I now have a nice air cannon bait caster to shoot bait out into the surf. So of course, I need to make bait bullets! Making these Carolina rigged ice bait bullets is fairly easy. One key item is to have some same sized PVC pipe as the barrel to use as molds. My barrel is 1.5″ so I’ll be using 1.5″ PVC. Luckily, I had PVC pipe left over from making the barrel. This is a bonus, there are slight variations from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from batch to batch on inside diameters. These molds are cut off of the same pipe that was also used to make the barrel. This insures that the bait bullets and barrel will match up perfectly.
The first thing we want to do is get the Carolina rig setup. You will need flat weight sinkers of your choice. I prefer flat weights because they tend to stay put, the egg style sinkers will roll around with the surf. You’ll also need 50 lb test stranded steel leader, steel or aluminum crimp sleeves, 6/0 or 7/0 hooks, 50 lb test mono-filament leader plus 3 barrel swivels rated at 80 lb or better for each rig.
Carolina Rig Step One
Cut two pieces of the stranded steel leader about 8 inches long. Take one of the leaders and put a small bend in the leader. Next, place a hook onto that bend. Slide a crimp sleeve over that and crimp the hook in place. You’ll want to do the same to the other end of the leader and crimp a barrel swivel in place there. You should now have a piece of leader with a hook on one end and a barrel swivel crimped on the other.
Next, take the second steel leader you cut. Crimp that onto the open side of the Barrel Swivel that is connected to the leader. Slide the weight you are using onto the wire leader you just crimped on. I prefer the heavier side towards the hook. Now, crimp a barrel swivel to the end of the leader. Finally using a uni knot, tie on about 12 inches of mono-filament leader to this barrel swivel. And use your last barrel swivel to tie on to the end of the mono-filament with a uni knot.
Making the Bait Caster Bait Molds
To make the actual bait caster slugs I use an 8″ length of 1-1/2″ PVC pipe for a mold. That is the size of the barrel on my bait launcher that I made Bait Caster – Bait Cannon. I bought these end caps on Amazon. They fit perfectly on either end of the 8 inch PVC and will not leak. They are meant for furniture made from PVC but work perfectly for the slug molds.
What I prefer to do is seal up one end of all the molds PVC molds. Take the hook for the rig you’ll be putting in the mold. I used salted mullet for this example. One thing that I have found to be really helpful is to spray the inside of the mold with oil. This helps release the bait slug when you’re ready to launch it at the beach. I used a menhaden oil spray (see affiliate links below). You get an added bonus of the menhaden oil being a fish attractant!
When putting everything into the mold put the weight in first. The side with the weight will be facing the front of the barrel when loaded. This will add stability to the bait slug when you fire it. Next put the baited hook in and put the rest of the rig in with the exception of the monofilament leader. Leave that hanging over the side.
Making the Bait Bullets
The final step will be filling the mold with water or a nice chum mix. I keep my old bait in the freezer so when filling these molds, I’ll use a cheap Walmart blender to throw in some shrimp clam or whatever other bait I have in the freezer into the blender. If you go this route, don’t overload the bIender. Too many solids make the slug unstable. I put in about a cups worth of bait, give or take a few ounces. I’ll blend this up till it’s a fine puree, and then I will fill up the molds with this mix.
After that, it’s simply a matter of putting another cap on the top piece of the mold. Make sure you have some of the leader hanging out, you don’t want that caught up in the ice. You’ll be using the leader and the swivel at the end of it to connect up to your shock leader on your fishing pole.
I usually have 30 feet or so of 60 lb test on the pole to take up the shock of the initial launch. The way I connect it to the bullet is to have a long loop on the leader from the pole. I make sure to have at least a 3″ loop on the end of the leader from the pole. I that loop through the barrel swivel and around the entire bait slug. Then I’ll pull it back tight and make sure that it’s got a nice tight connection with the barrel swivel. The barrel swivel and the leader coming from the bait bullet will go into the barrel of the bait caster first. That way, the weighted end of the slug will point towards the mouth of the barrel.
Loading your Bait Caster
Make sure that the weighted end of the bait bullet is facing the end of the barrel when loading it into the cannon. Once you have the bait slug in the barrel, push it in with a broomstick or some other long object. I use a 5 ft piece of 1 inch PVC to get it down in there. After the bait slug is loaded into the barrel, charge the air chamber up. Don’t load the bait with a charged up air chamber!
Parts List for Bait Bullets (Amazon Affiliate Links)
The air cannon has an immense amount of power and you wouldn’t want to discharge a big bullet in your face accidentally. So always load the cannon first then charge it up with air. And by all means, don’t walk in front of it after it’s charged up! During testing I shot a 1.5″ ice ball through a half inch piece of OSB. these cannons have enough power to seriously injure or you or worse
Now that you’re ready to shoot your bait slug, have fun with it. Experiment with different air pressures and angles you’ll find that you can lengthen and shorten the distance just by having a different elevation angle. I learned that you also need to take the wind into account as well. The wind, waves and currents all play a factor in how and where I aim these bait slugs. Enjoy your fishing expedition, good luck and let me know if you caught anything!