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Deadly Hoochie Riggings

Part 1 of 3

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I am confident we can all agree... The hoochie fished straight out of the package is pretty darn boring.  Effective? Yes, but pretty darn boring.  Remember, there are three attributes salmon use to capture forage- sight, sound, and smell.  If the angler utilizes these attributes in the presentation of their gear the odds of catching salmon greatly go up.  In fact, it is one the keys to being consistently successful on the water.  While most anglers get in to the habit of consistly changing colors until a fish hits, there is a whole broad spectrum of different possibilites for the angler to experiement with, and many of the follow riggings have been around for years. 

Scaling down for blackmouth
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Cutting down a hoochie to size may quite possibly be last thing an angler would ever think about doing. However, it should be the first thing a blackmouth angler should consider as the average size of herring within the Puget Sound will be between 3 to 4-inches in length. This is due to a high natural mortality of older herring in the 5 to 7-inch lengths.

Scaling down is very important not only in “matching the hatch,” but in being consistent when fishing hoochies for blackmouth. Why? A good example would be your buddy (usually on the opposite side of the boat) hitting fish after fish on spoons (smaller in size) every time you’re out on the water trolling around every color under the sun, scratching your head, and going fishless with your favorite hoochies. This is frustrating and it generally has nothing to do with color or leader lengths, but size (silhouette) itself. I have heard numerous instances of this and personally witnessed this time after time. Scaling down, more often than not, is quite often the answer to productivity.

If you decide to scale down, the most important thing to remember is to taper the hoochie’s tentacles. This will give a more natural lifelike appearance (see photo) instead of cutting the tentacles/twinkle skirt flush giving a paint brush effect. This will also allow the hoochie to swim (breathe) better in the water. Hoochies in the 3.25 to 3.75-inch range seem to be just about perfect for most applications and it is better to error on larger than smaller sizes. Once the hoochie is cut back too far, it becomes too bulky to match the natural’s silhouette and therefore becomes less effective. If this is becomes the case, other lures may be presented or I’ll switch to a mini hoochie and Spin N’ Glo combination (see below).

If you fish blackmouth, give this a try. You will be pleasantly surprised and well as rewarded with a lot more fish by adding this new dimension to your hoochies for blackmouth.

The Slow Roll
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The “slow roll” offers a unique and different look than the standard hoochie swimming through the water and a super quick way of modifying your hoochie. Since the line is coming off the hoochie at an angle, the hoochie will slightly pull away ‘off center” and often turnover (spin) very slowly giving “a slow death cripple” appearance. Before you tie on your leader to a snap or flasher, simply poke a small hole in the side of the hoochie’s head midway between the nose and eye with one of hook points and re-thread the leader through the hole. If you no longer want to fish the hoochie this way, just re-thread through the nose. A few things to note if you decide to use this modification:

1) The overall length of your hoochie will increase approximately ½-inch. This is because the head of the skirt is now further up above the head of the twinkle skirt and the end of the twinkle skirt extends past the tentacles of the skirt. This will not hinder your catch ratio for the larger returning fish however, the extra length may result in a lot less hits during fall and winter. This will become even more apparent after the herring spawn when there are a lot of small young herring in the area. As a general rule of thumb, I typically scale down hoochies to 3.25 to 3,75- inches for blackmouth.

2) Be mindful that the hoochie skirt, although a tough vinyl, is a thin material and fishing the hoochie in this manner may cause a small tear. If this happens, you can continue to use this method by simply utilizing the opposite side or re-rigging through the nose and fishing normally.

Adding Noise
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Spin N Glo's

Unlike spoons, cut bait, or plugs, hoochies have no built in action of their own and therefore do not produce strong vibrations like the aforementioned lures/bait. For the most part, anglers do quite well fishing a hoochie by itself behind a flasher/dodger. However, these anglers may or may not know there are numerous ways of maximizing the overall effectiveness of their hoochie in the water with the aid of adding accoutrements. It has been my experience over the years that these “additives” have really racked up impressive numbers of fish compared to leaving the hoochie “naked.“  To this end, I am a strong believer in adding a little more noise to excite or anger the fish, especially to the hoochie itself and there are several ways to accomplish this
Without a doubt this is my favorite way to add noise and this is what started the Captain Downriggin’s revolution- the B2 Squid and Spin N Glo combination pictured above!  The Spin N Glo places extremely powerful vibrations in the water, and coupled with the bulbous face/body providing a slight undulation to the body of the hoochie, you’ll be hard pressed find a more deadly hoochie. The Captain Downriggin’s Special is my number one “go to” hoochie year around. It has rarely failed me when the fishing has been tough.
The Spin N Glo is nothing new to saltwater fishing. In fact, anglers on Whidbey Island have been pursuing winter run steelhead for decades using mini hoochies and appropriate sized Spin N Glo’s casting into the shallow waters off the beach. Adding a smaller Spin N Glo to a full sized hoochie is also deadly for catching returning coho August to October

Spinner bl
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One of the oldest modifications to hoochies has been adding a spinner blade. Spinner blades produce vibration and movement in the water via vacuum from behind spinner blade causing the blade to spin. The larger the blade and surface area, the more vibration and vacuum.
Blades come in numerous sizes, shapes and colors; however, the most important attribute in choosing a style and size is using a blade large enough to produce the maximum amount of noise yet small enough as not to create a ton of vacumm (pull). Too much vaccum will cause the flasher to rotate in a smaller degree of arc or flatten out altogether. Thus acting as a dodger effectively killing the desired maximum amount of action and noise from the flasher itself.
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Over the years, I have experimented with nearly every shape, size and color available. The shape and sizes I found to work the best is the single willow leaf blade in sizes 2 and 3. For trolling with a spinner in front of the hoochie I prefer size 3 buffered by a 3mm or 4mm bead. If you’re an angler that prefers the gel or paste types of scents, I would recommend buffering the spinner with a 5mm bead to keep the blade from sticking.

If you tie your own leaders, a size 2 is perfect for running a blade from the rear (as pictured below). These can be exceptionally deadly as blades placed in these position mimic tails of baitfish! For blade color, I always use glow in the dark blades.
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Two noteworthy items of caution… If you decide to purchase willow leaf blades from a lure component retailer, make sure you purchase “willow leaf” as some will be marked “double willow leaf.” The double means: “twice the blade width.” Please remember, more surface area, more vacuum.
Lastly, there are a few hoochies on the market with spinner blades already incorporated however, you’ll want to pay close attention before you purchase. Many of these hoochies, designed for casting, are manufactured on wire forms and/or weighted thus too heavy to troll behind a flasher properly.

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I am not sure why this little secret hasn’t taken off, but glass rattles offer a lot of loud “clinking” and “clanking“ under water. Like most lure components each manufacture offers a wide array of sizes and with glass rattles there is no need to be overly concerned with different sizes as this setup (pictured) will be embedded within the hoochie once the skirt is drawn down towards the hooks.
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There are various harnesses on the market that hold the glass rattles in place however, these are not very conducive to rigging on the salmon hoochies. The easiest way I have found is sliding small latex tubing (bow sight tubing works the best) down onto the leader than then adding the glass rattle. It is very important to use a small tubing cut to the same length as the rattle as this will safely secure the rattle within the tubing. (In the illustration the tubing is cut short to allow the reader to view the glass rattle in the tubing.) This will also allow the end of the tubing to contour to the edges of the rattle. Be sure to lubricate the leader when sliding the rattle/tubing down the leader into position. Without lubrication the sliding will cause friction burns and weaken the leader.
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