How to rig a live bait is a really important factor to your hook up rate and success.

Catch More with Live Fish Bait

How to rig a live bait. It's good to get your live baits ready before you hit the spot to drop, you don't want to waste half the drop time mucking around to rig a live bait on your hook. So once you've identified your drift and sign on the sounder before the drift begins hook your live bait on, put it back into the live bait tank and get ready to pull it out when your skipper calls for you to drop. However, it's not essential, especially if your live baits are getting bitten faster than they run out of puff.

A nice soft bait net will make it easier too, those little live baits can be tricky to catch by hand! Hold the livebait jack mackerel, small kahawai firmly just behind the head so you can place the hook. Look for a clear patch almost white and gel looking between the eye and the nostril.


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Put the hook through the soft clear patch. With your circle hook, take care to roll the hook into a position so that the tip of the hook pierces and runs easily through from one side and out the other.

You want the livebait to be able to swim as easily and naturally as possible. Check your hook position, does the tip of your hook point towards your leader line? I hooked a pilchard near its throat, and free-lined it on a spinning rod. By briefly stopping the line to restrict its forward motion, I made the bait surge forward to cover more territory.

Catch Kingfish: How to rig a live bait – deep dropping & slow trolling

Best yet, the hook weight and placement, and tugging, forced it deeper. On the first drift that bait yielded a sailfish; it was a great start to a day that ultimately produced a few kingfish, blackfin tuna and a dolphin. This is ideal for surface live-baiting, such as when drifting offshore, around bait schools, and through inlets and passes for surface-oriented fish. They remain lively, with little risk of drowning.

Livebaiting the Seaway in 2011

This is ideal when light-tackle fishing for striped bass, snook, tarpon, sailfish, tuna, and also heavy-duty drifting over wrecks for big amberjack and grouper. An alternative to nostril hooking is to jaw-hook a bait. Run the hook under the lower jaw and out the upper jaw. Or, with a large bait, run the hook up and out the upper jaw only.

How to Rig Live Bait: 11 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow

Some anglers believe this provides a better hookup percentage with circle hooks versus a nostril rig. By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.


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Hooking in front of the dorsal fin forces a bait to swim head-down and more frantically. The swimming attitude is like a deep-diving swimming plug.

Livebaiting the Seaway – The Ultimate Edition

Throat hooking forces a bait into the depths, perfect for midlevel fish. To manipulate the bait, free-line it, and then pause the line for several seconds and continue to free-spool.

How To Rig Your Live Bait

Repeat until the bait is in place.