Marlin Lure Rigging Techniques

Three lure makers rig their own

March 17, 2019
marlin on a lure
Lure makers are able to suggest, like no other, which rigging style works best with their designs. Bryan Toney

As a manufacturer, no one else is quite as intimate with a product you design and craft yourself. We asked three to each build us one of their own, the way they felt it should be done. Here are the results.

Brett Crane, Crane Lures

brett crane of crane lures
Brett Crane, Crane Lures Brett Crane

Double trouble or double your luck? I have chosen to go with a double-hook stiff rig, which seems to produce the most efficient hook-up ratio for my lures. Our fishery on the West Coast — from Southern California to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico — tends to see smaller marlin on a normal fishing day, but of course there is always “the One.” Although a single-hook stiff rig has become popular around the globe, I believe the size of our fish and how aggressive the bite is reflects in your hook-up ratio. I use 600-pound stainless-steel cable when building my 180-degree hook-set, with two 9/0 or 10/0 Owner Jobu hooks on Jinkai 400-pound-test monofilament leader material.

My lure of choice with this hook-set is the Crane Medium Plunger. This is a classic style that runs extremely well in all weather conditions and attracts every species you could encounter offshore. This lure, run from the long rigger or stinger position, is where I would place my bet.


Alan Williams, Alan Williams Custom Lures

alan williams of alan williams custom lures
Alan Williams, Alan Williams Custom Lures Alan Williams

It has been said that any personal item should satisfy at least one of two criteria: utility or joy. When using my lures, I believe a single-hook stiff rig allows a lure to run as true as possible, keeping the action consistent and tracking as it was designed to. I have chosen my 15-inch Mangler as a long-rigger bait. It swims the best in a moderate chop — which is most likely 80 percent of normal fishing conditions here in North Carolina, or anywhere in the world — and at a variety of trolling speeds.

I bench-crimp an 11/0 Pa’a needle-eye stainless hook with 900-pound stainless-steel cable to build my hook-set, making sure to use chafe guard on the hook and leader loop. To provide extra protection where the hook-set gets the most abuse, I first heat-shrink the hook eye and the leader eye, then heat-shrink the entire length of the hook-set for added stiffness and durability. Then it is attached to a length of 400-pound Lindgren-Pitman mono leader.

Josh Stafford, Head Sea Lures

josh stafford head sea lures
Josh Stafford, Head Sea Lures Josh Stafford

If the argument of which hook-set is best was around during the Wild West days, there would be a lot of dead gunfighters. I know it has fueled many heated sessions of shop talk around a bottle of rum. Personally, I fish mostly double-swinging hook-sets in 12-inch and larger lures with open-throat Dozer hooks rigged on 900-pound stainless cable. I’ve rigged our Dirty Girl model with a double-swinging hook-set with the intent of fishing it in the short-rigger position with 27 feet of 500-pound Momoi mono leader.

three fishing lures
Left to Right: Crane Lures: Crane Medium Plunger; Alan Williams Custom Lures: Mangler; Head Sea Lures: Dirty Girl Jon Whittle

I use adhesive-lined heat-shrink on the bottom two-thirds of the hook-set, leaving the top set with the length of the shank exposed. The cable and the front hook are rubber-banded together, leaving the bare cable to cut through the band so the two break away on the bite, giving more swing to the set. I prefer to drill out the back of the head instead of using a lure stopper so the leader-to-hook-set connection fits up in the head and the front hook pulls closer to the lure, resulting in a better hook-up ratio.

Safety is the drawback when using any type of swinging hook-sets — for the wire man and the fish. Using a rig of this kind requires intense situational awareness and skill. Nothing could be worse than getting pulled overboard with one hook in the fish and one hook in you.


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