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October 25, 2001

Cause for Celebration

From corking your bottle of bubbly to creating an irresistible bubble trail, get twice the enjoyment out of a champagne cork.

Next time you celebrate with champagne, slip the round-headed, hour-glass-shaped corks in your pocket and take them to your workbench - they're real fish catchers! This champagne-cork trolling rig came to me via Texas skipper David Lohse, after picking it up from crews on the east coast of Mexico who call it the "Cozumel sailfish bait."
I've had many sailfish, wahoo, kingfish, tuna and a pair of 40-pound dolphin pass up everything else in my spread to take this rig. When it's fished from a rigger in calm seas, I've noticed that it makes a beautiful, more obvious white "smoke" compared to my other baits.
I find that a 150-pound mono leader allows the lure to swim well and draws more action than a heavier leader. Place the cork rig anywhere you like in the spread, but on slow days try it way back - and hang on to your hat!
To make the cork lure: Drill a hole - considerably larger than the leader diameter - lengthwise, directly through the center of the cork. The large hole generates a nice wobbling action and creates a bubble trail that far exceeds that of plastic lure heads - and at a fraction of the price!
Snip the tip off a plastic skirt to make an opening the same size as the narrow neck of the champagne cork. Slip the skirt over the cork and tie it down with dental floss and a spot of super glue. Use a single skirt to keep it light and feisty. For skirt colors I prefer green/yellow or blue/white.
Using two 7/0 hooks, make a standard 180-degree stiff rig. Wrap with vinyl tape, starting at the bottom and working up. Taper down the vinyl tape at the top end to fit snugly into the hole in the cork. That helps the rig stay together when attacked by the "razor gang."
Feed the leader through the bottom of the cork, make an overhand loop in the end of the leader and crimp twice. Trim the skirt even with the end of the last hook and it's ready to smoke.

- Capt. Paul Donovan
Brisbane, Australia

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Send your favorite tackle-rigging tips and fishing techniques to Sport Fishing, Rigging & Techniques, 330 W. Canton Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789. Be sure to include rough sketches of the tip. Payment will be made upon publication.