The Jinkai philosophy on game fishing and rigging
Team JINKAI has enjoyed a long standing involvement within the world of fishing particularly sport and game fishing with their "complete leader system".
As a logical addition to the leader system, Team JINKAI now offers the "Complete lure system" and as has always been the case, they endeavour to provide specialists knowledge, techniques and attitudes to assist you in understanding trolling lure fishing.
The new JINKAI "Complete lure system" has been designed and manufactured in Australia, to meet a large diversity of target species and trolling situations which abound in the world of fishing. John Bryant explains his philosophy.
Where do we start?
Lure fishing with trolling lures is by its very nature, a very dynamic and suspense filled method of catching pelagic fish species. The large majority of fish species particularly pelagic species are predatory, which means they actively prey on just about anything smaller than themselves, small bait fish, squid, and other pelagic fish.
In their natural environment fish will either feed as individuals, in small distinct groups or in vast schools, which may consist of several hundred individuals. Some species such as sailfish have even been observed herding or "balling" bait into a tight school in order to feed-..
Major feeding activity ceases when the predators hunger is satisfied, or when remaining food element manages to escape, at which point, life in the ocean returns to normal.
At this point it is pertinent to point out that trolling lures can be divided into two main categories:
-Bibbed and bibles style lures
-Skirted trolling lures
Team JINKAI specialises in the manufacture of high quality skirted trolling lures in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours to cater for a range of needs and target species. A lure, regardless of the type or style is in reality an artificial bait of which a resemblance to anything living is some what questionable. However, one of the most important aspects is to recognise that a lure offers and creates three features.
-a potential food source for a predator
-something which activates an aggressive instinct within a predator
-something which creates a territorial invasion which may cause a strike on the part of a predator
Of these factors, aggression is the key word, especially when billfish are the target species. The amount of energy being expended by a 1000 pound Marlin in the pursuit of a pilchard sized lure far out weighs any possible calorific food value that a large predator would ever receive from consuming something as small as a lure.
Over the years there have been many documented cases of large fish which have been taken on lures, being so "full" of natural food that it would be unlikely that they could consume another morsel. This would logically lead us to believe that there is an additional bonus point working in the anglers favour. This point may in fact be the only way to entice those particular fish into striking at a trolled lure. That point - "angler'. It may well be that the unwritten law of the ocean is: "Trespassers will be killer".
What do pelagic fish see?
Scientists advise us that fish are colour blind. If it is fact that fish are colour blind it would be reasonable to assume that colour was not important to them. If colour is not important in some way, why do fish such as marlin "light up" with blue bands when aroused, or other fish develop bright spots or change colour to suit their environment?
We may never know the answers to these questions, but it is suffice to say that a great deal of interest is created when fish react to, and respond to out trolled lure. The reaction to our lure may be because of its specific colour spectrum on a given day, which is often relative to the types of bait species in the immediate area.
What can be said, with full confidence, is that fish do see and hear certain things. Some aspects which we believe are visible to fish are:
Within any spectrum of trolled lures the above factors as well as other factors can determine relative success. Some of the other factors can determine relative success. Some of the other factors which will determine the success rate are:
-Bubble trail ("smoke') which not only creates a visible stimulus but also creates noise
-Lure vibration which will vary according to head shape of the lure and the position within the overall lure pattern.
Within the world of pelagic fish species, there are three general categories which anglers pursue.
-Others - Mackerels, dolphin fish, wohoo, kingfish etc.
If we look at these groups carefully we find some interesting features which may help us build a repertoire of techniques to help target the species we wish to catch.
Billfish are "Flexi-fish" which indicates they are very flexible and capable of twisting and arching their body to respond to erratic baitfish movements very quickly. This flexibility allows a billfish to maximise the use of their bill to stun prey prior to feeding. If we look at the geometry of the billfish's head we can see that its mouth is low in mechanical advantage for engulfing prey and their own "weapon', the bill, restricts close quarter vision and may restrict the ability to engulf in a hurry.
Tuna are generally non flexible fish which have short muscular bodies designed for speed. A tuna's mouth is proportionately large and equipped with many small sharp holding teeth, as distinct from fundamental cutting teeth, and is capable of engulfing relatively large prey very quickly.
The attack pattern of tuna can be likened to that of a torpedo, in that they aim for and intersect their chosen prey at high speed and at a given strike point.
Within our category of "others" are fish such as the mackerel family, wahoo, kingfish, dolphin fish, trevallies, etc. which are another style of fish. These species are all reasonably flexible, and many of them are equipped with razor sharp teeth. These are the "tail biters" and are often found in large schools which attach schools of bait fish, disabling as many as possible and then returning to feed.
