They say you can’t teach an old dog
new tricks. Well as far as this old dog’s concerned,
when I can't be taught a new trick I’ll give up fishing
and take up golf.
A good angler never stops learning,
so if you have a fishing or boat handling technique, a useful
tip, or even want to tell us about a great charter boat or
fishing location drop us a line at TeachSpike@Leadertec.com
. Don't be shy, something that may seem obvious to you might
be completely unknown to anglers in other parts of the world.
forming a spread for marlin it is important to remember
that uniformity among your shorts and longs is important.
It’s a known fact that marlin are color blind
and that they can only tell the difference between two
shades, light and dark. Although there is one skirt
that glows in the dark that is a third shade to a marlin.
The two shades that seem to stand out to these monsters
of the deep are the absence of black, and the absence
of light colors. Most people will have their preferences
on the colors that they use but most of the time when
certain colors are in fashion the only reason that it
became popular is because of word from the tournament
circuits in the Caribbean.
On the short riggers two skirted lures that have downward
angled heads are good because they make three to four
dives and turns. If an aggressive marlin comes up behind
this lure it will see it dart and go after it as if
it were the last piece of food out in the ocean.
On the longs you should have small lures that are very
straight tracking in the water. This is for when a marlin
come up that is not as aggressive to your shorts and
when it sees the lure dart it will fallback, upon falling
back the smaller and straight tracking lure will go
by the marlin and most of the time the marlin will go
for this lure.
On my marlin spread I don’t focus so much on my
teasers but more so on my shorts. I will usually put
two Black Bart lures such as the super plunger or Zulu
head because of their big size and the angled heads
that will make them swerve all around. Like I said before
colors don’t really matter because if you have
a marlin lure that you like and if you use it more than
another chances are no matter what color it is you will
catch more fish on it because marlin don’t get
big by passing up meals. If you give them something
that’s half way decent they’ll go for it.
The two shorts I will keep right at and around 80 feet
off my stern. As for the longs I like to use what’s
called a St. Thomas special. It’s a tear drop
shaped head that has its fat end first, this lure is
a very straight dragging lure, which I think is important
because when a marlin that’s not as aggressive
comes up to your shorts and doesn’t want to chase
it, when they fall back they will then see the lure
on your long rigger and most of the time go for that.
As for teasers I like to use something that has mirrors
in it. Something that I have grown to like is the turbo
teasers, the turbo teaser are almost impossible to come
by but I have been so happy with the ones that I use
that I almost wouldn’t change them in for anything
else. The next best on my list is anything that makes
a lot of commotion, a head with jets, mirrors, abalone
inserts, as long as they create commotion I would recommend
Grant Gyland (aged
stuff Grant, be sure to send me some pictures from your
Surf shark leaders
Here’s a leader that we use when fishing for
big bull sharks off the shore here in the Gulf of Mexico.
a 5 foot (1.5 metre ) length of 400 lb monofilament
and crimp a heavy barrel swivel to one end. Thread two
beads onto the mono, then a heavy snap swivel followed
by another couple of beads. Crimp a second barrel swivel
to the other end of the mono. You then take a 5 foot
(1.5 metre ) length of cable and crimp on a hook sized
to suit the bait that you will be using. Crimp the other
end to either of the barrel swivels on the mono, leaving
the snap swivel to slide freely. The beads prevent the
swivel jamming over the crimps.
We usually use this rig with a very heavy casting rod
and a Penn Senator 4/0 or 6/0 wide spooled with 40 —
50 lb test monofilament. A suitable sized spider weight
is clipped to the snap swivel to complete the rig.
If we need to get the big baits out further than we
can cast with these outfits we sometimes use a kayak
to carry the baits out and drop them exactly where we
Quick change wind-on leaders
One of the disadvantages of wind-on leaders is that
the swivel is closer to the lure than on a normal leader
set up and so will often splash in front of the lure.
Depending who you speak to, this is either a fish raising
enticer or something that interferes with the perfect
presentation of the lure and spooks fish. Tuna can sometimes
shy away from lures with a splashing swivel in front
of them, or alternatively do exactly the opposite, attack
the swivels and ignore the lures completely.
