Tips from Peter Pakula on Tasmanian Gamefishing
Andrew Hart recently interviewed one of Australia's, and in fact the world's, most highly respected gamefishing lure manufacturers, Peter Pakula.
Firstly, how long have you been making lures?
Over 25 years.
How many different styles are on the market today?
Depends on which day you are talking about. The range is in continious flux.
For example this week we have just introduced two new lures which haven't even got names yet! We also try to delete lures from time to time but inevitably, because of demand they end up back in the range. For example lures called the Hornet and Shaker which have been out of production for three years are now back in the range. The basic range would be about 30 head shapes.
Why is it that your lures are a step above the rest?
They just seem to catch more fish.
Is it to do with your designs?
Certainly the design of the lures is part of the reason, other reasons for this are our specific colour combinations and additives. Another major part of the success story is that we are the only lure company that has an information program to try and get people to understand not only about lures in general and Pakula Lures specifically, but also to understand and respect the fish that they are chasing. We try and offer a total package, and we are always open to giving information to anyone who wants it.
For example the way you found me on the internet.
Tasmanian's are a funny lot - they don't like change. Probably half the boats gamefishing out of St Helens or Eaglehawk Neck use low priced feather type lures as they have for the last twenty years. The red and white feather is about as popular in Tasmania as a Red Tag fly - fishing for trout. What would you say to these people to make them see the light in leaving the feathers to the fly tyers and using Pakula lures?
The guys trolling the red and white feathers would not only be traditional in their fishing methods but would also be traditional in their fishing ethics. It is unlikely that these feather fishermen would ever understand that the sea is not an endless bounty and traditionally would kill everything they catch. It is therefore probably better that their catch is restricted by their methods. I am personally surprised and proud of the world wide distribution of Pakula Lures.
One of the most variable things that I notice when I'm offshore, is that everyone is trolling at a different speed. What would you say is a good, all round trolling speed?
Should your speed change when using different styles of lures? For example, can you pull Kona-head style lures around at the same speed as a jet head? Trolling speeds are not that important. Generally, given calm conditions around 7 knots is fine. There are signs however on any given day that your trolling speeds may be too slow. Such as marlin following but not aggressively attacking your lures for example the best speed for striped marlin is around eight and a half knots, but many boats are very uncomfortable at this speed so you can actually wait until you have raised a fish or wait until prime times such as the tide change. The reality is that the action of lures is very important but most lures today will work quite well at a large range of speeds. The other way of compensating for this is by running lures closer to the boat. One of the most prized fish down this way (other than trout) is the striped marlin. Have you got any favorite colours for these exciting fish?
What seems to be the most successful striped marlin lure in your range?
Favourite Pakula colours for Striped Marlin and Blue Marlin in your area would be, Lumo, Stripey, Fuzz, Stinger, Blue Yakka and Secret Squid.
If you want to catch a marlin, is it better to just troll lures like big Sprockets, or can you target Billfish with smaller lures that will catch more tuna?
Yes, you can catch marlin on so called tuna lures. I think the idea of distinguishing a lure as either a marlin lure or a tuna lure is misleading. The purpose of the lure is to primarily imitate a wounded bait fish. Basically, specific tuna lures are in reality just lousy marlin lures. The better you can chose a lure to imitate the bait fish of a given area, the more likely you are to catch the predators in that area regardless of species. The larger the lure you use, the more likely you are to eliminate catching small tuna species. In many situations the marlin will be in feeding with the tuna not on the tuna. In most cases the marlin are eating the same bait fish as the tuna, even if it's really tiny.
You describe how to set the lures up in your book. How effective would a shotgun type lure be in Tasmania if targeting tuna ?
The important thing in setting up a lure pattern is to vary the size of lures used, the larger the lure the closer to the boat it should be run, getting smaller as you get towards the shotgun which would be the smallest lure used.
