How to Rig a Flying Fish for Kite Fishing

Big West Coast tuna love flying fish at the surface.

December 1, 2020
Flying fish rigged for tuna
A flying fish rigged with wings extended, does the job on big tuna when drifted and slow-trolled on the surface from a kite. Jim Hendricks

When fished from a kite, flying fish is one of the most effective baits for yellowfin and bluefin tuna, particularly in Southern California and Baja. Securing the wings in the extended position is key, as is making sure the flyer sits flat on the water while suspended from a kite.

This rig, recommended by San Diego, California-based Capt. Barry Brightenburg recently produced four Pacific bluefin tuna ranging from 125 to 250 pounds.

Read Next: Catching Bluefin Tuna with Flying Fish Rigs


Here are the tools and steps for rigging this effective offshore bait.

The sizes of the hooks varies, depending on the size of the flying-fish bait, which range from 10 to 14 inches in length.

  • Frozen or fresh-dead flying fish
  • 12-inch bamboo BBQ skewers
  • Small zip-ties
  • Medium zip-ties
  • No. 64 black rubber band
  • 10/0 to 12/0 big-game hooks such as Mustad 7691 or Owner Jobu
  • 4/0 to 5/0 4X Gamakatsu treble hook
  • 200- to 400-pound-test fluoroleader material (depending on the size and selectivity of the tuna)
  • Crimps, crimping press and chafing gear
Building the flying fish leader
Build the Leader Jim Hendricks

Crimp 6 feet of fluorocarbon leader to the main hook, then crimp one end of a 6- to 8-inch fluoro leader to the eye of the hook and the other end to the treble hook. Crimp a loop with a thimble or other chafing gear in the other end of the leader, to a snap to the main line.

Placing the skewer
Skewer Placement Jim Hendricks

Thaw the flying fish. Push a BBQ skewer through the upper-rear area of the gill plates. It should go above the spine and lie level and perpendicular to the body of the bait.

Extending the flying fish wings
Extend the Wings Jim Hendricks

Extend one wing at a time, pulling it gently forward to the skewer. Pierce the membrane just behind the first spine of the wing and secure the wing to the skewer with a small zip-tie. Clip the skewer ends off 3/8-inch outside the zip-ties.

Securing the main rig hook
Secure the Main Hook Jim Hendricks

Slide a doubled a No. 64 black rubber band over the tail of the bait to ¼-inch behind the base of the wings. Make sure the rubber band is not twisted. Push the point of the main hook through skin and meat just behind the head, in front of the rubber band, and bring it up and out behind the rubber band

Attaching the stinger
Attach the Stinger Jim Hendricks

Zip-tie the treble stinger hook to the bait just in front of the tail and trim the zip-tie.

Stiffening the body
Stiffen the Body Jim Hendricks

To ensure that the body of the flying fish lies straight, stiffen it by pushing a skewer through the mouth and down the length of the body, parallel to the spine. Trim excess skewer at the mouth.

The finished bait ready for fishing
Finished Bait Jim Hendricks

The finished bait should lie flat and level on the ocean surface when suspended from a kite, making it a tempting target for big tuna.


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