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Need better hookup on plug bites

Old 09-06-2019, 06:41 AM
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Default Need better hookup on plug bites

We have been running plugs on short riggers, shotgun and sometimes on the long riggers. Larger plugs on the short riggers, and smaller plugs on the longs and shotgun. We have been getting a lot of white and blue marlin bites on the plugs, but our hookup ratio hasnít been great. More often than not we have a billfish hit the plug, run off peeling drag for a minute or two and throw the hook. I assume that often the billfish hasnít really been hooked, but rather has the leader around their bill, or has the hook wrapped on their bill. I know that plug hookup ratios are lower than feeding a marlin a dink bait on a circle hook, but Iím looking for ways to increase the number of fish we land on plug bites. We are catching a bunch of fish but I always want to convert a few more bites into releases.

When running plugs are you keeping the drag light, or heavy? Do you back the drag off after the bite to allow the fish to reposition the plug in itís mouth for a better hookup? Do you just leave the rod in the rodholder and let the fish run?

I am selecting hook size based on the size of the lure. Stiff cable hooksets, shrink wrapped, sharp Mustad 7691SS hooks.

Any tips on increasing the conversion rate on plug bites would be appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:40 AM
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Do mean lures like Yo-Zuri Bonitos or skirted trolling lures?
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Tarpun View Post
Do mean lures like Yo-Zuri Bonitos or skirted trolling lures?
Black Bart plugs of various sizes.
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Old 09-06-2019, 10:11 AM
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That's hard man, one of the reasons I don't like using outriggers. I set my drags how I'm going to fish. Tag lines might help a bit.
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Old 09-06-2019, 10:18 AM
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These days mostly single hook Bart style rigs.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:11 PM
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What is your current conversion ratio? Are you using stiff single hooks at the very rear of the skirt or some different rig? Tag lines? What point shape are you using on the hooks?
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Aliboy View Post
What is your current conversion ratio? Are you using stiff single hooks at the very rear of the skirt or some different rig? Tag lines? What point shape are you using on the hooks?
I'm 3 for 13 in 3 trips over the last week on billfish bites on plugs. Two of those bites were blue marlin, and the other 11 were whites. I'm 2 for 2 on circle hook with ballyhoo dropped back over the same week. We are raising fish and catching fish, I just want to increase the conversion of bites to releases. All plugs are single hook stiff rigs with the lure skirt falling between the hook point and the hook bend. Hook is at the very back of the lure. Hook points are three sided pyramid sharpened with diamond file. No tag lines.
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Old 09-06-2019, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by OldBay View Post
I'm 3 for 13 in 3 trips over the last week on billfish bites on plugs. Two of those bites were blue marlin, and the other 11 were whites. I'm 2 for 2 on circle hook with ballyhoo dropped back over the same week. We are raising fish and catching fish, I just want to increase the conversion of bites to releases. All plugs are single hook stiff rigs with the lure skirt falling between the hook point and the hook bend. Hook is at the very back of the lure. Hook points are three sided pyramid sharpened with diamond file. No tag lines.
I do a lot of marlin fishing (over 30 years now) here in New Zealand. Big Stripies and 300 to 800lb Blues mostly. Based on what we see here 3 from 13 would be below average. Once you get over 50% you are in the ballpark. We probably run around 60% to 65% over a multi year average. Some trips you end up much better and some trips are horrible. Your 2 weekends is a small sample, but 13 bites is enough to make you think.
First check is are you getting a lot of bill wraps or hooks not setting. Bill wrap will have scuffing on the leader ahead of the lure. Sometimes that just happens and the normal sign here is the fish will do a longer underwater run before leaping and coming off. A well hooked fish normally leaps earlier than a bill wrapped one. If getting a lot of bill wraps I try different lures. Maybe a more straight runner with a different colour. I also consider dropping the lures back one wave (are you running them on the wave faces?)
If the hooks are sharp and not setting on your stiff singles, what drags are you running? We run the stiff single lures on very light drags and tighten up as the fish turns away. There is a bit of debate about whether this is best with open or closed gape hooks. We also run some lures with 180deg doubles on full strike drags. Results seem to be pretty similar but still experimenting. There is a New Zealand book by a guy called Bill Hall which has a lot of discussion about this subject where they experimented over 100's of fish and decided on the single hook super light drag method.
I think taglines may help. I also prefer using them. Tag lines and Blacks clips with powergum loops on the lines is as simple a way to get your lines set right as I have found.
Lots of little details to get right. The day I look back over a couple of seasons and see a 75%+ conversion rate I will say that I might have cracked it, but it might also never happen. One last thought is that I catch plenty of 200lb+ fish on quite small lures so I wouldn't go big on all the lures in your pattern. I have started running a small lure in the shotgun position and that has been pretty successful.
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:17 PM
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Position your hooks at 12 o'clock (hook pointing up) and use tag lines as mentioned above . All Bart lures come with the rubber grommet to hold hookset in place . Don't go light on drag , you want to drive that hook in immediately . This will improve your hook up ratio immensely .