The understanding of the behaviour of these species of fish will help improve our lure fishing techniques and this will be covered in more detail later.
-Our pride and joy!
Within the above generalisation we have a number of variations.
1. The large game boat which at trolling speed creates "displacement" of many tons of water at the transom. These boats create their own resonance which varies between fibreglass and timber hulls, mostly diesel and shaft driven propellers.
2. Trailerable boats - these may be timber, fibreglass or aluminium, stem drive or out board propelled, and steering is achieved by the rotation of the leg and the exhaust is under water.
3. Twin hull - generally fibreglass or aluminium with a unique water displacement pattern produced by the hull, coupled with the wake from twin motors.
The Strike Zone
The exit point from the transom is the beginning of the strike zone which can then extend back a considerable distance. Team Jinkai had divided the Strike Zone into four Activity Zones. The creation of lures to work within these Activity Zones has been central to the effectiveness of the complete lure system.
Team Jinkai uses the following analogy to help describe how the system works. The Strike Zone is like a football field; we have the forward zone at the transom "the short corner". "The long corner" is the start of the centre field which reaches to the "short outrigger". "The long outrigger" outwards is the back line through to the "shotgun" out in the purple patch.
The Short Corner - (Red Zone)
The "short corner" is where we expect to see a lot of billfish activity. After all, whenever a teaser is used it is generally positioned in the short corner on most occasions. It is our belief that the majority if billfish come to the "Red Zone" first. Apart from initial curiosity, billfish appear to enjoy that highly aerated water close to the boat, it may have the appeal of a giant spa bath. Placement of lures here is important. The short corner position is a very productive area and correct presentation relative to your boats wake, is critical in order to capitalise on its potential.
The short corner position is also where we prefer to have the lure set on the back face of the wave. Controversial maybe, but being so close to the boat we believe the window aspect here is les intimidating to the fish, considering the close proximity to the boat.
The Long Corner - (Orange Zone)
In the "orange zone" boat activity is starting to diminish. The wake patterns are settling and the fishing zone is wider, generally behind the teaser. The long corner is the alternative billfish flat line position. This is an area which, in general, would not expect much activity from other species, however, anything can happen and sometimes we all get a surprise!
The Short Rigger - (Orange Zone)
Fishing the "Yellow Zone" positions out lures in clear water and now approaching the strike zones for the other species. In the yellow zone we prefer to fish the lures in the window on the front bottom third of the wave pattern.
The use of outriggers to fish the yellow zone gives us spread in the pattern, and an angled upward towing point for the lures. Consequently we prefer to troll a fairly straight running lure of medium activity.
The Long Rigger - (Yellow Zone)
The advantages of identical, whether fishing the long or short rigger positions, are in both positions the window on the front of the wave should be the best choice for setting the lures.
Outrigger fishing provides several advantages.
1. The width of the trolling pattern is significantly increased which allows more water to be covered with the lures.
2. The outrigger allows a fish to grasp the lure and turn down before taking up the "slack" in the system, enhancing potential hook-ups. We do recommend the use of stinger lines on outriggers. The stinger line reduces line drop back when the lure is released fro the outrigger clip by a strike.
The Shotgun - (Purple Patch)
A much talked about area. Many anglers consider fish taken on the shotgun lure are those which would eventually come to the boat. It is not that simple.
Fishing one lure out of pattern that far back could be considered as prospecting. But we believe that any billfish encounters this far back will be with fish that have already been raised by the main pattern. Usually a fish which may not have been seen and has dropped back, only to be enticed by the straggler, "shotgun".
Going on the experience that a fish has left the pattern and has not been stimulated enough to attack, we believe the ratio of strikes of those billfish on large lures will be significantly reduced. We therefore prefer and recommend the use of a small to medium lure in the Purple Patch, for the following reasons.
Yes, you may entice a billfish, however, a small lure is in the hot zone for all the other species - Mahi Mahi, Mackerels, Yellowfin Tuna, Blue Fin Tuna, Dogtooth Tuna, Wahoo etc. and staying small the prosecting may yield Albacore, Striped Tuna and small Yellowfin. This may be the first "indicator" that you are moving over a patch of fish that may hold a larger predator underneath another string to the bow.
As is apparent, each boat type and configuration is different, so it is essential that you learn the hot spot in your boats wake, and fish it properly with correct lure shapes, sizes and positioning.
Having made all the above observations. HOW, has Team Jinkai translated this into a Lure System?
