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How to Make a Bulletproof Ballyhoo Rig   by Dave Reed


Along the East Coast there is a unique offshore trolling phenomenon called ballyhoo fishing. Charter customers get to see this style of fishing in action on nearly every offshore charter. The simple reason for employing this style of fishing is that in can be extremely effective. However, don’t let the simple name lull you into thinking that ballyhoo fishing is easy.


Ballyhoo trolling rigs and methods vary greatly and the reason that some rigs are more effective than others can be cloaked in long protected secrets. For the starting out weekend warriors, the mystery around trolling ballyhoo can actually be frustrating to learn because the old timers aren’t usually going to give up their advantage easily. There are some basics to understand about ballyhoo trolling that can help your outcome and making your own proven effective ballyhoo rig is a great way to help you to understand what makes the rig work.

Back in the early 90’s I designed a custom ballyhoo rig that was written up in Sportfishing and Saltwater Sportsman Magazines calling it the “Bulletproof Ballyhoo Rig” because of its unique design and its effective durability. Over the next twenty years I made and sold thousands of these rigs as the owner of Eye Catcher Lures in Hatteras, NC. This article is an in depth description of how you can make these rigs for yourself. However, I strongly suggest that you follow the directions to the letter because even the smallest deviation will produce a rig that will not work properly or worse yet will easily cut the leader under pressure.

The Bulletproof Ballyhoo Rig can be made with any size hook and leader. You only need to adjust the sleeve size and your crimping pressure accordingly. For the sake of this article I’m going to show you how to make it with one of the most popular sizes while I was producing them in the Hatteras area.


You will need the following items to make a duplicate of this rig:

130” monofilament or fluoro-carbon leader material.
Mustad 7691S Stainless Steel Hook
½ oz. egg sinker
8” piece of #12 stainless steel wire
Spiral Ballyhoo Rigging Cone or Monel Rigging wire
1.6mm copper double sleeves
Crimping tool
Wire Cutters
Needle Nose Pliers

Start by making a large “hairpin” out of the 8 inch piece of #12 SS wire.  You are going to want to end up with the shape shown in the picture. First bend it around a small round object forming the original loop using the needle nose pliers and the make the wings using the needle nose pliers again.  When this is done you will notice that you can squeeze the wings together and it forms a nicely shaped loop. If the wings fold together and are the exact same length you will need to cut one of them with the wire cutters so that they are staggered in length by about ½ inch. The reason is because it will push through the sleeve easier if it is staggered.

  Feed the sleeve, egg sinker and hook unto the leader.
  Loop the leader around itself twice and then put the end back through the eye of the hook.

Carefully slide the end of leader and the wire loop simultaneously through the egg sinked and thorough the sleeve. This needs to be done so that the wire loop lays beside the mono leader loop and you will need to be very careful while sliding the wire through that you do not knick the mono with the ends of the wire. The wire loop needs to end up laying directly beside the mono loop and the wire loop should be just slightly smaller than the inside of the mono loop. Ideally the hook will ride on the wire instead of the mono. But be very careful that the wire loop is beside and not crossed inside the mono loop because under pressure it will pull into and slice the mono. It may take a few tries to get the hang of this but eventually you will be able to see that unless it is laying beside the mono it is going to be a problem just waiting to happen.   


Once everything is pulled through and looks perfect bend the wings at 45 degree angles so that they will hold the assembled rig while you crimp the sleeve.


Time to crimp the sleeve. Use the smallest logical opening in the crimping tool  and bare down hard on the crimping tool because the sleeve is pretty well packed with both the wire and the mono. It won't hurt to crimp harder than normal and you want to be sure that the wire won't easily pull through the sleeve. Do not crimp all the way to either end of the sleeve leaving about 1/8 inch flared out. This will keep the sleeve from cutting into the mono.  


Next take the top piece of wire and bend it to 90 degrees and then cut it off at about 1 inch long. This will be your pin to insert through the ballyhoo. Take the bottom piece of wire and bend it back and forth with the needle nose pliers until it breaks off flush with the sleeve. Then add your ballyhoo rigging cone or monel wire.


If you followed the directions accurately, you have just made one of the most durable and effective ballyhoo rigs available. The wire through double loop is extremely strong and it will save a fish or two when the loop has been sliced by a toothy species like a wahoo. Inspect your rigs often though because you don't want to rely on the rig if the mono loop has been compromised.


Dave Reed is the founder and former owner of Eye Catcher Lures. His ultimate goal is to give you the kind of information that will help you form ideas and opinions of your own. He is one of those fortunate people whose fishing career has allowed him to speak with successful offshore anglers every day for many years and he has the necessary expertise to allow him to teach others the things he has learned. This article was written with the help of legendary Captain Bruce Armstrong of Sea Angel II Charters one of the most affordable and best Hatteras fishing charters out of Hatteras Landing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Please feel free to contact Dave through this website if you have any questions about this article.  







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