The rigging of the eels. beware! this is long! Lay the eels out in a line, all facing the same way, on a wet paper towel. Now, I do things in an assembly line fashion, putting things away as I progress...I'll suggest you do to, just to make the instructions more realistic. Take the rigging needle, double 1 piece of the Dacron, place the doubled end into the hole at the end of the needle and pull about 3 inches through the hole. Push the needle point into the eels mouth, and work it down through the body and exit the vent. Pull the needle through the eel, making certain the Dacron doesn't get hung up on the eels mouth as the loop enters. Once the needle is out and the doubled end of Dacron is out, remove the Dacron from the needle and put the eel aside.
Repeat this step on the other 5 eels. Put the needle away, it's done. Now for the tail hook. Take 1 hook, put the double Dacron through the eye of the hook, being careful from here on in, not to pull the other end of the Dacron into the eels mouth...an easy mistake to make if you're not watching!
Now, put the hook through the loop of Dacron that you just pulled through the eye. Turn the loop 180 degrees and put the hook through it again. Repeat one more time.
2. Now you have to slide the Dacron loop and all the turns up over the eye of the hook. Again, be careful not to pull the other end through the eels mouth, and tighten the loop and twists now by holding the Dacron where it exits the eel and pulling on the hook...use your fingers to work the loop and twist down tight towards the eye of the hook.
3. Along the way, you will find things that you will add/remove to rigging eels....here's one. Put just hook point back into the eels vent, with the point facing the eels tail, and poke it through about 1/4" aft of the vent, being careful to make sure it comes out right along the center of the bottom of the eel. Now, pull the hook until the eye and knot pop inside the eels vent...pulling at the other ends of the Dacron will often help here.
4. Now, you should have two single pieces of Dacron outside the mouth, approximately even in length and at least 6-8" long, and a hook sticking out of a hole you made ?" aft of the vent right along the center of the bottom of the eel. Let's move on. Pull the hook by the point out of it's hole up to the point where just the eye is remaining inside the eel. Take 1 20" piece of bow string and tie an overhand knot just where the bend of the hook straightens into the shaft, leaving an equal amount of bow string for both tag ends, tie it tight. Now repeat on opposite side of hook. Flip and repeat, this time doubling the overhand knot. Flip and repeat the doubled knot. Don't trim the tag ends. Put a drop of Zap-A-Gap on the knot, making certain not to get much glue on the eel, just on the knot and hook. Carefully put this eel aside, and repeat these steps on the remaining eels. This is easily the most time consuming part of the rigging process, but each step is very important if you want your eel to last. Each eel is set aside as they are glued in various steps to allow the glue to dry. If you are only doing one or two eels, there will not be enough time between steps to allow the glue to dry...you'll have to be patient or very careful! Zap-A-Gap will stick to everything and anything...including a fresh, slimy eel...it will remove some skin and leave a white spot on the eel...neither is desirable
OK, now we go back to the first eel we put the tail hook in, the glue will be dry by now. Push the hook back into the eel up to the point where the bow string is tight against the eel. The hook should be in a position now that makes it's bit most likely to connect should you get a hit. Pull the Dacron from the front again to make sure all slack is gone. Here comes a tough part....put your thumb on the shank of the hook, near the eye. This will put the hook shank against the eels spinal cord and "level" it. While holding the hook this way, wrap the tag ends of the bowstring tied to the hook in opposite directions over the eels back...now tie an overhand knot that comes to rest against the hook shank....make sure the hook is hanging straight down from eels belly, it can be adjusted if need be now by pulling on one tag or the other. Once it's straight, pull it tight...don't cut the eel in half...but tight!
Once it's tight, tie another overhand knot on top of the first. Now, pass the tag ends in opposite directions over the eel again and tie an overhand knot on top of the eel...in the groove from the bow string, then tie another overhand knot under the eel, on top of the first one on the hook. Now tie two more overhand knots on top of that one for a total of three. Pull them tight, and trim the tag ends without pulling on the tag ends too much, you can loosen the knots here if your not careful. Once trimmed, put a drop of glue here on top of the pile of knots on top of the hook...don't get it on the eel. Put this eel aside, and repeat for the other 5.
Put the first one in front of you again, and hold the eel around the hook area and hold the Dacron from the mouth and pull, making sure everything is nice and straight and tight. Pull the eel itself, from the head and tail and stretch it out, you should hear some popping and cracking as it gets to maximum length. While it's perfectly straight and tight, put it down, belly up. Take 1 12" piece of bowstring and place its center inside the eels mouth, about midway to the back of the mouth. Make sure the Dacron is centered coming out of the mouth.
Now tie an overhand knot around the lower jaw and tighten it. Flip the eel over and tie two overhand knots on the top jaw. Flip it over and tie two more overhand knots on the bottom jaw, make sure the Dacron is still coming out of the center. Trim the tags carefully, and put Zap-A-Gap on the knots, some will get on the eels lips here, don't sweat it. Pull the eel again and make sure everything's tight and straight. Repeat on the other 5 eels.
