Bait presentation in strayline fishing is really important, without a natural presentation of bait, the fish are way less likely to bite (well the bigger, smarter ones anyway)! Learn how to put pilchard bait on a one hook strayline rig.
With this style of fishing you really want the bait to drift down naturally. Ideally, slowly floating along the current past the fish, which will have plenty of time to look at it and come and take a nibble.
Pilchards are a really popular bait - both for anglers and the fish. Here's a few ways to put pilchard bait on your one hook strayline rig:
You have two options, to rig the bait so it’s head first or tail first. Tail first means the tail of the fish is closest to the mainline.
In this example we’ll rig the bait tail first, as it holds on to the hook better. You want the hook to end up somewhere near the middle/head section of the fish. That’s because snapper in particular attack the gut section, so having the hook located near where the fish is likely to bite improves the chance of pulling one up.
Start with the fish head away from you, at the tail end, about 3-4cm along the body of the fish and push your hook all the way through the bait, and pull through the line.
Now insert the hook into the middle of the fish on the same side that the hook and line has come through and pull all the way through again.
Turn the fish so the head is now close to and roll the hook into the fish so that the hook end points towards your trace line. Flipping the bait around and rolling the hook in makes it heaps easier.
The shank of the hook should be inside the fish with just the hook and eye sticking out. The pointy end of the hook should be near the gut section, where the fish is most likely to bite.
Finish it off by putting a half hitch knot around the tail of the pilchard. This will support the bait without putting pressure on the hook.
A half hitch holds the bait and stops it pulling the hook out of a soft bait like this one, so it’s important to finish bait this way.
Cut the pilchard in half, on an angle. This gives you streamlined bait that will float down naturally and shows off some of the gut section which is a fish favourite.
The head is more challenging to rig securely.
Pass your hook through the eye of the fish or just in front of the eye where you’ll find a clear section. Pull through the hook and line, just like threading a needle.
Take the hook about half way along the half section of fish and roll the hook through the top of the fish towards the cut section. Keep rolling the hook through until you’ve got just the eye of the hook and the pointy end poking out of the fish.
Start at the end of the tail section and pass the hook all the way through the fish.
Insert the hook again, this time near the piece of belly as it’s likely the fish will bite here first. Once again turn the bait around so the gut section is facing you. Roll the hook into place alongside the spine of the fish. This way most of the hook is hidden inside the bait, but the point and gape of the hook are exposed.
Finish off with a half hitch (how to tie a half hitch).
Get ready for some bites because that’s a bait you can cast quite a way without it falling off the hook.
You can either have your ball or bean sinker loose, running up the line or you can pin the sinker to the bait. Pinning the sinker keeps it nice and close to the bait to add weight for its descent. Its role is to help the bait float down naturally through the water past those hungry fish.
The amount of weight you use depends on the weather and water conditions. The aim is to use enough weight to get it floating down, not clunking down on the bottom. (We'll talk more about what weight to use in our video How to catch fish with a strayline rig.)
Happy fishing and good luck out there 😉