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NO-FAIL LIVE BAIT RIG FOR KINGS

Posted 8/7/2012

A Top SKA® Pro Shows How It’s Made

Traditional two-hook kingfish rigs for fishing with live baitfish like blue runners, menhaden and mullet are typically crafted from single-strand stainless steel wire that can kink and break, usually at the most inopportune time. These rigs are also responsible for a fair share of missed hook-ups by tail biting kings, yet many pros, and most weekend warriors, continue to use them. At the SKA® Nationals in Biloxi, Miss., we got some advice from an innovative Yamaha Pro captain who doesn’t take problems like this lying down. 

At the age of 74, Stan “Stanman” Jarusinski has been fishing in Southern Kingfish Association® tournaments, including the Yamaha Professional Kingfish Tour, since 1998, and still competes in a full spate of events each year. It’s a schedule that would tax many anglers half his age, but Stan is not your typical 74-year-old. He won the Class of 23 National Championship in 2005, and is always in the hunt for first place wherever he is chasing king mackerel in a competitive setting. He is also one of the nicest gentlemen on the circuit, always willing to help out a fellow angler or even a competitor. 

“I’ve lost my share of big kings using standard stainless steel, single-strand wire rigs that kinked and broke during a fight, and that bothered me,” said Jarusinski. “And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the commonly used method of attaching a free-swinging stinger hook had caused a lot of missed hook-ups, too. If you fish for kings, you know how frequently a baitfish gets chopped clean in half without hooking up, even though you “thought” there was a stinger hook in the tail. So I started experimenting with new materials to alleviate the wire breakage and develop a method of attaching the stinger hook to see if I could come up with a rig that addressed these problems.” 

“One of my sponsors is AFW, a fishing wire company, and they were interested in helping me out with samples of some of the latest wire products they offered,” he continued. “As a result, I’ve come up with a new rig that has dramatically increased the number of hook ups while reducing the number of break offs to near zero. I call it a Titanium Double-Hook Stiff Rig.” 

Stan replaced the stainless steel wire with AFW’s new titanium wire, which can be tied using a special knot for making connections. Titanium won’t kink and returns to its straight shape even after being bent, which means these rigs also last a long time. 

“Stainless steel rigs are good for one fish, sometimes just one bite.  But these new titanium rigs last a long time, which makes them cost effective even with the higher initial cost of the titanium wire,” Jarusinski said. 

He also incorporated a simple but unique method of attaching the stinger hook so it sticks out rigidly off the end of the wire, hence the “stiff” designation in the rig’s name. 

“On the old stainless rigs, the stinger hook was attached with a haywire twist that allowed the hook to swing inside a closed loop,” he continued.  “One of the points of the treble hook would then be placed crossways in the back of the baitfish towards the tail, and it would frequently come out while the baitfish was swimming. When the stinger hook is just hanging free, it’s easy for a speedy king to bite off the bait’s tail, but miss the hook.” 

Titanium Double Hook Stiff Rig

The Stiff Rig, shown above, is made using 30-pound test AFW Titanium Toothproof wire, copper rigging wire, a Gamakatsu® 1/0 ringed single hook, a size 6 4X-Strong treble hook and a SPRO® #10 Power Swivel. The rig is used by inserting the single hook through the nostrils of the baitfish, and then inserting two points of the treble hook in its tail facing forward toward the head, so only one point is exposed. The leader between the nose hook and stinger hook is determined by the approximate length of the baitfish, with a little extra so it is not so tight as to impede the bait’s ability to swim. Here’s a quick step-by-step. 

The Titanium Double Hook Stiff Rig is easy to make and use and deadly on toothy gamefish.

Step 1: Cut a length of titanium wire for the leader 

Jarusinski prefers a long leader, some anglers prefer a shorter leader. Tie it to the barrel swivel using a Figure 8 knot, and tie the other end to the ring of the nose hook using the same knot. Cut a second length of titanium wire to run from the nose hook to the stinger. Tie one end to the ring in the nose hook facing back with another Figure 8, and then use a short length of copper rigging wire to secure the titanium wire to the shank of the hook (see below).

Step 2: The stiff stinger hook is attached using a McLean knot 

Start by passing the wire through the eye, running it around the back of the hook and forward again exiting the eye in the opposite direction it came in through. The knot is finished with a Figure 8 that is pulled tight holding the hook with a pair of pliers. When cinched up, the loop of wire around the back of the hook makes it extend straight out from the end of the leader.  

 

You can add skirts to the rig, if that is your preference, or fish the baitfish naked. The rig is a vast improvement over stainless steel wire rigs for slow trolling single baitfish off flat lines, outriggers and downriggers. It’s fast becoming the go-to rig for people who target toothy critters with live bait, and has proven itself in tournament competition. If kingfish are on your menu of favorite gamefish, you should definitely give it a try.