The squid - Choosing the squids is a personal preference thing. choose them based on the type of water your going to fish - calm/rough, shallow/deep, current speed, etc. In general, the X-deep squids will swim bigger eels and will swim deeper. As you get towards the deep, medium, and then shallow squids, you'll need to use thinner or smaller eels. Also, as the squids get lighter, the water they'll fish must be calmer. In other words, a "deep" squid or "medium" squid is a good starting point...with more emphasis towards the "deep" ones. From there use X-deep in rougher/deeper water and medium/shallow squids for calmer/shallower water. Ok, we got the squids picked out ;
Get the first eel again, choose it's squid out and insert the point of the squid hook at a point just behind the gills, forward a little of the pectoral fins.
Make sure the hook is going straight into the eel, and when it hits the spine, work the point around the spine and make absolutely certain that it comes out of the eel in the dead center of the top.
There's a handy little line built into the eels on the top center...make sure the hook comes out on that line. the eel should be straight and not bunched up and the line coming out it's lips is straight. This is critical.
Now, flip the rigged eel upside down, and take 1 20" piece of waxed bowstring, and tie on overhand knot behind the hook about ? way up the hook bend of the eel squid hook, between the eel and the tin squid. Make this knot tight, leave the tag ends, this is just temporary
Make sure the rigged eel is resting on the knot of bowstring and the knot is about ? way up the eel squid hook bend.
Flip the rigged eel right side up. Take the two Dacron tags hanging out of the eels mouth. The top of the eel should be just about where the hook starts to make the curve to begin the bend of the eel squid hook.
Now, pass the tag ends of Dacron in opposite directions through the hook eye protruding from the eel squid....pull them just enough to take the slack out.
Pass the tag ends of Dacron in opposite directions behind the hook eye and tie an overhand knot behind the hook eye, making sure the eel is straight, and the two lines from the eels mouth are even in length and both just barely straight, not tight yet. I mean even in length between the eels lips and the overhand knots you are tying...not the tag ends. Take the tag ends and bring them over the top of the doubled line from the eels mouth and tie an overhand knot on top of the doubled lines. Pass the lines in opposite directions underneath the lines and repeat. Pass them on top one more time, tie two overhand knots, and trim carefully. The eel should be perfectly straight from this hook eye all the way to the tail, and it should now be snug. If it's not, grab the hook and the squid and pull and try to make the eel straight. If you followed along it will be straight, if it's not, it's no good, this is very important. Glue the knot on the eye protruding from the squid.
Flip the rigged eel upside down again, and using the tag ends of bowstring, tie an overhand knot in front of the hook at the same point where you tied the first one. If the eel is loose or tight, you can slide it up or down the hook bend a little in order to make it tight and straight. Now tie a double overhand knot behind the hook bend where the first one was tied. Now pass the tag ends over the eel, in opposite directions, still behind the hook, and tie an overhand knot here on top of the eel, not too tight, just snug. Pass the tag ends in opposite directions in front of the hook, on top of the eel, and make an overhand knot exactly where the hook exits the eel on the front of the hook and tighten a little more than the last knot. Pass the tag ends under the eel still in front of the hook in opposite directions. Tie an overhand knot under the eel, making sure the bowstring coming down both sides of the eel are as close to the groove formed by the bowstring behind the hook as possible. This is important. You won't be able to get the bowstring in exactly the same groove as the one behind the eel, but get them close. Now pass the tag ends behind the eel and tie an overhand knot on top of the very first knots you made with this bowstring. Tie two more overhand knots here...trim carefully, and glue. Repeat for the remaining 5 eels.
There you have it, a rigged eel. not the way everyone rigs them. There is a lot of room for invention in something so personal as rigging eels, it's the closest many guys have come to tying flies. There's really no right or wrong way of doing it, some guys refuse to use glue, some guys store them in brine, some guys freeze them, but most catch LARGE striped bass with their rigged eels. freeze when not using them, the brine makes them too tough. things were added and removed things learned from other people, and it's they that deserve the credit for passing on this very effective, yet not very popular way of catching big striped bass in the summer when nothing else moves them. Rigged eels are most effective from July through the beginning of the mullet run in late September. They work again after the mullet are gone, but then use rubber rigged eels, don't bother with real eels again till next July. Rubber rigged eels do work well and last much longer, they have their place in surf fishin for stripers. Weakfish love both rubber and real rigged eels. Next time you suspect there's weakfish around and your normal surf fishing lures aren't catching any fish, try a rigged rubber eel slathered in eel flavored Smelly Jelly - it's a deadly combination from the beach or jetty.
Rigged Rubber Eels: To rig a rubber eel, you'll use all the same materials except you won't need the waxed bowstring. With rigged rubber eels, you can skip any step where the eel is tied to the tail hook or to the bend on the squid hook...and of course you don't have to tie a rubber eel's lips shut either! You'll only need to put the tail hook in the rubber eel with the dacron, stick the rubber eel on the eel squid hook, and then tie the dacron to the squid hook eye. A lot fewer steps...but it's still very important that the eel be straight and the two dacron lines coming out of the eels mouth are both the same length after the rigged rubber eel is "tied down" to the squid hook
Good luck, making a rigged eel is a lot of steps, but that's what it takes to make a rigged eel that will last through a bunch of fish. And when you land that LARGE striped bass, you'll know that it was on something you rigged yourself!