Rigging the Circle-Hook Chugger 'Hoo

How to rig a quick-change trolling ballyhoo behind a chugger.
Steve Kantner
The all-time most-popular trolling bait just might be the ballyhoo, which can be rigged a number of ways with a circle hook -- including behind a chugger. To get started you'll need a ballyhoo, circle hook, O-rings, copper rigging wire, rigging needle and your choice of chugger head.
Start out by limbering up your ballyhoo. Flex the bait forcibly into a series of S-curves. You'll need both hands, but don't overdo it. Baits with torn skins tend to wash out more quickly.
Remove the bait's eyes with the point of your knife -- this helps it to swim better -- before turning it over and enlarging the vent with your knife point.
Evacuate the ballyhoo's gut by pushing against its abdomen with your thumb or forefinger. Now shorten the bill with a knife or scissors. You're ready at this point for some actual rigging.
Begin by attaching your O-ring to a piece of copper rigging wire. I suggest using a simple Haywire Twist. Position your wired O-ring slightly forward of the ballyhoo's bill.
Hold the twisted end of the wire in place and pull back the opposite end beneath the bait's beak and throat, then behind a gill plate.
Pull the wire across the bait's back and cinch it behind the opposite gill plate.
Run the wire through both eye sockets at least two or three times. Keep the wire tight by pulling it downwards as you wrap.
While holding the bait's mouth shut, wrap the wire forward evenly all the way to the tip of the bill.
Hook the O-ring with the end of your rigging needle and slide your chugger head down over the other end of the needle. Pull the O-ring through the end of the chugger.
Finish by simply sliding your hook through the O-ring. Changing baits has now become a snap, and you can prep and keep extras on ice with the O-rings already rigged up.

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