How To: Build a Single-Hook Rig for Marlin Lure Fishing

A single-hook hook-set adds safety for both your crew and the fish

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Effectively targeting marlin using lures can be challenging, thanks in part to the incredibly large number of variables involved: lure colors, positioning in the spread, head shapes and more. One of those is the choice of using one hook or two when making the hook-set for the lure. While it was once thought that two hooks were better, many captains found their hookup percentages actually increased when using just one hook, placed at the back of the skirt. An important benefit of the single-hook rig was crew safety: When a deckhand is attempting to unhook a marlin for release, an extra hook swinging around is an invitation to disaster. Having only one hook to deal with is considerably safer.

Two-hook rigs can also “lip-latch” a billfish, with one hook in the upper jaw and one in the lower jaw. If the fish breaks off or the hooks aren’t carefully removed, the fish will eventually starve to death or succumb to predation. This isn’t a consideration when fishing with a single-hook rig. Most lures, especially small- to medium-size ones, will have more action with just one hook since the overall weight of the rig is reduced. More lure action generally equals more bites from hungry billfish.

Most pros will rig this lure with the hook barely protruding from the end of the skirt. The hook-set can be allowed to swing freely or it can be pinned into place. Many prefer the hook to ride point up while others prefer a point-down configuration.