Russell Housby, mate on Capt. Ron Cowling's OUR MARY
at Funchal, Madeira, recommends the following procedure
when splashing swivels seem to be putting tuna off.
Rig some of your tuna lures on long leaders, say 25
feet. Then make up some very short wind-on leaders around
5 feet in length and finish them with a snap swivel.
If it's necessary to switch to a longer leader to get
the swivel away from the lure, all you need to do is
remove the long wind-on leader (an easy process since
wind-on leaders are only connected loop to loop), then
instead of fumbling around trying to tie a knot to a
snap swivel, simply slip the short wind-on to the double.
Snap on your tuna lure with the long leader, and you're
ready to fish.
When you’re finished it’s a simple job
to change back to the regular length wind on. A demonstration
from Russell showed me how quickly the changeover can
be made. It's a useful trick to remember when tuna are
to make the leader a little bit shorter than 25 feet
to allow for a bit of stretch in your leaders if you
want to stay within IGFA rules.
Madeira marlin rig
On the island of Madeira between the months of June
and October the target species is the Atlantic blue
marlin. Other species are present, but most anglers
on Madeira are chasing a grander blue. The tackle used
reflects the intended target.
Trolling artificial lures is the preferred technique,
and heavy tackle is the order of the day. The boats
usually run a spread of four 80 lb or 130 lb outfits,
often with bent butts for greater leverage when working
on big fish.
Most crews load reels with Dacron mainline and add
a 100 or 200 yard top-shot of monofilament ending in
a short 6 — 8 foot double line. Some mates thread
a short length of Dacron onto the line before forming
the double. A wind-on leader is then joined to the doubled
mainline with a double loop-to-loop connection. The
Dacron previously threaded onto the double line is used
to cushion the loop-to-loop connection.
Leaders are constructed of 500 — 600 lb breaking
strain mono, spliced into a Dacron loop at one end and
with a heavy nylon anti-chafe tube and heavy-duty ‘Aussie’
swivel crimped to the other end. The length of the wind-on
leader plus the shorter lure leader cannot exceed 30
feet if it is to comply with IGFA rules. To allow for
some stretch during a prolonged fight with a big fish
the leaders would usually be made to a total length
of around 28 feet, usually 22 feet for the wind-on and
6 feet for the lure leader.
The short lure leader is usually constructed of similar
monofilament to the wind-on leader. At one end is the
lure and hook rig, either single or double hooks depending
on the captain’s preference. At the other end
is a loop with a protective nylon anti-chafe tube or
stainless steel thimble.
The Coastlock or Crosslock snaps that are used in
regular big game trolling would become the weakest part
of this heavy tackle set up. So the last component of
the rig is a stainless steel shackle which links the
Aussie swivel on the wind-on leader to the loop on the
lure leader. This shackle is tightened with either pliers
or a screwdriver and it’s breaking strain is more
than twice that of the strongest Coastlock or Crosslock
When assembled carefully and maintained in good condition
this leader set up is capable of withstanding enormous
strain and will greatly improve your chances of landing
Dacron loop outrigger system
Crewing aboard boats at Madeira this year, it was noticeable
that the preferred system for trolling with large lures
and heavy tackle was to use dacron loops spliced onto
the main line used in conjunction with Black’s
or Trapeze pin style rigger clips. These clips are favoured
because they can be wound up tightly enough to hold
even large lures without losing the ability to break
open cleanly. The fact that the dacron loop, which is
spliced onto the main line, is held by the rigger clip
means that the metal pin never touches the main line
and the consequent risk of weakening is avoided. The
position of the spliced loop can be easily adjusted
by sliding the dacron splice up and down the main line.
To set up this system, take a piece of hollow dacron
about 10" long and splice a loop at one end with
a needle or a doubled length of fine single strand wire.
This loop goes into the outrigger release clip.
