The "B/S" Fluke Jiggin' Rig

Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
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Dec 19, 2018
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Those of you who have read my stuff over the years, going back to the "old" site, know that I've frequently mentioned catching my fluke with my B/S Rig, but there are still a goodly group of readers that do not know what that is.

First, let's get this out of the way - I named it "B/S," not because its a Bull Sh!t idea, rather because I developed it specifically to fish small bucktails over a sinker, so to avoid the super-ridiculous numbers of skates that infest our local South Shore ocean open bottom. So the name "Bucktail/Skateless" or "B/S" seemed appropriate. The idea was to have the sinker square on the bottom, while a small (1/2 oz or less) bucktail was tied off on a dropper loop, approx 14" up from that sinker. A piece of fish bait or a few spearing completed the deal, and that rig just killed it for better than 20 years, open bottom fishing, I mean. Here, take a look at the rig's first iteration:

BS Rig1.jpg

These days, so-called "Popcorn" rigs and the like are pretty much accepted as THE way to catch fluke. But back 25 or more years ago, no one, and I mean NO ONE seriously fished for fluke this way. In fact I regularly got laughed at mornings at the dock as I loaded my fluke rods onto the boat and my dock mates spied the B/S Rigs clipped onto them. "Whatcha fishin for, Sea Bass?" or "That's no way to catch a fluke!" or "Everybody knows you need a long leader and a squid strip and killie for fluke" and my personal favorite: "That rig sucks, you ain't catchin' fluke with that thing."

The non-believing infidels changed their tune quickly when we would return with our fish cooler loaded with nice fish. The proof was in the catchin', right? I can't even say how many "gift rigs" I gave out to the formerly critical "experts." They began imitated my rig and hence began pulling much better fish, without the constant irritation of having to remove curled-up skates from their rigs. Hey, "the baloney stops at the fillet table," right? What a revelation!

The way we used to fish the rig was to drop it in, let it hit bottom, pay out 20-40' of line and then put the rod in the rod holder. The natural rocking action of the boat normally did a fine job of "jigging" the bucktail. When the rod bent over, pick it up out of the rod holder and reel in the fish. Simple no? Relaxing, too.

The near-hypnotic rhythmic bending of the rod was highly satisfying (like watching a properly fished bunker spoon - bounce, bounce, bounce, etc.) , and if we saw a fish hit the rod and miss, then we would grab the rod out of the holder and a quick couple of sharp jig motions with the rod tip were normally enough to re-interest the fish. The next stop for that fish would usually be my wife's frying pan.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, the local fish aggregation patterns changed - the open bottom drops that I had KILLED them on for many seasons suddenly went dry - all Summer, too. I never really did get to the bottom of this disastrous situation. The bait was still there, we read it a'plenty on the sonar, just no predatory fluke. For a season and a half I (we on the Lep) struggled mightily, run to this sandy drop-off, that ledge or rise, my "secret fingers," and other such locales, burning tons of fuel - for very little results. No matter the depth, tide or wind conditions - just very meager catches for our long days of effort.

That's when I was forced to rethink our approach and begin to switch it up - and so we start hitting the hard bottom. This also required a rig and technique adjustment, as well. No longer could we just drop in the sinkered-rig and let it drag along with the boat's drift. That was a sure rig-loser, as time after time our rigs would hang in the rubble. While we did get some nice specimens fishing over the rocks in that manner, the price we paid in lost rigs was just absurd. And that's when we started jigging a bucktail on the bottom of the rig, with a 5/0 hook up on the dropper - carrying a variety of different baits.

Things certainly were looking up! Having the rod in one's hand and actively jigging it, while watching the bottom machine like a hawk, so to lift the bucktailed rig up and over the obstructions had us cutting way back on the lost rigs. This was big, but not as big as seeing how hard the fluke would wallop those rigs. Another eye-opening revelation!

