My previous articles have explained my approach to choosing a pattern of lures and how I prefer to rig them. In this article I will be focusing on how I run my lures.
Correctly selecting, rigging and running lures are three essential pieces of a puzzle that need to fit together nicely and become a consistent fishing system.
By focusing on just these three elements, I have been able to obtain far better results than by adopting a more random approach that covers many more associated aspects.
You will remember that in previous articles I have mentioned the importance of getting an aggressive bite from billfish; it has become clear that it is very hard to consistently hook fish if they are simply swinging at the lures with their bills.
To get an aggressive bite from a fish, the lures must be positioned so they’re an easy target. This basically involves placing lures on the various pressure waves’ faces. I suggest positioning the lure on the bottom half of them, so the lure is easy for fish to see and eat, and the lure will always track smoothly in this position, too.
Better still, the fish will have plenty of water behind and in front of the lure, allowing them to surf down and eat it. In contrast, if you place the lure on the top half of the wave, the fish will be forced to swim up to the lure and into thin air in its attempt to eat. A lure that is skipping out of the water and not swimming smoothly makes a difficult target.
However, there are exceptions to the easy-target rule. I have had days on the water when it was so rough the lures were flying out of the water, and yet marlin have managed to jump clear of the water to eat a lure in mid-air. But I have also had fish jump clear of the water and completely miss the lure, so I remain convinced that you still need to make the lures easy to eat.
At times it can be difficult to get the lures to run in the preferred position, as a change in boat direction or sea conditions will mean the pressure waves also change. The small trailer boats used by many Kiwi anglers pose some additional complications, as the pressure waves behind these boats are normally very small further back from the initial wash. In the end you may have to just do your best to adjust the lures so they are swimming nicely and staying in the water.
Now that we have our lures in the correct position, let’s talk a little about drag settings. My preference is for a hard drag. I set my drag at one third of the breaking strain of the line. So with 37kg line I will pre-set the drag to 12kg at the strike position. The reason for doing this is I want to hook the fish straight away, or pull the lure away from the fish as quickly as possible if it is not hooked.
I feel the hard drag setting forces the fish to commit to an aggressive bite to pull the line from the reel. And if the fish is just swinging its bill at the lure, the heavy drag helps prevent a bill wrap, as the fish cannot easily pull line off the reel. (Also, even if the fish does get bill-wrapped, the drag setting should ensure the hook gets pulled off quickly.)
So instead, the lure just keeps on tracking, and if the marlin hasn’t been spooked and is still in the spread, it can have another go, perhaps at a different lure and with more conviction, giving a better chance of a hook-up.
Check out this video on setting lure positions.
On the other hand, with a lighter drag the fish can easily rip a lot of line off the reel and be well out of the spread by the time you increase the drag. Then, if the hooks pull in that position, there is not another lure close by for the fish to eat.
Let’s move on to outriggers and my preferred release system. Most anglers use outriggers to get the long lures into the best position for them to perform. I like to make the release from the ‘riggers very hard, too.
The reason for this is exactly the same as when running the lures from the rod tip. It means the fish must bite with conviction to actually get the lure out of the clip.
Achieving a firm, crisp release from the ‘rigger requires a sturdy pair of outriggers. Sometimes the performance of the ‘riggers can be improved by running a stay from the tip of the outrigger to the bow.
My release system consists of an adjustable Dacron loop fixed to my main line and Aftco Gold Finger or Blacks release clips. I tension these clips up as hard as possible. This does have the downside of breaking a few clips over time, so make sure you have a few spares on board.
I set up my ‘riggers in two ways, depending on what size boat I am fishing on: on smaller boats I attach the release clips directly into the ‘rigger halyards; on larger boats I attach the release clips to tag lines.
I prefer not to use tag lines on small boats as there is already very little drop-back from when the lure comes out of the clip to when the fish pulls drag from the reel. This also eliminates the loose line that often occurs when you turn tightly and then gets blown back into the cockpit, where it can tangle around cleats, rigging tables and other hardware.
I use tag lines on larger boats to reduce the drop-back as much as possible. And, as an added benefit, when I raise a fish behind a lure, I can wind the lure down until the lure is nearly running right off the rod tip, which gives me almost no slack line. Tag lines also mean it is easy to quickly set the lure back into position if you get a knock down. The tag-line return weight brings the clip directly back to the deckhand or mate. Simple, really.
This article is reproduced with express permission of NZ Fishing News
written by Bonze Fleet - 2012 Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited