Small ballyhoo or “dink baits” fished with a circle hook through the nose are extremely effective at drawing strikes from white marlin off North Carolina’s coast. Here are some tips on fishing them:

• Fish a ballyhoo rigged on a circle hook in open water, either as the last bait in a long rigger or the center bait placed in a release clip.

• Set the release clips as loose as possible so the fish feels no pressure when he takes the bait.

• Once the bait is positioned and swimming correctly, twist the line and put the loops in the release clip.

• Leave the reel in free spool.

• When a fish hits, lift the rod and keep the rod tip pointed towards the fish; don’t touch the spool or drag. 

• Keep the reel in free spool and keep your hands off the line and spool.

• Slowly count to six and then walk the drag forward slowly.

• With tension, point the rod tip in the opposite direction of fish and reel with the drag forward.

• Do not jerk or swing the rod.

• If the fish eats slowly or misses the bait, keep the reel in free spool to allow the bait to sink for a return bite.