Artificial Soft Bait Rigging, “Wagging Rubber”

Hey Gord, it’s been a while. The last time we hooked up here in Port I remember us catching Sockeye hand over fist, that was a day to remember. That great fishing lasted well into August but the following Chinook run was beat up pretty bad by the commercial fleet and wasn’t great. In 2011, as you know we had a record sockeye run, but angling was poor due to excess runoff from a record snow load. The fish came in like torpedoes at a depth of only 10 feet and bolted right up the river, not schooling or biting. The escapement was over 800,000 fish, the run in 4 years time will be record book. Our Chinook run however wasn’t bad, D.F.O. held off the commercial boys until after Labor Day weekend and we had about three weeks of good fishing. The Coho run wasn’t bad they were biting in the salt chuck well into September. I over all had the best year I can remember logged over 2000 miles on my new boat, fished dam near every day for three months.

You need to know what I did with those samples you left a couple of summers ago. The clearherring and anchovies rigged with a teaser head worked as well as anything else I’ve used out here. The tunable versions were very inspiring. Not only can I rig them for Salmon but Halibut and bottom fish as well. For bottom dragging I like to use 2 large hooks rigged with the point inside the bend to help the offering become snagless. When using heavy leaders like braided stainless steal or 125 lbs test mono just increase the bend in the bait to achieve the proper roll. So far so good as dog fish go, they don’t seem to like your baits as we haven’t caught one yet.

One day a buddy left a pack of frozen anchovies on my boat so I felt inspired to test them against the Baitrix Anchovy rigged with a teaser head. As I was setting the lines I was thinking about all those fishing shows I’ve watched on WFN and wondered why I haven’t seen anybody do this kind of stuff, That’s my kind of reality TV. Bait verses rubber who will win? I ran 2 rods for 5 hrs. at alternating depths and lure distance from cannon ball setting each rod up as the kill rod periodically. At the end of the day the score was two Chinook and two Mackerel for the frozen anchovy teaser head combo and two Chinook for the Baitrix Anchovy teaser head rig. I was impressed the salmon were all between 10 and 20 lbs., first week of August a couple miles west of Cape Beale. I had used up all the frozen anchovy in about 5 hrs. but the Baitrix Anchovy still looked perfectly ready for another day of action. To me there was no evidence the Salmon preferred one over the other however all the Salmon were taken on the kill rod.

The kill rod is established when the deep line is set (in this case) 100 feet down, with the flasher only 30 feet behind the cannon ball. The top rod should be 60 feet behind the cannon ball and set 25 to 30 feet shallower. The bottom line becomes the attractor and the top line becomes the kill rod. If I am running 4 rods I set the two deep lines close… about 10 feet apart and the top rods are staggered, with one about 60 feet back and the other at 80. To me this close attention to detail makes all the difference, I see it every day.

Now I have to tell you all about the commotion you caused by leaving me those samples of Baitrix Artificial Herring and Anchovy. I spent hours contemplating how to give these perfect little replicas a life-like swimming action, here I was wiggling them in thin air and wondering how to put a bill on it. Then it hit me! I had an instant epiphany darn near fell out of my head. Instead of trying to swim it naturally, why not simply turn it on its side and wag it like a wounded bait fish? I immediately grabbed my hook box and started playing with different rigs. I was satisfied with a double hook harness I came up with but when it came time to fish it the weight gave me some problems. I had to keep the bait fish flat so action could be given to the tail. After some trial and error with different knots wagging rubber was born as a new fishing pattern. click here to see video on You tube

A later improvement to the pattern came when I started using over sized worm (or offset) keel hooks in sizes 7\0 and 11\0  and a split ring and swivel . We had our best results with Baitrix Anchovystiffer rods and line counter reels loaded with 20 lb. braid (only 4lb test diameter) I used  weights from 1 to 4 ounces. This is a great way to fish for both the beginner or expert. I think of my old canoe and kayak days and how much fun it would be to use this technique for all kinds of fish. I would love to try wagging rubber in the tropics for Tuna, Cobia, Tarpin, Snapper and Barracuda. Here in the North Pacific wagging rubber works great on Ling cod, Rock fish, Halibut, Salmon, green and black Cod. Your smaller minnow baits work well for Salmon especially the larger returning Chinook. For these migrators I use a 5\0 worm hook with a 1 oz. pencil weight. It is best to keep the jigging action restricted to very short jerks, fast or rhythmic almost an exaggerated shiver. Practice a bit on the surface before you let your line out. I think this method will work well for all minnow eating species of fresh water fish as well. Here on Vancouver Island I can try this pattern on Trout and Bass as well. I haven’t tried these fisheries yet but they are on the agenda for this year.

With the offset worm hook it can be rigged weedless and flipped right into the thickest cover. What Bass can resist a wounded minnow? The same hook, used drop shot style, works well for Bass and Trout and no doubt Walleye, Pike, Crappy and other pan fish. I already know they work for Salmon in the salt chuck and I’ll bet they would work wonders in the Great Lakes. We’re going to need lots of help from anglers across North America. We have to get them “wagging rubber” in all venues to determine this bait’s full potential. We used up all those needle fish you left and had the time of our lives. I can sum it up in one word “WOW”. Fishing these guys is fun. Fisherman everywhere have to get on this bandwagon.

Baitrix NeedlefishI rigged them up vertically with two 3/0 hooks 3¾ inches apart eye to eye drop shot fashion with about a 18 to 20 inch weight leader. Hook the Needle Fish vertically head toward the rod tip then add the lightest possible weight for the conditions, usually about 1 to 2 oz. Rigging it this way allows us to fish it vertically just jigging it up and down. The upward jig is a sharp jerk of a few inches to a foot or so imitating the Needle Fish darting up to feed. The downward drop is natural as well these fish are the masters of swimming backwards. I know of some sand bars along the Grave Yard Coast we run to before slack tide then fish “the dance of the Needle Fish” for a couple of hours. At slack tide the Needle Fish come out of the sand where they live and sit vertically above the bottom. Here they dart up to catch food then dart back down to the security of the sand where they never leave for very long. Sometimes they blanket the sandbar in numbers we can only imagine, but when predators arrive they quickly disappear into the sand leaving your bait exposed and vulnerable. We call this the dance of the Needle Fish and whatever is feeding on these guys we catch one after another. Salmon, Rock fish, Ling Cod and Halibut show up for this feast and you never know what you are going to catch next. This is why I am so excited about this bait. My crew would rather fish this way than troll and that’s fine with me. Click here to see the video on YouTube.

I’ve got some real exciting stuff coming up and will send it as soon as I get ahead of a few other chores, probably next week. Until then, tight lines.

Rick Crozier

We at Baitrix participate in other Outdoor activities in addition to Fishing.

These activities include Hunting (Big Game & Waterfowl), Flying and Off-Roading. Every now and then we discover a unique high quality Outdoor Product that we have found to be very effective and useful.

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