lures

ROLF

The summer heat has been bearing down on us for a couple of months, all but a few brave souls have stored their gear for the summer, some have left the country for cooler climes. It is indeed the best time of the year to check one’s gear, change old rusty hooks on lures, stock up on the bits and bobs needed for next season and more importantly, do the much needed check up and maintenance on the gear to minimize surprises in the coming season. This has been the case year in and year out, the norm, so to speak. The heat of the summer is quite too much for a lot of us, but the question remains – Is there really no fishing in the summer months?

In last month’s article, we talked about the options you have in the summer, fishing in earlier in the day or towards the evening when the temperatures are slightly lower and more bearable. Oman and the East Coast would be a bit cooler facing the Indian Ocean and it’s Monsoon season.

The truth of the matter is that there are fish around and regardless of the time of day or the side of the country you choose to fish in, the discomfort summer brings to bear is just too much for a lot of people.

Aside from the heat, there is very little difference in summer and winter fishing. Around Dubai, you will find that the fishing is just as finicky as ever. The main difference in fishing around Dubai as the brave ones that do go out would know…the species of fish you catch also change with the season.

While some fish migrate to deeper and cooler waters to spawn and grow, there are some species that head to the shallow and warmer waters of the coastal areas to do the exact same thing– To spawn and grow. This is something well noted by those that are brave enough to venture out in the heat; the kingfish we love chasing after in the winter months are not really seen, however, there is sport to be had with the influx of sharks, barracuda, grouper, grunter and bream.

For the brave, sharks are great game…a bit too much on a kayak for the faint hearted, however, there have been some recorded catches of sharks in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the past years…Brave souls!

A couple of weeks back, I made a call and asked if there were some fishing to be had in Fujairah, east of Dubai and one of the places I take refuge when the weather in Dubai is too much to bear.

After confirming with Bobby, one of the brothers running Soolyman Sportfishing in Fujairah, we had a trip on. The trip was scheduled so I could have stock images and footage of fish swimming underwater as well as some images of blue water light tackle fishing. The dorado that are even present in the tankers made for some great fighting fish, the sizes were nothing out of the ordinary so it was perfect to target them with 4000 sized reels paired with rods and line that would give us a little challenge.

A day before the trip and another quick call confirmed my suspicion, the waters that side of the country is, at that time pretty turbid, although blessed with scattered days of crystalline flat water, The Indian Ocean is only as forgiving as the monsoon that is also pounding the shores of the Indian peninsula. Being the coast that faces the Indian Ocean, the biggest factor to consider if you plan to fish the waters of the east coast, is the very fickle weather.
The plan was for me to be joined by a good friend, someone who has not gone offshore fishing and more importantly, someone who has not caught a fish that really pulls…yet.

 

A HUGE TRIP

We were quite lucky to be hosted by Calvin and Brandon on this trip, even if it was just a short morning run, these guys have a track record for providing the goods. The boat is as always, well cleaned and organized, I did not even know that there was live bait on board, we just loaded our gear and off to the deep we went! First stop was for some deep jigging, while the souls on board were willing to tough it out with the elements, after a while, we paid the price – my guest of honor started looking for Rolf. If you are not acquainted with Rolf, he is the guy you look for when you get motion sickness; there is a predefined style in looking for Rolf; almost always on the side of the boat, the heave and then the abrupt cracking sound of the call. The whole process is painful, and just as painful to watch. The rocking and rolling of the boat did not deter the 3 other anglers that were determined to catch something, upon deciding to slowly go back and stop at the tankers, we were greeted with schoolie dorado that were willing to play. I thought we hit pay dirt and this would be the source of this morning’s entertainment before the sun gets to be a bit unbearable, as it stood, we had Harry floored and no fish in the icebox. When water conditions are too choppy, the bite also turns off, fish could get finicky even if the water clarity was good, too much chop in the water seems to turn the fish from feeding close to the surface as well. It was one of those days that even a fish as gregarious as mahi-mahi was knit picking. The live bait supply was dwindling, all sorts of jigs have been tossed and aside from a few suckers from each location eating the live baits that were flylined out, the bites were few and far.

After a while of playing around with some experiments, I tied on an old school tried and true lure. A Bucktail Jig.

