Tuning Rhys Davis Cutbait Heads

Tuning Rhys Davis Cutbait heads is paramount to fishing success with them. They are somewhat easy to tune with certain colors, while other colors can be challenging. We will discuss our tuning methods for them in this post!

Proper Bends for Proper Rolls

There are a couple different types of bends we employ with these heads. They include the peppermint twist and the arch bend. Stock heads right out of the package come with somewhat of an arch bend in them, already. Depending on the size of the cutbait, size of the hook, and trolling speed, sometimes, that’s all that’s needed. Most times here at Ace Charters, we end up modifying them to some degree.

Peppermint Twist

One of our favorite modifications to a Rhys Davis cutbait head is called the peppermint twist. We included a photo of a rhys glow head below. It’s just a twist in the head resembling the red stripe you see on a candy cane. It is easy to do on the softer plastic Rhys heads such as the glow and green glow. Most translucent Rhys heads can be bent this way when needed. Beware, however trying the twist on coated Rhys heads such as the chrome ones. They will snap in half with the twist and when increasing the arch bend.

Tuning Rhys Davis cutbait heads with the peppermint twist
Rhys Davis Glow with Peppermint Twist

Arch Bends

Most times an arch bend is all thats needed to get a good roll with lighter weight, tailess, meat pieces. Testing the bait roll at boat side at trolling speed being used is neccessary to confirm there is a proper bend in the head. Often times, the arch will need to be increased to get the bait to roll the right way. Pieces of meat can vary from each other and need to be adjusted for, always, before putting them down.

Bending Coated Heads

In a previous paragraph, we mentioned that coated heads such as the chrome ones need special treatment to be able to bend them without snapping them in half. The late, great, Kevin Davis turned me on to this trick several years ago. Kev used steam from a tea kettle to soften the heads up. They could then bend easily without snapping. I modified that principle because I didn’t have a tea kettle. I simply put a bowl of water in the microwave till it steamed. Then I pulled it out and dropped the heads in there to soften them up.

Different heads with bends
Rhys Davis Heads We Use

Tuning and Speed

Heads need to be tuned to the desired speed for your program. Bait size, lead lengths, hook sizes and proper bend are required. Early in the season, our meat programs are run fast in conjuction with spoons. Speeds of 3.2 to 3.5 are common. Running large trebles like 1/0 EWG Mustad hooks slows the roll down. Adding a split shot between the head and the treble also helps to “slow the roll” while cranking through the water. As the season progresses, less speed, smaller hooks, and more bend gets the nod.


As you can see, tuning Rhys Davis cutbait heads the right way with the right method(s) is relatively easy to do. Fishing success depends upon proper cutbail roll from a well tuned head. Tuned to the speed of your program with the right bend, hook size, set backs, lead lengths, size and form of the cutbait itself, matter! Check out previous related post https://www.acecharters.com/running-cut-bait-heads/

If you have any questions , feel free to contact us at 413-346-7675 or via our contact form with any of the questions you may have . We will be happy to answer them. If you would like to book a trip please call 413-346-7675 or feel free to use our contact form as well!