March 10, 2011
Cut and Rig a Herring for Salmon Fishing
Fig. 1 Cut behind the collar at a compound angle

If you want to catch salmon in Southeast Alaska, follow these simple steps to cut and rig a plugged herring.  This rig works well for Mooching or Trolling and will catch salmon, halibut, rockfish…pretty much anything that feeds on herring.  So it won’t catch a Sockeye salmon as they feed on krill.

Using a sharp knife, cut the herring at a 30 degree angle with a 45 degree bevel (Fig. 1).  For you carpenters this is a compound miter.  Be careful to slice cleanly through the herring – jagged or torn edges will cause your herring to mushroom and not fish effectively.

Remove Herring Guts
Fig. 2 Carefully remove herring guts

Remove the guts from the herring or they will eventually trail out the cavity and tear the belly (Fig. 2).

Remember to handle the herring very delicately while rigging it.



Fig. 3 Start with trailing hook

Start by poking the trailing hook through the cavity and pull it out on the short side of the cut along the lateral line (Fig. 3).  You can let the trailing hook dangle (Fig. 4) or you can hook it just above the tail (Fig. 5)

Finally take the top hook and hook it next to the back bone on the long side of the cut and poke it out the back of the herring (Fig. 5).  Placing the top hook too deep into the cavity will make the herring harder to spin.  But not hooking enough meat will cause the hook to pull out (especially with soft herring).

Cut Plug Herring
Fig. 4 Trailing hook is dangling

If you want to catch salmon you better make sure your herring is rolling.  A tight roll is easier for salmon to hit than a wide roll.  To achieve a slower (barrel) roll for king salmon, rigging a whole herring works better.

There are many ways to rig a herring for Alaska salmon fishing, but this is the simplest and most effective way that I have found.


Fig. 5 Rigged with a “Tucked” trailing hook