Before the popularity of plastic baits, the most popular lure used in its place was the bucktail jig – I love it because it lasts a heck of a lot longer than the plastics. While their use have dwindled in favor of the plastic baits in recent years, the bucktail jig’s fish catching quality has not. There were a couple of ships that produced a few dorado and there were blitzes of boiling fish right in front of us, there was at least one occasion where one of our members was calling Rolf as well as chumming the waters for us.

There were at least three instances when the whole school followed my lure right at the side of the boat, but refusing to eat even the live bait – for some reason, they were just not in the mood to eat. There were also occasions when they would hit right in front of the boat, before you lift your lure out of the water to make another cast. It startled me a few times when they would just follow the jig to the boat and smack it at the very last minute. Needless to say, because I was using braid and a short heavy leader, I lost all of the fish that did this, there was simply no stretch to cushion the impact of the strike. The fish, although not too big in size, make up with their acrobatics and energy, plus – since I started eating fish, I’ve always wanted to know how they tasted like, there were 4 of these guys joining me for dinner.

While the action was hot beside the boat with several schools of fish boiling in front of us, poor Harry was still floored. Before he could complain I stuck a rod in his hands and asked him the reel. Like a soldier, he endured the dizziness and reeled. He did manage to land his first fish on a rod and reel – but I think at that point and time, he was just interested to rest his head and take the trip in stride. Calvin asked if I wanted to check out more boats on the way back, I thought to myself, hey, I could really make this an unforgettable trip for Harry, but then again, the sun was also starting to sting.  When we got back to land, it was as if the spirit that left Harry’s body miraculously re-entered and he was back to his old self again. He managed to take a few pictures even if he was really dizzy, fought a fish while the core of his being is only interested in turning his stomach upside down – he survived.

“Let’s go when the water is a lot calmer dude!” I said.

“Yeah, like really really calm!” he exclaimed.

 

Saltwater Ultralight Spinning

In recent years, technology has grown and gave way to a new breed of rods and reels that are lightweight and tough enough to stand up against the harshness of the saltwater environments. Anglers were quick to recognise the potential of these new rods and reels for finesse applications that were previously only used by freshwater anglers. With the number of bigger fish dwindling or the fishing pressure increasing, as anglers we have to evolve with the conditions and look for ways around it and be successful in our outings. It has been an accepted fact that the lighter you fish, the more strikes you get. The problem with this is also the fact that when you go lighter, you also need to ensure that everything you do, from tying knots to selecting and presenting to fish, is going to get more challenging. Your knot tying should be better than just good. Fishing with light line means you have to scale everything down – if you tie knots with nothing less than perfection, it would mean lessening your chances because you are staring with lines that test less than 5kg, tying a knot with lines as light as these would further weaken it, resulting in knots breaking, lost fish, bruised egos and endless cursing.

The Tackle
Rods
There are a lot of brands to suit each angler’s preference and pocket depth. For anglers, such as myself, that is very budget conscious; there are rods from Abu Garcia and Berkley that fit the bill well. My choice is almost always a rod with a rating of 8-17lb. (4-10kg) with a minimum length of 7 feet (213cm) if I can get a longer one, I would. The perfect length for me would be around 9-10 feet (274-304cm). Although you will find rods of this length, they are almost always Japanese Domestic Market models (JDM) and are mostly expensive. If you can afford these rods, I highly recommend them because they will take off a lot of limitations (such as casting distance, better backbone power, sensitivity, etc). Of the few rods I use, my favourite is a 9-foot (274cm) Majorcraft Solpara Seabass series rod, about 500AED in Barracuda Dubai. Of course there are times when a shorter rod is best and that is when I’m fishing in a place where I don’t really need to cast that far to get to fish or when I’m on a kayak or boat, in which case a more traditional (short) ultralight rod is used.

