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Rigging Split Tail Mullet



Shute Leadin

    This article will be about the use of alternative large baits for larger pelagic fish such as bigeye tuna, bluefin tuna and blue marlin. Ballyhoo are a great bait for all pelagic species, but sometimes it helps to have a bait that give a larger profile in the water and that is more durable over the long haul. One of these preferred baits is the mullet. In order to have a mullet swim the way it needs to, you will have to learn how to properly split tail and debone the mullet. This is what I am going to try to do with this article. By the way, this same method can be used with other large fish such as bluefish. Let’s get started!
    First, you will need some very simple tools: a very sharp but flexible fillet knife, a short, stiff, sharp bait knife and a deboning tool. The deboning tool I will be using is called a DB-2 and has a half-inch inside-diameter sharpened tube with a handle on one end and a push rod that fits inside the tool for cleaning out the backbone.
    Now to debone and split tail the mullet.
    First I will take the bait knife and scale the head of the mullet. This will reveal a spot on the head that has two lines that angle in toward each other at the top of the mouth area that I will follow with the knife to start my first cuts for the wedge. This will allow me to insert the deboning tool. Next I will take my fingers and roll the gills out of the mullet. Next I insert the short bait knife in the head of the mullet and cut a triangle wedge, working down toward the mouth of the mullet. After doing this on both sides and making a triangle cut, I then make small cuts toward the base of the backbone, once again making a smaller triangle cut allowing me to take the wedge of meat and skull out of the mullet's head and exposing the base of the backbone so that I can insert the deboning tool.
    Next I will take the deboning tool and remove the backbone. You can take your finger and feel and also see where the backbone starts in the mullet, and place the deboning tool right over the backbone that is exposed. Grasping the mullet firmly in your hand, push the deboning tool toward the tail of the mullet in a twisting motion. The deboning tool has a sharp V-shaped cut in the end of the tool. This helps cut through the small bones that run along the backbone. Run the deboning tool about two-thirds the length of the mullet, usually just past the dorsal fin. When you remove the deboning tool, sometimes this part of the backbone will come out with the tool. If not, don’t worry about it, after you split the tail you can run the tool back inside the mullet to help get it out.
    Now it is time to actually split the tail of the mullet into two equal parts with a full tail on both parts. You will need a little practice to get this move correct. First, take the sharp and flexible fillet knife and insert the point of the knife in the bottom of the mullet just around the anal vent. Carefully slide the knife point through the body of the mullet and exit it through the top of the mullet around the backside of the dorsal fin right next to the backbone. Slide the knife along the backbone and toward the tail of the mullet as if you were going to fillet it. Stop your knife at the base of the tail right at the meaty knot of the tail. This is where you have to be very careful and go very slow until you get the hang of doing the actual splitting of the tail. When you slide the knife from the meaty part of the tail toward the tail fin you will need to angle the blade slightly down in order to start to slice the tail into two equal parts.

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