Baitfishing, Let's Get Serious!
"The Fine Line Between Fish and Man"
or "...retching in the dunes...." NOTE
by Bob D'Amico
hat Knot to Do... We already know that knots are vitally important, especially with “Hi-Tech” lines since the fiber is slick and slippage is not just possible but probable. What about monofilament and knots? Unfortunately the physical characteristics of monofilament also negatively impacts the performance of monofilament knots.
When monofilament is knotted it's elongation properties improve but compression decreases. That means that the inside edges of a loop or a knot are weakened. This explains why some popular knots, the Improved Clinch, Uni-Knot and Trilene®, are three examples, are only rated at 85 to 90% of the line's strength. More turns just creates more compression points further weakening the knot. If the directions say "make 6 turns...." don't think making 10 turns will make your knot stronger it will make it weaker. Conversely if, as we all know, a Uni-Knot is supposed to have 6 turns and you buy rigs made with Uni-Knots with 2 or 3 turns......What the heck are you doing?
The only exception to this problem is in snelling a hook. Most directions state, make 6, 7 or 8 turns on the hook's shank. I learned long ago that 10 turns is superior and when using large hooks, 8/0 and larger, increase the number of turns to 12.
The best knot to use for terminal tackle is the Palomar knot.
Get Serious Number 3: Offshore big game fishermen and commercial fishermen use monofilament. Longliners use 1,000 to 1,600 pound test for the main line and 250 to 600 pound test for the dropper leaders. Big Game fishermen regularly use 150 to 500 pound test. You can tie a good knot in 150 to 250 pound test monofilaments since their diameters are only 1.6 mm and 2.30 mm respectively but big game fishermen know that swaged (crimped) aluminum sleeves are far superior to any knot. I'm not talking about the copper sleeves used for wire leaders, aluminum sleeves are shorter, have a much heavier body wall gauge and sized for specific diameters of monofilament line, not for wireline. When correctly "squeezed" by the matching die of a swaging (compression) tool, the sleeve will flair at the ends while the monofilament lays perfectly centered and compressed tightly. The "joint" created by a correctly swaged aluminum sleeve will not fail, any failure will occur along the monofilament, not at the sleeve!3
What about those Spring Loops? These “Big Game” components are for added shock and chafe protection for terminal loop connections. Attached to both the top and bottom 150 pound test Trophy™ Barrel Swivels of a Tournament Trophy™ Saltwater High Low Rig, they are an assurance that the rig will not break during the cast (in case you neglect to open your bail) or during a knock down drag out battle with a large fish. They have the added advantage of being a free swinging pivot point during the fight permitting you to apply pressure from any direction and never fail.
Get Serious Number 4: Snaps are another item I've read countless debates about. Which is stronger, Interlock, Coastlock or DuoLock? Forget about Interlock snaps, under the extreme pressure of a trophy fish they will bend out of shape and open. DuoLocks are good but Coastlocks are a far superior design. A 100 pound test Stainless Steel Coastlock on a Ball Bearing Swivel with solid welded rings makes an unbreakable connection and permits you to change rigs quickly.
Get Serious Number 5: Fish Finder Slides are another problem for long suffering fishermen. The standard white or black nylon fish finders are infamous for breaking during the cast and "hi-tech" braided lines can cut through them like butter. You can just use a swivel and a snap on your line but you will have to deal with the eye of the swivel abrading your line - @#$%^& Lost another rig! You can also use the offshore "slides" but they are all shiny chrome plated and "fiscally" overkill. In other words they cost $$$$. The solution has been around for a few years, I wish I thought of it first. Make the Fish Finder Slide from hard PVC, impervious to "hi-tech" braids and beefy enough to stand up to constant use. They are not cheap, in fact the wholesale cost is 12 times higher than those black nylon jobs but they work.
Compare the two different Fish Finder Slider designs shown in the picture on the left. The Heavy Duty version has a Outside Diameter of 5/16" vs 3/16" for the standard. Heavier wall (3/16" vs 1/16"), thicker "loop" for the snap (1/8" vs 1/16"), all around 1,000 percent better. Note - when using Fish Finder slides you should always use plastic or "glass" beads on either side of the slide to allow it to move freely. Without them the Fish Finder Slide will oftentimes get hung up and simply won't slide. Use black or red beads.4
If you went big game hunting you wouldn't use a .22 caliber, single shot, bolt action rifle, so why are you going fishing with sub-standard and/or under strength tackle? You can buy a rod suitable to tame a trophy fish. You can buy a reel for that rod that will give you an advantage with a trophy. BUT if you want to catch a trophy fish you should approach the task with ALL the right tackle. The most important "part" of your tackle is your terminal tackle - the stuff in closest contact with the fish!
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NOTE: "I advocate heavy tackle because it keeps people from retching in the dunes over the fish of their dreams." Frank Daignault, quoted in the article Seasoned Salt
3: I need to emphasize that swaging aluminum sleeves requires the proper sized die in a heavy duty swaging tool. Those $9.95 crimp pliers imported from the Far East or any old pair of pliers will not work.
4: Red is the first color of the spectrum to disappear underwater.