Continuing with our springtime light-tackle billfish theme, this issue I thought it timely to look at how to rig a skipping garfish. It’s nice and quick to do and super effective

BOOTHY’S BAG 431 — Skipping Gars

While ostensibly a billfish rig, a skipping gar is also deadly on yellowtail kingfish, yellowfin, albacore and southern bluefin tuna. When these species become obsessed with oceanic sauries during the autumn and winter months, this may also be the only way of getting a bite. And if you can score some sauries (Asian food shops sometimes sell them frozen), then so much the better, as the same rig works just as well.

As the name suggests, a skipping gar is designed to skip and splash across the surface rather than swim beneath it, the white water created being used to draw in a predatory fish.

While it does look a little out of place, the idea behind the pink squid is to make the gar easier to see, a little more streamlined, and as an added incentive to an attacking billfish (or one of his schoolmates) to come back for a second bite if it snaps the body off behind the head.

Top photo: The magficent sailfish are a hearding animal when hunting, teaming to corral a school of fish with the extended sails, which illuminate neon sign.

1. Skipping gar rigs can be made in advance to save time, which may become crucial during a hot bite.
* 40 to 70 kilo leader
* Crimps to suit
* Crimping pliers
* Black Pete bait spring
* Chem’ sharp Gamakatsu SL12S hook of a size to match the bait
* Short piece of #022 single strand wire, bent at 90 degrees
* Pink squid

2.Brush off any loose scales, and then run a thumb down the gut to squeeze out the stomach contents.

3.Working towards the tail, gently pinch the flesh between the thumb and index finger to loosen it. Be careful not to split the skin as the bait will otherwise ‘wash out’ quite quickly when trolled. Flex the bait in both directions, but be mindful not to break the backbone.

4.Leader length depends on the target species and location, but for light-tackle billfishing in conjunction with a wind-on leader, rig the bait on a metre of leader. Baits rigged on shorter leaders also store better in the bait cooler. Crimp a loop in the leader, slide on the squid and the bait spring, then crimp the hook on; tucking that short piece of wire into the front of the crimp before squeezing it fully shut. The wire needs to be vertical to accommodate the bait spring.

5. Measure the rig against the bait, noting where the wire tag sits in relation to the upper and lower jaws and where the hook will exit the belly.

6. Slide the hook point in under the gill plate and work it down into the belly, ensuring that it comes out well centred.

7. Push the sprag of wire up through the lower and upper jaws, keeping it well centred. Tuck they eye of the hook and the crimp in-between the gill plates.

8. Twist the bait spring onto the wire to lock it into position. Trim the wire short if necessary.

9. Remove the bill, slide the pink squid down over the bait spring and the bait’s nose, and it’s ready to go catch a fish. (If mackerel or wahoo are snipping the bait off behind the hook, a stinger hook rigged on a length of light single strand wire will soon sort them out.)

From Boothy's Bag, Trade-a-Boat magazine Issue 431, Sept-Oct 2012. Story: Glen Booth. Photos: Glen Booth; Getty Images.


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