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How To Sew On Smelts, Suckers and Shiners as Bait for Trolling

By A. Sayward Lamb


I have trolled sewed smelts, suckers, and shiners, over a period of more that fifty years. Most of the time I use the method taught to me by Harl Andrews. This is my method.


First, be sure to use sewing hooks with double leaders ( I make my own)  Why? Because you take the single sewing hook and, using the point of the hook, force it down through the top of the head in the bony part just above the eyes. Pull the complete hook down through. Then bring the hook up to the top of the head once again, and put the hook down through the same hole in the head a second time.


Now carefully "sew" the hook along the lateral line of the bait(fish). Way back to just in front of the tail. Complete the sewing by making sure hook is completely imbedded inside the bait.


Now work the leader material taught enough to give the sewed bait a bit of bend. Once you have the bend you want, take the leader and pull any excess back towards the loop end of the leader.


This next step is very important---Place one side of the double leader behind the gills on one side of the bait, and the second leader on the opposite side. Finalize any needed adjustments to keep a slight bend in the sewed bait. Attach the loop of the leader to the trolling line swiveled end.


Throw the line overboard with the line short enough so you can see the rolling action. The sewed bait should be doing only a slow roll at trolling speed. If it turns too fast then loosen the double loop on the head and take some of the loosened line and adjust the sewed bait to become straighter. If the sewed bait doesn't turn fast enough, (and I emphasize that it should be only a slow roll) adjust the line so it is tighter.


Sometimes I do attach a small treble hook to the head, but I haven't found out a way to use the treble hook to penetrate the head, (between the eyes). I have heard of the head knot, for use with treble hooks, and even though I have never used this method, I sort of remember it involves tying a couple of half hitches around the head, just behind the gills. That's the best I have to offer.  


Oh, I almost forgot the most important part. "Spit a big gob of goo on the bait as an attractor".   ASL


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