Ballyhoo Bait Prep

Basic ballyhoo prep tips for success

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STEP 1

Thaw frozen ballyhoo in a bucket of salt water, kosher-salt brine or commercially available brine additives in cold water. Never thaw ballyhoo in plain fresh water, as it will soften them, causing them to wash out quickly when trolled. If the rigging technique calls for removing the eyes, punch them out using a wooden dowel or a section of aluminum arrow shaft.Gary Caputi
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STEP 2

Cut the bill back, leaving about a third of its full length. Make a small incision from the vent about half-inch forward and pinch the belly firmly between two fingers just behind the gills. Slide your fingers toward the tail, pushing out the contents, including the air-filled swim bladder, through the incision.Gary Caputi
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STEP 3

Clip off the pectoral fins, which can cause naked baits to spin when trolled at slow speeds.Gary Caputi
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STEP 4

Grip behind the head and squeeze the sides upward until you feel the muscle separate from the spine. Repeat working your fingers all the way back to the tail.Gary Caputi
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STEP 5

This makes the ballyhoo flexible so it will bend easily into S shapes, swimming naturally. After prep, store the baits in a cooler on a tray and sprinkle both sides lightly with salt or brine additive to toughen the skin. Do not put them directly on ice.