The Deadly Dink Ballyhoo

Small ballyhoo can be big winners
The majority of predators (white, striped and smaller blue marlin; yellowfin; bigeye and longfin tuna; and dolphin) earn their living feeding on small baitfish. Frequently they hunt in packs, which means matching rigged baits in your spread to small baitfish will often account for multiple hookups, and that’s a good thing. Nothing fits the bill better than dink ballyhoo, the littlest ones you can buy. I learned how to craft this circle-hook rig from John Prather, an Ocean City, Maryland, native who runs the cockpit aboard Capt. Jon Duffie’s Billfisher. When not chartering out of Sunset Marina, they are one of the hottest tournament teams on the water. Last year they set the modern record for the most white marlin releases in a day at 57, all on the dink rig you are about to learn. They use this naked swimming bait to deadly effect on sailfish in Florida and catch yellowfin and dolphin galore on it too. The Deadly Dink swims best on light trolling outfits (20-, 30- or 50-pound-class) with light fluorocarbon leaders (60- to 125-pound-test max) and 7/0 tournament circle hooks. You can rig up a cooler full of fish-ready baits in no time once you get the hang of it and set up a little production line, and they can be changed out on the hook in an average of about 10 seconds. COMPONENTS & TOOLS
Heavy rigging thread or floss, 14-ounce egg sinker, monofilament cutters and dink ballyhoo.
Gary Caputi


Prep ballyhoo. Cut a 16-inch length of rigging floss and run both tag ends through the 14-ounce egg sinker, creating a loop. Place the loop over the back of the ballyhoo, slip it under the trailing edge of the gill plates on either side of the fish and tuck the sinker between the gill covers. Bring the tag ends of the thread over the top of the bill and tie a double overhand knot. As you pull the knot tight, be sure the sinker is tucked in place. Gary Caputi


Pass the tag ends through the eye holes, forming an X between the bill and the eyes. Gary Caputi


Next bring the ends back under the fish, pull them tight and tie the final knot behind the egg sinker. Two overhand knots will do the trick. Gary Caputi


Trim the excess floss and clip the bill back close to the head. Gary Caputi


To fish the rig, insert the point of the circle hook sideways under the X of thread between the bill and the eyes. Be sure the meat down the back is pinched away from the backbone so the fish is loose and flexible. You now have a bait that will swim like it’s alive, running a foot or two under the surface when trolled; it’s ideal as a pitch bait or for prospecting while trolling. The Deadly Dink is a perfect match for most small offshore baitfish, and its diminutive size makes it easy for a predator to swallow on the first pass. Gary Caputi