TOP: Ryan Williamson displaying a ’cuda rigged to be used as a big skip bait. ABOVE: A queenfish and bonito rigged as swim baits. Note the lacing up of the gut, gills and mouths of these baits to obviate wash-through, thereby extending the length of time these baits can be used. TACKLE AND HOW IT’S USED The captains mostly use only 130 lb rod, reels and line, with them going to lighter tackle only on the client’s insistence when targeting for world records. The heavy tackle is pretty standard, but the way it’s put to use and the make-up of the terminal tackle is very interesting and that’s what enables them to obtain the results they achieve. Using heavy rods with bent (banana) butts and extremely sturdy fighting chairs is relatively normal, but when the Barrier Reef captains are trolling the rods are placed in the gunnel holders so that the rod tip is straight up as opposed to the way we run them when trolling lures. This way the rod tip is positioned a lot higher, and after breaking from a very lightly set rigger clip, the line is able to stay as high as possible above the water for longer. For
the strike the reel is set on what they call a running drag, which is only there to stop overwind. After a fish has eaten a bait it doesn’t swim off too quickly as it’s relaxed in its natural environment. After a ten second free spool the angler pushes the lever drag up to 10kg, then slowly increases the drag to 20kg, then 25kg, then 30kg. Once you feel the head shake on the tip of the rod, you generally know that the hook has turned into the corner of the mouth. The general rule is: No head shake, no hook up. Only then, once the captain believes a hook-up has been achieved, is the drag reduced to below 10kg to enable the angler to remove the rod from the rod holder and reposition it in the fighting chair. Once the angler is harnessed and settled the drag will be increased to 20kg. Thereafter backing down on the
fish is undertaken as soon as possible as captains prefer to fight a big fish as close to the boat as possible. Unlike blues which run long distances after being hooked up on a lure, these big blacks seldom take more than 300 metres of line, but they are extremely dogged fighters. TERMINAL TACKLE Only Mustad 18/0 and 20/0 circle hooks are used. The 18/0 are used in the swim baits and stinger baits which are 2-5kg in size. (Stinger is what we call centre-rigged or Hong Kong here in South Africa.) For the big skip baits which range in size from 6-15kg, the 20/0 circle hooks are used. These hooks are attached to the single strand “Aussie Wire” which is a hard, galvanised wire that has a breaking strain of about 450 lb; they use a piece SKI-BOAT March/April 2018 • 61
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