Balloon rigs can be an effective way to live bait fish during certain times of the year. These rigs are simple to use and resemble using a float and minnow for other species. The line is set up in a similar fashion as for planer boards. A barrel swivel is attached to the end of the line. A three foot leader, with a hook at the end, is attached to the swivel. An egg sinker can be placed above the swivel. The amount of weight ranges from 1/2 oz to 4 oz depending on the depth that you will be fishing. The bait is lowered to the appropriate depth, then the balloon is attached to the line. Some people like to tie the balloon directly to the line using an overhand knot.
The method that we prefer is to use a simple rig, described below, to attach the balloon. The balloons that we prefer are the small, water balloon type. Basically, you want a small round balloon about the size of a grapefruit. Once the balloon is in the water, let out line so the balloon follows behind the boat. You can let out 40- 100 feet of line. It is best to leave the reel out of gear and the clicker on. When a fish takes the bait, you will hear the clicker. Engage the reel and once you feel the full weight of the fish, set the hook. The balloon should pop loose. If not, you can remove it once it is at the boat. Remember to pick up any loose balloons after you land the fish.
Attaching the Balloon Rig
Several balloon rigs can be used at a time. In this case, setting the bait at different depths can be more productive. Once you find the depth that the fish are holding, move all lines to this depth. Balloon rigs can also be used in conjunction with planer boards. The planers move bait out to the sides of the boat, while the balloons run straight behind the boat.