Guatemala Circle Hook Rig

This ballyhoo rig was the first one to use a circle hook effectively.
Charlie Levine
Crews in Guatemala were the first ones to embrace the circle hook and ditch the J hooks. They grew tired of gut-hooking fish, and created a simple swimming ballyhoo rig that positions the hook on the head of the bait. On a recent trip to Pacific Fins Resort and Marina the mates showed us how to rig a ballyhoo Guatemala style. <strong>Photos by Charlie Levine.
You don't need much for this rig. A foot-long piece of rigging floss and a 1-ounce egg sinker to use as a chin weight will get the job done.
Run the floss through the chin weight and back into the weight to create a loop. Place the loop over the head of the bait and pull it snugly under the bait's gills.
Slide the chin weight into place under the bait's chin, in between the gill plates.
Secure the knot in place with an overhand knot and a half-hitch, pulling the knot tight to the top of the bait, above the mouth.
Run one tag end through each side of the bait's eye socket and pull tight.
Secure the tag ends with a half-hitch knot pulled snugly just behind the chin weight.
Trim the remaining floss.
The finished rig should have an X on top of the bait, just in front of its eyes. This X will act as the pulling point for the bait. Slide a 7/0 to 9/0 circle hook just under the X and you're ready to fish. For more information on targeting sailfish in Guatemala, visit

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