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Baits to impress your mates - Half cut pilchard baits

09 June 2015
Baits to impress your mates - Half cut pilchard baits

A great rig for days when the fish are present but the bites not strong. Application: Straylining with various weights, running sinker rig, bottom fishing.


  • 1 x whole pilchard – recently defrosted
  • 1 x hook – sized to match the width of the pilchard (6/0 usually a good choice)
  • 4 to 6 foot trace – author’s preference is 60-lb supple trace. Lighter fluorocarbon trace is an option
  • Sinkers - sized to match the fishing circumstances


1. Prepare a standard single hook trace as pictured. The hook is attached via a uni-knot to one end of the trace material. Slice the pilchard in half as cleanly as possible. Cutting at a diagonal exposes a larger surface area of the flesh allowing more fish-attracting oils to be released.

2. To rig the tail end place the point of the hook on the lateral line of the pilchard at such a point that allows the eye of the hook to align with the base of the tail. Push the hook firmly through the spine line of the pilchard until the hook point and barb are clear on the other side.

3. Rotate the hook to sit neatly against the bait with the eye of the hook snug against the tail. Secure in place with a half hitch around the tail.

4. To rig the head section place the point of a hook from a second single-hook trace against the lateral line of the bait. Push the hook firmly through the spine of the pilchard until the hook point and barb are clear on the other side. Rotate the hook to allow the eye to sit snugly at the head end of the cut bait.

5. Wrap the line very firmly around the head of the pilchard fractionally in front of the eye socket. The correct pressure will create visible indentation in the head without crushing it to pulp. Secure in place with a two overlapping half hitches.

6. Load the each trace with the appropriate sinker for the application and you are ready to fish.

This is my preferred rig on days when fish are present but feeding only reluctantly. The small size allows for an easy inhale while the oils leaking from the cut surface help attract more interested fish into the bite zone.

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