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Longer Boat Rods Ideal For Finicky Fish Close to Shore

A few years ago I watched with some amusement as a team of Japanese fishermen unfurled their 4 metre (12') and more rods for a snapper & kingfish fishing trip up in the Bay of Islands, NZ. The reason for my astonishment was the fact that we were fishing off a charter boat.

Four metre rods off a boat?

Yes, and my amusement soon turned to intrigue. These rods were not surf rods, but finely tapered long rods with plenty of grunt when and where needed.

yellowtail kingfish

The Japanese fishermen baited up with whole pilchards and virtually no weight. The bait was tossed out near the rocks and kelp, and as it slowly sunk the fishermen maintained constant contact with the bait as it sunk down the rock face.

Any doubts I may have had about the efficacy of their methods were soon dispelled by the results. They caught heaps of big fish.

Once hooked the long rods with very soft tip sections maintained constant pressure on the fish, and they were boated in very short order. A couple of kingfish came to the boat with very bemused looks on their faces. How come these long rods could exert so much pressure, they seemed to be saying?

The key to the success of this method
seemed to be at three levels.

  • The longer, soft tipped rods made casting whole pilchards well in amongst the kelp and rocks and easy proposition.
  • Once in among the rocks, the bait could be controlled as it drifted down the rock and reef face.
  • On hook-up the unremitting pressure of the rod bought fish to the boat in a very short time.

Any problems of landing fish once they reached the surface were solved with very long handled gaffs and nets.

This whole exercise was a real eye opener.

Now some of the more successful Kiwi fishermen have picked up on this basic idea and it is proving very successful indeed.

Alvey Side-cast Reel

Still it is not as though the idea is new - Alvey reel users have been using the basic idea for years off the rocks.

Many top Alvey fishers have been landing on offshore rocks and tossing out whole bait-fish on their long soft-tipped rods and working these baits slowly up through the kelp. Highly effective and a method that has accounted for many truly big snapper.

There are a number of rods about now that will do the trick out of boats, but these tend to be in the up to three metres lengths. Hopefully our rod manufacturers will pick up on this new trend and produce or import longer rods for this style of fishing.

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Reels are no problem, there are plenty of reels around that will do the job. Alvey reels or the bigger faced spinning reels are ideal.

Overhead reels are more of a pain than an advantage for this style of fishing. Trying to cast unweighted baits on a long soft rod is hard enough, but add any wind into the equation and you have a perfect recipe for building better bird’s nests.

The only real problem that occurs regularly with this type of fishing is the problem of line twist. Slowly retrieving light baits can lead to horrendous line twist, because there is not enough pressure on the line to turn a swivel. Very good quality swivels must be used to overcome this.

It is all to easy to dismiss some techniques and ideas from overseas as not being applicable here in New Zealand - but this new long rod method is proving very effective for those with an eye to the different.

Fish illustration by Bish

Article written by Tony Bishop

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