A Better Way

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

I had just finished lunch in a small, local restaurant when a man whom I had seen in there a few times before walked over and pushed a cell phone in front of me with a photo of him holding a 50-pound wahoo. This tall, strong, muscular man told me the battle lasted over an hour and his arms, shoulders, and back were in constant pain holding the rod at arm’s length until he landed the fish. In fact, he wasn’t sure he ever wanted to go through that battle with another big fish.

Those words coupled with his description of how difficult it was to keep the rod tip high brought back memories of the Young Turks who pioneered light tackle fishing more than a half-century ago. They taught me way back then how to modify standard tackle so the angler gained an advantage and how to pressure a fish so the battle didn’t last half a day.

If you looked at my assortment of rods from casting gear to stand-up offshore tackle, you would think somebody didn’t know how to build the basic outfit. All of mine have considerably shorter butts (measured from the reel seat) than any rod you would see in a tackle store. The reason is simple. With the shorter butt shoved against my belly or stuck in a rod belt, I can keep my elbows locked at my side and still hold the rod properly. This allows me to put my hands just forward of the reel seat and battle a fish by pumping with my whole body rather than with my arms and my shoulders. Believe me when I tell you it takes a lot longer to tire your body than outstretched arms and straining shoulders.

By struggling to keep the rod tip high during the encounter, this angler was minimizing the pressure on the fish. The rod tip should never be lifted higher than a 45-degree angle with the surface of the water. There is nothing wrong with the tip of the rod pointing at the water and then using short pumps above to work the fish. Once you lift the rod tip above a 45-degree angle you are defeating the design and construction of the rod blank. Power in the blank starts at the tip and transfers to the butt as more pressure is added.

Battling a powerful fish is very much like a boxing match. There is going to be give and take. At times, the fish will take line, but when it stops, it’s the moment you go to work by pumping and drawing the fish closer to you. When the fish is at a reasonable distance, you can begin to use side pressure by lowering the rod parallel to the water and pumping sideways instead of up and down. If the fish is moving from right to left, you’re going to put pressure with the rod to the right. This will draw the fish closer. If it changes direction and swims from left to right, you’re going to pull to the left.

The more you practice these techniques, the easier the battle will be and the faster you will land your quarry. There are some additional techniques, but we’ll leave those for another time.

You Can’t Catch a Fish Without Bait in the Water

Friday, March 1st, 2013


I am a strong believer in the title of this article, and with that being said, I will be talking about high speed trolling. I have had many trips start and/or end with a bang! If you run offshore to bottom fish and/or troll, it is not a bad idea to fish while you are running. The tackle is a little different for this high speed trolling, as well as the lures, but is one of the most productive ways you can hunt for wahoo.

I’m not saying that you should high-speed troll for the entire ride out, (but it is not a bad idea either), as wahoo are not the only species of fish you can catch when trolling at 20-plus knots.

Speed is one of the main considerations in this style of fishing. Some boats will travel too fast to the fishing grounds to high-speed troll, but for the boats that can bring the speed back to under 25 knots, this is a nice way to start the day out, and a way to search for the fish. Typically, if you find the bait and the water temps above 68 degrees, chances are, there could be wahoo and other palegics there.

Wahoo are occasionally in areas that you would not expect them to be, and this is especially true during the late spring and fall. When the water temperature climbs into the high 60s (in the spring), and falls into the upper 60s (in the fall), wahoo can be much closer to the hill than you think. For example, we had a nice wahoo bite in water under 100 feet deep this year.
There are proven wahoo lures for this high speed game that include the Banchee from ———-, the Whodini from South Chatham Tackle, the WhoGotCha from Barefoot Fishing just to name a few. There are many weights that are effective for different speeds, and different rod/reel/line/leader combinations, but we will not get into all that for this article.

There are many opinions that are out there on the Internet. Just Google the words “high speed trolling” and you will get more than you may want to read and watch, but make your own decisions about the gear and lures and get after it. You never can tell—you may catch that one fish that saves the day, or the fish of a lifetime, if you just have bait in the water.

Be safe, and keep your drag tight.

The Short Stroke: Fighting Fish in Deep Water

Friday, February 1st, 2013

If you have spent any time involved in the sport of conventional saltwater fishing, you will have observed, I’m sure, that the best anglers on a charter boat will always bring their fish to gaff with as little fanfare as possible. These guys move fluidly, keeping constant pressure on the fish as it takes them around the boat, sometimes twice, all the time keeping one thing in mind, bringing that fish in quickly. You may also have noticed that their rod tip digs deep into the water as they reel in line, each dig followed by a short lift of the rod tip, while using their legs when lifting the fish up from the depths. This technique is termed the “Short Stroke,” a technique not limited to the conventional fisherman for it serves as well as the best way for a fly fisherman to fight a blue water game fish.

There are three key elements to the technique.

1) Keep you shoulder square to the fish at all times. If your shoulders are not square to the fish you loose valuable leverage when lifting the fish from the depths.

