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Frequently Asked Questions
On Salt Water Fishing

At Just Fishin' (the tackle shop I owned in Auckland, NZ) it was amazing how often the same questions were asked over and over again.

In all the years since 1996 that this web site has been 'on-air' many of the questions I get are still about the same things.

This only goes to show that as new people come into the sport the same problems keep arising. Here are a selection of them.

Can you recommend a good sharpener for these new chemically sharpened hooks I have just bought?

Don’t believe everything you read. Nowadays, despite the too-often repeated advice in books and videos, sharpening some hooks out of the packet can actually blunt them.

Chemical and laser sharpened hooks are a case in point. These hooks are sharpened by removing metal from the point using chemicals or lasers, or both.

You cannot get them sharper using a file or stone, you will only blunt them. So use them straight out of the pack with confidence.

But, if you have snagged a rock, or caught a big fish with a bony mouth it pays to check the hook points, and sharpen (or replace) if the point is damaged.

[More information on hooks]

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Why do my knots start slipping after a few fish,
or on the next trip?

Poorly tied knots probably account for the bulk of lost fish. But following on close behind must be the knots that are not retied after catching a big fish, several fish, being snagged, or left tied on from the previous trip.

Even the most carefully tied knots will start to bind and bite in on itself after stress has been applied to it. Even if there has been little stress, knots will quickly deteriorate over a relatively short time, as mono tries to recover its previous shape.

All knots should be re-tied prior to each fishing trip, and it is good practice to re-tie knots that have just endured a big fish.

If you are having trouble tying good knots pick up a knot chart. Get some practice in. You should be able to tie a good secure knot, even with wet slippery hands in less than thirty seconds. [More on knots]

When live baiting for kingfish my leader constantly twists up. I tie the balloon off to the swivel, what am I doing wrong?

It is vital that the balloon is tied to the rod end of the swivel.

If you tie it to the hook end the swivel cannot swivel, and leader will quickly twist up.

The other problem is that a poor quality swivel will not swivel. When live baiting under a balloon it is imperative that good quality swivels are used.

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When surf-casting my sinker constantly flies off to the left or right of where I am aiming. What gives?

Assuming you are a right-handed caster, a cast that swings off to the right of your target means your rod is overloaded, that is you are using too much weight. Remember you must take the weight of the sinker and the bait, or a lure, into account.

If the cast is consistently swinging off to the left, you are not loading the rod enough. This maybe because of too little sinker and bait weight, or it could be that you are starting the forward casting stroke too late.

You should be able to feel the sinker and bait pulling down on the rod tip before you start the forward cast.

Sometimes both these problems can be caused by using too long a leader from the rod tip to the hook and sinker. [More on casting]

What sized jigs should I use?

Wish I had a dollar for each time we were asked this question at Just Fishin'! As a good guide, take the line breaking strain you are using in kilos, and add a nought. This is the jig weight in grams you should use.

For example 10 kilo line plus a nought equals a 100 gm jig, 6 kilo line equates to a 60 gm jig. [More]

Why Do Fish Run When Hooked?

Fishing around kelp and weed can be a truly frustrating fishing experience. Seems each fish hooked up 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 game 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.

From ‘Fishing Even Smarter’

Hapuku (grouper) Fishing Takes On A
Whole New Dimension

On a scale of one to ten, ten being good fun, hapuku (groper) or Sea Bass fishing would rate for many as about minus three. For my part, I reckon minus three is very generous.

It is just too much hard work. First you have to wait and eternity for the bait to reach the bottom, and once there the only thing that might give and indication that you have hooked up is extra weight coming on the line.

So you reel in all that line only to find a granddaddy hapuku. Fun? Not!

But all that has changed with the advent of gel spun polyethylene lines.

Now a bait or jig rockets to the bottom and once there, every bump and touch can be felt through the line. Those who try fishing with polyethylene lines for the first time are simply amazed by the degree of ‘feel’ available.

Even better news, with these new lines you do not have to break your back or bank to rig up with a full on 24 kilo big game outfit.

Smaller high speed reels, on lighter rods make the whole experience so much more satisfying.

The extra good news is that this same rig will do very well for jigging for kingfish.

Some of the newer polyethylene lines such as Raptor have a profile that makes them a great casting line, so casting poppers for kingis is another option.

There is more good news. Because the line is so thin, compared to mono of the same breaking strain, you do not need as heavy terminal tackle, so winding in rigs stripped of bait is not so much of a chore and a bore.

All in all, polyethylene lines are making for a whole new dimension in fishing, not just deep water fishing. And here is the really good news, prices for these new lines are coming down - check them out soon.

Viva wet fly


Article written by Tony Bishop


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