Reels
Spinning reels were initially invented because there was a need to cast small and light lures – I believe, we are in the Golden Age of Spinning reels right now. People skip all the headaches and use spinning reels for this purpose, most are priced reasonably and are very easy to use – for this type of fishing, you are looking at reels within the 1000 to 3500 sizes.   (Shimano and Penn sizing) with 2500 and 3000 being the norm. Depending on which size of line you want to use, these reels typically hold about 300 meters of braided line (or PE line if you want to go the Japanese sizing system). You don’t have to go overboard – you want a reel that would be able to take the punishment of table sized fish – realistically, nothing over 5kgs. Spending on an expensive reel is a matter of choice. I use a Daiwa Aird 2500SH, it has 9 ball bearings, a light composite body and a large capacity extra spool – All those features for under 300AED (and if you don’t mind the funky colour scheme!)

Line
Braid is the line choice of the modern era in most situations. It gives you a thinner diameter line that enables you to cast small, light lures farther than you would with monofilament. Braid is also three times stronger than it’s equivalent mono diameter. Which means braid that has a breaking strain of 10lb (5kg) would be the same diameter as 3lb (1.5kg) mono. Braid also over tests, 10lb (5kg) braid would break at about 15-16lbs (7.5-8kg). Braid has very little stretch, which helps keep you in contact with your lure even if you are dealing with long casts. Paired with a very sensitive rod, you could almost feel the fish breathe on your lure before it strikes! Braid makes your diving lures dive deeper because it has less resistance, cuts down on drag when you are fishing areas with high current so you get your lures or bait down and keep them in the strike zone. Because of these qualities, braid would also enable you to use lighter lures to reach the bottom. Seems like the perfect line? It’s not. It works in most situations and you have to be a bit experienced to really make use of it. If you are still starting out, I suggest you use mono because the main drawback of braid is the cost. The best ones will set you back about 300AED per spool, the mind end ones will cost about +/-200AED on average – stay away from the cheap ones. They will give you more frustration with wind knots (tangles) and you spend time mending your line than fishing. I use 4lb (2kg) to 6lb (3kg) braid (+/- PE 0.3-PE 0.4). If my braid is not enough to fill the spool, I use a length of mono for backing, or old used braid.

Leaders

Nylon is in most cases good enough. Although a lot of people use fluorocarbon leaders nowadays, I don’t really use a lot of it unless I am fishing for tuna. As fishing is mostly personal preference, if you feel that your chances are higher if you use fluorocarbon, go ahead and use it, it will most likely make you fish with more confidence and will have your lure in the water more as a result and if the lure is in the water, you are always in for chance at a fish.

Lures

In my opinion, you spend most of your money on lures in the long run, than you do with your rod and reel. I label lures “consumables”. You can’t have just one, you can’t use them forever, you lose them even if you take good care of them, one way or another, they get banged up and will eventually need to be replaced…and you need more than one colour for a specific one, two or more if the lure is “that good”.

There are a ton of lures in the market available to confuse the angler, you could easily get lost with the choices even in the smallest of tackle shops. To make the choice easier lets break them down to the 3 types I use most often:

  • Soft plastics – These are made of gummy plastic and shaped like small fish, shrimp, crab, worms and other small critters – basically these are the closest thing to real bait. They are the easiest to use but also the one that gets chewed up the fastest. You mount them on a jig head: a hook with a weighted head or a weighted shank. Using them is as easy as casting them out and reeling them in on or close to the bottom. Their tails move on their own and just as long as it’s moving fish will bite. There are some brands with scents in them (like the Berkley Gulp! baits) that have fish attracting enzymes, even if you don’t move these things, they can catch fish – It is that easy! Jig heads of 3-5 grams with plastic bodies will catch fish in almost any fishing condition/situation.
  • Small swimming Jigs – these are chunks of metal shaped like fish. They wobble when you reel them in slowly, reel them too fast and they spin. These lures are perfect when you want to cast a long way like when fishing off the beach, jetties and piers. They cast like bullets and are easy to use, just cast them out and reel them in a slow and steady retrieve, when you feel the lure pulsing you know you are doing it right. Nothing over 10 grams for these, but you can check your rod on exactly what your lure weight is. My rod takes up to 12 grams I believe, but I
  • Plugs – These are the fish shaped lures made of plastic or wood with “lips” and armed with treble hooks. Again, very easy to use; cast out and reel in. These lures are great, but I don’t really like using them that much because of the treble hooks and they take up a lot of space. If I do use them, I like the small stickbaits and poppers – when fishing for fish like Gold Spot Trevally or Golden Trivially, the explosion they create when chasing after these top water lures are more than enough to get you addicted to them.

