When it comes to outfitting the yacht for charters chock-full of guests looking to reel in the big one, you’ll want premium, no-fuss equipment that holds up in the heat of the battle.
For a modestly priced reel that is light yet strong enough stand up against the big ones, Whitney Reiter, seasoned fisherman and captain of M/Y Themis, opts for the graphite Shimano TLD conventional, which, he maintains, is great for beginners.
“Unlike spinning reels, if you reel while the line is going out, the line will not twist,” Reiter says. “When the line twists it weakens and becomes unruly.”
When it comes to rods, Reiter goes for St. Croix rods, which, he feels, hold up to the elements and abuse more admirably because of their superior stainless steel and quality parts.
For the intermediate and advanced fisherman, choose a reel with a lever drag system — keep in mind, these rods are more expensive. Elias Rodriguez, fish and tackle manager of fishing supply store Crook & Crook, recommends the Penn International 50 two-speed reel, which retails at $599. Together with a 50-lb class stand-up rod, the price comes in at about $900. The two-gear speeds of the lever drag allow the user to gear it to his or her advantage, like a winch, to avoid exhausting the muscles. The two-speed reel is especially handy when battling big fish that dive deep. Many big fish fights end up in a stalemate, but a lower gear can be the decisive factor in gaining line and bringing the fish home.
Whatever rod you choose, Reiter advises to stay away from roller guides, particularly for less experienced fisherman. Roller guides, he says, are hard to maintain and keep free of corrosion, particularly for beginners. Roller guides are susceptible to freezing up, which could put your catch in jeopardy.
A good harness and belt will help keep your guests comfortable and help them avoid injury, says Rodriguez. A harness allows the user to leverage his or her body weight against the fish, taking the stress off the back, stress that can result in a herniated disc. With a harness, one doesn’t need to hold the rod, as it’s strapped in, allowing the user to focus on cranking the handle. It also offers the fisherman the option to take rests as needed during the longer battles. The belt, on the other hand, features a pocket for the butt end of the rod, which protects the midsection. Rodriquez recommends the Black Magic harness and belt combo for $259.
Even the smallest details must be attended to when outfitting the yacht with fishing gear, including the tackle connecting the fishing line to the leader. When a lure or bait is pulled through the water, the force of the water and waves, the turning of the vessel and change of speed can cause the leader to twist. The thicker, stiffer leader, in turn, transmits the twists up the fishing line. Twisting can weaken the line or cause the line to wrap around the tip of the rod. Enter ball bearing swivels, which are priced at $30 for a dozen 50-lb test. Ball bearing swivels allow the leader to move and twist independently of the fishing line. Rodriguez recommends Sampo or SPRO.
As for which test class you choose for your fishing gear, Reiter says it’s best to stay in the 30- to 50-lb range. But he says there are trade offs for each. While a 50-lb test class rig allows you to more aggressively fight the bigger fish, the higher test class tends to be heavier and therefore less wieldy and less comfortable. And in the event that you hook a smaller fish, it takes out the sport. On the other hand, using a 30-lb test line puts you at a greater disadvantage when battling a bigger fish.
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