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Insure proper hookups with bridled baits

By Staff | Aug 6, 2020

Most know that the use of circle hooks helps decrease the odds of gut hooking a fish and when the circle finds that sweet spot in the jaw, the fish rarely escapes.

Getting maximum efficiency from your circle or any hook means exposing as much of the hook and hook point as possible. A hook buried too deeply in a chunk of catfish tail lying on the bottom or in a live mullet might get inhaled by a tarpon or jumbo snook, but not find a hold in the fish’s jaw. As the bait is inhaled and turned in the fish’s mouth, occasionally the hook point will foul in the bait fish’s flesh, ruining the hook-up.

One sure way to increase your odds of getting a solid hookup with any hook, especially a circle hook, with larger live or dead baits, is to learn how to bridle the bait. Bridled baits have the hook fully exposed and held fast to the outside of the chosen bait with rigging wire, waxed thread or simply a twisted rubber band.

This not only greatly increases your odds of getting a great hook-set, but allows live baits to swim more naturally and last much longer on the hook.

I’ve found the simplest method to be the rubber band bridle. Small rubber bands designed for dental braces and a mortician’s or bridling/rigging needle is all that’s required.

Hold the circle hook and hang a rubber band from it, then attach the hook end of the rigging needle to the end or bottom of the band. Take the pointy end and run it through the bait pulling the rubber band with it till the hook is stopped by the bait’s flesh.

Un-hook the needle from the band and set it aside. Pass the band’s open loop back over the fully exposed hook now capturing the bait from both sides with the band.

Simply twist the hook 3 – 4 times which of course twists the band. To lock the hook in place so it won’t simply unwind, take the point of the hook and slide it under the column of twists.

Now the whole hook is fully exposed and pulled tightly to the bait and ready to cast.

When your offering is finally inhaled, the exposed hook easily pulls free from the bait greatly increasing the odds of a good hook-set.

This whole process should only take about a minute once understood. YOU TUBE has plenty of film clips explaining this technique.

Where you pass the wire or rubber bands through a live bait’s body depends on the species. For example; to throw a google eye for sailfish or king mackerel, passing the needle under the dorsal fin is a good method which seats the hook proudly on top of the fish. Other large baits that are casted or trolled will be secured through the nostrils or eye sockets area with the fully exposed hook right in front of their mouths pulling them along.

Bridling can be used with most any bait swimming live or dead and a time tested method definitely worth adding to your bag of angling tricks.

Make sure you take the binoculars when on harbor patrol for summer tarpon. With them you’ll hopefully find early rollers, backs gleaming in the early morning sun or hopefully at least be able to spot working birds crashing schools of bait, which is where you need to be.

Once spotted get there quickly but come into the area softly or you will probably blow out the tarpon or break up the bait schools. Shut down 75 yards away and use the electric or wind drift to the action.

Quietly use the electric to work the school edges, pulling a bridled bait or two behind the boat while the rest of the crew casts swimbaits and jigs from the front deck or casts fresh netted baitfish into the action.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.