A Guide to Seaway Fishing Tackle
This article will cover the gear I use and recommend for fishing the seaway. You can use pretty much any gear you like but the better suited the outfit is to fishing the seaway the more fish you will catch. Multiple outfits are recommended to cover every angle.
I mainly use 7ft Graphite/Carbon Fibre Rods, the extra length gives you better casting distance, though you can go up to 8ft without too many problems. 6ft rods are just too short for good lurecasting but work fine for livebaiting. You can go as cheap as you like, obviously the better the rod, the better your casts and more fish you will catch. I find rods in the $130-$200 range are a great balance between cost and performance. One of my alltime favourites is the old Samaki Allure 701 which had a pricetag of only $130.00. One thing you should look for is the butt length, a longer butt enables you to cast two handed and put more punch into the casts, getting greater distance. All of my favourite rods have a butt length of 25-27cm. Butt length is measured from the bottom of the reel seat.
What I'm using right now in Rods:
- 2 x SeawayFishing Strong LLBC702M & ML ($150)
- Samaki Allure 701SM ($130)
- Daiwa Black Label BL762MHFS ($250)
- Daiwa SOL 701MLFS ($250RRP bought for $120)
The most important aspect for any reel you use in the seaway is a decent drag, it must be smooth. A jerky drag will cost you fish. Another thing to consider is reel line capacity. While most fish will never use anything below the top 80m of line, every now and again you'll hook something that will need 200m+ so keep that in mind. Plenty of big fish have been landed on small 2500 size reels but when you want to throw around big lures like 14cm poppers or 60gram Raiders, you'll need a 4000 size reel with a decent strength braid(20 -30lb) on it. Another thing you should look at is high speed retrieve reels. 6.0:1 should be considered a minimum for throwing poppers and slugs. You can work plastics on the slower 5.0:1 reels, but when you are chasing surface feeders, being able to wind in a cast quickly and punch it out again fast will put more fish in the boat. I don't use overhead or baitcasting reels for lure fishing in the seaway.
What I'm using right now in Reels:
- Jundao T7-30 ($80) spooled with 12lb Spider Braid
- SW 3000 ($80) Spooled with 20lb Daiwa Saltiga Braid
- Daiwa Ballistic 3000 ($220) Spooled with 30lb Daiwa Saltiga Braid
- Shimano Sustain FG 4000 ($300) Spooled with 30lb Daiwa Saltiga Braid
- Daiwa Advantage 2500A ($220) Spooled with 12lb Spider Braid
- Daiwa SOL II 3000H ($330) Spooled with 30lb Daiwa Saltiga Braid
- Daiwa LD50H ($250) Spooled with 50lb Bionic Braid
Braided lines are the only way to go for serious lure fishing in the seaway, the sensitivity can tell you when a fish takes a halfhearted swipe at a lure or when your jighead is bouncing around in the rocks. The smaller diameter will also give you better casting distance. There are many brands available but they are all fairly expensive for what they are. I have used quite a few brands, from the cheap but good lines I sell here on SeawayFishing(Spider Braid, Daiwa Saltiga Grey) to brands like Sunline 4x4 Momentum which retail for around $60 for 125m. What brand you choose is up to you, it doesn't make alot of difference in the end. You might get an extra 5 metres in casting distance using a high end thin braid but the first wind knot you get will have you halfway through your brand new spool of expensive line. These days I prefer the cheap end of the spectrum due to how much line I go through.
Good brands I have used and recommend
- Fins Original PRT
- Bionic Braid
- Stren Sonic Braid
- Sunline 4x4 Momentum
- Sunline Super PE
- SF Daiwa Saltiga Grey
- SF Spider
Leader: 20lb minimum, I use 30lb almost exclusively. Now most people will balk at such a heavy leader but there is a good reason for it. I originally started off with 12lb leader, then went to 20lb, then went to 30lb. 30lb seems to be the sweet spot between usability and ability to take punishment. The seaway has lots of rocks and lots of toothy critters both of which will remove lures from your line. Tailor for example will cut through 20lb with just a swipe at a lure that connects with the trace. The only time I will go less than 20lb is very clear water in the middle of the day using ultra finesse plastics. 99% of seaway fish don't care what leader you are using, as long as you present the lure to them at the right time and place they will eat it.
All my oufits(rod,reel,line) are graded into small, medium or large sizes. Each size has multiple tasks for seaway work. Having multiple outfits ready to go is important, if you get busted off on one then another can be used quickly. Bite times in the seaway can be short so maximising your fish catching time is important.
Small outfit: 2500 or 3000 size reel filled with 300m 6-12lb braid , 7ft Light or Medium Light rated rod - Light plastic work, skitterbaits, light metals
Medium outfit: 3000 or 4000 size reel with 200-300m 20lb Braid, 7ft Medium rated rod - Trolling deep diving minnows, large plastics, jigging medium sized metals, minnows & poppers
Large outfit: 4000 size reel filled with 300m 30lb braid, 7ft 6" Medium Heavy rated rod - Big poppers & stickbaits, big metals, big minnows.
Livebait Fishing Outfits
4000 size reel, 30lb Braid, 50lb leader 6-7ft rod rated medium heavy
6000 size reel(or large overhead) , 50lb Braid 100lb leader 6-7ft rod rated heavy
If you have any questions let me know below.
