Dolphin Fishing - Rigs and Strip Baits

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Instructor: RJ Boyle

To successfully fish for dolphins offshore, have a variety of trolling rigs ready for use when encountering birds, debris, or currents. Begin your chunking, chumming, and oil program by keeping fish behind the boat. Use appropriate lures and jigs, such as mono and wire, and add strips for durability. Proper rigs and baits are crucial for catching dolphins.

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Video Summary:

  • Explore various dolphin fishing rigs used by S. Florida fisherman RJ Boyle
  • Learn about trolling rigs, jigs, and lures for optimal dolphin fishing
  • Discover tips for trolling, chumming, and using strip baits to attract mahi mahi
  • Find out how to craft your own dolphin fishing rigs with comprehensive demonstrations
  • Get insights on the best techniques for catching dolphin fish efficiently

Dolphin fishing, also known as mahi mahi fishing, is an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers. To successfully catch these beautiful and tasty fish, it's essential to use the right rigs and techniques. In this article, we'll explore various dolphin fishing rigs and strip baits used by experienced fisherman RJ Boyle from South Florida.

Trolling Rigs

When it comes to catching dolphin fish, trolling rigs are your best bet for that initial bite. We'll begin by discussing trolling rigs and then delve into jigs suitable for times when the mahi mahi aren't biting the chunk baits you offer. You'll get to see rigs both with and without strip baits, rigged with mono and wire.

Here are some key tips for trolling:

  • Keep it Simple: When trolling for dolphin, it's best to use no more than two rods.
  • Be Prepared: Once you hook a fish, be ready to switch to chunking, chumming, and using oil to keep the fish attracted to your boat.
  • Look for Signs: Birds, floating debris, weedlines, and current edges are all good indicators.
  • Positioning: Your trolling rigs should be placed way back. Ensure your setup is minimal to handle the school efficiently after catching your first fish.

We'll introduce several dolphin trolling rigs, including:

  • Lead head lures
  • Trolling skirts
  • The classic dawn patrol bullet head lure from Roddy Hays

You'll learn how to rig these lures for optimal dolphin fishing. Remember, this is about speed and efficiency. Once you hook a fish, be ready for a flurry of activity with potentially 30 or 40 more catches.

Chumming and Chunking

Once you've hooked your first dolphin, the real action begins. Dolphin fish, also known as mahi mahi, are schooling fish, which means they tend to travel and feed together in groups. When you hook one, the commotion and distress signals from the hooked fish often attract the rest of the school to your boat. This is your golden opportunity to maximize your catch.

To keep the school around your boat, you need to engage in chumming and chunking. Chumming involves throwing small pieces of bait, such as cut-up fish or fish parts, into the water around your boat. This creates a scent trail and a visual attraction that keeps the dolphin interested and feeding. You can use a variety of baits for chumming, including sardines, anchovies, or even leftover bait from your earlier fishing.

Chunking, on the other hand, involves using larger pieces of bait, such as whole or half fish. These bigger chunks create a more substantial meal for the dolphin and can keep them engaged for longer periods. Bonito, skipjack tuna, or blue runners are popular choices for chunking.

In addition to chumming and chunking, using menhaden oil can be highly effective in attracting and keeping dolphin around your boat. Menhaden oil is derived from menhaden fish and has a strong, appealing scent that can draw fish from a considerable distance. You can dispense the oil into the water using a spray bottle or a drip system, creating a slick that spreads out and attracts fish.

When chunking and chumming, it's important to maintain a steady and consistent output. You want to keep the fish interested and feeding without oversaturating them. A good rule of thumb is to throw out a handful of chum every minute or so, and a larger chunk every five to ten minutes. Adjust your output based on the activity level of the fish.

It's also crucial to have your rods ready and baited while you're chumming and chunking. Use smaller, more manageable tackle so you can quickly and efficiently hook and land fish as they come in. Have multiple rods ready so you can immediately drop back in after landing a fish.

By mastering the art of chumming, chunking, and using menhaden oil, you can turn a single dolphin catch into a full-on feeding frenzy. Keep the school around your boat, keep your lines in the water, and get ready for some fast and furious mahi mahi fishing action.


Chumming and chunking are essential techniques for keeping the mahi mahi around your boat once you've hooked the first fish. It's all about keeping them interested and feeding.

RJ Boyle

Jigs and Lures

While chumming and chunking are highly effective techniques for attracting and catching dolphin fish, there may be times when the fish simply aren't responding to the bait. In these situations, jigs can be a game-changer.

