Ok, so it’s not about Billfish but I hope someone finds it useful anyway.
So in World War II and the Korean War the Tail Gunner was the guy whose’ job it was to save everyone’s bacon but he was also often the first to cop it. Much like the rig I’m about to show you which has produced time and again turning dud trips with tough conditions into winners.
This Rig is the secret weapon of many an Impoundment Barra Pro and come Comp time most guys will have a variation of this theme. Personally it has accounted for a swag of Barra for me in both the fresh and the salt including my two largest fish at 107 and 121cm. The 100-130mm versions are great in the fresh but the real kicker for me was the discovery of just how deadly the 100mm models could be in the salt. Not only that, but due to the fact that the best retrieve is a dead easy slow roll and the stinger can convert bumps into takes it has proven itself as my go-to novice lure and is perfect for the “wannacatchabarra” Southrons who turn up when conditions are comfortable for them, not the Barra.
There are many variations to this rig, most notably Jason Wilhelms’ Area 51 Slick Jig by TT lures, this rig is undoubtedly good but I find it fiddly to use, it doesn’t come in enough sizes and weights to expand on its’ application and the treble hook isn’t far enough back in the body for my liking. Not to mention it being horrendously expensive and not coming with my preferred hooks, not that there is anything wrong with VMCs’. By far the most common variation to this rig is to trim the tail wrist of the lure to achieve the desired “floppiness” needed for slow speed use. The one big advantage to this method is the ability to do it on the fly during a fishing session however it does come with a few drawbacks. The main drawback of trimming is that it doesn’t address the problem of bent tails. The smaller sizes are particularly prone to this, many so bad that they are essentially useless. Trimming also makes it more likely that the Barra will be able to pull the tail off of the lure. Again, this is more of a problem in the smaller models.
So, time to get on with the mod. For this you will need:
• Crimping pliers
• Heavy duty pliers or sidecutters
• Short length of wire or similar
• Pot of boiling water
• Bowl of iced water
• 80lb mono leader
• 2 x Crimps to suit (preferably a snug fit)
• Squidgy Slick Rig in preferred size and colour, in this case a 130mm original series in Black and Gold
• 1 x Heavy duty treble hook sized to suit #2 for 110-130mm #4 for the 100mm. In this case a #2 Owner ST66.
Step 1. Take the squidgy and remove the jig hook taking care to not tear the plastic. Some times this is unavoidable but the main thing is to try and limit the damage.
Step 2. Take the lure and drop it in boiling water for approximately 25-30 seconds. Use the tongs to remove from the water and take the lure by the tail wrist and the middle of the body and stretch it right out to the point just before where you think it might break. This is a feel thing and takes a bit of practice, you can reheat a lure if you don’t go far enough but you can’t shrink one back down so start off slow. Checking that the tail is in line with the body (remember one of the things we are trying to achieve is to correct any kinks and twists) and whilst still holding the lure stretched out dunk it in iced water hold it there until cool. What we are trying to achieve here is to set the lure with a thinner elongated tail wrist, the colder the water is the quicker the lure sets and the better(and easier) the results. Boiling also softens the lure giving further action but the stretch and cool technique is the real secret. In the below shot you can see the difference between two lures from the same pack. The boiled and stretched lure has a visibly thinner tail wrist and droops down from the softening. Ignore the colour difference this is due to dipping in Spike-it.
Step 3. Take up the piece of wire and heat the end of it then melt the hole for the treble rig on the centreline of the body between the last two ribs towards the tail and at the same angle as the ribs. If the wire is hot enough this will be very easy. Go slow so as to not go too far as we don’t want a hole in the top section of the lure.
Step 4. Take the leader, treble and crimps and form the Stinger rig, the key to this to form the front loop so it just fits over the eye of the jig hook but to leave the back loop for the treble quite large to hide the crimp in the lure body and give the treble hook freedom of movement. When it comes to crimping make sure you are using the right type of crimp for the leader you are using as well as the right type of tool. I’m not going to go into it here, there is plenty enough information floating around on this already but it is important enough to mention. You may notice in the photo below that the crimps have been double swagged, this is a personal preference but it makes the rig sleeker and I haven’t had one fail yet. Additionally you may wish to melt “mushrooms” on the tag ends of your leader after crimping as extra insurance. For the 130mm rig the loop to loop distance is approx. 60mm, 55mm for the110mm and 50mm for the 100mm
Step 5. This step is optional depending on whether or not you are using the Original or Pro series of Slick Rig and what depth of water you will be fishing. One of the main reasons the Pro series was introduced was the need for a lighter version of the lure to be able to work shallow water such as estuary flats and above weed beds in the impoundments. To lighten the original series take your jig head and work the cutting blades of the pliers or side cutters around the lead with firm pressure with each cut applied at 90 degrees to the last until the excess lead comes away from the head of the jig. The aim is to seperate the unwanted lead without scoring or otherwise damaging the hook. Once the excess has been parted it is a simple matter to bring it down to the length of the hook to the bend and then cut it lengthways to totally remove it once again applying just enough force for the lead to seperate, not enough to damage the hook. Please note, the tip of the lead in the jig head is very important to the way a Slick Rig swims and the way the hook sits in the lure and this in turn affects hook up rates, so don’t mess with the nose of the jig head!
Step 6. Thread the treble rig up through the lure body and place the front loop over the eye of the jig hook like so:
Step 7. Finally, Slide the Jig hook back into the body taking care to minimise tearing around the rear hook slot and give the lure a tug test to ensure the treble rig is securely looped over the jig eye, there’s nothing more embarrasing than getting a solid hit and finding out the hard way that the treble was just sitting there! Ready to swim!
Hope this helps someone out there get onto a few.