2) Keep the rod tip pointed down at the fish, a move that will keep you from bringing up your rod to a high rod angle position. Any rod angle higher then 90-degrees is of little help when fighting a blue water game fish with the fly rod. The fly rod is designed to fight fish from the butt of the rod. Raising the rod above 90 degrees shifts the fighting energy from the butt of the rod to the mid-section and rod tip which should never happen. When you’re bringing a fish up from deep water and the fish takes a break, you should put on the heat. Never let the fish rest. Always try to keep moving up towards the surface. Break the fish as soon as your can.

3) Finally, when bringing a fish out of deep water, make short pumps of the rod while retrieving line as the rod tip drops. This is called the “short stroke.”

Summertime Bass Fishing on Lake Lanier

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

By Jimbo Mathley
As we move into the summer in North Georgia, an angler has many options to catch spots here on “Big Sid.” Depending on the water temperatures, there are several techniques you can utilize to stay on top of the fish, sometimes literally, and remain successful on Lanier during the hot months. In today’s installment, we will review the locations, techniques, and lures to utilize to ensure you keep on hooking spots! (more…)

It’s All In Your Rod Angle

Thursday, September 15th, 2011


When fighting a saltwater game fish, correct rod angle is crucial. Fly rods are designed for casting and for fighting fish. Because of the fly rod’s length, usually nine feet, it is more difficult to apply maximum pressure on fish if the rod is held above a 90-degree angle. Therefore, adjusting the rod’s angle while engaged in fighting a fish is important.


Riggin’ and Jiggin’

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Stinger Hook Assembly For Grouper & Snapper

By: Tim Barefoot

To begin, cut a piece of 200- to 250-pound braided line approximately 12 to 16 inches long and fold in half, making a six- to eight-inch-long doubled line. Insert the point of the doubled line through the back of the eye of the stinger hook. The stinger hook size and length of the stinger is variable according to the size bait to be used.

cam-fig-1Figure 1: With approximately 1.5 to two inches of doubled line extending forward from the eye of the hook, make a loop around the shank of the hook and index finger (with the braided line) to form a loop on the shank of the hook. Remove index finger, leaving a loop of the braided line.

cam-fig-2Figure 2: Tie a standard (three loop) Uni-Knot on the shank of the hook with the braided line.

cam-fig-3Figure 3: Using a de-hooker or a nail to secure the doubled line in front of the stinger hook and a pair of pliers for the two tag ends of the braided line, tighten down the Uni-Knot on the shank of the hook and pull the Uni-Knot tightly up against the eye of the hook with the front loop of doubled line. Trim tag ends of braided line off within 3/8 of an inch of Uni-Knot with a sharp knife. Be careful!

cam-fig-4Figure 4: Insert the stinger hook through the loop of braided line around the main jig hook and tighten.

Note: This can be used with many sizes of J hooks or circle hooks and also with several sizes and brands of braided lines.

Jig Bobbin Technique

Monday, May 9th, 2011

jig_bobbinBy: Dennis Lubin

Lures are replacing live bait fishing, but live bait fishing does have one advantage over lure fishing. The standard worm and float is cast out and stays in the target zone until a fish takes the float down. Lures are cast out and reeled in and stay in the strike area only a few seconds.    

It’s a proven fact that largemouth bass don’t venture far out from structure, whether it be a stump field, rocky drop-off or boat dock. Using a float allows you to jig the tube lure and/or curly tail grub almost in front of an undercover predator. You can even use the wind to your advantage, as it gives action to the suspended lure’s tail.

Culprit Crappie Baits’ Tassel Tail Grub, Curl Tail Grub and Paddle Tail Grub are just three rubber products that can be employed with the jig bobbin system. This has been an effective technique for those hot days that you could use a break from endless casting.

Jig bobbin is an excellent technique, especially during the spawning season. This is the time of year when those big mamma bass are guarding their beds against attacking bluegills from eating their eggs. It takes flipping one step further because you can suspend your jig right over the bass’s nest.

Bluegills and crappies build their beds close to shore near a sandy or rocky bottom. Some crappies attach their eggs to lily pad stems. In a pad field you really can’t get off a good cast without getting hung up. On some lakes or ponds weed structure is usually so thick it’s almost impossible to cast a lure in the holes in the weeds. It’s almost like ice fishing in the summertime. Just lower the suspended lure and jig the bobber. Even though the bobber gets hung up in the weeds the jig will not.

Choosing The Right Bobber
The technique is a set bobber system, not a slip bobber. We set the bobber about 18 to 24 inches from the lure. Make sure the lure does not sink the bobber. Select a bobber that is made of Styrofoam and is not round but narrow. The reason for this is the bobber should slip below the water surface with the least resistance. The round plastic red and white bobber creates too much resistance to pull under. Bass hiding in heavy cover will drop the offering quickly if they feel the pull of the bobber. When the angler sees the slightest twitch of the bobber, it’s time to strike.

