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Light tackle rig
  |  First Published: February 2016



With the run of small black marlin, other billfish and pelagic species being so prominent in the offshore waters of Southern Queensland over the last few months there has been a heightened interest in offshore trolling. Although bibbed minnows, weighted head skirts and vibration baits take their fair share of strikes, there is no denying the productiveness of resin-headed skirted lures, especially as far as billfish are concerned. Most of these lures come unrigged so you’ll need to either purchase a pre-made rig or assemble your own.

Those fishing heavier tackle in excess of 15kg will rig using more sturdy hooks with heavy leaders and will probably use slightly larger lures to start with than we do for light tackle applications. For the smaller billfish (generally less than 20kg in weight) better results will generally come when using smaller lures. If you want to fish one of the numerous game fishing tournaments then you will need to fish 8kg Pre-tested main line as the rules will state.

When using lighter lines (10kg or less) your best hook-up rate will come when using chemically sharpened, thinner gauge hooks as these will penetrate the mouth or hard bill of the marlin or sailfish with minimal force. One of the popular hook patterns is the Gamakatsu SL12S which was initially made as a fly hook but also suits light tackle rigging requirements as well. These are relatively inexpensive and easily sourced through most decent tackle outlets. Chemically sharpened hooks like these can suffer from electrolysis when trolled which causes the hook points to get brittle and promotes corrosion. A simple fix for this is to add a small piece of anode tape, such as Owner Rustop, to the shank of the hook.

Rigging light tackle lures is reasonably easy once you have the correct tools and materials. The rig I am demonstrating today is a simple single hook rig which I use to rig all my smaller skirted lures. It has never let me down and I have found the hook-up rate to be very good. It’s also a cheap rig to make with a minimal amount of materials. For most lures you will use similar materials however you may decide to use different sized wire or leader material for different lures. If you read my article on crimping in the last issue of QFM, you will have the basic information required to help you do a good job. For this demonstration I am going to rig a Meridian Quasi 5, one of my favourite light tackle billfish lures. Let’s look at what you’ll need and how to go about making a light tackle single hook rig.

STEP 1. To make this rig you will need wire cutters, a swaging tool, 120lb leader material, 49-strand 285lb wire, 1.3mm double barrel crimps, 1.2mm aluminium crimps, 1.8mm chafe tube, 3mm and 5mm heat-shrink, anode tape and a Gamakatsu SL12S 9/0 hook. These materials will be similar for most light tackle lures you wish to rig.

STEP 2. Attach the wire to the hook eye using the 1.3mm double crimp to secure it. The loop through the hook eye should be just large enough so that the hook can swing freely. Lay the hook rig beside the lure so that the hook point is level with the bottom of the lure skirt.

STEP 3. Cut the wire at the point that coincides with the bottom of lure head. Put the hook rig inside the lure to check that the rig is roughly the right length, with the wire just touching the back of the lure head and the hook point roughly level with the bottom of the lure skirt.

STEP 4. Attach a piece of anode tape to the shank of the hook, just above the bend. It should be roughly 1cm x 0.5cm in size. Wrap it around the shank so that it overlaps itself.

STEP 5. Cut a piece of 3mm heat shrink that is just long enough to extend from the hook eye to 1-2mm over the top of the anode tape. Heat with a paint stripper gun or by passing over a naked frame repeatedly until it shrinks.

STEP 6. Cut a 1cm portion of 5mm heat shrink to go over the hook eye and a slightly shorter piece of 3mm heat shrink to go over the crimp on the wire. Reduce these in the same manner as before.

STEP 7. Set up two 1.3mm double crimps in the manner shown with the wire from the hook in one side of both crimps and the leader material in the other side of both crimps, with a 3-5mm gap between the crimps as shown.

STEP 8. Reduce the entire length of the crimp closest to the hook using your swaging tool to apply downward pressure from the widest side as shown. With the next crimp you need to start in a little from the end where the leader is protruding so as to not damage the leader material.

STEP 9. From this point, crimp the rest of the crimp down along its length towards the first crimp. Your completed crimps should look like this with the top end of the upper crimp flared out.

STEP 10. Pass the leader material through the hole in the rear of the head of the lure. On the other end of your leader (I usually use around 1mader) we need to make a loop for attachment to the snap on your wind-on-leader. Place a 1.2mm aluminium crimp on the end of the leader and then a 1.5cm length of 1.8mm chafe tube. Put the end of the leader back through the crimp and slide the chafe tube down to butt up to the crimp.

STEP 11. Holding the crimp between your thumb and forefinger, pull gently on the main portion of leader until the loop is formed as shown. Squeeze your swaging tool in the middle of the crimp so that the ends flare. Move up to the next smallest recess in the swaging tool and give another firm squeeze.

STEP 12. Your completed rig should look something like this with the hook point roughly level with the bottom of the skirt. If you have several lures of the same size you can make extra rigs to allow quick changes when out on the water in case you bend a hook or the leader becomes badly chafed.

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