Eel Skin Plugs: Minimal Tools

SO LET'S SAY YOU ARE ON A DESTINATION TRIP, YOU HAVE SOME LARGE EXPIRED EELS AND YOU WISH TO MAKE A FEW SKIN PLUGS.  IT IS A LIKELY SCENARIO THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE A HAMMER AND A NAIL TO SECURE THE EEL FOR SKINNING. 


HERE IS A METHOD TO SKIN AN EEL UTILIZING A RAZOR, 3 ZIP TIES AND A PAIR OF SPLIT RING PLIERS. A GLOVE OR RAG/PAPER TOWEL IS HANDY, AND SOMETHING TO CLEAN THE SLIME OFF NEWSPAPER, PAPER TOWEL, BEACH SAND ETC. IS GOOD TOO.  


THE FIRST STEP IS TO REMOVE THE SLIME OF THE EEL (OTHERWISE THE RESULT WILL BE A LUMPY SKIN PLUG OR THE SKIN MAY NOT FIT), USE TWO OF THE ZIPTIES TO MAKE LARGE LOOPS, AND THE FINAL ONE TO SECURE THE TIES AROUND THE NECK OF THE EEL ONE ON EACH SIDE OF THE HEAD JUST BEHIND THE GILLS. (SEE PICTURE BELOW)

NEXT IS TO FIND SOMETHING TO USE AS A "HOOK" WHICH COULD BE A STUB OF A BRANCH ON A TREE OR A HOOK FOR A HANGING PLANTER ETC.

NEXT IS TO CUT A CIRCLE THROUGH THE SKIN AROUND THE NECK OF THE EEL USING THE RAZOR BLADE OR A FILLET KNIFE, BELOW THE 3RD ZIPTIE. THE GOAL IS TO SIMPLY CUT THE SKIN AND NOT DEEP INTO THE EEL, THEN PEEL THE SKIN AWAY FROM THE FLESH ALL THE WAY AROUND THE EEL USING THE SPLIT RING PLIERS.  WHY SPLIT RING PLIERS?  YOU WILL NEED IT FOR THREE (OR 4) THINGS, 1. TO REMOVE THE HOOKS 2. TO PEEL THE SKIN AWAY FROM THE MUSCLE TISSUE  3. TO PUT THE HOOKS BACK ON AND  4. TO MAKE A TAIL LOOP TRAILER (OPTIONAL).

CUT THE SKIN AROUND THE NECK OF THE EEL

AT THE CUT, PEEL THE SKIN BACK AND DOWN AWAY FROM THE MUSCLE TISSUE.  ONCE THE SKIN IS PEELED BACK USING THE SPLIT RING PLIERS, YOU CAN WORK IT DOWN A BIT MORE UNTIL YOU CAN GRIP IT WITH YOUR HANDS AND A RAG OR YOUR HANDS WITH GLOVES (FOR GRIP).  SOMETIMES IT WILL GRAB THE MUSCLE TISSUE WHICH IS OK.  SIMPLY USE THE RAZOR TO SEPARATE IT, THEN GRIP THE MUSCLE WITH THE PLIERS AND PULL UP WHILE PULLING DOWN ON THE SKIN WITH YOUR OTHER HAND, IT WILL SEPARATE.

AFTER THE SKIN IS PULLED OFF, IT IS DESIRABLE TO BRINE IT IN A KOSHER SALT/WATER MIXTURE.  WHAT THIS DOES IS TOUGHEN UP THE SKIN LIKE LEATHER, HOWEVER IN THIS SITUATION YOU ARE LOOKING TO FISH IT RIGHT AWAY.  

TAIL TRAILER: A SERIES OF SPLIT RINGS AND SWIVELS WORKS WELL FOR THE TAIL AS IT PROVIDES A PLACE TO TIE OFF THE TAIL, IT EMULATES A TAIL HOOK'S WEIGHT, AND ALLOWS THE TAIL TO STILL "SWIM"  EDIT***** A SERIES OF "CLIPS" TA, BREAKAWAY, OR SIMILAR ARE BETTER FOR THIS APPLICATION.  THE SPLIT SUGGESTED ABOVE RUIN THE SKIN.  

TAIL TRAILER: A SERIES OF SPLIT RINGS AND SWIVELS WORKS WELL FOR THE TAIL AS IT PROVIDES A PLACE TO TIE OFF THE TAIL, IT EMULATES A TAIL HOOK'S WEIGHT, AND ALLOWS THE TAIL TO STILL "SWIM"  EDIT***** A SERIES OF "CLIPS" TA, BREAKAWAY, OR SIMILAR ARE BETTER FOR THIS APPLICATION.  THE SPLIT SUGGESTED ABOVE RUIN THE SKIN.  