 

You might have noticed that I didn’t mention anything about lure colours, this is because I believe that any coloured lure will catch fish because of movement rather than anything else. Fish feel what’s around them by feeling vibrations in the water with their lateral line, and only switch to visuals when they are very close by. In muddy water, they don’t even see your lures! In my opinion, colour selection is a personal preference and that the more you like the colour, the more you fish with it. If by chance you are standing in front of a row of lures and are confused of what to buy, or what to stock up on, get the ones that look natural, or ones that attract you the most. I like using whites, pinks in clear water and dark colours like black and brown in stained or muddy water.

This type of fishing is not for everyone; the expense alone on mid end gear will set you back about 1000AED. But the fun and challenge it gives you is something you don’t outgrow till you get old and grey. It is very applicable in the UAE and when do you go with this type of fishing, you end up packing a little less because everything is scaled down. Add a small bag to hold a small box of lures and leaders and you set yourself up as a very mobile and flexible fishing unit. Smaller lures and lighter gear doesn’t really mean smaller fish – Elephants eat peanuts as they say. Think about it this way – instead of feeding the fish a meal, you are feeding them snacks, and we all know you eat more snacks than you do with full meals.

Uncluttering your tackle box

The Curse That Rules Us All
When you watch a very experienced angler closely, you will we see the choice of lures they stick with. They only carry a few small boxes in a bag filled with lures that they know will produce for them in a set of conditions they might encounter.

Not all of the anglers you encounter are like that, a lot of us are guilty of taking more than what we need for a days worth of fishing – however, this seem to be something common with the ones that know they’re doing – they don’t take a lot of lures with them on their fishing trips. Even the fishing guides themselves will only have a handful of lures they use day in and day out – they might have a lot of them, but they stick with only a small variety of lures. For example, you will see about 5 lures they stick with, but they might have about half a dozen of these lures – and they only have about 3 or so colors of these lures, not the full range. Mind you, these are professionals that earn a living from fishing.

There are exceptions to the rule, as we see with the case of bass angler that have to prepare and adapt to the tiniest of changes, and the fact that you need to stay on top of the competition, there is a need for them to have everything they can comfortably carry on their boat (which is mostly almost a tackle sop worth of lures and rods). However, there is really no need to take a whole tackleshop with you for a weekend’s worth of fishing. Although I’m pretty sure that many of us tend to overlook the fact that we take too much gear with us when we fish. Think about this: do you ever recall a day when you needed to throw everything you had to catch a fish?

Needless to say, we have to accept the fact that we must carry all that we can to give us a better chance of catching fish and with that, we need a storage system that fits our needs.


Dealing with the Clutter
To organize things, you will need a few boxes. There are a lot out there and after looking for a brand that suits me, I settled for the Flambeau Tuff Tainer with Zerust.

These containers are waterproof and rust proof so I don’t have to worry about my hooks rusting out. I have been using these boxes for quite a while now and I keep adding more because they make a lot of sense to me – as for the Zerust, I still make sure to dry out the lures before putting them back in the box, but so far, I have had lures on there that have been rust free for more than a year of exposure in saltwater.

I have been doing a lot of shore fishing lately and have been using what the Japanese call a “floating fishing vest” it’s quite a departure from the traditional fishing vest as these vests are more like tactical fishing vests, they are life vests with big pockets on them and a few accessory holders in the sides, mine has a lip grip holder as well as a holster for my pliers. Everything I need is basically just a pocket away and are always easy to access. These Flambeau boxes fit perfectly in the main pockets and as a bonus, I can fit two of long slim ones (Tuff Tainer 3000 size) inside the main pockets. Two of the 4000 or one 5000 series fits the back of the vest. In total, I can carry up to 4 small boxes (3000 size) and two 4000s, this equates to almost the convenience of a small tackle shop – IF I choose to go that way.

I mostly go with a small box filled with different weights and makes of metal jigs, a box to hold split rings, snaps, extra treble hooks, single hooks, assist hooks and all other small hardware, 1 box of plugs and 1 box of soft plastics. If I am walking a long stretch of beach, I carry a few spares in two bigger boxes stored in the back of the vest.