Imagine a Y. One branch of the Y is your spliced loop
in the Dacron. The other branch and the stem of the
Y is your main line. Basically the dacron covers the
main line until about 3" from the dacron splice
loop then comes out of the side of the dacron. Pierce
the side of the dacron 3" down from the loop and
run the main line through the remaining 7". You
should now have a length of dacron that runs along the
line with a 3" tag end complete with spliced loop
sticking out. Secure the end that covers the main line
with waxed thread half hitches to prevent fraying. When
it's in the rigger clip, the dacron grips the line in
a “Chinese finger trap” and it doesn't move
-just like a wind on leader.
Use whatever dacron that fits your mono line snugly
-130 or 150 lb is okay for 130 lb mono. 200 lb dacron
is more durable and a great choice when fishing with
thick diameter lines such as Amilan. To adjust the line
length, grab the dacron in one hand, the mono in another,
and simply slide it up and down the line.
Using hi vis dacron to make the loop and splice gives
you a great marker for when you get a knock down and
want to wind the lure up and bring it into the rigger
clip. All that inexperienced crew need to do is wind
the hi vis marker nearly up to the rod tip, rather than
trying to bring the lure back to its original wave position
- it can be difficult to keep track of a smaller lure
run far back in large seas. Black dacron, however, does
the job almost as well and for me anyway seems less
tempting to any lurking wahoo or barracuda.
A further refinement is to use the dacron loops in
conjunction with Black’s clips on tag lines. With
this system, all you need to do on a knockdown is wind
the loop up to the rod tip, grab the clip, snap it into
the dacron loop, let it go with the reel in free spool
and the tag line shoots up the rigger - far superior
to twisting rubber bands onto the line (try that during
a hot bite). The Black’s clips can also be set
to a far more precise setting than rubber bands.
To adapt Black’s clips to tag lines: Most Black’s
clips come with a metal wire with an eye at each end
for clipping to rigger halyards. Cut this wire off,
you don't need it. Or use a Black’s kite clip,
designed to run freely along a kite line. Take the end
of your tag line and slide on a crimping sleeve. Run
the tag line through the clip where the wire used to
be (or like running it along a kite line), then back
through the sleeve and pull it up tightly and crimp
it . The finished arrangement should look something
like a D---, with the tag line forming the --- and the
wire arm of the release clip forming the straight side
of the D.
Dustin Foo - London
Thanks Dustin. I’ll
shortly be writing an article on splicing techniques
and wind on leaders for our tips & techniques section.
The ‘Saturn V’ teaser
During the 2000 White marlin season I was working the
deck for my friend Captain Helder Ferreira aboard the
Esmeralda Azul in Portugal.
We smiled when a client produced his ‘secret
weapon’ teaser which he wanted to use, and which
we quickly named the Saturn V, after the rocket which
carried men to the moon. It was enormous. Almost three
feet long, made from a 12 inch length of black 4 inch
diameter plastic pipe with skirting made from upholstery
vinyl held in place with carpet tape. Inside the plastic
tube was jammed a length of square section wood, which
fitted tightly inside the tube, and which the client
had pushed into place so that the wood was not flush
with the end of the tube, but was around an inch down
into the tube.
This, it turned out, was the Saturn V’s secret.
The wood had been drilled lengthways through its centre,
and a short length of 800 lb cable threaded through
it. A crimp, a bead, and a large washer kept the wire
from pulling through the teaser, while a large swivel
was crimped to the other end of the wire. Two eyes had
been roughly painted on the tube, and that was it. The
quality was, shall we say, basic. But that didn’t
stop it raising fish!
Captain Helder and I wiped away the tears of laughter,
and I dutifully ran out the Saturn V from the centre
of the transom convinced that any White marlin that
saw it would be afraid of being eaten by it! The smoke
trail that thing left had to be seen to be believed.
It ran about 18 inches below the surface, and the huge
amount of water that was scooped up by the recessed
face was forced to exit through the four ‘half
moon’ shaped slots between the wooden block and
the tube. It was amazing, the smoke trail must have
been twenty feet long. It looked like we were being
chased by a torpedo!
