by George Poveromo
Targeting wahoo is a specialized art, ranging from live-baiting to high-speed trolling. A slashing fish with a hard mouth, wahoo are difficult to hook. If they're still on after the strike, it's a must to keep a tight line - right to the gaff; any slack and their violent head shakes will likely toss hooks. Even then, they sometimes, somehow, disconnect.
THE PRIDE OF MARATHON - Enter Captain Jimmy Gagliardini, an in-demand, Florida Keys guide specializing in reef-, wreck- and offshore fishing. With an extensive background in big game fishing, and now a 17 year veteran charter captain behind the Blue Green Resort in Marathon, Jimmy has perfected a rig which literally "grabs" a wahoo - regardless if they miss the hooks on the strike, or shake them during the fight. He claims his hook-up-to-fish-box ratios with this rig are outstanding. So much so, that if one actually escapes the "Gagliardini Grabber", credit usually goes to divine intervention. Small- to mid-size boat friendly and geared more for traditional trolling speeds, just send a couple out on flat lines and go catch your wahoo dinner.
THE HARDWARE - Components include a weighted, streamlined/cone-shaped lure, No. 9 single strand wire, soft copper wrap, a 7/0 O'Shaughnessy style hook, two 6/0 short shank J-hooks, and a fresh ballyhoo. The advantage lies with the two seperate, viper-like "stinger" strands, which swing freely along the bait's body.
"A lot of wahoo throw hooks with their radical head shakes," says Gagliardini. "With this set up, the stinger hooks tend to snag the wahoo in the side of its jaws or face during these head shakes, if this hasn't already occured during the strike. This is a great thing, because should the main hook pull, at least one stinger hook should be deeply imbedded in the fish. Just use extra caution when handling a caught fish; you'll have the wahoo's sharp teeth and three hooks to keep an eye on."
RIGGING THE "GAGLIARDINI GRABBER" -
1.) Cut a four foot length of No. 9 wire; Use a Haywire Twist/Barrel Wrap to join a 7/0 O'Shaughnessy hook, leaving a couple inches of the wire's tag end upright and at 180-degrees to the hook point (you're creating a "pin" rig). Add a strand of soft copper wrap to the wire loop.
2.) Based on ballyhoo size, cut two (2) four- to five-inch long stinger leaders from the No. 9 wire. Connect each one to the eye of the lead hook, and on their respective sides of the hook's shank, with a Haywire Twist/Barrel Wrap. Make sure the hook points face away from the ballyhoo.
3.) Add the smaller hooks to each stinger wire, trimming if necessary to align them with the bait's mid- to aft-body. Secure with a Haywire Twist/Barrel Wrap.
4.) Holding the stinger strands off to the sides of the bait, insert the lead hook into the ballyhoo's throat latch, work the bait onto the shank, and then its point out the bait's belly.
5.) Pass the pin underneath the lower jaw and out its upper jaw. Secure the bait by passing the soft copper wrap through its eye, then wrapping firmly a couple times behind the "pin", then around its jaws in front of the pin, culminating with wrap or two around the wire leader. Then, slide the lure onto the wire leader, and use a Haywire Twist/Barrel Wrap to form a small loop at this end the leader, which will affix to the snap swivel on the actual fishing line.
6.) Trim back the skirt so it won't tangle with the stinger hooks.