Pacific Sailfish flyfishing

Sailfishpic_good.jpgWe have also moved away from “J” type hooks for our fly-fishing rigs, essentially for the same reasons – now preferring to use beak hooks.
The “upturned beak” hooks have a little something in common with circle hooks that is worth mentioning here.  Aside from the positive hooking mortality benefits that have made circle hooks so popular, they were also designed to pretty much work on their own in finding a soft spot to sink into, thus making hook setting not only unnecessary, but, counterproductive.  Using either style of hooks should always come with some very basic though counter-intuitive instructions (but it usually doesn’t).
The hooks with the “upturned beaks” share the same flaws/advantages (glass half full or glass half empty) as their circle hook relatives.  This is where some changes in hook setting technique are required.  Setting the hook, especially aggressively, with this style hook will almost surely make the hook slide and miss initially, and oftentimes into a place where it’s being firmly held by the strong grip of the sailfish and not imbedded in the fleshy parts. It actually feels like you’ve stuck the fish well in most instances. However, a gradual tightening of the line with steady pressure almost always lets the hook find its mark.  It’s the same with “J” style hooks, however, the advantage in sharpness out of the box goes to today’s upturned beak style hooks, and, they almost never straighten out based on the physics of their more rounded design.  The same unfortunately cannot be said for “J” style hooks, most of which are inferior in wire strength as well. Another thing to consider is that these hooks (upturned) have a shorter overall shank length.  Most mates bury the hook eye too far into the tube for this hook design, in essence shortening the distance between the clumsy popper head and the point of the hook thus interfering with hook point to flesh contact.  That’s not a good thing, and, further to that, the hook point then tends to ride a little bit more upwards, effectively creating an even shorter gap length furthering the potential for “slipping” and missing upon using the more traditional hook setting methods.
We have observed many charters where this technique has taken a little while to sink in – and a good deal of practice (and self control!) to become productive. Fishing with one of the most famous and productive Sailfish skippers once, he said, and I quote, “Listen, the less you do, the better you’ll be, just come tight and stay there”.  I listened, but after going 3 for 3 on my first sails ever I thought “I must be good enough to do better, I’m a veteran now.  I’ll employ what I knew before I came here.” Odd logic huh?  So, I started setting the hook tarpon style . . . tighten up, rod in the opposite direction of the take, 3 strong tugs, sweep the rod . . . all the usual stuff.  Guess what?  Oh-fer 6.  I didn’t recover from that until I harkened back to his very first words of advice.  The less you do the better, just come tight and stay there.  I’m a stubborn son of a gun, so I just force myself to mentally go through that scenario every time it’s my turn on the transom . . . and it works! 
Also, something else learned the hard way about a sailfish and how it eats a fly - advice from another famous billfishing captain: never, ever keep a fly in front of a sailfish, this is the fastest way to lose the attention of the fish and all of the effort teasing and reteasing will have been for nought. If you do succeed in hooking up – the prognosis is still not good, and believe me, can be extremely frustrating!
  When the cast is misplaced into the oncoming path of the fish, always take it away and recast the fly rather than go through the inevitable frustration of another unbuttoned sailfish . . . sometimes 5 flyCamSigHotPink250.jpgseconds into the fight, sometime 30 minutes into it, but almost always, the fish that eats that fly straight on comes undone or is bill-hooked.  This advice mind you, came after many years fly fishing for sails. If you think back to how many of your straight-on shots came undone, and the honest answer was likely, most of them. 
When the fly is eaten head on or quartering to, the best approach is to lift it up and throw it beyond the fish.  All you have to remember is to keep your line from landing on top of them or being too close to them when they turn on the fly. It’s amazing that a 7 foot long fish can freak out so badly when it touches a fly line.   It’s a hoot of a technique too, as most of the fish hammer the fly so hard going straight away that letting line slip through your stripping hand and gradually tightening is the only way to prevent break offs on the hook set. It’s downright violent most of the time, but more importantly it’s deadly effective.




For more information or questions contact us
1-336 655 0541

Office: 00(502) 7934-62-20
Cell: 5966-4528 or 4065-1179

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