Toothpicks vs Rubber Stoppers

Which is better for rigging big trolling lures?
KJ Robinson
There has always been a lot of debate about which is better to keep your hook-set in place when rigging trolling lures -- the rubber stopper or the toothpick. The lure on the left has a rubber stopper attached to the back of the lure head to keep the hooks locked in the chosen direction. The lure on the right is "tooth picked," meaning there are toothpicks wedged into the leader hole of the lure to hold the hook-set in place. Both setups have pros and cons.
Using toothpicks is a common way to keep the lure head and hooks in place. Start by breaking the toothpicks in half and wedge the toothpick pieces into the leader hole on the underside of the lure head. This will keep the lure from sliding up and down the leader when trolling. When a fish is hooked and zips off in the opposite direction, however, the friction of the lure racing through the water will unlodge the lure head and it will slide up the leader to the swivel and stay there. This is a huge pro since the lure is now out of the way for the wireman handling the fish next to the boat. In the rare case that your leader breaks right next to the boat, there is also a good chance you can save the lure since it has slid up the leader.
Using toothpicks can be time consuming compared to using a rubber stopper. You will have to reach for the box of toothpicks and a tool every time you set the lure out. It will take a couple of minutes before deploying the lure to make sure you have the lure head and hooks exactly how you want them so the lure will run properly. To get the lure just right, put the two pieces of toothpick into the leader hole alongside the leader in the back of the lure.
You're going to need some sort of tool to tap the toothpicks into the lure. Any tool will do, just don't knick the leader.
When the toothpicks are tight, break the excess toothpick off. The finished setup should look clean, as shown in the above right photo.
Use a crimp connection just below the toothpicks to help keep the lure in prime position for the trolling spread.
This lure was rigged using toothpicks. Notice how it slid up the leader and out of the way, allowing the deckhand to wire the blue marlin without the lure getting in his way. This is also an ideal position for the lure head should the leader break. You won't lose the lure.
Rubber stoppers are popular with a lot of fishermen because of their simplicity. With a rubber stopper you can always lock your hook-set in place and get the lure back in water quickly.
To finish off a rubber stopper rig, place the hooks where you want them and insert the crimp from the hook-set into the rubber stopper. You can finish it off with some black electrical tape.
The rubber stopper only holds the lure in place when being trolled and when a fish pulls in the opposite direction the crimp comes out of the rubber stopper and the lure moves freely up and down the leader. This can cause the lure to get in the way of a wireman's hands when leadering a fish. It also allows the lure to swing freely from a thrashing fish and potentially cause damage to the boat, the mate, the fish, or all three.
When using rubber stoppers on the back of your lure, you can still add toothpicks to the front of the lure. These extra toothpicks help keep the lure at the swivel end of the leader when a fish is hooked.

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