Killer Counterparts

Add Appeal to Rigged Ballyhoo

Capt. Mike Genoun May 14, 2016

It’s May and that means countless crews will be heading over the horizon with one goal in mind—to find and capture dolphin! It is a fact that no other pelagic predator draws as much attention from as many anglers and generates as much revenue for the saltwater angling and boating industry than this hard-fighting, great tasting and extremely acrobatic eating machine.

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Photo: doughertyphotos.com

With trolling a mainstay for the local fleet searching out green glory, blue water anglers are constantly looking for an edge and are always on the hunt for the latest and greatest offering to include in their trolling spreads. Sometimes, it all becomes too much, and the deadliest baits are often the most basic and least complicated to rig.

…if you look at things from a hungry fish’s perspective, it’s the meat and not the plastic that’s the real attraction.

When it comes to putting meat in the box, natural ballyhoo take the cake and no trolling spread is complete without at least a pair of these fishy favorites somewhere in the pattern. The problem with rigged ballyhoo is that even the freshest baits won’t last forever. Really, it isn’t a matter of if, but simply when they’ll wash out. Don’t blame the ballyhoo though. Pull any dead fish through the water fast enough, for long enough, under the hot tropical sun, and it will eventually turn to mush. Accept the fact and be sure to carry an ample supply of rigged baits for the day’s outing.

To combat the washout factor, fanatical ’phin chasers combine rigged ballyhoo with a wide variety of artificial lures. The additions help stall washout by veering destructive water away from the fragile bait while simultaneously creating a larger profile for hungry game fish to home in on. Adding an artificial lure also helps a rigged ballyhoo track below the surface without tumbling and spinning all over the place.

Often times the balance of fake vs. real becomes sketchy, to the point where you might as well just drag that big, double-skirted pink chugger and save yourself some time and effort. Furthermore, during peak season dolphin that have been pounded can be finicky and often refuse to touch anything other than the real deal. The same applies with exceptionally calm conditions when these keen-eyed game fish are more selective than ever.

Having said that, if you look at things from a hungry fish’s perspective, it’s the meat and not the plastic that’s the real attraction. To appeal to inquisitive game fish, the rigged bait should be permitted to shine through and do what it does best—attract attention and entice willing game fish to commit. Why cover up a good thing?

To achieve a clean presentation when specifically looking for dolphin, the pros have played with countless variations and keep coming back to the same conclusion. A small lure head with short skirt extending just past the fish’s gill plates provides an excellent balance of natural appeal and durability. There’s no off-the-shelf lure that does this better than the Mold Craft Little Super Chugger. This white marlin favorite has proven equally effective at enticing hungry dolphin in all size classes and has also fooled its fair share of yellowfin tuna.

The combination of rigged ballyhoo and artificial lure the way it’s being described is certainly nothing new, but rarely do local anglers take advantage of its benefits. It’s a shame, because Mold Craft produces some of the most legendary and effective trolling lures in creation, and the Little Super Chugger is no exception. With an exaggerated concave face and large eyes, the ¾ inch diameter head pushes water—and lots of it—while leaving behind an enticing smoke trail. And since the Little Super Chugger lacks an expensive resin head and flashy packaging, the soft head provides cost-conscious anglers a serious bang for the buck.

Of course, the lure is useless without its counterpart and it’s important to remember that the addition of a mini skirt will produce the best results when combined with fresh ballyhoo you brined and rigged on your own. And in case you were wondering, you can also fish these deadly duos on wire leaders when targeting toothy king mackerel and wahoo.

On top of it all, these proven combinations are extremely easy to rig and equally effective when presented on the face of a wake just about anywhere in the trolling spread, making them an ideal option for casual weekend warriors and professional crews alike.

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