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News: Fishing

Big Fish: How to Rig Halfbeak for Sailfish

WATCH: SA sailfish champ shows two ways to rig halfbeak (ballyhoo) for sailfish

Chin-weighted double-hook halfbeak for a surface lure. And X knot with a circle hook rig. SA national billfish angler Henk Du Plessis shows two ways to rig halfbeak for sailfish.

Note: Henk recorded these videos in his native language, Afrikaans. But you can still see the technique, and we’ve translated all the important bits into English under each video – plus: trolling and fishing tips right at the end.

WATCH: HOW TO RIG A DOUBLE-HOOK HALFBEAK (BALLYHOO) SURFACE LURE

Halfbeak for a sailfish surface lure

Part 1: Protea angler, and Sodwana's very own sailfish guru, Henk du Plessis, shares some of his extensive knowledge

Posted by South African Deep Sea Angling Association on Saturday, 4 April 2020

In video 1

  • Henk shows his trace: 1-metre 100-pound fluoro-coated trace line with double-hook – 6/0 front, 7/0 back
  • He says you could rig the halfbeak with the top hook through the head, but you run too much risk the sailfish will just rip it off – there’s a better way
  • He shows instead to cut the head off at a 30-degree angle, and then push the top hook through the skin about 1cm from the cut
  • Deepen the slit in the belly of the halfbeak so your second hook fits into place nicely there
  • Tie it off well but carefully – you don’t want it to blob or bunch or break, because that’ll affect the “swim” of the lure
  • Gently squish all along the sides of the fish, cracking the ribs so it’s softer, limp enough to create a natural “swim” effect in the water
  • He recommends trolling it at about 9km/h, watching that the lure doesn’t trace a white line and doesn’t skip but just breaks the surface gently every now and again
  • Fish on sight: As soon as you see the fish, get ready but let it run with the bait a bit first. 

 

WATCH: HOW TO RIG A CIRCLE HOOK WITH X KNOT HALFBEAK (BALLYHOO) FOR SAILFISH

X Knot on halfbeak for sailfish

Part 2: Protea angler, and Sodwana's very own sailfish guru, Henk du Plessis, shares some of his extensive knowledge

Posted by South African Deep Sea Angling Association on Saturday, 4 April 2020

In video 2

  • What Henk doesn’t show in the video is that he pushes the eyes of the halfbeak out first with a pen so you get a cavity straight through the head
  • Then he says there are plenty of ways to do this rig, he likes to keep it simple and looking natural
  • Break off the nose and use wax line for this rig
  • Take the line over the bait fish’s head, opening the gills and bringing the wax line through either gill to the bottom and put the weight on there at the chin  tying it off
  • Close the beak and push the wax line through the eye cavity, pull the wax line over the gill plates and tie them at the bottom again – to keep the gills closed, otherwise the fish swells and the swim’s unnatural
  • Then take the line back to make a knot at the top and you should have an X knot at the top – that’s where your circle hook’s going to go
  • Now, that hook’s on the head, so there’s a risk the fish could just rip it right off the body, so that’s why you need to take the line through the body a few times – not too far, though, otherwise it affects the “swim” of the bait
  • Henk uses a bait needle to thread the wax line through the body in two places, just a centimetre or two from the head
  • Again, crack the ribs by squishing the fish body, so it’s limp for a nice “swimming” motion in the water
  • Hook the circle hook through the X knot at the top of the head and you’re good to go.

 

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ABOUT HENK DU PLESSIS

Henk is probably one of the top billfish anglers in the world right now. He had an awesome season in 2019, his teams winning both the SA Heavy-Tackle Billfish Nationals and placing 2nd globally in the billfish tournament at the Sport Fishing World Games. And, in fact, if it wasn’t for the COVID-19 outbreak, he would have been representing South Africa at the 2020 ILTTA in Guatemala at the time he recorded these videos.

He’s a North-Gauteng Deep Sea Angling Association member and Sodwana local – and you can actually book a billfish charter with him in his boat Oom C-Breeze.

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ABOUT HALFBEAK

Also called needlefish, halfbeak is a common surface fish found in tropical waters around the world that makes for an excellent baitfish. The species we get around the South African coast is very much the same as the “brasiliensis” ballyhoo halfbeak. 

They mostly grow to around 30cm in size and feed on plankton and swimming crustaceans near the surface. And they’re an excellent bait for almost any game fish, but especially billfish and sailfish.

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HOW TO TROLL FOR SAILFISH

Henk recommends you only troll at 9km/h, using two rods with the circle-hook and X-knot setup in video 2 above right next to the boat at about 15–20m. And then two more rods with the surface lures (video 1) a little further out, and maybe some teasers in the water as well.

He says fish on sight: Keep your eye on the lure and, once you see the fish, prepare but don’t strike or try to fight it, give it drag and let the sailfish go before you tap and start bringing it in.

Thanks, Henk, it’s great to get such detailed insights from a pro!

ABOUT THESE #NAUTITIPS

This fishing tips video is courtesy of the South African Deep Sea Angling Association (SADSAA) who, during March and April 2020 invited anglers from around the country to share their angling video tips. We’ll be releasing more every week. But you can also go and see the originals when you follow and share SADSAA’s Facebook page.

Check out the entire collection of awesome video fishing tips and see the fast way to flush an outboard motor.

Also see this super-easy technique for a bimini twist, how to create a nail knot for game fish lures and making a couta trace. Also see how to make a proper wind-on leader and rigging skip bait for marlin.

Plus: Did you know all Suzuki outboards over 40hp comes standard with built-in troll mode? It means your performance outboard turns into an instant trolling motor.

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