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October 25, 2001

Bridle Rig A Squid

Taking time to bridle-rig squid results in a more natural presentation, whether the bait's trolled, pitched or -- for broadbills -- drifted deep

The "quick and dirty" squid rig involves squeezing an egg sinker on the leader a few inches above the hook, then threading the leader through the squid's body. The sinker acts as a stopper to hold the squid in place, and the hook is hidden in its head. This method works well when rigging small squid for dolphin, but Pumo advises using a crimp to stop the sinker because squeezing the lead (some folks just smack it with a hammer) can damage monofilament and cost you a fish.

Taking time to bridle-rig squid results in a more natural presentation, whether the bait's trolled, pitched or -- for broadbills -- drifted deep. Pumo notes that more light-tackle anglers have been using this soft-bodied, boneless bait because "you can rig squid on smaller hooks and still hook billfish solidly." Several key points to properly rigging squid:
* Keep the head from tearing off by sewing it to the mantle.
* Make all stitches through the mantle's toughest part, along a line in the middle of the back.
* Bridle length must allow the squid to hang naturally straight (too short and the leader bends, too long and the squid bunches up on the hook).
* Hook, leader and bridle should be centered so the squid trolls without spinning. Store squid in very cold brine solution because contact with fresh water causes discoloration.

Step 1
Begin by inserting the hook in the valve in the squid's head and pushing the hook point out the beak. This method is better than simply spiking the head on the hook, which leaves too much meat in the hook gap and could interfere in hook setting. It also provides consistent entry and exit points when rigging and keeps the hook centered.
Step 2
Slide a single-barrel crimp far up the leader (to be used later for attaching bridle), pierce the mantle's apex and push the leader into the tail and out under the mantle at the head. Crimp the hook to the leader with a double-barrel crimp, then pull slack through the mantle and out the tail.

Step 3
Sew the head to keep it from tearing off while trolling. Use a 20-inch piece of floss and begin stitching from inside the squid, passing the needle out through the tough part of the mantle (along the center of the back) about 1 1/2 inches from the head. Cross over about half an inch and push the needle back inside and out under the mantle by the head. Then stitch through the head just behind the eyes.

Step 4
Tighten the box stitch so the size of the loop holds the head in a natural position. A loose loop lets the head flop about and eventually tear off; a tight loop pulls the head inside the mantle and looks unnatural. Tie off with a double-overhand knot (running the tag ends through the loop twice) to anchor the loop, followed by several single overhands.

Step 5
Squeeze the single-barrel crimp onto the leader about 2 inches above the point of the tail, then use a 2-foot piece of floss to make a bridle. Begin stitching about an inch down from the point of the tail, running the needle perpendicular to the leader and taking care not to pass floss under the leader. Leave about 10 inches of tag where floss enters the squid. Move about 1 1/2 inches toward the head and make another stitch through the body. Run the needle through once more beside the first stitch to complete a box, leaving long tags on both sides. This box stitch distributes the load over the squid's tail when trolled.

Step 6
Complete the bridle by pulling the tag ends snugly enough to keep the squid from bunching up on the hook, yet loose enough to let the bait hang straight without bending the leader. Anchor each tag end with a half-hitch (photo 6), then tie several overhands on either side of the leader and lock them with a double-overhand knot.