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How to rig cutplug herring
by Salmon University Staff

There are about a 100 different ways to rig a herring for mooching or trolling. This is the most standard method know locally as the "Westport" cutplug herring setup.

Begin with either a fresh herring or a pre-brined herring. Do not use a frozen herring just out of the package, it will not stay on the hook as it becomes soft way too fast. If you dont know how to properly brine a herring visit the SU herring brining page here.

Next, you need to use the right size hooks to get the proper balance and to get the herring to spin correctly. You want a tight spin on the herring as it's pulled through the water.

The following chart indicates the proper hook selections for the size herring youre using.

Label color Herring size Hook sizes
Orange 3.5 – 4 inch 1/0 – 2/0
Red 4 – 5 inch 2/0 – 3/0
Green 5 – 6 inch 3/0 – 4/0
Blue 7 – 8 inch 4/0 – 5/0
Black 9 – 10 inch 5/0 – 6/0

Plugging the herring

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Step 1: Lay the herring on its side on the cutting board. For this demonstration we're using a blue label size herring with 4/0-5/0 Owner SST hooks on 20 pound Ande monofilament leader.

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Step 2: With a very sharp knife make one cut at a 45-degree angle and a 45-degree bevel back towards the belly (pelvic fins) on the herring. Make only one cut, do not saw through the herring. If you saw through the herring, you will leave little jagged edges that will cause the herring to mushroom out in the water.

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Step 3: Remove the entrails from the belly of the herring; be careful not to nick the belly with the knife.

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Step 4: Take the trailing hook from the leader and run it through the belly on the short side of the herring so it comes out the on the lateral line of the herring.

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Step 5: Pull it through. Leave the rear hook trailing.

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Step 6: Take the top hook from the leader and run it through the top of the spine and out the top of the herring next to the backbone.

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Step 7: You now have a completed cutplug herring ready to mooch or slow troll.