Ballyhoo - Bait Rigging Aussie Garfish

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Instructor: Chris Rushford

Ballyhoo is the standard bait for offshore fishing, suitable for various fish such as sailfish, marlin, swordfish, dolphin, wahoo, and dredge. Australian fisherman Chris Rushford shares a step-by-step rigging video for sailfish, including wax thread, hooks, crimps, pliers, compact skirts, and rigging needle. He also demonstrates making a snub leader and securing the hook. The video is concise and informative, making it a valuable resource for those interested in offshore fishing.

Description / Review / Instructor


  • Ballyhoo Overview: Ballyhoo, also known as garfish in Australia, is a vital bait for those who fish for sailfish, white marlin, striped marlin, and other marlins.
  • Importance: It's a natural food source for these species and knowing how to rig it is essential.
  • Chris Rushford: A well-versed fisherman from Western Australia proficient in various fishing techniques, baits, and lures.
  • Rigging Guide: Chris provides a quick guide on rigging ballyhoo, starting with bait preservation and emphasizing the importance of quality baits.
  • Components: Key components for rigging include wax thread, hooks, snub leader, and others.
  • Stitching a Harness: Chris demonstrates how to effectively stitch a harness to the ballyhoo.
  • Final Steps: Details on attaching the skirt, trimming the bill, and making the connection for the hook to the bait.

Ballyhoo as Staple Bait for Game Fishing

For fishing enthusiasts targeting majestic species like sailfish, white marlin, striped marlin, and the formidable black and blue marlin, ballyhoo plays an indispensable role as bait. Known as garfish in Australian waters, this bait fish is an essential item on any gamefish boat. These marlin species, along with sailfish, have a natural predilection for ballyhoo, making it an irresistible lure.

Mastering the art of rigging ballyhoo is more than just a skill; it's a crucial aspect of offshore fishing. Rigging ballyhoo effectively ensures that the bait mimics the natural movement of the fish, increasing the likelihood of attracting these prized gamefish. This technique involves proper hook placement and securing the bait to make it both durable and enticing.

Understanding the behavior and preferences of these gamefish species is also key. Each species may respond differently to various rigging techniques, so knowing which method works best for a particular fish can greatly enhance the fishing experience. For instance, the way you might rig ballyhoo for sailfish, which often feeds near the surface, might differ from the method used for marlin, which can pursue bait at different depths.

Moreover, seasoned anglers often customize their rigging techniques, experimenting with different hooks, leader lengths, and even adding artificial elements like skirts to enhance the bait's attractiveness. This customization is part of what makes offshore fishing both a science and an art.

In essence, ballyhoo is not just bait; it represents a fundamental component of offshore game fishing. From choosing the right ballyhoo to mastering various rigging techniques, every step is pivotal in the pursuit of these magnificent marine predators. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a budding enthusiast, investing time in learning and perfecting these skills is essential for successful offshore fishing adventures.

Chris Rushford Rigging Technique

Chris Rushford, associated with Reel Teaser Fishing Adventures in Western Australia, epitomizes the ideal fishing guide or mate. His expertise spans a diverse array of game fish, making him an invaluable asset on any fishing trip. Chris is renowned for his skill in targeting big game species such as marlin, giant trevally, tuna, and wahoo, as well as sailfish, barramundi, and snapper. This wide range showcases his adaptability and deep understanding of different fishing environments and techniques.

What sets Chris apart is his profound knowledge of fishing gear and methodologies. He is adept in handling various tackle, understanding the nuances of terminal connections, and employing effective techniques tailored to each species. His mastery of rigs is evident in his ability to set up equipment that maximizes the chances of a successful catch, regardless of the target species.

Moreover, Chris's expertise extends to baits and lures. He knows precisely which bait or lure works best for each fish, considering factors like the time of day, water conditions, and the specific habits of the target species. This level of detail in his approach is what makes him 'fishyAF' – a term often used in the angling community to describe someone who has an almost intuitive understanding of fishing.

Chris's ability to blend this extensive knowledge with practical skills on the water makes him an exceptional guide. Whether it's teaching novices the basics or helping experienced anglers refine their techniques, his guidance enhances the fishing experience for everyone aboard. With Chris as a mate or guide, anglers can expect not just an enjoyable fishing trip, but also an educational experience, learning from one of the best in the field.