Jigs are versatile artificial lures that can be used to target a variety of species, including mahi mahi and wahoo. They typically consist of a weighted head and a tail made of hair, feathers, or soft plastic. The shape and movement of the jig mimics the appearance and motion of small baitfish, making them irresistible to predatory fish.

For dolphin fishing, bucktail jigs are a top choice. These jigs feature a lead head covered in deer hair or synthetic hair, often in bright colors like pink, blue, or green. The hair gives the jig a lifelike appearance and creates a pulsing action in the water that attracts dolphin. Bucktail jigs can be cast or trolled, and are often used in combination with a strip bait or a small piece of cut bait to enhance their appeal.

In addition to bucktail jigs, diamond jigs can be highly effective for catching dolphin and wahoo, particularly around floating debris like pallets or trees. Diamond jigs are long, slender jigs with a diamond-shaped cross-section. They are typically made of metal and feature a reflective surface that flashes in the water, attracting fish from a distance.

When fishing around floating debris, it's important to be on the lookout for wahoo. These fast, aggressive predators often lurk beneath floating objects, waiting to ambush passing prey. If the dolphin bite slows down, switching to a diamond jig can be a great way to target wahoo.

To fish a diamond jig around floating debris, cast the jig past the object and let it sink to the desired depth. Then, retrieve the jig with a fast, erratic motion, mimicking the movements of a fleeing baitfish. Be prepared for explosive strikes from wahoo and other predatory fish.

Another highly effective lure for catching wahoo around floating debris is a drone spoon paired with a planer. Drone spoons are heavy, elongated spoons that are designed to be trolled at high speeds. They create a fluttering, erratic action that mimics an injured baitfish, which is irresistible to wahoo.

To fish a drone spoon, attach it to a planer, which is a device that allows you to troll the lure at a specific depth. Set the planer to run just above the thermocline, where wahoo often lurk. Troll the spoon at speeds of 7-10 knots, and be prepared for explosive strikes.

By incorporating jigs and spoons into your dolphin fishing arsenal, you can adapt to changing conditions and keep the fish coming over the rails. Whether you're using bucktail jigs for dolphin or diamond jigs and drone spoons for wahoo, these versatile lures can help you maximize your catch and keep the action hot, even when the bite slows down.

DIY Dolphin Fishing Rigs

Creating your own dolphin fishing rigs can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to customize your tackle for maximum effectiveness. By following some simple guidelines and techniques, you can craft rigs that are perfectly suited to your fishing style and the conditions you'll be fishing in.

When tying your own rigs, the first step is to select the appropriate line and hook. For dolphin fishing, a medium to heavy monofilament or fluorocarbon leader in the 50-80 lb range is a good choice. Pair this with a strong, sharp hook in the 7/0 to 10/0 size range, depending on the size of the bait and the fish you're targeting.

One popular addition to dolphin fishing rigs is a bonito strip. Bonito is a type of tuna that is known for its tough, durable flesh. When cut into strips and added to a rig, bonito can be a highly effective bait for attracting and catching dolphin.

To add a bonito strip to your rig, start by cutting a long, thin strip of bonito flesh, about 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide and 4-6 inches long. Thread the strip onto your hook, starting at the eye and working your way down to the bend. Leave a bit of the strip hanging off the end of the hook to create a natural, fluttering action in the water.

Bonito strips are like candy for dolphin. They're tough, they flutter in the water, and they stay on the hook even after multiple strikes.

In addition to bonito strips, you can also incorporate artificial lures into your dolphin fishing rigs. Saltwater-grade skirts, feathers, and soft plastics can all be effective additions to your rig. Experiment with different colors and sizes to find what works best in your area.

When tying your rig, it's important to use strong, reliable knots or crimps. The clinch knot, uni knot, and Palomar knot are all popular choices for tying line to hook. If you're using crimps, be sure to use a high-quality crimping tool and double-check each crimp for strength and security.

By crafting your own dolphin fishing rigs and incorporating proven additions like bonito strips and artificial lures, you can take your fishing game to the next level. With a little practice and experimentation, you'll be able to create rigs that are perfectly suited to your needs and help you catch more mahi mahi on every trip.


Trolling rigs are your best bet for that initial dolphin bite. Once you've got that first catch, it's all about the chunking process. By using the right dolphin fishing rigs and techniques, you can maximize your chances of success and enjoy a thrilling day on the water. For more insights, check out our other dolphin fishing videos and articles.

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