How to Rig a Ballyhoo for King Mackerel Fishing

How to Rig a Ballyhoo for King Mackerel FishingAnglers often prefer rigging a ballyhoo, or bally, when going after king mackerel because of its effectiveness. This baitfish has a long shape with a pointed bill, which attracts many offshore game fish, including large king mackerel. Rigging a ballyhoo can seem challenging at first. By using a bait chain, you can lower the difficulty level, as well as reduce the amount of time needed, of rigging a ballyhoo for presentation to a hungry king mackerel.


Difficulty: Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ballyhoo bait fish
  • Bait chain with 5/0 to 10/0 hook
  • Bait needle
  • Small-diameter copper wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Knife
Step 1
Place a ballyhoo baitfish on a sturdy work surface. Position the ballyhoo so that the nose of the fish points away from you. Match the size of the hook on the bait chain to the size of the ballyhoo or make your size choice based on personal preference.
Step 2
Hold a bait needle so that the hook on the end is easily accessible. Slide the hook of the bait needle through the eye located on the end of the bait chain.
Step 3
Turn the ballyhoo so that its belly is facing up. Hold the ballyhoo so that it will not slide or move. Insert the bait needle into the belly of the ballyhoo. You should insert the needle point at an angle and pointing toward the mouth of the bait.
Step 4
Push the bait needle forward and out of the mouth of the ballyhoo baitfish. Continue pulling the needle and work the chain through the body of the ballyhoo. Stop pulling when the shank of the hook is located in the fish, with both the bend and the point exposed.
Step 5
Remove the bait needle from the bait chain. Hold the chain securely against the long bill of the ballyhoo. Wrap small diameter copper wire around the bill of the fish and the chain, working from the head of the fish down toward the point of the bill.

Tips & Warnings

Attach a swivel snap, which is connected to your leader and line, to the eye located on the end of the bait chain.
Cut a small slit in the belly of the ballyhoo with a knife. Make a 1-inch cut from the bend of the hook toward the lower jaw of the fish in the center of the belly. This will help the bait track straight in the water.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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