GAMEFISHING TIPS - Making a Splash

The skip bait, or splash bait as it is sometimes known, might be the oldest example of a stitched gamefish rig used in Australia. It is also incredibly easy to do and best of all, it gets results

GAMEFISHING TIPS - Making a Splash
<B>GAMEFISHING TIPS</B> ? Making a Splash

The world-famous heavy-tackle Cairns black marlin fishery largely revolves around the trolling of a single swimming rig and single skipping rig. Depending on the size of the boat and number of crew, an additional skip or swim bait may also be deployed on the centre rigger.

In inshore and more southern waters, skip baits work brilliantly on smaller blacks, sailfish, striped marlin, blue marlin and sharks. Only the size of the bait and the line class utilised varying.

Any of the tuna or mackerel species, or indeed almost any other fish of a similar shape including scad, queenfish and rainbow runners make excellent skip baits, and the fish just love them.

The late Gordon Hallam, one of Cairns’ legendary deckies, once told me about a hot bite he was involved with back in the 1970s. The only rigging they had to do to get a bite was to jam a J hook up from between the gill plates of a big mullet, out the top of the head, fire it back and they were on. Those were the days!

Usually billfish are more discerning but the skip bait principle of a high tow point via an outrigger to create plenty of splashes with a generous amount of drop-back remains constant.

Neat, small holes and not too many of them are the key to long-life baits.

With any bait-rigging process, it’s better to have too much string than too little, and have to pick a bait apart and start again — unless the niggardly skipper in his overhead eyrie doesn’t notice your waxed thread and Dacron stocks are down to half, and it’s only two weeks into a three-month season!

1. Tools required are 37 or 60 kilo Dacron depending on the size of the bait, waxed thread, a light and heavy-duty bait needle, and a vegetable knife. The tuna should be gilled and gutted, without breaking the throat latch — otherwise it’s only fit for snapper bait.

2. With a generous length of waxed thread, go in through the bottom of the eye sockets and tie off underneath with a double overhand knot, keeping both strands the same length. With the larger bait needle, go in through the gristly area at the pec’ fin and out the other side. Reverse the needle, go back the other way with the other length of waxed thread and tie off just forward of the pelvic fins. Trim the tag ends.

3. Using the smaller bait needle (neat, small holes remember?), and another length of waxed thread, go in under the pelvic fins out the other side, then start stitching down the gut towards the tail in a diagonal pattern.

4. Stop short of the end of the slit (to let the water drain out as it’s trolled), then come back up the other way and tie off with an overhand knot over the top of the pelvic fins.

5. With a length of Dacron threaded into the big needle, go in through the top of the eye sockets and tie off across the head with a double overhand knot, ensuring both tags are about the same length. Position the knot dead centre and push the needle down through the skull from behind the knot, coming out between the gill plates.

6. Make a small incision in the nose of the bait, bring the two ends forward and start to tie a double overhand knot. When the first stage is completed, position it in the incision and pull tight.

7. Complete the knot and we have our nose-first tow point.

8. Tie a loop with the two tags using a figure eight knot, rolling hitch it onto a circle hook and the rig is good to fish.

From Boothy’s Bag column Trade-a-Boat Issue 432, Oct-Nov 2012. Photos by Glen Booth; Getty Images.


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