By purposely designing lures for specific Activity Zones.
Quasi is our most energetic lure, which creates a massive bubble trail and vibration. This lure has a short head and long shirt which affords maximum activity. Quasi was designed for the Red Zone, a great transom lure which really tucks in. Using our football field analogy, the Quasi can be considered our full forward.
Ahi is a serious outrigger, or long transom lure. Apart from rough water capability it shines in calm water. A more active swimming lure, the Ahi represents a startled or more aggressive feeder in search of prey in the Orange and Yellow Zones.
Demon is a centre pull straight running lure which may be fished anywhere in the pattern. When trolled it resembles an unsuspecting fish in travel mode. The Demon produces a very effective bubble at a range of speeds.
The Exocet is strikingly different and like nothing you have seen before. Because of the body length, the shorts are short, it is best suited to the yellow zone. The inherent shape of the Exocent allows it to be fished on lighter tackle, if needed, and certainly at higher speeds. Our fastest marlin hit so far has been at 14 knots. The Exocet is designed as a squid imitation, and is rigged with a single hook only.
The Salt Shaker is a weighted lure which creates a huge bubble envelope as it moves through the water. The envelope disperses into an extremely long smoke trail. The salt shaker can handle rough water and high speed and is the ideal lure for covering territory at both normal trolling speeds and high speed.
When ever a group of anglers is asked how they rig their lures, the numbers of variations offered is diverse to say the least. However, through our own testing and trails Team Jinkai had found the following rigging configurations to be the most effective overall.
When choosing hooks, make sure that the lure head can pass through the gape of the hook.
When rigging our small lures we recommend a single hook, our larger lures, twin hooks are recommended. By virtue of the fact that sloped face lures are designed to swim in a controlled vertical plane, hooks can be positioned in the vertical plane. We prefer them facing up simply because they cannot be seen from underneath as a fish approaches. On symmetrical lures there is no up or down as gravity will always face the hooks down.
The Jinkai sloped face lure range consists of the Quasi series and the Ahi series. When rigging the Quasi series 1 and Ahi series 1 we recommend the use if a twin hook rig, both facing vertically up in the same plane. For the smaller Quasi and Ahi series lures a single hook facing up and positioned towards the rear of the lure is recommended. To maintain the desired vertical plane insert a toothpick firmly into the leader entry hole next to your Jinkai leader.
Referring to our picture of activity zones, you will observe what could be considered the basic pattern for Bluewater trolling. This of course has variations.
Over the canyons, we use the approach as depicted, noting that the Red and Orange zones are where we initially become aware of billfish activity within the pattern, in our experience.
However when trolling inshore waters our techniques alter. The use of outriggers is minimal, instead we prefer to keep the school of lures tight and fish much further back. In essence the lures chosen are smaller and we dedicate our efforts in pattern positioning to cover from the yellow zone to the purple patch, and generally flat line only three rods. This technique is used for one reason only; it catches fish.
Having set the pattern to suit the environment the next step is to convert a strike into a solid hook up. We will assume that the tackle to be used is in good order so we will confine ourselves to the strike. Normally, the strike drag setting on your reel should be set at one third that of the breaking strength of the line being used. Ensure the reel is correctly set. Once your lure is in the water the drag on the reel must be set to that particular lure. A medium lure on 15kg is proportionally about correct. Using the same lure on 24 kg will require more force to turn the reel. It may hook up but may "slam" the hook in and tear a hole in the fished mouth which through elongation may cost you the fish later. Success may be yours with Tuna and the other species, but you reduce your chances with billfish. When you go to 37kg gear on full strike, it will be rarer to connect properly. Fish have no hands to hang on with, they rely on their mouth, therefore it is no good having a "Tug a war" with the fish prior to the hooks achieving the right angle or position to engage correctly. Pulling the lure from the fishes mouth will be the likely result.
Back your drags off until there is just enough pressure to prevent the lure from running out due to water pressure. This technique will help you enormously. It allows the fish to take line on a lighter drag setting for a moment. Get the angler set, count to 4 then ease the drag up to strike, and "gun" the boat forward to reinforce hook up and hopefully the connections shall be a good one. This technique is ever so important with billfish because of the JINKAI "V" factor
The JINKAI "V" factor
Billfish are valiant creatures that bring pleasures to us all with their tenacity and acrobatics, however, they were not designed as the most efficient lure muncher. Their mouth is not designed for lure fishing and within inches the mechanical advantage to grasp anything is reduced significantly. In order to improve out chances of a positive hook up we really need a billfish to get a good grip on the lure and turn down to allow the hooks to be positioned for the best chance of a result. Let them take line easily or you will probably pull the lure away.