Another popular target in Tassie is the Albacore. What is the best Pakula lure for catching these tasty little speedsters?
The two lures we made this week which are yet to be named. They are tiny around five and a half inches long and our other lures known as Mosquitoes and Zippers.
Off Tasmania, water temperature rarely reaches 19 degrees. Will the fisherman who goes looking for warmer water have more success than those just trolling anywhere?
Okay, here we go. The actual temperature is not important, whether it is 14 degrees or 25. The important thing in finding marlin is temperature change, if you can find an area where the temperature goes from 15 to 17 degrees in a short distance, it would be worth trying. If you can find a temperature change with associated bait fish then you shouldn't leave the area. The biggest mistake trollers make is leaving the fish to find fish.
I can certainly understand that it is psychologically difficult to troll in cold water however, the fish don't seem to have this psychological problem.
The Continental Shelf is only about 12 miles off St Helens, but the majority of Billfish are caught between three and seven miles offshore. Why does there seem to be more fish in close then out wide?
Probably because that's where the temperature change is and the corresponding bait fish. However, if you do concentrate off the continental shelf you will probably find that you will come in contact with blue marlin.
Will a teaser like a Witchdoctor increase marlin and tuna hits and hookups in Tasmania? What is the best way to use such a teaser?
Yes, a teaser such a Witchdoctor will work, the purpose of a teaser is to look like another predator in the pattern which should make any other fish such as marlin more aggressive. Teasers are traditionally run just in front of the first lure in the pattern
Lure colour is something that many people worry about. How much does colour matter? Will different colours work on different days? (eg. bright days, dull days)
Colour is worth worrying about, and colour choice is not based on whether it is a bright or dull day. The relevant things are that a colour should be a similar colour to the local bait species which primarily fall into four groups which are, green, purple, blue and black. The secondary colours are brown and red.
The colour type is also very important as these help the lure imitate either a wounded or scared baitfish for example, luminous colours represent wounded bait fish and fluorescent colours represent aggravated baitfish. All Pakula lures take this into account. Try having a look at a Pakula lure under an ultra violet light and you will see what I mean, though you won't see all the additives we put into the lures.
Why is it that marlin will take a big, fluro coloured piece of plastic? Is it really "matching the hatch?"
In it's simplest form, anything moving will be attacked by a predator i.e. pretty easy to catch a cat on anything that moves. Try running past your dog and not getting attacked without it giving chase. However, the more you can simulate something of the fish which it is used to eating the more likely you are to catch it i.e. a wounded baitfish.
Southern Bluefin Tuna are becoming harder to find in Tasmanian waters. What lures would you recommend to use on these world-class fish? Do you have any perferred fishing methods for Southern Bluefin?
I guess that the best way to answer this is that the better you can imitate the local baitfish the more chance you have. There are certainly some specific lures I would recommend such as a blue Zipper, black Mosquito and Lumo Green Cockroach and Kajiki Mosquito.
It is often said that Striped Marlin are very hard to hook on a lure. Have your new soft head lures increased solid hook-ups?
The fact that a lure head is either soft or hard has nothing to do with the hookup rate. Hookup rate success or failure is a combination of drag setting, type of rig and hook size, barb size and sharpness, type of lure, trolling speed, stiffness of the rod, and the ability of the angler to keep the line tight. Even the direction the lure is being trolled in the current. It is quite complex but a high hookup rate is quite possible.
In your opinion what is the ideal trolling rod and reel to use in Tasmania? Is there any need to fish lines over 24kg?
I believe that in an area where target species are scarce 24 kilo is a good line class to use. The rod would be very stiff and around 6 foot to 6 and a half feet long and fully rollered. The reel would be a Shimano Tiagara 50W filled to the brim with 24 kg. line. I firmly believe that there are some monster marlin in Tasmania in fact it is where I reckon the giant black marlin go to feed.
Tight lines and good times, Peter Pakula, PAKULA TACKLE