Baiting Up (1993)

I learnt early on that five minutes with a bait in the water is more likely to catch a fish
than five minutes spent with a bait out of the water trying to turn it into a masterpiece. 
There are all sorts of ways to waste a lot of time fluffing about with a bait.

Bits of the bait can be tickled up, poked, pinched, cut or broken off; barbs and points can
be aimed all over the show and I've seen sewing on some pilchards so good they'd have
the local craft fair agog with workmanship.  But at the end of it all, as long as the bait
works and catches fish. Who cares if it looks like a silk purse or a sow's ear! The fish
don't. Although the way I use pillies as a bait on a fixed two hook rig, looks basic and not
particularly flash, it works.

It is simple and has proven itself a quick and easy method to use in rough water and
poor light. Something I seem to spend a fair bit of time in. Hook sizes and leaders will
always be a personal choice. For me the Black Magic 6 to 8-0 and Jinkai trace
combination has stood up to all sorts of abuse, not the least being the test of time.
On the water the test of time is one of the few tests that count.

Despite all the hoo-ha about pillies not lasting and being unable to be refrozen, we regularly refreeze them, sometimes three or four times. In fact aged pillies rigged in a bunch would be one of my
"favourites". Whether I rig them singularly or in a bunch it's all done the same way. 
Rigging a bunch of pilchards the first pillie has the bottom hook of the two hook rig
passed through the eye cavity. The second and third pillies are then also added to this
bottom hook by passing the bottom hook point through their eye cavities.  At the end of
the first step you should have two or three pillies threaded onto the bottom hook by way
of their eye cavities. The nylon between the first and second hooks, approximately four
or five inches, is then wrapped around all three pillies until they make a bundle.

The top or second hook is then placed roughly around and through the gut cavity of the
three pillies. If you can only get it through one or two don't worry that will do. Although
plenty of books will say the point and barb of the hook must be clear of the bait and
showing. I've caught plenty of fish on soft baits without bothering to check if the hooks
are in or out. With your two fixed hooks in the pillies, finally take a half hitch around all
three pillie tails drop any weight on top of it all and you are in business.

There is no limit to the number of pillies that can be used this way. Five or six aged
pillies, ones that begin to fall apart on the ride to the bottom have proved themselves on
big snapper over and over again. You can rig pillies anyway you like complex or simply.
But at the end of the day. the law of averages will always favour the person who spends
more time with his or her bait in the water.

October 1993 - Terry Beale
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited