Hook Rigs for Marlin Lures

by BFD Lures on April 27, 2022

One very important question that we are often asked, second only to "what skirt combo should I use?" is “what hook rig do you recommend?”

The opinions on this subject are not only strongly held, they are as widely varied as color.  What you get here is only one opinion of the best hook rigs for marlin lures.

Dan Magers, a lifelong sport fisherman, lure junkie, and original founder of BFD reports as follows: 

I have tried all of the different rigs that I am aware of, with many charter captains using different set-ups.  I have read the blogs and hook-up percentage claims and the opinions.  My experience has been that on 7”, 9” and 12” lures, the single hook swivel rig far and away provides me with the highest hook-up percentage.

marlin released flags

The photo at right shows 8 marlin flags (all fish were released.)  On that particular day, we had 11 marlin hit, 9 hooked up, and 8 landed ... all on BFD lures rigged with a single hook swivel rig.  

Other days on that same trip south gave us counts like 4 of 5, 4 of 4, and 4 of 6, and another date in November we had 8 of 10.  

Of interest was another trip where the fish were in more of a bill-whacking than biting mood.  Two were “bill hooked” when they whacked the lure: that limber swivel rig flipped around and hooked up about half way back on the bill.

One of our long-time favorite Charter Captains, Luis of The Blue Marlin in Cabo, reported a big change in success rate when we introduced them to this rig about 10 years ago: "That's all we use now, Dan. Our hook-up percentages have gone way up since you showed us this rig. And it is a lot safer than our old double hook rigs."

Doesn’t make sense, does it?  By simple math, two hooks should give you twice the chance of a hook up as one, right?  Not necessarily so.  Peter Pakula figured this out eons ago, and even sells single hook swivel rigs premade.  A master and a legend in this game, we pay attention to what Peter says.

The 'theory' is a proven fact to us: this rig makes the hook ride 'point up' behind the lure, resulting in more hook-ups in the top or softer part of the fish’s mouth.

This is the same as the reasoning behind a rubber stopper glued to the back of the head, “fixing” the hook point(s) up.  But the swivel rig uses gravity and hydrodynamics to keep the hook point riding up instead of glue and rubber.

Most of us that run rigs this way seem to get more bites as well, especially with marlin.  This rig allows for better lure action, since the head is free to work on the line alone, unencumbered by all the gear glued to its arse that would mute its action. BFD Lures are made to run top-up and not spin: a swivel rig works with that kind of performance instead of against it.

You can make your own hook rigs to match the lure length just as shown below.

There's nothing sacred or sexy about crimp or cable size – but don’t overkill the cable size.  The shrink tube is there for the protection of the leader man.   And as Keith Posedel, one of our original luremakers, used to say, “It’s free advertising” so you may as well add a little color. Jana likes everything to be pretty and matchy-matchy anyway.

So what about 12” lures?  On the 12” plungers, shorten the skirts up to about 12” in total lure length and use a bigger hook single swivel rig (#440 Buoy Swivel) on those as well.  On the heavier, longer 14’s use a double-hook shackle rig, which, again, Pakula markets.  Both points on those ride up as well, and there are a lot of other handling and rigging advantages.

Use Fluorocarbon leader because it has the same refractive index as water, making it all but invisible. It is more abrasion resistant and more UV resistant. The premium grades seem to be more limber and don't take as much "coil memory" as mono. Fluorocarbon is smaller in diameter and denser making it sink faster. Fluoro does not stretch as much as mono. There's enough shock absorbing stretch in your mono top shot.

Last of all – and most important – single hook rigs are a LOT safer than doubles for anyone handling leaders and fish.


From left to right – a rubber bead – 1.4mm crimp – thimble – 330# Buoy Swivel – crimp – 270# Stainless 49 strand cable – ½”dia. shrink tube – 1.4mm crimp – 8/0 Jobu Hook. The bottom loop and tube is a different way to rig shorter lures using one-1.7mm crimp.


Crimp the cable to the swivel on one end and the hook on the other and apply the shrink tube.


Put the thimble through the swivel eye then thread the leader through the crimp, around the thimble and back through the crimp. Put the rubber bead over the end.


If the hook isn't positioned where you want it, remove the rubber bead and use spacer beads.


Once it is spaced like you want it …


Install the clip hardware on the other end, coil the line and you are done.


Rigging materials alone will run you about $25 to $30 per lure.

Final note: if you are not using a keel-weighted lure, and your lure spins as it moves through the water, this rig will allow the lure to spin around the line only, eliminating leader twist.  When a hooked fish spins, the swivel keeps the leader from twisting as well.

Hope this helps you with rigging marlin baits!  Feel free to call or email us if you have questions!