GETTING THE SKIN ON IS PRETTY EASY, JUST WORK IT UP THE PLUG SLOWLY.  THE ONE PROBLEM ON MOST SLENDER PLUGS IS THAT THE BELLY SWIVEL MAY STICK WELL OUT BEYOND THE BELLY OF THE PLUG, AND THEREFORE BE IN THE WAY, REQUIRING A LARGER SKIN.  IT MAY THREATEN TEARING THE SKIN, DO NOT FORCE IT, TRY TO SLINKY THE SKIN UP IF IT GETS TIGHT, I MAY JUST WORK AND FIT THE PLUG PROFILE MORE TIGHTLY.  HOWEVER, IF YOU FORCE IT, THE SKIN MAY TEAR AND RUIN YOUR WORK.  

SOME OF THESE PLUGS ARE OK, SOME NOT.  THE WHY QUESTION, "HOW COME SOME OF THESE PLUGS AREN'T CORRECT?" IS BASED ON THE SKIN'S TAIL LENGTH BEING ABLE TO GET CAUGHT ON THE HOOKS.   FIT THE PLUG YOU WANT DRESS WITH A SKIN, DO NOT FORCE THE SKIN ON IF IT GETS TIGHT AND CHECK THE REMAINING TAIL LENGTH VERSUS THE BELLY HOOK BEING CUT OR USED WITH A SWIVEL FIRST AND LEAVE A LITTLE ROOM FOR ERROR.  AFTER SKINNING SEVERAL PLUGS AND FISHING THEM YOU WILL GET A FEEL FOR WHAT PLUGS ARE BEST SUITED FOR A SKIN, THE TAIL LENGTH DESIRED, AND ACTION ATTAINED BY MODIFYING THE PLUG IN THIS WAY. OR NOT?  WHY NOT WORRY ABOUT THE LENGTH? YOU CAN TRIM A SKIN. SKINS ARE TOUGH.  HOWEVER YOU WILL NEED TO SECURE IT WHICH IS A GOOD IDEA REGARDLESS OF TRIMMING THE TAIL OR LEAVING IT AS IS.  IN THE PICTURE ABOVE ON THE THIRD SKIN AND THE FIFTH SKIN YOU WILL NOTICE A TIE OFF USING RIGGING FLOSS (DENTAL FLOSS IS GOOD TOO). TIED TO A TAIL LOOP TRAILER, YOU CAN CUT THE SKIN BEHIND THIS POINT.  ON THE THIRD PLUG DOWN I WOULD NOT, ON THE FIFTH ONE I MAY DEPENDING ON IF IT REGULARLY FOULS OR IF THE EXTRA LENGTH SACRIFICES TOO MUCH CASTING DISTANCE.

SOME OF THESE PLUGS ARE OK, SOME NOT.  THE WHY QUESTION, "HOW COME SOME OF THESE PLUGS AREN'T CORRECT?" IS BASED ON THE SKIN'S TAIL LENGTH BEING ABLE TO GET CAUGHT ON THE HOOKS.  

FIT THE PLUG YOU WANT DRESS WITH A SKIN, DO NOT FORCE THE SKIN ON IF IT GETS TIGHT AND CHECK THE REMAINING TAIL LENGTH VERSUS THE BELLY HOOK BEING CUT OR USED WITH A SWIVEL FIRST AND LEAVE A LITTLE ROOM FOR ERROR.  AFTER SKINNING SEVERAL PLUGS AND FISHING THEM YOU WILL GET A FEEL FOR WHAT PLUGS ARE BEST SUITED FOR A SKIN, THE TAIL LENGTH DESIRED, AND ACTION ATTAINED BY MODIFYING THE PLUG IN THIS WAY.

OR NOT?  WHY NOT WORRY ABOUT THE LENGTH? YOU CAN TRIM A SKIN. SKINS ARE TOUGH.  HOWEVER YOU WILL NEED TO SECURE IT WHICH IS A GOOD IDEA REGARDLESS OF TRIMMING THE TAIL OR LEAVING IT AS IS.  IN THE PICTURE ABOVE ON THE THIRD SKIN AND THE FIFTH SKIN YOU WILL NOTICE A TIE OFF USING RIGGING FLOSS (DENTAL FLOSS IS GOOD TOO). TIED TO A TAIL LOOP TRAILER, YOU CAN CUT THE SKIN BEHIND THIS POINT.  ON THE THIRD PLUG DOWN I WOULD NOT, ON THE FIFTH ONE I MAY DEPENDING ON IF IT REGULARLY FOULS OR IF THE EXTRA LENGTH SACRIFICES TOO MUCH CASTING DISTANCE.

BELOW IS A SAMPLE OF PLUGS WITH SKINS ON THEM.
TOP TO BOTTOM: SUPERSTRIKE DARTER, HIGH HOOK "LITTLE BROTHER" JOINTED NEEDLEFISH, JLH SKIN NEEDLE (2), SUPERSTRIKE 2&3/8OZ LITTLE NECK POPPER.  PLUG PREP: SS DARTER & HH NEEDLE A RING WAS CUT IN THE PLASTIC/WOOD USING A FILE (ON THE WOOD GORILLA SUPER GLUE WAS USED TO RESEAL THE EXPOSED WOOD, THE JLH SKIN NEEDLE WAS BUILT FOR SKINS, THE LITTLE NECK SS POPPER SKIN WAS SECURED USING A SMALL ZIPTIE AS OPPOSED TO WAXED RIGGING FLOSS.