Saltwater Surf Fishing Gear: Some of My Tackle

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Preparing My Kayak For Land Based Shark Fishing

PREPARING MY KAYAK FOR LAND BASED SHARK FISHING

This post documents my process for preparing my kayak for land based shark fishing.  As I alluded to in an earlier post, my first kayak was a Heritage Angler 10′ that I purchased on sale at Academy for about $300 bucks.  I used it in some small lakes, and for the price it was a good little yak.  But the first time that I took it into the surf I realized how unstable it was.  I flipped it in the breakers multiple times.  I had to keep it almost perfectly straight in the waves, because if I came in just a little sideways I’d get dumped.  The first time that I made a long bait drop, the surf was a little rough, and I was getting pounded by the waves.  I was getting tossed in the little Heritage Angler 10′, and it was a lot of work keeping it straight.  Past the breakers where I wanted to drop my bait, I almost flipped it just turning back to reach for the bait and the leader.  After getting back to shore, I was exhausted.  I definitely needed something bigger that could bust through the waves, and that was stable enough to allow me to reposition myself without risking capsizing.

Angler 10               Kayak n Truck

I conducted some kayak research and it seemed that the Ocean Kayak brand is popular for surf applications; of course the brand name indicates that.  The Ocean Kayak “Frenzy” model is a favorite because its compact, affordable, and its very stable in the breakers.  Its relatively short at 9 feet long, but its width of 31 inches and its tri-form hull provide excellent stability.  The Ocean Kayak “Scambler” model is popular too, and its basically a stretch version of the Frenzy, and measures 11.5 feet long and 29.5 inches wide.  The Ocean Kayak model that caught my eye was the “Malibu Two”.  Its a 12 foot kayak that’s 34 inches wide.  Its a tandem kayak, but it can be paddled solo, and by my estimation it would provide excellent stability in the surf.  Of all the kayaks that I researched, the one that I liked the most was the Cobra brand “Fish N Dive”.  The Cobra Fish N Dive kayak is 12.5 feet long and 36 inches wide.  Its a little heavy, but I’d say its worth it since its rated to handle up to 600lbs, and it’s said that it easily handles paddlers that weigh 300 pounds.  I read that it cuts through waves effortlessly, and that it’s outstandingly stable.  There were other kayak brands that I liked too, but they were all too expensive for my first year shark budget.  I specifically liked the Hobie brand kayaks especially the ones with the Mirage Drive capability. But since I was only going to use the kayak for long bait drops, going out and coming back in, I didn’t need anything outfitted or fancy.  I just needed something that was going to meet my functional requirements; be able to handle rough surf and provide good stability in the ocean.

new Frenzy Scrambler         Malibu Two Cobra Fish n dive

I started searching for kayaks on Craigslist and I found a Cobra Fish N Dive listed for $800.  I offered $600, but I was told that the lowest they would go was $700.  I’ve seen the Cobra Fish N Dive listed for $900 new, so I didn’t think $700 was that good of a deal to buy it used.  I kept searching and I came across a posting from the local kayak rental business which advertised that they were updating their kayak fleet.  They were selling all of their Ocean Kayak Frenzies for $200 and all of their Ocean Kayak Malibu Twos for $250.  Since those prices are more than 50 percent less than retail, I considered them to be good deals. I planned on buying one of the Malibu Two kayaks, and I sent an email to see if any were still available.  I received an email response stating that they had about 40 left, but since the weather was bad the store was closed.  I was told to check back when the weather improved, and if they were open I could stop by and choose the one that I wanted.  Due to my need for instant gratification I was a little bummed that I had to wait.  But it turns out that the bad weather was a blessing in disguise.  That same day my wife had mentioned to a coworker that I had been looking for a kayak, and the coworker said, “I have a big kayak in the garage that has been gathering dust forever…you can have it for free.”  The kayak that was offered for free turned out to be the exact one that I had planned on buying; it was an Ocean Kayak Malibu Two.  Given that I was ready to spend $600 on a Cobra Fish N Dive, getting a Ocean Kayak Malibu Two for free really helped the shark budget.

