Gear Up!

Check out the latest and greatest offshore rods, reels, line, lures, teasers, rod belts, tackle systems and more!

Technology is driving the way we fish, and it’s certainly evident from the host of new products aimed at those of us who tackle big game on the open ocean. Rods are lighter and stronger, and so are lever-drag reels. The line we spool is changing, and there are even new wrinkles showing up in the lures and teasers we pull. Some of the innovations come from well-established companies, others from inventive anglers turned entrepreneurs. In this special section we’ll take a brief look at some of the hottest new bluewater goodies we’ve seen this year.

### Such a TeaseThe dredge is the hottest billfish teaser on the water, and the unique StripTeaser (1) is the hottest dredge you can find. No heavy, soft-plastic lures or rigged baits on this baby – just multiple clear-plastic strips with holographic fish images. Sounds weird, but once you see one in the water you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it. The StripTeaser dances and undulates just like a pod of baitfish. Check it out at or call (305) 899-2609.Ballyhood International’s hot new Bisbee trolling lure (2) is a marlin-catcher with a two-inch acrylic head replete with four 45-degree angled jets that make it bubble like champagne. It sports double skirts, is 12 1/2 inches long, and comes in eight hot colors. See them all at or call (714) 545-0196.Tournament Cable has two new fish killers this year. The Hoo’s Your Daddy (3) is a 48-inch titanium splasher bar with a 15″ bird in the middle and four strands of large plastic ballyhoo. Each strand is led by a smaller bird, which helps this thing create a surface commotion like nothing else. For bringing big fish up from the depths, Tournament Cable’s new Bowling Pin Chain (4) is unbeatable. It’s a conga line of mirror-coated bowling-pin teasers that looks like a school of small tuna dancing behind the boat. Go to or call (800) 979-3474.Remember Tournament Tackle, the Iland lure folks? Last year it introduced the Iland Hood, a weighted, metal head with big, beautiful eyes to slip over a rigged ballyhoo. Following on its heels is the new Hoola Hood (5) version with the famous Ilander nylon skirts built in. And tuna trollers who are always looking for small straight-runners to tempt their favorite game will fall in love with the Jr. Iland (6). It’s a scant 1 1/2 ounces with a pointy nose that works alone or over a bait. Great for sails, white marlin and even kingfish. Go to or call (727) 584-7691.The Sonic EAL high-speed trolling lure (not shown) is based on the principal that certain sounds mimic baitfish vibrations. The components necessary to reproduce these sounds were developed with the help of an aerospace engineer and downsized to fit in the head of the lure. Used with a hook or as a hookless teaser, the EAL not only works, it looks (and sounds) good enough to eat. It comes in two sizes. Go to or call (800) 932-3485.
### Stand Up and Be Recognized

Stand-up fishing has never been more popular, and there are lots of new products to help relieve the strain of fighting sharks, tuna and billfish. One is the Rod Huki (1) from Whyrlybird Industries. The Rod Huki is a fighting-belt alternative that’s now available in a big-game model for tackle up to 80-pound class. It slips over the butt of the rod and provides support with complete freedom of movement. You can shift the padded base from belly to thigh during the fight. Check it out at or call (321) 433-1130.With the introduction of its new Stealth System (2), Braid has set a new standard in fighting belts. The belts feature a heavy-duty aluminum back plate with stunning photo-quality graphics that are definitely West Coast, and the “drop in” gimbal design makes it a breeze to lock the rod butt in place. They come in three sizes: light tackle, midrange and unlimited. The new Stealth heavy-duty harness puts the pressure where you want it when fighting really big fish, down low and off your back. And if you want to learn more about stand-up techniques, get a copy of Braid’s new video, Stand Up To A Giant (3). Great tips from the master on gear, rigging and how to use it all. Go to or call (800) 716-4558.|

### Lines of Fire

There are some notable new line products on the market. New from HI-SEAS is a high-vis line called Red Devil (1). Made with a unique multi-polymer formula, it’s strong and abrasion resistant without being overly stiff. The super-bright color jumps out above water, but virtually disappears when submerged, since red is the first color in the spectrum to fade under the surface. A reformulated version of the popular HI-SEAS Quattro Plus camouflage line that tuna chunkers have loved for years is also on dealer shelves. To find a dealer near you, go to or call (413) 298-5528. There’s a new entry in the braided-line category – Stren Super Braid (2). Manufactured using advanced microbond technology, this solid-core braid has a tighter weave that makes it more compact with more body, a rounder shape and greater chafe resistance. The roundness improves casting distance and knot strength. It’s 100-percent Spectra, made in the U.S., available in low-vis green or high-vis gold, in eight- to 130-pound test. See it at or call (336) 548-8700.One of last year’s best-received new products was Hi-Catch Diamond line (3) and leader material from Momoi. For this year, Diamond line is available in pre-packaged wind-on leaders rigged with Dyneema super-braid loops. These will retail for about half the going rate of other prepackaged wind-ons. For more information go to or call (800) 525-4327.The new big-game braid from P-Line is called Spectrex (not shown). It’s woven from 240 individual strands of spectra into four main carriers. The manufacturing process uses a matrix that impregnates color into each fiber, which prevents fading for the life of the line. Spectrex comes in a moss-green color, in ten- to 200-pound test. Go to or call (800) 537-2394.|

