Rigging for Halibut

When fishing for halibut, whether you are fishing for a trophy or just for food, everyone has their special technique. Some halibut fisherman swear by jigs, others adamantly say the only way to hook them is with circle hooks. I prefer a wire spreader bar, a couple of ounces of lead ball on the short end and on the long end, a double hook leader using octopus hooks, one fixed and one that slides. The last couple of years, I’ve made my own mostly with wire leader material and have pretty much settled on a combination of 8/0 and 9/0 Gamakatsu octopus J hooks. I put a couples of beads above the lower hook so the upper one can swing freely.

What one uses for bait and how you bait up is the key to attraction and hook ups. For many years I have preferred a combination of a large herring and a piece of salmon belly. We carefully trim and save the belly fin section every time we are filleting and freeze them up in ziplock freezer bags.

We place the hooks at each end of the salmon belly and then add the herring (the largest you can buy). Then we take a foot or so of stretchy (or sticky) thread and wrap the whole package between the hooks. Be sure your hooks are facing outward and are sharp. The advantage of the stretchy thread is that your bait retains its shape and doesn’t get torn apart as quickly by other bottom fish. If you want to apply a scent, fine, but the herring seems to do just as well in this department and halibut “love” fresh salmon.

About Fred Cooper

Alaska resident at the time of statehood and returns annually; professional civil engineer and for 35 years owner of an engineering company; skipper of the Nordic Quest; author, avid fisherman and world traveler. Lives with his wife and their water-loving standard schnauzer in Portland, Oregon.
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