Pilchards, or miniature herring, are one of the easiest baits to find, but one of the most difficult to catch. They become especially finicky as the sun gets high in the sky, but anglers can rely on this ribbon rig to fill the bait well. To put it simply, a ribbon rig is a series of wire loops to which a swivel, a sinker and an ordinary ribbon are attached. For reasons unknown, pilchards have a thing about swimming through hoops. It mustn’t have to do with feeding since they “hit” rings from dawn to dusk. In fact, they keep bumping into the loops and ribbon until they finally become snared in the loops, as in a gillnet. To make a ribbon rig, start with a four-foot length of No. 7 dark leader wire. Bend it in half and slide on a barrel swivel. Tie an overhand knot in the wire near the bend, creating a loop about the size of a half-dollar. Repeat the process until you have a series of one- to two-inch loops about two feet long. Slip on a 3/4-ounce bank sinker and twist together the tag ends. Hold the rig at each end and give it a pull to give the loops an elongated shape. Attach a piece of thin red ribbon or yarn at both ends by knotting it to the loops, passing through a loop one-third of the way up and two-thirds of the way up. To use the rig, tie the swivel to a light spinning rod, toss the rig into a pilchard school and let it sink. When you feel baitfish “hitting” the ribbon, you know you’re in the right place. Keep the line tight and when the rod bends, allow a few seconds for your victim to become gilled, then reel him in and repeat.
Steve Kantner, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check local regulations before using ribbon rigs, as some states have outlawed use of entangling devices.