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MODIFICATIONS TO OCEAN KAYAK MALIBU TWO

Given the good fortune of getting a free kayak, I decided to add a couple things to my first year shark budget, a trolling motor and a fishfinder.  Paddling against a strong headwind can be extremely difficult.  I figured that a trolling motor will help during windy conditions, especially if I’m trying to get out 500 yards.  The reason I wanted a fishfinder wasn’t because I wanted to find fish, but because I wanted to be able to determine water depth.  I’ve read that deeper water produces larger sharks, but even after reading tons of forums and informational articles I couldn’t find any definitive information on the water depth of Texas beaches.  For example, it would be nice to know how deep the water is 300 yards out, but I know that would be different from beach to beach, so I figured a fishfinder would be extremely valuable for its depth finding capabilities. I bought the cheapest trolling motor and fishfinder that I could find; a Minn Kota Endura C2 30lb thrust and a Humminbird Piranhamax 155.

Minn Kota 4096501_PiranhaMax_155

INSTALLING THE FISHFINDER ON THE KAYAK

I began researching best practices for installing a fishfinder on a kayak.  I saw that people would mount the transducer inside the kayak hull.  Evidently, the transducer sonar can shoot through the hull and still register an accurate reading.  From what I read, most people use marine goop or silicone to mount their transducer.  I read that when installing the transducer that you have to be careful not to have any bubbles in the marine goop or silicone, because air bubbles can distort the sonar readings.  The first thing that I did is build a housing for the transducer.  I used some packing styrofoam, but it wasn’t the kind that crumbles.  It provided a nice clean fit.

IMG_0062                   IMG_0063                     IMG_0065                   IMG_0066

The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two hull isn’t flat, but it has a groove down the center.  I took the Styrofoam transducer housing that I had made, and I cut it down so that it fit snugly into the hull groove.  I also picked up some “silicone” at Walmart.  It was on clearance for about two bucks.  It wasn’t clear like the silicone that I had seen on the web, but it was white and it was used for painting applications.  I used the silicone to fasten the transducer housing to the kayak hull, and I let it dry overnight.  The next day I filled the styrofoam housing with silicone, I stirred it around in an attempt to ensure that there were no bubbles, and then I firmly pushed the transducer down into the housing; the silicone formed around the transducer and oozed up a little.  I let it dry overnight, and the next day it seemed to be very sturdy.  Since the kayak was off the ground, strapped on two saw horses, I tried to test the fishfinder.  I thought that it might register three or four feet.  But all it read was zero.  I searched online, and from what I read, the kayak had to be on the water to successfully test the fishfinder.  With the transducer installed I turned my attention to the trolling motor.

IMG0069                 IMG_0071   IMG_0070                 IMG_0110

INSTALLING THE TROLLING MOTOR ON THE KAYAK

I needed ideas on how to mount the trolling motor to my kayak, so I watched YouTube videos of other peoples’ setups.  I saw simple setups where the trolling motor is mounted to a crate, and it drops into the water from the side of the kayak.  It’s steered by hand just by reaching back.  I liked that simple setup, but I was concerned that if I were to flip the kayak in the surf, that I might hurt my self on the motor.  In order to minimize the risk of the prop slicing me open if I were to get dumped, I decided to mount the trolling motor to the rear.  I still kept it simple though.  I spent $12 dollars at Home Depot, on a 2×6 plank, some industrial wood screws (the thread was really wide), and some nuts, bolts, and washers.  My DIY trolling motor transom came out pretty good, and it extended directly off the back of the kayak.

Preparing My Kayak For Land Based Shark Fishing               Preparing My Kayak For Land Based Shark Fishing

Since I opted to mount the trolling motor off the back end of the kayak, I wouldn’t be able to turn it on, or steer it by hand.  I needed to do some more DIY engineering.  With the proposed kayak application in mind (i.e. going out to drop bait and coming back in) I determined that all I would need to be able to do is turn the motor on/off from my seat.  I figured that I could steer with the paddle (FYI… I eventually found out that steering with the paddle doesn’t work).  I took apart the trolling motor, and I re-housed the electrical core in an empty plastic container (an old fiber supplement container).  I bought some additional wiring and extended all the connections into the re-housed core.  Also, I added in a push button electrical switch; I wanted to be able to turn the motor on/off at the push of a button.  I tested the reengineered trolling motor, and it worked.

I took the kayak to one of the local lakes.  After launching the kayak I turned on the fishfinder, and it worked.  I was relieved that the cheap silicone that I used didn’t ruin the transducer signal.  As I paddled around the little lake, the fishfinder read the different depths and I could even see what seemed to be a few fish.  I was pleased.  Next I needed to test the trolling motor in the water.  The motor worked like charm.  At the push of a button the trolling motor turned on, and the 30lb thrust propelled the kayak forward at a pretty good rate.  But as I briefly mentioned earlier, I couldn’t steer the kayak with the paddle.  I should’ve of known; the motor in the water is essentially a rudder.  It was very difficult to steer, and turning the kayak was major work (with the motor running the kayak couldn’t be turned).  So as far as the trolling motor goes, I’ll have to do some more engineering before its fully functional.  I’ll have to add some steering, or at least be able to raise and drop it from my seat.  The kayak performed great in the water, its super stable and tracked quite nicely.  I think the fishfinder is going to be tremendously helpful during my shark hunts.  I’ll know exactly how deep the water is where I drop my baits.