Although bobbers come in many different colors, I prefer to go with green or white. The reason is the green color blends in with the weeds and the white blends in with sky.

Anglers will find this technique adds a new weapon to their arsenal. You could say this method is a cross between old-fashioned bobber bait fishing and jigging artificial, giving you the best of both worlds.

Tactics for Fall Bass

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010


Fall is a great time for bass, both smallmouth and largemouth. The weather is crisp, the fishing fun and often excellent but also challenging. The challenge comes in with the change of bass from a typical summer habitat and seasonal movements to the fall, when they are starting to get a slowed Fall is a great time for bass..metabolism, thinking about going deep for the winter yet also trying to stock up on groceries to get them through the cold winter.

    That slowed metabolism means one thing in your lure presentations: slow down. Reduced metabolism for these cold-blooded creatures means that they will move slower, react slower and also be selective in their food intake. Big lures are often best, since bass instinctively know that a big meal gets them more energy with the same effort than a bunch of smaller meals.

    Regardless of the type of lure being used, work it slower than you would for summer fishing. Often mid-depth lures are best for this time of year, since bass vary in their feeding habits between shallow and deep.

    Mid-depth medium-running lures are best to cover all the water. If they are floating lures, run them extra slowly to intrigue fish near the top. A slightly faster constant run will get these lures down deep. You can also switch to a deep-running lure worked slowly to hit the mid-depth range, where the thermocline is breaking up and both oxygen and water temperatures are getting mixed.

    One problem in fishing big waters in the fall is the falling leaves that decorate the surface and often clog lines. Leaves often travel down the line and then get caught on lures to make that cast and retrieve wasted.

    A solution to this is to use a long rod—about a seven-footer—then stick the tip under the water surface for the entire retrieve. This keeps the line under the surface leaves and increases your chances of a good retrieve without leaf decoration.

One trick is..    Another tip for dealing with patches of leaves is to use that same seven-foot rod as a lever, held high and angled right or left to snake the lure and line through any patches of leaves or weeds. In this case, you want the long rod to hold the line up and out of or off the water surface so that you can guide the lure right or left in a zigzag pattern through any obstructions.

    Often both smallmouth and largemouth are scouring the shallows in the fall for crayfish. One trick is to work the rocky banks for this, making low trajectory underhand casts to get under brush and tree limbs along the shore. For lures, use a deep- or medium-running crankbait that bounces along the bottom, skipping from rock to rock in an imitation of a crayfish scurrying from spot to spot to escape from a bass.

C. Boyd Pfeiffer is widely known for his expertise in fishing and fishing tackle and has been named as a Legendary Communicator by the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.

Rod Angles and Lifting Efficiency

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Fishing Tips

In the early ‘90s, we started quantifying the amount of rod pressures we generated at different lifting angles. We had hoped that anglers would take note of how much more fish-fighting efficiency you got out of keeping your rod at a lower angle to the water. As sport boat captains, we inherently knew our fish came up quicker with a lowered rod. Hook sets ..your head create wild splashing for sensationalism..and fish fighting with the rod behind your head create wild splashing for sensationalism on T.V., but it’s a horrible way to teach our angling crowd how to fish.

    A 30-degree angle puts the stress on the line and reel (drag). You will see that this angle offers the astute angler the maximum amount of pressure you can generate (62 pounds). At 45 degrees, the line and the butt section of the rod get the lion’s share of the stress (45 pounds). Ninety degrees has the butt and tip sharing the stress. (This angle gives the rod 12 pounds of pressure.)

    A good majority of fisher people fight fish at 150 degrees, where the mid-section of the tip of the rod bears the main part of the stress (6.8 pounds). One hundred eighty degrees (“high stick”) is the danger zone, where many a rod tip section has broken, and the lifting power is 6.2 pounds, one-tenth of what you get at 30 degrees.

    Another huge attribute of fishing the rod at a lower angle is that the fish circle up in a much tighter diameter, keeping you out of tangles. As you raise your rod angle, the spiraling diameter widens, along with the probability of tangling with 20 other circling fish. A quick and smooth short stroke with any of the new high-speed, high-torque or two-speed reels can retrieve you up to four feet a crank. If you time your cranking with the movement of the swell, holding as you go up and cranking when you go down in the trough, you’ll retrieve substantially more line.

That’s the way us “old school” guys like it.    This positive gain is attained by the lack of elongation of both the braid and the fluorocarbon. I designed graphite rods with a secondary shut off, so I do not sacrifice my recoil. The quicker recoil keeps the fish coming at you. All you need to do is keep up with the cranking. I build a secondary shut-off in the rod to alleviate any surge by the boat or by the fish sounding suddenly. This is where conventionally fast-action rods either break lines or pull hooks.

    I fish with the rod under my arm and with the fore grip on the rail to conserve my energy for when the fish comes to gaff or net. Landing fish in half the time or less gives you a quick fish in the bag or a successful release of a hot fish.

    Either way you win. That’s the way us “old school” guys like it.