Beach and rock rig 19 – Ballooning

Northern target species

Spanish mackerel, shark mackerel, tuna, sharks, cobia, sail fish and many of the more aggressive surface feeding northern predators.

Southern target species

Yellow tail king fish, samson fish, tuna, sharks and many of the more aggressive surface feeding southern beach and rock species.

Popular baits

Large garfish, tailor, blue mackerel, snook and pike around 30 – 35cm in length make excellent baits for this rig. Wrapping baits with bait cotton will ensure they hold together longer during the ballooning process!

Fishing method

The ballooning rig is designed to target fast moving, surface feeding predators and is one of the most mind blowing forms of fishing imaginable! The technique is to wind and free spool the reel to impart a skipping bait fish action into the bait as it is splashed and thrown across the waters surface suspended beneath the helium filled balloon. Most predatory species find this technique irresistible and although it may seem complicated to some it certainly is productive!

Terminal tackle used

Swivel – Medium sized 2 extra strength rolling, box or crane.

Hooks – Medium to large sized 8/0 – 9/0 snelled, chemically sharpened, suicides or stainless steel Maruto.

Hook Leader – Nylon coated wire 150lb or fluoro carbon 150 – 200lb around 7 – 8’ in length.

Wind on leader – 100 – 150lb hard coated nylon long enough to wind onto the reel whilst the fish is in gaffing range.

Balloon leader – 50 – 80lb nylon of around 10 – 20’ depending on wind conditions. The more wind the longer the balloon leader!

Sinkers – Small bean sinkers of various sizes may be attached to the leader underneath the pink squid skirt at the nose of the bait to avoid altering the amount of helium in the balloon.

Solid ring – This connects the balloon leader to the main line and allows it to slide over the wind on leader connection.

Balloon – Large, party or clown balloons full of helium are used in conjunction with this rig and allow anglers to skip large baits out considerable distances from shore based locations such as rocky cliffs, headlands and beaches. Off shore winds are essential.

Helium bottle – A helium bottle is needed to fill balloons with and should be used with the upmost of care at all times. Most gas retail outlets will allow anglers to open small accounts with them to enable purchase.

Water tubing section – A small section of clear water tubing may be used to slip over the base of the balloon to close it off and avoids the complications of tying knots. Simply place the long, balloon leader section of 50 – 80lb, with a loop on one end, through the piece of water tubing, now place the base of the helium filled balloon into the nylon leader loop and slide the water tubing up the nylon leader and over the base of the balloon. The base of the balloon should fit tightly into the tubing with no helium escaping. Sliding the tubing down slightly will allow you to release helium if needed.

Ballooning distance

50 – 500 meters, distance is only dependant on wind and line capacity.


[School of Fish] [Rig It Up]

[Beach & Rocks Rigs]

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