Game fishing - rigging for the best results
by Rocky Carosi - Professional Charters
Careful rigging is one of the keys that open the door to success in fishing. It is no coincidence that those who know and understand, and are skilled in how to rig - whether for fishing with baits or lures, consistently bring in the fish.
So the new 15kg game fishing rod and reel, packed with new monofilament line is sitting in the garage ready for some terminal rigging prior to being used for battle. The first step is to decide whether or not you want a double line tied. The advantage of a double line is that it gives you nearly double the line strength for the last 6 m or so before the swivel. Therefore on a large fish, once the double line has come on the reel, the drag can be increased.
Most large tuna can be very stubborn when they are 10m from the boat - so the double line are the Spider hitch for line up to 15kg and the Plait for lines over 15kg.
A double line also gives that extra resistance to knocks, scuffs and scratches which are more likely to happen down on the business end of the line.
The section of a good quality black ball bearing snap swivel is important. Poor quality swivels can result in line twist, swivel and snap breaking apart, or snap opening up. Sampo, Coast Lock, McMahon, Hawaiin and Good sport are brands and styles that are of a dependable quality. Select the snap swivel that is suitable for your line, class and leader size - not to small or too large.
Fifteen kilogram line would combine with a snap swivel rate or around 50 - 70kg. The snap swivel can be attached to the double line using the Bimini hitch which will give a secure and strong holding point.
When selecting appropriate leaders or tracers, important considerations are breaking strain and length. Most Tasmanian game fishing revolves around trolling with artificial lures, mainly for the tuna species.
When setting up for tuna lures, the ideal trace length is 2-3m, with a breaking strain of 100-120kg. This should be good quality monofilament trace. When setting up lures targeting billfish, base length should be 4-5m with breaking strain of 200kg. A longer trace allows for the extra length of the fish and the possibility of tail kicks touching the line.
When setting up shark traces, multistrand plastic coated wire 406m in length with a breaking strain of 400kg or more if necessary.
There are several good brands of monofilament trace available - it is important to use the appropriate crimps and crimping pliers for each brand or trace. Where the trace attaches to the snap swivel on one end and the hooks attach on the other end, there are several methods to minimise wear on monofilament leaders. After the monofilament has been crimped either end of the trace, it is a good policy to just melt the tag and to form a bubble on the end giving extra security against slippage.
Stainless steel, cadmium plated and chemically sharpened are all successful and practical for different purposes.
Lure rigging is usually stainless or plated hooks from 6/0-10/0. Chemically sharpened hooks are good for dead and live baits, but tend to rust fairly quickly. Hook placement within a lure is fairly important and there are many different options on placement. Hooks should be checked and sharpened regularly, sharpening from the barb towards the point and finishing off with a stone. The point should not be made too thin, as strength will be lost. This area of sharp hooks is often overlooked - it is important, especially when a marlin or large tuna hits the lure. It is especially important on a marlin strike where penetration around the hard bony mouth will not happen with blunt hooks. Also hook penetration can be hindered by a barb which is too large. The barb can be filed down partially to assist in penetration.
For anglers fishing in game fishing clubs and competition there are rules and regulations set out which control the setup of fishing gear, including lengths of double line, tracers, hook placement, length of gaff, rope etc.
These regulations are set out in the GFAA Yearly, Bluewater Magazine or Saltwater Game Fishing Book. On a final note, a few extra minutes rigging with care could mean the difference between landing that record fish or seeing it irretrievably lost. It is just an important way of increasing the odds in the anglers favour.