How to Fish With Live Ballyhoo

by James Clark
Sailfish can attack ballyhoo biats with spectacular results.

Sailfish can attack ballyhoo biats with spectacular results.

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The ballyhoo is a silvery, torpedo-shaped baitfish with a long bill extending from its lower jaw. The fish is a major food source for many species of saltwater game fish, including sailfish and marlin, which makes the ballyhoo a popular bait among offshore anglers. Because ballyhoo are almost always trolled behind a boat, the bait fish must be rigged with care to keep it alive as long as possible. A live bait bucket with an air pump is also essential.

Items you will need

  • Bait bucket
  • Snelled hooks (hooks pre-tied with 80-pound test line)
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire
Step 1

Retrieve a ballyhoo from the bait tank.

Step 2

Insert the barb of the hook through the underside of the ballyhoo's bill near the mouth. Curve the hook upward so the point is turned toward your fishing rod.

Step 3

Cut a three-inch length of wire with wire cutters and wrap the wire tightly around the shank of the hook and the ballyhoo's bill. Clip any excess wire with the wire cutters.

Step 4

Tie the rigged ballyhoo to the end of the fishing line.

Step 5

Lower the live bait gently into the water as you release the spool lock on your fishing reel. Release the bait behind the boat at least 25 yards. Troll normally through the water. The wire wrap around the ballyhoo's bill helps prevent the fish from tearing out the hook.

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  • Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images