GAMEFISHING TIPS - Nice bit of Skirt

As the warm summer currents are now pushing southwards, our thoughts turn to hordes of hungry gamefish from marlin to mahi mahi eager to eat an attractively skirted lure...

GAMEFISHING TIPS - Nice bit of Skirt
<B>GAMEFISHING TIPS</B> - Nice bit of Skirt

Like drinking icy Coronas and watching the cricket, trolling skirted lures for gamefish is a very summery pastime. A quartet of smoking lures fizzing along in the boat’s wake has a hypnotic effect — the trance only being broken by a watery explosion and the banshee wail of a reel screaming in protest.

Tackle shops with a good name for gamefishing know-how will gladly rig lures for you, and premade rigs are also widely available. Most keen blue-water anglers choose to do their own rigging though; customising leader breaking strains and lengths, and hooksets and sizes to suit what they think will work best next on any given day.

Lure size depends on the quarry. For juvenile black marlin, school tuna, sailfish and small mahi mahi, lures between 10 and 15cm will suffice. For midrange blacks and stripes 15 to 30cm lures get the job done, and for blue marlin and big blacks 30 to 40cm models will be eaten without any trouble at all.

Of course, big fish will eat small lures and small fish will attempt to eat big lures, so with gamefishing you quickly learn to expect the unexpected.

Leader length and breaking strain is something to ponder too. Lures definitely work better rigged on lighter leaders, but then you have to offset this against abrasion damage if it proves to be a long fight.

For light tackle up to 10 kilos, you are limited to a maximum leader length of 4.57m if fishing under International Game Fishing Association rules. For 15kg and up, there is a maximum permissible length of 9.14m. This will have a bearing on how long to make the lure leaders.

Today’s example is for 15kg tackle and up. A 2.1m leader with a 3.3 to 3.6m wind-on means the fish can be tagged off the rod tip — useful when fishing one-up. Alternatively, a full-length leader of 5.4 to 6m and a skilled deckie to get the fish close at the end represents a workable and more traditional alternative.

Top photo: Skirted trolling lure underway.


Skirted trolling lure
Heavy monofilament leader material and matching crimps
Chafe tube
Two game hooks
Sacrificial anode tape (if using chemical-sharp hooks)
49 strand cable wire and crimps
Heat shrink
Heat gun
Cigarette lighter or butane burner

Cut two lengths of chafe tubing 40mm long; one for the swivel end of the leader and one for the hook end. Neatness is the key to successful rigging, so don’t make these too big.
Slide on the crimp and chafe tube, feed the tag end back through the crimp and melt the end of the mono with the heat from a cigarette lighter. Ball the end with your fingertips.

3 & 4). Squeeze the crimp shut with the correctly-sized tool. Before closing it shut, give the mono a solid pull to snug everything up.

This lure is being rigged with a pair of 10/0 Owner Jobu hooks. Being chemically-sharpened, sacrificial anode tape needs to be added to protect the points from corrosion. Before attaching the anodes, scrape away some of the hook’s protective coating to ensure they are in contact with bare metal.
Hooks can be run at any point of the compass, but here we’ll run them at 180 degrees. It doesn’t hurt to experiment with hooksets either, including singles.
The wire between the hooks is 645lb 49 strand wire, with 2.05mm compression swages.

6). Use heat shrink to position the hooks, melting it with a heat gun rather than a cigarette lighter for a neater finish.

7 & 8).
Run the leader in through the leader hole at the front of the lure and attach the hook rig. Crimp in place.

Wrap electrical tape over the top hook eye and crimp to stiffen it, securing the tape end with dental floss. Use a toothpick in the leader hole to set the hooks in position, snap off the remainder and slide the hooks up.

Adjust the hooks so they’re sitting at 180 degrees, and the lure is ready to swim.

From Boothy’s Bag column Trade-a-Boat Issue 433, Nov-Dec 2012. Words and photos by Glen Booth.


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.