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October 25, 2001

Butterfish Bait-Rig

While some days tuna will attack the butters regardless of their presentation, it's often necessary to present the baitfish in as natural a form as possible.

Butterfish have long been a staple bait for East Coast tuna chunkers. While some days tuna will attack the butters regardless of their presentation, it's often necessary to present the baitfish in as natural a form as possible.
Mousetrap rigs, where the hook enters through the mouth, achieve this objective fairly well. But an increasingly popular rig allows the butterfish to drift upright regardless of conditions. In this "back door" approach, the hook enters just in front of the tail's fork, is carefully pushed into the flesh and entirely hidden from view. Use a Palomar knot and the same 9/0 to 11/0 tuna hook used for mousetrap rigs.
To avoid unnatural-looking bubbles trailing the bait as it descends, seal the mouth, gill slits and the hole from the point of hook insertion with light monofilament or dental floss, then prepare to tussle with bluefin, yellowfin, longfin and bigeye tuna.
Glen Rock, New Jersey