How to Rig a Split-Beak Ballyhoo

The split-beak trolling 'hoo provides plenty of action for your spread.
Steve Kantner
Ballyhoo rank among the world's most-popular trolling baits. Rigging methods usually fit into two basic categories: skipping or swimming. The split-beak ballyhoo rig combines elements of both methods, with the bait's bill working as a lip to help it dig in and swim.
MATERIALS: 5 feet of #7 or #9 single-strand stainless steel wire or mono leader; 6/0 or 7/0 flat-forged needle-eye hook; copper rigging wire; chin weight (optional). You'll also want to look for a ballyhoo with a wider than usual bill, but a standard bait will work as well.
Remove both eyes with the point of your knife and empty the bait's innards by running the back of your thumbnail along the bait from the gills to the anal vent.
Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the meat along the bait's back to repeatedly crack the backbone, then grab the head and tail and wiggle the ballyhoo back and forth in a series of S-curves. Finally, snip off approximately two-thirds of the ballyhoo's bill with your cutters. Split the rest of the bill in two with your knife blade.
Attach the hook to 5 feet of stainless steel wire using a haywire twist, leaving a 3/4-inch pin. At the base of the pin, twist on a piece of copper rigging wire. Form a haywire loop in the opposite end of the wire leader. Insert the hook point under one of the gill plates, while bending the bait forward to accommodate the shape of the hook. Poke the point through the center of the bait's ventral surface, before allowing the bait to relax. When your bait straightens out, it will draw the hook back, leaving nothing exposed but a short section of leader.
When using a mono or wire leader, add a short length of steel wire under the crimp when you attach the hook. Bend the wire upright at 90 degrees to make your pin.
Force the pin upwards through the ballyhoo's skull just ahead of the eye sockets, making sure that the pin is centered on the top of the ballyhoo's head. If it's not centered the bait will pull to one side or spin. Push the rigging wire through the opening and firmly pull it upwards.
Cinch the copper wire through the bait's eye sockets and around the pin, then keep wrapping around the bait's nose and beak as you work forward. This will seal the bait's mouth shut. Force your leader through the split in the ballyhoo's beak, before wrapping the rigging wire forward around the bill.
Follow the same steps when using a mono leader. You can also add a chin weight if needed to keep your bait in the water when the seas are rough.

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