Spanish Mackerel O-Ring Rig

Rig this Spanish mackerel O-ring pitch bait on a circle hook and hang on.
Tony DiGiluian
The Spanish mackerel pitch bait is a favorite when bait-and-switching for marlin. By rigging the bait with an O-ring, you can keep the bait on ice and quickly slip the bait onto a pre-rigged leader with a circle hook once a billfish pops up in the spread. FishTrack pro Tony DiGiulian shows you how to get it done. Photos by Charlie Levine
Materials needed include a Spanish mackerel with its innards and gills removed, 70-pound rigging floss, a 10/0 circle hook, crimps, rigging needle, rubber O-ring and a 150- to 400-pound mono or fluorocarbon leader.
Make sure to remove or file down the teeth on the Spanish mackerel. This helps you sew the upper and lower jaw tightly together.
Double-up the rigging floss to create a loop and run it through the O-ring. Secure the O-ring onto one side of the loop and run the two legs of floss through the eye of the rigging needle.
Run the floss through the bottom jaw of the Spanish mackerel with the needle. Pull the floss all the way through until the O-ring sits right in front of the bait's jaws.
Place the O-ring in the center of the bait's mouth. The hook will run through the O-ring to create the pulling point. You want the O-ring as close to dead center as possible so the bait does not spin in the water.
Cut a 2-foot section of floss and run it up through the bottom jaw and out in front of the bait's eye.
Repeat the previous step on the opposite side of the mouth and secure.
Make sure the O-ring has not moved from where you want it and secure the jaws shut with a half-hitch followed by a double overhand knot.
Before stitching up the bait, remove the pec fins with a pair of shears.
Insert the rigging floss through the bait's eye socket. Pull the floss over the bait's head and begin stitching up the bait, heading toward the tail.
You want the top stitches to run from just below the bait's spots up and over the top of the bait. The stitches are key to keeping the bait tough so you can use it throughout the day if you don't get bit on the first drop-back.
Make three stitches. Use the tag end on the opposite side of the bait to stitch up the other side of the bait which will create X marks with the floss. Use the same entry / exit holes as you stitch toward the tail, and tie the floss on the top of the bait. To tie the floss use a half-hitch followed by a double overhand knot.
To sew the belly cavity shut, run the floss through the bait's eyes, but this time wrap it around the bottom of the bait and begin your stitches toward the tail.
Make four to six stitches on one side, depending on the size of the bait. Then stitch up the opposite side of the bait by running the floss back toward the head, using the same entry / exit holes to create X marks.
Secure the floss under the eyes using a half-hitch followed by a double overhand knot.
Make sure you pull the floss nice and tight before you tie it off.
It's a good idea to make one final wrap of the mouth to secure the O-ring in place.
Slip your hook through the O-ring and the bait is ready for deployment. When you have a marlin in the spread, drop the pitch bait over the side of the boat (don't drop it off the stern into the prop wash) and free-spool the bait into position. Watch your bait with your thumb on the spool and get ready for a hot bite!

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