We had occasionally fished hard bottom in the past, but rarely with bucktails, mainly I suppose because that was before the introduction of super-thin braid. We just couldn't get our rigs to stay on the bottom in 80+ feet of water while using mono, if we had any kind of detrimental wind or tidal action. The mono had way too much water resistance. Braid changed all that, and so it was a critical upgrade - just when we needed it the most.

Adding GULP! to the rig was the final piece of the puzzle. If you take a look at the bucktail construction thread that I pinned to the top of this board, and fish those bucktails with a 4" GULP! mullet or 5" jerk shad (I LOVE blue for those jerk shads, btw) on the 4/0 (or 5/0) trailer hook, with a 6" jigging grub on the top high hook - maybe with a THIN strip of fish bait or even better a 6" strip of cuttlefish, if you can find it (Hint: Korean people LOVE to eat cuttlefish), you will have a truly killer-grade fluke rig.

The way I currently tie the B/S is is illustrated here:

IMG_0961_edited.jpg

Using 40lb Berkeley clear Big Game mono, I start at the bottom and tie a three-turn Surgeon's Loop for the bucktail - I make the resulting loop large enough to allow it to pass thru the eye of the bucktail's hook, thence up around the bucktail's main and trailer hook, and finally, back over the bucktail's head.

Next I measure up 14" and tie a 3" (or so) dropper loop for my high hook. I like a 5/0 Gami baitholders for this, as the shank barbs help retain the big Grub on the hook. I also like the new Mustad "Gulp" hooks, with one barb on the top of the hook and one below. I forget the model number, but its now very commonly available. Tackle World in Jersey stocks them, but by now they should be available at most good LI tackle shops as well. I put that hook on the dropper by looping the dropper around the back of the hook twice, which seems to keep the hook laying a little straighter on the dropper.

Once I have the dropper loop tied, I pull off another 12" or so of line and put on a decent swivel, I find that a 50 - 75# Crane-type is more than sufficient.

I fasten my rig to my braid with a snap (Palomar or 12-turn Improved Clinch knot to secure the snap), and above the snap I string a clear plastic bead onto my line, so that should I accidentally reel all the way down to the snap, the bead will stop at my rod's tip top, preventing a trip-ending catastrophic ceramic ring break. Works 100%.

IMG_0963_edited.jpg

Here is a shot of the three-turn Surgeon's Loop for the bucktail at the bottom of the rig:

IMG_0965_edited.jpg

I always put a green glow bead on the dropper ahead of my hook, and sometimes I set it up this way - depending on how rich I feel that day - because fishing the bottom I like, I can count on losing at least a few rigs per trip, at a minimum:

IMG_0966_edited.jpg

That USED to be a nice bright green mylar grommet/skirt. But lots of fish chewed it down to the sad example I've illustrated above. Its not really necessary to doll it up that way, but sometimes I like to change up a bit, hence the skirt and extra bead.

A word now on main line & rig pound test. I ALWAYS use 20lb braid, mostly Sufix 832, and I find that the 40lb Big Game mono rig will ALWAYS break first, when irretrievably hung in the bottom. Usually it lets go (under heavy pressure) at the bottom of the dropper loop, giving up my bucktail as a donation to the fluke gods, but giving me back my $1.50 6" grub and hook combo - so not a total loss. I did try lighter 30lb mono - but it broke way too easily when snagged, giving my little chance to "power it" off the snag, without prematurely breaking - hence the step up to 40lb.

I also like this rig for those days that are so rotten that even a 6oz bucktail is insufficient to fish properly. Off comes the bucktail and on goes an 8 - 12oz sinker. Voila! A fishable rig on the worst of days. Funny, but some of our best trips have occurred while being scared to stand straight up in the boat. "Full-contact fluking" isn't for everybody, but if you have a boat capable of safely fishing thru and can tolerate it - then put out the drift sock and hang on for dear life, as we have usually found the fish to be more than willing to accommodate our extra efforts.

