Eel and eelskin lures are used mostly in saltwater to catch such
fish as striped bass, bluefish, snook, and marlin. The most
difficult part about making eel and eelskin lures will often be
obtaining the eels themselves. The eel usually used is the so- called “common eel” found from Labrador to Brazil along the Atlantic
The females reach a large size and live in freshwater rivers,
streams, and lakes. The males are much smaller and live in saltwater
bays, sounds, and tidal creeks. These are the ones usually used for
bait. Live eels are caught with eel pots baited with dead fish,
small baitfish, crushed clams, or crabs.
These pots, which are similar to minnow traps, are wire cages with
funnel entrances on both ends. The eels enter through the
funnel holes, but once inside have trouble finding their way out.
Live or frozen eels can also be purchased from many fish markets,
bait dealers, and fishing tackle stores. The size will depend on the
fishing tackle you use and the fish you want to catch. Small eels
from 8 to 12 in. long are best with light tackle such as spinning
outfits; the larger eels from 12 to 20 in. are used with heavier
surf outfits and for trolling for big fish.
To rig an eel you will need a long needle such as an upholsterer’s
needle. It should be anywhere from 12 to 14 in. long. You can also
make your own needle, using a brass or copper rod about 1/8 in. in
diameter. One end should be filed to a point while the other end is
given an eye or a slot to which a line can be tied.
You also need some 6/0, 7/0, 8/0 or 9/0 hooks, again depending on
the size of the eel. The larger the eel, the larger the hooks
required. Light tackle and lines need smaller hooks than heavier
fishing tackle. The sizes of hooks range from 10 (tiny) down to 1
(small) and then back up from 1/0, 2/0 (medium) through 8/0 (large)
and all the way up to 24/0 (great white shark size).
Steel is usually the base metal from which hooks are made but there
are also other types of steel including high carbon, blued, black,
bronzed, cadmium, nickel-plated, stainless, etc. The O’Shaughnessy
pattern of hook is usually used for rigging eels, but some anglers
prefer the Siwash or salmon pattern and still others use Eagle Claw
hooks. Whichever type of hook you use, it should have a ringed eye.
Finally, you need some linen or nylon fishing line testing from 45
to 60 pounds. But more importantly, you should pay more attention to
your fishing leader which is potentially the weakest link. More
information on making fishing leaders can be found at
Keith Lee is a practical, do-it-yourself angler and owns Make-Your-Own-Fishing-Lures.com , an info-packed website on making
fishing lures. Learn how to make high-quality fishing lures at
http://www.make-your-own-fishing-lures.com and use it as your
trusted guide on home made fishing lures.