I set out our usual spread of Moldcraft Little Chuggers,
Wide Ranges and Soft Machines as well as my usual teaser
of five rubber ballyhoo from a company called Burke
lures. Does anyone know if Burke lures still exist?
I called to Captain Helder to take a look at the Saturn
V. He glanced down at it and smirked, but as I watched,
the amusement froze on his face ..... “Marlin!.....”
A white had come up in the spread and was knocking the
snot out of the rubber ballyhoo teaser. The angler fed
him a dead Carapau (Horse mackerel) and he was on.
The pattern continued throughout the day. We raised
more fish that day than in the previous three days fishing.
I didn’t see one fish rise directly to the Saturn
V, but it sure wasn’t scaring them off. Coincidence?
Possibly, but I doubt it. There’s no question
that the fish could sense the presence of the Saturn
V from a long way off, but I’ve always been of
the opinion that a boat with twin diesels is about the
biggest teaser you could put in the water, and the fish
ought to be able to detect the boat from even further
off. But there was obviously something about the Saturn
V that they liked.
Well, Captain Helder and I both had egg on our faces,
and I promised myself that I’d keep a straight
face in future no matter what a client produced from
his tackle bag.
What’s that noise
coming from Spike’s garage? Sounds like another
Saturn V under construction!
Keep your hooks sharp with lanolin
It’s amazing how perfectly sharpened big game
hooks lose their edge during a day of trolling, even
when they are coated with the traditional Magic marker.
Saltwater corrosion will quickly undo a deckie’s
hard work on anything other than stainless hooks.
One of my more mundane duties as deckhand aboard Peter
Bristow’s Katherine B in Madeira was to coat newly
sharpened hook points with a layer of lanolin each day
before the lures were put in the water. Lanolin is a
fat processed from sheep’s wool and is available
from pharmacists stores, but you may have to order it.
It’s heavy and sticky, and clings to the hook
points through a whole day of trolling, keeping them
I found it particularly valuable when fishing Rapalas,
since the trebles are invariably non-stainless and extremely
susceptible to corrosion.
Thanks for that Dustin. Like many other anglers I’ve
always protected my hook points with a Magic marker
after sharpening, but I’ll certainly be giving
lanolin a try.
A popular catch here in the Solomon islands are Dogtooth
tuna, referred to as doggies, or dogs. These fierce
predators are tough fighters, equalling if not surpassing
the Giant Trevally or GT. An unusual fish, they are
actually a true member of the Bonito family, and although
migratory are not pelagic and are found predominantly
near structure, such as seamounts, submerged reefs and
drop offs. The steepest walls and strongest currents
produce the best fish.
They are also unusual among the tunas in possessing
peg teeth resembling a dog’s fangs. Colours run
from a silvery white belly to a metallic purple on the
back with a pink to purple sheen over the sides and
a conspicuous white tip to both the anal and the second
Although doggies will take trolled minnows readily
this will often only produce the smaller fish up to
3 kgs or so. The real monsters seem to prefer heavy
metal jigged at speed combined with a fast retrieve,
or livebaits and baited skirts trolled at depth.
Once hooked the fish will power away strongly, and
they are often lost on the first run if they can make
it back to the structure. They live up to their name
and show a dogged fighting ability similar to a Yellowfin
and once settled down will circle and go deeper if allowed.
Often the angler has little choice in this matter!
We've boated them up to 40 kg although bigger fish
remain uncaught. The unseen monster that gets away is
usually a dog!
Bent rods & sharp hooks!
Dive Solomon Charters
Dirk. If you want to find out more about fishing in
the Solomons, check out Solomon charters in our International
Artificial Sand eels: an international
Imitation sand eels are soft, plastic lures reminiscent
of some freshwater ‘worms’. The basic concept
is so successful that probably every boat angler in
the British isles has several in his tackle box. The
eels come in a range of sizes from one and a half to
nine inches long and in a bewildering range of colours,
from plain red, orange, white and black through to beautifully
coloured baitfish imitations.