Finally.. a decent snap clip.. and it’s made by Surecatch
Ever since the snap clips I was using last year went dodgy I've been looking for a suitable replacement. I've been through roughly 10 different brands and types and none of them were up to the task, they either straightened/bent or would not attach properly to jigheads or messed with the lures action too much. However I've been trialling these black coastlock snaps from Surecatch and so far I'm very impressed. They have been trialled on Striped, Yellowfin and Mack tuna up to about 3.5 kilos as well as GT's, Goldens, Bigeyes and Jewies across a range of techniques, including plastics, bibbed minnows, livebaiting and casting slugs. So far so good and only one test remains and its the hardest one of the lot. Tarpon. While they may not be big, a 60cm+ Tarpon will stress your terminal tackle like few other inshore fish out there, the constant jumps places a huge amount of stress on your end tackle. Tarpon season in the seaway has just started so we will soon see if these clips have what it takes. If you want to give them a go yourself the only place I've seen these is in BCF($2.95 a pack) , make sure you get the ones with the yellow 'Stainless Steel' sticker on the pack. I've been hard on Surecatch terminal tackle in the past and for good reason, most of it is unsuitable for targeting hard pulling, fast running fish. However this time they may have actually made something decent. Time will tell.
Update 6th June 2012.
These clips have now been tested on lots of big tarpon and have passed with flying colours so they are my reccomended clip at this point in time.
Bleeding Leader Wire
One item of terminal tackle that was missing from my Tried and Trusted Terminal Tackle article was wire. I've been using surecatch multistrand wire but I have not been happy with it, theres been a couple of unexplained failures that have cost fish which is unacceptable(and typical of surecatch quality). Unfortunately there hasn't been much around to replace it with. About 6 or 7 years ago I bought some Bleeding Leader Wire which is a 7 strand stainless steel wire coated with blood red nylon. I still had some full wire traces left made with this wire when I began livebaiting this year. In fact I used one of these traces on the 2 metre whaler shark I brought to the boat in February. I have managed to find a supply of this wire in Australia from Bluewater. $7.99 for 9.2m of 20kg. I'll be testing this wire over the next couple of months to see how it goes. I'm pretty sure it will be up to the task though, it ties a great knot and theres no distorting of the wire when you tighten the knot unlike the surecatch wire. Also I need to know whether the red colour puts the fish off or not, while it shouldn't you don't know until you try it. If it works as expected you should see some fish with bright red wire traces coming out of their mouths soon.
Tried and Trusted Terminal Tackle
Terminal tackle is the stuff at the pointy end of your fishing gear. Hooks, swivels, lines, leaders and clips. Over the years I've tried many different brands of all types and here is my selection of trusted terminal tackle. This is gear that I know won't let me down when the fish of a lifetime smashes the lure or grabs a bait.
I use swivels in my livebait rigs, its important to have a good quality swivel because the fish can be quite large and extended fights can put alot of stress on swivels. Shogun once again is the only brand I trust in particular the black crane or rolling swivels. They can be quite cheap if purchased in packs of 50. Available from the The Tackle Warehouse or BCF.
Brand to avoid: Surecatch, Seahorse, any elcheapo brand.
Good quality hooks are needed for livebaiting as they are at the pointy end of your rigs. Firstly they should be sharp and retain that sharpness over a number of fish and secondly they should be strong yet thin enough to have good penetration. Over the years I've tried a number of brands but now the only brand I'll use is Gamakatsu. In particular the Octopus Black in sizes 4/0 -8/0. I'll also use the Octopus Red but they do not hold the sharpness as well as the blacks, they also lose the red colouring after a few fish. Prices are $29.95 per box of 50. Available from most tackle stores.
I've tried a number of leader materials over the years and went through a period of heavy testing early in 2010. I tried flourocarbons and monofilaments and eventually settled on Famell Super Shock Leader and now its the only leader material I use in the 20 -50lb range. The only bad aspect about it is that I haven't been able to find any of it in the lighter or heavier sizes. So whats so good about it? Firstly and most importantly it ties a superb knot, and secondly its very hard wearing and abrasion resistant. I use it for both lure fishing and live baiting leaders. Available in 20, 30, 40 and 50lb sizes for around $29.95 per 100m spool. BCF is the only store that stocks it.
Brands to avoid: Berkley Vanish
Finding good quality trebles has always been difficult. A few years ago Owner launched a new range of trebles called the Cultiva Stinger. The silver ST-56 is my preferred strength as it is the perfect match between strength and penetration. Avoid the black stingers as they lack the strength needed for seaway fishing. The ST-66 is a heavier gauge but the retention rate is poor due to the thickness of the hooks. The ST-46 are okay for smaller and larger lures but avoid in the mid sizes. Australian shops stock a limited range so most of mine are sourced from online japanese websites, notably Samurai Tackle and Oriental Angler . Both now stock them in barbless variations as well. Special mention goes to Gamakatsu as well, although you need to pick the style carefully.
Brands to avoid: Just about any other brand on the market.
There are 3 brands of braid that I use, Firstly I use Stren Sonic Braid for casting work, its very limp though so should be avoided for plastic use as it has a tendency to tip wrap jigging plastics on the bottom. It casts like a dream though and is ideal for working the washes or casting slugs to working fish. Only available from 10lb to 50lb sizes. Unlike other braids it doesn't fray after extended use. Secondly I use Fins PRT for plastic or light work as its a bit stiffer, still a good quality braid I can trust and available in lighter breaking strains. Does fray after extended use though. Thirdly I use Bionic Braid for livebait work mainly because its one of the cheaper good quality braids. In the 20 -50lb sizes it works fine. I always use hi vis colours such as yellow because being able to see what your line is doing at all times is very important. PE Braids are all the rage at the moment but the cost is prohibitive so I haven't tried any as yet. Stren Sonic is only available through BCF, Fins PRT and Bionic Braid can be found in most tackle stores. Prices are around 30 dollars for 125m.
Brand to avoid: Stren Micro Fuse, Berkely Fireline Crystal.