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I remember when I was a kid, watching a crusty old salt who spent his retirement on the bank of a North Dade canal soaking mullet halves for snook. There’s nothing unusual about that, but how he was catching them certainly was.
He’d snag a mullet, cut it in half, and impale a section on a 7/0 long-shank hook secured to four feet of No. 7 wire. He fastened that to a barrel swivel tied to the line, with a large egg sinker above it. He tossed that out on heavy spin tackle and caught the heck out of huge snook, many in the 30-pound class, and a few in the low 40s. But, the jaw-dropper was one that weighed 53 pounds, a certain world record, had he cared about it. Instead, he filleted the snook and salted the monstrous head to keep as a memento. My cousin and I, along with our fathers, saw the whole fish after it was caught.
As old and behind the times as we thought this guy was, it turns out he had this game covered. He explained that the small diameter and stiffness of single-strand wire sliced through the current better and lay flatter on the bottom than a monofilament leader. Plus, the brown wire blended in with the tannin-stained water and rocky bottom. In short, the leader could not be detected by those larger, craftier snook.
Wire Trumps Mono
Single-strand wire leader is a mainstay for toothy species the likes of bluefish, king and Spanish mackerel, wahoo, and sharks. Nylon and fluorocarbon monofilament are better suited for game fish without threatening dentition. Yet mono is not always advantageous for nontoothy fish: In fact, wire leader can actually produce better in certain situations.
Wire in the Blue
In the good old days, we rigged all our trolling baits on single-strand wire, mostly No. 8 (93-pound-test), and caught dolphin, wahoo, sailfish, tuna and marlin. The baits rigged on wire performed better than those rigged on mono, because the stiff wire cut through the water better and the baits tracked straighter. But over time, we came to favor fluorocarbon over wire for the stealth aspects.
Capt. Sam Rescigno operates the Mary M III from Barnegat Light, New Jersey. A popular captain who does it all — stripers, fluke, blackfish, sea bass, dolphin and tunas — Rescigno still sticks with his old-school ways on the troll.
“We still pull No. 9 wire for most of our trolling, especially school bluefins,” he says. “It’s a good, all-around leader that catches a lot of fish. With tunas, you don’t have to worry about them jumping and kinking the wire, like you would with billfish. Tuna run straight out and then sound, and I believe wire leader hooks them better. It doesn’t stretch.”