Ruthless Cut Bait Rig
When rigging up to use cut baits it always seems a little straight forward but there are times that you miss a lot of fish. Sometimes during the late fall your hookup rate will diminish pretty badly and the percentage of hookups will be around 40% or less. A good way to solve this is to use a treble hook.
Go to Wal-Mart and head back to the embroidery dept. or arts and crafts dept. Get yourself a thin crochet hook, they have some thin ones that'll work really well and probably easier to use than the embroidery needles as you can just push the hook down through the mouth of the shad head and then place the leader loop on the crochette hook and pull the leader up through the bait.
Go over to the hook rack and purchase several different sizes of treble hooks about 2/0 to 8/0 in size and whatever leader material you wish to use. You'll also need some heavy snap swivels as well as some barrel swivels. Get some crappie floats also ... the big ones with the split down the side is what I use. they have two black plugs in them. One in each end. The floats are for bottom float rigs. You don't need the floats if you're not going to suspend your baited hook off bottom.
Tie a barrel swivel on the end of your mainline and then about a two or three foot section of the leader line you purchased. I use 50# big game mono line. and tie the three foot section of leader line onto the bottom eye of the barrel swivel and then slide the snap swivel onto the line and also both of the plugs out of the crappie float ... face them so that you can insert them into the float with the small ends facing each other after you slide them on the line. tie your sinker on the bottom and then slide the snap swivel up the leader and tie a short Dropper Loop with the snap swivel in the loop when you're done. then clip the float on the line between the two end plugs and push the end plugs down into both ends of the crappie float and make sure it slides freely up n down the leader between the sinker and the dropper loop that's holding the snap swivel.
Now tie about a foot long leader onto one of the treble hook ... the size of the hook depends on the size of the bait you're using. You'll want two of the points sticking out a good ways on both sides of the bait when you're done so a 2/0 to 4/0 would be about right for a shad head and a 6/0 to 8/0 might be appropriate for a bluegill or green sunfish head. Tie a loop in the other end and cut the shad head or bluegill head then take the embroidery needle and push it through the body cavity from the bottom up through and out it's mouth or nose area. Before you push the embroidery needle all the way through insert the hook leader loop into the eye of the needle and then pull the embroidery needle through and pull the leader until the hook gets to the bat and stick one of the points of the treble hook into the flesh above the spine of the bait to where the shank of the hook is up inside the body cavity of the bait and the other two hook points are on both sides of the bait.
Open the snap swivel and put the leader loop in the snap swivel and then close the snap swivel back up and you're now ready to cast the "Ruthless Cutbait Rig". If you've opted to use the crappie float then you must let out some line so that the float can pick the rig up off bottom ... about 2 yards is enough. You can use the clicker or not. I doubt you'll miss any fish either way unless you get a little fish nibbling at your baits or a turtle or something.
When using this rig you'll get near 100% hookup rate and the hooks are hard to remove sometimes as most of the time they hook fish deep. A good hook removal tool is handy when using this rig. You also don't have to worry too much about sharpening these hooks as factory sharp is good enough.
those rigs are some for sure things almost ... when nothing else is working very well I can switch to the treble rigs and start bringing fish into the boat ... for me, however, it's usually the third rig I've tried ... when I'm out with clients and they're not hooking the fish I'll switch to the other style of hook ... like if they can't hook the fish on the straight J hooks or Kahle hooks then I'll switch to circles if they're not being aggressive enough. if that's even the problem ... usually it's not unless they've just not been fishing much at all ... then I switch to the treble hooks as a last resort because they're a pain in the butt for me to rebait every time ... makes my fingers sore and cut up because it's hard to take those big snap swivels loose and right in the crook of my finger it usually gets sore and even cuts in past the callus to raw flesh and that's when ya know you're dedicated to getting your clients some fish hahaha .. when ya can go through that kind of pain for them. just kidding of course ... usually after the finger start getting sore I'll take them loose with needle nose pliers from then on but that's another procedure that you gotta do that seems to make baiting a tough venture. especially when you're trying to run 8 rods in each spot ... if I locate some fish and cast out 8 treble rigs that means I've had to take the leaders off each of them ... then put a crochet hook through each bait and pulled the leader through each one and snapped it back on then when ya add in there the extra step of locating your needle nose pliers you have several steps more than just cutting and baiting one of the other style rigs but, you'll put fish in the boat ... if it was pleasure fishing I could deal with those a lot easier but I won't mess with them if I'm out pleasure fishing unless I'm not able to hook them and sometimes it seems like ya just can't hook a fish to save yer hide. this is how I came up with those rigs initially was one day we couldn't hook the fish at all so I thunk and I thunk and remember seeing some kinda rigs on some deep sea fishin show that was similar to what I was needing in order to incorporate a more deadly hook type like a treble and I ended up with the crochet hook rig ... which is just a crochet hook pushed through the head or cut shad and pull the leader back through the bait ... earlier I tried the crochet needle and that worked but it was a pain ... lot worse pain than the hooks so if any of you are going to try this rig you should use the crochet hook instead of the needle. they have some small sized hooks at Wal-Mart in the arts n crafts dept