So that's really it. If you haven't given this rig a shot, you should consider doing so this season - it really is an elegant way to present two big baits to those larger than average ocean fluke. Just go back and look at our pix from last season. Every single fish shown came on the B/S rig. Trust me, it works as advertised.

Here's "Chef KenScot" with a 9.5lb fish - taken on the B/S two seasons ago. Pretty nice for a "local" fish, right? :):

ken.JPG
 

Chinacat

Well-Known Angler
Dec 20, 2018
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Even though I read it on the "old site", I Thank You for taking the time to spell this out in such detail with pictures!!🙏

Its a great reminder and super helpful information
 

Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
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Tried them early on, on the rod-holder drift. Marginal success, at best. That was a looog time ago though, so maybe some of the newer style circle versions might prove to be more effective.

For hand holding the rod, I wouldn’t consider circles to be a viable choice. Since 98% of my jigged fish are mouth hooked, using either Gami bait holders or the newer Mustad 3400-BN’s, I would think that the principal reason for using circles seems to not really apply.
 

jvisconti

New Angler
Jul 11, 2019
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Tried them early on, on the rod-holder drift. Marginal success, at best. That was a looog time ago though, so maybe some of the newer style circle versions might prove to be more effective.

For hand holding the rod, I wouldn’t consider circles to be a viable choice. Since 98% of my jigged fish are mouth hooked, using either Gami bait holders or the newer Mustad 3400-BN’s, I would think that the principal reason for using circles seems to not really apply.
That makes sense to me, thanks!
 

jvisconti

New Angler
Jul 11, 2019
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0
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Tied up a couple today and I have no clue how you were able to get the 40lbs mono through the hook eye twice, I was using 30lbs mono and I wasn't even close lmao. I put on holo-skirts on the teasers and they look great!
 

Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
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Huh.

O.K., this is my fault. I was unclear in my original post and misdirected you as to how I put the hook on the dropper. I meant to say that I loop the dropper twice over the back of the hook, and draw it up tight. Not twice thru the eye. My bad!

Look here, this is how it ends up when you loop it twice:

IMG_1100_edited.jpg

And a closer look:

IMG_1101_edited.jpg

So, not only does the hook lay straighter on the dropper, but under pressure the dropper's "fastening loops" pull nearly as much on the hook's shank as the eye:

IMG_1104_edited.jpg

Many guys put their hooks on dropper loops in this manner. I also do it this way for my porgy and sea bass rigs, and for my tog rigs that take a dropper for the hook, instead of a leader. I've found that rigging for tog this way is useful for fishing very sticky wrecks. Gives that much less for the fish to tangle in the wreckage or heavy rubble. Doesn't seem to affect the bite at all. YMMV.
 

pequa1

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 23, 2018
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, it should be obvious
Probably has been asked, but are your dropper hooks 'naked' with just a Gulp or are they dressed (like a teaser) and then a Gulp is added ?
 

Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
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Normally I fish a big GULP! 6" Jigging Grub on the high hook, with a THIN (no more than a 1/2 wide) strip of either fish belly of some sort or another, or the thick Cuttlefish that the Asian fish markets sometimes carry. I like strips at least 6" long - longer if possible. I feel the cuttlefish gets more hits, but it also gets knocked off the hook way easier than the belly - naturally! Like most things in life, it's a trade-off that only you can call. :rolleyes:

If the fish are really slammin', I sometimes switch it up by substituting a 7" GULP! jerk shad for the jigging grub. Those long shads are much better at not losing their tails, but the fish nearly ALWAYS prefer the jigging grub's superior tail action.

They gotta be nearly committing suicide for the jerk shad to work as well as the jigging grub - but believe me, it does happen fairly often on the deeper drops I frequent. There can be and frequently are certain stages of the tide that the fish go nuts, one just has to capitalize when it happens.

Early in the season that seems to be the last hour or so of the outgoing. Later on the first hour of the incoming seems to be prime - water temps are everything, I believe.

I do not use a holo teaser on the rough bottom, only when over open sand. This is because I lose so many rigs, its just not worth it - to me.