Rigging hooks on your GT lures? Want to increase your hookup ratio and cause less damage to the fish at the same time? You should Baker rig.
This way of rigging hooks to GT plugs was developed more than a decade ago by gun guide Tim Baker, thus the name.
Tim was guiding for Nomad Sport Fishing in Australia when he developed this way of rigging two single hooks onto the belly swivel of his GT plugs. Thanks to Tim, until today we all are reaping the benefits of this hook rig.
So, what is the Baker rig?
The Baker rig is one of the many ways to rig up hooks on your topwater plug, popper or stickbait.
It consists of 2 single hooks connected by a cable tie (or cable ties) facing opposite directions at the belly, then a large single hook at the tail. Totaling 3 hook points on 1 lure.
Some use the double hooks at the tail end as well, but the traditional rig is the double at the belly and a large single at the tail.
There are several ways to rig your topwater lures for saltwater fishing and every rig has their advantages and disadvantages. But recently I’ve been recommending the Baker rig a lot to my friends and clients for a number of reasons.
Firstly, and most important is…
Both for the angler and the fish. Treble hooks may have been the traditional way of rigging lures, but time and experience have proven to all of us that they are very harmful to the fish taking the lures they are attached to.
6 pointy ends cause irreparable damage to the fish, especially when swallowed. These same sharp points will be flying around the deck of the boat when a landed fish thrash around. Not a good situation to be in.
Overall, using this rig allows us to remove the hooks and release the fish faster while decreasing the chances of accidental hookups with hands. A win-win situation in my books.
The baker rig utilizes large single hooks that are less likely to pull open under pressure, versus traditional trebles.
The physics are hard to explain but basically, less hook points equals less anchor points for opposing forces that are pushing and pulling. And there will be plenty of opposing forces throughout the duration of the battle.
Traditional rigging with trebles almost always results in multiple hooks penetrating the fish’s mouth or face. The Baker rig’s 3 hook points decrease these chances by 50% versus traditional trebles.
Lastly, treble hooks require “welding” or a bonding process to attach the 3 hooks together as one. This procedure increases heat exposure to the metals, thus causing more stress. Single hooks on the other hand require less handling, making them a truly stronger alternative.
So, expect a decrease of lost fish due to hooks bending open when utilizing the Baker rig on your lures.
Good quality treble hooks are expensive. That’s a fact. Single hooks cost a lot less.
Apart from being a cheaper option, you can utilize them for your jigging assists. Hitting two birds with one stone.
Zip ties or cable ties are cheap and can be found easily at any hardware trade store.
Not a lot to explain here. The value proposition is just too good.
As with everything in life and fishing, it’s not always ‘milk and honey’. There are some disadvantages to this setup too, but it’s just nitpicking at this point.
Takes a little more time to setup
Just a little. Baker rigs don’t come pre-made in packs from the factory. You have to sit down and rig them up yourself.
I suggest rigging up some rigs a few weeks prior to your trip, with some cold beers, a pack of cable ties and a bunch of Owner SJ41s.
It is not hard to rig up Bakers as we will explain later on in this blog. After the first few awkward tries at the start, you’ll be churning out rigs at an average of 10 per can.
Just keep in mind you won’t need to rig up too many, as they are quite easy to make even when fishing.
Most will be hesitant in migrating to this ‘fairly new’ rig no matter how much success it has garnered along with its highly touted reputation.
I can’t blame them. I mean, most will have caught 10 times more GT than I will in my lifetime using their tried and tested hook rigs. I’ve got plenty of friends who just won’t trust any other rig than their own and I fully understand them. Why fix what’s not broken?
Some specialist plugs have been designed to work with specific hooks. These specialty plugs may not swim or work as well when using different hook setups.
Some manufacturers will state their hook recommendations on their labels or websites, but most don’t. Some trial and error are required to find out what hook setup works best.
Now that I’ve laid out the pros and cons of the Baker rig, let’s briefly discuss how to set it up.
You will need…
- Single jigging assist hooks (angled eyes or straight). Hook sizes will depend on your lure size.
- Heavy duty split rings
- Cable ties
The setup is fairly straightforward. Connect your two single hooks by their shafts with a cable tie. Face the hook points in opposite directions, align the hook eyes to make them lay as flat as possible against each other, then tighten the cable tie as tight as you can go.
If you are using smaller cable ties, you can add another tie for additional support.
That’s it. You’re done.
The cable ties will eventually loosen up, so checking your rig after a few casts is a good habit to develop. After a few fish, you’ll find your hooks swinging free due to snapped ties. Just change up to a fresh set or you can just put on a new cable tie then and there.
Some hook balancing is also needed. Finding the right hook combination requires some experimentation.
A bucket test is the way to go for poppers and floating stickbaits. Place them in a bucket of water and make sure their floating orientation is balanced. Tail down, face bobbing above the surface.
Find the right balance for each lure and note it down. So you know what hooks to buy for when hook replacement time comes.
Now, there are a number of ways to rig up your GT plugs. Experimentation and experience should allow you to find what you think works best for you and your style of fishing.
The Baker rig is a great hook setup hands down, but I’m not saying that this is the best setup overall. All hook rigging setups work and what I’ve shared here is just my personal recommendation.
I suggest that you should try all rigging options first and decide which works best for you.
An open mind and adventurous spirit are required. If you are keen to experiment and lose a couple of fish here and there to gain experience, then I challenge you to try this rig out.
I’d like to credit Han Soh and Jay Burgess for the close-up photos used in this article. Cheers boys!
Have you tried to Baker rig yourself? How was it? I’d love to hear about your experience on this setup.