This article first appeared in the 'Tips & Techniques' section of the November '97 issue of Marlin Magazine and is reprinted here with permission. Be sure to check out www.marlinmag.com for other outstanding sportfishing articles!
Chuck Richardson likes working the cockpit better than running the helm. In fact, he sold his own boat several years ago and now focuses on rigging ballyhoo baits on his buddy's offshore boats -- and he's much in demand. Not only is he good at making a ballyhoo come "alive," he's also developed an innovative double-hook rig that grabs short-striking tuna, dolphin and billfish, and the rig stands up to toothy critters like wahoo and kingfish. His rig has proven itself from Boynton Beach, Florida, to the Northeast canyons.
The heart of Richardson's system is a length of 133-strand stainless cable that is so flexible that the swimming ability of a finely rigged bait is not diminished. Unlike stiff 49-strand cable, the 133 cable is nearly as supple as mono. At 270-pound test, it's strong and durable to handle most blue-water game fish. The only downside is the need for a special electric cutter to cut the cable into workable lengths to be used in ballyhoo rigs. Fortunately, Richardson markets his rigs, so anyone can take advantage of his innovative system.
The rig consists of about 10 inches of cable with an eye loop crimped at each end. The head end has a stainless barrel swivel, which connects to the snap at the end of the angler's leader. A small piece of surgical tube, an uncrimped sleeve and a length of copper rigging wire complete the rig. The swimming bally rig has a 1/2-ounce lead in place on the leader.
Ballyhoo are prepared in the usual way -- clean the belly, pop the eyes, pinch the backbone, lightly coat with kosher salt and place in a chilled cooler.