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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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