By positioning hook and eliminating drop back (tag lines) you will get a solid hook set in top of mouth as it takes lure and turns out of your spread .

You can also order those grommets from BB to use on other lures if needed .
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:24 PM
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Sharpen your hooks.
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Old 09-07-2019, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Lone Ono View Post
Sharpen your hooks.
I do.
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Old 09-07-2019, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by pje View Post
Position your hooks at 12 o'clock (hook pointing up) and use tag lines as mentioned above . All Bart lures come with the rubber grommet to hold hookset in place . Don't go light on drag , you want to drive that hook in immediately . This will improve your hook up ratio immensely .

By positioning hook and eliminating drop back (tag lines) you will get a solid hook set in top of mouth as it takes lure and turns out of your spread .

You can also order those grommets from BB to use on other lures if needed .
I do make a point to run the hooks up on bigger lures, but I don't think that the smaller lures are weighted on the bottom. I believe the smaller lures can run with any side up, so the hook position is not fixed.
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Old 09-07-2019, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Aliboy View Post
I do a lot of marlin fishing (over 30 years now) here in New Zealand. Big Stripies and 300 to 800lb Blues mostly. Based on what we see here 3 from 13 would be below average. Once you get over 50% you are in the ballpark. We probably run around 60% to 65% over a multi year average. Some trips you end up much better and some trips are horrible. Your 2 weekends is a small sample, but 13 bites is enough to make you think.
First check is are you getting a lot of bill wraps or hooks not setting. Bill wrap will have scuffing on the leader ahead of the lure. Sometimes that just happens and the normal sign here is the fish will do a longer underwater run before leaping and coming off. A well hooked fish normally leaps earlier than a bill wrapped one. If getting a lot of bill wraps I try different lures. Maybe a more straight runner with a different colour. I also consider dropping the lures back one wave (are you running them on the wave faces?)
If the hooks are sharp and not setting on your stiff singles, what drags are you running? We run the stiff single lures on very light drags and tighten up as the fish turns away. There is a bit of debate about whether this is best with open or closed gape hooks. We also run some lures with 180deg doubles on full strike drags. Results seem to be pretty similar but still experimenting. There is a New Zealand book by a guy called Bill Hall which has a lot of discussion about this subject where they experimented over 100's of fish and decided on the single hook super light drag method.
I think taglines may help. I also prefer using them. Tag lines and Blacks clips with powergum loops on the lines is as simple a way to get your lines set right as I have found.
Lots of little details to get right. The day I look back over a couple of seasons and see a 75%+ conversion rate I will say that I might have cracked it, but it might also never happen. One last thought is that I catch plenty of 200lb+ fish on quite small lures so I wouldn't go big on all the lures in your pattern. I have started running a small lure in the shotgun position and that has been pretty successful.
The tag line idea is starting to make sense. Historically we have had better hookup ratio on our shotgun plug compared to our long rigger plugs. This could be due to the drop back when the long rigger clip pops. We generally run the shotgun up the center rigger but there is very little slack in the line when the center rigger clip pops.
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Old 09-08-2019, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by OldBay View Post
I do make a point to run the hooks up on bigger lures, but I don't think that the smaller lures are weighted on the bottom. I believe the smaller lures can run with any side up, so the hook position is not fixed.
If you are billfishing , I would ditch the unweighted lures and run a mixed spread if whites and blues are in the same area . Tag lines are the way to go for fishing lures , the rigger drop back is costing you bites . Just be ready to drop back those hoo when they pop out of rigger .

Almost all of my whites have been with bait , but we did get a double on full size lures in the GOM last year . Although the 2nd was lassoed/wrapped really good .

How far off are you fishing ? I need to get up there and fish one of these days .
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:22 PM
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