No angler in the know would dream of casting or trolling a banana wobbler for king salmon without first adding a sardine or anchovy belly strip. But the effectiveness of bait-wrapping a lure to add scent isn’t limited to the Pacific Northwest. Few river smallmouths can resist a bait-wrapped Flatfish, and back-trolling a bait-wrapped Kwikfish is one of the best ways to catch Great Lakes steelhead. To wrap a lure, you’ll need a fillet knife, scissors, and a self-binding clear thread, such as Spider Thread (redwingtackle.com).
STEP 1: “TAILORING” THE BAIT TO THE PLUG
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Fillet the anchovy and cut it into a section (a) about three-eighths as long as the plug and two-thirds its width. Using scissors, cut lengthwise through the strip so that it resembles a pair of pants (b).
STEP 2: THE FINAL FITTING AND WRAPPING
Slide the “crotch” over the belly eye of the hook with the skin side down. Center the strip on the belly of the plug (c).
Secure the end of the thread by pinning it under the first few wraps (d). Wrap thread from front to back, working around the hook (it helps to flip the hook forward when you reach the middle). The wraps should be taut enough to indent the flesh. Finish off at the rear with several half hitches.
STEP 3: TUNE THE LURE BEFORE YOU FISH
After adding a belly strip, you may have to tune the lure by turning the eyelet to the right or left to make it run true. Belly strips stop emitting scent after 20 to 30 minutes. You can prolong their effectiveness by squeezing on a commercial scent, such as Pro-Cure Super Gel (pro-cure.com).