It might sound a lot of things to carry, but when the boxes are in the vest pockets, you don’t even think of them anymore. Although it takes some juggling, you eventually settle to a set of lures that you are very comfortable with and a handful that produce well for you.

I change lures a lot to find what works in a particular area and carrying as much as I could has continually proven to be a formula that works – at least for me. A very good example was when a friend invited a few of us over to fish in his back yard in the Palm Jumierah one afternoon. I was happily casting a small jig for Queenfish and Spangled Emperors when I noticed there was a boil not too far from where I was standing, I ran over to the boil and started casting my jig, I didn’t know what they were as they were a bit of a distance away from shore, I kept on casting and was not getting bit. If I didn’t have good selection of lures on me, I would have been forced to run back to my tackle box and take some lures, run back to the boil and cast again, losing the window for a hook up within the timespan. Of all the lures that would interest them, one finally took a pink bucktail jig I had in one of the boxes.

How I avoid carrying everything in the vest is an investment of a few of those boxes, I don’t need to label them because I can clearly see what I have inside them. I basically fill the boxes according to what type of fishing I would be doing in the weekend and replace the boxes in the vest accordingly – I ended up with a very flexible modular system centered on the fishing vest. All the boxes are loaded in the car and I take only what I need (or think I need) for the fishing ahead.

Topwater Tuna in Fujairah UAE

A long cast towards the chaos of birds and busting fish, the short pause while waiting for the top water plug to land was almost unbearable. The pandemonium of fish and birds have moved quite a bit to the right of the boat before the lure landed and I was almost certain that I was out of the strike zone, was it us that moved or the fish? I asked myself. Closing the bail of the reel, I pointed the rod tip up and reeled the lure just fast enough so it skitters on top of the choppy waters, doing this mimics the movement of fleeing baitfish; suddenly a huge eruption behind the lure sent my nerves on high alert, I reel faster and got rewarded with another bigger eruption behind the lure. There were two as I have come to realize as they were side by side it was almost difficult to tell had it not been for one of the fish launching itself airborne, then suddenly I felt a sharp tug that stopped me in my tracks, the rod buckled over and the line started to leave the reel at an alarming rate with the familiar song of the drag filling the air. Looking behind my shoulder I see two other guys with bent rods, we were all screaming, elated by the fact that these were our first tuna of the day, and a triple hookup all from our first casts.

Tackle
A decade ago, fishing for tuna with topwater lures was uncommon, a handful of people did it with cumbersome rods and thick monofilament lines but the majority of those that chased after tuna were more than likely trollers and live baiters with stout conventional outfits. Even the ones that were doing it stand up style were using cumbersome heavy outfits. These days, you’ll find that most of those going after tuna with topwater lures are using relatively light tackle – Who would have thought that a decade after, using light tackle on mid sized tuna would be commonplace and of all things with spinning gear!

Using light tackle means quite a few things for us:

The entire outfit isn’t heavy, this enables us to fish longer and when we do hook up, we fight more of the fish and less of the weight of the gear. It enables us to cast lures father, reaching fish that become aware of danger because of the boat’s unnatural noise. But because our subject is Tuna, a fish notoriously known for bait profiling, that’s when the fish will strike only bait/lures that are the same size of baitfish they are feeding on, the biggest advantage of using lighter tackle means it enables you to cast smaller lures that are otherwise difficult, if not impossible, to cast a good distance with the tackle used before.

Rods and Reels
My standard is a Shimano Twinpower 8000; it is an excellent reel that’s been serving me well for some time. It is a mid sized reel that is light enough to be used from shore yet heavy enough to be used offshore on small to midsized Tuna and Dorado. Yet there are still some that find this reel is a bit too big for their liking. I would not recommend a reel that doesn’t have a metal body – I’m not saying that it won’t catch fish, but the flex of the composite body will give you problems and faced with a strong fish such as tuna, the reel will not have a long life. I have seen a few people fishing for them with a 5000 – 6000 size reel (Shimano Sizing), for me, this is ok unless there is a possibility of encountering bigger fish, if they do decide to show up, an 8000 size reel will give you the drag power and line capacity to dog it out.

