Bait Fishing: Tackle talk… hooks, line & sinker

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Bait Fishing Tackle

In Aotearoa the most popular type of fishing Kiwis enjoy is good ole bait fishing. This is when you put food the fish are likely to eat (like pilchard, yellow tail or squid) on your hook to catch fish like snapper, trevally, terakihi or kahawai.

Two popular methods of bait fishing are: strayline fishing and bottom fishing with a "ledger rig".

Each fishing method (strayline or ledger fishing) uses a different type of rig and the tackle you use to make them differs too.

Learn how to put tackle together to make a "ledger rig".

Learn how to put tackle together to make a "ledger rig".

One hook strayline rig - FishingAdvisor.co.nz

Or make the very popular one hook strayline rig.

Ridgeline - FishingAdvisor.co.nz

Untangling tackle – what’s what

Once you’re set up with a rod and reel you’ll need to some "tackle".  This is the business end of your fishing gear. Tackle is fishing equipment that you would see in a tackle box like hooks, sinkers, swivels, beads, lures, extra fishing line and more. These bits of tackle are tied together to make a "rig" then attached to your rod & reel and you're ready to crack into it.

Below we'll give you a good rundown of the basic tackle you'll need for bait fishing:

  • trace line (extra fishing line)
  • hooks
  • sinkers
  • swivels.

In the following tutorial we'll show you how to tie them together and make yourself a rig, but first things first...

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Trace/leader line

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Swivel

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Hooks

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Sinker

FishingAdvisor.co.nz - Daiwa fishing New Zealand

Tackle Talk: Trace line

What is it?

Rather than tie your tackle directly to the mainline (the line on your reel), a separate length of line is usually connected at the end called a ‘trace line' or 'leader’. It’s stronger and tougher than the mainline and helps protect you against fish with sharp teeth that can bite through the line, or rough rocky terrain.

 

 

 

Trace line weight

The line weight is basically how thick and tough the line is. Typically for bait fishing you'd use line weight around a 25lb to 60lb line. Which one you use depends on what type of fishing you’re doing, what terrain your fishing over, how deep the water is and how fast the water is flowing (the current). 

 

 

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Trace line on a strayline rig

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Trace line comes in different sizes

Tackle Talk: Hooks

The two most common hook types for bait fishing are, the J style hook and the circle hook. Here's a few basics you'll need to know about hooks and in later tutorials we'll show you how to use them.

 

J style hook

The J-style hook is a more traditional style hook, shaped like a J. The point of the hook points upwards (compared to a circle hook that points inwards).

While very effective at catching fish, the down side of a J-hook is that's more likely to be swallowed by a fish (compared to a circle hook). This means the fish may get hooked deeper down than it's mouth, for example in the throat, gills or stomach.

Research shows only 10-25%  of "gut hooked" fish will survive when released (McKenzie & Holdsworth).

We'll show you the technique to use this style of hook them in later videos. (This is the hook type you 'strike' which is really fun!)

 

 

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

"J" style hook

Circle style hook

The circle style hook is more rounded than the J hook. The hook tip faces inwards, toward the shank (long straight part) of the hook.

Circle hooks have become increasingly popular in recent years and have some real benefits. A circle hook most often catches a fish in the corner of the mouth, which makes it easy to remove and set free any undersized fish you catch.  

Taking that extra care really can make a difference to the survival rates of fish you release. Fish that are ‘lip hooked’ or hooked in the corner of the mouth are 90% likely to survive when released.

 

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Circle hook

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Win with Fish City Albany - FishingAdvisor.co.nz

Hook Size

Hooks come in a range of sizes. They can be as small as your fingernail, or as big as your hand! 

When starting out with general bait fishing we recommend using a hook between size 5/0 and 8/0. If there are some really big fish around you might go up to a 10/0. Smaller hooks are more likely to catch undersized fish.

These sizes are a good staple for your tackle box as they can be used for both strayline fishing and bottom fishing with a ledger rig.

 

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Hook sizes 5/0 to 8/0

Hook Eye - Use the Right Knot

The circle at the top of the hook is where you tie your knot. This is called the "eye" of the hook.

Some hooks have a straight eye (it's in line with the long straight part, the "shank") others have an offset eye (it juts out at an angle). The type of eye makes a difference to how you attach the hook to the trace line.

With an incorrect knot, the hook will sit at a strange angle and you be less likely to set the hook properly which means lost fish! "Setting the hook" in the fishes mouth is an important part of catching fish (we'll talk more about this in later videos and articles).

Straight Eye

A straight eye hook is tied directly to the trace line around the end of the hook eye with a knot like the uni knot or blood knot.

Offset Eye

The offset eye is designed for the line to be tied around the shank of the hook with a knot like a modified uni, snell, or longline. 

 

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Straight eye

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Offset eye

Tackle Talk: Sinkers

Sinker weight is really important. You need to select the type and shape of weight that is best for the type of fishing you’ll be doing. In general teardrop sinkers are used for fishing with a ledger rig, and round/oval sinkers are used for strayline fishing. You’ll find more about sinkers as we get into the nitty gritty of different bait fishing techniques.

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Teardrop Sinkers

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Bean sinkers

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Ball sinkers

In general the deeper the water, the faster the current and the bigger your baits, the more weight you’ll need.

Choose the weight and type according to:

  • The type of fishing you’re doing - strayline or ledger rig;
  • The depth of water you’re fishing in - shallow 10 metres or deeper 30+ metres;
  • The size of your bait;
  • The strength of the water flow or current on the day.

 

 

 

 

Tackle Talk: Swivels

Don’t underestimate the importance of the swivel! It is often under-appreciated but it serves a couple of important purposes:

  1. Links the trace line to the mainline.
  2. Reduces twist in the line (especially for the ledger rig).

Using the right tackle makes all the difference to your fishing success. Take the time to find the right gear for you and shop around to get the perfect set up.

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Swivels

Putting it all together

Once you have your tackle, the next step is learning how to put it all together to make a fishing "rig". Learning to tie a rig is a key part of fishing, and once you know how you'll be sweet.  Your fishing rig will be attached to the mainline on your rod and reel, you'll put some bait on and bob's your uncle.  Easy as aye.

There are two popular rigs for bait fishing in New Zealand - the "strayline rig" and the "ledger rig".  In other tutorials we'll show you how to make them, put bait on them, and catch yourself a mean feed.

Drop ledger baits over the side and straight down to the bottom.

Tackle talk... hooks, line & sinker

Let your line float down with a one hook strayline rig.

 

Using the right tackle makes all the difference to your fishing success. Take the time to find the right gear for you and shop around to get the perfect set up.

Happy shopping and good luck out there!

Next articles

Check out these pages for the next steps and to learn more about bait fishing:

 

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Strayline fishing with bait, squid