The original design comes
from a small fishing town on the south coast of Cornwall,
England, where the late Alex Ingram designed his first
Mevagissey eel over 30 years ago. Since then the design
concept has been copied and developed by several european
manufacturers including Eddystone eels, Redgill, Delta
tackle and the french company Raglou who now market
an excellent version. Each company has added its own
improvements and signature design variations.
In Europe, of all the lures available for casting,
the Rapala remains supreme. But for any other aspect
of sea angling, the artificial sand eel is king. Nine
of the IGFA line class records (excluding fly) for the
European pollack (Pollachius pollachius) were caught
using imitation sand eels.
In Miami, fishing for Spanish mackerel between tarpon
with Captain Bouncer Smith, we had great success with
the sand eels. Smith was so impressed with the lure's
action and presentation in the water that he, in a most
gentlemanly manner of course, managed to ‘secure’
a good proportion of our stock.
The versatility of the lure has also taken it into
other aspects of the sport, freshwater anglers sometimes
use the imitation eels for pike, trout and salmon, and
even fly anglers have benefited from incorporating the
tail action into small flies using small specially manufactured
tails built into the body of the fly.
Couple this versatility with the fact that the sand
eel has proved successful at catching more than 30 recognised
gamefish species and you begin to realise why it has
developed such a reputation.
The imitation sand eel is made of strong but pliable
plastic, and incorporates a built in hook. The shape
is based on the sand eel, Ammodytes tobanius, but it
has been claimed that the imitation swims even better
than the real thing! The real magic of the lure is in
the design of the tail, which emulates the movement
of a drogue on a landing jet fighter plane, and moves
rapidly from side to side when drawn through the water,
either trolled or dropped to the bottom and retrieved
through the water column.
When trolling, use a trolling weight ahead of a long
leader of around 12 to 15 feet. The weight will depend
on the trolliing speed and how deep the lure is required
to swim. It will pay to vary the trolling speed until
the fishes preference has been established.
When fished in this manner the eel will behave as a
true ‘swimming’ lure and prove very effective
for many predatory species. When fishing in Madeira,
artificial eels, trolled alongside traditional feathers
and spoons, accounted for 42 out of 49 dolphin caught.
When one fish was lost, another jumped right on.
These versatile lures can also be used to extract fish
from their homes around sunken wrecks. On the European
side of the Atlantic, eels are popular to the extent
of dominance when wreck or reef fishing for pollack,
coalfish and bass.
Using a rig which incorporates a long leader of 12
to 15 feet and a plastic or wire boom to hold the leader
away from the mainline, the lure is dropped to the reef
or wreck, and on reaching the bottom is steadily retrieved.
The speed of retrieve varies according to the species
sought and the tidal flow. Fast tides will allow a slow
retrieve, whereas a slower tide will demand a faster
retrieve rate to impart the necessary action to the
lure. The water column can be searched thoroughly until
the depth at which the fish are holding is found.
Often a few small knocks on the rod tip will be felt
as a fish makes half hearted strikes at the lure, but
it is important to resist the urge to strike and to
keep retrieving. Sometimes a fish will follow the lure
way up through the water before finally taking the lure
Strikes are usually felt as added weight, the rod tip
bends down and line starts to peel off the reel as the
fish starts its first run. With pollack and coalfish
(confusingly known as pollock on the American side of
the Atlantic) this is usually followed by a dogged fight.
Excitement occurs when a lunker cod or ling picks up
the eel, usually close to the bottom. Light tackle and
a strong tide will combine to produce a long dour fight.
For other predatory species the eel proves equally
successful. In our home waters pollack, cod, coalfish,
ling, mackerel and European bass all regularly fall
for its charms. In warmer waters they've been known
to entice tunas, dolphin, snook, barracuda, wahoo, sailfish
and even white marlin.
Whether the imitation eels represent the original model
in nature or are a reasonable representation of some
tropical baitfish such as an immature needlefish or
a ballyhoo, they certainly seem to be a truly universal
lure. We never travel anywhere without some in our angling