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January 14, 2008

Making the Assist

Make your own assist hooks for metal jigs

Malucelli makes his own assist-hook assemblies so he can custom fit them to the various jigs he fishes. First, he gathers his tools and materials: hooks, jigs, scissors, pliers, swivels, 400-pound Spectra line, a homemade tool for rigging Spectra loops and two types of heat-shrink tubing (colored and clear; the clear tubing has a slightly smaller diameter than the colored). He admits that 200-pound Spectra would prove sufficient but prefers the added abrasion resistance and durability of 400-pound.

1. Make A Rigging Tool
If you don't have a needle for making loops in braided lines, make one from a 12-inch piece of hard wire and an egg sinker. Double the wire, push the two ends into the egg sinker and squeeze it with pliers to hold the wire firmly. The wire loop pierces the Spectra to grab the tag end and pull it inside. The sinker forms a convenient handle - an important detail, because you must twist the tool back and forth to work the tag end into the Spectra's tight weave.
2. Create An End Loop
Cut an 18-inch length of Spectra to make a double-hook assembly for larger jigs. Insert the wire in the Spectra about 6 inches from one end, run it inside the braid for 2 inches and push the tip back out through the line's wall. Secure the tag end with the wire and pull it inside the Spectra. TIP: The tight fit makes it difficult to simply pull the tag inside the Spectra. The egg-sinker handle serves as a grip to twist the tool while pulling the tag, which facilitates the entry.
Pull the tag out through the Spectra's wall and remove it from the wire tool. Gently pull the tag to adjust the end loop's size; a 1/2-inch loop is about right. Trim excess tag and carefully pull on the end loop to draw the tag just inside the Spectra; then hold the loop while smoothing the Spectra over the line inside. This creates the Chinese finger trap to hold the line and also forms a double-thickness leader.  
3. Create Another Loop
Repeat the steps to form a loop at the other end of the Spectra. The example shows a 7-inch leader with a loop at each end.
4. Add Hooks
Cut two 1-inch lengths of colored heat-shrink tubing and slip them on the Spectra. The heat shrink locks the hook in position on the leader, protects against chafing and prevents the Spectra from slipping and opening the loop (although this would be unlikely to happen even without the heat shrink).
Thread one end of the leader through the eye of a hook and pass the loop over the hook point. Pull the leader to slide the loop up to the hook eye and snug it. Push the heat shrink down so a half-inch of tubing rests above the hook eye and a half-inch rests below it.  
Repeat these steps to secure a hook on the leader's other end.
5. Make A Middle Loop
Double the leader and push it through a  1-inch piece of clear heat-shrink tubing (slightly smaller in diameter than the colored tubing). Add a 1/2-inch piece of colored heat-shrink tubing. Adjust the leader to make the larger hook's leg slightly longer than the other.
6. Secure The Swivel**
In Brazil, Malucelli uses Marine Sports swivels that feature solid, welded rings and an additional welded ring on one end. (If unable to find similar swivels, add a heavy-duty split ring to yours.) Attach the leader to this additional ring in loop-to-loop fashion.
7. Prepare And Heat
Slide the clear tubing up against, but not over, the ring. Slide the colored tubing over the clear and over the lower half of the ring. The clear heat-shrink tubing holds the leader's two legs together to keep them from slipping - getting shorter or longer - and the dark tubing locks the loop on the ring.  Adjust the length and attitude of the legs so the smaller hook rides on a slightly shorter leader and the hook points face away from each other. This will keep them facing out from the jig and ready to hook fish rather than facing in, possibly impeding hookups.
Malucelli doesn't use a flame or heat gun to shrink the tubing. He feels a flame may damage the Spectra and tubing, and a heat gun can first shrink one side, then the other, causing an uneven finish. He puts an inch of water in a pan and carefully places assist-hook assemblies so they're properly arranged (hooks facing away from each other), then turns on the burner. When the water boils, the heat-shrink tubing contracts completely and uniformly for a clean, effective finish.  
8. Add A Split Ring
When the assembly cools, add a split ring to the swivel as shown. This split ring will hold the jig.

Next: More assist-hook tips...