Getting the Best from Cut Fish Baits
Getting the best from cut fish baits is a rudimentary saltwater fishing proficiency. There are all sorts of common baits, and just about any fish can be used for cut bait. Nevertheless, as with most things, some work better than others.
The soft, oily fleshed species are usually the favoured target of most fish, so it stands to reason that those sorts of baits will work best. Fish like small tuna, slimy mackerel, yellowtail, mullet, herring, tailor and bonito are among the finest cut bait contenders.
The secret of using fish baits is in how they are cut and offered to the fish. The first law is to give the fish something it likes to eat, in a size and profile that it can effortlessly gulp down. Fresh bait is predominantly significant, if the flesh is soft and crumbly it will not stay on the hook very well and if there is a solid current or insignificant pickers about, they will remove it leaving just the skin on the hook.
Fish can be selective with their food; most fish do not find half rotten bait to their liking. Nevertheless, a portion of fresh, firm fish bait with the blood and oil still oozing from the flesh will be most tempting.
The Right Cut
A sharp blade is a vital part of the method too, making filleting and cutting easy, providing precisely the right shape and size baits. Cutting an entire fish for bait can be accomplished in a number of ways dependent on size of the baitfish and the kind of bait needed for the fishing being done.
The easiest and utmost beneficial way of cutting bigger baitfish is to fillet them and then portion the fillets into practical sizes. Always fillet from head to tail as this is the same direction as the muscle arrangement in the fish.
Most fillets are then cut into long strips which are further cut into pieces that suit both the hook size and the fish being hunted.
Dense fillets off fish like striped tuna or big bonito may need to be cropped of surplus flesh prior to use. The portion of fish bait should never be thicker than the gape of the fishhook. This causes missed strikes as the hook point cannot get a clear bite in the fish;s mouth because it is covered by bait.
When bottom bashing for fish such as bream, snapper and flathead or drifting offshore, the typical strip baits end up about the size of the index finger. Bigger baits can be used depending on the fish being hunted and the size of fishhook needed to handle them. Mulloway, cod, kingfish, large snapper and others, a large fillet about 15 cm x 6 cm makes a handy bait.
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Baiting up with Strips
Most strip baits are positioned on the fishhook by asserting the point through the flesh and out through the skin. This is done at the thick end of the bait close to the edge of the shoulder when using a fillet, for instance, the hook is passed once only through the bait. This gives it a very natural appearance in the water and lets the bait to flutter in an inviting action. This long slim bait is also easy for the fish to gulp down and leaves the point of the hook in a prime position for the hook up. Many fishermen thread the bait on the hook by passing the point of the hook through the bait numerous times. This may look reasonable at the start, but after casting and water pressure from winding it in, the bait often ends up as an unattractive blob at the end of the hook. Yet again the hook point may become covered and miss any fish that take the bait.
Alternative Bait Presentation
The best result if the bait needs a little more holding power on the hook is to use two linked hooks. By ganging the hooks in similar fashion to a tailor rig the bait still looks respectable but has additional strike power of two points. The bait will also cast very well on this rig. Another rig is to pass the hook through the flesh and out through the skin bringing the whole hook through the bait. The point of the hook is then passed back through the bait precisely one hook length from the top exit mark. A half hitch is tied around the top of the bait and the hook eye to hold them composed.
Baiting Whole Fish
Whole dead fish can also be cut to make them look enticing to many predatory fish, not only pleasing to their sensory organs but also providing visual action to stir their senses.
One of the best rigs is known as the butterfly. It comprises of cutting a small fish like a yellowtail, herring or slimy mackerel from the tail up to almost the stomach cavity. This is done on each side of the spine and the bone and tail is then detached leaving the half fillets to flap in the current undulated when you drift over a reef or structure.
The baitfish is usually attached by inserting a hook under the chin and out through the nose. A lead weight can also be added right on the hook. The main lure of this type of bait is that it mimics a crippled baitfish when moved through the water. Fish like mulloway, snapper, kingfish, coral trout, emperor and others all have a deadly attraction for this bait when worked correctly. Cut or strip baits work best when they appear natural to the fish. An easy to swallow strip of well presented fresh bait will appeal to many species.
The main elements for successfully fishing baits comprise fresh bait, sharp blades and a rigging technique that keeps the bait looking respectable. Pay attention to these details and you’re more than halfway to filling the esky with more fish.