Eel And Eelskin Lures

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 Coast.

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.