Offshore fishing is ridiculously expensive, especially here in Charleston where the fuel bill to fish blue water can range from a hundred bucks for center consoles to a grand or more for the big sportfishers. With all the time and money invested in a trip, who can tolerate “iffy” baits?
I've been lucky enough to fish with some of Charleston's best offshore captains, and they all seem to have slightly different methods of rigging ballyhoo. Some use wire leader, others use monofilament. Some use both. To secure the ballyhoo's beak to the rig and prevent it from washing out, some use rubber bands, some use spring devices, and many swear by the old copper wire technique.
The only thing all captains seem to have in common is an unfailing belief that their way is the right way.
Who can blame them for being sticklers? Nothing will eat at you out there like the nagging suspicion that your baits aren't running right.
For novice anglers looking for an easy place to start, here's an easy way to rig a “naked” ballyhoo — one without a lure or skirt — that will skip and swim along when trolled between 5 and 7 knots. The bait was prepared by Scott Hammond of Haddrell's Tackle and Supply in West Ashley.
As with most ballyhoo rigs, begin by defrosting and preparing the ballyhoo. Most anglers remove the eyes and squeeze out any feces, working from the front back.
Photograph and graphic by Matt Winter, rigging by Scott Hammond. Reach Matt Winter, Tideline magazine editor, at 843-937-5568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.