IMG_0101               IMG_0103

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Getting My New Shark Reel Ready

Getting My New Shark Reel Ready

Avet Box:  Getting My New Shark Reel Ready

Avet Pro EXW 80/2

This is the box that my Avet EXW 80/2 fishing reel came in.  The picture on the front of the box is pretty cool.  There are five guys trying to hoist this huge billfish onto a boat.  The fish is really gigantic.  Of course the indication is clear…an Avet fishing reel is what dragged that billfish brute from the bottom of the sea.  Whenever I hold my new Avet 80w, it makes me feel powerful.  I have visions of dragging my own sea creature out of the sea.  I really can’t wait to make my first bait drop, and I really hope I don’t have to wait like 5 years to catch a fish that can peel 40lbs of drag.  One of my favorite quotes that I apply to fishing is, “Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity.”  I don’t know when the opportunity will come, but I do know one thing… I will be prepared.

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CHOOSING A SHARK ROD

My new fishing reel was in and I needed a rod, but shopping for something that could handle an Avet 80w when pushed to its max, was new territory for me.  I could just picture catching the fish of a lifetime and the rod snapping.  I did lots of research, on both major fishing rod brands and on smaller custom rod builders.  From what I read, custom rods are all the rage.  Land based shark fishermen seem to covet the “Barrett Rods” brand the most.  But for me the reel is much more important than the rod.  Don’t get me wrong, a fishing reel is nothing without the rod,  but I felt more comfortable searching for a bargain when it came to the rod.  I priced the popular Barrett rods, and I would be spending, at the very least, $400 for a rod.   I didn’t want to sacrifice that much of my shark gear budget on just the fishing rod, so I kept looking.  I ended up finding a low priced 130lb class fishing rod on ebay.  It was from a custom maker “Bar Bar Tackle”.  I searched forums for reviews, and I read a few posts from individuals who had purchased a Bar Bar Tackle custom rod.  I didn’t read any negatives reviews.  It has 8 heavy duty boat guides with zirconium insert rings, which are supposed to be smoother, harder, and dissipate heat better then any other guide ring (with the exception of silicon carbide rings).   The rod blank is a Rainshadow brand 50-130 lb e-glass and graphite blend.  The gimbal is heavy duty marine grade silver aluminum.  The grip has an embedded diamond pattern for extra grip, and it looks pretty cool too.  The reel seat is a Forecast brand seat made of 28 mm marine grade silver aluminum.  The cherry on top is the shiny hammerhead decal.  So for $266 I thought it was a deal.

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SPOOLING THE SHARK REEL

So the plan was to spool my new Avet 80w with 1,500 yards of fishing line.  I needed up to 500 yards of line for the long bait drops, and then I needed 1,000 yards of reserve line to be ready to tangle with a cartilage-filled underwater freight train, or a razor-toothed sandpaper-skinned submarine.  Monofilament fishing line is preferred because its easy to use, and more importantly its abrasion resistant.  I wanted to spool 130lb class line, but if I went straight monofilament I wouldn’t get the capacity that I wanted due to the large diameter.  Therefore, I needed to implement a braided line backing with a monofilament top-shot.  Due to the diameter, you can fit much more braided line onto a reel, versus monofilament.  I researched the diameter of both 130lb braid and 130lb monofilament, and per the Avet 80w specifications, I would be able to spool 1,200 yards of 130lb braid, with enough room left over to fit a 300 yard 130lb monofilament top-shot.

specs

I researched different braided line brands, and it seemed that the preferred brand was Jerry Brown.  I browsed different fishing forums and those dedicated to shark fishing, and Jerry Brown was consistently touted as the best.  The Momoi brand also had really good reviews.  For implementing a monofilment top-shot, “Hollow-Core” braid is recommended.  With hollow-core braid you can connect the monofilament by splicing it into the braid.  This method is preferred because the connection maintains 100% breaking strength of the line (versus a knotted connection).  The knotless splice functions the same as a Chinese finger trap; the monofilament is threaded into the hollow-core braid, and when the line is pulled, the hollow-core braid tightens around the monofilament.  So I ordered a 1,200 yard spool of 130lb Jerry Brown Hollow-Core braid, dyed green.  For the monofilament I ordered a 370 yard spool of 130lb HiSeas monofilament.  This is specialized saltwater fishing gear, and since I don’t live in Florida or some other major fishing hub, I ordered from an online saltwater fishing gear store.

