joe Yee and Marlin Magic, but there are many lure manufacturers out there. Most of these lures will catch fish; the key is getting out there and using them! Remember – you can't catch 'em tied to the dock! After experiencing some success, you will start to build confidence in which lures you like to pull and consistently produce fish for you.

When selecting hooksets for lure fishing, we have found that simplicity works real well. A stiff-rigged single hookset pulls easily through the water and doesn't overpower the action of the lure. It also provides easier hook removal on released fish and is safer for the crew when trying to get the hook out of a fish. Some anglers worry about a single hook not working as well as two hooks, but our experience has been that the single hook increases our catch rate on billfish and is about the same as double hooks on wahoo, tuna and dorado. Your local tackle dealer should have a good selection of single stiff-rigged hooksets to choose from.

Leader is another area of tackle rigging that is important when lure fishing. For big game fishing, you should use he largest leader possible when fishing with lures. When a lure is being trolled through the water at normal trolling speeds of 7 to 9 knots, you don't have to worry about the fish shying away from the leader. The turbulence and lure action caused by trolling at this speed, combined with the lift created by trolling with outriggers, makes leader visibility negligible. The main limiting factor is the size of your lure. Larger lures can handle leaders of 600-plus pounds strength with no problem, but it may affect the action of a smaller lure. When lure fishing for billfish, match the leader with the lure. We would suggest nothing smaller than 300-pound leader, but bigger is better if you get a big fish on, especially if fishing a tournament. Flourocarbon leader is also not necessary for lure fishing because of the turbulence created when trolling, save it for natural bait fishing and especially when tuna fishing.

When choosing hooksets, you have several options; hook size, hook style and the length of the hookset. The size of the hook is important and you should try to use the largest hook possible that won't overpower the lure. Lure action is ultimately the critical factor when deciding on leader, hooks, outrigger height and boat speed. We have had the best success on hooks that have a slight inward bend, called a tuna bend. For best results, choose a hookset length that will put the hook as far back as possible. A good guideline is rigging the hookset where the point of the hook is even with the end of the skirt. Don't bother using circle hooks with lures, they are made for bait fishing and the concept does not work well with a skirted trolling lure. The exception to this is when using a lure/bait combo, such as ballyhoo with an Islander lure in front. This popular rig can be used with a circle hook.

Rigging lures is a lot of fun and is especially gratifying when you catch a big fish on something you rigged yourself. Choose a variety of colors to start with and see which ones you have the best success with. Our suggestion for color combinations would be variations using the main colors of purple, black, blue, pink and green. Lure fishing is a great way to cover a lot of area when searching for bluewater game fish. Use this technique in addition to fishing with natural bait. Every day is different, so it's important to try different methods to find out what works best for any given day. Good fishing this summer and remember, No Slack - Keep your line tight!

For more information on Big Game Fishing off Texas, buying, selling or rigging your boat, call us or come by Tops-N-Towers in Seabrook, Texas. Our Fox Yacht Sales-Seabrook office has an extensive inventory of brokerage boats and Fox is the exclusive Texas dealer for CABO Yachts. We specialize in sportfishing boats and motor yachts. Come by and get a great deal on your next boat. For more information contact Bobby Byrd at 281-474-4000 or John Cochrane at 409-739-4827