Sharpening Up for Game Fishing

Into Two; double hook ups like these don’t happen by accident. Photo: Graeme Heapy

Into Two; double hook ups like these don’t happen by accident. Photo: Graeme Heapy

When it comes to game fishing, like a good boy scout, Kurt’s motto is ‘Be Prepared’

It’s about now, in the off season, that the keen game fisherman starts thinking about the season ahead. And if you’re anything like me you find yourself asking questions like; what’s the weather going to be like? Are we going to have a lot of fish this season? What competitions are we going fish? When are the best weekends to be away?

With all these thoughts running through your mind, it’s time to get the gear out and get stuck in to make sure it’s all in perfect working order for the summer.

The first things to get sorted are your rods and reels. It’s so important to make sure the drags have been serviced and reset to the correct settings. Something that often gets over looked is the state of your nylon. I have seen nylon that is almost 10 years old and has never been replaced. A lot of people also forget that when you catch a fish whether it be a marlin or a tuna, the nylon is wound back on to the spool under immense pressure. Over time this stretches the nylon, as you could imagine the effect of this stretching is decreased line integrity – i.e. it breaks at lower weights.

It’s fairly easy to strip down a reel and if you’re careful and follow the instructions, it will probably be ok. If you’re not too sharp with tools, don’t have the time or inclination; get your gear into a trusted tackle shop. By this time of year they’ll be pretty busy, so plan early for next year.
Reels need love and an annual service is the least you can do. Many great fish have been lost through rough drag, seized bearings and corroded teeth on cogs. Be safe and get it greased up in advance.

A simple but common glitch is when a game rod roller (guide) seizes up. It only takes a bit of salt to get stuck in the roller and as your gear is stored over winter it slowly locks up. This could cause you some serious heart ache if the general maintenance is not kept up. Check your rollers before each trip, a drop of oil will do wonders, as will a decent rinse when you get home. We only get limited chances throughout the game season so make every chance count.

Common debates that pop up year in year out are “Single hooks VS Double hooks,” “Hard drags VS Light drags.” Open gape hooks VS Closed gape hooks.” This is a completely different story which I could spend hours waffling on about and even then it’s not science. However, we will save that for another time. In the mean time it’s time to get the lures out of the bag and rigged up.

One thing I can say, that I guarantee will increase your chances is having extremely sharp hooks. Its simple, marlin have hard mouths and therefore the sharper the hook the better the hook up rate. I believe only about 25% of game fisherman have sharp hooks. Sharpening a hook in itself is an art and takes time to perfect. The key to it is filing the right amount of barb off so it penetrates easier. In a sense what you are doing is minimising the cross sectional area of penetration. You would be surprised to know how many people buy new hooks and think they are sharp enough. That’s definitely not the case!

To maximise your chances you need to be consistent. Make sure your rods, reels and tackle is up to standard so that when you do hook up you have absolutely no doubt in your mind. I don’t mind losing a marlin that falls off or just didn’t hook up. That’s fishing. But when a fish is lost due to gear failure that’s devastating! And should never happen.

So next weekend get the gear out on the deck, poor yourself a rum and start planning the season ahead. Can’t Wait!

By Kurt Bennetto

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