Rigging Ballyhoo Video

In the concise yet informative In The Spread bait rigging video, Chris Rushford demonstrates the essential skills for rigging skipping garfish or ballyhoo, specifically for targeting sailfish. This technique, hailed for its simplicity and effectiveness, is a must-know for any angler aspiring to excel in sailfish fishing.

Chris begins the tutorial by underscoring the significance of bait preservation, highlighting how quickly ballyhoo can deteriorate if not handled correctly. This initial step is crucial, as the quality of the bait directly influences its attractiveness to sailfish.

He then methodically breaks down each component of the rigging process. Chris shares insights into the specific materials and tools he uses, ensuring viewers understand the importance of each item in achieving the desired outcome.

Attention is given to the art of stitching the bait, a critical step in rigging. Chris's technique ensures that the bait maintains its natural appearance while being durable enough to withstand the rigors of skipping across the water.

Furthermore, he delves into the intricacies of crafting the snub leader, a component vital for the rig's stability and effectiveness. Chris's methodical approach in this aspect ensures that the rig has the right balance and strength.

Finally, he demonstrates his unique method for attaching the hook to the bait, a step that significantly influences the bait's movement in the water and, consequently, its ability to attract sailfish.

Throughout the video, Chris's expertise shines through, making complex techniques accessible even to novice anglers. His clear, step-by-step guidance not only teaches the mechanics of rigging but also imparts the underlying principles that make this method successful for sailfish fishing.

Cooler full of Ballyhoo Fish - rigged for billfish

Components for Rigging

The components Chris uses in rigging a garfish include :

  • wax thread
  • hooks
  • snub leader
  • crimps
  • crimping pliers
  • compact skirts
  • rigging needle
With practice, this process should take less than two minutes

Stitching a Harness

In his instructional segment, Chris will showcase the ease and precision involved in stitching a harness onto ballyhoo for securely attaching the hook. This process is crucial for ensuring that the bait swims naturally in the water, a key factor in attracting sailfish.

Chris's demonstration will focus on the exact locations and techniques for making incisions with the thread. He will guide viewers through each step, showing where to insert and exit the needle to create a sturdy harness that holds the hook in place while maintaining the bait's integrity.

A critical part of this process, which Chris emphasizes, is sewing the gill plates of the ballyhoo closed. He will instruct on how to do this delicately to avoid puncturing or cracking the gill plates, which could compromise the bait's appearance and swimming action. This attention to detail is essential in ensuring the bait remains intact and effective throughout the fishing session.

The overarching objective of this rigging technique, as Chris will explain, is to establish a central tow point for the hook. This tow point is key to making the bait swim correctly—without spinning or tumbling in the water, which can deter sailfish. By following Chris's method, anglers can expect their rigged ballyhoo to move through the water in a lifelike manner, significantly increasing the chances of a successful catch.

Final Steps

In the continuation of the ballyhoo rigging tutorial, Chris Rushford demonstrates the final steps to perfect the bait setup. After the ballyhoo is meticulously stitched, he guides viewers through attaching the skirt, an addition that enhances the bait's visual appeal and mimics the movement of a live fish.

Chris will also show how to expertly trim the bill of the ballyhoo. This step is crucial as it not only affects the bait's swimming action but also ensures the rig's overall balance and effectiveness. The precision in trimming the bill is what differentiates a well-rigged bait from a mediocre one.

The final step involves creating the connection for tying the hook to the bait. This part of the process is vital as it determines how securely the hook is held and its positioning, which directly impacts the bait's movement in the water and its ability to hook the fish.

Chris's approach in this tutorial is straightforward and easy to follow, making the art of ballyhoo rigging accessible even to those new to the practice. His clear instructions and practical tips reflect his expertise and make the rigging process seem effortless. This video is not just a demonstration of skill but an opportunity to learn from a seasoned fisherman, offering viewers the chance to enhance their own fishing techniques significantly.

Who is Chris Rushford?

Chris Rushford hails from Reel Teaser Fishing Adventures in Western Australia. He is adept at fishing for a wide variety of species, such as marlin, tuna, sailfish, and barramundi. He possesses deep knowledge about fishing tackle, techniques, baits, and lures.

Why is rigging ballyhoo important?

Ballyhoo is a primary bait for many species, and knowing how to rig it properly can greatly influence the success rate of catching target fish.

What components are necessary for rigging ballyhoo?

To rig a ballyhoo, you'll need components like wax thread, hooks, snub leader, crimps, crimping pliers, compact skirts, and a rigging needle.

How long does the rigging process take?

With practice, rigging ballyhoo should take under two minutes.

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