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December 17, 2012

Techniques for Sailfish Fishing

Follow these live-baiting guidelines and watch your numbers soar.

Keep the Baits in Play

It’s easy to get excited when a sailfish is hooked and the aerial display begins. That’s fine, as long as everyone’s other eye is glued to the remaining baits, anticipating a double- or triple-header. Remove all the rods, and you might get that one fish. Keep most of the baits in play, and you could be in for a big rally.

When we hook up, we’ll clear only the lines that might interfere with the fish, and keep the others in play. The kite baits stay put, splashing at the surface, and all will keep a vigilant watch on the upwind floats and deep rod. We’ll maintain the watch right through the release of the sailfish. Then, we’ll strip back and cut the damaged leader, retie the hook and rebait, and get that outfit right back into the spread. After all, there are fish to catch! 

Tackle Up With Different Rigs

Kite Setups

Rods

Conventional: 6-foot new-generation composite stand-up-style rods rated for 30- to 60-pound or 50- to 80-pound line. 

Reels

Conventional: Penn 16 Internationals, 30 and 40 class lever drag reels; 9500-class spinning reels.

Line

30-pound nylon mono on Internationals. On smaller-capacity reels, 50-pound braid, with a 100- to 200-yard topshot of 30-pound nylon monofilament. ­High-viz yellow makes it easy to monitor kite lines.

Leader

10-foot, 50-pound-test fluorocarbon leader attached to main line with barrel swivel.

Hooks

VMC Tournament in-line circle or equivalent, size 4/0 to 7/0, to match the bait.

Rig

Double the main line with a Bimini Twist and run it through the ceramic ring  that will connect to the release clip, then  through a brightly colored float to help monitor the line. Then tie the double line to a barrel swivel, and add a 10-foot, 50-pound-test fluorocarbon leader.

Flat Lines

Rods

Combination of small conventionals, same as kite rods, and 7-foot spinning rods rated for 20- to 40-pound-test line.

Reels

Conventional: 30-class lever drag reels; spinning, 7000-, 8000- and 9500-class reels.

Line

Conventional: same setup as kite rods, above; spinners, 20-pound-test nylon monofilament, in clear or smoke blue.

Leader

Double the main line with a Bimini twist and tie it to a small barrel swivel, followed by 10 feet of 30- to 50-pound fluoro leader. When drifting or slow-trolling with spin tackle, the swivel alleviates line twist.

Hooks

In-line circle hook, size 4/0 to 7/0, to match bait.

Rig

To position deep baits, double a few inches of line about 30 to 40 feet up the fishing line and slide it through an egg sinker. Break a No. 64 rubber band and slip it through the loop of doubled line, and pull the line and rubber band ­halfway back into the sinker. The rubber band holds the sinker in place; under the pressure of a fish, the line pulls free and the weight drops off.

Pitch Baits

Rods

Conventional: ­composite stand-up, same as kite rods; ­spinning, 7-foot, same rods as flat-line rods.

Reels

7500- and 7000-class spinners  

Line

20-pound-test nylon monofilament 

Leader

Double the fishing line, then Bristol-knot it to  a 12- to 15-foot, 50-pound fluoro leader. Add hook with an Overhand Loop Knot.

Hooks

In-line circle hook, size 4/0 to 7/0, to match bait.

Rig

While a livey is the standard pitch bait, a small, fresh ballyhoo allowed to sink slowly in free-spool works too. Add a strand of soft copper wire to the hook eye. Run the hook, point first, through the middle of the lower jaw, then wrap the hook shank and lower jaw with the wire. Drop down to 30-pound fluoro leader with small, fresh ballyhoo.