On the conventional side, which is my favorite, I love casting with my Avet SX Raptor. It can cast just as far as my Twinpower but is more comfortable for me to use as my preference leans towards conventional tackle. Since the lures we cast are heavy, casting them with the SX Raptor is a breeze. Although I set mine to zero, the magnetic cast control system is there in case it’s needed making casting towards the wind a worry free task.

Like the reels, rods have come a long way since. I pair my Twinpower 8000 with a spinning rod designed for popping. The one I’m using isn’t sold in the UAE, but there are lots of qualities popping rods available to suit every budget. It will be a challenge to look for a rod that could match a conventional reel such as the Avet SX Raptor as casting with conventional reels isn’t practiced a lot in the region. The thing to remember about casting for tuna is – Buy the best possible metal bodied reel that you can afford and pair it with a good rod for the purpose. I have seen rods broken and reel drags burnt just because they thought their gear was good enough for the task. If you aren’t familiar with this type of fishing, I would suggest you do a little reading online and also ask people who have done it before to get advice on which rod and reel are suitable for the task.

Line
Braid is used to give you more distance, more line capacity and an overall stronger line. Don’t even think about using monofilament. It will work but you’ll get less line on the reel, shorter casts and if you do get a long runner, you’ll feel like you’re fighting the fish with a long piece of rubber band.

A note about braid and something you should be careful about – there are some that cast better than others and for that matter, I stick with braid specifically designed for casting. There are quite a few Japanese brands specifically made for casting, so with western brands like Suffix. The most important thing before buying braid is to ask your friends for feedback on the castability of the line. You don’t want to be out in the middle of a tuna boil dealing with a huge tangle while your friends are catching.

Leaders
I’m not fussy about leaders; I mostly use mono instead of fluorocarbon. I have used mono and fluorocarbon and to tell you honestly, I haven’t really seen a big enough gap between the two. I believe, if you feel like you’ll catch more fish with fluorocarbon, then go ahead and use it. If you’re more confident about something, you end up fishing a lot more and not fiddling about. I like really long leaders and usually tie on a fresh length for each trip. I find that I have better control over the fish as soon as the leader material gets wrapped at least a couple of times around the reel.

Connections
There are primarily three schools of thought on how to connect braided line to the leader. There are those that prefer to cast with the knot that connects their braid and leader outside the rod tip and feel they cast farther – Primarily, these are the guys that feel they get more distance with this system.

Another group is those that use very low profile knots that act more like a splice with the leader material, Knots such as the PR and FJ knots. Using long leaders that get wound around the spool, this system enables the caster to cast long leaders with very little impact to the distance because of the knots – not everyone agrees though and there are varying accounts.

The last group use premade wind on leaders – using a very strong knot that terminates in a loop and attach the wind on leader via loop-to-loop connection. This is an expensive way to go and for me, doesn’t really give a lot of advantage, but some guys prefer this system.

Test all three and see what feels comfortable to you and go with that. I prefer long leaders because I mostly cut back on my leader when changing lures, preferring to create a new knot for each lure change and not rely on one knot with a snap at the end when changing lures – it’s a practice that has become a preference over the years and although it would be more convenient for me to just use premade wind on leaders, I prefer to tie a PR or FJ knot. I tie a fresh PR or FJ for each trip ensuring I have my desired leader length (which is usually about +/- 10 meters) for each fishing trip. I use this system for all my spin/conventional fishing.

Lures

It is easier to catch tuna with subsurface lures, it’s less complicated, and probably an easier bet to get hooked onto one especially when they are fuzzy. However, catching one on top is explosive and very addictive, the visual aspect of the strike makes you crave for more and gets you addicted to a point where you just want to see the strike and don’t even mind losing the fish.

Poppers and stickbaits top the list, the most important thing to remember when choosing one for the task is ensuring it has a through wire construction – this means the wire that holds the hook/hooks is one solid piece that runs the length of the lure ensuring the lure stands up to the massive pulling power of tuna and not bend out of the lure.

I like stickbaits more than poppers – I have caught tuna on both – this is a personal preference, I just like catching them more on stickbaits than I do with poppers. I carry an assortment of poppers, stickbaits and casting jigs so I would be able to adjust according to the conditions at hand.

