How To Rig Head Start Trolling Lures

G'day lads, Garfish are a deadly bait and are sort after by all apex predators, especially Spanish mackerel, northern bluefin tuna, kingfish, marlin and tailor. As far as I know they are the only bait used in the commercial mackerel fishery. But unless you’re a professional and doing it every day like those blokes, it’s very difficult rigging them to swim straight. All kinds of methods have been tried, chin weights and crimped heavy mono leader:

A Garfish rigged with Head Start trolling lure and fishing line leader

Trollers use cone springs, often with a plastic squid over the head when chasing sail fish, but those – unless skipped – are only good for slow speed trolling too.

Dead bait rigged with a plastic squid and hook

Typical plastic squid trolling lure rig ready to be attached

Ganged hooks work okay on a dead slow retrieve, but because the shank side of a hook is heavier than the point side, the bait is always going to be out of balance.

Dead bait rigged with a ganged hook set up

What if there was a way to rig a garfish so that it could be trolled fast like a Halco Trembler or Rapala CD-26, but with the added advantage of bait scent?

Garfish ready for trolling on a Headstart Lure rig

Well now there is. The Head Start trolling rig is a fantastic invention which allows you to troll a garfish at high speed for hours on end. Check out this short video we made recently, it explains their benefits really well:

There are two options for rigging:

The regular Head Start comes with an 80-pound breaking strain bead chain and a hook suitable for mackerel, kings, northern blues and sailfish on light string.

For large marlin and the like a separate rigging system using 175 pound multi strand wire is available. That one is $7.00.

Alternatively, you can run a straight mono leader, with a split shot lightly crimped to hold the head in place.


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There’s also a topwater version available, this one splashes like a mini bird teaser:

Top water trolling rig using a soft plastic

And yes, they’ll work on fresh or butterflied yellowtail, too:

You can rig many types of dead bait with head starts for trolling, including Yellowtail

With good numbers of small black marlin along the mid-north coast, this is the time to add a Head Start to your spread.