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Rigging Your Bait

Seven Easy Steps to proper bait preparation
1. Cleaning the Herring


All of our herring are expertly cut and brined for our guests. Before handling the bait make sure your hands are wet, this will help to keep the scales in place. When handling the bait, be gentle, insuring you keep its shape and pristine shine. A roughly handled bait will not spin well and is less attractive to the salmon!


Remove the entrails by inserting the bait knife into the cavity; spin the knife several times inside the cavity and remove the entrails. Be sure to get everything out as you do not want entrails trailing the bait.

2. Venting the Herring


Venting the bait allows water to pass through the bait and reduces water drag and resistance, creating a tighter spin while helping to prevent the belly from ripping out of the bait. Simply cut the anal vent larger from the inside to the outside of the cavity by gently pushing the bait knife’s tip out through the anal vent, creating about a ½” incision.

3. Rigging Your Bait


Every guide seems to have their preferred method of rigging herring. There is no single best method; but all of the methods strive to achieve the same result – a tight roll or spin on the herring, under varying speeds, with optimum hook coverage on the bait. Your method should be something you can repeat consistently and quickly. The following is a method I have used for years; it’s both easy and provides the desired roll on the bait while achieving consistent hook-ups.

4. Hook Placement


The angle of the cut, plus the positioning of the tow hook controls the tightness and speed of the roll. The positions between 11 and 1 O’clock, closest to the spine, will give you the tightest, fastest rolls.


If you look at your herring straight on, with the body cavity opening facing you, you’ll see the herring’s spine at the top of the cavity (12 o’clock position). when rigging your herring, make sure your tow hook always goes through the spine. This is the toughest part of the bait and will help keep your hook from tearing out of your bait.


The closer your hook is to the 12 o’clock position the tighter your herring will roll. Placing your hook towards the 3 o’clock position will create slower, wider rolls. You can go from the left or the right side, but go through the spine.


Start your hook inside the body cavity, going up through the spine at the 11:45 position and out at the 12:15 position. The point of the hook should poke through the top of the herring and be pointing forward. The hook should be 1/4″ to 3/8″ deep into the herring. If the tow hook is placed too deeply into the herring it will create a hinge point, and your bait will not spin properly.

5. Trailing Hook


Take the trailing hook (bottom hook) and carefully reach into the cavity and work the hook out the side of the bait on the lateral line – pull the hook all the way through the bait while being careful not to tear the bait. This hides the line inside the herring’s body cavity.

6. Check Your Roll


With your herring rigged and ready to fish, put the boat into gear and obtain your approximate mooching speed. Put your bait in the water (always check to insure your gear in not fowled) and check to insure you have a tight roll on the bait. If the bait looks good, put out the desired amount of pulls and start fishing. If the bait does not have a tight roll, try giving the bait a quick jerk through the water. This sets the tow hook and often corrects the problem.

7. Tuning the Bait


A bait that is not spinning on the first attempt can be tuned to spin properly. To tune the bait simply change the clock position of the front tow hook, or switch from the long side to the short side of the bait-fish. Often this slight change will have the bait spinning tightly. Remember not to get too deep into the herring with the tow hook, as this will prevent the herring from spinning properly.

Helpful Downloads:

We suggest printing these off these two documents and bringing them with you. You'll find them useful when you are out on the water:

Legacy Lodge Rules for Successful Salmon Fishing

Legacy Lodge Pulls - Depth Chart for Successful Mooching


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