Distance Schmistance.

One of the South Island of New Zealand’s best known guides, Chris Dore, offers some sound advice about getting more distance, and the benefits of being able to do so. This is especially true in New Zealand where casting in a wind is a very common requirement.

“I tire of hearing people bagging distance casting. "its not needed here in NZ" and most commonly "all my fish are caught within a few rod lengths" are common justifications.

Well mate, that’s because you can only cast a few rod lengths. And how do you go in windy conditions? You don’t? I wonder why…”

Trout Spotting Tip

I was doing some work on my site and came across this little tip in my free to read trout fishing book ‘Fishing Smarter for Trout’ in the chapter on spotting trout.

I was guiding an American client who was a very accomplished angler. We had a successful morning spotting and then fishing to spotted fish. Over the morning I noticed that every time we took a break for one reason or another, he would face away from the direction of the sun and remove his sunglasses for several minutes. In fact I also began to notice that often when we approached a possible lie he would take off his glasses for a few moments and put them back on as we began to search for a fish.

I questioned him about this and he theorised that over time our eyes adjust to take account of the different light characteristics reaching them, because of the sunglasses. He believed that by removing sunglasses regularly, the heightened ability to detect contrast when you first put on Polaroid’s was re-stimulated.

Now, I do not know if there is any scientific basis for his theory, but I tried it. It worked, and still works for me.

If You Want Fresh Fish Chill Out!

This Christmas holiday and right on over our Summer Holiday period the following sad story will be repeated ad nausea – and nausea is the right word – all around New Zealand’s coasts.A perfect example of how not to keep fresh caught fish fresh.

The crew sets out in the morning and over the next four or five hours catches a feed of fish. As they are caught, the fish are chucked into the fish bin where they flap and struggle as they slowly drown in the air. As more fish are caught they are thrown on top of the fish already dead and dying in the bin.

By the time this bin of fish, as exemplified in the photo, gets to shore it should not be eaten. The fish have ‘cooked’ in their own blood and slime. What a waste!

By the time our intrepid crew get back to the bach, crib, campsite or home, the fish is a smelly, slimy mess. Cleaning and preparing the fish to cook is a long, slow job – the soggy, flabby-fleshed bundles of slime are hard to handle. But eventually fish fillets make their way into the fry pan where foul cooking smells begin to fill every nook and cranny in the immediate vicinity. The whole performance, in a word, disgusting. What a waste.

It is a sad fact is that much of the fish served up by amateur fishermen is passed its used-by-date. By the time it reaches the table it is well on the way to being rotten.

Many fishermen would be better advised to go fishing on an exclusively catch-and-release basis, and buy some fish to eat on the way home at the fish shop. The fish in the shop would be in better condition – the shop would not be allowed to sell (apart from legal problems) the amateur’s catch because of it’s poor condition.

If you want to keep your catch fresh all the way to the table read this..

Sharpen Your Hooks Myth

It is amazing how some tackle myths persist way past their use-by date.

A case in point is contained in this article Sharpen Hooks
This advice is so out-of-date, by twenty or so years.

Books and articles sadly written just two or three years ago still contain encouragement to sharpen hooks before fishing with them. ‘No hook is sharp enough to fish straight out of the packet’ is the advice. If you use ‘laser’ or ‘chemically’ sharpened hooks which have been around for twenty something years now, this advice is bad. In most cases trying to sharpen chemically or laser sharpened hooks will actually blunt them.

Chemically sharpened and laser sharpened hooks are made in much the same way. Once the hook is formed, the points are treated with a chemical and then introduced to a laser beam, or other control source, which wears away the metal leaving a very sharp point. Mechanical methods cannot get the hook any sharper.

If you do sharpen non-laser or non-chemically treated hooks there are a number of factors to bear in mind.

All sharpening produces heat. Too much heat will reduce the temper of the hook and can soften the point. This can lead to points bending over, or breaking off. It is important when sharpening hooks to use a slow stroke with the file or stone.

Be careful not to remove too much metal from the point. There is a fine line, no pun intended, between a sharp point and a weak point. It is too easy to think of a hook point as always being pulled into a fish in a straight-line pull. However, this is not always true. Many times the pull is at an angle to the point. If there is not enough metal in the point it can break off or bend over.

One piece of advice about sharp hooks worth following is to check each hook before using it to ensure an un-sharpened hook has not sneaked through the manufacturer’s Quality Control systems.

