Top-water casting would be my choice. In my eyes nothing beats raising a fish and seeing the bite on the surface. I back up this choice with some of the amazing adventures we get to go on just to cast poppers or stick-baits to some of the world’s strongest fish. Fish like GT, yellowfin tuna, cubera snapper and our very own worldfamous yellowtail kingfish.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of fishing with some great lure fishers in some of the world’s big fish hotspots, where I have observed many failures and triumphs.
In New Zealand I get to teach anglers how to cast, swim a lure and even fight a fish on a daily basis aboard our Mangawhai-based charter boat. I think I now have the perfect connection system for top water fishing.
We get a lot of emails and messages asking advice on different fishing techniques, but by far the most common question is; “What is your preferred way of rigging up and making line connections for top water fishing?”
When looking at connections for top water, there are series of factors we have to take into account. A connection should be:
• Easy and quick to tie – you do not want to miss out because you are trying to re-rig after a break off, especially when the bite is on;
• Strong and retain a high percentage of the breaking strain of both the braid main line and the leader;
• Maximising casting distance – I believe the person who casts the longest is going to catch the most and the biggest fish;
• Durable and able to withstand many casts in a day. Most days we could put in 150 casts but on some days more than 300. A single strand of line joining to the leader can get fatigued and become compromised. (I have seen single lines snap way too many times when fighting fish and even while casting);
• One that does not hinder the swimming performance of the lure. Light is always best for presenting a lure;
• Part of a system that resists wind knots or tangles around the guides.
Our go-to system for top water, for both local kingfish and larger offshore species such as giant trevally, yellowfin, dogtooth and bluefin tuna, is always the same. The only thing we change is the leader size depending on terrain and fish species.
Our leader system goes like this:
1) Very small loop on the end of the braid mainline – we like to keep the loop as short as possible, around 80-120mm long. In braid we use a 30-turn Bimini twist to form a loop. I like to melt the tag end to ensure the finishing knot does not come undone.
2) From here we connect the mono casting leader with the very simple Yucatan knot: six twists up the loop, five back down and pull the leader out the loop the same way you went in. Pull it super-tight to ensure the knot does not slip. This knot is supersimple to change if the leader becomes damaged. All we do is carefully snip the leader close to the knot, pull the knotted leader off and retie a new leader. We can have you back in action in less than a minute.
3) This is the important part to the equation – we run a very short 1-1.3m leader so the knot is always on the outside of the guides for casting. Having a very short leader increases casting distance and almost eliminates the dreaded wind knots. Leader strength depends on what species you are fishing for, but as a general rule we use 100-130lb for kingfish, 130-150lb for large yellowfin tuna and 170-200lb for big GT.
4) The last thing we do is connect the lure to the leader. We tie a super-strong and lightweight stainless steel NT swivel onto the leader with either a uni or a San Diego jam knot. Both of these knots are very slim, strong and very quick to tie. The split ring connection allows for quick and easy lure changes and the extra weight on the nose of the lure helps its swimming action, especially during rougher days, by keeping the nose of the lure down.
There you go – simple, quick and easy to tie/re-tie, putting you at the top of your top water fishing game.
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