Overcome The Challenge Of Line-Shy Fish
Captain Mark Davis | BigWater Adventures, Capitan Paul Miller | Mexican Gulf Fishing Company, Capitan Kevin Beach | Mexican Gulf Fishing Company
We’d be willing to bet that you’ve encountered a situation like this: aggressive fish are prowling the water below, and you’re itching for a fight. Perhaps they’ve revealed themselves on your boat’s sonar system, or maybe, if the water is clear enough, you’ve spotted them cruising beneath the waves with your own two eyes. By matching the hatch, you present the right bait using a perfect cast – but at the last moment, the fish rejects your offering and swims away. What caused that predator to turn tail and run? More often than not, the blame falls on your line or leader, and now you’re dealing with wary, tough to catch, line-shy fish.
“Without a doubt, we are seeing more and more fish that you would classify as being line-shy,” asserts Captain Kevin Beach, the Venice, Louisiana-based charter captain and owner of the world-famous Mexican Gulf Fishing Company. “Years ago, when we started chasing our giant resident Yellowfin Tuna in the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it almost didn’t matter what we used for line. We used thick, gaudy stuff that we couldn’t imagine using now, and we’d still fill the box and send clients home with coolers stuffed full of fish. It’s a different story today.”
Beach reflects that, “over time, we’ve had to evolve in the way that we present baits to these heavily pressured, line-shy fish. The first big step was to incorporate long nylon monofilament leaders. Soon, every charter captain was doing that, so we began experimenting with fluorocarbon, which made a huge difference because fluoro is far less visible underwater than mono. In fact, when we started using Seaguar fluorocarbon leaders, we didn’t want to tell anybody – it was our Ace-in-the-hole – because we could plainly see that we were outfishing the other charters. But now, we’re reaching the point where we need another bullet in the chamber when dealing with uber-educated tuna.”
Mark Davis, who travels the world fishing for over 50 different species of saltwater fish every year to feature on his award-winning television production, BigWater Adventures, notes that, “the biggest factor in fish becoming line-shy is boat and angling pressure. Let’s say I’m chasing Tarpon down in Trinidad – a place where we typically never see another boat on the water. There, I can fish with 200 or 300 lb test Seaguar Fluoro Premier leader and catch all the silver bullets from the gin-clear water that I could ever want – and I would never get away with that kind of rigging in the States.”
“When I’m on the water,” continues Davis, “I’m always going to start on the heavier side of what I think I can get away with – that’s just how I fish. But I’m constantly paying attention to the feedback I’m getting: am I not getting bit because of the length of my fluorocarbon leader or because of its diameter? When I’m working over fish that I suspect are line-shy, I’ve got several things to try: tie in a longer leader or topshot, go to a thinner diameter leader – or both.”
For both Beach and Davis, the ultimate tool for overcoming the challenge of line-shy fish is a 100% fluorocarbon leader with the highest strength-to-diameter ratio available: Seaguar Gold Label. Engineered using the Seaguar-exclusive Double Structure co-extrusion process, Gold Label is synthesized from two different fluorocarbon resins to generate a strong, sensitive core and a soft, supple exterior. The result is an incredibly thin leader that makes it even less visible underwater than other fluorocarbons and supports more natural presentations. Indeed, for any particular break test rating, Seaguar Gold Label is as much as 18% thinner than any other fluorocarbon leaders made by Seaguar – making it the ultimate fluoro leader, and the bane of line-shy fish.
Beach reflects that, “Gold Label is a difference-maker for me on every trip. Just the other day we pulled up to a hot rig with no fewer than 11 other boats in the area. I was rigged up with 40 lb test Gold Label, and we outfished every other boat we could see. I know what those other Captains were rigged with, and while their leader might be a fluorocarbon product, it is no match for the thinner diameter and strength of Gold Label. We see the proof every evening at Venice Marina’s cleaning table as we break out the filet knives.”
“I just filmed a show out of Port Mansfield, Texas for some gorgeous American Red Snappers,” recalls Davis, “and we had a pod of giant fish going nuts for cut chum behind the boat – but completely ignoring anything with a hook in it. I dropped down to 40 lb test Gold Label and a slightly smaller hook, and those snappers started eating the hook-baits just like the chum. Thinner, less visible, more natural, and with the strength to handle anything that saltwater fishing can throw at you – that’s the power of Gold Label.”