For more information on hooks in general see this:The Sharp End

Yellowtail Kingfish attracted by pink balloons

yellowtail kingfishThis next tip has no scientific basis that I know of. But what I do know, and my view is shared by more than a few good and great fishermen, is that using pink balloons to hold up a live bait seems to attract more yellowtail  kingfish to the bait.

When using a balloon as a live bait float remember to tie the balloon off to the rod end of the swivel. If you tie it off to the bait end you can almost guarantee leader line twist and tangles

Why Do Fish Run When Hooked?

Fishing around kelp and weed can be a truly frustrating fishing experience. Seems each fish hooked, bolts for the weed and rocks and soon there is a bust-off.

Apart from swearing loudly which in my experience has not changed the chosen course of any fish I have ever had on my line, or going up to stand-up big-game-fishing gear, what can we do?

Once hooked, fish feel the pressure from the tight line, and bolt in panic, away from the pressure. So, if you take away the tight line pressure, what will the fish do? Stop running?

This technique works often enough to be worth a try when fishing near foul ground. Especially if fish are continually running into the foul and breaking you off. But, and it is a big but, you need to be very aware of your drag settings, and the drag system must be good.

It is best to try backing off the drag when using a lever drag. Lever drags are much more precise, and you have the advantage of being able to return your fish-fighting drag very accurately. Star drags are by their nature very imprecise, and if you alter the drag during a fight it is damn near impossible to return to your fighting-drag setting.

Once the fish stops running it is time to gently, oh so gently, ease up on the drag and begin to lead, not pull, the fish up and away from the rough stuff.

If the fish bolts again, back off on the drag and start all over again. Once you feel you have the fish far enough away from the trouble spots and into mid-water it is time to get into full-on action, but in the early stages, be patient.

The Last Link – wet a knot or not

A very good article, actually a chapter from the book Fly Fish Betterby Art Scheck, on knots. Scheck describes some of the myths surrounding tying good knots, and covers the primary differences between most of the most-used knots, and when they should be used.

The chapter is very detailed in approach, and is a very worthwhile read. There is however something I take issue with in the chapter. Art Scheck goes in to all sorts of detail about knots and does many tests. But he states that knots must be moistened before tightening, and offers no evidence to support this claim – is he perpetuating a myth? Here is my view, from my bookFishing Even Smarter

To Wet The Knot Or Not?

One of the more enduring myths, sadly perpetuated in the fishing books, magazines and videos – still being published – is the ‘wet your knot’ myth.

When mono lines were first introduced, they were thick and stiff, for their breaking strain. The line surface was, by today’s standards, very rough. The stiffness and thickness of the line made pulling the loops of the knot up tight correctly difficult. Pulling up a knot built up friction and hence heat. Heat is a line killer. It reduces line strength markedly. Saliva proved to be an ideal lubricant.

Modern lines are more supple, and thinner for similar breaking strains. They form into knots much more easily. The surface of the line is very smooth, and has very little friction quotient. It is because modern lines are thinner and more supple, that you should not wet your knot.

The best method of tying a knot is to tie the knot carefully, ensuring there are no hidden line cross-overs. Then pull the knot up slowly but firmly, allowing the twists to form up properly. If you wet the knot there is a distinct danger of forming what is called a ‘liar knot’. A liar knot is a knot that has not formed properly. Saliva allows the twists and turns to slide over themselves. Deep within the knot a piece of line has crossed over another piece. This will act like a scythe when the knot is jerked tight.

An end to the ‘wet or not’ dilemma may be at hand. There is a rapidly expanding range of knot glues coming onto the market. These glues lubricate and coat the line within the knot, and then sets, to produce a knot that achieves very near 100% of the line breaking strain.

Fixing a Broken Rod Tip Guide

A broken rod tip-ring is pretty common, jamming the rod tip into something solid usually does the trick quickly and efficiently.

As usual the most efficient method of fixing a tip ring is to take it to a tackle shop who should fix it while you wait, and at no charge. But if you must go it alone, here is how:

If the tip ring itself is broken gently heat the tip with a cigarette lighter or match, and gently is absolutely critical, too much heat and you will soften then rod itself, and this is unrecoverable. Once the glue that holds on the tip is softened by the heat the rod tip should easily slide off.

Then using hot melt glue, melt some glue and rub it over the rod tip area, then slide on the new tip, make sure it lines up with the other guides and that is it – easy! (whatever glue you use, but I recommend hot melt glue, make sure the glue will release if the tip gets broken again).

If the rod tip is broken, clean up the tip to make sure there are no loose strands of fibreglass or graphite. Roughen up the rod tip where the new rod tip ring is to go with sandpaper, then glue on a new tip as covered above.