DSC03142 DSC03137

To prevent the braid from slipping on the spool I put a duck tape backing.  I’ve always used a Clinch Knot when connecting line to a spool, but given that this was a particularly special reel, I decided to learn a new knot.  I researched different knots, and I came across one that I liked on the website www.AnglingKnots.com, named the “Spool Knot”.  It seemed to be a variation of the Uni Knot. What I liked most about this knot is that it laid flat on the spool.  Even though I had the duck tape backing on the spool, to further prevent slippage,  I wrapped the braid around the spool three times before tying the knot.

Getting My New Shark Reel Ready

Duck Tape Backing To Prevent Line Slippage

spoolknot

“Spool Knot” taken from www.anglingknots.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usually my wife helps me spool my fishing reels.  She’ll hold the spool while I reel the line, and she’ll have a pair of gloves on so she can apply pressure without getting a friction burn.  In the case of my new green monster, I didn’t think that would work.  If I didn’t apply a significant amount of pressure when spooling the line, I would risk a break off the first time I hooked a fish that pulled drag.  If braid is loosely spooled onto a reel, when the drag is pulled, the line can dig into the spool and break off.   Therefore, I needed to spool the braid onto my reel with enough pressure to achieve a rock hard spool.  To achieve this I rigged up the spool onto some steel shelving, and I was able to apply over 20lbs of pressure as I reeled the line.

DSC03147 Getting My New Shark Reel Ready

1,200 YARD OF JERRY BROWN BRAID, AND 300 YARDS OF HISEAS MONO TOP-SHOT

I eventually got all 1,200 yards of the line onto the reel.  The spool was rock hard, but just to be absolutely sure I tested the drag at 50lbs, and the line didn’t dig into the spool…Perfect!  Now all I needed to do was splice in the monofilament top-shot.  I had seen several YouTube videos of people who did the splice without any special tools; they just cut the monofilament at an angle, and then sanded down the point to make sure it didn’t catch as it was threaded into the hollow-core braid.  It seemed easy enough, but I just couldn’t get it threaded.  I’d get the monofilament about an inch into the braid, and then the braid would bunch up and get tight.  It’s recommended that about 5 feet of monofilament be threaded into the braid before finishing the splice.  I couldn’t even thread an inch of monofilament into the braid!!  It was soooo frustrating.  I read multiple accounts of people who were able to thread 130lb monofilament into 130lb braid with no problem.  I chalked up my problem to inexperience.  I watched more YouTube videos and the people using threading needles were able to thread the monofilament with such ease.  So I proceeded to order one to help me out.  I ordered the DaHo threading needle for 130lb  to 150lb monofilament, up to .053in/1.35mm diameter.

DSCN4869

I thought for sure that the threading needle would allow me to effectively thread the monofilament into the braid.  I was wrong.  Without the needle I got about an inch threaded, and with the needle I got about an inch and a quarter.  Son of a B!***.  This time I knew for sure it wasn’t operator error.  I literally spent about two hours trying to thread the monofilament into the braid and it couldn’t be done!! I tried everything, oiling the needle, unbunching sections of the braid, and nothing worked.  As I did more research I read certain accounts of people who had trouble with “dyed” line, and that’s what I had;  green dyed braid.  The veteran fisherman all recommended, when trying to do a spliced connection, that you should use white or un-dyed braid.  Crap…lesson learned, and since I spent about $200 on the dyed green stuff, I had to make do.  I ended up having to tie a knot to connect the braid to the monofilament.  I tied a Modified Albright knot.  The knot wasn’t as bulky as I expected.  I tested it with my drag scale, and the knot withstood 50lbs of pressure.  I inspected the knot and there was no signs of damage, and I felt comfortable that the knot would hold up in the heat of battle.

DSC03176

Once I got all of the braid onto the reel, 1,200 yards, I wasn’t sure that I would get the additional 3oo yards of monofilament that I wanted. But it worked out.  I ended up with 1,500 yards of line; 1,200 yards of braid backing and a 300 yard monofilament top-shot.  I am ready for action.

Getting My New Shark Reel Ready Getting My New Shark Reel Ready

 

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