While it is true, that a 100 kg billfish can easily swallow a large bait such as a 5 kg striped tuna, it is also important to realise, that after a billfish strikes a live bait fish it is either killed or stunned which permits the fish to return and swallow its meal at its leisure. This is not the case with a trolled lure, as it just keeps on moving after the strike, unless a positive hook up is achieved.
The secret; lighter trolling drags avoid the tug of war effect.
Billfish sometimes play with us more than we play with them, and the term "finicky" may not be apt terminology. It is likely that they are just curious and not yet angry enough to elicit and aggressive strike. Often winding the lure in and free spooling is not enough, but at other times may achieve results. There are times when it appears that they are simply bemused by us and our toys.
Team Jinkai had a recent experience were a striped marlin was observed stalking a lure on the short rigger, a proven position with a proven lure, after a lot of curiosity the marlin lit up and did a right angle and aggressively devoured the long rigger at full speed. A solid hook up was the result and shortly thereafter, striped marlin was tagged and released. We must now consider an important factor. Something triggered that fish into action. In this case it may simply have been that the marlin was in the mood, and a lure further over dived and bubbled at exactly the right moment.
The angler has the opportunity when lure fishing to induce the trigger mechanisms which result in aggressive strikes. Achieving the desired reaction from a fish can at times be difficult, and in other instances, extremely simple. The methods outlined below may achieve results by creating quick minor changes in the behaviour of the lure. When you either suspect the presence of a fish in the pattern or you are trolling in an obvious bait activity area try the following techniques.
-Free spool one flat line 10 metres and wind it back in quickly. If a fish was following the lure, the result will be the lure will have suddenly dropped behind the predator or possibly even hit it on the way back, then the lure suddenly stops and moves rapidly forward again. This may appear to the fish to be the reaction of a startled baitfish attempting to escape, which may in turn induce a strike.
-Release a lure from the out rigger, and the lure will drop back, then take up as a flat line at least 3-4 metres inside of where it was trolling before. Crank it in and reset it back in the outrigger. This creates an elliptical pattern of rotation. As previously mentioned this technique may not be enough, but it just might be what is needed.
Lure trolling by its very nature involves the covering of territory. The advantage of this method of fishing is that your lures will be exposed to wide range of bottom features, current lines, and possibly water temperature - changes. Just a slight deviation of course to take advantage of these factors may often prove to be beneficial.
Fishing the features
What can be considered as features may consist of many things, ranging from minor shale beds, reef systems, underwater canyons, bomboras, drop-offs, current lines and even islands. Features hold bait fish and forage fish, which may in turn attract and hold both small and large predators such as billfish and tuna etc.
When trolling major features, a circling or figure eight trolling pattern hold advantages over simple straight trolling for the following reasons.
Due to the progress of trolling a circular or figure eight pattern, the lures will have been trolled up the current, down current, and cross current, with the wind, against the wind, and beam to the wind. The sun will have been in front, beam on and also behind.
If you receive a strike, note the attitude and position of the boat in relation to natures elements and any apparent feature and which activity zone was productive. It may be very hard for a fish to look up at a lure in the window of a wave if the fish is also staring straight into the sun or unfavourable wind pattern.
Other factors that are trigger mechanisms are sunrise, sunset and tide change. These are out of our control but are always relevant.
The final trigger mechanisms that we can utilise if we have action but no guaranteed hook ups is to reduce lure size in a given activity zone. This sometimes works. To explain this further, we use the following example:
After a large fulfilling meal, we feel relaxed, lazy and content and most would not opt for another main meal, however if a bowl of peanuts is set out, someone will start eating. I have termed this phenomenon. - "the peanuts principle". A large lure may be passed up as a simply, too much to swallow, however a small lure, a peanut may be eaten. This last trigger mechanism we use, is to occasionally throw some sliced pilchards into the water as we circle a feature or school of baitfish. The old scratch and smell principle.
Team Jinkai has tested our entire range of lures, the results being impressive with all colours, shapes and sizes being attributed with captures of baitfish, tuna and other species.
There is not set answer to the requirements of our oceans on any given day, nor any perfect lure, or pattern. If there was, there would be no pelagic fish left. When all is said and done, there are no guarantees in fishing, but every possible advantage must be capitalised on. Having provided anglers with the best leader system available, we now back that system up with a lure system in a range of colours and sizes, specifically designed to suit activity zones. Team Jinkai can help provide the advantage.