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How To: The Pinless Ballyhoo Rig



Shute Leadin

    Most ballyhoo rigs use a stiff wire pin for the anchoring and pulling point for the ballyhoo’s head. Pinless ballyhoo rigs take a different approach. For this method of rigging you need to use either a ballyhoo spring, copper wire or a rubber band to secure the head of the ballyhoo to the pin. The pinless rig will not use the stiff wire pin as a pulling point. The ballyhoo’s head will actually be hard-wired to the leader using the ballyhoo’s whole head as the pulling point.
    First, prepare the ballyhoo for rigging. Thaw the ballyhoo, and when it is completely thawed out you can prepare it. Take the ballyhoo belly up and “milk” the belly section. This is also called “pooping the ballyhoo.” Take your thumb and forefinger and squeeze the ballyhoo's stomach, starting just behind the gills and working back to the anal vent. This cleans out all the internal mass and fluids that are in the belly cavity, which will help limber up the ballyhoo and also help with the hook placement. Repeat this “milking” a few times until you feel most of the internal fluids have exited the anal vent.
    Next I take a pair of scissors and clip off the pectoral fins on the ballyhoo. These are the fins on either side of the body and just behind the gill plates of the ballyhoo. The reason for clipping these fins off is sometimes when the ballyhoo are packaged, these fins will not be lying flat. That could cause the ballyhoo to spin when pulled.
    The next step is to remove the eyes from the ballyhoo. I do this using a 3/8ths-inch wooden dowel rod. Many people will use an arrow shaft, which is about the same diameter. You can also just use the point of your hook or even use the part of the ballyhoo’s bill that you will be breaking off. I prefer the wooden dowel or arrow shaft since you can do multiple ballyhoo at a time and just leave them on the dowel until you are ready to finish rigging.
    After removing the eyes, you are ready to insert the hook and head wire the ballyhoo. There are a few different ways to construct your actual leader, hook and rigging wire. To make this rig I use a Mustad 7691-9/0 or 10/0 hook depending on whether I am using a horse or a large ballyhoo. There are many different hook manufactures on the market today. You can use JOBU, VMC or a variety of hooks. Use the one you feel works better for you.
    I use 175-pound fluorocarbon leader with a 1.6 double copper sleeve and about a 10-inch piece of 20-pound Monel wire. Some anglers prefer aluminum sleeves, I happen to like the copper ones. I use the 20-pound Monel wire over copper wire because it is stiffer and I find it easier to work with. Some people like to use a chin weight, but since the Joe Shute Lure heads are pretty heavy, I feel that I don’t need one to make the ballyhoo swim properly. There is nothing wrong with using a chin weight if you want to, I just prefer not to. I believe that it allows the bill of the ballyhoo to seat better without a chin weight. If you are using a chin weight, either a half ounce or three-quarters ounce will work for a horse ballyhoo.
    There are a few ways to attach your Monel to the leader. You can wrap the Monel through the eye and around the shank of the hook, or the way I prefer to do it is to slide the Monel wire into the sleeve with your fluorocarbon leader and crimping it all together. I will run my leader through the one side of the 1.6 sleeve and through the eye of the hook and then back through the other side of the sleeve.
    Next push the Monel wire through the back end of the sleeve all the way through to the front of the sleeve and crimp the sleeve. When you crimp the sleeve, make sure to flare both ends of the sleeve and don’t crimp the sleeve all the way to the end where it can form a sharp edge and pinch the fluorocarbon leader. This can cause the leader to be damaged and break when you are fighting the fish. By crimping the monel wire inside the sleeve it secures the monel so that it will not pull out. The Monel wire will exit the back side of the sleeve, which should place the Monel just under the eye sockets of the ballyhoo when you finish seating your hook in the ballyhoo.
    Now we can start to rig the ballyhoo. When rigging the ballyhoo, insert the point of the hook where the ballyhoo’s body body forms a “V” or point just under the throat latch area in the gills. Make sure to insert the hook point as close to the center of the “V” as you can. Thread the ballyhoo on to the hook shank and exit the hook point in the middle of the ballyhoo’s stomach. Then pull on the bend of the hook to seat the hook, with the eye of the hook ending up at the point where the hook entered the V. Make sure there is no tension where the bend of the hook exits the ballyhoo’s stomach.
    If there is tension where the bend of the hook exits, this will cause the ballyhoo to spin. If you need to, take a sharp knife and make a tiny slit just in front of where the bend of the hook exits the ballyhoo to take the tension off the bend of the hook so the hook moves freely.

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