Shackle Rig for Trolling

This unique, light-tackle trolling rig works well with chemically sharpened hooks.
Glen Booth

The shackle rig for skirted trolling lures was the brainchild of Australian lure maker Peter Pakula. The theory behind the concept was that a couple of pairs of razor-sharp hooks swapped between lures was easier to manage then a dozen hard-rigged hook-sets. For this rig you'll need a skirted lure, mono leader with a loop and chafe tube crimped at the hook end, two chemically sharpened hooks, anode tape, 49-strand (400-pound) cable, crimps, crimper, shackle and heat shrink. Story and photos by Glen Booth
Attach sacrificial anode tape to both hooks. Sacrificial anodes are essential with this rig, but even with the anodes on both hooks, the points won't last long. The combination of dissimilar metals with the corrosiveness of salt water and fish activity all conspire against point integrity. You will need to swap the hooks out regularly, which is where the convenience of the shackle rig comes in. You can make up a bunch of hooks tailored to each lure in your spread and have them in the tackle drawer.
Crimp the tail hook to the cable with a nice tight loop. Fine-wire hooks penetrate well, but they do have their limitations. The leader man will need to go easy until the tag is in the fish and the lure is retrieved. Then you can lean on the leader hard for a clean release.
Slide the heat shrink down over the bottom crimp and hook eye and use a heat gun or cigarette lighter to melt it into place. If you prefer, you can skip the heat shrink and leave the hook-set free swinging. Crimp another loop at the opposite end of the cable.
Use a small segment of heat shrink to hold the wire in position and attach the top hook and wire loop to the shackle. You won't be able to toothpick the leader or push the crimp into a rubber stopper to secure the hooks in place but two hook points riding at 60 to 90 degrees provides a good chance of a secure hookup.
A deadly light-tackle lure ready to do some damage. The shackle also gives the hooks greater freedom of movement in the skirts when trolled.
The hook orientation can be adjusted by twisting the cable or flipping the hook over to keep both points in line. To swap out the hooks is now a quick-and-easy process... Just open up the shackle.

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