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How-To: Rigging For Wahoo

Green Leadin

    Over the last 20 years I have had the pleasure of selling big game tackle to some of the best fishermen and crews from around the world. My team and I learned a lot about what works where, when, and why, as well as what the best fishermen rely on to put the meat in the box.
    The way lures are rigged for a successful wahoo trip really strays from the norm and I think it is not well understood. I’m going to break it down and pass on a bit of what I have learned about wahoo trolling lures. The wahoo rigs may be similar to standard trolling lures but they are usually modified from what you would normally see. Once you know how to build one, you’ll know how to repair one, and if you are successful at catching wahoo, you will need to know how to fix your favorite lure that just got chopped in half in one quick bite.
    A wahoo rig is either a single- or double-hook rig on 49-strand stainless cable. Double-hook rigs are in line with the hook ends lined up, not opposing like you would normally see.
    The hooks are lined up, or zero degree. These lures may be trolled at speeds up to 20 knots and the double in-line hook rig does a really good job of keeping the lure running straight and keeping the fish on. You can also use a single hook, although most crews prefer the double rig. There is a lot of drag on the fish after the hook-up and boats often hold speed for multiple hook-ups, so you want to make sure the fish stays on. Both rigs are made with 700-pound cable and thick wall shrink tube, but even at that, they usually only stay together for a fish or two. We use heavy wall adhesive shrink tube to make the rigs but you should keep electric tape on the boat to make a quick fix.
    The leader connected to the hook rig also is 49-strand cable but varies from 400- to 900-pound depending on speed and the size of the lures. Generally, we use lighter 400-pound leader when trolling at the lower end of the speed range, 7 to 10 knots, or for smaller 7- to 9-inch lures. I can say with confidence that wahoo tend not to act leader shy at high speeds but no matter the pound-test, we only make the leader about 3 to 4 feet long overall.
    Hook size is 9/0, 10/0, or 11/0 and we prefer Mustad 7691S or 7732 stainless hooks. It is important to keep extra rigs with cable leaders ready on board and even better to have extra skirts loaded on the rigs, cut to the proper length. Once a fish is landed, just unclip the rig and put the fish in the box, hook, leader and all. If you really want to use the same lure again, cut the top of the leader and slide it off, grab one of your extra hook rig/skirt combos and quickly crimp a loop. Now the lure is back in action and you don’t have to try and remove the hooks from the fish you just caught.
    Lure styles vary but hands down the most popular style wahoo lure is a bullet. These lures can be jetted but do not have to be. Next are plugs like YoZuri Bonita and Braid Marauder. These plugs are simple to use, can be trolled anywhere in the spread, and are proven to catch. Cupped head lures are next in popularity, but not short and fat like a chugger, more like a bullet that has been chopped at the tip and cupped or left flat. Specialty lures like cow bells are among the most popular in the “other“ class of lures. Cow bells are really heavy so they can be run alone or with lead, and they have a metal band around the head that rattles while you troll. They are unique and certainly have their days.


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