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October 26, 2001

Heavy-Weather Ballyhoo

Add lead weights to your trolling pattern when running in high wind.

We've all experienced trolling when it's blowing in excess of 20 knots and seas run 6 to 10. You have to fight to keep your baits in any kind of pattern and in the water. The left long is where the right long should be and the right long ... well, you think it might still be out there somewhere. Each time your bow clears a wave, the baits fly out of the water and tumble head over tail. These conditions can make for a very long day of trolling, and the wear and tear make running naked baits impossible.
Or so you've always thought. Adding some weight to a naked ballyhoo rig allows you to keep it in the water and in the strike zone.
By using a double-hook cable rig from Tournament Cable (800-979-3474) and a 1/2- to 1 1/2-ounce rubber-core lead sinker, you can add a substantial amount of weight to a ballyhoo rig. Without getting too graphic here, the vent of a ballyhoo has a considerable amount of stretch and with a little patience and some bunker oil, you'll be surprised how much weight you can insert into a ballyhoo's stomach without tearing the vent. Using a horse ballyhoo, I've put as much as 1 1/2 ounces inside with no trouble.
I picked up another trick from Capt. Craig Otten on the Bahama Mama out of Stone Harbor, New Jersey, that works well in conjunction with the naked weight rig. Otten runs a 25-foot section of 50- to 200-pound Dacron in front of his rigs. The added weight of the water-soaked Dacron keeps the line down and the baits in the water. Make sure you use Dacron that doesn't have wax or Teflon manufactured into it because these types will not absorb water. Cortland makes a Dacron line that works well for this purpose.
Chuck Richardson
Stone Harbor, New Jersey