### Gadgets & Other Goodies

If you’re looking for a new bridge-teaser reel, Elec-Tra-Mate has a powerful new unit called the Teezer Reel (1) that any boat owner will be thrilled to have grace the helm station. Available with a white or black base and gold or clear anodized single or double spools with 12-, 24- or 32-volt motors, you can pick the model that works best for you. And if you’re looking for a simple way to speed up spooling up your Internationals look at the Turn-A-Mate drive system for your electric drill. Go to or call (336) 273-9101. The clever Pocket Drag Checker (2) from Bouz is an analog scale that accurately measures drag pressure exerted on the line, as well as drag coefficient at the guides. It’s available in a blue model that measures up to 12 pounds and a red model for readings up to 32 pounds. Imported and distributed by Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply in Miami,; (800) 327-4088. You can find it in most major catalogs, too. If you’re looking for a pair of great fishing gloves, check out the ones from BlueFever Designs (3). Available in three models, they will go a long way toward improving your grip and relieving some of the fatigue associated with pulling on big fish. Go to or call (949) 722-3696.For keeping your offshore reels it top shape, you can’t beat the full line of Reel Saver cleaning and lubricating products (not shown) from Mil-Comm. As a matter of fact, Mil-Comm has just introduced a specially formulated heavy-grade grease designed for offshore reels. Reel Saver products deliver exceptional corrosion protection and smooth action under heavy loads and pressure. Go to or call (888) 947-3273. Next on our hit parade is an ingenious tackle system that will be a lifesaver for traveling anglers and long-rangers. The Albackore II Tackle System (4) is a backpack with storage compartments for line, lures, leaders, rigs and all kinds of fishing accessories. I wish I had one on my last long-range trip. Go to or call (818) 704-5731.When it comes to night fishing, anything that will bring up a swordfish is a definite turn-on, and the Hydro-Glow fishing light (5) can do just that. A two- or four-foot-long tube that contains a green-glowing fluorescent bulb, it illuminates the water 100 feet around the boat, attracting baitfish and swords from their deep haunts. I’ll bet it works for night-chunking tuna, too. Go to or call (877) 895-4569.|

### Rockin’ and Reelin’

Lever-drag reels continue to evolve from winches into lighter, more responsive instruments. Penn Reels recently introduced the International 30VSW two-speed (1) decked out in its signature gold finish and sporting the rounded look of the 50 and 70VSW. It has a new shift mechanism featuring a large button for down-shifts to 1.6:1 and a knurled knob for quick up-shifts to 3.8:1. Its redesigned drag provides unfettered free-spool and 150-degree lever travel with an oversized, double-disc unit featuring Penn’s proprietary HT100 braking material. Learn more about it at or call (215) 229-9415.Good things come in small packages, and Shimano has just introduced two new downsized lever-drags. The Tiagra 12 (2) is designed specifically for light-tackle aficionados with a single drag configuration optimized for 12-pound line and under. The Tiagra 16 is another story, with a twin-drag system that allows for the use of much heavier super-braid lines. It can provide an impressive 30 pounds of stopping power. Both reels have two-speed gearboxes with 1.7:1 and 3.9:1 ratios, a gradual drag curve and a unique handle grip. For a closer look, go to or call (877) 577-0600.Welcome back, Daiwa! After a rather long hiatus from the big-game scene, Daiwa is back with two new series of Sealine Lever Drag reels (3). The SLD 20 and 30 are available in single- and dual-speed versions, and are attractively priced. Both are loaded with features, including Daiwa’s dual-disc DSG505 “wet” drag system. The SLD’s have black-anodized, machined-aluminum frames with gold spool and trim. The SLT is Daiwa’s top-of-the-line two-speed, and is currently available in 50 or 50-wide models with platinum anodizing. Both lines have 3.1:1 and 1.3:1 gearboxes and a shift mechanism that requires less moving parts for improved reliability. Check them out at or call (800) 736-4653.More new gold is on the scene, this time from Okuma. The Titus Gold series reels have machined-aluminum frames and sideplates, stainless gears and four stainless-steel ball bearings – all at an affordable price (an Okuma hallmark). The TG-50-II (4) and TG-50W-II are the newest models, and both feature a two-speed gearbox with a 3:2.1 ratio (high) and 1:3.1 ratio, plus a unique “double-dog” silent anti-reverse mechanism that’s billed as the strongest in the industry. Stopping power comes from a multi-disc, lubricated drag system. Go to or call (909) 923-2828.For light-tackle anglers who prefer spinning gear, check out the redesigned Fin-Nor AHAB spinner (5). This beefed-up version includes the oversized MegaDrag system and has no anti-reverse clutch to malfunction when fighting really big fish. The 16A holds 450 yards of 16-pound and the 20A takes 250 yards of 20-pound. Both have 4.6:1 gearing and, count ’em, seven ball bearings. Go to or call (888) 886-2064.The hottest innovation in big-game rods in the past few years was the Hextek graphite blank design from Cape Fear Rod Company. Now you can match the company’s stand-up models with new 50-, 80- and 130-pound-class chair rods (6). They are available with AFTCO straight or curved “Stora-Butts” and sport a custom-rod finish with eye-catching cosmetics. View them at or call (888) 886-2064. |