Getting out there

There are a couple of companies operate in Fujairah that would be able to get you out there. I always go with Soolyman Sport fishing (www.soolymansportfishing.com) as they have an impeccable track record and so far, have been very reliable. There is a couple charter companies that would be able to get you out there, I’m sure it will be worth your while to snoop around online.

It’s summer but fishing doesn’t have to stop. There are alternatives and opportunities unique to this season, you just have to know where to go and put a bit of effort to the trip and you should be able to enjoy one or a few that would forever change your summer time fishing here in the UAE.

Working with Wire

Wire. The mere sound of it has always put me off. It kinks, the ones that don’t kink are too visible and it’s stiff, almost always killing the action of an otherwise very attractive swimming lure or bait. There are quite a few kinds available for the angler, however, the fact remains; that they are a necessary evil when fishing for fish we collectively call “The Razor Gang.”

The single strand wire is the mainstay, these days, there are predominantly 3 types you can easily find – coffee colored, unfinished stainless, and titanium.

The coffee colored wire has been the standard, while titanium wire has gained a following, it is thinner for the strength it carries making it a bit more stealthy, the main drawback is it’s springiness. It doesn’t kink as much or as fast as standard stainless steel wire the main drawbacks are the cost and the springiness (at least for me) so I stick with the standard and have been perfectly happy using anywhere between a number 7 or a number 10 for my swimming dead baits.

Next in line is the 7strand wire – 7 strands of thinner stainless steel wire twisted together to form a cable. It’s not as stiff single strand wire; the main drawback is the fact that it is more visible. The coated varieties you see in the shelves are made of this type.

They further reduced the stiffness of wire by creating a 49-strand cable, 7 strands of 7-strand wire. Although the most visible type of wire, it is also the most flexible and the easiest to work with. They come uncoated and are usually coffee colored, however there are also some plain stainless versions sold.

I usually work with either a single strand wire or the 49-strand cable since I find the 7 strands too stiff for my liking. This is a personal preference though.

There are also versions of the 49-strand wire you can tie knots with, this variety is great to use on lures because they are almost as flexible as mono.

Not using wire will undoubtedly give you more strikes, the cost of losing a brand spanking new lure or even worse, a really good fish forces you to just bite the bullet, close your eyes and use it. I often use wire when rigging dead baits as swimming baits and putting them in front of smaller lures for trolling or casting when fishing for barracuda and kingfish in the waters of the Gulf.

It’s typical for anglers, both experienced and otherwise, to use up to a meter of wire before their lures or bait. That does work, but when the going gets tough, a shorter piece would work better. I seldom use a length more than 16cm. Over the years, I have found that other than sharks, which tend to roll and wrap the leader around their body which in turn chafes your line with their skin, a trace of 16 centimeters is more than enough protection for toothy fish such as barracuda, narrow barred mackerel (kingfish) and wahoo.

Working with wire is intimidating at first, however, with a little time and practice, you would be able to make your own rigs and you would be able to construct them in a short amount of time.

With the exception of “knotable” wire, different types of wire are fastened in different ways.

Single strand wire, both titanium and regular stainless steel are the most commonly used. Loops are created at the ends to fasten them on to a swivel or lure. There is a special type of way to tie the wire onto itself.


The Haywire Twist and Barrel Roll

The most common method is the haywire twist. There are a lot of videos on how to tie this on youtube,and I advise you to check them out to learn how to tie one correctly. The main drawback of this “knot” is the fact that it is a permanent connection. If you want to change your lure, either you take another lure with some wire pre-attached, or you snip the haywire twist and make another connection after.

 

Greene Twist
The Greene Twist addresses the main problem of the Haywire Twist. Which is the inability to change your lure, bait or fly once the connection has been made.

The Greene Twist is not as unforgiving. It has for years been used by the commercial fishery off Florida, so it’s really nothing new, just that a lot of people don’t really know about it outside the commercial fishing circles.

Fastening Cable

Stainless steel in 7 strand or 49 strand cables are fastened via crimps, this is true for either coated 7 strand cables or uncoated, my preference lies with the uncoated variety.

