Adjusting Your Ballyhoo for Slow Days

One trick can help when the bite is slow

naked ballyhoo rig
One trick can give you the ability to reverse your fortunes if the naked ballyhoo rigged on a circle hook doesn't work.Capt. Mario Elaluf, La Guaira, Venezuela

Running the boat Tressell in La Guaira, Venezuela, we encounter blues, whites and sails almost every day offshore. While they might not be the biggest in size, you can't beat the variety, and we usually fish with light tackle. My favorite bait for these species is a naked ballyhoo rigged on a circle hook. However, I have found that on some days, the naked, chin-weighted ballyhoo that generally work well and attract plenty of fish get out-fished by a ballyhoo rigged with a chugger head.

naked ballyhoo
The trick is tweaking the lure while keeping the same swimming characteristics.Capt. Mario Elaluf, La Guaira, Venezuela

I don’t know if the perfect swimming of the naked ballyhoo seems too challenging for the fish, but the chugger-and-ballyhoo combo seems to elicit a lot of excitement from a predator due to the large bubble trail it creates. However, one of the downsides of using the chugger-head combo is that you are putting more plastic between the bait and the bite. I personally think the fish can sometimes detect the plastic or rubber skirts, which causes the fish to let go of the bait, resulting in the dreaded sancocho.

As a result, I started thinking about how I could tweak the lure to make it softer with a more lifelike feel, while keeping the same style and swimming characteristics. My first thought turned to the pile of inner skirts that I’ve accumulated after pulling them out of Mold Craft Super Chuggers and Hookers.

cutting off top of naked ballyhoo rig
Clip the top of the lure and remove the other strands of the skirt.Capt. Mario Elaluf, La Guaira, Venezuela

I took the inner skirts and modified them a bit by snipping off the nipple end with a pair of heavy scissors and then removing every other strand of the skirt. This flattened the face a bit, still allowing them to pop in the water and cut down the bulk of the lure.

naked ballyhoo rig with nipple end cut off
You'll end up with lures that pop in the water and cut down on the bulk.Capt. Mario Elaluf, La Guaira, Venezuela

With this small modification, I am getting stunning results with a far higher number of strikes and successful hookups, especially during those days when the naked ballyhoo just doesn’t seem to cut it.

naked ballyhoo rigged to circle hook
This trick can help when the bite is slow on your usual naked ballyhoo.Capt. Mario Elaluf, La Guaira, Venezuela