 

Crimps can be bought at tackle shops and they come in different shapes and sizes. The tube type crimps work, but I like the double barrel types, which are a little bit more expensive, but the difference isn’t even a few dirhams each. The double barrel type is easier to work with. Crimps are compressed with a special type of crimper called a “swager” (pronounced swedjer). You can also use an ordinary crimper, but since it crushes the crimp to compress it, it also crushes the wire inside and weakens it.

 

There are a lot of tutorials online that can help you with wire rigging. It’s another arrow in your fishing quiver that would help you when the razor gang are in town and will save you the frustration of losing your favorite lure or worse, that fish you just hooked up that has a mean set of dentures.

 

Till next Tide change,

Kit

Picnic Seabream

Picnic Seabream

The Picnic Seabream (Acanthopagrus berda) belongs to the Sparidaey, or the seabream family. Like most fish, the Picnic Seabream has a few common names, however, one the most popular name it is commonly called is the Yellowfin Seabream, a name that best describes the bright yellow fins contrasting the darkish body of this fish. Shaam is its Arabic Name.

They are found in shallow temperate and tropical waters and are bottom-dwelling carnivores. Most species possess grinding, molar-like teeth. Some of the species, are overfished

, however, the yellowfin Seabream is marked as OK to fish for according to choosewisely.ae.
Where to find
The Yellowfin Seabream is a native of the gulf and is probably one of the fish with the widest distribution. It is commonly found schooling in estuarine waters and other sheltered areas such as docks and jetties. It is a shallow water bottom dwelling fish preferring structure and sandy muddy bottoms.

How to catch

Although easy to find, you will discover that they are often picky biters. As these fish are often bait profiling, meaning, they will only eat the bait or lure when it is the same size of the fish or crustacean they are foraging on in that particular day or week. We do know for certain that they will not bite big lures, which cut down on a lot of guesswork. A few lures work on them just remember to cast your lure as close to structure as possible.

Since the areas they inhibit are a challenge to bait fish in without snagging, a lot of fishing for the Yellowfin Seabream is done with lures and flies. If you find yourself fishing for them with bait, the standard up and down dropper rig works well, use just enough weight to get your baits down to the bottom. They will eat pieces of shrimp, squid and if you can find them, small crabs.

Small jigs dressed with soft plastic bodies of about 3 inches (7.5cm) work well for them, the same size for any subsurface lure works well. Poppers and stickbaits work well in dawn, dusk and very cloudy days. When this condition presents itself, catching them on topwater lures makes for some serious fun.

Because of the small lures and weights and because they don’t really run long distances when hooked, you can effectively catch them with light tackle. A long rod will help you cast a good distance and longer rods have sensitive tips that help you detect them as they peck on the lure. Lines of up to 12lbs (6kg) paired with a reel of a 2000 to 4000 size (Shimano or Penn Sizing) round up the ideal tackle for them. Staying within this range gives you an efficient and sporting outfit that will make the fishing more exciting and enjoyable.
Availability and conservation

A thing to note about any Seabream is the fact that they are slow growing fish; good specimens such as those pictured in this article are about 10 years old. This means it is very easy to do some damage on the stock if you take out the breeders (the big ones!). The main challenge with this fish is also the fact that they are good table fare.
Choosewisely.ae have listed this fish in the green and that it’s ok to harvest them. I personally return most of the big ones I catch because I know how slow they grow.  Just keep in mind that detail when you catch a few of them. Leave some for our children to enjoy so we can take them fishing for these great fish when they are old enough to fish with us.

Lure Carving

There are a ton of lure carving tutorials in the net. Some are simple, others a big more complicated. The video above is one of my favorites despite being in Korean.

This video is very easy to follow and quite honestly, after a few lures under my belt, actually something anyone can do if they have a little patience.

I honestly don’t consider myself artistic in any way and I managed to make a few lures that I would not have a problem using. Although I have to admit, setting things up and learning how to carve got me injured a few times, but that was because I was careless and didn’t know any better.

Word of advise – if you want to get into this, you have to remember that painting is hazardous, carving involves very sharp instruments and if you aren’t careful with each step of the process, you can potentially hurt yourself.

none the less, it’s fun and once you get the hang of things, it’s quite rewarding!